Southeast Iowa Farmer Protects Soil and Water with Diverse Conservation Approach: Clark Whitaker - Hillsboro
Clark Whitaker is a farmer/producer/landowner in the Lower Skunk River Watershed Project area located in Southeast Iowa on the Henry and Van Buren County line. He and his family have been farming in this area for 164 years. Their operation consists of corn, soybeans, cow/calf operation, with hay ground and the feeding of some contract hogs.
They have implemented practices such as a saturated buffer, a constructed wetland, waterways, buffer strips, and terraces to aid in soil health and also provide water quality.benefits. Mr. Whitaker also has ground in CRP, uses minimal conservation tillage, no-till, and cover crops to keep the soil in place and assist in water quality. He voluntarily adopted these practices for water quality and to keep the soil on the farm.
Assistance for these practices has come in the form of cost share from the Lower Skunk River Watershed Project, Environmental Quality Incentives Program, Regional Conservation Partnership Program, and Conservation Reserve Program. Mr. Whitaker received technical guidance from the Natural Resources Conservation Service and the Henry and Van Buren County Soil & Water Conservation Districts on projects such as terraces, saturated buffer, and the constructed wetland.
When asked what his philosophy as it relates to farming and the environment is, Mr. Whitaker replied: “My family has always thought of the farm as an asset to be used. As an asset it needs to be cared for and maintained. Part of that care is trying to keep the soil on the farm instead of road ditches and waterways. We have been working to raise organic matter and realizing the benefits of organic matter. Part of the reason for looking at cover crops and experimenting with them on our farm is to see the benefits and how incorporation into our operation will improve the soil and our operation in the future”.