The Governor’s Agriculture Awards will be presented during a special ceremony hosted by the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry at 2 p.m. March 29 in Senate Assembly Room 535 in the state capitol. The public is invited to attend.
Hal Clark will receive the Governor’s Agriculture Environmental Stewardship Award. For more than half a century, he has managed the Clark Ranch in far northwestern Cimarron County. Conserving the soil has been a priority that sustains this productive ranch. His pasture and rangeland management includes rotational grazing, establishing permanent vegetation and controlling erosion to protect both land and water.
Clark’s education in range management coupled with his family’s history with the Dust Bowl led him to become a member of the Cimarron County Conservation District board of directors in 1966. Since that time, he has dedicated over 47 years to advancing soil stewardship. He helped develop the High Plains Five States Range Camp on his ranch to teach high school students the value of taking care of the land and hundreds of students from Colorado, Texas, New Mexico, Kansas and Oklahoma have participated.
As a member of the Oklahoma Conservation Commission from 1978-1996, Clark and his fellow commissioners established the Blue Thumb project to provide statewide education on stream water health. He also served on Gov. Keating’s Animal Waste and Water Quality Task Force which authorized a cost-share program to help landowners install conservation practices that improved water quality and limited soil erosion. He helped the conservation district secure no-till drills and low-energy precision application nozzles for irrigation systems to change the way farming is done in the Panhandle.
“In his 84 years, I imagine Hal has tackled just about every challenge that land has to throw at him,” said State Conservationist Gary O’Neill. He points out that Clark continues to get up to check the cows and fences with a smile on his face.
Other awards to be presented include the Governor’s Outstanding Achievement in Agriculture Award to Virgil Jurgensmeyer, the Governor’s Outstanding Public Service in Agriculture Award to Anna Belle Weidemann and the Governor’s Outstanding Legacy in Agriculture Award to Floyd King.
USDA Seeks Project Proposals to Protect and Restore Critical Wetlands
USDA is investing up to $15 million in technical and financial assistance to help eligible conservation partners voluntarily protect, restore and enhance critical wetlands on agricultural lands. Funding will be provided through the Wetland Reserve Enhancement Partnership (WREP), part of the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP), a Farm Bill conservation program. Proposals must be submitted to NRCS state offices by April 24, 2017. The partnership is administered by USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), the leading federal agency for wetland conservation on private lands.
“Restored wetlands improve water quality downstream and improve wildlife habitat, while also providing flood prevention and recreational benefits to communities,” said Gary O’Neill, State Conservationist for NRCS in Oklahoma.
Through WREP, states, local units of governments, non-governmental organizations and American Indian tribes collaborate with NRCS through cooperative and partnership agreements. These partners work with tribal and private landowners who voluntarily enroll eligible land into easements to protect, restore and enhance wetlands on their properties.
“These strong, locally led partnerships provide landowners the financial resources needed to voluntarily conserve our lands,” said O’Neill.
Easements enable landowners to adopt a variety of conservation practices that improve the function and condition of wetlands. The voluntary nature of NRCS's easement programs enables effective integration of wetland restoration on working landscapes, providing benefits to farmers and ranchers who enroll in the program, as well as benefits to the local and rural communities where the wetlands exist.
This year, NRCS is encouraging partners to propose projects that focus on improving water quality as well as wildlife habitat on working landscapes. A number of at-risk species including the Northern pintail, whooping crane, little blue heron, and alligator snapping turtles as well as a variety of mussels and amphibians can benefit from restoring wetlands.
More information is available on the ACEP webpage.
NAP Deadline March 15
March 15 is the deadline to purchase 2017 NAP (noninsured crop disaster assistance program) warm season grasses grazing coverage. There is no late-file provision. Those interested in purchasing NAP coverage must submit an application for coverage by the deadline. In the event that office traffic is so great that an application cannot be completed, a producer may request to be placed on a register for application completion at a future scheduled date. Placement on the register must be requested by close of business March 15, 2017.
For an appointment to purchase NAP coverage, please contact your local Farm Service Agency county office.
