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Duane Drockelman will still serve farmers.

Tom J Bechman 1, Editor, Indiana Prairie Farmer

April 4, 2007

2 Min Read

Retirement is a relative term to Duane Drockelman, one of Indiana's most-dedicated soil conservation promoters over the past four-plus decades. He officially retired from the Natural Resource Conservation Service last Friday after 41.5 years with the agency, mostly as a district conservationist, and more recently as an area administrator over many districts and employees.

So much for retirement! He began a new job this week as watershed coordinator for South Laughery Watershed in Ripley, Dearborn, Ohio and Switzerland Counties. The southeast Indiana native and his wife live in a restored log cabin home in Ripley County on land that has belonged to his family for decades.

Drockelman first worked fro the Soil Conservation Service. He served stints in Warren and Vanderburgh Counties, before moving to Johnson County in the late '70s. There he was instrumental in developing one of the largest and most successful no-till demonstration projects in Indiana. While it existed only four seasons, it covered 120 acres, and was instrumental in convincing other farmers that no-till and ridge-till could work. It was a time when the teachable moment for reduced tillage was at the doorstep.

Visitors to that site included Quentin Williamson and supervisors of the Wayne County Soil and Water Conservation District. They liked the idea so much that they returned home and copied it on 35 acres. Their plot became the longest -running soil and water conservation tillage plot in Indiana, sponsored by an SWCD. It ran for 20 years before being discontinued, not due to lack of interest, but rather because the landowner needed the land for his own farming purposes. Many of today's no-tillers cut their teeth at field days at one or both of these two sites.

Drockelman was also instrumental in completion of a watershed project in southern Johnson County while he was district conservationist there. And he worked closely with Al Meyer, a timber land owner in Johnson and Brown Counties, to promote timber stand improvement as a management practice.

This innovator also helped found the Johnson County Soil and Water Conservation District Youth Board in 1984, the group functions with select members from various high schools, and delivers 2,000 trees and a 30-minute program to fifth graders throughout the county each spring. That program has been ongoing since Drockelman helped develop it more than two decades ago.

He later moved to Marion County and was district conservationist there, before moving into management positions with NRCS.

His job will now be convincing farmers and other landowners to adopt practices that save soil and prevent pollution, largely from soil sediment, in the southeast Indiana watershed area he will serve. He envisions this effort as similar to the successful Project Clear project in upper Laughery Creek.

About the Author(s)

Tom J Bechman 1

Editor, Indiana Prairie Farmer

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