By Bruce Schultz
Ruben Dauzat, chosen as the Outstanding Master Farmer of the Year for 2014, wants to make the best crop possible each growing season, but he doesn’t forget the long-term goal of conservation of the land and water.
He grows soybeans, corn, grain sorghum, wheat, cotton and cattle on the 1,200-acre Wayside Farms near Simmesport in Avoyelles Parish. Dauzat said experiences such as watching his granddaughter catching her first fish or his grandson bagging his first squirrel are priceless. “Everything depends on conservation,” he said. “Those are things you won’t have if you don’t manage your resources properly.”
The Louisiana Master Farmer Program helps farmers learn the latest in conservation practices. Dauzat said participating in the Louisiana Master Farmer Program affirmed that he’s on the right track. “Master Farmer rededicated me to conservation. I knew I was doing the right things, but it made me do it better and more of it.”
Practicing Conservation Techniques
He is sold on the technology of modern farm equipment and realizes the benefit for conservation purposes. He uses grid soil sampling to provide data, which allows variable fertilizer rate applications. “You don’t just blanket a field with fertilizer,” he said.
Variable rate fertilizer application “has helped so much yield-wise. We’re using what we need, where we need it,” he said.
Dauzat practices the no-till approach when he can. He doesn’t plow the fields in the fall. After harvest, he discs the remaining vegetation into the soil to contribute to organic matter, and he allows winter weeds to act as a cover crop.
All the land is in constant rotation. He’s convinced the practice helps with pest control, as well as soil fertility. “This field two years ago was in milo. Last year, it was in soybeans,” he said. After harvest of a 150- acre wheat crop, soybeans will be planted into the stubble on raised beds 36 inches apart. “Next year, it will rotate to corn.”
Dauzat, also a graduate of the LSU Ag Leadership program, was an easy choice for the Outstanding Master Farmer Award, said Donna Morgan, Louisiana Master Farmer Program Extension associate.
“He’s been pretty involved with soil and water conservation, and we’ve had field days at his farm,” she said.
Many farmers, like Dauzat, use a variety of conservation practices, she said. But, Morgan added, the Master Farmer Program documents the conservation work.
Email Schultz at firstname.lastname@example.org.