Steve House turns over OACD presidency to Jimmy Emmons
Mike Thralls is posthumously entered in the the Conservation Hall of Fame
Applications Requested for Innovative Partner Projects
STILLWATER, Okla.—Gary O’Neill, State Conservationist for USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in Oklahoma, invites potential conservation partners to submit project applications for the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) by April 21, 2017. Partners may include private industry, government and non-government organizations, Native American Tribes, water districts and universities. For more information on applying for fiscal year 2018 projects, visit the RCPP website.
Through RCPP, NRCS will award up to $252 million to locally driven, public-private partnerships that improve the nation’s water quality, combat drought, enhance soil health, support wildlife habitat and protect agricultural viability. Applicants must match or exceed the federal award with private or local funds.
“Partnership has been the backbone of successful natural resource conservation in Oklahoma from the beginning,” said O’Neill. “RCPP magnifies that spirit of partnership and cooperation—it’s a program model that seems custom made to work here.”
Last month, NRCS announced 88 new high-impact projects for fiscal year 2017, including a partnership between Oklahoma and Texas organizations to improve habitat for declining grassland bird and monarch butterfly populations.
In addition to several RCPP projects with project areas that include all or parts of Oklahoma, Oklahoma is identified as the lead state on three RCPP projects. The Grand Lake and Elk City Lake Water Quality Projects are led by the Oklahoma Conservation Commission along with 14 other partners with the goal of implementing conservation practices and conservation education in their respective watershed to improve water quality. The Oklahoma Healthy Soils Project led by the Oklahoma Association of Conservation Districts and up to 15 other partners is establishing several conservation demonstration farms in the state to share conservation practices with farmers and ranchers that both benefit business operations and the environment.
Created by the 2014 Farm Bill, RCPP connects partners with producers and private landowners to design and implement voluntary conservation solutions that benefit natural resources, agriculture and the economy. By 2018, NRCS and its more than 2,000 conservation partners will have invested at least $2.4 billion in high-impact RCPP projects nationwide.
Since 2009, USDA has invested more than $29 billion to help producers make conservation improvements, working with as many as 500,000 farmers, ranchers and landowners to protect over 400 million acres nationwide, boosting soil and air quality, cleaning and conserving water and enhancing wildlife habitat. For an interactive look at USDA's work in conservation and forestry over the course of this Administration, visit http://medium.com/usda-results.
Deadline for 2016 submissions is January 31, 2017. Award winners will be notified by February 10, 2017. Awards will be presented during the awards luncheon at the State Meeting on February 27, 2017.
The Oklahoma Press Association partners will be assisting with judging submissions, so just entering the contest is a great way to solicit press interest in your district. Questions? Contact [email protected] or (405) 521-6797.
Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation to Host Small Grains Variety Demonstrations
OACD Vice President Jimmy Emmons' Farm in Leedey, Okla. Featured on Nov. 10
Early fall-winter forage production is particularly valuable in the Southern Great Plains as it allows flexibility for earlier grazing or increased stockpiling.
The Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation will host three variety demonstrations for agricultural producers to see six new varieties, developed by the Noble Foundation small grains breeding program, in the field. All three events will start at 10 a.m. The first event will be on Nov. 10, in Leedey, Oklahoma, at the farm of Jimmy Emmons, OACD Vice President. The second event will be on Nov. 15, in Sherman, Texas. The third event will be on Nov. 17 in Randlett, Oklahoma.
"It's important for producers to see these varieties planted in an environment similar to their own," said Jim Johnson, soils and crops consultant. "The demonstrations will allow producers to see the increased forage production potential of these varieties and talk with plant breeders about how the improved traits can benefit their operations."
The six varieties, which were selected for increased forage yields, are NF101 wheat, NF201 triticale, Maton II Rye, Heavy Grazer II oat, NF402 oat and Bates RS4 rye. The goal of the Noble Foundation small grains breeding program is to develop varieties with improved forage qualities for livestock, better fall production, improved ability to recover after grazing and better overall forage yields.
