New Mexico is among seven states where the National Center for Appropriate Technology’s Soil for Water project is expanding this summer. The Albuquerque Journal spoke with one of project’s Texas participants, rancher Maggie Eubank, who said soil, plants and water are just as important as the livestock on the land they manage.
“In this area of Texas, we get, on average, a good amount of rainfall, but it happens maybe twice a year,” Eubank said. “Water retention is paramount for us. We need to be able to capture as much water as we can and, if it all comes at once, we need to slow it down.”
The ranch team has cleared invasive plants, used no-till planting and rotational grazing, restored riparian areas and monitored native grass growth.
NCAT Sustainable Agriculture Specialist Kara Kroeger explained the peer-to-peer network is now enrolling commercial livestock producers in New Mexico, Colorado, California, Mississippi, Arkansas and Virginia.
“One benefit most ranchers see when they start changing their management is an increase of organic matter in the soil,” Kroeger said. “That helps create that sponge effect so the soil can hold more water.”
NCAT will work with the local Natural Resources Conservation Service and the New Mexico Healthy Soil Working Group to help land managers adapt the regenerative practices to their own ranching and farming businesses.
For ranchers like Eubank, the soil projects are worth the effort.
“We have two young boys, and they’re able to see with their own eyes how the work pays off when we do it right,” she said. “Seeing how the landscape changes the longer we’re here is amazing. All it takes is a different way of thinking, and some hard work.”
Read the Albuquerque Journal’s full piece here.