Producers find success combining no-till and USDA-NRCS conservation programs

H. D. Adams and his son Wes Adams stay focused on building their 1,250-acre farm in Hunt County, Texas, into a successful grass fed beef and seed business using no-till production systems.

They went to the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) for technical and financial assistance to reach their goals.

H. D. Adams worked with Sam Stewart, retired NRCS district conservationist in Hunt County, to solve an erosion problem and developed a conservation plan using the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) to help manage the erosion and build ponds for livestock and wildlife.

The Adams farm, near Ladonia, Texas, follows a cropping sequence of grain sorghum, soybeans, and annual legumes. The farm dates back eight generations and has kept up with current conservation practices.

Since the 1990s, H.D Adams and Wes Adams have used no-till because it was nearly impossible to stop erosion. Soil types include Houston Black clay, Leson clay, and Kaufman, along with an excellent Soil Condition Index and a unique soil water quality and wildlife habitat.

H. D. Adams says EQIP was successful from the beginning, but they needed more help to become a complete no-till operation.

“EQIP has been used on this farm for several years, primarily for ponds and erosion control. The no-till method is a success on our farmland and pastures, so using EQIP got us qualified for the Conservation Security Program (CSP), thanks to NRCS.”

In 2005, NRCS assisted the Adams with CSP funding to help maintain their goals for a complete no-till operation and maximum erosion control. They built waterways that help minimize erosion on the farm.

“One of our goals was to get native grasses on our land again, so CSP has been great in helping get those grasses and legumes to grow directly from sunlight,” H.D. Adams said. “Guidance from NRCS has been fantastic.”

Stewart has worked with the Adams since their beginning with EQIP and said they started using federal conservation programs due to the user-friendly application process, along with the benefits from utilizing better conservation practices.

“After starting with EQIP some years back and enrolling in CSP, this farm has come full circle using conservation practices that helped with no-till and erosion control,” Stewart said.

This year, they planted soybean and wheat, no-till, with good yields and benefits from minimal erosion and retaining topsoil.

“Our operation has about 800 acres designated farmland and has benefited from no-till, and NRCS helped with their conservation programs plus technical assistance,” H.D. Adams said.

Besides using EQIP and CSP to enhance the farm operation, he was asked by Texas A&M University and the Bluebonnet Rural Conservation and Development in Cleburne, Texas, to establish a demonstration plot for pigeon pea. The plot encompasses seven acres showcased near the highway for the public to see, and includes pigeon pea, grain sorghum, soybeans, sunflowers, and maize.

“Texas A&M University requested a demonstration plot for pigeon pea, and part of the CSP program is to encourage farmers to have these types of plots within their operations,” H.D. Adams said.

Pigeon pea is a multipurpose, drought resistant forage, grain and vegetable crop for both food and forage/cover. In most regions, pigeon pea is grown in association with other row crops such as grain sorghum and maize.

The objective of the demonstration plot is to evaluate the impact of pigeon pea on depletion of soil profile moisture, the plant availability of soil nutrients, and the growth and yield of subsequent wheat crops.

“Pigeon pea grows really good in no-till land, and the soil on this farm has helped it grow to its full potential,” Stewart said. “I was amazed when I saw those tall plants full from top to bottom with pigeon peas.”

H. D. and Wes Adams have used NRCS conservation programs and management practices to establish one of the best no-till farm operations in Hunt County and the state of Texas.

“We are pleased to have one of the best no-till farming operations right here in Hunt County while bringing the Adams closer to their goal in the grass fed beef and seed business,” Stewart said.

TAGS: Management
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