Soil and water

Soil conservation motivates Maryland winner Leopold

Persistence Creek Farm in Faulkner, Md., Was chosen as the first recipient of the Maryland Leopold Conservation Award.

Kevin and Lauren Warring’s Farm is a grain, seafood and lumber business in Charles County. They received the $ 10,000 award at the recent Maryland Farm Bureau annual convention in Cambridge.

Awarded in honor of renowned conservationist Aldo Leopold, the Sand County Foundation and national sponsor American Farmland Trust present the Leopold Conservation Award to farmers, ranchers and forest owners in 23 states for land, water and habitat management wildlife.

In Maryland, the award is presented by the Keith Campbell Foundation for the Environment, Maryland Association of Conservation Districts and Maryland Farm Bureau Inc.

Maryland landowners were encouraged to apply (or be nominated) for the award earlier this year. The applications were reviewed by an independent panel of leaders in agriculture and conservation. Finalists included Ordinary Point Farm in Earleville, Persimmon Tree Farm in Westminster and Rich Levels Grain Inc. in Cecil and Kent counties.

About Persistence Creek

When Kevin and Lauren Warring bought their farm in 2009, they decided to leave it better than they found it. Their farm has become a confluence of how agricultural, fishing and forestry businesses can profit from natural resources.

Warrings take soil seriously. They rotate crops of corn, soybeans and sorghum annually to maintain soil fertility. They use direct seeding or minimum tillage on all fields to reduce runoff. Cover crops are planted in all fields to protect soil microorganisms. Nutrient management plans and annual soil tests minimize fertilizer applications and maximize yields by tailoring a crop’s nutrient requirements.

To improve wildlife habitat and keep forests productive, the Warrings used financial assistance from the Conservation Stewardship Program and technical advice from a forester from the Maryland Department of Natural Resources. By following a personalized forest plan, thinning acres of forest land increased wood growth rates for future harvests while boosting biodiversity and providing wildlife with food and cover.

Acres of shrubs, maples, pines and oaks have been planted to reduce bank erosion. Riparian buffers that stretch 50 feet on either side of Ross Branch Creek capture nutrients from cultivated fields, improve water quality, and provide nesting habitat for wildlife.

Two acres of ponds and wetlands provide habitat for frogs, ducks and deer. Food plots of white clover, sunflower, corn and soybeans are planted each year.

A self-proclaimed “flower geek,” Kevin has planted 5 acres of native wildflowers and grasses in strips of meadow to attract monarch butterflies and other pollinating insects.

A watercourse crossing project consisted of repenting the banks and installing concrete footings and riprap to reduce erosion. The long-term health of the Potomac and Wicomico rivers has been improved by the more than 100 million baby oysters the Warrings have helped plant since 2014.

Kevin and his father, Francis, are both active members of the Charles County Waterman’s Association, which provides public and legislative information on fishing regulations. Both have been associate supervisors for the Charles Soil Conservation District. Kevin’s parents, Francis and Joyce, have their own farm just 10 miles from Persistence Creek Farm.

Listing Persistence Creek Farm in a perpetual conservation easement permanently preserves its future use for agriculture and forestry, and limits real estate or mining development.

Kevin, who has degrees in physics and economics, helped reestablish an FFA chapter in Charles County. The active member of the Farm Bureau has organized farm tours for schools and lawmakers, and has appeared on a national conservation-themed podcast.

It also serves as a guide for youth hunting deer, turkey and waterfowl, showing these hunters and their parents how conservation practices benefit wildlife.

Source: Maryland Farm Bureau, which is solely responsible for the information provided and is wholly owned by the source. Informa Business Media and all of its subsidiaries are not responsible for the content of this information asset.