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Category: Conservation

An Alabama Family Farm Helps Send Cleaner Water to the Gulf of Mexico

Tim Mullek and his family, who grow cotton, peanuts, soybeans, wheat, and corn on about 2,500 acres in the Fish River watershed in Alabama, plant cover crops on all of their cropland. NRCS photo.

Tim Mullek and his family, who grow cotton, peanuts, soybeans, wheat, and corn on about 2,500 acres in the Fish River watershed in Alabama, plant cover crops on all of their cropland. NRCS photo.

Days before planting season in April, up to 26 inches of rain had fallen in southern Alabama over a span of two days. This rain event caused historic flooding in Baldwin County in a coastal part of the state, where farmers had freshly tilled fields in preparation for planting crops.

These tilled fields lost valuable topsoil during the flood. But the outcome was different for Tim Mullek and his family, who grow cotton, peanuts, soybeans, wheat and corn on about 2,500 acres in the Fish River watershed, located about 20 miles from the Gulf of Mexico. Read more »

Conventional Tillage Harvests a Haboob, Unhealthy Soils

A powerful dust storm, known as a haboob, blankets a farm near Ritzville, Wash. Photo courtesy of Susan DeWald. Used with permission.

A powerful dust storm, known as a haboob, blankets a farm near Ritzville, Wash. Photo courtesy of Susan DeWald. Used with permission.

USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service and state Soil and Water Conservation Districts has partnered for decades on protecting, restoring and enhancing private lands across the United States. Jim Armstrong is communications and special projects coordinator with the Spokane County Conservation District in Washington. – Jennifer VanEps, NRCS Washington

Haboob: a funny word, but its meaning is far from laughable. Defined as a type of intense dust storm carried on an atmospheric current, haboobs can have catastrophic effects on both land and life.

Dry August winds often stir up dust clouds in central and eastern Washington, but 2014 was exceptional. On Aug. 12, an enormous, miles-wide haboob, which was reminiscent of those from the Dust Bowl era, descended upon eastern Washington. Two weeks later, another dust cloud caused a 50-car pile-up in the southern part of the state, sending multiple people to the hospital and shutting down Interstate 82. Read more »

Soil Health Campaign Turns Two: Seeks to Unlock Benefits on- and off-the-Farm

Ohio farmer David Brandt farms with soil health in mind, making his place perfect to launch NRCS’ “Unlock the Secrets in the Soil” campaign. USDA photo.

Ohio farmer David Brandt farms with soil health in mind, making his place perfect to launch NRCS’ “Unlock the Secrets in the Soil” campaign. USDA photo.

Two years ago, at the farm of soil health pioneer Dave Brandt in Carroll, Ohio, USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) officially launched the “Unlock the Secrets in the Soil.” The Brandt Farm was a fitting birthplace for a soil health education and awareness effort, since Brandt has been a leader, advocate and teacher of soil health principles for nearly three decades.

He continues to dedicate much of his time and energy to teaching farmers and others about the basics and benefits of soil health. And speaking of benefits, healthy soil is loaded with them. Read more »

New Georgia Goat Farmer Finds Help Through USDA

Beverly Robinson, left, has worked with NRCS District Conservationist Vontice Jackson to make conservation improvements to her goat farm.

Beverly Robinson, left, has worked with NRCS District Conservationist Vontice Jackson to make conservation improvements to her goat farm.

The odds were against Beverly Robinson, but she isn’t one that gives in easily. She didn’t let her newness to farming discourage her from following her dream to raise goats.

“Animals have always been a part of our lives even growing up,” Robinson said. “I developed an innate love for animals, and when I retired, I wanted to go back to one of the things I loved, which was to raise animals.”

In the eight years since she retired as a campus president and moved to Soperton, Georgia to follow her dream, Robinson bought a home and 22 acres. She formed RobinsonHouse Farms, Inc. and began her journey as a goat farmer. Read more »

New Garden Helps Train USDA Employees in Illinois

A resource specialist with NRCS discusses features of the purple prairie clover planted in the plant material plots. USDA photo.

A resource specialist with NRCS discusses features of the purple prairie clover planted in the plant material plots. USDA photo.

A new garden consisting of plants used in conservation work is now open in Champaign, Illinois to train staff members of USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) as well as conservation partners.

NRCS has planted a total of 33 different varieties of plants consisting of cool-season grasses, warm-season grasses, legumes and forbs.

While the garden was developed to train staff, the garden at the NRCS office is also open to the public on weekdays. Read more »

Veteran Farmer Grows the Family Farm ‘Organically’

Larry E. King worked with NRCS to build a seasonal high tunnel on his farm in Whitley County.

Larry E. King worked with NRCS to build a seasonal high tunnel on his farm in Whitley County.

Larry E. King was raised in a family with farming roots. The very land he now farms in McCreary County, Kentucky was purchased by his mother during World War II.  He remembers his mother telling him, “If we didn’t raise it, we didn’t have it.”

In his late teens, King raised strawberries on the farm. His life moved away from farming at 17 when he followed in his two brothers’ footsteps and joined the Air Force.

For six years, King was stationed out of Little Rock, Arkansas where he worked with the mobile support systems out of the Military Airlift Command. After his military assignment, he finished college and worked for the U.S. Forest Service Civilian Conservation Corps. After a long career with the Forest Service, Larry retired a few years ago, bringing him home to the 34-acre family farm. Read more »