Herb Schaffner earns conservation award 2010.12.15

Written by David Green.

herb_schaffner.jpgBy DAVID GREEN

Grass waterways, erosion control structures, wetland restoration—Herb Schaffner has some of each on his Fulton County farmland.

His embrace of conservation techniques led to his award as the 2010 Cooperator of the Year by the Fulton Soil and Water Conservation District.

The award is presented annually to a Conservation District partner who puts the best variety of conservation measures into practice.

“Herb has been doing projects for a number of years,” said Pete Carr, a technician with the District office. “He was the first person to enroll in a CREP project with us. He got us off to a good start.”

That wetland restoration project got underway in 1996 and involved an 80-acre parcel of land near Bean Creek off “Dyke Road”—an area that’s often very wet.

CREP (Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program) is a voluntary land retirement program that helps protect sensitive land and decrease erosion.

“We qualified for the CREP program and seeded it and let it go,” he said. “It’s a 15-year contract and we’re paid every year to be in that program.”

2010 was the year of the grassed waterway on Schaffner’s land, 4,400 feet installed.

“Herb put in four grassed waterways this year and he’ll put in another one next spring,” Carr said.

There were some areas in Schaffner’s fields where water was washing through and forming gullies. By planting grass in the waterway, runoff flows down the grassy area rather than tear away soil.

Engineers from the District office determine the depth and width of a channel needed to handle anticipated flow from rainfall. Heavy equipment is typically brought in to shape a channel before the area is seeded sod-forming grasses.

“You need to trim them twice a year, on the average,” Schaffner said.

If it grows too tall, the flow will be impeded and start to form gullies on the edges, Schaffner said. Farmers are cautioned against using a waterway as a roadway and they’re told to lift implements out of the ground when crossing the grass.

“They need to be taken care of,” he said.

In addition to halting erosion, the vegetation acts as a filter and absorbs some of the chemicals and nutrients in the runoff water.

The project planned in the spring will repair a waterway constructed a few years ago, where more water than expected tore our the seeding and formed new gullies.

“Some areas need more than just a grass waterway,” Schaffner said.

Areas with a really heavy flow need an additional erosion control structure at the edge of the field. The concrete structures often have stone placed in the channel, also, to help hold soil in place.

Schaffner has installed five control structures.

“His projects turned out really nice,” Carr said, “and he was great to work with.”

All of the conservation techniques Schaffner uses are voluntary, but he sees the importance of them.

“It definitely preserves our land from being washed away like it can be,” he said.

BOOSTER—The 2010 Booster of the Year Award was presented to Ed and Carol Nofziger for their promotion of Conservation District programs.

CREP—The 2010 Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP) Award was presented to George Emmons who implemented a variety of conservation practices within the CREP program.

SERVICE—A six-year supervisor service award was presented to Curt Jones. Employee service awards were presented to Dan Bruner for 20 years of service and to Pete Carr for 25 years of service.

FFA—Soil Judging Award winners include the Fayette team (first place, urban) of Jon Boesger, Reba Rash and Chase Hookstadt.

Jon Boesger of Fayette placed second in the urban individual division.

OFFICERS—Curt Jones and Larry Short were elected to a three-year positions on the Conservation District Board of Supervisors beginning Jan. 1, 2011.

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