2011 Blue Legacy Award ~ Agriculture Winners

The Council recognizes this year’s 2011 Agriculture Award Winners for successfully promoting and incorporating water conservation through efforts in their operations.

The Council would like to recognize the North Plains Groundwater Conservation District Agriculture Committee for their Excellence in Collaborative Partnership. This group consists of individuals who realize that water conservation is important to the way of life in their community.  The North Plains Groundwater Conservation District Agriculture Committee is an integral part of the district’s legacy of water conservation. In 2009, the members of the agriculture committee, along with the rest of the board, began planning a demonstration project based on their long-term perspective of irrigated agriculture in the region. They believed it was the role of the groundwater conservation district to show producers how to save water, not just require that they do it.

The district is faced with the challenge of slowing the decline of the aquifer, without decimating the local economies. The resulting demonstration project is the “200-12 Reduced Irrigation on Corn Project” dubbed the “200-12 Project.” The “200-12 Project” is a five year, on-farm demonstration that shows how currently available water conservation technologies and irrigation management practices can reduce groundwater use and allow farmers to remain profitable and financially viable with restricted and diminishing groundwater resources. In 2010, the three agriculture committee members dedicated their own irrigated acres for the first year of the “200-12 Project,” largely at their own expense.

The cooperators combined new and proven irrigation management technologies and practices to create a comprehensive irrigation management/conservation system that included advanced irrigation management technologies, conservation tillage practices, drought resistant hybrid technologies, crop cycle management, and pest and nutrient management.

Members of the North Plains Groundwater Conservation District Agriculture Committee: 
Mr. Danny Krienke, Mr. Harold Grall,  Mr Phil Haaland

Read more about North Plains GCD. Coming  Soon!

D & D Farms and the Ford Family: D&D Farms was historically a conventional farming operation, raising corn and cotton crops. However, the Fords decided to become more involved with water conservation in order to save water and be more economically efficient. In the northern Panhandle region of Texas, near Dumas, average rainfall for the year is 18 inches. For to the Fords, dryland farming in the Panhandle is too unpredictable, so nearly all crops are irrigated. With moisture being the limiting factor, the Fords have found strip-tillage is the best method to help keep the moisture in the soil.

The strip-till system they chose ended up cutting their irrigation costs at the same time this method involves tilling a narrow strip where the seed is planted, usually less than 30 percent of the row width, which leaves the majority of the field undisturbed. This produces a clean seedbed which will warm faster and be easier to plant, while still maintaining good residue cover on the rest of the field.

Although they were initially impressed with the changes in soil condition, yields were not as high as expected, as is often the case when farmers switch from conventional tillage to conservation tillage. However, as they continued to work toward their goal to fully convert to strip-till methods, they realized the soil had to have time to improve on its physical, chemical, and biological health components. When that happened, they began to regain crop yields and increase production.

Read more about D&D Farms. Coming Soon!

Gertson Farms and the Gertson Family: Gertson Farms is a family farming and ranching partnership of fourth generation rice farmers managing operations on over 9000 acres. The partnership farms about 2500 acres of rice annually using a combination of surface water from the LCRA and groundwater from private wells. Their 300 head cow/calf operation shares in the land rotation by grazing the land that is laid out between rice crop rotation years.

 Throughout the years the family has implemented a number of new strategies for achieving water conservation and has overseen numerous transformations in their farming operations in order to use water more efficiently. Some of their efforts include:

  • Utilization of readily-adjustable, in-levee flow devices for more precise water management
  • Installed water meters the farm’s major irrigation wells
  • Installed multiple inlet delivery systems

In particular Mr. Ronald Gertson’s passion for agriculture and commitment to water conservation, has led him to participate in numerous water related involvements where he has demonstrate leadership in the community and promotes water conservation in the industry.

Read more about Gertson Farms. Coming Soon!

Schur Farms and the Schur Family: The Schur family began farming land in Hale County in 1947. Before modern irrigation techniques, the farming operation utilized older irrigation technologies such as furrow and ditch irrigation. Today most of the Schur’s land that is irrigated utilizes the most efficient LEPA irrigation technology in conjunction with crop rotation, residue management, and irrigation scheduling and monitoring.

Glenn Schur’s operation is unique in the Texas High Plains in that crop diversification is an important and integral part of the 1,800 acre operation located east of Plainview, Texas. Schur produces a variety of crops which currently includes cotton, grain sorghum, wheat, seed crops (sorghum and millet), alfalfa, CRP, and a 100-head registered Limousine cow/calf operation. The Schur farm incorporates a variety of Best Management Practices (BMPs) and conservation tillage techniques.

Glenn’s operation includes a variety of technologies which allow him to closely monitor  his irrigated land and how much water he is using across his ten LEPA-irrigated center pivot systems. Glenn’s operation currently has 1,370 acres of land irrigated under LEPA center pivots and an additional 140 acres of row water corners using gated and flex pipe. Additionally, Glenn has installed his own water meters on several pivots to track water application rates. Glenn has always had an interest in and a passion for conservation of the resources which allow him and his family to farm the land. His current efforts as the Texas Alliance for Water Conservation (TAWC) Producer Board Chairman have made Glenn the producer spokesperson for the 4,500 acres of demonstration land that the project is currently evaluating.

Read more about Schur Farms. Coming Soon!

2011 Nomination Application Packet