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Conservation Corner

NRCS Open for Business during partial shutdown

Thu, January 03, 2019

NRCS will remain open for business during the partial government shutdown.  You can visit our offices, request assistance and conduct business as usual.


We are still at work. Processing CSP payments, doing conservation planning with clients for Monarch Butterfly applications, making appointments with clients to meet and discuss their resource concerns on their farms. 


We are taking applications for EQIP applications in addition to CSP applications.  Been discussing WRE applications with clients.  It’s a new year and we are aiming to get more conservation on the ground for this coming year and more contracts obligated than we did last year.

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Bobwhite Blog draws interest across the country

Tue, December 18, 2018

An interesting article that was posted on Farmers.gov that drew a lot of interest across the country.  Keep in mind that if you have interest in quail or pheasant habitat or other wildlife, reach out to your local NRCS field office to see how they can help you with establishing your goals on your local farm. 


EQIP, CSP has financial assistance to help establish habitat.  Don’t forget the Monarch Butterfly Habitat project.


https://www.farmers.gov/media/blog/2018/12/17/farmers-farmers-bobwhite-blog-piques-producer-interest-across-country

 

For Farmers, By Farmers: Bobwhite Blog Piques Producer Interest across Country


Posted by Justin Fritscher, U.S. Department of Agriculture in Farming,  Conservation

Dec 17, 2018


As we develop content for farmers.gov, we continuously ask ourselves: “How will this information help a farmer?” We share stories about farmers, ranchers, and forest managers who are using USDA programs to improve their operations. We also share information on some of our key efforts – and how a producer can help northern bobwhite and livestock at the same time.


Recently, Nick Schell, a biologist with USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service in Ohio, wrote a blog post on how producers can manage for better forage for livestock and better habitat for bobwhite.


The post, Beef and ‘Bobs’ – Maximize Cattle Production and Help Bobwhites on Your Land, garnered a lot of attention. Newspapers and news sites picked it up. Our conservation partners shared it on social media. And most importantly, Nick had many farmers reach out to him for more information.


“While I was excited about the blog, I didn’t expect it to drum up this much interest,” Nick said. “The near immediate responses from both producers and professionals was completely unexpected and really exciting. Producers from several states inquired about how they could help quail on their farm.” 


Interest from Producers


One of the producers who reached out owns property in the area that Nick covers as a biologist. And her goal is to add livestock and manage for wildlife habitat once she retires next year and returns to Ohio.


“I want to improve the grasslands with native grasses,” she wrote. “I will also have to do a lot of fencing. I am hoping to turn it into something educational or a showcase of sustainable practices for small farmers, and wildlife protection. What type of assistance would be available to me?”


Nick told her a lot of options are available. Through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program, NRCS can help the producer add fencing as part of a prescribed grazing system, plant the pastures with native warm-season grasses (which provide food for livestock and cover for bobwhite), and address other natural resource issues.


Since the article has posted, he has visited the producer’s property and connected her with her local district conservationist to help further plan future conservation efforts.


Many of the farmers who responded to the blog were from outside of Ohio. Nick was able to share links to key resources and to connect them with their local offices.


“It was nice to see farmers and ranchers reaching out to learn more,” Nick says. “One farmer from Texas reached out, and actually owned land where one of my former coworkers worked, so I was able to connect them both.


For Farmers, By Farmers


USDA is building farmers.gov for farmers, by farmers. Nick’s blog was one of the first on farmers.gov to include the author’s contact information and a short biography.


Because of how much feedback he received, we’re adding this as a permanent feature on the blog. Farmers.gov is about enabling producers to find what they need, whether it’s information online or a way to connect with USDA’s team of staff across the nation.

