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Strike first with prescribed fire

Strike first with prescribed fire

By Gary Joiner

There’s a growing fuel load on ranges and pastures across our state. It has concerned landowners looking ahead and asking, “When should I burn?”

Prescribed fire is an effective tool in the management toolbox. It represents a proactive attitude and perspective. Instead of reacting to a possible wildfire that scurries beyond the reach of control, a planned fire is coordinated and choreographed.

Range scientists say the presence of fire on a landscape determines its future. It acts as a reset for Mother Nature. Fire rejuvenates the system, replenishing all of the soil nutrients. The outcome is a positive cycle of productivity and overall sustainability.

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Private land conservation worthy of a star

Private land conservation worthy of a star

By Gary Joiner

Private landowners make it happen in our state. Their efforts in habitat management and wildlife conservation, though, often go unrecognized. That’s alright. The stewardship ethic is strong. It doesn’t crave notoriety. Those who contribute every day to natural resource conservation and management do so because they love and respect the land.

Occasionally, we learn some of the stories of accomplishment. The spotlight is called the Lone Star Land Steward Awards. The program brings attention to the best of the best. They are farmers, ranchers, foresters and other land managers with exceptional achievements. This year features seven honorees from across the state. They join more than 200 landowners in the last 21 years who have been honored by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department for conserving more than three million acres of fish and wildlife habitat.

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Foreign labor a must for Texas agriculture

Foreign labor a must for Texas agriculture

By Gary Joiner

There’s a labor shortage on America’s farms.

Many growers who need workers to plant, tend and harvest crops can’t find local residents to fill the jobs. They’re simply not interested. Maybe the work is too hard? Too demanding? Or it could be the stigma associated with farm work. The are other options that are easier for most.

So farmers in Texas and across the country turn to foreign farmworkers. It’s called the H-2A program. It provides access to a stable and legal workforce when the program works properly.

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The value of weed control

The value of weed control

By Gary Joiner

Weeds are not welcome on the farm.

Unfortunately, in Texas this year, they’ve arrived in big numbers. Weather conditions opened the door wide. Farmers now must deal with them. And they really don’t have a choice.

A new national study by weed experts explains why. The research focused on corn and soybeans. It determined that more than half of corn production and value across North America would potentially be lost with weeds left uncontrolled. Ditto for soybeans. The loss figure for that crop is nearly half, if weeds were left uncontrolled.

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What to believe these days

What to believe these days

By Gary Joiner

Don’t confuse public opinion with public understanding.

This is especially evident when it comes to food and science.

Recent polls show that 80 percent or more of consumers support labeling GMOs. It’s likely most know little about the issue.

Case in point. A survey conducted in January on food preferences by Jayson Lusk of Oklahoma State University asked more than 1,000 Americans about an absurd hypothetical policy mandating labels for foods containing DNA. Eighty percent supported the idea, he said.

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Time to celebrate on Earth Day

Time to celebrate on Earth Day

By Gary Joiner

Earth Day is April 22. The effort actually began in 1970 as a “national day for the environment.”

The event now attracts more than one billion participants in some way. It’s the largest civic observance in the world. There are special activities and events here in Texas to commemorate the day.

The goal is to recognize the importance of protecting our natural resources. That’s a great goal. It’s a practice that farmers and ranchers honor every day.

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