Giant Goose Ranch


Heartland Outdoors magazine is published every month.
Subscription Terms

Or call (309) 741-9790 or e-mail: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Heartland Outdoors July 2017 cover catfish flathead rend  lake


August 2017
30 311 2 3 4 5
6 7 8 9 10 11 12
13 14 15 16 17 18 19
20 21 22 23 24 25 26
27 28 29 30 31 1 2
August 2017
July 2017
June 2017
May 2017
April 2017
March 2017
February 2017
January 2017
December 2016
November 2016
October 2016
September 2016

Recent entries

Malone turkey

Conservation Corner

Soil Health

Wed, August 16, 2017

Soil health, also referred to as soil quality, is defined as the continued capacity of soil to function as a vital living ecosystem that sustains plants, animals, and humans.

This definition speaks to the importance of managing soils so they are sustainable for future generations. To do this, we need to remember that soil contains living organisms that when provided the basic necessities of life - food, shelter, and water - perform functions required to produce food and fiber.

Only “living” things can have health, so viewing soil as a living ecosystem reflects a fundamental shift in the way we care for our nation’s soils. Soil isn’t an inert growing medium, but rather is teaming with billions of bacteria, fungi, and other microbes that are the foundation of an elegant symbiotic ecosystem. Soil is an ecosystem that can be managed to provide nutrients for plant growth, absorb and hold rainwater for use during dryer periods, filter and buffer potential pollutants from leaving our fields, serve as a firm foundation for agricultural activities, and provide habitat for soil microbes to flourish and diversify to keep the ecosystem running smoothly.

What Soil Does

Healthy soil gives us clean air and water, bountiful crops and forests, productive grazing lands, diverse wildlife, and beautiful landscapes.

Soil does all this by performing five essential functions:

• Regulating water - Soil helps control where rain, snowmelt, and irrigation water goes. Water and dissolved solutes flow over the land or into and through the soil.
• Sustaining plant and animal life - The diversity and productivity of living things depends on soil.
• Filtering and buffering potential pollutants - The minerals and microbes in soil are responsible for filtering, buffering, degrading, immobilizing, and detoxifying organic and inorganic materials,    including industrial and municipal by-products and atmospheric deposits.
• Cycling nutrients - Carbon, nitrogen, phosphorus, and many other nutrients are stored, transformed, and cycled in the soil.
• Physical stability and support - Soil structure provides a medium for plant roots. Soils also provide support for human structures and protection for archeological treasures.

Inherent and Dynamic Properties of Soil

Soil has both inherent and dynamic properties, or qualities. Inherent soil quality is a soil’s natural ability to function. For example, sandy soil drains faster than clayey soil. Deep soil has more room for roots than soils with bedrock near the surface. These characteristics do not change easily.
Dynamic soil quality is how soil changes depending on how it is managed. Management choices affect the amount of soil organic matter, soil structure, soil depth, and water and nutrient holding capacity. One goal of soil health research is to learn how to manage soil in a way that improves soil function. Soils respond differently to management depending on the inherent properties of the soil and the surrounding landscape.

Understanding soil health means assessing and managing soil so that it functions optimally now and is not degraded for future use. By monitoring changes in soil health, a land manager can determine if a set of practices is sustainable.

Some practices that can improve Soil Health include No till, strip till, nutrient management, and cover crops. If you are interesting in learning about cost share opportunities for cover crops, no till, and nutrient management, stop in at your local NRCS field office.  Inquire about EQIP funding opportunities for these practices on your farm.




Conservation keeps me busy.

Wed, August 16, 2017

Conservation has kept me busy this year that I have not had much time to do blogging on this site.

I hope to pick that up in the near future.  The Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) has been busy this year in Tazewell County.  We submitted over a $1 million dollars in EQIP applications in late March. 

We have obligated over $667,000 in EQIP contracts and at the present time are working on 3 last minute applications selected for funding for another $247,000.  That amounts to 8 contracts encompassing $919,270 dollars in conservation funding for Tazewell County.

Already we are working on planning for EQIP applications for 2018 funding.  However 2017 will be hard to top for the dollar amount obligated.

