"The owners here, it's not like they were doing a bad job," said Stan Simmons, coordinator of the watershed. "They already do a better job than the average." Much of the area was terraced before the renovation project began ten years ago and no-tillage has been widely used. But the level acceptable soil loss tolerance 5 tons per acre was not enough to protect the lake, Simmons said, because the watershed is 12,500 hectares. "It's still a lot of land is in the lake." Today, the terraces and additional 32 new ponds and erosion control trap up to 95% of the sediments above.
Stan Simmons (above) used a flexible approach to selling recruit landowners to the proposed Lake Darling. The district conservationist to promote retirement benefits for the owner and the fact that improvements are eligible for up to 75% cost-sharing, well above 50% which is typical. This pond is a dam on the property of the state, so there was no construction cost of the two owners who share our 11 acres.
"Fishing is much better on my part, I stock," laughs one of them, farmer Craig Wright. "The only thing I did was to hunt deer for commercial fishing." Wright is a pig and the farmer who is already reaping the knives in the manure. "We like to travel to where we need to put it. It lowers the fertilizer bill, "he said. And he was a cultivator without his return to the farm of the university in 1981. He has 400 acres in the watershed of Lake Darling. He also added some terraces to those he already had. "If it will help the lake, I could just as well. I use the lake. About once a year we are going camping with the family. "
Over 9 years, the Lake Darling project has spent $ 1.5 million on 153 improvements fight against erosion. About 1 million that came from Iowa Department of Natural Resources and the EPA by Section 319 of the Act Clean Water. In this case, EPA has provided about half of the funds. "When I'm here to promote something of landowners, I do not talk about sources of funding," says project coordinator Stan Simmons, an ecologist District retired NRCS whose family farms in the region. "I tell them of funding will be available. "
This four-acre pond was created by raising a county road. The three upstream dam owners get a free pond and the county gets a better way to fill free to build, "said Simmons. Some of the land in the watershed of 300 acres above, it is cultivated terraces and others are in the Conservation Reserve Program. The pond empties into the culvert the road during one of the wettest years on record for the watershed in Washington, Jefferson and Keokuk counties.
In a wet year like this, ponding terraces behind making tiles and basins drowning crops. But no-till farmer Craig Wright does not see as an accumulation of water main disadvantage of having tiled terraces. Without them, you'll have a large gap, too. It is difficult to farm around it, "he said.
This field is one of few in the pool without terraces, and some of his corn is yellow and showing the stress of excess water and nitrogen loss, too. This field without tillage has a grassed waterway. Simmons prefers terraces, which work better with non-tillage.
The townspeople, too, were great supporters of Lake Darling. Veterinary Fay Vittetoe of Brighton, Iowa is a leader of Friends of Lake Darling, who has raised more than $ 200,000 to help pay for a new $ 1 million four-season lodge at the state park. Vittetoe helped Stan Simmons and others do scientific detective to find the sources of contamination have been Ecoli that the lake after a storm. Ultimately, it was a combination of people, wildlife and livestock in the region. She painted the tiles that go into the kitchen of the hostel. They are examples of edible plants and mushrooms that grow in the park.
This restored prairie overlooking private pond Craig Wright and land owned near Lake Darling. Stan Simmons said that his latest project. He retired as a District Conservationist NRCS in 1990 and worked for ten years in the design free lance conservation structures. In 2000 he began working on the proposed Lake Darling. "It was a great way to end a career," he said.
A blue moon -- when there are 2 full moons in the same calendar month) has come around 15 times in the last 40 years. In that same time period, live hog prices have passed the $60-per-hundredweight mark 13 times.
So, $60-plus live hogs are rarer than a blue moon. But, that magic number was surpassed in May when live hogs hit $63/cwt. Though he expects the rarity of this occurrence to continue, Purdue University livestock economist Chris Hurt says it's definitely not a sign that the hog market's softening, at least for a while.
"The outlook is for strong and profitable prices to continue for some time, although with prices generally below the rare $60 mark," says Purdue University livestock economist Chris Hurt."
It's an optimistic projection for market conditions that have been good to hog farmers since spring. But, one thing that has changed in the outlook, Hurt says, is the expectation for expansion. Hog producers had simply been beaten around so much by market losses for so long, he says, that recovering from those losses likely trumps any immediate expansion plans for many farmers.
"The extraordinary profits this spring have some asking if producers will quickly expand. Losses eroded much of the equity of many producers, so they and their lenders want a period of profits to stabilize their financial position," Hurt says. "The extremely high May hog prices were a short-term aberration. Retail pork prices will continue to move higher this summer and will slow pork consumption. Retail pork prices already reached record highs in May at $3.04 per retail pound and the climb will continue into the summer. The economic recovery is slow and unemployment will remain high, contributing to overall weak retail demand and more moderate live hog prices.
And, there are signs that supplies will remain tighter than a year ago through this year; Hurt says pork supplies will be down 4% for the second half of 2010, while farrowing intentions are lower for the remainder of the summer and fall. This will keep prices higher at least through the summer.
"Live hog prices are expected to be in the higher $50s for the rest of the summer and then begin a seasonal decrease in September. Third quarter prices are expected to average in the $56 to $59 range," he says. "For the final quarter of 2010, the average price is expected to fall in a range from $50 to $53 with winter prices slightly lower."
What's it mean for profitability? Put those market prices together with expected lower feed costs, and Hurt says profits into 2011, though down from this year, will stay on in the black.
"Profit levels in the second quarter of 2010 were estimated to be near $33 per head and are projected to be $29 per head in the third quarter and about $15 in the final quarter. If so, this means 2010 profit per head would be near $21 compared to $24 of loss in 2009 and $17 of loss in 2008," he says. "The profit outlook for 2011 is positive, especially through the summer of 2011. By the fall, prices could fall closer to costs of production. Yield uncertainty for the 2011 crops could also greatly impact feed prices. Early projections for 2011 are for $11 per head of profits, but all coming in the first 3 quarters."
There's still one big-time variable that could influence these market conditions -- and possible future herd expansion -- in the next year or so.
"Those who believe corn prices will generally move back to $4.00 or higher would not want to expand hog production," Hurt says. "Alternatively those who believe corn will be under $3.50 might elect some moderate expansion in the range of 3% to 5%. Only time will tell who is correct."