ORIGINALLY WRITTEN TOM STOPPEL
Charles D. DeForest thinks machinery is too expensive, so he’s not fond of driving his investments through ditches.
That approach, coupled with his willingness to work in conjunction with the Marion County Conservation District, has led to Charles and Cathy DeForest of rural Florence being named winners of the 2002 Bankers Award.
Sponsored by the Marion County Bankers Association and the Kansas Bankers Association, this honor reflects DeForest’s commitment to conserve natural resources.
DeForest said he has practiced conservation for as long as he can remember.
“I used to farm with my dad,” he said. “We were always building terraces for as long as I can remember.”
DeForest began his conservation efforts working in association with what was called the Agricultural Stabilization and Conservation Service, and is now known as the Natural Resource Conservation Service.
“Once you build terraces, you don’t have any ruts or ditches in your field,” DeForest said. “(Terraces) slow the water flow down, and it leaves your field cleaner. It doesn’t fill up the ponds downstream with sediment, either.”
DeForest used Environmental Quality Incentive Program funding to conserve the soil on his land.
Something of a pioneer in some of his practices, DeForest was the first to install a designed pipe drop structure in a terrace, using 150 feet of pipe on two terraces.
DeForest said working with the Marion County Conservation District has served him well. He likes the simplicity of the working relationship he has with them.
“I work mainly with Gary Schuler (Marion County District conservationist),” DeForest said. “I tell them I have a problem, what it is, and ask them what projects are available to remedy the situation.”
DeForest said district personnel are knowledgeable about the farming practices in the area, and what works and doesn’t work in regard to terrace layouts.
He liked the layout, with all but one of his waterways along the side of the field.
This left DeForest with one a large field to farm rather than several small fields.
DeForest said he hires professionals to do most of his conservation work. His contractor of choice for his latest project was Charlie Svoboda.
DeForest has installed 10.22 acres of waterways, 17,801 feet of terraces, and 500 feet of diversion terraces.
With children in school, DeForest said he realizes the importance of preserving natural resources for future generations.
“I think it’s important to take care of what you’re given, and what you have,” he said. “You can’t let it all wash away or blow away.”
Methods of resource conservation on his farm include contour farming and a mixture of conventional tillage and no-till farming.
“We contour farm our terraces and try to plow them up every year, to maintain their height,” he said.
DeForest said he knows he is one of many who farm with conservation in mind.
“With the weather the way it’s been, we got a lot of things done,” he said. “Our two-year project got done in about one year.
“I think it’s an honor to win this award.”