The Arkansas Department of Agriculture's Natural Resources Division is dedicated to conserving Arkansas’s land and water resources.

Buffalo Conservation District Hosts Hoop House Demonstration Day

Submitted by Nick Richardson, Environmental Program Coordinator at the Arkansas Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Division


The Buffalo Conservation District (BCD) in Searcy County hosted a Hoop House Demonstration Day, which included the construction of a high tunnel to demonstrate micro-irrigation, the use of cover crops, and the length of the growing season. The BCD completed the construction of the high tunnel and planted several crops, including elderberries, and worked with alternative crops and pollinators.

The project was made possible through local collaboration. The dirt for the project was donated by the City of Marshall, and Clyde Fenton, county agent for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture Cooperative Extension Service, was a huge help with the maintenance of the plants. The Daughters of Hope and Transformation, a local non-profit and addiction recovery center in Marshall, helped the BCD with planting and harvesting. The group preserved the fruits and vegetables produced on-site, some of which were sampled at the Hoop House Demonstration Day.

The various plants and bushes in the hoop house continue to be maintained by the BCD. The project has been highly informative to the public with community members stopping by frequently to inquire about the hoop house. In fact, some individuals have applied with the United States Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service for their own high tunnel using cost-share programs. Follow the BCD at to learn more. 

Attendees gather to learn about high tunnel production at the Hoop House Demonstration Day.

Strawberry preserves made from fruit harvested from the BCD high tunnel by the Daughters of Hope and Transformation.

Tax Credit Limits Carry Through the Years

Submitted by Christy Seward, Environmental Program Coordinator at the Arkansas Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Division

The groundwater tax credit application process has two main portions: the certificate of tax credit approval and the certificate of completion. The taxpayer’s certificate of tax credit approval defines the specific amounts for the approved project, and those amounts are carried through to the certificate of completion. The two steps are tied to the provisions outlined in the Water Resources Conservation and Development Incentive Act. Due to the importance of groundwater conservation, the Arkansas State Legislature has increased the percentages and maximums allowed for tax credits over the years. 

The timeline is important when calculating the completed tax credit amount. The certificate of tax credit approval dates prior to 2020, during 2020 to 2021, and after 2021 will have varied percentages, maximums, and carryover years. For example, the maximum tax credit allowed for surface water conversions prior to 2021 was $27,000, whereas the current maximum approval for those conversions is $35,000.

Therefore, some certificate of completion applications will have percentages and provisions that differ from the current application. When that happens, the certificate of completion provisions will be synced with the project’s certificate of approval. If you have questions about particular projects as you process certificate of completion applications, please call (501) 682-1697.

Outdoor Classroom for Adults with Special Needs Opens in Conway County

Submitted by Aimee Roberts, Conway County Conservation District Director

The Arkansas Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Division (NRD) awarded the Conway County Conservation District a grant to build an outdoor classroom for special needs adults at Action Services Life Skills in Morrilton, Arkansas (Conway County). The grant was provided through the Grants to District Program. The outdoor classroom quickly grew from a small project to teach special needs adults how to grow their own fruits and vegetables to a community-involved project that reached beyond the Morrilton city limits.

“The whole community has become extremely excited about this project,” said Aimee Roberts, Conway County Conservation District Manager. “We are so grateful to NRD for giving us this opportunity to implement an outdoor classroom at Action Services.”

The grant provided funding for self-watering raised flower beds. In addition to the grant, the involvement of the community through donated materials, funds, and time helped make this project possible. The Conway County Quorum Court donated fencing and a cement pad so that the flower beds would be accessible to participants in wheelchairs, along with handicap-accessible picnic tables and benches. The Branch in Perryville donated apple trees, and helped with the planting alongside Tree City, USA, the City of Morrilton, and the Arkansas Department of Agriculture’s Forestry Division. The University of Arkansas Community College at Morrilton (UACCM) lowered the height of three of the raised beds to make them more handicap accessible. The Wonderview High School and Nemo Vista High School FFA chapters assembled the remaining six raised beds and six large planters while helping participants with planting.

