Farmers learn about weed control practices during Mountain Soil and Water District Tour

Millboro Springs, VA – The first stop on this year’s Mountain Soil and Water District Conservation Tour was Bob and Ann Hilton’s Sitlington Farm on the Cowpasture River south of Millboro Springs. Farm Manager Timmy Black was on hand with Conservation District agent Chris Swecker to talk about agricultural practices and weed control on this farm. Chris describes Sitlington Farm.

“First off, I thought I would talk about the farm itself that Robert Hilton owns” said Mr. Swecker. “This here’s the farm manager, which has been for twenty-five (or) thirty years. He’s a beef cattle farmer, runs beef cattle and stockers, grows about thirty to sixty acres of corn.”

“What we’re going to look at is weeds out of this field here; this field was in corn the previous two years. We just planted it back to permanent grass this past spring; we’ve got alfalfa, timothy – sixteen acres. There’s also a lot of weeds that we are going to try to identify.”

With the help of Scott Neil, a senior at Virginia Tech, and Rodney Leech, the Extension agent for Bath and Highland Counties, several weeds were pulled from the alfalfa field and identified. Various weed control methods were also discussed. Chris goes on to talk about the conservation district’s equipment rental program.

“Our conservation district, we’re big into equipment rental,” said Mr. Swecker. “We rent out three no-till sod planters, four spreaders, [a] weed wiper. We’ve really done a lot of no-till on this place – did a lot of no-till clover and orchard grass. [We’ve] done a lot of rotations, done a lot of cover crop planting, alfalfa planting. The cost-share programs that are available; the BMP [best management practices] cost-share program, the water quality program where we can fence off the creek and set water troughs. We have practices to plant trees, cover crops, alternative watering systems and critical area treatment,” he said.

Chris also talks briefly about the multiflora rose eradication program.

“This is a county program now that we have had for about roughly twenty-six years,” said Mr. Swecker. “All land owners in Bath County, if you have multiflora rose on your place, I’m just going to make it short, simple and sweet; if you’re a tax payer in Bath County and you have multiflora rose on your property, you’re eligible for the program. I’ll come out and make an evaluation and see how much you have, that’s how it works.”

Following the conservation tour lunch was provided at the Windy Cove Church picnic shelter by Puffenbarger’s BBQ. Just before lunch was served, Chris Swecker presented the annual conservation award to Mr. Tex Chapman. Mr. Chapman works his own farm and manages other farms in the Mill Creek area of eastern Bath County. He has put in many conservation programs over the years that have reduced soil erosion, improved water quality and promoted pasture renovation.

If you have any questions about the conservation programs available through the Mountain Soil and Water District, stop by their office in the Bath County Courthouse in Warm Springs or call them at 540-839-4616.

Story By

Heather Niday

Heather is our Program Director and Traffic Manager. She started with Allegheny Mountain Radio as a volunteer deejay. She then joined the AMR staff in February of 2007. Heather grew up in the Richmond, Virginia, area and now lives in Arbovale, West Virginia with her husband Chuck. Heather is a wonderful flute player, and choir director for Arbovale UMC. You can hear Heather along with Chuck on Tuesday nights from 6 to 8pm as they host two hours of jazz on Something Different.

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