Some of these contracts (3) involve animal waste storage facilities for swine operations, composters, closure of waste impoundments, access roads, agitators, and nutrient management.  Others funded include best management practices such as cover crops, grassed waterways, grade stabilization structures, water & sediment control basins, forest management plans, and monarch butterfly habitat.

Tazewell County also hosted livestock training for NRCS/SWCD employees in Area 2 in June.  June also saw me go away for a week of Soil Health training in Champaign, IL. 

I was able to get a day and a half of turkey hunting in before I had to come back to participate in the NRCS State Office Quality Assurance Review of the Pekin Field Office.  So I gave up the later 3 days of fourth season turkey hunting to be present for the review.  Which went real well.  In addition we had some good field visits that week to tour the Spring Lake WRP project.  In addition to visiting several livestock farms with our State Office Engineers and discuss the projects that NRCS has assisted local producers install on their farms.  It was a real good experience for me and the producers involved to have our NRCS State Engineers Ruth Book, Matt Robert, and Civil Engineer Technician Jeff Hyett see the operations and projects installed over the years.

I have been squirrel hunting once but not seen a squirrel moving yet before the neighbors dogs got out and started barking.  Then the chain saws started operating on the neighbors on the other side of the woodlot.  So it was a wasted morning.  There will be other times. 

I was unable to draw a blind at the Spring Lake duck blind drawing in July.  However I did go in with a neighbor on a goose pit over in Fulton County.

Cover crops are a topic right now as the farmers are getting ready to get those seeded.  Keep in mind that turnips, oats, winter peas, wheat can be seeded and wildlife will utilize these as a food source.  It was a couple of years ago that a farmer friend of mine seeded radishes, oats, and rape in 60 acres of cover crops.  When we went out to see them, the deer were on site feeding away on the cover crops, which were knee high having been planted by drill in early August following wheat harvest.  As we drove through the fields, the deer went into the timber.  As we returned from inspecting the back fields, the deer were already back in the first fields.

Those cover crops got so tall that they had to mow paths in order to get to their deer stands!  Nothing better for a farmer and his kids than the government paying them an incentive to plant cover crops and they attract the deer for hunting purposes.

Soil health is a big topic right now and I don’t see it going away.  This coming year in Tazewell we will be working on EQIP applications under the Regional Conservation Partnership Program RCPP for Precision Conservation Management.  PCM has EQIP funds in targeted watersheds in Illinois of which Tazewell is one.  Cover Crops, grassed waterways, grade stabilization structures, and water & sediment control basins are some practices that I see being submitted under RCPP PCM. 

Till later.



QUGA banquets

Wed, August 09, 2017

Join Quail and Upland Game Alliance - QUGA for a family fun night for the whole family! This is a night of fundraising for local upland game establishment, hunting, youth events and so much more.

QUGA Chapters across Illinois will hosting banquets with raffles, hunts, guns and of course great food and friends.  Be a member of like-minded conservationists for all your outdoor resources. Contact

any of your neighborhood QUGA Chapters for ticket information or visit us at or on Facebook.

·    Cumberland Trail, Saturday, September 23rd, 2017
Vandalia Moose Lodge, Vandalia, IL -  Doors Open @5:00pm
Contact: Christy Duval Robertson -  618/292-5505

·      River Oaks, Saturday, October 7th, 2017
Outlaws Motor Sport, Harrisburg, IL - Doors Open @5:00pm
Contact: Daniel Cullers -  618/926-5078

·      Sangamon River Valley, Thursday October 12th, 2017
Indian Creek Farmstead, Petersburg, IL - Doors Open @5:00pm
Contact: Alicia Davis Wade -  217/341-5857

·      Logan County, Thursday October 19th, 2017
American Legion, Lincoln, IL - Doors Open @5:00pm
Contact: Kendall Fitzpatrick -  217/737-6869

·      Skillet Fork, January 13th, 2018,
Salem Community Activity Center, Salem, IL -  Doors Open @5:00pm
Contact: Brad Hargis - 618/292-1798







 1 2 3 >  pag_last_link