Conservationists, ranchers and farmers do take care of the land. And that’s not always an easy task given changing weather conditions, new rules and the unpredictable nature of farming.
Recently, the Soil and Water Conservation Society released two short films designed to share the efforts of farmers and conservationists in the San Luis Valley of Colorado to address the challenges of agriculture through improved soil health.
Clare Lindahl, CEO of SWCS, explained that there are a lot of resources regarding soil health in the Midwest and East, but “we identified an opportunity to share the unique challenges that farmers in the West face in improving their soils, and the important role the conservation professional plays in creating a patch forward for soil health in the region.”
Added Patrick O’Neill, a soil scientist and agronomist with Soil Health Services, Alamosa, Colo.: “We realize the benefits of soil health in the extremes much more than when everything is just right for growing conditions.”
In “Soil Health in the West: The San Luis Valley,” farmers Lyle and Erin Nissen, ranchers George Whitten and Julie Sullivan and their conservationist partners are featured. Their work includes efficiently using limited water resources and reducing soil erosion through crop rotations, increased biodiversity and innovative rangeland management practices.
“Conservation Professionals: Inspiring a Movement” highlights the role of conservation professionals in the soil health movement by documenting the lasting impact that one conservationist — Mike Collins, USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service — has had on the landscape and the community. Collins, a soil health advocate in the region and SWCS board member, passed away in 2016.
George Whitten, a San Luis Valley rancher, said that “a lot of what we’re doing now with soil health is because of him [Collins]. I don’t think we’d have the strong group that we have in the San Luis Valley if it wasn’t for Mike.”
The films were funded in part through contributions to the Mike Collins Memorial Fund, directed by Jody Thompson and produced by SWCS.