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Category: Farmer & Rancher Stories

Farming Together – It’s a Family Tradition

Posted by Natural Resources Conservation Service, Louisiana Public Affairs on July 06, 2016 at 08:15 AM
Kobe Williams, son of Travis Williams, holds an NRCS partnership sign as Elvadus Fields looks on.

Kobe Williams, son of Travis Williams, holds an NRCS partnership sign as Elvadus Fields looks on.

Soil erosion and drainage problems were plaguing Horace Robinson, Calvin Williams, and Travis Williams, a family of soybean farmers in the Mississippi Delta Region of Louisiana. They weren’t quite sure what to do to combat these problems while maintaining a productive farm.  

Enter Harvey Reed and Elvadus Fields. Read more >>

Tags: Louisiana, StrikeForce, EQIP, soil erosion

categories Discover Conservation, Conservation Programs, Farmer & Rancher Stories


Kansas Rancher’s Patch Burn Grazing Restores Prairie Grasslands

Posted by Sandra Murphy, Lesser Prairie-Chicken Initiative on June 28, 2016 at 10:11 AM
Ed Koger (standing) and researcher Jonathan Lautenbach prepare to radio-collar a heifer as part of a study of how cattle and prairie chickens use recently burned grasslands.

Ed Koger (standing) and researcher Jonathan Lautenbach prepare to radio-collar a heifer as part of a study of how cattle and prairie chickens use recently burned grasslands.

This story is cross-posted from the Lesser Prairie-Chicken Initiative (LPCI), a partnership led by USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to help ranchers conserve lesser prairie-chicken habitat on working lands.

Under Ed Koger’s care, the Hashknife Ranch is home to a thriving population of lesser prairie-chickens and a robust cattle operation. Koger’s conservation ethic is rooted deep in the Kansas prairie. A fifth-generation Kansan, Koger recalls his maternal grandmother’s words when he was a boy growing up in the Flint Hills. “She’d say, ‘we don’t own the land—it belongs to our Maker, and we need to take care of it and leave it better than we found it.’” Read more >>

Tags: Kansas, lesser prairie chicken

categories Landscape Initiatives, Environment, Farmer & Rancher Stories


Maintaining Healthy Timber Forests Takes Teamwork

Posted by Tracy Robillard, Oregon Public Affairs Officer on June 27, 2016 at 04:31 PM
Kevin Goodell (left), a member of the Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians and tribal natural resources crew member, and Mike Kennedy, natural resources director for the Siletz Tribe.

Kevin Goodell (left), a member of the Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians and tribal natural resources crew member, and Mike Kennedy, natural resources director for the Siletz Tribe.

“I love working in the forest. Feels good just to be out here,” says Kevin Goodell, a Siletz tribal member who serves on the tribe’s natural resources crew. “We log the trees, we go back in and plant them, we thin them. It’s a cycle that keeps the forest healthy and keeps it here for future generations―for my kids and grandkids.”

Healthy forests are an integral part of the Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians’ way of life—spiritually, culturally, and economically.

“Forest health is our shared focus,” says Kate Danks, Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) district conservationist in Lincoln County. “Pre-commercial thinning is essential because it removes damaged and diseased trees, and it opens up the canopy, allowing more sunlight in. The open understory also provides better wildlife habitat.” Read more >>

Tags: Oregon, forests, Tribal

categories Communities, Environment, Farmer & Rancher Stories, Soil Health


Sunrise to Sundown, Beekeeping Forester Never Stops

Posted by Renee Bodine, Florida Public Affairs Specialist on June 22, 2016 at 10:20 AM
A workshop he took two years ago prompted Willie Earl Paramore to become a beekeeper.

A workshop he took two years ago prompted Willie Earl Paramore to become a beekeeper.

In September, Willie Earl Paramore will turn 90, but he isn’t letting any grass grow under his feet. He doesn’t stop moving, learning or doing. He manages a forest, hiking and four-wheeling though 540 acres, where he sets the prescribed burns himself. He also keeps bees, building his own bee boxes and moving them around to get the best nectar. And he is still on-call for the Paramore Drug Store that now belongs to his son. Willie Earl is frequently the featured speaker on bees and trees at the town civic group meetings and Rotary Club. 


“I retired 21 years ago and have been playing ever since,” he said. Everyone in town knows him and they will tell you right away that no one in town can keep up with Willie Earl, no matter what age. 

A third-generation farmer, Willie Earl became interested in forestry when he planted two acres of longleaf pine trees for his Future Farmers of America project in 1942. But then he was drafted. When he returned from the army he married his high school sweetheart, Corrie, settling in the small rural town of Marianna, Florida. They raised a family and he was the town pharmacist, but it wasn’t long before Willie Earl started acquiring land.  Read more >>

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Tags: Florida, pollinators, longleaf pines, multi-generational farmer

categories Farmer & Rancher Stories


This Farmer’s Convinced: “Ugly” Fields Have Higher Yields

Posted by Robert Hathorne, Oklahoma Public Affairs Specialist on June 17, 2016 at 10:17 AM
Scotty Herriman places a trusting hand on the no-till drill he viewed with such skepticism for decades. Today, he often leads the state in dryland no-till corn yields.

Scotty Herriman places a trusting hand on the no-till drill he viewed with such skepticism for decades. Today, he often leads the state in dryland no-till corn yields.

Back in 2009, you couldn’t pay Scotty Herriman to try no-till. “Our bottomland is tight, heavy clay,” he insisted. “It won’t work here.”

Scotty has been growing corn, soybeans, wheat and milo on 2,000 acres in Nowata County, Oklahoma for more than 50 years. So, it’s generally wise to take his word when it comes to farming. But Scotty is the first to acknowledge he misjudged no-till. Six years after switching to no-till, he says, “it will work here, and I’ve proved it.”

As is the unfortunate truth for many producers, it took a series of disasters to get Scotty to consider changing from the conventional farming practices he had used for decades. He had seen others try no-till as early as the 1970s, but even during the severe drought of 1980-1981, Scotty doubted the cost-effective and water-saving system. He was convinced a chisel was necessary to break up his soil, and the cost of a no-till drill was a gamble that outweighed the potential benefit. Read more >>

Related Links

Tags: Oklahoma, soil health

categories Soil Health, Discover Conservation, Farmer & Rancher Stories


Conservationists by Heart, Farmers by Trade

Posted by Amy Overstreet, Vermont Public Affairs Officer on June 14, 2016 at 02:46 PM
The Hulett family (left to right) Mandy, Richard, and their children.

The Hulett family (left to right) Mandy, Richard, and their children.

Vermont dairy farmers use bedded pack to help improve the herd, environment, and farm

For nearly 20 years, Richard Hulett and his father, Dick, have protected and improved the natural resources on Deer Flats Farm, their 1,000-acre cattle farm near Pawlet, Vermont. Winters in Pawlet can be long and snow, ice, mud, and manure can build up. That’s why the Huletts decided to put a bedded pack system to work on their operation.

Prior to the bedded pack, the cattle were on pasture. “It was a mess,” says Richard.   

“These barn systems are covered by a roof and filled with bedding material to provide manure storage and improve animal comfort and health,” says Sally Eugair, an NRCS soil conservation technician. Bedding costs are much higher for bedded pack than for any other housing, but can improve herd health by providing comfortable places for herds to spend the winter months.  Read more >>

Tags: Vermont

categories Farmer & Rancher Stories, Conservation Programs, Discover Conservation, Plants & Animals


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