What are farmers doing to help with conservation? More than you think. Each week we are going to highlight some of the conservation practices that are being used in Fayette County.
The Thompson Farm, belonging to Artie and Millie, now belong to their grandchildren Pat Parsons and Caryl Bookman. Along with Roger Parsons they have managed the farm, keeping conservation as part of their long term strategy. One of the many conservation practices on their farm is a grass waterway. Grass waterways are broad and shallow channels designed to move surface water across farmland. They are put in place when soil erosion creates gullies on the farm. When gullies are created, soil is lost and the gullies end up even deeper.
Before a waterway is in place, farmers are losing soil that can end up in a creek or stream. Sediment that ends up in a stream from farmers’ fields can cause havoc in the ecosystem of creeks. If too much sediment is moving in a stream it covers rocks and causes habitat loss for aquatic insects, which in turn cause a ripple effect up the food chain. The vegetative cover in the waterway slows the water flow and protects the channel surface from rill and gully erosion keeping the soil in place. Waterways are often constructed in natural depressions where the water collects and flows to an outlet.
The Parsons also participate in habitat cover by planting warm season grasses. They have created pocket prairies which help create habitat for wildlife. They have also put in bird boxes including duck, owl and bluebird boxes. The North Fork of Paint Creek runs through their property. They manage this area by keeping a riparian buffer along the creek. This practice of keeping trees along streams helps with water quality and crucial habitat for the stream. The trees keep the water cool for fish and aquatic life while also providing shelter and leaf litter. Leaves are a critical part of the food chain cycle in the aquatic system of a healthy streams.
Lastly, the Parsons also manage their woodlot. Keeping woodlots on farms creates another habitat for wildlife and birds. Roger wants to take care of the land for the next generation. Sophia Parsons represents the next generation of conservation partners. She has had great teachers from both of her grandparents, Roger and Pat Parsons.
So the next time you see a waterway on a farm, know that farmers are keeping the soil on their land to help with the conservation efforts of the county.
If you have an erosion problem on your farm, contact our office, Fayette Soil & Water Conservation District at 740-636-0279. If you would like us to visit your farm and highlight your conservation efforts, contact Brigitte Hisey, Natural Resource Specialist, Fayette Soil & Water Conservation District. Like us on Facebook to see more pictures.