Blending Farming and Conservation

Conservation and commerce are compatible. With help from the Department of Conservation and other agencies, conservation can even make farms more successful. Here are just a few examples of how good stewardship and resources can improve nearly any type of farming operation.

Coexisting With Wildlife

One mile south of Interstate 70 in southeastern Lafayette County, lies a farm that has been in the same family since 1839. The 700-acre farm, owned and operated by Steve and Sharon Oetting since 1979, is located near Concordia and produces mostly corn and soybeans and up to 2,400 hogs annually.

Along with the farm’s growth, the Oettings have made a concerted effort to implement a wide range of conservation practices aimed at protecting soil, water and wildlife, proving that production agriculture and stewardship of natural resources can go hand in hand.

As the Oettings put it: “Caring for the environment is not only the right thing to do for our family but [also] for the community and future generations. We feel strongly that it is our opportunity to leave one of the greatest legacies in the world: land that has been used for what it can provide but responsibly cared for and in a condition to continue to provide for generations yet to come.”

The Oettings are clearly passionate about family farms and natural resources, and their activities and achievements speak to their commitment to both. Sharon serves on the Missouri Farm Service Agency’s State Committee and actively promotes family farms through multiple avenues. Steve served on the Missouri Department of Conservation’s Quail and Grassland Bird Council and is an avid quail hunter. Their farm won the National Pork Board’s Environmental Stewardship Award and Missouri Master Farmer Award.

The Oettings have taken advantage of programs offered through multiple agencies to both improve the farm’s efficiency and to conservethe land. The Lafayette County County Soil and Conservation District provided cost-share funds to design terrace and waterway systems that reduce soil erosion on row crop acres. The terraces slow the flow of water across a field, and the waterways channel water through a stable grass strip that filters water before it enters a stream. The terrace and waterway system acts to conserve soil for future generations that will farm this land.

The Oettings have also used the Environmental Quality Incentives Program EQIP), funded through the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), to help make their hog operation more