PERSPECTIVES Spring 2000: Noteworthy Alumni
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Gibson wins water quality
award for work with no-till

Staying put.

Thatís the basic concept behind the message that Steve Gibson, Cleveland County agricultural Extension agent, has been giving to farmers for more than 10 years. By using continuous no-till planting ó leaving what remains behind after a harvest ó farmers save money and protect water quality. Outside his Cleveland County Extension office he has two no-till demonstration plots ó corn and soybeans.

"That field hasnít seen a plow in 15 years," he says, referring to the research plots almost boastfully. "That soil is alive."

Gibsonís no-till efforts were recognized recently by the North Carolina chapter of the Soil and Water Conservation Society. It presented Gibson, who holds a 1979 masterís degree in plant pathology from the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, with the award for Professional Achievement in Water Quality.

"I was sure shocked and honored to receive the award," Gibson says. "It came at a great time for me, since we have wrapped up 10 years of intense efforts to encourage farmers to consider continuous no-till planting."

Photo by Herman Lankford

Gibson has stressed to farmers over the years that no-till planting is not only economically viable, but that it improves the soil quality and increases the buildup of beneficial insects and wildlife populations.

"His work is proving the point that we now have the ability to produce our food and fiber and, at the same time, improve our production base ó the soil ó with methods that pay, not cost," says Bobby Brock, Natural Resources Conservation Service agronomist with the state office in Raleigh, who nominated Gibson for the award.

Ben Robinson, a district conservationist with the Natural Resources Conservation Service, also endorsed Gibson for the award. "Steve is an ambassador for no-till. Every chance he gets, he talks it up," says Robinson.

Gibson says just as important as the agricultural and conservation aspects of his no-till work that won the award was that it came from an organization outside Extension.

"It feels good when another service organization recognizes your work," he says. Gibson adds that Extension has had an excellent working relationship with the Soil and Water Conservation Society through the years.

"This award will help validate the water quality aspect of the no-till work we do here in Cleveland County."

óAndy Fisher

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