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Conservation efforts lead to more than a dream lake

Agriculture.com Staff 07/06/2010 @ 4:58pm

As a young boy, 71-year-old Benny Davis said he wanted his own lake. As a young man, Davis built his lake. Today, conservation experts say this boyish dream is benefiting many more people than the man who fulfilled his dream.

The year was 1968. Davis bought a 240-acre farm east of Corydon, Iowa, with land he said was perfect to build a lake. There were deep ravines and gullies running through it to make building a lake easier.

Experts from the USDA Soil Conservation Service (SCS), now the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), told Davis his dam would stop a lot of soil erosion. SCS helped Davis design and build his dam the next year. He soon had a 79-acre lake.

Davis had his lake, but he wasn't done. He said his dream lake had clean, clear water: So Davis spent the next few years installing conservation practices around the lake to protect it. With key advice, design work and financial assistance from NRCS, he built terraces, ponds and grassed waterways. He installed masonry rip rap in the lake to protect against bank erosion, and planted hay grasses and used conservation tillage above the lake to reduce soil loss and runoff.

As a young boy, 71-year-old Benny Davis said he wanted his own lake. As a young man, Davis built his lake. Today, conservation experts say this boyish dream is benefiting many more people than the man who fulfilled his dream.

The result was clean water.

NRCS and Davis have a long history of working together on his farm projects and on structures Davis built for others as a soil conservation contractor.

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Soil Health at Farm Science Review