Everyone knows of the typical pitfalls with which farmers have to deal — weather, pests, weeds, etc. But another problem not often thought about by the general public, but often on the minds of producers, is maintaining the soil itself.
Even with the best practices, erosion can still be an issue — as was the case for the Rogier family of rural Highland. On a couple of their farms, gullies kept appearing after following heavy rain.
Four generations of the Rogier family have farmed in Helvetia Township, southeast of Highland. They raise corn, beans and wheat on their cropland. Also as part of their operation, the Rogiers raise young calves and feed them to market weight.
Tim Rogier is the overall manager and is in charge of the crop operation. Brothers Randy and Joel are involved with the cattle operation. Kim, Tim’s wife, is the family accountant and takes care of the bills, vouchers, checks, invoices and calls.
This past year, the Rogiers decided to address their ongoing water runoff problems. They planned, designed and completed an extensive system of erosion and sediment control work on their farms.
With technical assistance from the Madison County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD), they did so by installing several lines of water and sediment control basins.
“The Soil and Water Conservation District provides on-site technical assistance to landowners that have erosion and sediment control problems, storm water runoff issues, pond construction, pond management, tree planting and many other agronomic issues,” said Rick Macho, Madison County SWCD manager. “We do the planning, survey and design of permanent conservation practices on croplands. In doing so, we provide the technical input and approval for several state and federal USDA cost-share programs.”
Each set of basins on the Rogier farm (usually three to five) are connected by a common tile line, and each basin has a riser pipe, which is located upstream. The basins are designed catch, store and slowly release runoff water into the tile. In all, the Rogiers installed 79 basins, each with a standalone tile inlet.
The tile lines eventually outlet to a drainage swale without causing any further erosion. The basins are also extremely effective in capturing any sediment before leaving the field.
The earth-moving activity was completed by Joel Rogier and Paul Hustedde. The tile was installed by Maupin Tiling.
As part of the system, the Rogiers also installed many thousand feet of drain tile, several grass waterway buffers and a rock chute at the outlet of the system.
The work began in September 2015 and finished in April 2016.
The system drains about 280 acres the Rogiers farm themselves, but also takes on water from their neighbors’ fields, too. It total, their work collects runoff from about 360 acres.
“It was one of the biggest projects Madison County said they had ever been associated with,” Tim Rogier said.
For these conservation work efforts, the board of directors of the Madison County SWCD recently recognized the Rogiers with the Outstanding Progress in Soil and Water Conservation.
More important than the award, though, was the system works.
“Oh my gosh, yeah,” Tim Rogier said, pointing to one particular parcel that he used to have to farm in pieces, with several ditches and headlands dividing the tract.
“Now, you can drive all the way across it,” he said.