As I near my 10th anniversary with the Columbiana Soil & Water Conservation District, I reflect on one of the questions I hear the most; “What do you guys do here?” And while this may seem like any easy question to answer, it actually can be quite complex.
The reason this question is so complex is because no two days are ever the same in the soil and water world.
Sure, back in 1942 when the Columbiana Soil & Water Conservation District was established, the idea was to help landowners put conservation practices on the landscape of Columbiana County. But oh how times have changed.
Let’s take a look at what your local conservation district can do for you. We still do conservation practices and lots of them. From manure pits to heavy use feeding areas to exclusion fence, we can design the practice, do the lay out and sometimes even find cost share to help pay for it.
However, we do not just handle agricultural conservation anymore. Some SWCDs are also involved with the forestry or timber harvest conservation practices. Districts throughout the state assist loggers and landowners with conservation practices such as stream crossing and log skidding roads.
We also work with urban landowners on drainage issues, sediment and erosion control plans for new construction, and storm water management plans for housing subdivisions.
So if you have a question on conservation, whether it be agricultural, forestry, or urban, give your local office a call and we would be happy to come out and walk your property with you.
Interested in using a no-till drill to plant some crops? At the Columbiana SWCD, we can help with that. Not every district has a no-till drill rental program, but if you are in a neighboring county there is a good chance you can use their no-till drills.
Columbiana SWCD has three no-till drills to rent on a per acre basis. These drills will plant soybeans, wheat, oats, alfalfa, sorghum, barley, grass seed and even warm season grasses.
If you have several hundred acres of soybeans to plant or just want to seed a foodplot for the deer, call your local soil and water to see if they can help.
Pond construction and pond management are always popular topics at the conservation district. Whether you would like a pond built on your property or you already have a pond that you may need some technical advice with, your local SWCD office can help.
We can assist in selecting a suitable site for your pond, provide a soil scientist to look at the soil to make sure it is suitable for pond construction, and even calculate the watershed in order to size the overflow.
If you have questions on a pesky algae problem, nuisance geese/muskrats, or fish stocking recommendations the SWCD office can be a great place to start.
What if you are a person that just wants to be more educated about the environment or you are looking for new ideas on ways to make your land more profitable or sustainable?
Your local conservation district may just have the answer at an educational meeting/seminar or field day. Soil & Water Districts are active in school presentations so that children understand the importance of keeping water clean and preventing soil erosion.
We provide educational meetings like livestock mortality composting in order for livestock producers to dispose of carcasses in an environmentally friendly manner. Timber and pond management, the use of cover crops, and even floodplain regulations are all issues that have been addressed by educational meetings at local SWCDs.
A collaboration of conservation districts support the Eastern Ohio Grazing Conference, which hosts pasture walks and educational seminars throughout the year. This gives graziers an opportunity to visit other producers to see first-hand how to make their operations better.
The Columbiana SWCD will be providing an urban conservation seminar March 31 at the Salem Public Library to educate people on the use of rain gardens and rain barrels in order to conserve storm water.
I am certain I have just scratched the surface on the variety of educational programs offered by conservation districts, so if you are looking to expand your knowledge on a certain topic you may want to contact your local SWCD office to see if there is program in the near future.
Hopefully, I have provided some insight into what your local Soil & Water Conservation District can do for you. Districts throughout the state tailor their programs to the needs of the people in the area, so do not hesitate to stop by the office or pick up the phone and contact your local SWCD office so that we can assist you in getting more conservation on the land.