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Dougherty County Success Stories

Dougherty County Success Stories

Trice (PDF) (125 KB) html
Lewis (PDF) (123 KB) html

Micro-Irrigation System Helps Farmer Conserve Water

By Amelia Hines, Public Affairs Specialist, Athens

Clinton Trice needed a change. The Albany farmer struggled over the years to keep his cattle operation in the black but Mother Nature seemed not to be on his side.

“Mother Nature is kind but sometimes she can be sort of unkind; especially when you’re not getting the water you need. We had some droughts and a few bad years with weather. Hay became scarce. I kind of got tired of that,” Trice explained.

He decided that he would give growing pecans a chance but he soon learned that operating a pecan orchard could also be challenging. The 4th generation farmer realized that he couldn’t continue to hope that water would be there when he needed it. That’s when he decided to visit his local USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) office.

“I wanted to see what programs or what benefits would work with my situation. I needed improvements with my water situation. Without water, you can’t go too far,” Trice said. After applying for financial and technical assistance provided through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), Trice was able to make improvements to his water situation after receiving a 2011 EQIP contract on more than 16 acres of pecan orchard.

As part of an Irrigation Water Management Plan, a micro-irrigation system has helped Trice keep his orchards healthy. While he appreciates the fact that he now has access to what he calls ‘timely’ water, he really appreciates the work that District Conservationist Vontice Jackson and Soil Conservationist LaShawn Brown have put into helping him complete his conservation installments.

“The best part is knowing that they’re there; really being there to fill in the gaps.” Trice added, “Vontice and LaShawn have been there when I needed them. They made me feel like any question was important. They’ve been a great help along the way.”

In addition to the 2011 EQIP contract, Trice is in the process of completing a 2012 EQIP contract that includes constructing a hoop house to extend his growing season and planting conservation cover crop. The crop used will be clover which is known to improve soil nutrition and health of pecan orchards. While ensuring his orchards are sustainable and profitable, Trice also tries to share his conservation philosophy with future generations.

“Notice the signs of what the land is telling you and just don’t overdo it when it comes to pesticides or water. Just conserve. What we see today will matter more tomorrow,” Trice explained.

 

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“319” Project Success in Dougherty County

Max (Buddy) Lewis is the owner of Lewis poultry farm in Dougherty County. Lewis operates a 250-acre farm of corn, cotton, hay land and pastureland.

Lewis received funding through a Golden Triangle Resource Conservation & Development Council “319” grant project to install a Stackhouse facility for dry litter. The USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) provided technical assistance with engineering design and writing the required Comprehensive Nutrient Management Plan (CNMP) for the farm.

Before assistance was available for Lewis, litter was stacked on the ground, around his four chicken houses which were surrounded by wetlands.

Installing this dry litter Stackhouse protects water quality, one of the objectives of the “319” project.

Clean Water Act, Section 319 (319 Program)

Congress enacted Section 319 of the Clean Water Act in 1987, establishing a national program to control (nonpoint source) NPS pollution. Section 319 helps states address NPS pollution through the development of assessment reports; adoption of management programs to control NPS pollution; and implementation of those management programs. U.S. EPA awards grants to states to assist them in implementing NPS management programs. Under Section 319 of the Clean Water Act, NPS pollution control is largely voluntary and promotes practices to protect watersheds (all of the land that drains into a body of water such as a river, lake, wetland, or groundwater).

Nonpoint source pollution is the diffuse, intermittent runoff of pollutants from various sources. Precipitation moving over and through the ground picks up pollutants from these sources and carries them into rivers, lakes, and ground water. Major sources that contribute to nonpoint source pollution problems are agriculture, construction erosion, urban runoff, hydrologic modifications, and resource extraction activities. The Clean Water Act of 1987 included a new national initiative to help states develop innovative nonpoint source pollution control strategies, solutions to nonpoint source problems and that promote the public's knowledge and awareness of nonpoint source pollution.

The 319 Program provides formula grants to the states to implement nonpoint source projects and programs in accordance with Section 319 of the Clean Water Act. Formula grants are awarded to a lead agency in each state. States and local organizations are required to provide 40 percent of the total project or program cost.

Under section 319, states, territories, and Indian tribes receive grant money which supports a wide variety of activities including technical assistance, financial assistance, education, training, technology transfer, demonstration projects, and monitoring to assess the success of specific nonpoint source implementation projects.

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