story by Krista Lucas, USDA-NRCS Intern and Earth Team Volunteer
The 57th Annual Terry County Farm Tour was held as one of the many farm tours this fall in the High Plains region. The event was organized and planned by Terry County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) with help from the USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and community partners.
Over 100 people attended the tour to visit local farms and agriculture industry in the county.
Brandt Underwood, NRCS agronomist in Lubbock, presented at the first stop on a Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) field to discuss the State Acres for Wildlife Enhancement (SAFE) program as a conservation practice under CRP. Offered through the Farm Service Agency (FSA), Underwood gave an update on habitat improvement for the lesser prairie-chicken and explained that producers create habitat to benefit wildlife species through SAFE.
Terry County NRCS District Conservationist Kegan Crouch helped during the question and answer session concerning seed mixes, and SAFE acres enrolled in the county and locations identified as the lesser prairie-chicken action areas in the region.
Crouch said, “We chose to include program updates to inform landowners and producers of their current planning options. The farm tour has always been a good opportunity for NRCS to provide outreach on program topics.”
Duane Lucia, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, added important information on the possible endangered species listing for the lesser prairie-chicken and what is needed to provide good habitat for the species.
The second stop of the tour brought participants to Monty Henson’s farm, where Henson covered a range of issues including crop rotations, irrigation water management, soil health, water quality, pest management, and nutrient management. Henson described the management he implements in his operation to improve the natural resources on his farms. Scott Russell, a Terry County extension Integrated Pest Management (IPM) agent, also discussed the IPM program and how it benefits producers.
Brace Huse, plant manager of Landmark Earth Solutions was the final stop of the tour. Huse provided a guided tour of their facility and showcased the many products they make, as well as describing how local by-products are used to create the end products. The Landmark Earth Solution plant makes a range of products consisting of hydro mulch, flooding and roadside barricades, as well as military defense barricades. These products are made primarily from cotton burs as well as old hay and other fibrous material, and are distributed internationally.
An awards luncheon followed the tour at the First Baptist Church, with a catered meal by 2B Ranch Catering. The Terry County SWCD directors informed the crowd of all the outreach programs they sponsor, as well as showing video highlights of the events. The SWCD board also discussed the Duane Moss Scholarship awarded to Terry County students, and how it takes local sponsors to allow all of these events to take place. Individuals and groups were recognized for their sponsorship of the Terry County Farm Tour, Kids Kows and More event, outdoor classroom activities, Farm and Ranch Heritage Day, Ag Career Expo, and those involved in the grass seed and tree sales.
The Outstanding Young Farmer and the Outstanding Farm Family awards were also featured at the event with video highlights of the producer’s operations and how NRCS and the SWCD assists them with voluntary technical and program assistance. Each award winner was presented a special plaque honoring their work in conservation.
The community of Terry County always looks forward to the fall farm tour to spotlight local ag businesses and industry and to award those who have done an excellent job in conserving natural resources in their county. This year the banquet had upwards of 300 producers and local business representatives in attendance.
“It’s a community effort,” Crouch said. “People in this county applaud agriculturists and what they do to ensure the food and fiber we all enjoy.”
Brandt Underwood, NRCS Zone Agronomist, informs producers about the CRP SAFE program and its benefits to the Lesser Prairie Chicken.
Duane Lucia, Fish & Wildlife Biologist, discusses Lesser Prairie Chicken habitat needs as well as how the CRP SAFE program can provide expansion of the Lesser Prairie Chicken's current range.
After the tour concluded, a banquet was held at the First Baptist Church to highlight the Outstanding Farm Family and Outstanding Young Farmer of the year award. The banquet was attended by over 300 local producers and business representatives
Monty Henson, Terry County Farmer, discusses his farming operation with participants on the Terry County Farm Tour, as well as the benefits of crop rotations, irrigation water management, and working with local NRCS personnel.
Farm Tour participants gather outside the Landmark Earth Solutions plant to tour the facility, as well as hear what products are locally made.