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William Amerson in Darlington

Darlington County Farmer Installs Cross-Fencing through EQIP

By:  Sabrenna Bennett, Public Affairs Assistant

NRCS Soil Technician John Bennett, (left), discusses the use of heavy use area water troughs with William Amerson.Early spring breezes, wide open space and vibrant color are the first things that greet visitors at William Amerson’s farm in Lamar, SC. Gazing over the rich, green pastureland lends an overall feeling of peace and solitude. Next, visitors are greeted by 25 very curious cows and finally, an easy-going, laidback farmer who is eager to talk, enjoys spending hours outdoors, and is fully committed to protecting his farm with conservation practices.
        To address water quality and grazing concerns on his farm, Amerson enrolled his farm into the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) under a ten-year contract. With technical assistance from NRCS District Conservationist Wayne Cowell and Soil Technician John Bennett, Amerson installed several conservation practices, including cross-fencing, heavy use area water troughs and grass planting.
        Farming is nothing new to Amerson. He has raised cows for nearly 25 years, with the past six years being at his current farm. Comprised of a total of 40 acres, Amerson’s farm is divided into 20 acres of pastureland for grazing, and 20 acres of woodland. The wooded area was fenced off to prevent the cows from getting bogged down and defecating into a spring that lead to Amerson’s only water source, which was a 20-foot deep pond.
        Prior to enrolling in EQIP, Amerson allowed his cows to graze his entire pasture at one time, causing areas of the pasture to be eaten regularly, without the chance to re-grow. This required Amerson to have to supplement the cows’ diet with hay, corn and oats. In addition, Amerson’s pond didn’t supply the cows with sufficient water.
        Through the practice of cross-fencing, Amerson’s 20 acre pasture was divided into five separate pastures. The cows are now allowed to graze only one pasture at a time, rotating pastures about every ten days. “This practice allows each pasture a period of nearly two months to rejuvenate before grazing begins again,” stated Cowell. “The cows are able to move on to greener pastures, maintaining their food supply.” Amerson also planted coastal and rye grasses in his pastures to enhance the forage and make it a more productive source of food. This saves both time and money from the heavy use of supplements, such as hay. “Rotating the cows to different pastures has been a win-win situation,” stated Amerson. “It has been economical for me and provides better grazing for the animals.”
        Water troughs have also become a necessity at Amerson’s farm. With a small pond as the only water source, he found that he needed an alternative, so two water troughs were installed, both surrounded by a 15 x 15 foot concrete pad and accessible to all pastures. They are connected to the county’s water line through underground pipes, providing fresher, cleaner water to the cows. “Through the use of cross-fencing and water troughs, Mr. Amerson’s farm has proven to be more productive,” stated Bennett. “His commitment to conservation is beneficial to the health and growth of his livestock.”
        For now, Amerson feels his farming operation is right where he wants it, and has no plans for additional conservation practices in the foreseeable future. However, he does plan to continue his current conservation practices and enjoy the beauty of his farm from his hammock. 
        For more information, please contact the Darlington Field Office at (843) 393-0483.