Now Accepting Applications
The Hardin County Soil Conservation District (SCD) and Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Savannah Field Office are working in partnership to help landowners in Hardin County conserve their soil, water, and other natural resources.
With cost-share funding provided by the Tennessee Department of Agriculture (TDA), the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), and other associated partners, Hardin County SCD and NRCS have obligated $1,254,550 in funding that will help to stimulate our County’s economy and conserve our resources here in Hardin County.
ATTENTION HARDIN COUNTY FARMERS!!!!! TIME IS RUNNING OUT! Hardin County Soil Conservation District is now accepting applications for multi species Cover Crop funding for this fall. Qualified applicants will be reimbursed at a 75% cost-share rate or a flat rate per acre whichever is less. At this time there is no cap, our goal is to allot all funds available to our farmers.This grant is made possible by the Tennessee Department of Agriculture. This is a great opportunity for those who have never used cover crops to give it a try. Due to the ongoing issues with Covid19, the USDA Service Center remains closed to the public at the present. Those interested in applying should contact 731-412-3104 and schedule a time to pick up an application or I can email or mail an application to you. If there is no answer leave your name and address and I will drop an application in the mail to you. The Soil Conservation District greatly appreciates the residents of Hardin County.
Wild for Monarchs!
The monarch butterfly may be the most widely recognized of all American butterflies with its distinct orange, black, and white wings. Found throughout the United States, as well as Mexico and Canada, one of the most notable characteristics about the monarch is the astonishing 3,000 mile journey some will make in the fall to their wintering grounds in Mexico.
The monarch is widely distributed across North America, from Central America northwards to southern Canada, and from the Atlantic to the Pacific coasts. Three geographically distinct populations make up the total North American range of the species, one each both east and west of the Rocky Mountains, and one Central American. Each of these populations has a distinct migratory pattern. Monarchs that live west of the Rocky Mountains will migrate to southern California for winter, while monarchs that live east of the Rockies will migrate to Mexico.Wherever there is milkweed there will be Monarch butterflies!
Monarchs cannot survive without milkweed; their caterpillars only eat milkweed plants (Asclepias spp.), and monarch butterflies need milkweed to lay their eggs. With shifting land management practices, we have lost much milkweed from the landscape.
The following species of milkweed are well-suited for the southeastern U.S. and the Tennessee Valley:
- Asclepias incarnata (Swamp milkweed)
- Asclepias syriaca (Common milkweed)
- Asclepias tuberosa (Butterflyweed)
- Asclepias variegata (White milkweed)
- Asclepias verticillata (Whorled milkweed)
Farmers, Ranchers and Private Forest Landowners Use Conservation to Protect Pollinator Habitat, Boost Crop Production
By Sheldon Hightower, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service State Conservationist, and Mike Mayfield, USDA Farm Service Agency State Executive Director, in Tennessee
The next time you snack on almonds, add blueberries to your smoothie or eat pumpkin pie, thank a pollinator and thank farmers, ranchers and private forestland owners who work hard to create and maintain their habitat. Pollinators, such as honeybees, bumblebees, butterflies, birds, bats, flies and many others, play a critical role in crop production. Without pollinators, we wouldn’t have many crops. During the week of June 22-28, the nation will celebrate these iconic and crucial pollinators during National Pollinator Week. This year’s theme is “Pollinators, Plants, People and Planet.” Thirteen years ago, the U.S. Senate unanimously designated the third week in June as National Pollinator Week to increase awareness about the importance of pollinators and the challenges many of them face, including serious population declines and habitat losses, often due to land use changes and excessive or improper pesticide use. Nearly 200 species of pollinators are considered threatened or extinct. Pollination occurs when pollen grains are moved between two flowers of the same species, or within a single flower by wind or insects and animals. Successful pollination results in healthy fruit and fertile seeds, allowing the plants to reproduce. The extensive and critical world of crop pollinators is a $20 billion a year industry. About 75 percent of crop plants are pollinated by billions of animals and insects every year Many federal, state and local government agencies, non-government organizations and universities have launched extensive efforts to protect pollinators, especially honeybees and the Monarch butterfly. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) works closely with farmers, forest landowners and other private landowners to increase pollinator habitat in targeted areas nationwide. The Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), through USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), offers financial incentives to agricultural producers and private forest landowners who enhance pollinator habitat by voluntarily implementing conservation practices such as cover crops, wildflower and native plantings in buffers and areas not in production.
Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) also can be used to enhance habitat to protect pollinators. Administered by USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA), CRP is a land conservation program in which enrolled landowners remove environmentally sensitive land from agricultural production and plant species that will improve environmental health and quality. As owners and stewards of the land, many farmers, ranchers and private forest landowners manage their natural resources to work to achieve their production goals, they are protecting the rich and diverse ecology on or near their operations. When we protect pollinators, we protect our ability to grow food. We thank our farmers, ranchers and private forest landowners for who offer a safe haven for pollinators and grow the products we enjoy. Whether you are a large commodity producer, a small and diverse organic producer or even a suburban homeowner, you can have an important role in saving pollinators in Tennessee. You can help protect pollinators by doing the following:
• Plant appropriate vegetation. Use conservation practices and create habitat that sustains and enhance pollinators on the farm, forest or the yard.
• Use pesticides, herbicides and insecticides carefully on and off the farm, ranch and private forests. Keep your operation pollinator friendly.
• Protect flowering plants and potential pollinator nesting sites such as areas of undisturbed ground and native vegetation.
Do your part to help protect pollinators. By taking action to diversify and beautify your operation or property, you could ensure that many fruits and vegetables are available and plentiful for future generations for many years to come. For more information about pollinators and what you can do in Tennessee, please contact your local USDA service center.
USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer and lender. To file a complaint of discrimination, write: USDA, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, Office of Adjudication, 1400 Independence Ave., SW, Washington, DC 20250-9410 or call (866) 632-9992 (Toll-free Customer Service), (800) 877-8339 (Local or Federal relay), (866) 377-8642 (Relay voice users). “Voluntary Conservation Works!”
How Farmers are Saving the Soil in Tennessee
Tennessee's farmers care for the landscape with no-till farming
Tennessee farmers have been transforming the landscape for decades with no-till farming methods, helping to restore the state’s soils. In fact, the University of Tennessee’s Research and Education Center at Milan has been a leader in this effort since 1981. The research conducted by UT AgResearch at Milan is known worldwide.
While no-till farming is the norm in Tennessee today, it hasn’t always been the case. “About four decades ago, West Tennessee was ranked as one of the top areas in the U.S. for the highest soil erosion rate,” says Don Tyler, retired professor for the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture. The average soil erosion rate for Tennessee at that time was 40 tons of soil per acre per year.
Unlike tillage, commonly known as plowing, no-till methods leave soils undisturbed, allowing crop residue to remain on the surface, protecting the topsoil from runoff. Seeds are planted in rows in the soil. In contrast, tillage leaves soil “bare” and highly susceptible to erosion.
Some soils across Tennessee are considered fragile, Tyler says, but West Tennessee’s are especially susceptible.
“The soils in West Tennessee are especially erodible because they are very silty soils,” Tyler says. “They are almost like talcum powder – very silty and easily moved by water if they’re exposed and tilled.”
As an example of how easily soil can erode with tilling versus no-till, Tyler says, “We have data that shows in till systems, one storm can result in the loss of more than 10 tons of soil per acre, whereas a no-till system right beside it with the same measurements may result in 1/10 of a ton loss. It’s a huge difference.”Today, Tennessee is a shining example of the no-till success, with up to 90 percent of the state’s farms using no-till practices, according to the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service. This change was possible thanks to the assistance and innovation of the University of Tennessee Extension and UT AgResearch, within the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture, and Tennessee’s row crop farmers who saw the benefits and invested in the technology to make no-till a reality.
Tyler was one of the many team members enlisted to research and help Tennessee adapt its tilling ways that were having a negative impact on the land.
“With no-till, we’ve dramatically reduced the manmade accelerated soil erosion,” Tyler says. “A lot of the soil that we have now in the state would not be here if we did not go no-till. The soil was eroding at such a high rate, and there would be fields today that would have been abandoned if we did not make the change. We have many farmers now who have been completely no-till for 30 years,” he adds.
Farming in Dyer and Lauderdale counties, along the Mississippi River, Jimmy Moody experienced firsthand the positive changes that no-till methods brought to his West Tennessee farm.
Moody, who is in his mid-60s, farms on his own family operation and at Cold Creek Farms with a business partner, growing soybeans and cotton. Back when he used to till all of his land, he would need to burn crop residue, till soil and plow weeds. But since he took up no-till, he directly plants crops and controls weeds with advanced herbicides that were unavailable several decades back.
“When I was young, using no-till was unheard of,” Moody says.
No-till is good for the soil, reducing soil erosion and increasing organic matter in the surface soil. Plus, it encourages flourishing earthworm populations – which are a great indicator of soil health and create channels to flow water into soil and reduce runoff. No-till farming has economic benefits, too. “Farmers using no-till are minimizing their labor needs, the time it takes to actually farm, reducing fuel costs dramatically, and a lot of them can farm on a much larger scale than they would be able to otherwise, which has almost become necessary to survive,” Tyler says.
Moody agrees. “There’s no way that I could be farming on the scale that I am today without no-till farming,” he says.