For directions, please visit http://bit.ly/small-grains-demos. For more information, please contact Dillon Payne, demonstration coordinator, at [email protected] or 580-465-1596.
Soil Health Education Workshop for Ag and Science Teachers to be held Nov. 11-12 in El Reno
On Nov. 11-12, a free soil health professional development workshop for high school agricultural and science teachers will be held at the Agriculture Research Service Ft. Reno National Grazing Lands Laboratory near El Reno, Oklahoma.
The workshop will explore how photosynthesis, microbes and other biological workers quietly create the natural infrastructure and land functions that our farms and communities depend on. Teachers will learn ways to engage students of all ages in local projects that use land management, monitoring, and data mapping to create climate-resilient communities and abundant, clean water.
The workshop is primarily for educators, but anyone is welcome. Download a draft agenda here.
Oklahoma Growers Offered Incentive to Attend the Nation's Top No-till Conference Jan. 24-25 in Salina, Kansas
There are numerous reasons to attend the nation’s most popular soil health event, and for Oklahoma growers the incentive just became greater. A Conservation Innovation Grant awarded to Oklahoma State University will reward 25 first-time attendees from Oklahoma who register for No-till on the Plains Winter Conference with a discounted rate. Producers from across the country are invited to attend the No-till events on Tuesday, January 24, through Wednesday, January 25, 2017 at the Bicentennial Center in Salina, Kansas.
The event, themed “Securing Our Future with Soil Health” is in its 21st year and continues to offer international, national and state experts on topics designed to promote soil health. This year’s Winter Conference features a line-up of more than 35 no-till experts and top line producers, 55 breakout sessions and a special question and answer session with speakers. New this year is a one-day Beginner’s Workshop preceding the Winter Conference. The advanced Agriculture’s Innovative Minds (AIM) Symposium returns this year with the theme of “Building Resistance, Resiliency and Recovery into Your Agriculture Operation.” Certified Crop Advisor Credits will also be available for conference attendees.
Registration for the No-till on the Plains Conference is available now online at no-till.org. The Winter Conference registration price is $275 before November 30 and $325 from Dec. 1 until Jan. 10. Walk-ins are welcome but rates increase closer to the event date. Registration rates are also available in packages for those who want to attend the Beginner’s Session and the Winter Conference together or the Winter Conference and AIM Symposium in tandem. First –time attendees from Oklahoma will receive a $50 discount on any of their registration pricing as long as they are one of the first 25 people from their home state to pre-register.
The speaker lineup features Ray Weil, professor, University of Maryland; Ademir Calegaari, researcher, Agronomic Institute of Parana, Brazil; Allen Williams, president, LMC and founder, Grass Fed Beef, LLC; Odette Menard, regional advisor, Soil Conservation, Canada; Steve Tucker, no-till producer, Venango, Neb.; Jimmy Emmons, no-till producer, Leedey, Okla.; Alan Mindemann, no-till producer, Apache, Okla. and Brian Arnall, associate professor, Oklahoma State University. Nearly 30 additional speakers are also on the roster for the Winter Conference.
Diamond Sponsor for the Winter Conference is Farmers Edge agriculture technology company. Additional Conference sponsors are Green Cover Seed, Eco Ag Solutions, Agro-Liquid Fertilizers, Needham Ag Technologies and Arrow Seed Company.
To meet its mission, No-till on the Plains hosts field events, provides a networking opportunity for producers and manages the annual Winter Conference for producers to gain valuable no-till information. No-till farming systems offer several advantages to producers willing to implement the system. Fewer trips across fields without tillage passes will reduce fuel costs. Increasing crops in rotations breaks weed and insect pest cycles. Increased crop residue and root systems will increase soil organic matter and microbiological activity, thereby increasing the productiveness and fertility of the soil. Implemented in a site-specific systems approach, no-till will, over time, outperform conventional tillage.
Download an agenda here. Visit notill.org or call 785-307-0433 for registration information. Pre-registration online is encouraged.
