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Monday, September 26, 2016

Dirt, Conservation and Travel in the Midwest

Photo of old CATs from
Caterpillar website

 Farmers love dirt! Midwest farmers love rich, black dirt. This farmer’s granddaughter’s earliest memories center around big yellow bulldozers caked with this rich black dirt. I loved the CAT, written in big letters on the side of the dozers. A dozer on the lowboy parked behind our house meant Dad's “men” had finished a job and were back at the shop.

John Deere from Woolstock Equipment
Webster City, IA
My dad’s conversations often centered on the Soil Conservation Act of the 1930s, which President Roosevelt enacted to control floods, protect land, and protect our natural resources. Dad would explain how terracing the land prevented erosion and how rotating crops preserved the soil’s nutrients. He described how levees and waterways worked to control rainwaters.

United Coop test plot

Fast forward to this summer where I learned that Iowa farmers constantly research better and more efficient ways to preserve and enrich the land. The rich soil that produces corn that reaches “as high as an elephant’s eye,” must be constantly nourished and protected. I learned about buffer zones and United Coop test fields. Although the sexy new tractors garner attention, it’s the protection and regeneration of the soil that is critical to a farmer’s success.
Native grasses
Prairie Star Farm

As a member of the Missouri Outdoor Communicators, I’ve learned much about the conservation efforts in the state. Although much broader than simply soil conservation, taking care of our land is a major concern. Whether it’s wildlife management or native plant restoration, the focus is the same.

Prairie Star Farm
Yesterday we visited Prairie Star Farm in Bland, Missouri. Bruce and Jan Sassman have worked with the Department of Conservation to restore their land to its native state. I’ll be sharing much more about their exciting project as they develop their conservation program.

This morning, I’m thankful for the times Dad allowed me to ride in a bulldozer on some farmer’s land and for the opportunities to explore modern farming and conservation methods as I travel throughout the Midwest.

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