Saturday, April 5, 2014

Dad's Farm Soil Conservation

My father Lynn Petersen and his father Roland Petersen won some very prestigious conservation awards back in the 1970's for being one of the first farms in the area with full conservation plan of terraces and waterways. A terrace is a type of soil structure created by a bull dozer pushing up "benches" of soil around the contour of a hill. The terrace holds rain runoff and allows it to soak into the soil. The grass waterway is a grassy area in the channel where water runs out of the field.

Lynn and grandpa Roland embraced the conservation practices and cost share monies that were available through the Soil Conservation Service (SCS) and quickly build these new structures in a few short years. Not everyone was keen on these new fangled inventions because...
they got in the way at planting and harvesting time. They followed the contour of the hill and meant that the rows planted also had to followed the contour.  But many famers of that day were not planting with the contour. Planting with the contour was best practices and Dad just did that as second nature and each individual row became a little terrace to minimize run off. To plant with the contour meant there were going to be a lot of short rows called "point rows" that were a nuisance to cultivate and harvest. Dad thought it was worth it to protect the soil.

All this conservation work was going on when I was in high school. I seeded many water ways and the back side of many terraces and headlands. I used many of these activities to compete in the FFA Proficiency Award process. I got Gold awards for three years in a row in Soil Proficiency at the state level. The real award was the love of the land, the preservation of the soil and a portfolio of best practices in soil building and soil management. We still apply all of these principles to our farm today plus many more. You can read about many of these practices on our blog.

This post is dedicated to my father who has been farming in heaven since 3/30/2014

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