April 27, 2014

Conservation programs offered

Established in 1949, the Clinton County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) has been a small but important local agency working for farmers, land owners and local municipalities.

Responsible for promoting conservation, the SWCD is authorized under state law as the local natural resource management entity. The Clinton County SWCD is overseen by a board of directors made up of local farmers and two members of the County Legislature.

While the district is funded locally by the county, conservation projects initiated by the district bring in outside funding that far outweighs the local cost. And by addressing natural resource needs locally, the district has the flexibility to meet needs quickly.

In Clinton County, District Manager Nathaniel Grue and Technician Ben Clark deliver technical services and expertise in the implementation of statewide conservation programs to local government and for both agricultural and rural landowners. The district continues to perform their traditional role as the local natural resources agency; advising farmers, towns and others on issues related to soils, wetlands, ditches and stream-bank stabilization.

The newest addition to the district is a Great Plains “no-till” drill that is now available to county landowners to rent. No-till seeding means that a farmer can plant crops directly into a field with no additional tillage performed after harvesting the previous crop (usually corn, soybean or small grains). The benefits to the soil and environment are numerous. By planting a cover crop in the fall, soil erosion from winter winds and spring flooding can be reduced while at the same time increasing soil organic matter and building soil health.

Because the fields do not have to be tilled, there is a sizable savings in fuel, fertilizer and time. Cover crops such as cereal rye, commonly called “winter rye,” can be planted as late as Oct. 15 following corn harvest. Rye is very cold hardy and will germinate and grow at temperatures above 33°F. It rapidly produces a ground cover that holds soil in place against the forces of wind and water.

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