LINCOLNTON - Lincoln County sixth-grade students were tasked with writing a 300 to 500 word essay on the topic, “Soil and Water, Yours for Life” for the annual Lincoln Soil and Water Conservation District essay contest. This contest has been going on for more than 40 years. The purpose of the essay contest is to help in educating students on the importance of natural resources and ways to protect them.
Of all the essays written, teachers first pick a class winner and then one essay per school is submitted to the district office. The prizes for the county winners are as follows: 1st place - $100, 2nd place - $50, 3rd place - $30 and two honorable mentions - $20 each.
The first-place winner, Elijah Dillon from West Lincoln Middle School gave readers a firsthand view of his farm and the importance of soil and water. Dillon’s essay won first place for Lincoln County and won first place in the regional competition. He’ll now go on to the state competition.
Second place went to Addison Proctor from East Lincoln Middle School who imagined a time without water. Lacy Andrews from North Lincoln Middle School took third place taking the reader on a hayride through a farm. Connor Huss from Lincolnton Middle School received fourth place for his essay imagining how a calf exploring why soil and water was important.
“Soil and Water: Yours for Life”
By Elijah Dillon
My seven cats, two dogs, eight sheep, parents, sister, and I live on a farm. We all need soil and water for life. Animals need four things for life: food, air, shelter, and water. Soil is a living system containing air, water, minerals, and organic matter. While soil can be replenished over time, water cannot. We depend on both soil and water to provide the four things we need for life!
Soil and water work together to contribute to our food supply for life. We need soil to grow our lambs’ hay. We need it for crops that put food on our table and in the cat and dog food bowls. Did you know that 55% of the world's crop calories are eaten directly by people? And, another 36% is used for animal feed. It takes 500 years to produce just under one inch of topsoil where our food grows! No-till farming leaves the soil alone so the last crop will decompose and provide energy to the soil.
All animals on earth like me and my pets need air to breathe for life. Soil grows plants that give oxygen to our air. Then plants take away carbon dioxide from the air. Air is in soil for the respiration of organisms and animals that live underground. Typical soil consists of about 25% air. 2-3% of air molecules are made up of water vapor.
Soil and water provide shelter for life. Soil grows trees used for sheltering animals like people, birds, squirrels, and more! Soil gives homes to animals who are dependent on underground shelters. Buffers are a conservation practice that helps provide wildlife habitat (shelter) for small animals, birds, and insects. More microorganisms live in a handful of soil than there are people on earth.
Water is home to animals and plants which we eat. Also, without water, you cannot grow crops for food. Water also provides a shelter or home to animals. Ice is like a shelter. It is insulation for animals living in the water. About 1 million species of animals live in the ocean. Forested stream buffers can shade the waterway and make it a better aquatic habitat.
Animals can only survive for 3 days without water! Soil consists of about 25% water. Water in the soil transports nutrients to the plants. Soils act as a living filter to clean water before it moves into an aquifer. Only 3% of the earth’s water is freshwater. Only .5% of the earth’s water is available for consumption. Up to 60% of the human body is water. Water is nonrenewable-we cannot make more water!
Soil and water provide all four things needed for animal life - food, air, shelter, and of course water! Because it takes at least 500 years to produce not quite an inch of topsoil and water is non-renewable, we must practice conservation of these resources. The soil and water we have at our disposal is ours for life!
“Soil and Water-Yours for Life”
By Addison Proctor
Can you imagine going to the sink to get a glass of water and there is none? Can you imagine planting flowers or vegetables in a garden with no soil? You, me and every other human being on earth have had soil and water all our lives, but have you ever just stopped to think about how much we need soil, or how much soil and water is used daily? Sadly we take our soil and water for granted. Soil is important for us to conserve and utilize soil and water efficiently so these two important natural resources don't disappear.
Soil conservation is important No one knew that better than Hugh Hammond Bennet, the "Father of Soil Conservation." During The Dust Bowl of the 1930's, farmers over-plowed the soil which turned healthy soil into unhealthy dried out soil, which made it impossible for their crops to grow. This led to a strong focus on erosion prevention. During this time, Bennet set out to show farmers ·ways to improve soil quality and crop growth. There are three steps of erosion: detach, transport, and deposit Do you like splashing in mud puddles after the rain? If so, you may have caused some erosion. When raindrops hit the ground or you splash water out of a puddle, water causes the soil to detach from the soil mass. The way water flows through a creek is a good example of the transport step of erosion. This step happens when soil moves due to water run-off moving downhill due to gravity. The last step is deposit, and I'm not talking about putting money in the bank. This is when soil is moved to a new location. There are many ways to prevent erosion, and I will tell you all about my favorite one in the next paragraph.
Contour farming is my favorite (BMP) Best Management Practices". Q: What did one contour farmer say to another contour farmer? A: Nice curves. Crops are planted across the hill instead of up and down. This type of fanning reminds me of the seats at a stadium. Each row acts as a little wall which slows down the speed of water run-off preventing the water from eroding the topsoil. Water also has more time to soak into the ground helping the crops stay hydrated. It also decreases the amount of pesticide and fertilizer transport. Not only is the contour fanning technique helping our soil and using water more efficiently, contour farming looks pretty cool too.
