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Recent Projects

 

Soil Health Field Day

Thanks to a generous grant administered by the NC Foundation for Soil and Water Conservation with funds from the Agricultural Development and Farmland Preservation Trust Fund, a Soil Health Field Day, which included expert speakers and a multi-species cover crop demonstration, was held on April 27, 2017 at Whitaker Farms in Mills River. Over 20 participants learned about the science behind soil health and the tremendous value cover crops give to the soil. David Lamm, the USDA-NRCS, National Soil Health Team Leader and Dr. Greg Hoyt, retired Professor and Extension Specialist in Soil Management and Environmental Quality, led the interactive discussions and demonstrations. Philip Whitaker generously hosted the event and allowed attendees to view his demonstration plots which include a mixture of crimson clover, cereal rye, Austrian winter peas, and tillage radishes.

Cover crops can be a single species or a multi-species mixture of annual crops grown after the cash crop has been harvested to provide erosion control and soil improvement. The use of a cover crop reduces erosion, winter weeds, and soil crusting and improves soil quality by adding organic matter, improving infiltration, aeration and tilth, and sequestering carbon/nutrients. By limiting soil erosion, adjacent surface waters, such as rivers and streams, will see a reduction in sedimentation and pollution from dissolved and sediment-attached substances.

To learn how to incorporate the use of cover crops to improve your soil’s health, contact the Henderson County Soil and Water Conservation District at (828) 697-4949.

 

                             

                         Demonstration field showing cover crop strips (far left and far right) with conventionally tilled strip in the middle.

 

Mill Pond Creek Stream Restoration at Rugby Middle School

During the summer of 2015 and winter of 2016, approximately 1,000 feet of Mill Pond Creek was restored on the campus of Rugby Middle School. The project was funded by a combination of grants from the Division of Water Resources, the Community Foundation, and Community Conservation Assistance Program cost share funds. The stream had become incised with eroding streambanks. The plant community was dominated by invasive species and there was very little woody debris to inhibit erosion of the streambanks. Additionally, the stream’s dimension, pattern, and profile needed to be adjusted. The instream habitat was also highly impacted due to the lack of proper bed form, prohibiting a diversity of habitat. The existing channel was dominated by runs.

As part of the restoration, a floodplain was constructed which thereby reduced the slope of the stream. The flood prone area was excavated to provide a reduction in the erosive forces of water during high flow events. In order to improve the terrestrial habitat, the riparian area was seeded with native herbaceous plants. Additionally, bare root seedlings were planted to restore the woody vegetation that was removed prior to construction. Live stakes were installed along the stream on both banks to provide quick-rooting woody plants to help secure the banks during the period of vegetation establishment. 

 

       

                                                                                           

                                                                        Before restoration                                                                                                       After restoration