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Barn builder, moving company owner solve farm problems | Arizona

Three workers struggle to keep up with irrigating hundreds of acres of pecan trees. Excess water turns farm roads into mud, which melt away and need constant repair. Weeds pop-up everywhere, and the muddy roads make preparing the ground for harvest exhausting.

Glenn Williams.Glenn Williams loves pecan trees. The work involved in caring for them is worth the benefits. "Every time I drive through these trees in the summer, it so beautiful. It 10 or 20 degrees cooler; kind of like being at the ocean the way the sound is," said Williams.

As with any love, Williams love for his grand pecan trees had its difficulties. After buying the last of his 560 acres of pecan trees in 2002, Williams wanted a better way to water them. It was an all concrete ditch and siphon tubes, and the ditches leaked, said Williams.

Wanting to switch to solid set sprinklers, Williams found out about the Environmental Quality Incentives Program. EQIP helped pay for the new irrigation system. It's such an improvement, said Williams. I would have begged and borrowed the money from somewhere, but what he got was different from what he intended.

Pecan trees.Originally, I thought I was just going to water more efficiently, said Williams.

The three struggling workers became one. That's all it took to water the fields after the new irrigation system was installed. The muddy roads remained smooth, so tilling became unnecessary. Weeds popped up a little less, and since the roads were in good shape, mowing them was easy. Contractor work is one-quarter of what it used to be. I saved a lot of gas, said Williams. But the harvesting is the best part, because the ground is always ready for harvest.
And maybe most importantly for Williams, pecan yields went up 200-500 pounds per acre.

There was improved management of the fields,said Art Meen, Resource Planner with the Natural Resources Conservation Service. Meen and NRCS helped design the new irrigation system and gave Williams financial help through EQIP.

Pecan trees.Before he bought his first pecan orchard, Williams owned a moving company near a military base. He spent his whole life in Cochise County, a rural area in southeast Arizona bordering Mexico. His father farmed milo for cattle feed. In the 1970s, Williams went on his own, buying 400 acres of wheat. His first year was a total loss due to storms that ruined his crop, and he left farming for more than a decade.

Williams bought just 10 acres of pecan trees in 1991. I knew I had to get bigger or get out. It's making me a good living, and it reduces a lot stress than the moving and storage business, said Williams.

As Williams bought more acres of pecan trees, he had Brian Luna build metal barns for him. It didn't take long for Luna and his son to realize working among the beauty of pecan trees was better than building barns. What he (Luna) does now is pecans, said Williams.

In part due to the water conservation work of Williams and Luna, they were awarded as Conservation Security Program recipients in 2005. CSP rewards farmers and ranchers who have exceeded top standards in conserving natural resources.

Two less struggling workers irrigating the fields, less tractor and tillage work, gas savings, no muddy roads, and fewer weeds; all from watering a little more efficiently. And more pecans for you and me.

Written by George Couch, NRCS-AZ public affairs specialist, 10-25-07