Brown skies emphasize need for conservation practices
By Russ Pankonin
The Imperial Republican
With winds howling a constant 30-40 mph all day twice in the last week, the need for further conservation practices literally fills the sky.
Skies throughout southwest Nebraska turned brown on Thursday, Jan. 16, and this Monday as winds whipped dirt into the sky.
On a clear day, Imperial can be seen for miles around. On Monday, that visibility was cut to less than half a mile, thanks to all the dirt in the air.
District Conservationist Andy Keep in the Imperial office of Natural Resources Conservation Service said there was a lot of ground moving those two days.
Keep said the brown skies indicate there’s still plenty of need for conservation projects to limit wind erosion.
He said 80 percent of the soil in the three counties he covers, Chase, Perkins and Dundy, is classified as highly erodible by wind.
Residue content in the soil represents the biggest factor to reduce soil loss through wind erosion.
The best way to accomplish this, he noted, is for landowners to adopt continuous no-till. The planting of cover crops on ground where crops are grown that leave very little residue behind is also essential.
In addition, adding windbreaks on the edges of property represents another important tool in fighting wind erosion.
Keep said the NRCS offers cost-share programs on a wide range of conservation measures. This not only helps reduce the cost but puts these measures in place to reduce soil loss.
He said they are willing to work with any landowner who wants to reduce soil loss and improve conservation practices. He can be contacted at the Imperial NRCS office, 308-882-4263, ext. 3.