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Bill and Babetta Lucke of Persia, Iowa, battle extreme weather, like so many farmers recently. As 12-year no-till veterans with terraced slopes and miles of grass waterways, the southwest Iowa farmers have a new twist on conservation. Instead of disking field gullies closed, Bill uses an 8-yard scraper to push soil back up hills to fill field gullies. It takes some time to pack it so it doesn’t move, but it’s well worth it, he says. Filled with fertile topsoil that has washed downhill over the decades, the repaired gullies “sometimes yield better than the rest of the field.”
Put soil back
Despite these efforts, it’s still “a constant fight to hang on to our soil,” Bill says. Intense rainstorms continue to carve out field gullies, which transport sediment. Farmers often disk these small ditches closed, but Bill takes a different tactic.
A few years ago, he bought an 8-yard Big Dog Scraper. Every fall, he pushes soil back up the hills to fill the field gullies. “We round them up a bit and pack it really good so it doesn’t move. It takes some time, but it’s well worth it.” Filled with fertile topsoil that has washed downhill over the decades, the repaired gullies sometimes “yield better than the rest of the field.”
A lot of growers in the region are now doing the same thing, McGrath adds.
For the Luckes, soil stewardship is all about preserving future productivity, Babetta says.
Beyond that, Bill adds, “It’s the right thing to do. I have a responsibility to do the best job possible to take care of and improve it and make it better than when I started farming.”