When it comes to conservation, Parkersburg farmer Trevor Ridgely says, if done right, it should help the bottom line, not hinder it.
With this attitude, it's no surprise Trevor, along with wife Lindsay, father Tim and mother Dotti earned the Conservation Farm Family Governor's Award, sponsored by the Association of Illinois Soil and Water Conservation Districts and Prairie Farmer. The award was presented at the Illinois State Fair's Agriculture Day.
The Ridgely farm 3,000 acres in southeastern Illinois' Richland County. Trevor notes about 2,850 of those acres are dedicated to crops: corn, soybeans and wheat. The remaining 250 are pasture and hay for their cow/calf herd.
Much of their 3,000 acres carry the highly erodible land designation. The Ridgelys have installed grass waterways, quail buffer strips and water and sediment control basins to help keep every bit of topsoil where it is.
Trevor says the grass waterways are a no-brainer. "If you don't put them in, you've got to work around a ditch," he notes. "Your ditch is just going to get bigger, which means a lot of repair work."
Prior to installing grass waterways, ditch repair was consuming a lot of Trevor and Tim's off-season. Now, their favorite tactic is to lay tile along the waterway path, then build the grass waterway overtop a few weeks later.
Of course, there's still a fair bit of management with grass waterways. Mowing is fairly time consuming. However, Tim notes, with the tile under the waterway, he's rarely rained out.
Spraying around grass waterways is also a trick. Trevor says their farm spray rig is equipped with automatic boom shutoff, but he hasn't had time to set the waterway boundaries just yet. This year, his assistant farm manager failed to find the boom shut-off switch prior to entering the waterway and put the hurt on a 90-foot-wide swath of grass. Trevor may find time to set boundaries this winter.