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Urbanization and Agriculture
Living in an Agricultural Community
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Welcome to Churchill County. We’re a community enriched with agriculture. In fact Churchill County produces enough dairy products to serve the needs of 1.2 million people. Agriculture offers several benefits to the community. For example, agriculture is a significant factor in why exports for Churchill County are significantly higher than imports. This in turn provides future economic growth for our area.

Although there are many benefits derived from agriculture some practices deserve education and understanding by residents living in urban areas. This site will explain particular farming practices you may encounter and more importantly, why they’re done and how they affect you as a resident. Along with education, the site offers visuals to allow you to see what is involved with living in an agricultural community. Agriculture and urbanization can work together for the benefit of the community but also for you as the residents.

Night Equipment Runs and Bright Lights
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In order for farmers to bale their hay, they generally follow a three step process: cutting, raking and baling. For the baling process, dew must be present to allow the hay to stick together. To a resident, baling is the step to consider because the farmer must complete this step in the early morning or late night hours using farm equipment with bright lights. However, this process usually occurs only 4 times during the summer.  Other farming practices require early morning activities throughout the year as well. Depending on where your home is, this may disturb your sleeping.


Burning usually occurs as a weed maintenance practice and can be an alternative to using herbicides. Some crop residues are burned. A resident with asthma should be aware that burning is a necessary agricultural practice. Maintaining weeds is important in irrigation ditches because ditches can become plugged or even destroyed due to excessive weed growth. As a resident, it’s important to know how in the long run damaged irrigation ditches cause flooding. 

Spraying with Herbicides and Pesticides

Spraying offers many benefits not only to the farmer and crops but also to surrounding residents. Spraying minimizes the negative impacts of insects such as flies, lice, fleas and ticks. Awareness of who is spraying and why allows a better understanding of what is going on in your area. For example, the Churchill County Mosquito, Vector & Weed Control District also sprays in drain ditches to minimize mosquitoes and prevent diseases such as the West Nile Virus. Herbicides are also important because some toxic plants grow such as water hemlock. When these plants are consumed by animals they can cause sickness or death.

Odors and Scents
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There are some general agricultural practices that produce different odors and scent. Some are very pleasing while others are offensive. In order to maintain the land farmers must spread fertilizer which produces unpleasant odors for short periods of time. These general practices that farmers use help to replenish the land enabling them to continue to produce crops that benefit Churchill County so much.

Dust Levels
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Prior to every growing season the ground needs to be prepared. Leveling the ground is necessary for water conservation purposes as well as seeding and irrigation. Plowing and scraping of fields is usually a day operation and occurs in the spring and fall. On a still day, dust from these operations will not affect the surrounding neighborhood. However, at times, Nevada is subject to strong, gusty winds that can be very destructive to these operations, to the extent that farmers may need to re-level and re-seed their fields at great expense.

Since farmers are limited in the measures they can take during field preparation to control dust, (for example, water cannot be applied during plowing and scraping since the soil would become too compacted and would not level correctly and, properly prepared seed beds should be composed of very fine soil which is very vulnerable to strong winds), they are very sensitive to weather conditions and attempt to conduct their operations when the wind is not blowing. Unfortunately Mother Nature can disrupt our best intentions!

Aside from farm equipment and the occasional moo or neigh, weaning calves seem to be the nosiest of farming practices. Weaning a calf is the process where a calf is separated from its mother after the calf is old enough to no longer need the nutrients present in the mother’s milk. It’s important for farmers to separate the calf from its mother so that the next calf is able to receive the same nutrients from its mother without competition. Depending on the particular operation, this practice usually occurs once or twice a year. The noise from the calves starts to diminish by the 4th or 5th day after separation.

Stray Livestock (see NRS definition of livestock under Dogs, further down)
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Animals are smart and at times they figure out how to get out of the gates or fence they are behind. Being aware that livestock sometimes stray is a part of living in an agricultural community. Farmers are going to try to manage the whereabouts of their cattle and livestock for their animals’ safety as well as the farmers business. While cattle are being herded from one location to another, sometimes an animal strays into a fenced area. A farmer will do everything possible to retrieve their cattle. Stray animals are not a frequent occurrence, for this reason it’s important to recognize if animals are potentially stray or lost. Lone livestock can be reported to the sheriff’s office to take the appropriate action. 

Irrigation Ditches and Canals
Adults as well as children should not swim in ditches and canals. Doing so is a very serious danger, one that can be fatal. Powerful undertows can be present and can cause drowning. Ditches and canals may have trash or other materials that can be dangerous and hazardous to swimmers. Ditches can also be a danger even when they are dry and should be avoided because rushing water can come on unexpectedly. The water could carry life-threatening diseases. Water is the most precious and limited resource and must be managed carefully. Therefore do not tamper with or damage irrigation facilities.

Guns and Shooting
Farm lands can consume a large area. The land is often home to doves, pheasant, quail and sometimes deer. Farmers have the right to allow hunters on their property for hunting purposes. When licensed hunters are on a farmer’s property gunfire can be heard and should be understood as a hunting practice. However, if you suspect suspicious activity or reckless shooting, this should be reported to the Sheriff's office. Hunting is a traditional pastime throughout the county; it is usually done responsibly following firearm and hunter safety regulations.


Outside of the limits of the City of Fallon there are no leash laws for dogs in the County. Although dogs should have the luxury of running free, it is the responsibility of the owner to know the whereabouts of their pets and control their behavior. It’s important for residents to know that if their dog harms or kills livestock it then becomes the owner’s financial responsibility to not only pay for the livestock but any offspring and profit they may have produced.

* Livestock as defined by NRS 569.0085

  1. All cattle or animals of the bovine species;
  2. All horses, mules, burros and asses or animals of the equine species;
  3. All swine or animals of the porcine species;
  4. All goats or animals of the ovine species;
  5. All poultry or domesticated fowl or birds; and
  6. All alternative livestock

Churchill County doesn’t want to have to enact new laws. They feel residents must be responsible for the behavior and whereabouts of their pet pets.

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Raising children in an agricultural community is an amazing opportunity to educate them to how things grow and are producedas well as providing them the opportunity to explore and play. For all residents it’s important to remember that livestock can be dangerous, especially when they have young and should be treated with caution. Nevada has a “fence out” not “fence in” law, so being aware of the animals is important for the children's safety . Being aware of your neighbors and environment is important when children are at play because unknowingly children may cause damage to crops or themselves if they wander into nearby fields.


Everyone in Churchill County has the right to farm. This may be a commercial operation or keeping some chickens, a few goats or a horse. Accepted agricultural practices such as cleaning corrals to minimize odor, controlling animals so they do not wander into neighboring property should be followed so that all residents can enjoy our rural lifestyle.