Farmer earns conservation award

Published 12:00 am Friday, December 26, 2003

Suffolk News-Herald

Oliver Farms LLC of Smithfield has received the 2003 Conservation Farmer of the Year Award for Isle of Wight Country from the Peanut Soil and Water Conservation District.

Jimmy and J.V. Oliver are fourth-generation farmers in Isle of Wight County, farming the same land as their forefathers. The family farms 800 acres, growing cotton, peanuts, corn, wheat, and soybeans.

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The Olivers strip-till cotton and corn with double crop corn and beans in wheat stubble, a method that qualified them for the award.

&uot;The key is that we don’t turn the soil,&uot; said Pam Oliver, Jimmy’s wife. Instead, they plant a cover crop, such as rye, for the winter. Then, when they plant the spring crop, the seeds for the spring crop are buried several inches deeper that usual into the soil.

&uot;It’s good for conserving the soil,&uot; she said. &uot;It cuts down on erosion. The wind doesn’t blow the soil away.&uot;

Having the plant’s root system deep in the soil strengthens the plant, making it better able to withstand strong winds, she added.

A nutrient management plan and conservation plan are in place and followed closely. Along with GPS soil samples, split applications of nitrogen and tissue test are implemented on an as needed basis. Grass filter strips and cover crops are regular practices.

The Oliver’s have put in many test plots of corn and wheat for public viewing and hosted the Virginia Small Grains Association’s field day this past May.

Jimmy Oliver is the past president (2002-2003) of the Virginia Small Grains Association.