Clean Water Farm Award – Shenandoah County
This year’s Virginia Clean Water Farm Award for Shenandoah County is presented to Michael Davis. Mr. Davis is the manager of R.J. Davis Family Enterprise LLC in New Market. The Davis family began farming in the valley in the late 1950’s. Mr. Davis started out with a cow/calf operation, and grew the farm up to have grazing land and cash crops. Since then Mr. Davis has passed the farm down to Mike and his siblings.
The farm currently consists of more than 280 acres. With over 200 acres of pasture ground, 45 acres of woodland, and more than 100 acres of cropland. There are more than 100 cow/calf pairs on the property. The farm also has Boiling Spring located on it, which feeds into Holman’s creek. The farm is currently being leased by Lisa Zirkle and Lee Ryan who each run a cow/calf operation, and Lee runs the cash crop operation.
Mr. Davis worked side by side with the Lord Fairfax Soil and Water Conservation District to install the SL-6: Stream Exclusion with Grazing Land Management program in 2013, and 2014. Mr. Davis installed nine grazing paddocks. The livestock are rotated through the grazing system so that the cattle can graze throughout the winter and only feed hay when needed. It has greatly increased the grazing productivity of the farm, with the paddocks getting the adequate rest that they need to maximize their grazing potential. This grazing system has also reduced pollution caused by cattle accessing the stream and improved soil stabilization.
The SL-6 practice installed by Mr. Davis created more than nine acres of streamside riparian buffers, stabilized 5,900 feet of stream bank, reduced erosion by three tons per year, excluded all livestock from the stream, and improved the benthic macroinvertebrates in the stream while reducing nitrogen and pathogens in the stream.
It is my pleasure to present the Lord Fairfax Soil and Water Conservation District’s 2016 Clean Water Farm award to Mr. Davis in recognition of his family’s commitment to soil and water conservation.