News to Use Archive: Agriculture

Becky Daugherty

Delaware County SWCD

River Friendly Farmer Award

Indiana Lieutenant Governor, Suzanne Crouch, Larry Shreve, and President of Indiana Farm Bureau, Randy Kron

Out of 58,000 farms in the state of Indiana, one farm in Delaware County received the statewide award of River Friendly Farmer at the Indiana State Fair on Farmer's Day, August 16. In 2019, Mr. Larry Shreve was among 49 farmers to receive the award from the Indiana Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts for the work he does on his land to protect Indiana's natural resources. Delaware County Soil and Water Conservation District is proud to have nominated Larry in 2019. Congratulations!

Delaware County Tillage Transect

As support to the Indiana State Department of Agriculture, each county's Soil & Water Conservation District (SWCD) is responsible to complete a tillage transect. A tillage transect is a cropland survey conducted by staff using a predetermined route and GPS technology.

Each field surveyed is recorded for current crop, tillage status, residue percentage, and cover crop. For Delaware County, our transect includes 511 fields, in 306 locations. Tillage status is determined to be one of the following:

  1. No-Till-- any direct seeding system, including site preparation, with minimal soil disturbance (includes strip and ridge till)

  2. Mulch Till -- any tillage system leaving 30%-75% residue cover after planting, excluding notill

  3. Reduced Till - any tillage system leaving 16%-30% residue cover after planting, or 4) Conventional tillage - any tillage system leaving less than 15% residue after planting.

We recently completed the 2017 fall transect. The pie charts above compare the fall tillage of 2017 to the fall tillage of 2015.

No-till is reflected by the green portion of each chart, showing an increase from 2015 to 2017.


Mulch till is reflected by the yellow. Reduced till is the white portion. Unfortunately, the orange - conventional tillage - shows an increase from 2015 to 2017.

Thank you to Wes Slain, our Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) District Conservationist, and Debra Carpenter, Earth Team Volunteer, for being a BIG help with this task.

Did you know?

From the "Indiana Agricultural Statistics 2018-2019 " produced by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS): Indiana ranked: 2nd in the nation for all chickens on hand and in total eggs produced, 3rd in the nation for spearmint, all tomatoes, and all cantaloupe, 4th in the nation for soybeans, peppermint, all pumpkins, and turkeys raised, and 5th for corn for grain, all watermelon, and all hogs.

Within the state, for 2018, Delaware County ranked 23rd in soybean production, 34th in corn, and 39th in wheat.

# LoveINSoil

The #LovINSoil campaign was created by the Conservation Cropping Systems Initiative (CCSI) to provide awareness and education for soil health for everyone across Indiana. The campaign is designed to reach both those involved and those not involved in agriculture. Increased awareness and education about soil health can improve communities and water quality throughout Indiana.

Purdue and NRCS seeking interviews with producers on Environmental Quality Incentives Program cover crops experience

In partnership with NRCS (Natural Resource Conservation Service), researchers at Purdue University are seeking phone interviews with producers whose EQIP (Environmental Quality Incentives Program) contracts for cover crops have ended in the last three years. They want to understand if money spent to promote cover crops leads to long-term use. They are seeking your thoughts about cover crops and your decision to continue, or discontinue, using cover crops after payments ended. Phone interviews will last around 30 minutes to an hour and can be scheduled at a time that is convenient for you. Your input will help NRCS understand the role of these programs in supporting long-term cover crop use and will help in making these programs better suited to farmers' needs.

They are seeking row-crop producers from the following counties: Adams, Benton, DeKalb, Delaware, Knox, Madison, Pike, Randolph, and Warren. Eligible producers should have received a letter from NRCS in March.

To participate in this study, please call or text Michelle Hemler, Research Associate, at 765-771-0100 or you may fill out a 5-question survey at:

Radish Plant Grown at the Office; Look at That Root!

We wanted to share one of the plants we have grown over the winter for our cover crop display. The main root of this radish grew to 29 ¼ inches long, take a look!

For more information about our Citizen Science Programs visit our USDA office.

2019 NRCS Environmental Quality Incentives Program Sign Up

It's time to apply for assistance with your 2019 conservation project!! Take advantage of all the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) offers. Contact Wes Slain at 765-747-5531 ext. 3 to get started.

Do you know this about soil?

Source: DIG IT! The Secrets of Soil Bookmark
  1. There are more organisms in a shovelful of oil than there are people on the planet.

  2. A cup of good gardening soil is about half minerals and decaying plant matter. The other half of the space holds water and air, which plants and organisms use to live.

  3. There is oil in your dishes, in the paint on you walls, and in some jewelry.

  4. Soils can be a vareity of colors: red, brown, yellow, gray, black, green, purple, and more.

  5. One inch of soil can take more than 500 years to form.

  6. Most of the nutrients forests need to grow are recycled by organisms from decaying leaves, logs, and roots.

  7. Roots hold soil together and help prevent erosion.

  8. Soils affect climate by storing carbon as brown, decaying plant detritus. Soils hold two times more carbon than the atmosphere as carbon dioxide.

