2015 Survey Results Show Steady Increase in Cover Crops

2015 survey results show steady increase in cover crops

Indianapolis, IN, April 20, 2016 – Results from the 2015 Indiana Fall Tillage and Cover Crop Transect, which is an on-the-ground survey, indicate that overall soil health in Indiana is improving. According to the data, over 1.1 million acres of cover crops were planted in 2015, which is an increase of nearly 10 percent compared to the previous year and 225 times more coverage over the past decade.

Cover crops build soil organic matter, protect against soil erosion, cycle nutrients, reduce compaction, sequester carbon from the atmosphere, and build overall soil health and make it more resilient to weather extremes. The increase of cover crops confirms that the Indiana Conservation Partnership’s efforts are helping farmers successfully improve soil health throughout the state.

“We introduced the cover crop assessment to the survey in 2011 so that we could better tell the story of Indiana’s conservation efforts,” said Jane Hardisty, Natural Resources Conservation Service State Conservationist. “Cover crops protect soil from extreme weather and retain valuable nutrients in fields during winter months, playing a key role in soil health. With more farmers implementing this practice, the 2015 survey results prove why Indiana continues to be a national leader in soil health.”

Hoosier farmers also continued the trend of plowing less and using sound conservation practices that preserve valuable topsoil, according to the 2015 data. Not plowing the soil is a critical component to improving soil health and can reduce soil erosion by 75 percent when compared to a conventional tillage system. The results show that 55 percent of Indiana’s harvested cropland was left undisturbed during the winter months.

“When our farmers apply sound conservation practices, it’s good for the soil, contributes to improved water quality, and good for the future of agriculture,” said Ted McKinney, Director of the Indiana State Department of Agriculture (ISDA). “These survey results indicate that not only are more farmers implementing these types of practices, which means that soil health is improving, but also that Indiana has a conservation model that works and continues to garner national attention.”

In addition to the survey, which provides data on no-till farming and cover crops, the eight partners of Indiana’s Conservation Partnership also promote other practices as part of a soil health management system. This system combines practices such as adaptive nutrient management, integrated weed and pest management, diverse crop rotations, precision farming technology, and prescriptive buffers to improve soil function and make land more sustainable.

To learn more about Indiana’s conservation efforts, please visit icp.iaswcd.org, or to find the tillage transect for your county, contact your local Soil and Water Conservation District office by visiting www.in.gov/isda/2370.htm. Additionally, ISDA maintains tillage transect reports dating back to 1990 on their website www.in.gov/isda/2383.htm which also includes the most recent transect results.



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Adam Jones selected as Wabash County NRCS District Conservationist

Adam Jones (1)It is with much excitement that the Wabash County SWCD announces that Adam Jones has been selected as the new Natural Resources Conservation Service District Conservationist for Wabash County.  After graduating from Purdue University Adam worked for the Wabash County SWCD before being hired by NRCS. He has worked for NRCS as a Soil Conservationist for over ten years and has been the acting DC in Wabash County since Joe Updike’s retirement.  He is very familiar with the Wabash County and our landowners so this will be a great transition for everyone! Please stop by the office to officially Welcome Adam into his new positon!


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Annual Cover Crop Field Day-April 2, 2016

This Saturday April 2, 2016 is the Annual Cover Crop Field Day hosted by Scott’s Cover Crops.  It will be a great workshop and Jamie will be able to answer all your questions.

Below is the link to the agenda and details for the day.

Cover Crop Brochure 2016 (002)

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Indiana Prairie Farmer-Local Article

Bobby Wetland Article-2016

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EQIP Application Deadline-January 22, 2016

Indiana NRCS Announces EQIP Application Deadline

Indianapolis, IN, Dec. 2, 2015 –Indiana’s agricultural producers who want to improve natural resources and address concerns on their land are encouraged to sign up for the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) through the USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).

Jane Hardisty, NRCS State Conservationist, announced that January 22, 2016 will be the EQIP application deadline in Indiana. “While we are taking applications throughout the year, the first review of applications for funding will be for applications received by January 15. If more funds are available after this date, there will be another review for additional applications. I encourage producers with resource concerns to submit an application by the application deadline,” Hardisty explains.

EQIP is a voluntary conservation program available for agricultural producers. Through EQIP, NRCS will provide financial and technical assistance to install conservation practices that reduce soil erosion and sedimentation, improve water and air quality, and create wildlife habitat.

Many applicants have an interest in using funds to address soil erosion and water quality issues on their land; however, funds are also available for pasture and grazing land, confined livestock operations, organic producers, drainage water management, invasive plant control, and wildlife habitat improvement. Also included in this sign up are Conservation Activity Plans, the National Organic Initiative and the National On-Farm Energy Initiative, plus the following targeted watershed efforts:  National Water Quality Initiative (NWQI), Mississippi River Basin Healthy Watersheds Initiative (MRBI), and the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI).

Producers interested in EQIP should submit a signed application to the local NRCS field office. Applications submitted by January 15, 2016 will be evaluated by NRCS staff for the funding period submitted. The staff will work with producers to determine eligibility for the program and complete worksheets and rankings in order for the applicant to compete for funding.

