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News Release

Fighting Serious Erosion? Time To Call NRCS

For More Information , State Public Affairs Specialist, Jody Christiansen, Public Affairs Specialist (217) 353.6627


Farmers in Douglas Creek Watershed face changing weather patterns that increase erosion

Champaign, IL—Nestled in the Douglas Creek Watershed, Richard Neff farms several hundred rolling acres in St. Clair County. Neff also manages a large hog finishing operation. His land has been farmed since his grandfather, Peter Neff obtained it nearly 100 years ago. “We’re not a Centennial Farm, but we’re close!” Neff explains.

Richard finished planting corn and soybeans last Saturday night. Besides a planting season that came unusually early and unusually warm, Rich made a special trip into Belleville this spring. He met with District Conservationist for USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, John Harryman because he needed help combating erosion problems he’s faced over the last few years.

Like many farmers, Neff experienced minor erosion issues on the farm before. “It was never erosion that was too severe or too damaging. It wasn’t ever anything you couldn’t work out or restore on your own in the spring,” Neff said.

But according to Neff, recent weather and storm events, particularly in St. Clair and surrounding areas have been heavier, more frequent, and of greater intensity. Since 2008, after every rain event Neff finds more and more sizable and impassable gullies that wash his soil away. With more rainfall, degraded water quality from erosion and sediment, and increased urban storm water runoff, Neff realized he needed technical guidance and assistance from the erosion professionals: NRCS.

According to Harryman, this was the perfect time for Richard to hook up with NRCS—especially since water quality issues in the Douglas Creek Watershed were just selected for a special conservation program. In Illinois, the new Water Quality Initiative will direct funds to address resource problems in three watersheds: Douglas Creek, Lake Vermilion, and Crooked-Bonpas Creek.

Neff and Harryman began working together to investigate all details for the parcels with the most pressing erosion-related concerns. Neff’s rolling landscape may benefit from new terraces, water and sediment control basins, or a number of other conservation solutions to protect and stabilize the ground. Survey work and detailed plans will be ironed out over the next few weeks. Together, they will develop a conservation plan with ideal conservation practices needed to keep Neff’s soils productive and where he needs them: in his fields. Neff and Harryman will also look at available funds that can help offset the costs of needed conservation practices.

As Neff considers using NRCS’ Environmental Quality Incentives Program, known as ‘EQIP,’ he will receive helpful guidance and conservation incentive payments to help cover costs of designing and installing key practices. “Local weather patterns have changed lately. And that’s changed the on-the-ground realities where these guys farm. With NRCS help and conservation practices, we will get all that water under control,” adds Harryman.

Both Richard and father Anthony have incorporated conservation practices in the past, namely no-till and several grassed waterways but now, more is needed. Neff says his goal for this project with NRCS is simple—he needs to stop the erosion. “I want to leave this farm for my kids and I want it in better condition than when I got it. That’s what this is really all about,” adds Neff. Neff’s entire family, which includes wife Karen, mom Arlene, and daughter Amanda are eager to see the plan come to life and start solving problems. Grandparents Peter and Cecilia would be proud as well.

Other farmers or landowners in the area who are experiencing similar erosion problems can contact NRCS in St. Clair County to learn more. For landowners located in the Douglas Creek Watershed, the deadline for this special opportunity ends June 15, 2012 so call (618) 235-2500 today.
For more information about the Water Quality Initiative and NRCS’ programs, initiatives and services in Illinois, visit NRCS online at

douglas creek map                                            aerial photo of a terrace system                           


Boundary for Douglas Creek Watershed in St. Clair County, Illinois. Farmers with land in this area who are interested in applying for special Water Quality Initiative EQIP funds should contact District Conservationist John Harryman in the NRCS office in Belleville at (618) 235-2500, extension #3 or Terrace systems and other conservation practices help landowners manage and control water on agricultural fields in order to reduce erosion and improve water quality. NRCS photo.

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