Lauren Enns of rural Hills?boro might be 83 years old, but he still enjoys getting out on a tractor to farm, and he takes a keen interest, along with wife Luetta, in the conservation works done on their operation.
?I?ve turned all the farming over to my son, Jim, now,? Enns said. ?He?s 50 years old, so I really can?t tell him how to do it any more. But I help out quite a lot. I don?t mind it. I enjoy it.
?I won a soil conservation award a number of years ago for grass buffer strips along creeks, wide enough to keep the soil from washing.?
Enns said he takes pride in knowing the water running from those buffer strips into the Marion Reservoir watershed don?t carry silt. He?s contributing pure water.
Lauren and Luetta, along with Jim and wife Brenda as tenants of their parents? 650 acres, are recipients this year of a Banker Award in soil conservation from the Marion County Conservation District.
The Ennses are being cited for their continuing efforts to control soil erosion on their farmland.
Over the years, the Ennses, on this particular piece of land, have installed 28.1 acres of waterways along with 51,583 feet of terraces and diversions.
They have one field of 22.3 acres in the Conservation Reserve Program and 15.8 acres of CRP filter strips installed along the lower edges of cropland fields. The improvements help prevent sediment from entering the adjacent streams.
The Ennses have seeded 39 acres to brome grass that is used for hay and grazing. Jim said he runs a cow-calf herd of Angus-Simmental crosses.
?The Simmental cows are good at calving, and the Angus gets the black into them,? he said. ?It?s a good cross.?
The Ennses also use no-till methods and alfalfa rotations to improve their cropland and have taken advantage of many cost-assistance programs to achieve their soil conservation goals.
They have used CRP, the Environmental Quality Incentive Program, state funds from water resources, and Watershed Restoration and Protection Strategy funding in connection with Marion Reservoir.
Jim said his row crops of corn and soybeans do a lot better with the no-till system. He still uses conventional tillage to tear up ground for wheat, plant alfalfa or rotate alfalfa to other crops.
Enns sells most of the alfalfa out-of-state, predominantly to a dairy in Kentucky.
Mostly for weed control, Jim gave up growing milo when he went to no-till. Beans and corn have been genetically altered to be Roundup-ready, and shatter-cane infestations have become a problem in milo.
The family?s motivation to pursue conservation practices runs deep.
?We just had to do it,? Jim said. ?You hate to see soil go down creeks, and without the work, you get big ditches developing in the fields.
?I have several other landlords who are all doing the same things, too.?
?The reservoir funds have made it a lot easier to do it. It?s a good deal for us, and it?s a good deal for the people downstream.?