NRCS also helped Myers devise a prescribed grazing program to reach his goal to improve pasture condition and stocking rates. Because the ranch is dependent on well water and three natural springs, the water sources he’s developed have helped cattle graze more uniformly and provides water for wildlife.

The most recent intensive brush control he applied was on the upland acres of the Salt Fork of the Brazos River.  Management of riparian areas along the river is important to reduce erosion, maximize grazing and increase wildlife habitat. 

Although the Walking M Ranch does not utilize hunting leases or guided tours to help supplement income for the ranch,  management practices implemented for the cattle operation positively impact deer, turkey and other wildlife.

He’s incorporated additional conservation measures on his own by using an AerWay to aerate the soil to promote grass growth and increase soil health. The deferment periods followed by brush control measures and re-sprigging provide the land time to re-establish.

Myers said battling dry years and managing sandy soils hasn’t been easy. “This is some of the poorest land in Baylor County and I’ve improved it,” he said.  “It just takes time, money, rain and a lot of hard work.”

Unfortunately, some years haven’t brought much rain and the land hasn’t adequately supported the livestock.   “The lack of water is one of the biggest challenges we face,” said Myers.  “If you watch your cattle, they will let you know when it’s time to rotate them.”

In the early 80s and in 2011 drought took its toll and Myers had to destock portions of the ranch to take the pressure off the pastures. However, with long-term conservation practices in place, the impacts from drought conditions have been minimized. 

“Experience has been my teacher,” he said.  “Sometimes the situation is out of your control when rains don’t come, but you can do a lot to prevent long-term damage from drought if you have a plan and you stick with it.”

Myers conservation efforts over the years recently earned him the title of Conservation Farmer of the Year, awarded by Miller-Brazos Soil and Water Conservation District in Baylor County.

Myers credits the technical experts of NRCS for helping him reach his goals growing grass.  “I’m a grass farmer and NRCS has helped me improve my land to grow the grass I need,” he said.

His career has been devoted to helping protect the land to conserve valuable natural resources, enhancing the environment.  “Rain and good land management makes all the difference in my business,” said Myers.

 

Also of interest on Southwest Farm Press:

NRCS in Texas announces incentive payments to improve wildlife habitat

USDA announces policy change for CRP emergency grazing

At 98, Elmo Snelling has no desire to retire