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Taking it to the Next Level with the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP)

Rose Ann Masters - Masters Charolais in Fleming CountyCharlie Masters grew up on the farm he and his wife Rose Ann now own in Mays Lick, Kentucky.  Farming was not familiar to Rose Ann though.  She retired from teaching in Fleming County a few years ago and now finds herself running a successful breeding operation with 35 head of Charolais.

John Masters, Charlie’s father bought the farm in 1960 and Charlie and Rose Ann bought it from him in 2006.  John taught his son to appreciate the land and how to care for crops and cattle.  When Charlie and Rose Ann bought the farm, Charlie continued his work as an aircraft salesman for Eastern Cincinnati Aviation, but knew he wanted to continue his father’s legacy.  The farm needed some work to improve the land for grazing but Charlie and Rose Ann were up for the challenge.

Rose Ann knew that she would be the one most involved with the day to day operation of the farm with Charlie selling planes so she did what she knew to do from her teaching days.  She signed up for training and now has her Master Cattleman Certification.  Rose Ann also knew that the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) was available for technical assistance as well.  The Master’s have participated in the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) where they installed (list practices)

  • 4,000 feet of pipeline
  • 5 livestock watering facilities
  • 2,100 feet of fence
  • 75 acres prescribed grazing
  • 4.5 acres Access Control

With the advice of the NRCS District Conservationist, Curtis Rosser (now retired), the Masters developed a rotational grazing plan.  The cows had walked the same path in the same pastures for so long the land was damaged so the Master’s added electric fencing to enable the re-sectioning of pastures and move the cattle in different directions.  Now, Rose Ann can move the fencing in various ways to maximize the rotational grazing system.  The Master’s Charolais business is continuing to improve as they improve their pastures for their cattle. 

The Master’s applied for the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) in 2010.  The CSP is a voluntary conservation program that encourages producers to address resource concerns in a comprehensive manner by undertaking additional conservation activities and improving, maintaining, and managing existing conservation activities.  They were approved for the program and have since applied three additional enhancements to their farm.

As part of the CSP enhancements, the Masters have adjusted their application rates of nitrogen to allow for more efficient plant uptake and increase nutrient utilization.  They also have begun to alter their mowing routes to flush out nesting birds and other wildlife species.  The latest enhancement for the Masters’ farm is their solar powered water pump. 

The farm once had an electric pump connected to a natural spring but a storm came and blew down a nearby tree and severed the power line to the pump.  Thinking about possibly a wind mill for power, the Masters decided on a solar powered pump to allow the drinkers (watering facility) to fill up and then kick off.  The watering facilities were being filled by the electric pump that was continuously filling and had to be manually shut off.  With financial assistance through the CSP, the Masters were able to convert to a solar powered, automatic shut off pump.   The pump is now working perfectly and thankfully, even in drought the spring has never gone dry. 

The watering facilities also have a soffit added to the shut off valves to allow the Masters to attach a watering hose and clean the drinkers from the spring water.  Rose Ann cleans the watering facilities to keep the water as clean and healthy as possible for the cattle.

It’s obvious that the cattle are comfortable with Rose Ann as one calmly approaches her she said, “I really enjoy this, I didn’t think I would but I do.” Rose Ann has a passion for the well being of her cattle. 

The rotational grazing plan has really improved the Masters’ farm.  The Charolais graze in corn and pastures and this year had nine acres of turnips to enjoy.  Rose Ann added that she only supplemented with hay to the calves and lactating cows to make them happy.  Rose Ann said, “I can see how much the rotational grazing helps.”

What’s ahead for the Masters’ Charolais farm?  They plan to add some trees in the access control areas of the farm and are also trying to design some mobile shade for the fields.  “I want happy cows.”