Coweta County Success Stories
Butcher (PDF) (144 KB) html
Brown (PDF) (314 KB) html
Furniss Family Farm (PDF) (256 KB)html
Butcher Family Dairy Farm; Waste Management at Work
Back in 1980, living in Coweta County was considered living out in the country when Bud Butcher bought his dairy located near Newnan, a community less than 30 minutes from the Atlanta International Airport. Back then he was in the country and did not have to worry about urban communities.
Today this is not the case as he has subdivisions cropping up all around him and he is currently milking 320 head of cows twice a day with five full-time employees. With these subdivisions cropping up Butcher has faced being a part of an urbanizing community in the last few years and because of this the quantity of the water runoff from his dairy is a concern.
The dairy utilizes center pivots for irrigation and waste management. Butcher read about the USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in a newsletter and called for help on his waste management system. Using the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), to solve the problem with the water quantity, a cover crop was planted, a 25-acre Bermuda filter strip around the cropland field, as a means to trap agriculture contaminates and produce high quality hay.
A new waste management system was linked to a lagoon. Installation of concreted heavy use areas and the development of a certified nutrient management plan to use manure on the land and dispose of the excess manure completed the plan “NRCS has provided technical and financial assistance. The above practices where selected to provide a solution for managing the waste and wash water accumulated from a confined dairy operation,” said Kevin Keel, district conservationist for the NRCS.
“The objective of this operation is to breed a high milk producing herd while maintaining environmental quality. Despite the urban sprawl, I’m going to maintain a dairy at this location for as long as I can,” said Butcher. “Bud Butcher is one of the best dairymen to come to Coweta County and now is the only one left in the county,” said Lisle Bower, district supervisor for Coweta County.
Butcher’s operation has benefited from the application of the conservation treatments in four different areas, efficient use of water, waste management, water quality and high quality hay production. “Center pivot has allowed for efficient use of water and provided a way to manage waste. Bermuda filter strip has provided a buffer for water quality and lead to the production of high quality hay,” said Butcher.
Butcher has this to say to future generations about his conservation philosophy, “Take care of the land and the land will take care of you.”
The success of this farm is due to Butcher’s devotion to the land, hard work and his ability to run this operation with wise business decisions. Congratulations to Bud Butcher for being the District I 2008 Environmental Stewardship Award Winner.
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David Brown, owner of Longview Farm is a conservation pioneer in the Senoia community of Coweta County. Brown’s property contains over 400 acres, mainly consisting of hayland, pastureland, and cattle. A conservation goal of Brown’s was to improve water quality and benefit fish and wildlife resources in the watershed and improve habitat conditions for several federally listed threatened and endangered mussels found in Coweta County. “I consider the wildlife on my farm to be a great value,” said Brown.
Brown and his wife Rita purchased the Longview Farm in 1991. The farm was eroded badly due to improper timber management. A retired District Conservationist with the USDA- Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), Brown sought funding through the Fish and Wildlife Partners Program and the Environmental Quality Incentive Program (EQIP).
The project involved the installation of nearly one mile of fence to exclude Brown’s 125 cows from streams and a lake on Longview Farm. In addition to the fencing, controlled access watering ramps were installed to allow the cattle to continue to utilize water from the streams and lake while protecting these waters from further degradation. A 35 feet riparian buffer of natural regeneration and native vegetation was restored along each side of the Little White Oak Creek and associated wetland areas.
Within a year, Brown had almost half of the acreage cleared, fenced and planted to prevent further erosion. Brown continues to thin timber on the farm every 5 years. Longview Farm has been toured by conservation officials and other farmers in the area who are seeking to incorporate similar practices on their farms. A farmer for 60 years, Brown’s credits the conservation knowledge gained over many years in giving him the ability to recognize the numerous benefits this project presented. “My greatest accomplishment has been using the knowledge I gained to establish a self-supporting farm from over 400 acres of cut-over timberland,” said Brown.
Brown credits NRCS, the Georgia Soil and Water Commission, West Georgia Soil and Water Conservation District and the Georgia Forestry Commission for partnering to complete this project. For more information about these conservation programs and what you can do to help conserve our natural resources, visit www.ga.nrcs.usda.gov or stop by any USDA-NRCS field office at the local USDA Service Center. NRCS helps people help the land.
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The Furniss family is a family that is committed to protecting the land and conserving natural resources located on their 100-acre Sweet Bay Farm in Newnan.
The Furniss family is very ecologically minded and is exceptionally vigilant about keeping herbicides and pesticides out of their production process.
“Mrs. Furniss has told me several times that they want to leave this land better than they found it. And, I try to go along with her wishes,” Sweet Bay Farm manager, Steve Milan said.
Milan has been managing the cattle farm for the past eight years. Keeping Mrs. Furniss’ wishes in mind, Milan approached the Two Rivers RC&D Council and inquired about the types of programs to help improve farmland and aid with wildlife protection. Milan applied for the Wildlife Incentives for Non-Game and Game Species Program (Project W.I.N.G.S) and was awarded a grant to create a wildlife habitat underneath power lines located on the family’s property.
The Project W.I.N.G.S grant has helped Milan manage the land in these electrical transmission rights-of-way for a three-year period.
Through their contact with the Two Rivers RC&D Council, they learned about other assistance available from the USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).
Kevin Keel, the district conservationist in Coweta County says, “When I was contacted to assist Steve with getting the wildlife habitat off the ground, I saw an opportunity to promote the conservation programs we have available for farms through the NRCS.” Together, Keel and Milan were able to work on the issues of soil erosion, water quality and forage quality on the farm.
After applying for (Environmental Quality Incentives Program EQIP) funds, Milan was able to use the contract to help fight erosion and improve water and forage quality at Sweet Bay Farm.
The farm operates a small cattle operation covering 14 pastures. At any given time, there are about 20 head of cattle grazing on 50 acres of the property. Keel and NRCS land grazing specialist, Al Hubbard, informed Milan about a conservation practice known as rotational grazing.
Rotational grazing addresses the forage quality. Milan said Hubbard’s in-depth training helped him determine when to move the beef cattle to different pastures for grazing and give other pastures time to regenerate grass.
To improve erosion control, Keel recommended that Milan place a geo-textile base underneath gravel in the heavy-use area on the farm. This is where the cattle gather at water troughs.
Cross fencing was also installed on parts of the farm to keep the cattle from wandering into a pond on the property. This fencing helps protect water quality. Due to a lack of a consistent water source for the farm, Keel was able to have a pipeline installed on the property so that the county could connect Sweet Bay Farm to Coweta County’s municipal water supply.
Keel said this collaboration with Milan was beneficial for both the agency and the producer. “We were able to keep the producer’s objectives in mind and keep resource conservation in mind. It was a good fit for us and a good fit for him.” Milan hopes the technical assistance received through the Natural Resources Conservation Service will help Sweet Bay Farms improve cattle production and wildlife preservation.
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