This blog is to discuss the progress of an exciting project taking place in Boone County Indiana. In early 2015 the Boone County Commissioners graciously granted the Boone County Conservation Partnership control of approximately ten acres of county-owned farmland as an educational and demonstration area designed to encourage the adoption of environmentally friendly farming practices by demonstrating their practical use in a field situation. Through this blog, members of the partnership will detail the management of the area, provide regular updates on progress and discuss lessons learned through this experience. The actual area to be farmed is a touch less than 10 acres but this seemed a better blog title than The 9.8 Acres.
The initial focus of the project will be on cover crops although other conservation practices, such as No-till, will be utilized. We will be planting strips of various cover crop varieties, monitoring their performance, and using the site to hold field days and other educational events to help farmers make informed decisions regarding this practice.
This blog will serve two purposes and the tone of posts may vary significantly depending on the intended audience. We hope to inform the general public about the basic principles behind cover crops; their benefits, their negatives (we love cover crops but there are downsides as there are with any farming practice!), and some of the complications that occur any time a farmer adopts a new system. Other posts will be designed for farmers and will include fairly technical information including items such as stalk and soil nitrate testing, compaction, chemicals and fertilizers used, yield data, specific observations relative to the establishment of cover crops, InField Advantage results, and so on.
The four organizations that compose the Boone County Conservation Partnership are:
- The Boone County Soil and Water Conservation District
- Purdue Extension – Boone County
- The Indiana State Department of Agriculture
- The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service
We have received considerable support from the local community and agricultural organizations, both with cash and in-kind donations. These include:
- The Boone County, Indiana, Board of Commissioners
- Beck’s Hybrids
- The Farmers Bank
- State Bank of Lizton
- Farm Credit Mid-America, Crawfordsville
- Co-Alliance, LLP
- Bane-Welker Equipment
- Fedor Feed and Grain
- Home National Bank
- Boone County Farm Bureau, Inc.
- Lamb Farms
- West Central Indiana Contractors Ag Division – Tom Taylor
Several local farmers have agreed to assist us by serving on an advisory committee to provide local input and technical expertise. Each of these farmers is progressive, supports environmental conservation (as do the majority of farmers) and has experience growing cover crops. These farmers are:
- Dave Chance
- Bruce Guernsey
- Don Lamb
- Allen Mohler
Project leaders are Brian Daggy, Boone County SWCD Resource Conservationist and Curt Emanuel, Purdue Extension – Boone County Extension Educator. Contact either of us for additional information or if you are interested in being a sponsor. Contact information is:
Finally, here is an aerial image of the project area.