Our 210 acre farm is comprised of primarily timber with annual income from the twenty-five acres of rotation between soybeans, corn, and wheat income from the harvest of timber is sporadic and occurs approximately every 15-20 years.
PROJECT DESCRIPTION AND RESULTS
1) Project goals: to decrease soil erosion and to demonstrate alternative crop resources to area farmers as well as to remain a family farm.
2) Resources of the family farm such as existing pecan trees and open fescue ground which was not being used for hay/pasture were targeted to be developed. Development of these resources could increase farm income without sacrificing the small amount of tillable ground for traditional crops. It would also assist with reducing soil erosion for fields composed of 14-30% slopes and Menfro silt loam soil.
The process involved obtaining bids to clear the brush and trees other than pecans form the native pecan grove and ordering pecan seedlings form Forrest Keeling nursery. It also included placing a culvert to obtain access to the native pecan grove and ordering a watering tank for the pecan seedlings.
Dr. William Reid assisted with recommendations of cultivar types. Cracking characteristics, disease resistance, and appropriateness to Southeast Missouri were considered. Taste was also a consideration. A taste testing process was completed with 6 different kinds of pecans prior to ordering pecan seedlings. The cultivars Kanza and Pawnee were chosen.
Gerald Bryant with the University of Missouri Extension office in Jackson, Missouri assisted with arranging the opportunity to complete the educational component of this grant. The presentation was provided to 9 people interested in pecans during a grafting demonstration by Dr. William Reid in Biehle, Missouri. Mr. Rick Kammler provided professional forestry recommendation in order to mark established native pecans and determine which trees should be removed.
The results of the grant will be better measured over the next five to six years as the pecan seedlings begin to bear and the native pecan trees establish a broader canopy for nut production. Short term results are increased wildlife habitat with newly established brush piles. An opportunity to learn about alternative crop production of pecans as well as soil erosion control also resulted from this project. The original grant called for pre-post digital pictures of wildlife to document an increase in wildlife. This was impossible to document with a digital camera for a three to four acre site. Also, wildlife habitat was probably temporarily affected by the process of using chain saws to clear trees other than pecans as well as the presence of people within the pecan grove.
Overall, the project added value to this family farm and a promise of increased annual income with alternative crop of pecans. The advantage of this project is to involve the next generation in the family farm and teach them to constantly look for ways to improve the farm. The disadvantage of such a project is then increased labor and time required. One thing that anyone writing such a grant should utilize is contracts with laborers and/or organizations completing portions of the grant in order to avoid misunderstandings and assure that timelines are met. Also, have someone review your proposal to insure that you have included all costs. For example, I could have obtained more funding to plant clover in the native pecan grove in order to supply nitrogen to the trees.
Results of the grant and grant application process were presented in Biehle, Missouri to 9 people interested in pecan production. It was presented in conjunction with a pecan grafting demonstration by Dr. William Reid through the University of Missouri Extension office. Photos (before and after) were presented.
Another educational component of the project was a pre/post test given to the members of Teen Challenge of Mid-America. They were given a document from the Missouri Department of Conservation detailing how to make brush piles to benefit wildlife. At the beginning of the project prior to reading this publication, 79% of the questions were answered correctly. At the end of the project 100% were answered correctly.