If you have something of value to protect, the dictionary tells us you are involved in conservation.
Conservation is defined as - protection of valued resources: the preservation, management, and care of natural and cultural resources protection from change: and the keeping or protecting of something from change, loss, or damage.
Conservation runs through the life of Tedd Haas – conservation of family, lifestyle, and the land.
“I have always had a spot for conservation because I believe in stewardship of the resources God has provided us with,” Haas said. “You like and love the land. You earn your income that way, and you take care of it. It becomes a part of you.”
Haas, a farmer from Bonita, Ariz., and his family are a good example of what conservation in action looks like.
Hass’ primary crops are corn, pinto beans, barley, and durum wheat. He also plants oats as a cover crop during the winter months after the bean crop is harvested.
Cover crops help reduce soil erosion, improve soil quality, manage weeds and diseases, and act as a pest management tool.
Growing beans is a family operation. Hass and his brothers not only grow much of the beans processed at Bonita Bean Company, but also help operate the grain elevator. Bonita Bean Company is owned by Hass and his brother Brent, and together they process beans by growers across the Sulphur Springs Valley.
Once the beans are harvested, the beans are taken to the bean plant, where they are stored, cleaned, and sacked for market.
Tedd Haas started his conservation plan with the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in 1996. A conservation plan is a free service NRCS provides to agricultural producers. It’s the producer’s plan to use as they wish – a guide to using natural resources more efficiently.
By working with NRCS to complete a conservation plan, Hass became eligible for NRCS funding to help install the conservation practices identified in his plan. Hass applied for and received financing through NRCS’ Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) to improve his priority resource concern - irrigation efficiency.
Irrigating efficiently reduces excess use of irrigation water, reduces ground water pumping, improves crop yields, and improves the overall profitability of the farm.
Poor irrigation efficiency can be caused by several things. For Hass, it was hindered initially by the method of irrigation. He started out by converting his fields from row water irrigation to center pivot irrigation.
Instantly, Hass’ irrigation efficiency went from 50 percent to 75 percent.
However, high winds are common in this area and a large amount of the water was blown away due to the sprinklers too high off the ground and too far apart from each other. Hass updated technologies and installed new center pivots that not only put the sprinklers in the right position but also utilized ultra low drop and low pressure nozzles.
These nozzles are designed to emit the exact amount of water the producer desires. Hass now knows exactly how much water is used at all times.
When all settings are calculated just right on the new center pivots, Hass can expect to receive up to 90 percent efficiency. While Hass hasn’t quite achieved full efficiency, he is irrigating his farm with high efficient center pivots with an average of 85 percent irrigation efficiency.
Hass continues to work with his local NRCS office to improve his conservation methods on his farm. He is in the final stages of installing the final high efficient center pivot and is also beginning no-till practices.
“Cover crops and no-till help with irrigation efficiency. There is a learning curve, but the benefits outweigh it,” Hass said.
Hass is the president of the Willcox-San Simon Natural Resources Conservation District (NRCD). Conservation Districts provide leadership for a locally led conservation program to help producers address local conservation priorities. They are partners with NRCS and work closely with NRCS staff to communicate the needs of conservation on the ground at the local level.
“We are getting conservation on the ground faster and more efficiently by working together,” said Haas. “The relationship between the Conservation District and NRCS is a symbiotic one.”