Making Hay
Week of December 21st, 2003 | The weather was 4 inches of snow.

Trees in CRP.

Trees in CRP.

Merry Christmas! We had strong, cold winds this past week creating snow drifts. Now, we have about 4 inches of snow. It is going to be a white Christmas this year for sure! They are predicting some snowfall for Christmas Eve. Jolene wants a white Christmas when she comes home. I think she may be getting tired of green California.

Saturday, my friend, Ben, came to our place to help us work on the farm. Dad, Ben, and I worked on one of our grain trailers. We made it 10 inches taller so it can hold more material. It took the whole afternoon.

It's deer hunting season and there are a lot of deer in our area. Deer like to run in groups and many times can be found in woods, near streams, and especially in CRP acres.

CRP stands for Conservation Reserve Program. In 1985, CRP became an act of law as it was in the 1985 Farm Bill. The Conservation Reserve Program reduces soil erosion, protects the Nation's ability to produce food and fiber, reduces sedimentation in streams and lakes, improves water quality, establishes wildlife habitat, and enhances forest and wetland resources. It encourages farmers to convert highly erodible cropland or other environmentally sensitive acreage to vegetative cover, such as tame or native grasses, wildlife plantings, trees, filter strips, or riparian buffers. Farmers receive an annual rental payment for the term of the multi-year contract. Cost sharing is provided to establish the vegetative cover practices.

The program provides assistance to farmers and ranchers in complying with Federal, State, and tribal environmental laws, and encourages environmental enhancement. The program is funded through the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC). CRP is administered by the Farm Service Agency, with NRCS providing technical land eligibility determinations, Environmental Benefit Index Scoring and conservation planning.

We started putting land into CRP in 1997. Since then, we put about 22 acres into the program. Through out those 22 acres, we have planted thousands of trees. Some were planted by hand, but most of the trees were planted by a commercial forestry firm using a spreader. Deer damage the small trees. We don't really like that and we replant many each year. We encourage hunters to reduce the deer population.

Our CRP borders also serve as organic borders, too. An organic border is at least a 25-foot borderline that is used to separate organic crops and livestock from non-organic crops and livestock. This keeps the contaminants from other non-organic fields away from the organic fields. This is required in organic certification. Our CRP strips are 66 feet wide to provide habitat for wild animals. Narrow strips do not provide a large enough space for prey animals to flee predators.

Most of our CRP is bordering our farm:

Orange: Farmyard, or building site
Pink: Not our land
Red: CRP
Black: Road, lane
Yellow dash: regular fields with crop rotation
Yellow: permanent pasture
Blue: waterways and streams

Farm Fact: We have to fence our CRP areas because livestock are not allowed to graze in it.

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