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Conservation

Wallaces Farmer www.FarmProgress.com April 2011

53

Soil-saving efforts add up


By KATHLEEN CHESTER

OUTHERN Iowa farmers Rick and Joy Jackson of Weldon are a good example of how a small farm can make a positive impact on the environment through the use of soil and water conservation practices. They farm in Decatur County and were recognized as 2010 Rathbun Lake Protectors by the Rathbun Land and Water Alliance for reducing soil loss and protecting Rathbun Lake. Its not a big farm, but we want to take care of it, says Rick. Through the RLWAs Protect Rathbun Lake Project, the Jacksons qualied for 75% cost share to install conservation practices on their 200acre family farm. The farm has been in the family since the 1940s, and Rick says its important to them to care for the land as his parents, Dick and Darlene, did before passing it on to them. Rick says looking at the farms abstracts dating back to the last century made an impact on him. You cant take it with you, so someone else will have it long after were gone, just as those who farmed it before us, he notes. The Jacksons over the years installed more than 9,000 feet of terraces resulting in an annual reduction in sediment delivery to Rathbun Lake of 154 tons and 847 pounds of phosphorus. The Jacksons conservation practices also include no-till farming and grass waterways.

ploys three full-time and two part-time employees serving nearly 800 customers. In addition to taking care of the farm, we are busy grinding hay all the way down to the Kansas City area, says Rick. The couple has two daughters; Molly Jackson is a junior at Iowa State University, and Joni Readout teaches in a local school district. Joy takes care of bookkeeping for

the familys commercial hay business and also works off the farm at a local bank. Chester writes for RLWA. LAKE PROTECTORS: Joy and Rick Jackson, who farm in Decatur County and run a hay grinding business, were recently honored for their conservation efforts to help protect Rathbun Lake.

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Using a targeted approach


Velvet Buckingham, environmental specialist with the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardships Division of Soil Conservation, coordinates the Protect Rathbun Lake Project at the Natural Resources Conservation Service ofce in Corydon. She says the conservation practices installed by the Jacksons show the benets of using a targeting approach to erosion control. Knowing where to install soil-saving practices is key to the success of reducing contaminant delivery to Rathbun Lake, says Buckingham. GIS technology is used to identify priority land, which is land most likely to suffer soil loss if left untreated. That soil then travels from the eld to Rathbun Lake, carrying with it sediment and other contaminants. Rathbun Lake is the water source for Rathbun Regional Water Association and provides drinking water for 80,000 people in southern Iowa and northern Missouri. Conservation actions by the Jacksons contribute to the overall annual reduction totals since RLWA began working to protect the lake, resulting in nearly 31,000 tons of sediment and more than 133,000 pounds of phosphorus.

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Supporters of forage crops


The couple had a spraying business between 1972 and 1995. During that time, Rick says he watched as elds rich with black soil were replaced by gullies and ruts that developed by the rapid loss of soil. We may say its our soil, but it really isnt ours, says Rick. We are just renting it from future generations. Eight years ago the Jacksons began a commercial hay grinding business, starting with one grinder. The business has grown to three machines, and em-

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