TANEYTOWN — Agricultural conservation concerns broke through language barriers as Carroll Soil Conservation District staff members met with French officials yesterday.
"They came here to get ideas and see what wouldwork best with their system," said Daniel Bard, Western Maryland area coordinator for the state Department of Agriculture. "They might want to encourage our conservation concepts at home."
The group exchanged ideas, with the help of a translator, at the district office in Westminster, and then headed up Route 140 for a farm tour.
The district staff often leads groups to Doris Zimmerman's 140-acre dairy farm on Teeter Road, pointing out the conservation practices in use there.
"Doris is very open to guests, and her landis a targeted watershed project for the state and a special water quality project for the federal government," said Bard. "We often come here to show average conservation practices, implemented with state and federal money."
Communication was only a slight problem, as Bard led the five-member delegation from the Conseil Regional of northern France around the farm. They found they had many words and ideas incommon.
"I have Holsteins too," said Jean-Marc Lardier, a farmer and head of agriculture on the regional council.
"Could you describe the erosion-control practices here?" asked Etienne Dubaille, an agronomy engineer and the council's environmental chief.
The French took notes, snapped photos and asked more questions about stream protection, sediment retention and animal-waste control facilities.
The Zimmerman's farm offers several examples of how Carroll's farmers address those concerns. In 1989, using state and federal money, Zimmerman built a storage pit to contain all the animal waste. The pit stops manure from getting into nearby Piney Creek.
"The farm also has a plan to manage its nutrients through a service provided by the county extension office," said Bard.
The French, who arrived in Baltimore on Sunday, toured the Wye Research and Education Center in Queenstown, Queen Anne's County, Monday, where they saw the role of agriculture in the restoration of the Chesapeake Bay.
They placed CarrollCounty on their itinerary because its climate, agriculture and topography closely resemble theirs. They also are encountering many of thesame environmental problems and came here to investigate the county's solutions.
"In northern France, they have water quality problemssimilar to ours," said Alan W. Taylor, consultant to the director ofthe Maryland Agricultural Experiment Station. "They are moving toward implementing systems like we have here."
The visitors expressed an interest in cost sharing, a government program that often gives area farmers up to 87 percent of the cost of installing conservation measures. Elizabeth Schaeffer, county executive director of the Agricultural Stabilization and Conservation Service, explained how farmers follow the service's design plans, using government money to implementthem.
At present, the French government offers no such incentives. But it does have cost-cutting measures in place.
"You have so many machines here," said Cecile Locqueville, a technical consultant onthe council. "We have one machine for three or four farmers to share, and use that money for other things."
Terry Jackson, a soil conservation technician here, said most U.S. farmers buy their machinery on credit and often lease farmland for planting.
The French farms are much smaller -- averaging about 60 acres -- than the Zimmerman's "si belle ferme," Locqueville said.
Jean-Luc Beghin, a deputy director of parks, took one brief detour on the tour. As Taylor describedthe benefits of soil conservation and pointed to Piney Creek, Beghin's eyes fixed on a new black pickup truck in the Zimmerman's driveway.
"I just love your cars," he said, with a sigh. "We have such small cars. Yours are so big and beautiful."