Conservation Update
January 30 - February 12, 2014  
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Top News

Farm Bill Signed by President Obama 

On Friday, February 7, President Obama officially signed into law the 2014 Farm Bill. The signing came three days after passage of the bill in the Senate by a bipartisan vote of 68 to 32, and the passage of the bill in the House in late January by a bipartisan vote of 251-166. This ends nearly three years of attempts by Congress to pass a comprehensive 5-year Farm Bill. Thank you for your calls and emails to your Senators and Representatives in support of the Farm Bill. This is a huge win for conservation!


NACD is working with our conservation and agricultural partners to provide a series of Farm Bill webinars. The first in the series, titled "Farm Bill Conservation Overview: What is in the new Farm Bill?" will be held on Wednesday, February 19 at 4 PM EST. Please register here to reserve your spot and to find out additional dates and topics!


We would like to thank the National Association of Conservation Districts (NACD) for their strong lobbying support of the Farm Bill this past year. Through their hard work and dedication to local soil and water conservation districts, the new bill includes two of NACD's top Farm Bill priorities: 1) conservation compliance tied to crop insurance, and 2) language to streamline the conservation Technical Assistance (TA) delivery process. 


Stay tuned for more to come!


NACD Annual Meeting

Ray McCormick, NACD Delegate for Indiana, was given the NACD North Central Region Lifetime Achievement Award at the recent NACD Annual Convention in Anaheim, CA. In the photo below, Lonnie Wilson, Chair for the NC Region presents Ray his award. Congratulations Ray!



Additionally, Indiana once again received an award at the NACD Annual Convention for being the #1 dues paying state to NACD.  This is the second year Indiana has received this honor.  We are proud to support NACD and appreciate their leadership and guidance they provide on national issues of importance to soil and water conservation districts across the country. In the photo below, Ray accepts the award on behalf of Indiana's SWCDs. 



March Trainings - Save the Date!

These annual trainings are geared toward SWCD supervsors and staff, though all Indiana Conservation Partnership employees are welcome to attend. Dates and locations are below. Each workshop runs from 5:30 - 8:00pm. Registration is $20 and includes dinner.

  • March 6: Columbia City, Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church 
  • March 11: North Vernon, Jennings Co. Education Center
  • March 13: West Lafayette, Riverside Covenant Church
  • March 18: Washington, Antioch Christian Church

Registration Open for Advanced Soil Health Workshops for Producers and Conservation Partnership Staff

Advanced Cover Crops for conservation agency staff will be offered on March 10 in Vincennes, IN and on March 13 in Osgood, IN. This workshop is offered to farmers, landowners, and their advisors on March 11 in Vincennes and March 12 in Osgood. These workshops will include sessions on:

  • selection of cover crops to address specific needs
  • hands-on practice with cover crop selection tools
  • management considerations - including pest control and nutrient needs
  • root pits for on-site evaluation of cover crop benefits, including rooting depth (weather permitting)

Advanced Cropping Systems for conservation agency staff will be offered on March 17 in Lafontaine, IN and on March 19 in Rensselaer, IN. This workshop is offered to farmers, landowners, and their advisors on March 18 in Lafontaine and on March 20 in Rensselaer. This series of workshops will include sessions on:

  • nutrient management in no-till/strip-till systems
  • discussion of management strategies, including selection of shorter-season crops, potential herbicide impacts, pest scouting considerations, and grazing impacts
  • hands-on review of equipment modifications
  • setting up on-farm trials to help with management decisions

CEUs for Certified Crop Advisors will be requested. Training for conservation staff (Day 1) is free. There will be a registration fee of $10 for farmers and ag industry professionals (Day 2) Registration deadlines are 1 week before each event. Information and registration links are all available on CCSI's website


Be advised that there are a number of pre-course readings. Learn more and reserve your spot on CCSI's website. Registrations slots are limited!

CCSI "Guest Tweeter" on Feb. 4 #AgChat  
Last Tuesday, CCSI was honored to be the "guest tweeter" on the weekly Twitter conversation #AgChat. The topic for this two-hour discussion was no-till and cover crops. Several conversation participants noted how active the discussion was - and how many new faces joined us! The CCSI team fielded 15 questions on the popular conservation practices, generating a lively conversation among the farmers, landowners, scientists, and advisors that were present on the chat.

Read a complete record of the #agchat, and consider joining in yourself sometime!

Looking for Soil Health News to Share?
CCSI has been collecting articles on soil health from a wide variety of publications to post on our website. Articles come from high-profile national publications such as The Atlantic, Bloomberg, and the New York Times as well as smaller, special-interest sources such as AgriNews and Corn and Soybean Digest. Browse them here.

Keep updated with CCSI events on Facebook and Twitter, or sign up to join our mailing list!

Conservation News

NRCS News Release: Indiana is On a Soil Health Kick! 
Read the full release here.
Indiana has been on a Soil Health kick!  A few years ago, the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and the Indiana Conservation Partnership introduced soil health principles into their conservation work with Hoosier landowners.  Indiana is now considered a leader in soil health, and is sharing their lessons learned across the country.


