Tedd with his wife Kay and two daughters, Greta and Annie, demonstrate what it means to be conservationists of family, lifestyle and the land.
Bonita Bean Company stores, cleans and sacks pinto beans for market, grown by farmers across the Sulphur Springs Valley.
Tedd's high efficient center pivots can have up to 90% efficiency!
Conservation of Family, Lifestyle and the Land
Arizona Farmer puts conservation in action
BONITA, ARIZ. - January, 2012 - If you have something of value to protect, the dictionary tells us you are involved in conservation. Conservation is defined as:
1. protection of valued resources: the preservation, management, and care of natural and cultural resources
2. protection from change: the keeping or protecting of something from change, loss, or damage.
Conservation runs through the life of Tedd Haas – conservation of family, lifestyle, and the land. “I have always had a spot for conservation because I believe in stewardship of the resources God has provided us with,” said Tedd. “You like and love the land. You earn your income that way, and you take care of it. It becomes a part of you.”
Haas, a farmer from Bonita, AZ, and his family are a good example of what conservation in action looks like.
Tedd’s primary crops are corn, pinto beans, barley and durum wheat. He also plants oats as a cover crop during the winter months after his bean crop is harvested. Cover crops help reduce soil erosion, improve soil quality, manage weeds and diseases and act as a pest management tool.
Growing beans is a family operation. Tedd and his brothers not only grow much of the beans processed at Bonita Bean Company, but also help operate the grain elevator. Bonita Bean Company is owned by Tedd and his brother Brent, and together they process beans by growers across the Sulphur Springs Valley. Once the beans are harvested, they are taken to the bean plant, where they are stored, cleaned and sacked for market. You can find Tedd’s pinto beans in grocery stores throughout the state.
Tedd started his conservation plan with the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in 1996. A conservation plan is a free service NRCS provides to agricultural producers. It’s the producer’s plan to use as they wish – a guide to using their natural resources more efficiently. By working with NRCS to complete a conservation plan, Tedd became eligible for NRCS funding to help install the conservation practices identified in his plan. Tedd applied for and received financing through NRCS’s Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) to improve his priority resource concern, irrigation efficiency. Irrigating efficiently reduces excess use of irrigation water, reduces ground water pumping, improves crop yields and improves the overall profitability of the farm.
Poor irrigation efficiency can be caused by several things. For Tedd, it was hindered initially by the method of irrigation he was using. He started out by converting his fields from row water irrigation, a form of flood irrigation, to center pivot irrigation. Instantly Tedd’s irrigation efficiency went from 50% to 75%. However, high winds are common in his area and a large amount of the water was being blown away due to the sprinklers being too high off the ground and too far apart from each other. Tedd updated technologies and has installed new center pivots that not only put the sprinklers in the right position but also utilize ultra low drop and low pressure nozzles. These nozzles are designed to emit the exact amount of water the producer desires. Tedd now knows exactly how much water he is using at all times.
When all settings are calculated just right on his new center pivots, Tedd can expect to receive up to 90% efficiency. While Tedd hasn’t quite achieved full efficiency, he is proud to say he is irrigating his farm with high efficient center pivots with an average of 85% irrigation efficiency.
Tedd continues to work with his local NRCS office to improve his conservation methods on his farm. He is in the final stages of installing the final high efficient center pivot and is also beginning no-till practices.
“Cover crops and no-till help with irrigation efficiency. There is a learning curve, but the benefits outweigh it,” said Tedd.
Tedd is also the President of the Willcox-San Simon Natural Resources Conservation District (NRCD). Conservation Districts provide leadership for a locally led conservation program to help producers address local conservation priorities. They are partners with NRCS and work closely with NRCS staff to communicate the needs of conservation on the ground at the local level.
“We are getting conservation on the ground faster and more efficiently by working together,” said Haas. “The relationship between the Conservation District and NRCS is a symbiotic one.”
In the definition of conservation, we learned that it not only includes our natural resources but it also encompasses our lifestyle and culture.
“I grew up in an urban environment. I went to college in Chicago. Living out here is about as opposite as you can get,” said Tedd’s wife Kay. “Farming has its struggles; however there are many advantages as well and we feel blessed to live as we do.”
One advantage is that their children learn to appreciate where they get their food. It is easy to lose perspective of where the foods we eat every day come from and the process it takes to get them on our table. Tedd and Kay’s girls, Greta and Annie, have the opportunity to join their father at the grain elevator or out in the field anytime they like to see what it takes to raise food.
Kay also enjoys the amount of space her children have to play, and the fact that she doesn’t have to worry about them running out in busy streets or talking to strangers since all their neighbors are family or just like family.
“One of my favorite things about living on the farm is that I can ride my bike to my cousin’s house and play,” said Greta.
The Haas family puts the definition of conservation into action by implementing practices on their own land to keep their natural resources healthy. They are active members in their community, advocating and educating the importance of conservation through their involvement in their local Conservation District. Tedd and Kay teach their girls stewardship of the land and the beauty of enjoying the outdoors; a lifestyle that will be passed down to future generations.