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Success Stories | Nevada

NRCS National Identity Campaign
Featured Landowner Success Story

Name: John Maurer
Location: Fish Lake Valley, Nevada
Operation: Alfalfa Hay; Beginning Farmer
Story by: Ed Biggs, District Conservationist, Yerington, Nevada
  (775) 463-2265
  Liz Warner, Public Affairs Specialist, Reno, Nevada
  (775) 857-8500 x 105


John Maurer.For the past three years, John Maurer has been working hard to make the farm he was raised on an even better place to live. Maurer and his wife, Valerie, own the Hillside Hay Company in Nevada, and raise high quality alfalfa hay for dairies in California.

In 2004, Maurer contacted the NRCS office in Yerington, Nev., for assistance to improve his obsolete and inefficient irrigation system. He worked with NRCS to develop a conservation plan and signed up as a beginning farmer under the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). As a beginning farmer, Maurer was eligible to receive 90 percent of the cost of installing the practices identified in his conservation plan, an additional 15 percent over the usual amount of cost-share provided through EQIP.

"My first project was installing a high efficiency center pivot sprinkler system on 253 acres," said Maurer. "I used nozzles equipped with pressure regulators to optimize the application efficiency of the water, and I placed the sprinkler nozzles closer to the ground to minimize wind drift and evaporation."

John's records indicate that his alfalfa hay yields increased from 4.72 tons per acre in 2003 to 6.1 tons per acre in 2005. Electrical power usage decreased from 526 kilowatt hours to 402 kilowatt hours per ton of hay produced during the same time period. Savings in electrical power equated to $9.30 per ton of hay produced.

Maurer leases 400 acres in addition to the 700 acres he owns. He was so pleased with his new irrigation system that he worked with one of his landlords to install 10,000 feet of irrigation pipeline and 3 center pivot sprinkler systems on 150 acres that he leases.

According to Ed Biggs, NRCS district conservationist, Maurer is enhancing wildlife habitat on his land to help reduce wind induced soil erosion and improve air quality. He will plant 800 linear feet of trees and shrubs and install a micro (drip) irrigation system to provide regular water to the plants. The planting will provide food and cover for wildlife, including raptors, passerines and other bird species.

Recently, Maurer was encouraged by Tracey Jean Wolfe, NRCS range management specialist, to participate in a wind erosion control demonstration project planned by the NRCS Great Basin Plant Materials Center and the Esmeralda County Conservation District. The project will be conducted on a portion of his land that is highly visible from State Highway 266.

A regular participant at the Esmeralda County Conservation District meetings and a county committee member for the local Farm Service Agency, Maurer also helps get the word out about USDA programs to fellow agricultural producers in the Fish Lake Valley area. The NRCS staff in Yerington really appreciates his efforts, especially since the USDA Service Center is located 150 miles away.

Thanks to John's efforts, he's making his community an even better place to live, too.