For nearly three quarters of a century, the Scotland County Soil and Water Conservation District has been working with local landowners to install methods of preventing soil erosion on agricultural land and reducing nutrient and pesticide runoff into Missouri’s waterways.

The district will host its annual customer appreciation day on Friday, March 8th at the Scotland County Fitness Center from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Staff members will be on hand to discuss available services, including the cost share programs as well as available rental equipment.

In 2018, the SC Soil and Water Conservation District spent $806,293 on cost share programs, that included approximately 30 terraces, 20 ponds, and 13 dry holes, as well as seedings, cover crops and a grazing system. This year expenditures are just over $650,000 for 13 terraces, 29 ponds, six dry hole structures and four well fillings as well as 20 cover crops, three grazing systems and nine seedings.

A large part of these projects relate to sheet, rill and gully erosion, which is the unwanted removal of soil from the land surface by rainfall and runoff. These measures stop potential land degradation and assist with water quality protection.

Cost share is made available for the establishment of permanent vegetative cover, terrace systems, diversions, waterways retention structures and ponds.

The later is one of the most popular local projects, with the district assisting with the construction of nearly 60 ponds over the past two years. The district can offer up to 75% cost share for the average county cost, up to $15,000.

A similar 75% cost share is also available for planting of cover crops, and also includes n incentive payment of between $30 to $40 an acre, with a lifetime maximum payment per operator of $20,000. These cover crops can be applied to croplands where row crops are grown and soil erosion needs to be prevented or water quality or soil health needs to be improved.

To participate in the programs, landowners must have a farm number through the Farm Service Agency in order to be eligible to sign-up for a cost-share contract. The cooperator must have an approved conservation plan which includes the requested practice before the contract is approved. A cost-share contract must be board approved before the conservation practice is started.

The Missouri Soil and Water Districts Commission was created in 1943 to administer soil and water conservation districts The state joined the movement to localize soil and water efforts when Harrison County formed the first soil and water conservation district in 1944. In 1996, Washington County became the last of Missouri’s 114 counties to organize as a district. The Scotland County District was established in 1945.

“We work in a joint effort with NRCS to provide conservation services for landowner’s in Scotland County,” said Ellen Clark, District Specialist III. “The SWCD is funded by the 1/10 of 1% Soils and Parks Tax that the voters of Missouri vote on every 10 years.” 

The state Soil and Water Conservation Program carries out the policies of the Soil and Water Districts Commission following the Soil and Water Districts Law (Chapter 278, RSMo). The program promotes good farming techniques that help keep soil on the fields, our waters clean and conserves the productivity of Missouri’s working lands.

Each soil and water conservation district is governed by a board of five supervisors, responsible for all district actions and employees. Four supervisors on each board are resident county agricultural landowners or their legal representative elected to serve four-year terms. The fifth is a representative from University of Missouri Extension.

The Scotland County board members are Duane Ebeling – Chairman; Doug Freburg – Vice-Chairman; Lisa Doster – Secretary; Curt Triplett – Treasurer; and Henry Blessing – member.

The local staff consists of Ellen Clark – District Specialist III; Nate Clubb – District Specialist I; Seth Dunnett – District Specialist II; and Rex Winn – District Specialist III; NRCS Staff -Ashley Johnson – NRCS District Conservationist; Brandy Franklin – NRCS Resource Conservationist; Mark Orton – NRCS Soil Conservationist Technician.

The district’s fiscal year runs from July 1 through June 30.

“In July we are set to receive $563,353.00 once the new fiscal year begins,” stated Clark.

This new revenue will be earmarked for 2020 conservation projects.