INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana’s Conservation Cropping Systems
Initiative for Soil Health and Productivity project is expanding to test
conservation practices on typical soils across the state, mentor
conservation-oriented farmers and inspire greater adoption of conservation
systems by Indiana producers.
Four regional hubs — at the Purdue University Diagnostic
Center, the Northeastern Purdue Agriculture Center/Wabash Farm, the Southeast
Purdue Agriculture Center and a farm at Vincennes University managed by the
Dubois County Soil and Water Conservation District — will host the ambitious
demonstration and study plots for this three-year project.
Scientists will measure the impacts of a variety of
conservation systems on soil health, nutrient cycling, soil water availability
and plant growth. Practices in the study include long-term continuous no-till
and strip-till, cover crops, precision technology and several nutrient and pest
In conjunction with the regional hubs, 12 farmers will host
demonstration sites on their farms, comparing their current conservation systems
with programs that introduce new practices.
The impacts of the new practices on soil health and an array
of other variables will be measured and documented and comparisons with fields
on the same or nearby farms will be made.
The farmers also will serve as mentors to producers
interested in adopting new conservation tactics.
“We see great value in working with farmers to conduct
trials in real time, in real conditions and on their own farms across the
state,” said Mike Dunn, director of production and environment for the Indiana
Corn Marketing Council and the Indiana Soybean Alliance. “The corn and soybean
checkoff programs support this project to help farmers collect localized data
that can help them make informed decisions when implementing conservation
practices in their fields.”
Each regional hub represents soil types, climate and
topography common to its area. The hubs will provide opportunities for hands-on
learning, one-on-one communication and long-term evaluation of the adoption of
soil health systems. They also put these demonstration plots within easy reach
of nearly every farmer in the state.
Organizers aim to demonstrate the role of conservation
practices in productive, profitable and sustainable systems.
“The overall goal of this project is to advance the
implementation of conservation cropping systems across the state,” noted
Jennifer Boyle Warner, executive director of the Indiana Association of Soil and
Water Conservation Districts. “What makes the project unique is that it’s a
public-private partnership. Combining the strengths of different sectors will
ensure broader success.”
The Conservation Cropping Systems Initiative for Soil Health
and Productivity project is funded by a U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural
Resources Conservation Service Conservation Innovation Grant.
Partners in the project include the Indiana State Department
of Agriculture, the IASWCD, the Conservation Technology Information Center,
Purdue, the Wabash County SWCD, the Dubois County SWCD, Vincennes
University-Jasper Campus, the ISA and the ICMC.