County agent quoted in National Geographic

Special to the PNT

Out of nowhere, Patrick Kircher became a nationally-known image consultant.

When Maggie G. Zachowitz of National Geographic needed help explaining a 51-year-old photograph taken in Roosevelt County, she turned to Kircher, the county’s agricultural extension agent.

In the 1957 photo, a man measures the former ground level of a field in a southern or western part of the county while another man sits atop the patch of soil with native little bluestem grass that was not eroded away.

“It (soil erosion) actually happened from wind erosion,” Kircher said. “It had blown all the soil away.”

That conclusion is included in the “Flashback” section of the National Geographic’s September issue.

Kircher said farmers used clean tillage to clear the soil surface of plant debris. That action basically pulverized the soil and left it defenseless against the wind.

“In that timeframe, farm practices were a lot different than what they are today,” he said.

Nowadays, farmers have learned to keep some kind of residue, such as crop stubble from the year before, to keep the soil in place.

Kircher was pretty sure that was the answer, but still consulted others in the county before answering Zachowitz.

“The thought of it was just kind of fun, to be quoted in National Geographic,” he said. “That was really pretty neat.”

Kircher said he started to get phone calls from distant relatives after they saw him quoted in the magazine.

To his knowledge, Kircher said he has not been quoted before in a large publication.

Jon Boren, interim associate dean and director of the Cooperative Extension Service, was surprised and pleased to see Kircher quoted in the magazine.

“Patrick would certainly have an excellent handle on the historical agricultural practices in Roosevelt County, along with contemporary agricultural practices in that county,” Boren said.