Soil health is an extremely important component of a functioning, environmentally-sustainable farm ecosystem. Farmers can receive government support to assist with financing their sustainable practices on a state level through the Missouri Department of Natural Resources. The Missouri Department of Natural Resources incentivizes and supports these sustainable practices which conserve land and water quality through the Soil and Water Conservation Program (SWCP). The program provides funding and reimbursement to farmers and landowners who utilize a variety of sustainable management practices, in areas such as grazing, irrigation, pest and nutrient pollution, ground and surface water, and soil erosion. These grants and reimbursements can make management practices like cover crops more accessible and attractive to farmers, and encourage practices which benefit both the environment and human health. The program is funded through Missouri’s Parks, Soils, and Water sales tax supported by 80% of voters in 2016. MCE has been instrumental in organizing public support the Parks, Soils, and Water sales tax since it first appeared on the ballot in 1988.

MCE met with five farmers from across Missouri who diligently implement environmental conservation practices to improve soil health. Several of these farmers supported their conservation work with funding from SWCP.

Nikki Morgan and her family run Hart Beet Farm in Eolia, Missouri, a small diversified farm on which she implements cover crops and crop rotation.

Richard Oswald farms corn in Langdon, Missouri and implements no-till methods.

Dennis MacDonald and his wife Becky operate a rotational grazing operation on their farm in Galt, Missouri and frequently move their grassfed herd throughout their property to keep their soil and cattle healthy.

Greg Judy owns Green Pastures Farm in Clark, Missouri and uses a variety of sustainable practices including raising free-range chicken and hogs and moving his cattle herds once a day.

Louise Belt grows a diversity of vegetables and raises chickens behind her home in Wildwood, MO.

Learn about each farmer and their conservation practices with our film, Conservation Heroes: Celebrating Missouri Farmers, below:

Conservation Heroes: Celebrating Missouri Farmers from Caitlin Zera on Vimeo.

Learn even more about the conservation practices at HartBeet Farm below in this short film! 

This project was supported by the Mississippi River Network and New Belgium Brewing Company.