Conservation Just Comes Natural for Idaho Farmer
Idaho farmer has always had a love for the land
Farmer Eddie Lenz has an innate knowledge of caring for the land. "Ever since I was little, I have always had this feeling about walking across the lawn and leaving a footprint-- I just didn't like it," said Lenz. "I think somehow, it always bothered me to see the land abused." Now as a landowner, he ensures his farming practices do not leave footprints of neglect or misuse on the landscape.
Lenz was born and raised on a farm in eastern Idaho that his grandfather settled in 1903. In the late 1960s, he took over the farming duties and now farms 1,100 acres. His diverse operation includes 300 acres of pastureland and 800 acres of cropland, surrounded by plenty of trees and grass buffers for wildlife habitat.
While Lenz and his wife Sue do not consider themselves green-thumb environmentalists, they attribute their increased understanding of conservation methods to the Natural Resources Conservation Service
(NRCS). They have installed a variety of practices to improve water quality and control soil erosion with conservation technical assistance from NRCS.
Lenz is implementing a prescribed grazing plan with rotational grazing, riparian area protection, forage management and noxious weed control. Natural resource benefits derived from his grazing plan include water quality improvement and healthy plant and animal communities. He follows a nutrient management plan to apply the proper amounts of commercial fertilizer. For erosion control purposes, he rotates hay into his crops and practices minimum tillage. He also maintains grass waterways to prevent soil erosion and runoff.
Lenz considers himself somewhat of a wildlife enthusiast. "I didn't plow up the trees and turn that into farmland because of its benefits to wildlife habitat. I see deer, elk and coyotes--even seen a few bears. It's kind of like a preserve - got squirrels and raccoons too, just hundreds of animals on this farm and I try to let them live as much as they can."
He admits that he has fallen in love with the land, which is why he hasn't sold it amidst the high development pressures and rising costs. "My wish is to see this land taken care of and remain in agriculture. It's a home for wildlife and is beautiful scenery. I want my family to always be able to enjoy that."
Lenz meets with local NRCS District Conservationist Ken Beckmann on a regular basis to discuss future plans for his farm. Lenz says he appreciates that NRCS is helpful, never there to police, always willing to work with him to enhance his land on his own time. "Things on our operation have been going well, but there's always room for improvement," said Lenz.
Lenz cannot explain his passion for the land; he says he just thinks it is important to take care of it. "It's like a bank account, if you keep withdrawing it, you'll deplete it, but if you put back some, you grow interest and you'll be fine. That's how I look at it."
Written by Dastina Johnson, NRCS public affairs specialist