Conservation practices saluted

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January 31, 2015 - 12:00 AM

Soil preservation lauded

In the 1950s and early ’60s, Phyllis Boan was “the son Dad never had.” She did farm chores that girls then seldom embraced.
“I cultivated, rode on the hay truck,” did just about every thing that occupied boys on neighboring farms — and often did just as well or better.
Today a girl no more, Phyllis — she was Phyllis Owens growing up — still has a strong bond to farming, made even more so eight years ago when she inherited 200 acres a mile east of her home place.
For her efforts to conserve soil and improve tillability of the acreage, Phyllis will be honored as an Allen County Soil Conservation Award winner at Wednesday evening’s conservation district annual meeting in Riverside Park.
When she took possession of the farm, half a mile wide and five-eighths of a mile long, it came in two tracts. One had had terraces constructed about 35 years earlier, then with a moldboard plow. Also, a ditch along side was so deep that old car bodies were dropped in, and eventually disappeared under soil that worked its way onto them.
About six years ago Jim Jarred, a discipline of soil and water conservation who lives little more than a stone’s throw from the farm, became Phyllis’ tenant. He encouraged attention to conservation principles.
During the intervening time 6.9 acres of waterways and 35,532 feet of terraces — nearly seven miles if laid end to end— have been incorporated into the farm’s production plan. About the only thing left to complete the project is removal of a huge rock, larger than a pickup truck, and some smaller boulders from a waterway.
The waterways are enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program, administered by the Farm Service Agency. Under the program, in exchange for an annual payment farmers agree to remove environmentally sensitive land from production for a period of 10 to 15 years. The ultimate goal is to improve water quality; waterways essentially strain soil from runoff, which both curbs soil erosion and leaves escaping water cleaner. CRP enrollment also benefits wildlife by providing a protected area.
In addition to ground-level improvements, a pesky hedge row and trees were removed from the farm. The ultimate goal was to put as much land as possible into production.
Jarred grows soybeans and corn on the farm, except for a three-acre patch that is deemed outside the range of cultivation.
While Phyllis doesn’t have a daily hands-on relationship with the farm, the call of he land is still strong and it isn’t unusual to find her perched in the cab of Jarred’s combine when harvest time rolls about.
She lives in Le Roy today and spent 25 years at Gates Rubber Corporation before retiring about the same time she inherited the farm.

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