Demonstration Farms

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Published on: Jul. 2, 1999

Last revision: Nov. 3, 2010

that I'd like to take advantage of, and I just wanted to see what kind of program they had," says demonstration tour attendee Eric Roller, after spending the day looking over a Barry County demonstration farm.

Owners of demonstration farms are doing their part to encourage landowners to take an active role in the management of Missouri's forests. More private land will have to be involved if our forests, fish and wildlife are to have a bright and healthy future. Thanks to demonstration farms, the prospects are favorable.

For more information about demonstration tours in your area or about available assistance, contact your local Conservation Department office.

Demonstration farms showcase agricultural techniques that are good for wildlife.

Seeing is believing

by Joan McKee

The temperature was over 90 degrees with high humidity when folks pulled into the driveway of Roger and Carol Brode's 150-acre farm between Stockton and El Dorado Springs around 10 a.m. The heat of the June day made standing in the fields a little uncomfortable, but it didn't stop landowners from coming to Demonstration Day to find out how to make their farms more profitable.

The few participants who had never been to a Demonstration Farm before had lots of general questions to ask about how they could attract more wildlife to their property, stop erosion and earn money from their timber. But the majority of the participants already were using many of the state and federal programs that were showcased. These landowners came for details--lots of them--about what worked and what didn't on the Brode farm.

A popular stop, perhaps because it was in the shade, was a 6-acre section of woods that Roger had enrolled in the Stewardship Incentive Program. Conservation Department Resource Forester George Clark answered questions about cost-share programs and showed how Roger had fenced off the woods to keep cattle out and let forbs grow to feed wildlife. Oak seedlings now have a chance to regenerate the forest. Roger used specifications provided by the Conservation Department to make six brush piles to provide additional habitat. The program seems to be working. "I now have a brood of wild turkeys in the area," Roger said.

Other wildlife species are attracted to the nine food plots Roger planted. Wildlife Management Biologist Carl Conway discussed the Wildlife Habitat Improvement Program that provides Roger with funds and advice on how to make his land more attractive to wildlife. He also pointed out other tips, such as leaving woody draws so wildlife will have cover.

The Brode farm also is enrolled in the Stream Corridor and Wetland Protection and Improvement Program. Fisheries Management Biologist Stan Sechler discussed types of plants to put along the stream corridor to stop erosion. "Trees absorb nutrients from the fields and keep them out of the water," Stan said. Also, during high water, sediments will drop off in the corridor instead of in the field. Trees in the corridor also shade the stream, and the leaves that fall in the water help maintain the aquatic food chain so fish can thrive.

After a barbecue luncheon on the Brode's lawn, the group headed for the fields where Roger demonstrated his intensive grazing and alternative watering systems. Howard Coambes of the Natural Resources Conservation Service answered questions and promoted the different cost-share programs that allow farmers to keep cattle out of streams. Many approved of the use of moveable water tanks, which cause less erosion because cattle don't make a path to the same watering area and that help spread manure more evenly around the field, resulting in lower fertilizer bills.

This portion of the program was the big draw for many of the participants, including Bob Allen, who has a cow and calf operation on 100 acres in Cedar County and is looking for ways to make his own business more profitable. Bob, who knows a lot about rotational grazing systems and other conservation farming methods, was named 1994 Farmer of the Year by the Soil and Water Conservation District.

"When you think you know it all, that's when you need to sit up and learn," said Bob, who goes to demonstration farms to get new ideas. "It's good to see different applications for different terrains. Some of what I see will apply to me. Then I ask myself, "what can I do to make it better." s

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