A wide variety of vegetables were planted in the raised beds, including squash, peppers, lettuce, cabbage, broccoli, along with cucumber which will be trained to grow along the fence line. A small herb garden was planted, and flowers are grown to attract pollinators. Hummingbird feeders were placed just outside the fence as well.

The future plans of the project are to expand the herb garden, add more raised beds, add solar-operated bird baths and water features to supply fresh water to wildlife, and add additional hanging plants and self-watering flower beds.

The Conway County Conservation District, along with Action Services and the Morrilton Area Chamber of Commerce, hosted a ribbon cutting ceremony on May 9 that was attended by NRD Director Chris Colclasure; Megan Perkins, NRD Conservation Program Coordinator; and Nick Richardson, NRD Environmental Program Coordinator.

The Conway County Conservation District, consisting of Chairman Rusty Gregory, Vice-Chairman John Trafford, Margaret Hall, Randy Deaton, and Neil Granberry, would like to thank the following partners who helped make this project a reality: 

  • Arkansas Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Division
  • Conway County Quorum Court
  • Sacred Heart Key Club
  • Tree City, USA
  • Modern Woodward of the Works
  • City of Morrilton
  • Arkansas Department of Agriculture’s Forestry Division
  • UACCM Welding Department
  • Conway County Farm Bureau
  • Agri Co-Op
  • Wonderview High School FFA
  • Nemo Vista High School FFA
  • Farm Credit Services of Western Arkansas
  • Honeycutt Farms
  • Arkansas Community Foundation

Wonderview High School FFA members planting apple and pear trees for the outdoor classroom.

NRD Director Chris Colclasure and Megan Perkins, Conservation Program Coordinator, tour the Action Services facility.

Talk Business & Politics Covers Feral Hogs in Arkansas

In May, Talk Business & Politics published a story about feral hogs in Arkansas. George Jared spoke with Dr. Becky McPeake, a professor and wildlife specialist with the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture Cooperative Extension Service, about the presence of feral hogs in Arkansas, the damage they cause, and the threat of an expanding population. Read the full story from Talk Business & Politics below:

Feral swine to be a problem in state for the 'foreseeable future'

George Jared, Talk Business and Politics

No one knows for sure when swine were first brought to the New World, but it’s believed that Spanish explorers and settlers brought pigs as a food source. When some of these free-range pigs escaped, they became feral, and the phenomenon of the feral swine was born.

Through the years, these feral swine have moved into at least 35 states, including Arkansas. In the late 1990s, wild pigs were a minor problem in southern Arkansas, but ag scientist Dr. Greg Mathis began to warn colleagues that feral swine could become a serious problem in the decades to come.

He was right.

There are now at least 200,000 feral swine roaming the Natural State, Dr. Becky McPeake told Talk Business & Politics. A professor and wildlife specialist for the University of Arkansas Agriculture Extension, McPeake said feral swine cause more than $41 million in damages in Arkansas annually, according to recent U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) estimates. The hogs cause more than $2 billion damage a year nationwide.

“Feral hogs are everywhere … they reproduce very rapidly,” she said. “They’ve been here quite a long time.”

Feral swine are not native to the Americas, according to the USDA. Free-range livestock management practices and escapes from enclosures led to the first establishment of feral swine populations within the United States. In the 1900s, the Eurasian, or Russian wild boar, was introduced into parts of the United States for the purpose of sport hunting. Feral swine are a combination of escaped domestic pigs, Eurasian wild boars, and hybrids of the two, the USDA reported.

The feral swine population is estimated at more than 6 million and is rapidly expanding. Range expansion over the last few decades is due to several factors including their adaptability to a variety of climates and conditions, translocation by humans, and a lack of natural predators, according to the USDA.

Feral hogs are found in nearly all of Arkansas’ 75 counties. They are known to damage timber and croplands. In Arkansas, they are considered a nuisance animal and not indigenous wildlife.

Common swine damage to forest landowners includes girdling trees through rubbing and damaging roots by rooting and chewing. In the southern U.S., feral swine are also known to root up newly planted tree seedlings in plantations of pines and hardwood species. Nana Tian, a forest economics researcher for the Arkansas Forest Resources Center, said they can severely damage trees and timber resources.

