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Dedicated Small Farmer

South Carolina Farmer Dedicated to Improving Livestock Management

Amy O. Maxwell, USDA-NRCS

Theodore "Teddy" Nesmith, in Williamsburg County, SC, is proud ofhis home. "The town of Nesmith was named after my great, great, greatgrandfather," he explained. Nesmith still lives on the farm where he wasborn and, along with his son, raises cows and goats on 12 acres. Nesmithreceived cost-share assistance from NRCS’ Environmental Quality IncentivesProgram (EQIP) to install watering tanks and for pasture planning and prescribedgrazing.

During the past year, Nesmith has worked with NRCS District ConservationistReginald Hall to improve his livestock through techniques such as rotationalgrazing. "Teddy is willing to try anything that will improve the quality ofhis farm," commented Hall. "He tried rotational grazing in one fieldand was really pleased with the results, so he put the rest of his pasturelandinto EQIP." Hall assisted Nesmith in preparing a prescribed grazing plan tocontrol the harvest of vegetation by his livestock. Prescribed grazing systemscan—

    • improve or maintain the health and vigor of plants and maintain a stable and desired plant community
    • improve or maintain food, cover, and shelter for animals
    • maintain or improve water quality and quantity
    • reduce soil erosion and maintain or improve soil condition

Rotational grazing allows pastureland to receive a rest period (non-grazed)during the growing season for reseeding, hay production, or other reasons. Thefrequency and duration of rest periods depend on the number of pastures, pasturesize, and forage growth rate.

Nutrient management helps producers control the amount, form, placement, andtiming of applications of plant nutrients. This includes nutrients such asorganic waste, commercial fertilizer, legume crops, and crop residues. Thesepractices allow plants to receive proper nutrients for maximum forage and cropyields, while minimizing runoff of nutrients to ground and surface water.

"Teddy is practicing nutrient management by monitoring the amount offertilizer he applies and he is also doing soil testing," said Hall.

Nesmith also found success through fencing and installation of water tanks."Before the fencing, the livestock was eating anywhere andeverywhere!" said Nesmith. "Now, I can control where and how much theyeat with the fencing and rotational grazing." The water tanks have providedthe cattle and goats with an excellent water source and also keeps them out ofNesmith’s pond and a nearby creek branch.

Nesmith is also involved in South Carolina State University’s 1890Extension Service Heifer Program and Meat Goat Program. He grows his ownvegetables and does not use any chemicals or commercial fertilizers—onlychicken litter. "Teddy is a farmer with a great respect for the environmentand he is dedicated to conservation," said Hall. He also added, "Hisland is located within the Black Mingo Priority Area so his conservation effortsare helping to improve the area’s overall health."

It’s no secret to other landowners and conservationists in Nesmith that"Teddy" cares about the environment. "I tell all the farmers Iknow about the USDA cost-share programs, and especially about EQIP and what ithas helped me to accomplish," he said. "I tell them what they aremissing out on if they don’t know about it and tell them to getinvolved," he added. Because of Nesmith’s outstanding conservation ethic,he was presented with the 2000 Williamsburg County Soil and Water ConservationDistrict (SWCD) Cooperator of the Year Award.