The good earth

October 25, 2011

Bulldozers and soil conservation may not seem like they go together, but those in the know have seen through a stereotype in naming Dave Davis, owner of C.D. Davis Excavating, in Pylesville, Conservationist of the Year.

The honor was bestowed upon Mr. Davis by the Harford County Soil Conservation District, a hybrid government agency responsible for protecting a natural resource more vital than fossil fuel. Without good soil, there are no productive farms. And without agriculture, we learn in grade school, there is not civilization. (And without civilization, the need for coal, oil and gas isn't so strong.)

In his excavation business, Mr. Davis makes strong efforts to communicate with farmers. Possibly this is because he owns a farm himself, which also played into his being selected as Conservationist of the Year. It was pointed out that on his farm he has worked to make sure there are waterways and wildlife habitats, features sometimes regarded as eating up land that could otherwise be under plow.

Curiously, while it may seem counter-intuitive, natural buffers are strongly encouraged not only to protect natural features and wildlife, but also to protect farmland itself. A farmer may pick up an extra acre or two of cropland by plowing right up to the edge of a creek, but any benefit is lost in a matter of a few years to erosion, which eats away at unprotected banks causing small waterways to become unnaturally wide. This carries away valuable topsoil. Leaving the buffer protects the creek, and the topsoil.

All too often, environmental protection and conservation are erroneously seen as being at odds, just as it seems the owner of an excavation company wouldn't be a natural selection for soil conservationist of the year. Appearances, however, are often deceiving. As it turns out, it's generally good business to be a good environmental steward, and Mr. Davis is living proof.

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