The first lesson to share is clearly defining what is meant by soil health and NRCS State Conservationist Jane Hardisty is eager to provide some clarity.  "When we talk about soil health we are talking about a fundamental shift in the way we think about and care for our soil."


Hardisty explains that soil is not just an inactive growing medium; it is alive and teeming with trillions of microorganisms and fungi that help to provide food, fiber and fuel for our planet.  "When we manage the soil so that soil habitat is healthy, it also protects natural resources and results in high production levels," she said. Continue reading...   

Stewardship Week Materials Available

NACD's 59th Soil and Water Stewardship Week is April 27-May 4! Education and outreach materials are now available on the NACD website. The theme this year is "DIG DEEPER - Mysteries of the Soil."  


Envirothon Announcement - Important 

Yesterday, National Conservation Foundation (NCF) Chair Steve Robinson and North American Envirothon (NAE) Chair Sandy Huey issued an announcement about the future of Envirothon. Due to a variety of factors, including inadequate funding levels at this time, NCF and NAE have determined that it will not be possible to conduct a successful event as originally envisioned in Georgia this year. The partners remain committed to maintaining and growing the Envirothon, including ensuring successful events in Missouri for 2015, Ontario for 2016, and Maryland for 2017, in addition to an international program in the future. The Chairs stress that 2014 state and provincial competition programs should still go ahead as planned.

In order to achieve the goal of maintaining and growing the NAE, the NCF has provided monthly operating expenses over the past three months and has pledged funds for at least two more months while the NAE entity finishes up the last few official steps of closing out. In addition, the NCF has launched a new fundraising strategy that will help ensure the future of the Envirothon from now through 2015 and beyond. NCF and NAE are currently working to determine next steps and plan to have more information to share in the next one - two months regarding 2014 activities of the North American Envirothon. Plans will include ways to recognize and help state and provincial programs and teams.

Contact Us


Upcoming Events
February 13:
Webinar: Core NRCS Conservation Practices for Enhancing Soil Health

February 21-22:
  - Tri-State Conservation Farming Expo
  - Indiana Small Farm Conference

March 4
Southwest Indiana Crop Seminar

March 10-13 and 17-20
CCSI Advanced Soil Health Workshops

Hardwood Lumber Workshops: Producing, Using and Selling
  - April 2 in W. Lafayette
  - April 5 in Elkhart
  - April 9 in N. Vernon
  - April 16 in Jasper

CCSI Events
March 2014:

Eight different Advanced Conservation Cropping Systems and Cover Crop Workshops. See registration details here.  

**There are separate workshops for farmers and non-farmers **


ICP Staff, Cover Crops:

SW:  March 10 

SE:  March 13


Farmers/Advisors, Cover Crops:

SW:  March 11

SE:  March 12 

ICP Staff, Cropping Systems:
NE:  March 17
NW:  March 19

Farmers/Advisors, Cropping Systems:
NE:  March 18
NW:  March 20

Other News
Opportunity to Connect Urban and Rural Farmers
The Fall Creek Watershed Partnership (Hamilton, Hancock, Madison and Marion Counties) formed to build relationships with our urban land users. One focus group was the urban farming community since Districts have lots to offer them and they are quick to understand conservation issues.

Simple resources that rural growers take for granted can be major setbacks for the urban farmer. Watering is always done at least in part by manual labor, quality top soil for raised beds is a constant need, getting a few trees for shade can just be too costly. Surely there is a better way to get these basic necessities!

Maybe the answer is as simple as asking for a hand - asking a farm family to dig up a few saplings from their woods or fence row, asking a farmer to drop off some mulch. The Marion County District has decided to develop a web-based wish list housed as a Google Document so that anyone can read it, and see if we can pilot such a program here. We want to get the word out to suburban and rural neighbors, construction sites, and land improvement businesses to see if we can get excess resources to places in need.

If anyone is interested in helping or want to add some of their county's growers' needs to the website, please contact the office.

Nominations Open for Governor's Environmental Excellence Award
These awards recognize exemplary projects across Indiana. Projects must demonstrate significant and measurable results,  be innovative, comprehensive and documented. The awards are open to all Indiana facilities, state and local units of government, individuals, and technical assistance organizations that operate or support environmental protection efforts of outstanding quality. For more information, visit the IDEM website.

February Grazing Bites
This month's issue is now available and can be viewed here.
GrantStation & Current Funding Opportunities
View the latest GrantStation on the IASWCD website. Several other current grants are also posted there.

USDA Accepts Grant Applications for Conservation Innovation Efforts

USDA is accepting applications for competitive grants to develop and accelerate conservation approaches and technologies on private agricultural and forest lands. State and local governments, federally recognized Indian tribes, non-governmental and educational organizations, private businesses and individuals are eligible to apply. 

Job Board
Executive Director, CACD
The Colorado Association of Conservation Districts seeks an Executive Director. For the complete job description, email [email protected]

Associate Director of Communications, American Rivers
American Rivers seeks applicants with at least 4 years of experience to plan and execute communication programs in support of their river conservation work. Read the full description here.