Please make plans to join TACD, our 95 Soil Conservation Districts and our partners in celebrating 75 years of protecting our states natural resources.
Park Vista by Hilton, Gatlinburg, March 2nd through March 5th, 2019
We will be celebrating with our first District to be authorized in 1940, Sumner County Soil Conservation District, and the 95th District, Lake County Soil Conservation District, authorized in 1959. And, celebrate working together on our mutual goals through our Association’s establishment in 1943.
We will be looking back at our successes, but we will also look to the next 75 years and what our Soil Conservation Districts can do to meet the challenges ahead.
For this special year, we are beginning our convention one day early with the TACD Board of Officers and Directors meeting Saturday afternoon, March 2nd. We will be making reduced price tickets available for a group to attend Dolly Parton’s Stampede on Saturday evening. Our first official convention event is an Inspirational Program on Sunday morning. Be checking back for the full program, events and speakers that will be added over the next month and beyond.
So, make your plans to be with us in Gatlinburg in March. It’s a great place to be so come a couple days early or stay a couple days after to enjoy the Great Smokey Mountains and the surrounding area. The Park Vista will honor the convention room rate of $94 for 3 days before and after our convention. Just call the hotel and they will add those days outside our convention days.
To access the TACD Convention Page on our website, click on the 75th Anniversary symbol to the right and that page will have a link to hotel reservations, our convention registration form and other information. Remember, check back often as we add additional information.
NACD’s 72nd Annual Meeting in Nashville was a great success. With over 1,000 in attendance, the most in many years, TACD’s role from the Service Project at McGavock High School on Friday, the tour and Opry on Saturday, our booth on Soil Health and Grazing, the opening session on Monday to the TACD tours on Wednesday, TACD’s role was noted and successful.
First, I want to say a very big “thank you” to Carol Edwards from the Davidson County Soil Conservation District. Carol and I have worked together since last summer assisting NACD and have worked intensely since November to ensure the success of the convention and TACD’s role. I also want to thank Amy Dishner from Hawkins County and Daniel Rogers from Tipton County for volunteering with NACD and working from Saturday through Wednesday on the many tasks supporting the convention.
The NACD Executive Committee Service Project was with the McGavock High School FFA installing raised beds for use in the ag science classes. Providing financial support was the Davidson County SCD, Five Rivers RC&D and the Davidson County Farm Bureau. NACD Board Member Ray Weaver and President Kelly Stockton were also on hand to support the project. Jeanne Eastham and Carter Harris also attended to capture photos and video of the event. See a photo gallery of the Service Project at the end of this article.
Our tours were sold out and we received many comments on the value and enjoyment attendees experienced. On Saturday we had 56 for the Belmont and Travelers Rest tour and transported over 225 conventioneers to the Grand Ole Opry at the Ryman Theater in downtown Nashville that evening. On Wednesday we had a full bus, 56, to both the Belle Mont tour and lunch and another to Lynchburg for lunch at Miss Mary Bobo’s and tour of the Jack Daniel’s distillery. Helping with the tours we had TACD Vice President Jim Bledsoe for the Opry and the Lynchburg trip, Shorty Beaty from Hamilton, Donna Knox from Sequatchie, Amy Dishner and TCDEA President Janice Gilispie on all the tours. Last but not least, Mendel Wade of Crocket County traveled as host on the Lynchburg trip on Wednesday before representing TN in the National Conservation Planning Partnership meeting on Thursday. Also, Sara Steelman met the group in Lynchburg and assisted with lunch and the tour. Sara also assisted with the Service Project at McGavock High School.
I must mention the Opening Ceremony on Monday. President Stockton opened the meeting with the invocation, the award-winning Nashville Police Color Guard came next then the national anthem by Ashley Brooks from MTSU and three FFA members from McGavock High School led us in the pledge. To complete the opening Bob Strasser from the Davidson County Board provided a welcome to their District with a very well received history of his family farm in Davidson County and the history of agriculture and conservation in the county. Bob then introduced Commissioner Jai Templeton doing the welcome to Tennessee. It is always a pleasure to have the Commissioner support us with his background in ag in west Tennessee. He just relates well to our group and we really appreciate him being there on a busy day for the administration with the state of the state address Monday evening.
