Karen and her husband farm in Mills County and raise four children on their farm.
What are you doing to practice and promote soil and water quality?
My husband started to no-till over 25 years ago, which was already well established. We have very hilly, highly-erodible ground, which was an excellent complement to the operation. We also farm on the contour, terraces that we were part of the Soil Health Partnership for several years, so we learned more about cover crops and how to integrate that into our operation. We're looking to expand that and our knowledge and that application.
What needs for soil health and water quality do you see in your region/county?
I think for producers, the need is to provide that expertise, that guidance, that teacher that can be there to help guide because everybody's operation is so different: their soils, their contours, everything. So to fully benefit, you need somebody to walk you through that step. If there's funding available to help with that, that would be excellent, but a lot of it is technically based.
What could be done with more public funding for soil and water quality?
It all depends on the individual producer when it comes to programs and projects. It might be seed is the issue, it might be equipment or it might be that expert guidance to walk you through it. Still, I think maintaining some flexibility there can target those funds exactly where it needs to be because some producers don't need some of those proportions, and others desperately do. Being flexible with how those dollars are spent but being able to have that accountability would be tremendous.