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• For the U.S. Army 1st Logistical Command veteran who returned from Vietnam, it was a cherished portion of God’s green Earth and that sliver of Maverick County, Texas, land on the Mexico border was all he needed to raise and provide for a family over the next four decades.
JAVIER MANCHA, left, visits with NRCS District Conservationist Serafin Aguirre about his pasture conditions and grazing plan for his cattle.
Struggled at times
“We struggled as farmers at times, but I learned not to fight nature but work with it and I tried to learn something new every day that would make it easier for the next generation,” Mancha notes.
Mancha does not apply herbicides to his produce, and when mechanical weed removal will not do the trick you will see him with nothing more than a garden hoe and his own two hands taking care of his crops.
“It is an enormous sense of pride to not only farm, but to know that it is what has provided for my family,” he says. “I could not have done it alone, I had good people support me and help me along the way.”
In 1975, Mancha entered into a Long Term Agreement (LTA) with what was known as the USDA-Soil Conservation Service, now the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). Through this agreement a variety of conservation practices were applied to his Rosita Valley farm. He started and completed critical land treatment, land leveling, irrigation water management and irrigation canal lining.
“USDA-NRCS is part of the reason I can have such satisfaction as a farmer and rancher today,” Mancha relates. “They helped me to learn about the business. I diversified my crops so that each year I would have something to sell.”
Mancha didn’t stop at his 40 acres of farmland. He bought 500 acres of irrigated pastureland in El Indio that had been abandoned, abused and overgrown with mesquite and other undesirable brush. Trusting his partners in conservation he turned yet again to NRCS for guidance and put together a conservation plan that would help to achieve his goals to heal the land.
“I have enough land to support my family, I do not want anymore,” Mancha says. “I just want to work on what I have and make it better.”
As a brush removal method, a root plow was put in the ground and a test plot was put into place to see how the land would react. Shortly after, success was seen, and this opened the door for a variety of practices that now lets the land support a cow/calf operation.
Mancha worked through the NRCS-Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) to root plow and remove the undesirable trees and brush growing in his pastureland, build cross-fences and used irrigation NRCS technical assistance to improve the existing irrigation system.
The ranch is located about a half mile from the Rio Grande River, and through the intricate irrigation system in place, Mancha receives the tail water off the over 90 miles of canal structure. This is used to water livestock and irrigate his thick stand of Tifton 85 and coastal bermuda.
“The Maverick County Water District #1 is responsible for the irrigation system,” Mancha explains. “The main canal broke five weeks ago and you see how quickly our farming and ranching community relies on that water.”