The national Soil Health Forum and Conservation Tour coming to Indiana starts Monday with two days of tours, speakers and panelists speaking on agriculture and conservation. Monday morning there will be addresses by Senator Joe Donnelly and Indiana State Department of Ag director Ted McKinney.
“Senator Donnelly has been a very strong support of conservation of local soil and water conservation districts,” Jennifer Boyle Warner, executive director for the Indiana Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts told HAT. “He was a very strong supporter of the farm bill that just recently passed, and he has been visiting farms here in Indiana learning more about soil health and the importance of conservation cropping systems and what he can do to help educate further. So I think he’ll have a really important message to bring forth, and obviously our state department of ag director Ted McKinney is also very supportive of the efforts that we’re doing and is excited I think to help share what we are doing here in Indiana and wants other states to take a lead also, as we are doing.”
Indiana is a national leader in conservation efforts so she says they’re excited about the event coming to Indianapolis, which seems to be a very logical fit.
“We’ve been obviously working very hard in Indiana on the soil health initiative, so this is going to be a great chance and opportunity to showcase what we have been doing. We’ll share our successes and our failures and obstacles with other leaders across the country and also hopefully learn from them. The networking, the sharing of experiences I think is one of the high points of this soil health forum and tours that we’re doing.”
The National Association of Conservation Districts (NACD) sponsors the event and it begins with a welcome from past NACD president Gene Schmidt from LaPorte County, Indiana. Representatives from the Environmental Protection Agency and the Natural Resource Conservation Service will also offer their perspectives.
Panel discussions focusing on soil health will include participants from various stakeholder groups. One will feature agriculture industry leaders from John Deere, Case IH, Ohio State University, the American Association of Crop Insurers, CropLife America, and Agri Drain.
A second panel will feature farmers who are known throughout the country for their success with soil health practices: Dave Brandt of Ohio, Chris Furr of North Carolina, Josh Dukart of North Dakota, and John Aeslichman of Washington.
Three of Indiana’s leading soil health farmers will open their farm gates for tours on Tuesday. Participants will have the opportunity to visit one of three farms:
• Rulon Enterprises: Economic Opportunities of Soil Health Systems
• Starkey Farms/Little Ireland Farms: Measuring the Benefits of Soil Health for Water Quality/Farming for Soil Health and Upstream from Indy’s Drinking Water Source
• Legan Farms: Irrigation and Manure Integration for Soil Health and Water Quality
On Tuesday afternoon, the tour will visit the Indiana State Fairgrounds to see the “Pathway to Water Quality” watershed demonstration site and the Indiana Soybean Alliance “Glass Barn,” which offers valuable insights into the lives of Indiana farmers.
According to Jeff Meinders, President of the Indiana Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts, “The NACD Soil Health Forum and Conservation Tour will be an excellent opportunity to learn more about the soil health outreach efforts happening in Indiana and across the nation.” For the latest information on the agenda and tours visit the NACD website.
Source: NACD and IASWCD