A Hardin County farm family is receiving one of the state’s top awards for sustainable agriculture this afternoon (Saturday) at the Iowa State Fair. David Petty and his family from Eldora will receive the 2003 Spencer Award for Sustainable Agriculture from the Iowa Statue University Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture. Petty developed a plan to plant several types of grasses to improve marginal cropland and overgrazed pastures. Petty says they want to get as many different species of grasses as they can, so they always have grass growing and are able to fully utilize the rain they get. He says it keeps the soil in place and makes the most use out of the pasture land they have. Petty says sustainable agriculture takes some planning and money. Petty says the terraces, tiles and waterways cost some money up front, but they also require a vision for the long term, so that things are better than what you find them. Petty says many cattle owners are looking toward programs for better conservation practices on their land.He says it doesn’t work for everyone, but he says where it does work, more and more people are working toward rotational grazing policies. He says you can double your grass production with a little work and luck, and that means extra pounds for your cows and calves. Petty says cattle producers do want to do what they can to protect the environment for future generations. The Petty family owns and operates the Iowa River Ranch, a cattle and crop operation running along eight miles of the Iowa River from Eldora to Union.
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