John Scherder explains the benefits and installation of an alternative cattle water on his farm in Pike County, MO. (Heidi Kueler)
Farmers in Peno Creek Watershed formed a landowner council of five farm families in 2013, working with Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) to understand local conditions and find practical ways to protect and improve local land and streams.
John and Sandy Scherder and family participate in the council. Because their operation includes both crops and managed grazing, they opened their farm as a site to test three cover crop seed mixes in demonstration plots, and installed alternate watering sources in paddocks.
Of their decision to innovate and invite others to do the same, John says, “A long stretch of Peno Creek runs through our land, and we want our grandchildren to be able to safely enjoy that creek, and have clean water like we did.”
The landowner council hosted Peno Creek Cooperative Partnership Field Day with Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), Pike County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD), and MDC. Twenty landowners learned about watershed dynamics, benefits of cover crops, impacts of crop management practices on run-off and infiltration, and cost-share opportunities. Attendees heard presentations in the morning and walked through demonstration cover crop projects in the afternoon.
Workshops, training, demonstration projects, and land owner advisory council work in the Peno Creek Watershed are made possible, in part, by funds from Fishers & Farmers Partnership and the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies.
Peno Creek area landowner Charlie Becker plants a cover crop demonstration plot on Ranacker Conservation Area in the Peno Creek watershed. This plot was used to highlight opportunities for improving soil health with cover crops.
Andrea King, Missouri NRCS, shows the effect of rain on different soil management practices using a rainfall simulator. (Chris Williamson)
Peno Creek landowners witnessed a simulated storm—and real effects on soil—at a 2015 field day. Alternate practices became a topic of conversation afterward, including adapted tillage equipment and hybridized management for best water flow and crop development.
The simulator measures water volume, sediment load, phosphorous, and nitrogen runoff from a 24″ by 36″ confined soil surface area. Demonstrators know how much water is applied and how much runs off, so they can calculate how much water moves into the soil when various cropping systems are used.