We have been file cleaning these past few weeks and discovering fascinating newspaper clippings, annual reports, and meeting minutes from the past that lead us off our assigned task.
Staff members here range in age from 25 to 70 so some of these historical gems are new even to us old-timers. For instance, the Delaware Soil & Water Conservation District was formed in 1944 and at that time we were known as the Delaware Soil Conservation District. Sometime in the early 1960s, legislation provided Ohio’s districts the opportunity to include water in an effort to better represent their major natural resources areas of service. For Delaware, the name change took place in the fall of 1964.
From this perusing of old files it amazes me how some things change and some stay the same. In 1944, the first meeting of the new organization sets the stage for the long-term cooperation amongst Delaware SWCD, U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the local extension agent from what we now know as the Ohio State University Extension.
One of the first educational brochures entitled “Stop the Leak by Conservation Farming” includes a graphic of a wooden barrel labeled Farm Income with a leak pouring out of the side. Inside the brochure was the following checklist to help a landuser identify if he/she could use some assistance:
• Soils more difficult to plow and prepare for seeding.
• Muddy water running off the field.
• Loss of humus.
• Deposits of soil at the foot of slopes and at fence rows.
• Small channels washed between row crops such as corn and soybeans.
• “Thin spots” on cropland slopes where clover seldom catches or where it is a complete failure.
• Stone, shale, and subsoil that have “come to the top” of the ground.
• Tile not working.
• Reduced yields, even though more fertilizer, manure, better seed and other cultural practices have been used.
• Unproductive permanent pasture.
• Woodlot containing trees with dead tops and few desirable trees.
• Filling of stream channels.
This list is still relevant today! Whether you are a crop producer or a tree farmer, own a horse or two, have a pasture full of beef cattle, or reside on a small houselot – managing your soil and water resources is vitally important for you and your community.
While agriculture is still the number one industry for Delaware County and the original purpose of the Delaware Soil and Water Conservation District was to help farmers, the conservation practices used in agriculture are also applicable to land that is rural, urban, or suburban.
Keeping soil covered to protect it from the detrimental effects of wind and water means we are keeping our valuable topsoil in place for growing trees, flowers, lawns, and vegetable gardens as well as corn, soybeans, wheat, and hay. Proper drainage is important in maximizing crop yields but also essential for ensuring dry basements, functioning home sewage treatment systems, for diversion of excess rain and snowmelt from roads, and for reducing the potential for flooding.
If you have a question about how to keep your soil in place and how to improve water quality, visit our website at www.delawareswcd.org or call us at 740-368-1921. We are here “Helping You Help the Land.”
Be sure to check our summer workshops on our website including our upcoming Pond Clinic scheduled for July 13 at Glen Oak Park, Lewis Center. Sign up today.