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Success Stories | Mississippi

A Staunch Advocate of Conservation

Jeannine May, PAS November 1, 2007

Dr. Harlan Rogers has spent a lifetime as an advocate of conservation, both professionally and personally, enhancing the world around him. Today, his farm is an example to his urban and rural neighbors of what a caring family can do to improve the land and continue to make it productive. He gives that 'extra effort' to his land and has helped countless others through his involvement in organizations that foster conservation programs. Love of the land and a sense of community are two traits that make Dr. Rogers passionate about his stewardship ethics.

Dr. Harlan Rogers.The Rogers have been ranching in the same location near Collins, Mississippi, since 1926 and breeding Charolais cattle since l959. Dr. Rogers, owner and founder of Rogers Bar HR, has been on national committees and has received national awards for conservation ethics. The 3,000-acre Rogers Bar HR Ranch is located about 90 miles north of the Gulf of Mexico in the rolling Coastal Plains region. Receiving about 65 inches of rainfall each year, the Rogers Bar HR has some of the best grazing land in the state.

Using agricultural by-products and utilizing NRCS conservation practices, Rogers has healed cutover land from timber harvesters and converted it to lush green pastures with the help of chicken fertilizer produced by local poultry farms. "We use the free chicken litter (which helps the poultry farmers dispose of their waste) on the land to our advantage. The pastures we graze and cut hay on now would still be ugly cutover if it weren't for that litter and NRCS assistance," says Dr. Rogers. "Being conservative pays off, like using by-products like chicken litter."

They run a stocker operation with 5,000 animals. His herd has the highest EPD's of any herd in North America. According to Lane Kimbrough, district conservationist, Rogers and his son Doug control erosion through grade stabilization structures (EQIP), critical area treatment, conservation tillage systems, fencing and installation of riparian areas along streams. They believe in managing foraging resources through rotational grazing systems and nutrient management systems. They manage the land through land use planning according to land capabilities. They are constantly seeking innovative ways to improve the operation and look to many agencies and organizations for assistance. He often serves as a 'guinea pig' so to speak, by trying environmental practices at his own financial risk. His farm is a textbook of conservation practices and he graciously opens the doors for field days and demonstration presentations. Many producers have adopted his practices.

Cattle.Homer L. Wilkes, State Conservationist, believes that Dr. Rogers and his family are an outstanding example to represent NRCS nationwide. The Rogers family bought small parcels over a long period of time. The land was worn out cotton fields or cutover timber with unprotected, highly erodible soils. When the land was first purchased, the water that ran off it was red from the erosion of red clay soil. Now, according to Dr. Rogers, the water flows out of their pastures and is clear because of grasses and clovers that hold the soil in place. "Their good management practices have resulted in wildlife turkeys-probably as many per acre as anywhere in the nation." stated Wilkes.

Dr. Rodgers says, "to us, growing forage, harvesting it with cattle that produce beef to help feed the hungry world, improving the environment as you go, and making money doing it, is enjoyable. We can think of no better way to turn an environmental liability, such as chicken litter, into an asset, such as tasty, nutritional beef. These grasses also take in carbon dioxide and give off oxygen, just like rain forests," stated Rogers.