Sunday, August 29, 2010


We finally got together to celebrate our summer birthdays yesterday. We had a "grand ole time" to be sure and the grandkids played so hard we rarely saw them except for the one year olds.

In our conversations, one of group made a statement about the quality of water coming off waterways. It made me think just how safe is the water coming off our, particularly my waterways.

Here is what I thought when I woke up this morning:

You got my curiousity up yesterday when you mentioned your thought of water quality of water coming off waterways.

Most of my farms have a waterway which was designed to slow down water off a slope in a grass designed waterway to keep soil and water on the farm. As I told you, the water coming out of ours and all I have seen is clear, much clearer than the tributary that it ends up in.

My pesticide and fertilizer use is as low as I can get it to do the job because it is too expensive to waste. It cost about $150 per acre to fertilize my corn this year, $100 for my wheat and almost as much for my soybeans.

My chemical bill was about $30 per acre depending on the crop but a pretty good average this year. To maximize profit I have to keep it low but high enough for the products to do there job and to get a return on my investment. I could have easily spent more but I scout all year and only apply what I need at that time.

I have seen water quality tests of water coming off waterwasy and never saw anything that alarmed me, usually parts per million.

Soil erosion is the biggest culprit as it decreases soil quality quickly and clay and silt carry off chemicals with it so it couldn't do it's job.

You ask a good question and I will ask my soil and water and NRCS people what they know about water quality from waterways the next time I talk to them.

I see your alarm from these links. A few are really left wing attacking agriculture as industrial when it is really locally owned. I would not consider farms as industrial but I am sure there are cases where they act like the villanous industries we hear and read about.

The waterways are expensive to put in and maintain. We can't even mow them in Clinton County until July 20 to protect tiny wildlife most of us never notice.

The culvert in the picture is the one at the bottom of the hill on SR 28. It carries the water that soaked in off our farm to the Little East Fork about a half mile away or so. It was broken so I called ODOT and they helped me repair it so it would work properly. I have repaired all my field tile so they get water to that culvert after it has soaked into the ground.

You ask a good question and I propose some answers but I think the water coming off local farm waterways are pretty clear and safe compared to the tributaries that catch all the waterways in that watershed.



  1. Ed,

    The Waterways blog is interesting. Here in Texas we are not as burdened by regulations as in many of the other states. Though Little Jimmy Hightower in his days as Texas Ag Commissioner tried mightily to impose additional regulations and bureaucracies on the poor unsuspecting farming community. To date there are no restrictions on the management of grass areas that are capable of retarding the flow of water over the area.

    This not to say that there may not be some Federal rules for something they funded that is labeled Waterway. Most commonly they are called "Hay Field"and managed as such..

    Now for your more of less neighbors. A friend in Indiana has a medium large grazing dairy and his farm has a stream flowing through it. His urban thinking neighbors down stream went to the County Board with their concerns. They wanted to have the county force him to stop grazing his cattle, with in an expanded buffer zone. In his memory cattle had never had free access to the flowing water in the stream. After a lot of pushing and pulling the County Board said up a water collection station as the water entered and departed the dairy's boundaries. There were probably a number of disappointed interested parties as the water had fewer contaminants leaving the property than the water going onto the property.

    Texas does have filter strips voluntarily placed between a stream and cultivated land. I mentioned in one meeting those filter strips served the function of protecting the nice clean fields from all the float trash that comes down with an over flow. Think tires, cans, chairs, rail road timbers, &c.

    Have a Grand and Glorious One,

  2. I don't know how it is in your state, but the last that I heard here in West Virginia, the single biggest source of silt in our streams is the public highway system.

  3. Our roads are so massive and widespread I have to wonder that they contribute, also?