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2012 Bell County Crops and Livestock Conference

story by Randy Henry

The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) helped landowners and producers learn about updated water issues, post-drought information, and range management topics at the Bell County Crops and Livestock Conference held at the Bell County Expo Center on Jan. 25, 2012, in Belton, Texas.

With more than 275 attendees and 20 exhibitors at the conference, dozens of people came by the NRCS booth and received information about NRCS conservation programs and spoke with NRCS personnel from Bell County and the Bartlett Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD).

Matt Machacek, NRCS Rangeland Management and Grazing Lands Specialist in Corsicana, Texas, delivered an informative presentation focusing on The Benefits of Native Grass Pastures.

"The rising cost of feed, fuel, and fertilizer has forced many producers to look closer at the cost of forage production," said Machacek. "With proper management, native tall grasses on our rich Blackland soils can produce more biomass than unfertilized pastures."

Additional presentations about agricultural issues included Permit Requirements for Pesticide Application, Farm Service Agency Updates, Water Implications on Private Land, Economic Outlook for Agriculture in 2012, Re-establishing Improved Pastures, Laws and Regulations, and Feral Hogs in the Blacklands. There were six continuing education units offered, focusing on integrated pest management, laws and regulations, and general units.

Plus, local NRCS personnel helped several conference attendees with questions about NRCS conservation programs, along with information on being a new landowner, the 2008 Farm Bill, conservation planning, and land management practices. Besides Machacek, NRCS personnel included Kelli McClelland, NRCS District Conservationist in Belton; Kaleb Pool, NRCS District Conservationist in Barlett; Beau Gray, NRCS Soil Conservationist in Belton; Chuck Tonn, NRCS Soil Conservation Technician in Belton; and Chad Hajda, NRCS Soil Conservation Technician in Cameron.

Sponsors for the conference included USDA-NRCS, Texas AgriLife Extension Service of Bell County, USDA Farm Service Agency, Central Texas Soil and Water Conservation District No. 509, Little River-San Gabriel Soil and Water Conservation District No. 508, and the Clearwater Underground Water Conservation District.


Conference Attendees Kaleb Pool at NRCS Booth

With more than 275 farmers and ranchers in attendance, few chairs were empty when the presentations started at the 2012 Bell County Crops and Livestock Conference as attendees listened to discussions about water issues, post-drought topics, and range management practices.

Kaleb Pool, NRCS District Conservationist in Bartlett, Texas, listens to speakers addressing crop and livestock issues, and awaits NRCS booth visitors with questions about conservation programs and land management practices during the Bell County Crop and Livestock Conference held on Jan. 24th in Belton, Texas.

Matt Machacek

Kicking off the conference in Belton was Matt Machacek, NRCS Rangeland Management and Grazing Lands Specialist in Corsicana, Texas, delivering an informative presentation about the Management of Native Grasses.