Agriculture tour promotes women's work on farms

Monday, October 18, 2004

Though women often contribute on farms, few women are offered information on agriculture techniques and conserving land.

Women in Cape Girardeau and Perry counties hope to change that with an annual Women in Agriculture Tour.

Sponsored by the Natural Resources Conservation Services, soil and water conservation districts in Cpae Girardeau and Perry counties, and the Department of Natural Resources, 50 women began this year's tour with a visit to Ron Versemann's 49-acre farm in Shawneetown.

James Hunt, Perry County Soil and Water District conservationist, taught the women about beginning planned grazing systems through advice and technical assistance from conservation agencies.

Increased efficiency

In 2002 Versemann's farm had six pastures with two water points. The improved grazing system developed by Hunt and Versemann allowed cattle to graze on 11 pastures with a water point at every location. A cost-share program reimbursed 75 percent of the project.

"The science is to get animals to graze more efficiently," said Hunt. Grazing a few days and then rotating pastures followed by a month of grass growth enabled Versemann's cattle to reach 60 to 65 percent efficiency in use of land, as opposed to a 40 percent efficiency with the initial system.

"It's really a nice thing. Women in agriculture are kind of ignored," said Marsha Buchheit of Jackson. "It gives women the opportunity to talk with other farm women and learn more about the services available in our area."

Perry County Soil and Water District resource conservationist Dana Siebel offered ideas on erosion control, conservation reserve and habitat reserve programs. She encouraged anyone interested in the programs to call the water district offices to develop a plan and request financial assistance.

Larry Heggemann of the Missouri Department of Conservation connected programs in the barnyard with programs for the back yard.

"For insects and other wildlife, home is where they find it," he said, encouraging landowners to implement management and conservation practices in the back yard just as they do on the farm.

For more information about programs, call the water conservation district office in Perryville at (573) 547-4077 or Jackson at 243-1467.

335-6611, extension 133

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