Eastern Red Cedar Round-up Coming to Lincoln County
Out-of-control spread of eastern red cedar across Oklahoma hurts the economy, public health and public safety. Learn about this destructive plant and what you can do to stop it at the Lincoln County Conservation District Cedar Round-up, Sept. 22 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Verlin Hart Farm, 760344 South 3410 Road, Agra.
The Cedar Round-up is free and refreshments and lunch will be provided. Attendees are encouraged to pre-register by Sept. 16 for lunch and door prizes. For pre-registration or to request reasonable accommodations, please contact Heather Layman at Lincoln County Conservation District at 405-258-5011 or [email protected].
“It’s important for landowners to understand the tremendous negative impact red cedar infestation is having in Lincoln County and across Oklahoma,” said Ed Stinchcomb, District Conservationist for USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service in Lincoln County. “I would encourage anyone who has an interest in improving land productivity and restoring Oklahoma’s landscape to a more natural state to attend.”
Morning sessions will be indoors and focused on the extent of Oklahoma’s cedar infestation with special discussions on cedar impacts to wildlife habitat, soil health and wildfire. Afternoon sessions will feature field demonstrations of cedar removal, prescribed burning (weather permitting) and tours of prescribed burn areas.
Healthy Soils Project Enid Field Day - September 8, 2016
Join Garfield County Conservation District, the Oklahoma Association of Conservation Districts, USDA-NRCS, and Oklahoma State University for a morning field day focusing on the impact of cover crops. Experts will be available to answer questions about soil, seeding rates and mixes, and the economics of cover crops.
This workshop is free and open to the public. Attendees should meet at 8:30 a.m. at the Garfield County Conservation District office located at 1216 W. Willow Rd., Suite D in Enid, OK.
Please RSVP by Tuesday September 6 to [email protected] or 517.763.8609
To sponsor the field day, click here.
Oklahoma Invasive Plant Council Announce Grant Program
The Oklahoma Invasive Plant Council recently announced a Request for Proposals for the organization’s new Small Grants Program. Grants will be considered for projects that:
Priority will be given to proposals that focus on plants included on the OkIPC Watch List (see list available on www.okinvasives.org).
The OkIPC has dedicated $5,000 this year to support the funding of this program, which may be disbursed to one or several (up to 7) grantees. Matching funds are not required. However, special consideration will be given to those applications that have support from other organizations or institutions.
Grant proposals due by September 1. For the full details go to the OkIPC website to download the Request for Proposals.
Max Cosby of Oklahoma's Harper County Conservation District Awarded NACD South Central Regional Auxiliary Scholarship
The Oklahoma Association of Conservation Districts is pleased to announce the recipient of the National Association of Conservation Districts (NACD) South Central Regional Auxiliary Scholarship is Max Barrett Cosby from Buffalo, Oklahoma, and the Harper County Conservation District.
Cosby was selected to receive the $350 scholarship among three finalists representing Texas, Oklahoma and Louisiana at the NACD South Central Regional Auxiliary meeting in Little Rock, Arkansas. Previously, Cosby was awarded the OACD Auxiliary Scholarship in the amount of $300.
A graduate of Buffalo High School, Max is attending Oklahoma State University. He is the son of Bret and Anita Cosby, and the great grandson of the late Max Barth.
NACD South Central Regional Meeting to be held August 10-12 in Little Rock, Arkansas
The 2016 NACD South Central Regional Meeting is scheduled for August 10-12 in Little Rock, Arkansas. A reception will be held on August 10, followed by an all-day bus tour on August 11 and workshops and sessions on August 12. The conference will be held at the Wyndham Riverfront Hotel in Little Rock, Arkansas, and the room rate is $91 per night if booked by July 20. To make a reservation, call The Wyndam at (501) 371-9000 and request a room to attend the SC NACD Regional Conference.
Free Plant ID for Soil Health Training Series
The Oklahoma Conservation Commission and Oklahoma Soil Health partners are offering a series of 12 free Plant ID for Soil Health trainings on rangeland across the state. Attend a training near you to learn how to do "Cowboy ID" of common native plants, learn how plants work together, which plants are beneficial for livestock and more about prairie ecosystem dynamics. For more information call 405-522-4739, or to register contact a number on the flyer.
