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L'Anguille River MRBI Project Story

L'Anguille River MRBI Project - Edgar Perry Farm

Richard Young (right), a soil conservationist at the Jonesboro Area Office, and Edgar Perry discuss the work planned on Perry’s 85-acre farm.

Richard Young (right), a soil conservationist at the Jonesboro Area Office, and Edgar Perry discuss the work planned on Perry’s 85-acre farm. (photo by Creston Shrum, NRCS Arkansas)

by Creston Shrum, NRCS Arkansas

For Edgar Perry, erosion problems on his 85-acre farm on Crowley’s Ridge have seemed like a downhill battle, literally.

“I’ve wanted to get this erosion problem under control for a while,” the retired doctor said. “It has been a real mess.”

The mess he is referring to are 1- to 2-foot deep gullies which are 2- to 5-feet wide in an 8-acre field. “I’ve invested a lot of time and money on the farm since purchasing it in 2006,” Perry said. He has planted hundreds of trees to help alleviate the erosion issues.

“I heard about the Mississippi River Basin Initiative (MRBI) project and thought it sounded perfect for my problems,” Perry said. “NRCS has been great to work with.”

With the help of Joe Mullins, Cross County district conservationist, and Richard Young, a soil conservationist at the Jonesboro Area Office, Perry is receiving assistance through the Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program portion of the L’Anguille River MRBI project.

“By leveling the gullies, then planting Bermuda grass on the highly-erodible land, Perry will see a reduction in erosion on the 8-acre field,” Young said. “A sediment basin, planned in 2012 through the Environmental Quality Incentive Program portion of MRBI, will add another level of protection and catch debris and sediment.”

Perry has already smoothed out the gullies and planted rye grass as an interim protection until the Bermuda grass can be planted in April or May. “I’m confident this will fix the problem once we get the Bermuda grass established,” Perry said.

“These practices are designed to address excessive suspended sediment, nutrients, turbidity and organics in surface and groundwater. By utilizing NRCS and our partner’s technical expertise, Perry will enhance the natural resources on his property,” Mullins said.

The remaining 40-acres will be planted in native grasses and managed for upland wildlife habitat. The plan calls for planting a variety of native warm season grasses and trees to attract a greater diversity of wildlife species. Trees will also be planted on 11 acres through the Conservation Reserve Program as a riparian buffer. The buffer will serve as a filter to trap sediments and other contaminants before they reach nearby water bodies.

“With this property being on Crowley’s Ridge, run-off occurs a lot faster and increases the amount of sediment and nutrient loading in the L’Anguille basin,” Young said. “This is only one of many projects in the watershed and when combined together the MRBI projects will control the amount of sediment and nutrients entering the Mississippi River and Gulf of Mexico where they impact the water quality and play a role in the gulf hypoxic zone.”

Crowley’s Ridge is a geological formation running 150-miles from southeast Missouri to Helena, Ark., and consists of highly-erodible soils.

The L’Anguille River Project is sponsored by the L’Anguille River Coalition.  Collaborating conservation partners include the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture, Arkansas Game & Fish Commission, Arkansas State University, Arkansas Natural Resources Commission, Poinsett County Conservation District, Cross County Conservation District, East Arkansas Resource Conservation and Development Council, and the Arkansas Association of Conservation Districts.  The project area covers 8 sub-watersheds in the L’Anguille River basin in Poinsett and Cross counties.