For more information about EQIP and other technical and financial assistance available through Indiana NRCS conservation programs, visit http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/main/in/programs/financial/eqip/ or contact your county’s District Conservationist http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/main/in/contact/local/.


Jane Hardisty, State Conservationist, 317-295-5801 (jane.hardisty@in.usda.gov)

Gerald Roach, ASTC Farm Bill Programs, 317-285-5820 (jerry.roach@in.usda.gov)

Becky Fletcher, State Public Affairs Specialist, 317-295-5825 (rebecca.fletcher@in.usda.gov)

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Mike and Cindy Pyle named 2015 Wabash County River Friendly Farmers

Local Farmers Receive Statewide Award for Conservation Practices

Wabash, IN – Out of 61,000 farms in the state of Indiana, one farm in Wabash and Kosciusko County stood out from the crowd last week for the work they do to protect Indiana’s natural resources.


Mike and Cindy Pyle of Pyle Farms was among 48 farmers who received the River-Friendly Farmer award from the Indiana Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts (IASWCD) last Wednesday, August 19 at the Indiana State Fair.


The Wabash County Soil and Water Conservation District nominated Pyle Farms for the award based upon their farm management practices that protect Indiana’s rivers, lakes, and streams. The Pyle’s operate using no-till farming practices, have 2.5 acres of grassed waterways, 0.8 acres of buffer strips, erosion control structures, and use cover crops, primarily annual rye grass.  “Conservation practices are important to me on several different levels.  First, I am the sixth generation of my family to live on and operate the home farm.  It was homesteaded in 1837, and Cindy and I feel a sense of responsibility to not just maintain, but to improve upon what has been done by past generations in order to benefit those that come after us.  Economically, there have been benefits in that a smaller line of equipment is necessary to operate on a no-till program, thus reducing machinery cost.  We have also seen a reduction in fertility cost, which I believe is due to a more stable soil structure and the fact that less of the fertility is leaving the farms in the form of erosion. By eliminating tillage practices there has also been a reduction in the time requirement to plant, manage, and harvest the crop.” Says Mike Pyle.

At the ceremony to congratulate the farmers were Lieutenant Governor Sue Ellspermann, Indiana State Department of Agriculture Director Ted McKinney, President of Indiana Farm Bureau Don Villwock, State Conservationist Jane Hardisty, and IASWCD President Mike Starkey, among other leaders from the Indiana Conservation Partnership.


The River-Friendly Farmer Award has been presented by the IASWCD and sponsored by the ninety-two local Soil and Water Conservation Districts, and Indiana Farm Bureau, Inc. since 2000. This year’s group of award winners brings the total number of River-Friendly Farmers in Indiana since the award’s beginning to 809.fy15rff_WabashCo

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Bicentennial Barns

barnIndiana Farm Bureau and Farm Credit Mid-America are teaming up to collect the stories and photos of barns around Indiana to celebrate Indiana’s agricultural legacy during the 2016 Bicentennial. To enter, visit www.200IndianaBarns.com.

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Promise to Promote Pollinators by Leesa Metzger

bee (00000002)

Ask the Landscaper by Leesa Metzger

Promise to Promote Pollinators

A former horticulture and botany teacher and owner of Metzger Landscaping & Design, LLC answers reader’s questions about gardening and landscaping.

Just imagine your dining table without the delectable fruits of apples, blueberries, cherries and peaches or the versatile pumpkin or zucchini. Flowering plants and their associated pollinators are responsible for the vast majority of our food: an estimated one out of every four mouthfuls of food and beverage. Pollinators are also crucial, directly or indirectly, for production of dyes, medicines and fibers such as cotton.

Pollinators also sustain plant communities by pollinating native plants that provide food, nesting and shelter for wildlife. Pollinators include butterflies, moths, beetles, hummingbirds, bats, flies and wasps. In North America 99% of pollinators are insects and of those, most are bees.

As honey bees gather pollen and nectar for their survival, they pollinate crops such as apples, cranberries, melons and broccoli. Some crops, including blueberries and cherries, are 90-percent dependent on honey bee pollination; one crop, almonds, depends entirely on the honey bee for pollination at bloom time.

Each year American farmers and growers continue to feed more people using less land. They produce an abundance of food that is nutritious and safe. Honey bees are very much a part of this modern agricultural success story. It’s estimated that there are about 2.4 million colonies in the U.S. today, two-thirds of which travel the country each year pollinating crops and producing honey and beeswax.

Unfortunately pollinators are in perilous decline. Yet gardeners can be a positive influence on pollinator populations and diversity if we all do our part to plant pollinator-friendly gardens.

A pollinator-friendly garden is also a people-friendly garden as we enjoy many of the same plants. We just need to add a few elements to provide pollinators with food, water, shelter and a nice place to raise the “kids”.

Here are a few of the basics for a pollinator-friendly garden. Food for pollinators is generally provided by flower nectar and pollen; however, some pollinators such as butterflies need specific

plants such as milkweeds for monarchs to serve as food for caterpillars. To attract particular pollinators conduct additional research to determine their needs during each of their life stages.