 

 

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Soil Health Grazing Cattle on Winter cover

Mon, December 17, 2018

#Fridays on the Farm

Grazing Cattle on Cover crops in South Dakota


https://nrcs.maps.arcgis.com/apps/Cascade/index.html?appid=f8ba610b2b2e48adb416732ae6f9fa06

An excellent article on grazing cover crops for cattle.  I am sure that one will find that deer and other wildlife will also be attracted to the cover crops.  I have seen that first hand, bucks grazing on radishes, turnips, and other varieties.


From the kitchen table to the boardroom table, USDA brings people together across the nation for: healthier food, natural resources, and people; a stronger agricultural industry; and economic growth, jobs, and innovation.


Each Friday, meet those farmers, producers, and landowners through our #FridaysOnTheFarm stories. Visit local farms, ranches, forests, and resource areas where USDA customers and partners do right and feed everyone.


This Friday, meet Jared Namken of Namken Red Angus. Namken uses cover crops and rotational grazing to lengthen the grazing season, reduce feed costs, and build healthier soils across his 1,100-acre operation in Lake Norden, South Dakota.


Cattle and Conservation
 

“It all started with the planting of trees with our local conservation district,” Namken says.


“After the trees went in, we saw right away a big increase in the numbers and diversity of birds, insects, deer, and other wildlife species. Then came all these other management practices.”


Namken is an Angus man. Red Angus. A fourth-generation farmer-rancher, he hopes to pass on his operation to generation five, with the soil in even better shape than when he started. He’s worked with USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service to manage Namken Red Angus with that goal in mind.


Grazing Cover Crops


Namken is bettering his soil – and his bottom line – by planting cover crops.


“We try to include turnips, radishes, and a cool-season grass in the mix,” says Namken. “We once tried straight turnips, but we’ve found that the diversity of species is better for the cattle.”


To expand his grazable acres, Namken introduced rotational grazing across his cropland in 2004. More recently through USDA’s Environmental Quality Incentives Program, he was able to install above ground water lines on his operation, bringing fresh water to cattle, which greatly improves the distribution of his cattle across the landscape. This water has resulted in a better rotational grazing system that has changed the plant species growing in his pastures, complementing Namken’s goal of bringing back native grasses and forbs for improved forage.


Now, the entire farm is subject to grazing for at least part of the year.


“We can graze this ground with these cover crops most of the winter some years,” Namken says. “Depending on snow cover, temperature, wind, or cow pregnancy trimester, we might not have to supplement feed until late winter. These cattle will dig through a lot of snow to graze on our concoctions of cover crops, even in harsh winter conditions


Once the cows are out, Namken’s cropland is planted in no-till corn, soybeans, wheat, oats, or alfalfa. When asked about the collective benefits of conservation practices used across his operation – specifically no-till, cover crops, and rotational grazing – Namken has a list.


“By grazing our cover crops, we’re able to lower our feed costs while adding diversity and improving the health of our land. No-till reduces our fuel usage, which is another big benefit. Our ground is absorbing more water with less lost in runoff, and it’s more drought hardy. Rotational grazing spreads manure and nutrients evenly across our fields, which is also an economic benefit. And, moving the cows into our cropland gives our pastures a longer resting period than they had before. We ultimately see greater diversity in our summer pastures and improved soil health across our cropland fields.”


Managing for the Future

 

Though he appreciates the economic benefits of these conservation practices, Namken seems most excited about what he calls the “big picture” – the long-term health of his land and future sustainability of his operation.

 

“My kids might be the fifth generation to work this land, and I hope to pass this farm on to that next generation in better shape than when I got it,” Namken says.


“Growing up, everything was tilled. That’s just what everyone did. Practices now find us planting cover crops, as we’re making the soil more productive again. I hope we never stop learning here. There’s always a way to improve, a new idea to learn, a way to do better.”


Are you interested in building healthier, more resilient soils across your working land? Visit our new soil health page to learn about basic soil health principles for every operation.


USDA offers a variety of risk management, disaster, loan, and conservation programs to help agricultural producers in the United States invest in improvements to their operations. Learn about additional programs.


For more information about USDA services, contact your local USDA service center.

 

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