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Building Bright Futures at Belding Farms

Building Bright Futures at Belding Farms

Story by Jaime Tankersley

The Trans-Pecos Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD), Texas AgriLife Extension Service and the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) all gathered on November 5, 2010 at Belding Farms located outside of Fort Stockton, Texas to welcome over 60 fifth-graders to the 21st Annual Educational Field Day.

The agenda consisted of soils and erosion, plant identification, irrigation equipment and methods, pecan processing and harvesting. Students were in for a special treat as Jim Tinkler, Trans-Pecos SWCD Director, unloaded an authentic chuck wagon and demonstrated the cowboy art of Dutch oven cooking.

The field day originated over two decades ago due to complaints within the county about the amount of water used to irrigate the 2,200-acre pecan orchard. Belding Farms Manager, Glenn Honaker, has always had an avid interest in water conservation. He wanted a way to share his interest and the farms message.

Conservation practices at Belding Farms target the one resource that is scarce in the Trans-Pecos region: water. Measures to conserve water on the farm include acreage leveled for flood irrigation in level basins; irrigation pumps and power plants and a delivery system consisting of concrete lined canals and underground pipelines.

The farm also records monthly water well measurements, production levels and a soil moisture probe is used to monitor soil moisture levels and aid in scheduling irrigations.

Explaining these practices along with other means of conservation has been part of the field day�s overall mission since its establishment.

The NRCS offered two stations during the field day, plant identification and soil and erosion. NRCS District Conservationists, Kyle Wright and Darrel Seidel, manned the stations and offered an interactive learning session.

Students were served lunch by the Trans-Pecos SWCD. Before loading the busses and returning to school, Belding Farms had one more stop in store for the participants. A tree harvesting demonstration was the last station for the annual field day. Everyone gathered at the orchard to watch as the harvesting machinery was put to work. The equipment �shook� the tree in a fashion that caused pecans to fall from the limbs. With bags in hand, students swarmed to the tree to collect the freshly fallen pecans.

As the 21st Annual Fifth-Grade Educational Field Day came to an end, students returned to school not only with pecans, but a new found respect for conserving our natural resources.

Trans Pecos Soil and Water Conservation District Director, Jim Tinkler, explains the art of Dutch oven cooking to a group of Fort Stockton elementary students during the 21st Annual Educational Field Day held at Belding Farms.

Pecan harvesting equipment was on display at the 21st Annual Educational Field Day held at Belding Farms.

Trans Pecos Soil and Water Conservation District Director, Jim Tinkler, explains the art of Dutch oven cooking to a group of Fort Stockton elementary students during the 21st Annual Educational Field Day held at Belding Farms.

 

Pecan harvesting equipment was on display at the 21st Annual Educational Field Day held at Belding Farms.

 

Students from Fort Stockton elementary had a hands-on irrigation learning experience during the annual field day held at Belding Farms. Belding Farms, a 2,200-acre pecan orchard outside of Fort Stockton, Texas, welcomed over 60 fifth-graders to the 21st Annual Educational Field Day on November 5, 2010.

Students from Fort Stockton elementary had a hands-on irrigation learning experience during the annual field day held at Belding Farms.

Belding Farms, a 2,200-acre pecan orchard outside of Fort Stockton, Texas, welcomed over 60 fifth-graders to the 21st Annual Educational Field Day on November 5, 2010.