Alden and Laura Entz, who farm south of Peabody, climaxed many years of conservation work with an unusual project to win the Marion County Conser?vation District Continuation Award.
The couple are being recognized this year for their effort to control erosion on an 80-acre field.
Alden Entz said the field was losing soil to create ephemeral gullies during heavy rain events. He used terraces to lead the excess runoff water through a plastic pipe on top of the terraces in part of the field.
The rest of the terraces in the field were designed to use large concrete blocks as a drop structure system to provide a safe and controlled outlet.
The Natural Resources and Conservation Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture personnel at Marion provided the design, but Entz used his own equipment to meet the specifications outlined.
He said he had heavier equipment for the project available that many farmers wouldn?t have because of the feedlot he runs with his son, Merlyn. Son Arlyn also farms nearby, and the three work together in most of the farming operation.
The main piece of equipment was a loader mounted on a four-wheel commercial loader that is normally used for moving cattle feed, Entz said.
With it, he was able to move into place 21?2-by-21?2-by-5-foot concrete blocks weighing 3,000 pounds each, a feat that probably would have been impossible for any farm tractor. He put down 29 to 36 blocks in drop structures in the system to provide a safe and controlled outlet.
Entz said the company where the blocks were purchased put leftover concrete into forms for the blocks and sells them ?very reasonably? to provide itself a margin with the otherwise unused product.
The blocks are made so they interlock to control water passing through them, he said.
The Entz feedyard typically brings in British breed 400-pound cattle?as many of them as possible black?and feeds them to about 1,200 pounds.
?We will feed most any good cross-bred cattle, or breeds like Herefords if that?s what?s available,? Entz said.
The cattle are purchased through order buyers in auction situations, mostly from out-of-state and typically from Oklahoma, Texas or Wyoming, he said.
The cattle and the rest of the farm are supported by a grain program averaging about 50 percent corn, 25 percent milo and 25 percent wheat, Alden said.
The entire conservation program on the Entz operation was begun in the 1950s by Alden?s father, Albert, beginning in Butler County and expanding into Marion County.
?Over the years, every time new ground was purchased, we asked the Marion (NRCS) office out for planning every field to see that it was terraced and had waterways,? he said.
?We always worked right away to keep every piece of ground cleaned up and in good shape.?