Krawjewski Family Farms of Keith County, Nebraska
David Krajewski began planting trees for conservation in 1992, with his first 240 machine planted trees under the Twin Platte Natural Resources District Conservation Trees Program. Ten years later in 2002, David and the rest of the Krajewski Family Farms which includes his wife, Diane, and sons, Dan, Dustin, Dean, and Darin, once again planted trees under the Tree Program with another 3,852 machine planted trees. Since 2002, the farm has continued annual tree plantings through the NRD, NRCS, and FSA tree programs.
Since 1992, David Krajewski and Krajewski Family Farms, along with the help of their families, have planted 19,230 trees (15,505 machine planted and 3,725 hand planted) with the installation of 27 miles of water conservation mulch. Although the majority of the trees were planted over the last eight years, many of the benefits are already noticeable throughout the land and environment. The immediate benefits of the land include protection from the wind, prevention of soil erosion, wildlife enhancement, and the aesthetic enrichment of the land.
Other benefits of tree planting that are difficult to observe but are important to the nature of the farming community, include the protection of water and air resources which in turn combats greenhouse gases to balance the potential air quality impacts from the farming operations. Many of the 19,000 trees were planted in arid locations adjacent to both irrigated and dryland fields. In many of these locations, it is difficult to maintain suitable vegetation, control noxious weeds, and control soil erosion and storm water runoff from the cropland. The trees planted in these areas have provided an immediate improvement to each of the concerns.
During times of more arid climate over the past years, some tree irrigation was necessary by pulling a water tank alongside the tree rows for irrigation application by water hose (other methods included praying for rain, rain dances, and rain mantras or chants). In addition to the cropland, Krajewski Family Farms currently operates cattle on some of the land that has benefited from the program. The most recent 1,100 trees planted in 2010 provide windbreaks for the cattle. One of the immediate noticeable tree planting benefits on the property is the natural enhancement of wildlife habitat and the enrichment of the landscape. When the properties were purchased in the 1980’s and 1990’s, most of the land, not including the irrigated cropland, was dry with little or no vegetation and virtually no trees.
The 1,600 acres of this arid land provided little wildlife habitat. In the last eight years, there has been a noticeable increase in wildlife including a number of migratory birds, small animals, game animals, and other wildlife that make western Nebraska their home. The latest tree planting project taken on by the Krajewski Family Farms is the fully drip irrigated rows of Colorado blue spruce and Austrian pine trees. The water for this project comes from an old box spring that is pumped by a solar powered 12 volt pump. Although this tree planting project is being pursued outside of the conservation tree program, it is in line with the family’s tree planting goals and supplements the overall goals of the program.
These tree planting programs provided by the NRD, NRCS, and FSA, have provided the farm with windbreaks for livestock, effective environmental controls throughout the property, and excellent habitat for wildlife. The trees also provide a vision of endless hours of recreational fun, including bird watching, nature viewing, hiking, and trail running.