OSCD honors five for conservation practices
By Annette Tait
On the eve of World Soil Day, the Oliver Soil Conservation District very appropriately ended the International Year of Soils by honoring the efforts of local conservationists at its annual awards banquet.
The evening began with a presentation on conservation in the Holy Land by Rocky Bateman, a supervisor from the Morton County Soil Conservation District. Bateman offered a unique perspective as he narrated his slide show, blending observations on soil conservation and agriculture with biblical references to the locations pictured.
“The biblical description of abundance no longer exists,” Bateman said, as he showed barren hillsides that were once terraced fields.
The terraces were just barely visible in the hillsides that had eroded beyond agricultural use, as there was no longer topsoil present. Settlers have begun replacing the old narrow terraces with wider ones, and working to reclaim the land for agriculture.
Bateman also noted the difficulties in discussing conservation practices in the land where belief in God and the teachings of the scriptures began.
“How do you compare as a soil conservationist when [the local belief is] ‘God’s doing it?’” Bateman asked.
He went on to explain the steps that were needed to drain valleys to combat a mosquito infestation so serious settlers were dying of mosquito-borne disease, and touched on the water issues the area is ironically experiencing.
“Almost 100 percent of the water is recycled,” Bateman said, explaining the water conservation processes needed to supply the region during its long period of drought.
Bateman also noted that all tilling in the area is done, for the most part, using rototillers. There are few tractors, and those that he saw were small older models that were very well used.