Good pollinator plants include asters, beebalm, native roses, Joe Pye weed, purple coneflower, great blue lobelia, white indigo, lead plant, blazing stars, beard tongue, bellflowers, hollyhocks, monkshood, snapdragons, sunflowers, foxglove, mints, tomatoes, butterfly weed, goldenrod, larkspur, milkweeds, herbs and many more bee-utiful flowers.

When possible choose native plants and not cultivars of native plants. Ornamental changes within cultivated plants may not provide the necessary attributes of a good pollinator flower. Exotic plants such as butterfly bush can provide food for bees and butterflies but cannot sustain the complete life cycle of pollinator insects. In addition native plants provide food for a greater diversity of pollinators.

Plant masses of similar flowers and design areas to have flowers blooming all season. Aim for a variety of flowers blooming at once. Add easy-to-grow annual seeds such as zinnia and sunflower to existing perennial flower gardens to support flower diversity.

Allow spaces between masses of flowers to provide shelter from wind and cold. Leave dead stems over the winter to provide shelter and nesting areas.

If you are worried about luring something into your garden that can sting, keep in mind bees are not bullies looking for a fight. A happy be is like a gardener in a garden center, focused on each flower.

Leesa Metzger
Metzger Landscaping & Design, LLC
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How to begin using Cover Crops in your Farming Rotation

Purdue Extension has recently released a new article on Managing Cover Crops.  It is a great publication for those who are thinking about trying cover crops for the first time and a great refresher for those who already have. Take a look here….Purdue Extendsion Managing Cover Crops-AY-353-W .

4-29-2015 (9)This and other publications can be found at https://www.edustore.purdue.edu/item.asp?Item_Number=AY-353-W

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Watersheds in Wabash County, part of NWQI

NRCS Accepting Applications for Three Water Quality Initiatives in Indiana


Indianapolis, IN, May 5, 2015 – Jane Hardisty, State Conservationist for Indiana’s USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) announced today that NRCS is accepting applications until June 19 to be considered for funding to improve water quality in several watersheds throughout Indiana.


NRCS is investing dollars in the Mississippi River Basin Healthy Watersheds Initiative (MRBI), National Water Quality Initiative (NWQI) and Regional Conservation Partnership Project (RCPP) that will help improve water quality and strengthen agricultural operations.  Funding for each of these initiatives comes from the Farm Bill’s Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP).


“We are working with partners to encourage farmers to put in conservation practices in these targeted watersheds that address water quality concerns and help improve soil health and agricultural production,” Hardisty said. “By targeting initiative dollars we can make a greater impact on the health of our streams and rivers, and ultimately the Mississippi River and the Gulf of Mexico.”


Special initiatives help eligible farmers adopt conservation practices to improve water quality. Conservation systems implemented in these areas will reduce the amount of nutrients flowing from agricultural land into waterways, curb erosion and improve the resiliency of working lands in the face of droughts and floods.


“These conservation practices will help clean and conserve water, make agricultural operations more resilient and stimulate rural economies,” said Hardisty.


Farmers in the following watersheds are eligible for funding:


Mississippi River Basin Initiative

Two subwatersheds in the Big Pine Creek watershed (Big Pine Creek Ditch and Little Pine Creek) will be targeted, including portions of White and Benton counties in north central Indiana.  The Little Wea Creek watershed lies solely within Tippecanoe County in north central Indiana.  Two subwatersheds in the Cicero Creek watershed (Prairie Creek and Tobin Ditch) will be targeted, within portions in Tipton, Hamilton, Clinton, and Boone counties.


National Water Quality Initiative

Funding will be targeted to four small watersheds in Indiana.  The Silver Creek watershed lies within portions of Fulton, Kosciusko, Miami, and Wabash counties in north central Indiana.  The Beargrass Creek watershed is located within Wabash County.  The Ell Creek watershed lies solely within Dubois County in southwestern Indiana.  The Eagle Creek watershed lies within portions of Boone, Hendricks and Marion counties in central Indiana.




Regional Conservation Partnership Program

Led by the University of Notre Dame, funding will be available in Shatton Ditch located in Kosciusko County and the Kirpatrick Ditch located in Newton, Jasper and Benton counties.


All applications for funding consideration must be received by June 19, 2015.


To learn more about the watershed projects selected in Indiana, visit: http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/main/in/programs/.


For more information about NRCS and other technical and financial assistance available through conservation programs, visit www.nrcs.usda.gov/GetStarted or contact your District Conservationist http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/main/in/contact/local/.




(Indiana Watershed Initiatives map attached)



Jane Hardisty, State Conservationist, 317.295.5801 (jane.hardisty@in.usda.gov)

Jill Reinhart, Assistant State Conservationist, 317.295.5883 (jill.reinhart@in.usda.gov)

Rebecca Fletcher, State Public Affairs Specialist, 317.295.5825 (rebecca.fletcher@in.usda.gov)



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