Soybean, corn, and rice fields are a buffet table for a sounder of swine — the social unit of feral hogs. One sounder can root up a pasture overnight. Larger swine can kill and eat newborn calves and vulnerable cows. Feral swine teach their young how to evade traps and can trick even the most seasoned hunters and trappers. They are a problem for ranchers, farmers, and even golf course and cemetery managers, McPeake said.

One boar can typically cause as much damage to a pasture as a sounder, so it’s not just the number of pigs but ones that can cause more damage that are a problem, she added.

“There’s a lot of head scratching when examining how and why hogs do what they do,” she said.

In addition to property damage, feral swine carry diseases that can be transmitted to domestic pigs. According to the Arkansas Department of Agriculture’s Feral Hog Task Force, diseases of highest concern with feral swine include pseudorabies virus, swine brucellosis, swine influenza, African swine fever, classic swine fever, and foot and mouth disease.

Last year, the task force hired trappers through the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service’s Feral Swine Eradication and Control Pilot Program. The trappers work in a 12-county area, and they have been successful in culling the number of sounders in those counties, McPeake said. From 2020-2022 more than 30,000 hogs were eradicated statewide.

Traps have been used for years to capture wild pigs, but it doesn’t take long for them to figure out ways to evade being trapped, she said. Electric fencing, poisonous baits and other methods have been tried, but each has its own problems. For example, poisons work on hogs but they can also be consumed by other wildlife.

Aerial shooting can be done through a permit, but McPeake said it’s not done for sport. One reason scientists suspect the feral swine population has exploded in recent years is due to recreational hog hunting in states such as Texas.

Females can produce a litter every 6-8 months with up to six piglets. Finding ways to limit their reproductive capacity may be the key to solving this problem, McPeake said.

There is mounting evidence that feral swine are encroaching into urban areas around the state, McPeake said. They’ve received several reports of animal control officers in cities encountering feral swine and the problem appears to be growing, she added.

“This has been a growing problem for many years,” she said. “It’s going to be a problem for the foreseeable future.”

Feral Hog Eradication Task Force: May 2023 Update

The Feral Hog Eradication Task Force continued its efforts in May 2023 and removed 1,251 feral hogs across Arkansas. Additionally, Arkansas residents reported the removal of 149 feral hogs. Learn more about the Task Force and its efforts here.

Water-Use Registration Reminder

For districts that participate in the Arkansas Water-Use Registration Program, registration data needs to be entered and/or registration fees need to be submitted to the Natural Resources Division (NRD) as soon as possible. For districts still registering delinquent users, please don’t forget to submit your district invoice and registration fees to NRD at the end of each month that you have delinquent registration activity.

Technical Service Providers (TSP) Deadline Reminders

  • 4th Billing (April, May, June) – Due July 12
  • 5th Billing (July, August, September) – Due October 11
  • 6th Billing (October, November, December) – Due January 10

2023 Arkansas Grown Magazine

With more than 25 features about Arkansas agriculture, there's something in Arkansas Grown for everyone!

The drought of 2022 left its impact on Arkansas and served as a reminder of just how precious water is in preserving life and sustaining agricultural production across the globe. We often forget that water is viewed as a regional resource provided by local bodies of water, many of which are shared between neighboring states.

Read more about how interstate stream compacts ensure the protection of water sources across state lines in the 2023 edition. You can view the magazine online here, or find a physical copy at various locations around the state.

Upcoming Events
  • Arkansas Forestry Commission Meeting, June 30
  • Arkansas Association of Conservation Districts Meeting, July 12-13
  • Rice Stewardship Anniversary Conference, July 26-28
  • Arkansas Water and Wastewater Managers Association Conference, July 26-29
  • Arkansas Grown Conference and Expo, January 25-27
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The Arkansas Department of Agriculture offers its programs to all eligible persons regardless of race, color, national origin, sex, age, or disability and is an Equal Opportunity Employer.