Diamond 'S' Farm Demonstration Tour
By Fay Garner - Communications, Marketing, and Outreach (CMO) Assistant, NRCS State Office, Auburn, AL
Thornton Stanley (l) and NRCS ASTC Steve Musser examine a layout of the irrigated rotational grazing system.
A farm tour was held at the Thornton Stanley Diamond "S" Farm in Morgan County in October. The day dawned with much needed rain falling in the morning but the tour was not dampened and went off without a hitch.
Three trailer loads of attendees rode through the valley that was surrounded by mountains on three sides. The trees were already displaying the changing autumn colors.
The tour highlighted a 40-acre fescue and Bermuda pasture that Mr. Stanley subdivided into nine paddocks using high-tensile electric fencing. Water troughs were installed in each paddock in a way that allows the cattle to travel less than 600 feet to water. These travel paths helps evenly distribute the cattle manure thus reducing the need for commercial fertilizer. The system also helps reduce soil erosion and nutrient rich runoff from entering the streams that run through the area.
A single water reel traveling gun pumps water from four small reservoirs for irrigation, if needed, after livestock exit a grazed paddock. The reservoirs and livestock water troughs are supplied by a common pipeline from two wells.
Thornton Stanley uses this travel gun system to irrigate paddocks, if needed, when the cattle move to another pasture.
Additional practices used on the farm, such as heavy use treatment area, stream crossings, fencing, watering troughs, pasture planting, exclusion fencing, water wells, and pest management, were designed and installed according to an NRCS conservation plan.
Mr. Stanley's irrigated managed grazing system was established using 319 Program Demonstration funds from the Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM) and technical assistance from Brian Brown, Project Leader of the Catoco Creek Watershed Project, and the Morgan County SWCD/NRCS staff.
Helping to inform the attendees about the technical aspects of the system, were speakers from Morgan County SWCD, Morgan County Commission, Flint Creek Watershed Conservancy District, EPA, ADEM, NRCS, Alabama Clean Water Partnership Tennessee River Basin, and the Catoco Creek Watershed.
The tour concluded with a grilled ribeye sandwich lunch supplied by the Alabama Farmer's Federation and prepared by the Morgan County Cattleman's Association.