What do soils do?

Soils support eocsystems such as forests, farms, and wetlands. Soils clean water, recycle nutrients, control climate, and feed wildlife-- and us!!

Information source: DIG IT! The Secrets of Soil Bookmark

Environmental Quality Incentives Program Organic Initiative

Photocredit: USDA EQIP Organic website

The Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) Organic Initiative provides financial assistance to implement a broad set of conservation practices to assist organic producers in addressing resource concerns including, but not limited to assistance with: developing a conservation plan, establishing buffer zones, planning and installing pollinator habitat, improving soil quality and organic matter while minimizing ion, developing a grazing plan and supportive livestock practices, and enhancing cropping rotations and nutrient management. This assistance helps producers plan and implement conservation practices to support the environmental sustainability of their organic operations. Some highlights of the organic provisions in the 2014

Farm Bill and requirements for participation in the program include: financial and technical assistance to implement conservation practices and planning to address resource concerns associated with organic operations, financial assistance is limited to totals of a maximum of $20,000 per fiscal year AND no more than $80,000 over a rolling six year Farm Bill for ALL contracts approved through this authority, and producers must meet all the other eligibility requirements associated with EQIP.

Participants who are not certified or exempt from certification agree to develop and work towards implementing an Organic System Plan (OSP) to meet NOP organic certification through USDA.

Who Can Apply? - Each fiscal year, NRCS will focus financial and technical assistance through the EQIP Organic Initiative for eligible applicants and land. The applicant must demonstrate control of eligible land in agricultural production. Eligible land includes cropland, rangeland, pastureland, and other farm or ranch lands. Applicants should use one of the following categories to identify their current or future production system: Certified Organic, Exempt from Certification of the National Organic Program (NOP), or Transitioning to Organic. When to Apply- Applications for this program are accepted on a continuous basis throughout the fiscal year. However, State Conservationists may establish up to 8 evaluation periods for financial assistance programs. Evaluation periods may vary by initiative based on available funding by State.

Although EQIP supports a wide variety of conservation practices, not all practices are appropriate in all areas.

For more information on the EQIP Organic Initiative, contact Wesley Slain at 765-747-5531 ext 3 or at 3641 N Briarwood Lane, Muncie, IN

Farm Service Agency Programs for Organic Farmers


The Farm Service Agency (FSA) offers a variety of programs to meet the needs of conventional farmers. With the continuing increase in the number of organic farming operations throughout the United States, FSA is working to highlight how some of these programs can be beneficial to organic farmers as well. Three good examples of these programs are: the Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program (NAP), Farm Storage Facility Loans, and the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP).

NAP is a disaster assistance program available to producers of non-insurable crops, or those crops for which commercial crop insurance is not available in the county. Eligible crops are those that are commercially produced and will vary by county based on the availability of commercial crop insurance.

Common examples of NAP crops in Indiana include: honey, alfalfa, pumpkins, and Christmas trees.

Farm Storage Facility Loans may interest organic producers because this type of loan may be taken out to purchase eligible storage and handling facilities such as cold storage for fruits and vegetables or trailers for hauling production from the fields.

The CRP program offers a variety of conservation practices from filter strips to wetlands for wildlife habitats. However, wildlife habitat buffers may interest organic producers or those who are working

toward obtaining organic certification because, in addition to providing habitat for wildlife, they also serve as a buffer to avoid drift from conventional pesticides effecting organically raised crops.

In addition to these programs, FSA has introduced a new program specifically for organic producers. The Organic Certification Cost Share Program. provides cost share assistance to producers and handlers who are obtaining organic certification for the first time or renewing their previous certification.

For more information on the EQIP Organic Initiative, contact Wesley Slain at 765-747-5531 ext 3 or at 3641 N Briarwood Lane, Muncie, IN

BSU Hults Farm Field Day

Photocredit: USDA EQIP Organic website

The day started cold with snow on the ground, but the sun came out and we had a good morning inspecting soil pits, learning about cover crops and soil health, and visiting the historic barn and new high tunnel, located just north of Albany, IN. Dr. Jessi Ghezzi spoke on impacts of soil health, the importance of retaining top soil, and the challenges, opportunities, and vision for the farm. Carson Wright spoke on his cover crop field trial with a two way mix of hairy vetch and triticale following sweet corn, which is where the first soil pit was dug. A substantial quantity of healthy roots were seen on the hairy vetch/triticale planted side, while hardly any were evident on the non-cover crop planted side. Additionally, residue decay was much greater where the cover crop was planted vs. the non-planted area- indicating active organisms at work, improving the soil health. Kris Greene offered additional comments and information regarding cover crop use, termination, and benefits. We moved to the second soil pit dug in a field that had a three way cover crop mix of winter wheat, red clover, and daikon radish to inspect the variances in cover and root mass this mix offered. Also noted at this pit was the visual difference between the first field where topsoil is still intact and this field where it is lacking.

The Hults Farm participated in our conservation cost share program funded by a Clean Water Indiana Grant.


Inside the blue circle is soil from the first pit, which is a darker color than the soil outside the circle, which is the second pit.