One of the biggest hits was the Sunshine Girls, Aspen and Nova Northcutt, who preformed during the Leadership Luncheon on Monday. They are even better than when they were at the TACD convention in Franklin last year and we got hundreds of great comments on their performance. These young performers are something and their dad and music teacher were pretty good too!
The Tennessee District employees decorated the tables for Monday Night’s Auction in Tennessee style with 275 Moon Pies donated by Hamilton County SCD, and enjoyed by all I’ll add, Nashville Guitar Picks and free Educational DVD’s by Cowboy Dan which were donated by Davidson County SCD.
Progressive Soil Conservation Practices Lead to Soil Health Improvement in West Tennessee
Mark Carroll, NRCS District Conservationist, Dresden, Tennessee and I met with Scotty and Jack Ogg on October 22, 2018. The Ogg farm is our Profiles of Soil Health Heroes number 48. Scotty and Jack farm in Weakley County. Orren (OP) Parker, Jack's nephew also farms with them. Scotty and Jack shared that Scotty's grandfather was old-school conservative farmer. He would not try cutting edge technology. Jack told me that his dad would not use fertilizer. Jack, on the other hand, was aggressive and believed that you invest in modern equipment and invest in land. Jack understood stewardship. He began no-till in the 1970s. Scotty added that his dad had invested in bermuda grass waterways and sediment basins to control gully erosion.
As Scotty joined the operation, he no-tilled but other than wheat in the crop rotation, had no cover crops growing in the winter. West Tennessee has loess soils that are easily eroded. Even though most of their farming operation is gently rolling, erosion is a major concern. Scotty shared with me that it was common up to 10 years ago to use a field cultivator to work in the annual rills. No-till alone was not preventing erosion. Besides erosion, Scotty and Jack were concerned about soil organic matter decreasing which correlates to loss in yields. They also were concerned about water runoff and wanted more available water holding capacity. Another concern was weeds, especially Palmer Amaranth (pigweed) and Mares' tail. All of these concerns led them to add cover crops to their crop and pasture operation.
Kevin Brown, Former NRCS Tennessee State Conservationist, Gardening to Improve Soil Health
Conservation partners reading this newsroom article are no strangers to Kevin Brown. Kevin, recently retired as Tennessee's NRCS' State Conservationist. Kevin came to Tennessee in 2007 as the State Conservationist. He began with the USDA Soil Conservation Service, later changed to NRCS in June, 1977. He served in many positions over 41.5 years, including State Conservationist in Ohio and Deputy Chief of Management in headquarters. Kevin assisted in writing the 2002 Farm Bill. Because of his passion for Soil Health, he assisted NRCS in setting up the foundation of the current NRCS' National Soil Health Division.
In 2013, Kevin provided soil health leadership for Tennessee NRCS and partners. There were three priorities for Tennessee, Soil Health, Soil Health, Soil Health. Kevin is responsible for Yours Truly working with TACD as a Soil Health Specialist. At my retirement with NRCS, he asked me to take the position, and he worked with TACD to set up a cooperative agreement to fund my position. With his background, it is not surprising that Kevin practices soil health on his home garden. Kevin has moved 16 times during his 41.5 years. He has always had a garden. He has never tilled a garden. That is a testimony we do not hear very often with home gardeners. As I drive across the state, one area that I still see considerable tillage being practiced is in home gardening. I want to use this news article to say there are ways to improve soil health in gardening. Kevin's way is a way out of many ways to improve soil health. Following the principles of soil health will help gardeners improve soil health.
The groups below helped to make the 2015 TACD Convention possible. We want to express our sincere appreciation to these sponsors for assisting us in recognizing contributions in the soil and water conservation efforts in Tennessee.