If you have some farm projects you have been thinking about over the past several years but just haven’t had the motivation to get it done, you’re not alone. Most people go through life having a lot of good ideas, but until they take time to put it on paper and make it a priority, it never seems to get done. As you are thinking about farm improvements, it is important to consider how some or all those improvements might fit into an updated farm conservation plan.
Many things have changed over the past 25 years, including the focus of the old Soil Conservation Service which used to only focus on soil conservation. In the late 1990’s when the agency went through a major reorganization, their mission expanded to also include other major natural resources on the farm including water, plants, animals and air. Hence the new name, Natural Resources Conservation Service.
Perhaps some of your proposed farm projects include spraying a few pastures to get rid of weeds like ragweed, pigweed and dogfennel that have nearly taken over a few of your pastures. Or maybe getting rid of those invasive woody plants like multiflora rose or the invasive ‘Tree of Heaven’ around field edges. These are bad weed and brush problems that can be included in your conservation plan by planning practices like Herbaceous Weed Treatment or Brush Management and scheduling the timeframe and control method (chemical or mechanical) to properly address these plant health and productivity issues.
Or when was the last time you properly fertilized, limed and renovated a pasture by planting a new or improved forage variety? These are plant health and productivity concerns on farms across America and it can be addressed in a conservation plan by including the practice of pasture and hay land planting. Or maybe it is time to bring that hay field into your pasture system where you can manage grazing on it the remainder of the growing season after you take the spring hay cut? This is an improvement that includes conservation practices like prescribed grazing, fencing, and installing another water trough which are common practices included in many conservation plans today.
Take time this week to contact your local Conservationist. Ask them to come by to talk about updating your conservation plan to include many of these good management practices you have been thinking about that might fit into a farm conservation plan. If they can meet with you soon, they could get your plan updated by October when the new fiscal year begins. Then your plan would be ready, in the front of the line, to put in an application for financial assistance (cost-share) to help implement all the practices included in your new conservation plan!
It’s time to use the conservation planning process to turn your thoughts into reality to make meaningful and lasting farm improvements over the next year!
~ JB Daniel, USDA NRCS, Virginia
The Alliance for Grassland Renewal is a national organization focused on enhancing the appropriate adoption of novel endophyte tall fescue technology through education, incentives, self-regulation and promotion. For more resources or to learn more about the Alliance for Grassland Renewal, go to www.grasslandrenewal.org