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Productive Pastures: NRCS & Farmers Improve Resource Quality

Martinez farm clockwise from top left: brush management, pipeline, fencing, water trough, spring boxJosé M. Martinez is a limited resource farmer who rents a 166-acre farm to produce beef cattle in the town of Coamo Arriba in Coamo County, Puerto Rico. The farm drains into the Coamo River.

The farm’s soils are mainly Callabo silty clay loam with very steep 35 to 40 percent slopes. The pastures were overgrazed and heavily infested with weedy brush consisting mainly of Acacia (Vachelia Farnesiana). The farm had only one watering trough, even though the property had a spring with a good water flow. Mr. Martinez needed help managing his farm and natural resources to improve his livestock operation while conserving soil and water on the property.

Mr. Martinez worked with USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) District Conservationist, Nicis Vega, and Soil Conservationist, Lydia Bravo, to develop a conservation plan to improve farm management. They established a planned grazing system and developed the existing spring to supply water to a new watering facility to provide fresh water for the cattle. Mr. Martinez installed:

  • 65 acres of brush management;
  • 1,800 feet of pasture fences;
  • 748-gallon watering facility; and
  • 500 feet of pipeline.

Mr. Martinez also implemented a prescribed grazing system. With the installation of these practices, resource concerns addressed included water quantity and water quality, soil erosion, plant productivity and animal stress and health.

Mr. Martinez was able to increase the number of cattle on his farm (from 100 to 150 head), simultaneously increasing his income while conserving natural resources due to better farm management practices. He sees an improvement in pasture productivity and is very grateful for NRCS’ help. Mr. Martinez is now more knowledgeable of conservation practices and the benefits of applying conservation measures on the land.