Quail Forever Program Expands To Texas

Shelley Heinrich
Slaton, Texas

The 2022 Southern Plains cotton crop will be remembered as one of the most challenging seasons in many years. Between the lack of rainfall, excessive heat and high winds, establishing any type of cover crop and viable commodity was difficult. Nonetheless, producers’ stewardship of the soil and land continued regardless of limited yield and revenue.

A year like the one we just had also spotlights under-producing acres within production fields. As the 2023 crop year is approaching, it is a great time to reconsider what to do with those marginal, less profitable acres. One option is to enroll that land in a wildlife conservation program. One program Cotton Incorporated is working with — Quail Forever — has now expanded its territory to include Texas.

New Team Member Onboard

The partnership with Quail Forever integrates agricultural economics, cutting edge geospatial technology and wildlife conservation to deliver profitable producer outcomes with tangible environmental benefits. In November 2022, Quail Forever announced Joshua Michna as the new Texas Precision Ag & Conservation Specialist.

In this position, Michna will help Texas South Plains and Panhandle producers evaluate acres and establish wildlife conservation practices. Using his expertise in precision agriculture technologies and farm production experience, he will guide Texas producers to identify possible biodiverse habitats and practices and assist in enrolling in conservation programs. 

Canadian geese migrate to the West Texas region during the winter months. They find refuge in low lying areas and feed from area wheat and rye cover crops.

By targeting return on investment at a sub-field scale, Michna will help define areas to explore alternative agricultural practices, voluntary conservation programs, cost-share and other funding opportunities to increase profits and success for a producer’s operation. The end goal of this position is to offer habitat-based solutions including soil health, water quality, carbon sequestration and rural economic development while maintaining high farm revenues.

“I am very excited to have Joshua join our Texas Quail Forever team and family,” said Thomas Janke, the Texas State Coordinator for Pheasants Forever Inc. and Quail Forever. “His background in agriculture and passion for conservation is going to help successfully grow our collective efforts towards conservation and sustainability in the Texas Panhandle. This position and opportunity would not be possible without the collaborative support and commitment of our commodity partners.” 

New Life For Marginal Acres

Creating opportunities for acres to sustain wildlife and add to profitability often appears to be counterintuitive. However, the Quail Forever program, first established in Georgia, has a proven record of success, which is why it has expanded to include Texas. Cotton Incorporated, the United Sorghum Checkoff Program and BASF Agricultural Solutions are key partners in bringing the program to Texas producers.

The goal of the partnership is to make sure that producers have the tools necessary to be successful in creating sustainable conservation habitats for wildlife on marginal acres. “This program is a great opportunity for cotton and sorghum producers in Texas. The collaboration aims to help farmers apply production data and precision ag technologies to identify less profitable acres and create biodiverse habitats,” said Jesse Daystar, Cotton Incorporated’s Chief Sustainability Officer and Vice President. 

Michna will work closely with area producers, Quail Forever biologists and chapter representatives and NRCS conservation personnel. For more information about precision agriculture and conservation solutions in Texas, contact Joshua Michna at jmichna@quailforever.org. Joshua will be traveling with me around the South Plains and Panhandle, so we look forward to seeing you on the turnrow.

Shelley Heinrich is the Cotton Board Southern Plains regional communications manager. Email her at sheinrich@cottonboard.org.

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