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Farmers, watershed district, soil group join forces to tackle soil erosion problem

By Carol McIntire

Low flying bright yellow planes visible throughout county
An employee of Fisher Ag Service of Delaware, OH, applies an aerial seeding of rye on a soybean field owned by Tyler Teeter in Harrison Twp. Monday afternoon.

Low flying bright yellow planes visible throughout sections of Carroll County Monday were part of a program to reduce erosion on farm land.

Officials with the Carroll Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) partnered with the Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District (SWCD) to offer farmers in the county the opportunity to have cover crop seed deposited on fields using airplanes in a program known as “cover crop flyover.”

“Cover crops not only cut down on soil erosion, they also build nutrient matter in the soil and allow farmers to cut down on the amount of herbicide they use,” said Tyler Teeter of Harrison Twp, Carroll County, one of the farmers who took advantage of the program.

Teeter, who is a member of the Carroll SWCD board, said while watching a plane flying over one of his fields near SR 43 north of Carrollton he saved about $25 per acre on herbicide this year.

“Some farmers from Carroll County visited a neighboring county last year that used this program,” he said. “It worked very well there, and since their terrain is similar to Carroll County, we felt it would be a great program for us.”

The MWCD provided a grant that paid $13 per acre for any producer who took advantage of the program within the MWCD to help offset the cost. Rye, which was purchased from the Carrollton Farmers Exchange, was used as the cover crop. It was applied at the rate of two pounds per acre. Fisher Ag Service of Delaware, OH, provided three planes which were able to cover about 1,000 acres Monday.

SWCD officials said soil erosion is becoming a bigger concern in the county.

“Keeping the soil healthy and in place is a great concern to the Soil and Water Board and should be to you, the farmer as well,” said SWCD Board Chairman Bill Newell.   “We have been seeing an increase in eroding waterways and gully erosion.  When there is soil erosion taking place, it’s not only the soil floating away; it’s the nutrients as well.  The increase in tillage being used to plant crops, along with not planting cover crops following the harvest of crops has a major impact on soil erosion and nutrient loss.  By establishing cover crops, erosion will be reduced by half, and the nutrients will be utilized by the growing plants and will not leave the field.  This will also allow the nutrients to be used by the following year’s crop.”

Teeter said not only did the program save him money on herbicides, the cost-share with the MWCD made it very affordable for him to participate. “I couldn’t have purchased the rye and seeded it using my equipment for that cost,” he said. “We hope more farmers will see the benefit and participate in the program next year.”

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