Farmers and ranchers who use conservation practices on their
land help clean water and air. Their operations are more
efficient, and they promote the wise use of natural resources.
USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS)
is an agency that helps private landowners improve their land and any
nearby waterways – but the benefits
are bigger than those seen on
the fields and pastures.
That’s because local labor is a
crucial but often unmentioned
component of putting conservation
practices on the ground. NRCSrecommended
rely on biologists, foresters,
pipe makers, dirt movers, welders,
engineers and many more to implement.
The benefits of conservation,
both on and off the farm, are evident
in places like Indianola, Miss.,
which sits at the heart of the state’s
NRCS works with producers in
the Mississippi River watershed,
including many in the Indianola
area, to prevent the runoff of sediment
and nutrients into bayous and
other natural waterways that flow
to the Gulf. High levels of sediments
and nutrients that can run
off of farms can impair natural
waterways and lead to areas of oxygen-deprived water, a phenomenon
One way to prevent sediment and nutrient runoff is through tailwater
recovery systems, which are popular in the Delta. The system captures
water – both from irrigation and rainfall – as it leaves the fields and
recycles it. This keeps the water on the fields, allowing producers to
use less underground water sources.
Conservation Supports Local Labor And Businesses
But building a tailwater recovery system takes a lot of work, and
involves the help of local businesses. Ditches and a storage reservoir
have to be carved into the landscape, followed by a network of
pipes and ditches.
For example, the Indianola companies Irrigation Equipment, Inc.
and Pitts’ Pipes attribute the use of conservation as a major source of
their business. And when it comes time to getting the land ready,
Alton Boehs and his family-owned dirt moving company haul 10,000
yards of dirt per day, using $60,000 worth of diesel every month,
which is bought locally.
All of these businesses use machinery that requires maintenance,
new parts and other work, keeping local mechanics busy. And after
working hard, everyone is pretty hungry, sending people to local
restaurants to eat.
Conservation has bigger benefits than successful harvests. It also
sparks activity in a local economy, while helping producers be good
stewards of the land.
Justin Fritscher is a Public Affairs Specialist affiliated with NRCSMississippi.
Contact Fritscher at email@example.com.