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Recycling and NRCS Becomes a Way of Life

By Travis Badger, Soil Conservation Aid, Morgan County Soil and Water Conservation District, Hartselle, AL

 


Pasture-hayland planting.

According to Santiago Lima of Hartselle, Alabama, “It’s not how much you got, but how you use it.” 

Santiago grew up in Argentina in an agricultural family, but his dream was to start a farm in the USA.  He immigrated to the U.S. in 1998, and began to look for a spot of land he could afford.  In 2004, he purchased 25 acres in Hartselle.  His dream was coming true.  Now, with not much cash, he had to make this farm productive. 

He began to farm approximately 17 acres of the land using the idea of “waste not—want not.”  Recycling was a must.  He became a recycling example for others to follow. 

Santiago realized that fresh water could become a big issue and began recycling rain water by installing rain catchers on all structures on his farm.  He used discarded advertisement and political signs as temporary patches on structures.  When a wind storm downed trees on his property, he promptly had them sawed into lumber to put siding on his buildings.   He found uses for junk lying around on the property such as an old car.   He salvaged what he could to build other structures and equipment.  Eventually he turned his small plot into a productive farm of cattle, hogs, chickens, beehives, and fruit trees. 

This success of his small farm did not all come from his own ideas and recycling, he admits.  Santiago credits NRCS for much of the new technology being used on his farm.  Not did NRCS assisted him financially with his farm practices, but they gave him technical advice as well.

Due to Santiago’s immigration status, he qualified as a Socially Disadvantaged Farmer.  NRCS practices helped him take his small 17 acre plot and use every inch of it to his advantage. 

His current practices with NRCS are pest management, pipeline, prescribed grazing, seasonal high tunnel, upland wildlife habitat management, water well, and a watering facility.   His past practices that helped him succeed on his farm are forest stand improvement, pest management, upland wildlife habitat management, fencing, nutrient management, pasture-hay planting, prescribed grazing, and a stream crossing. 

The stream crossing was one of the first practices that helped Santiago realize that NRCS knew what they were doing.  Santiago listened as the technician recommend the stream crossing, but he really did not think it would work.  Going against his better judgment, he approved the project. 

Santiago was amazed at how well the stream crossing worked, how it improved the water quality of the stream, and how it has held up over time.   

Conservation has become a way of life for Santiago Lima.  He is a prime example of how NRCS benefits farmers and helps conserve natural resources.

Santiago states that his ultimate goal would be to produce bio-fuel for his tractor!  Santiago agrees that if NRCS were to begin a practice to produce bio-fuel, he will be the first to sign up. 

Stream crossing