National contest puts STEM skills to the test
More than 100 FFA and 4H teams from across the country will converge on Oklahoma City May 3-5 for the 65th Annual National Land and Range Judging Contest. Qualifying teams from 34 states will challenge their knowledge of soil and plant science, land management and natural resources conservation in the field. Oklahoma is expected to send 10 teams to the event.
Officiation and on-site technical assistance for all three days of the contest is provided by USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), Oklahoma Conservation Commission, Oklahoma State University and The Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation.
“These contestants represent the next generation of farmers, ranchers, conservationists and land managers,” said Steve Alspach, NRCS state soil scientist for Oklahoma. “Events like this are as much an opportunity for us to introduce high school students to a potential career with USDA as it is a STEM learning experience for them.”
STEM is a curriculum focused on the disciplines of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
The contest is comprised of three events: land, range and home site evaluation. Land judging contestants will enter several three to five foot deep pits to evaluate the qualities of the soil and determine its potential for agricultural production. Range judging contestants will visit several rangeland sites to identify plant species and determine the site’s value for cattle production and quail habitat. The home site evaluation event challenges contestants to determine the value of a site for residential development.
During the first two days of the event, teams will have the opportunity to familiarize themselves with Oklahoma’s soils and rangeland at two practice sites. The official contest on the third day takes place at a secret location that is revealed the morning of the contest. This ensures all teams are experiencing the official site for the first time.
Contest winners will be announced the evening of May 5 during a banquet at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City.
Contest sponsors are Oklahoma AgCredit, Oklahoma Association of Conservation Districts, The Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation, National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum, American Farmers & Ranchers, National Conservation Foundation, The Sirloin Club of Oklahoma, Oklahoma City Convention and Visitors Bureau, Oklahoma Association of Conservation Districts Auxiliary, Oklahoma Farm Bureau, Wyndham Garden OKC Airport, Catering by Finley, Lee Roy and Sylvia Hudson, Parker Land and Cattle Company, Oklahoma Association of Conservation District Employees, Soil and Water Conservation Society Oklahoma Chapter and Society for Range Management Oklahoma Section.
Supporting governments and agencies are NRCS, Oklahoma Conservation Commission, Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry, Oklahoma Department of Career & Technology Education, and Oklahoma State University.
Governor Proclaims March 23 as Conservation Day
Oklahoma City – Governor Mary Fallin has issued a proclamation designating March 23, 2016 as Conservation Day in Oklahoma.
“It is my sincere hope that this proclamation will prompt Oklahomans to find out more about their local conservation district office and its services to the community,” said Trey Lam, Executive Director of the Oklahoma Conservation Commission. According to Lam, Conservation Districts will be exhibiting at the state capitol on this day to feature the diverse conservation activities across the state addressing local natural resource needs.
Oklahoma’s Conservation Districts are local units of government established under state law to carry out natural resource management programs at the local level. Conservation Districts provide voluntary, incentive driven approaches to landowners for better soil and cleaner water in the State of Oklahoma. Private landowners with financial and technical assistance from local conservation districts are implementing a wide variety of conservation practices that prevent soil erosion, improve soil health and water quality. “Oklahoma’s conservation districts played a vital role in transforming the state’s land resources from the Dust Bowl to a productive state of diversified agriculture” Lam said. “And the tremendous response to Oklahoma’s state-funded Conservation Cost-Share Program demonstrates how vital district services are today.”
Conservation District staff and directors build partnerships with public and private, local, state and federal entities in an effort to develop locally-driven solutions to natural resource concerns. We work with landowners every step of the way from planning to implementation. Districts supply timely information and practical advice about natural resource management practices, coordinate cost-share programs designed to prevent soil erosion, maintain structures to prevent flooding, play an active role in community affairs and promote conservation at local events.
“We invite all Oklahomans to take the time to visit their local conservation district office this year to get acquainted with the services and information available there,” Lam said.