Just like we need vitamins and water to grow, so do plants. Top soil is vitamins for plants. The top soil holds all the nutrients, minerals and organic matter. This outermost layer helps the other layers survive. It is important to make sure that water runoff doesn't erode the topsoil. In conclusion, farmers know how important soil and water are to the success of their crops. They utilize techniques like contour fanning and other BMPs to maximize crop production, and protect our soil and water for life!
“Soil and Water-Yours for Life”
By Lacy Andrews
Yee-how. y'all! Join me for a hayride and learn about the importance of taking care of our soil and water. My name is Blakely Mae. and I'm your tour guide. Hold on tight!
As we ore passing the main pasture you can see the soil in the garden is different from the soil in the horse and cow pasture. That's because the garden is mostly rich soil and the pasture is mainly dirt. Dirt is what gets muddy in the rain and gets on your clothes when you play and dig. Soil is made up of elements that have been decomposing since the Earth was created. Let's make our way through the crops and corn field. As we do. let's talk about the water that we drink and need for crops and food. Water is a substance composed of the chemical elements hydrogen and oxygen. Water exists in gas. liquid, and solid states.
As we are approaching the duck pond and trails. we can see a change in the soil. The soil here grows grass. flowers. and clovers; unlike the horse posture where we roll the hay bales in the fields. The soil type is loom. Loam is 20% clay, 40% sand, and 40% silt. This compensation helps hold up water, so on dry days the grass can still get the water it needs. and keep its color and clarity. The soil can change soil around the pond.
Now, let's make our way to the chicken coup. As we do, I'll tell you a joke about a cow: "what do you call an earthquake around a cow? a milkshake." Well that was fun. We have two more stops before our time will be up. Here is the main chicken coup. The soil here is called coarse river sand. This soil is easy to rake or to sift. Sand dries out chicken waste, making it easier to collect. It also makes composting a bit more simple, since little debris sticks to the waste. Ok, sadly this is our last stop. Let's look at the goat pen. Looks like the ground is dirt. Well. it's not. It's actually manure mixed with soil, and we water it down so it's not dusty. Before our time is up, I will tell you about the soil in the barn. It is 50%soil, 26%dust, and 72% sand.
Unfortunately, that ends our hayride. But as we walk to the front of the barn let me tell you about the importance of water. We have fresh drinkable water, and fresh moving water around the farm, like in the creek and duck pond. The still water in the low areas of the pasture is not moving. This water is not good for us cowboys and cowgirls to drink, but we do not want it to go to waste, so we use it to water plants. If we drink it we will get really sick, even if you filter it well. We need good filtered water for the animals, especially in the summer, so they don't get dehydrated.
I've enjoyed spending time with you today. Hope you enjoyed your tour of the farm and learned a little about the importance of soil and water and keeping it clean and healthy for us all. Don't forget, we have a rodeo today at 2:30, If you want to come. After the rodeo, we have pony rides and a barn tour. We also give lessons for horse riding, if you're interested. Well, folks, I hope to see y'all again soon. Have a good day, cowgirls and cowboys.
“Soil & Water...Yours for Life”
By Conner Huss
One day a calf was wondering why soil and water are so important. The calf went around the field asking his family why soil and water was so important. The calf was on his way to go see his uncle.
The calf had ventured his way over to his uncle’s house because the calf had heard stories from his uncle working on the farm. His uncle wasn't too far away but being the little calf he was he thought, “Wow that took forever, but it’s gonna be worth it all!” So the calf asked his uncle, “Hey uncle Toro! I have a question for you.” “Yes?” said uncle Toro. “Why is soil so important?” asked the calf. “Well soil is important because it grows our food,” said uncle Toro. “Wow soil really is important!” said the calf in an excited voice.
The calf ventured his way to his mom and said “Hey mom! Why is water so important?”. “Well it’s important because it is what we drink and it’s also what helps soil grow our food.” “Wow water is really important just like soil isn't it!” asked the calf. “Yes it is! Soil and water are both super important. In fact without soil and water we would not even be here!” said the mom cow. “Wow, that's crazy.” said the calf. “It sure is.” said the mom. “Sadly soil around the world is getting messed up and not usable and the water in the oceans is getting polluted.” said the mom. “Oh no that's terrible!” said the calf. “Well you should walk home, it's getting dark,” said the mom.
The calf was walking back to his part in the barn when he thought to himself “hmm I wonder what the two legged walkers can do to help out with the ocean and soil.” The calf walked home and went to ask his father what the two legged walkers could do to help. “Well they could do something called crop rotation which is what some of the two legged walkers do to help keep the soil alive. Some of the two legged walkers take it to the next step and only use their ground every other year to grow plants.” said the father cow. “Nice but what about water?” asked the calf. “Oh right, water! Well the two legged walkers could stop throwing trash into the ocean. There are already boats that go around picking up trash but that's still not enough sadly.” said the father cow. “Wow there must be a lot of trash in the ocean!” said the calf. “Yeah there is. Anyway you should get going to bed.” said the father cow. “Ok! Goodnight.” said the calf
The calf went to bed and thought about all the wonderful things he had learned about. The calf was very excited to tell all of his friends about the stuff he learned!