SWCD presents McLees with farmer award

Pete Temple
Express Sports/Ag Editor

     For conservation practices that date back to the previous century, the Dave and Jenice Farm just south of Cascade in Jones County was presented with the Farmer of the Year Award by the Jones Soil and Water Conservation District.

     The McLees family was presented with a plaque at the farm Sept. 26.

     “I’m very proud,” Dave McLees said. “I was very surprised.”

     The award is normally presented at an annual awards banquet conducted jointly by the Jones SWCD and the Jones County Conservation Board. But since the SWCD had just one award to present this year, the commissioners decided to do so at the farm site.

     McLees said his father, Vince, purchased the family farm in 1950. Dave and Jenice have been operating it since 1990, and have been joined by sons, Mike, Matt and Marty.

     It’s a hilly, beef cattle farm, and concerns about soil loss prompted McLees to use conservation practices.

     “I’ve been no-tilling since 1996. I have miles of terraces and field borders and waterways, and I plant cover crops,” McLees said.

     “We’ve lost so much soil over the last century or so. We just have to at least try to stop it, or try to build the soil a little bit, otherwise we’ll never have any for our children to farm,” he said. “I read this the other day, that it takes 100 years to build one inch of topsoil.”

     McLees said the results have been encouraging.

     “My yields have been going up a lot in the last several years, and I’ve seen lots of earthworm activity. That’s a really big key thing with keeping your soil healthy,” he said.



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