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 Fayette Soil & Water Conservation District and Natural Resourced Conservation Service helps farmers and landowners put conservation to work on the land.
Geoff Mavis is one of several farmers in the county using cover crops. Cover crops are planted after a crop is harvested. They help reduce soil erosion, break up soil compaction, provide weed control, provide pest control, increase soil structure, build organic material, and increase soil moisture capacity. The financial benefit creates the opportunity for better yield potential and lower input cost. Geoff says he has been using cover crops for eight years. The benefits for him include weed control, helps with soil compaction and adds organic material. Cover crops can also create some problems. During a wet spring, cereal rye wicks up moisture and doesn’t dry up fast enough for planting which can create a headache during crucial planting times.
Another benefit of cover crops is it helps create healthy soil. Soil is a limited resource. It is one resource that farmers are paying closer attention to. Keeping a crop growing on the land after harvest helps feed the soil. Since we all depend on soil for our food it is a natural resource that many in the scientific community are studying.
Not only has Geoff planted cover crops but he has also created a wetland, planted 3,000 white pines and 1,000 walnut trees. As a water quality practice the Mavis family has planted a 200 foot grass and tree buffer along his stream and his ditch.
Farmers who are using cover crops are pioneering a new way to farm. It is a trail and error process. We are grateful to those farmers who are leading the way. WE need to take care of the land so it will take care of us.
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 at 740-636-0279 and like us on Facebook. Josh Wilt, the District Conservationist, can also help you get started with cover crops.