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Hunter, Price, Schooley familes earn soil conservation honors

July 31, 2007

The accomplishments of three local farm families were honored recently by the Washington County Soil Conservation District and the County Commissioners.

Sam Hunter was recognized as the Outstanding Conservation Farmer for 2006.

Hunter's farm on Newcomer Road is a 100-head cow/calf operation. The farm has 70 acres of pasture.

Last year, Hunter installed three livestock watering facilities, a cattle walkway, seeded crop land into pasture grasses and fencing for his rotational grazing system.

Crop fields were seeded with pasture grasses to provide adequate forage for his livestock and reduce soil loss from the farm.

Hunter uses rotational grazing to provide fresh forage for his livestock, reduce soil erosion and protect the water quality of Little Antietam Creek.

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The cattle walkway allows the cattle to travel to throughout the grazing system without causing erosion. The watering facilities provide a source of water other than Little Antietam Creek, eliminating negative impacts to the stream.

"The conservation practices Sam has installed have made a significant contribution to improving water quality in the Antietam Creek," the Conservation District said in a news release.

The Sustaining Conservation Farmer award was given to Price and Price Farming.

Price and Price Farming is operated by Dale and Terry Price of Boonsboro.

The Prices farm approximately 2,450 acres in Washington County. All their acres are farmed in compliance with Soil Conservation and Water Quality Plans prepared by the Soil Conservation District.

They produce small grains, corn and soybeans on all their acres.

Conservation practices such as grassed waterways, strip cropping and no-til farming are utilized on all the farms the Prices rent or own.

"As their farming operations have grown and changed through the years the Prices have always practiced conservation. Whether they were raising beef, or swine, they were sure to conserve the soil and protect water quality," the Conservation District said.

"Nutrient management plans are utilized to ensure that no excess nutrients are applied to the acres they farm."

During 2006, the Prices provided a training site for USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service employees attending Conservation Boot Camp in Shepherdstown, W.Va.

USDA employees were able to see the latest in farm equipment and use the farm for design of best management practices, the Conservation District said.

"To better manage both nutrients and pesticides in their farm enterprise, the Prices use the latest technology in their operation," it said. "Pest management planning and use of GPS on their tractors ensure that the rate and timing of nutrient and pesticide applications result in the least amount of risk to the environment while improving their financial bottom line."

The Conservation Stewardship Initiative Award was presented to Old Forge Farm, operated by David and Patricia Schooley.

The Schooley's 122-acre farm is off Old Forge Road in Hagerstown.

They have participated in the Conservation Reserve Enhancement program by fencing livestock from an un-named tributary to Antietam Creek on their farm, the District said. They also planted the 14-acre stream buffer created by the fence with trees and shrubs and installed a stream crossing for their livestock, it said.

It said the stream crossing provides a stable area for their livestock to cross the stream, eliminating such negative impacts to the stream as bank erosion. Excluding livestock from the stream also improves the health of livestock by separating them from microbes present in the stream and mud and soil on the stream banks.

A livestock watering facility was installed to provide water for their livestock that had been excluded from using their stream.

More than 22 acres of their farm were planted to warm season and cool season grasses to eliminate soil erosion and provide wildlife habitat.

"The Schooleys have taken great pride in repairing and maintaining their historic home as well as conserving and restoring the natural resources present on their property. They are a great example of what it means to be a good steward of the land," the District said.

Each family was presented with a plaque from the Soil Conservation District Board of Supervisors.

The County Commissioners presented each of the award winners a certificate of appreciation for their efforts in conserving soil, water and related natural resources.

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