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Serving: IN
cover crops growing in glass tubes
COVER CROPS ON DISPLAY: Visitors at the Indiana State Fair could see various cover crops growing in these long glass tubes. Taylor Roy says she wanted to people to see how deep roots go in the soil.

FFA leader goes back to basics of soil conservation

FFA Corner: Interactive display about cover crops and more is the brainchild of Taylor Roy, a state FFA officer.

One reason visitors flock to the Indiana FFA Pavilion each year at the Indiana State Fair is because it’s ever-changing. Anchored by free miniature golf in the center section, the surrounding exhibits change from year to year. Each new team of state FFA officers brings fresh ideas and constructs new exhibits for visitors to view.

Taylor Roy, Bargersville, chose to further develop a soil conservation exhibit as her display. Sami Delay, 2017-18 state FFA president from Henry County, laid the groundwork for the conservation display in 2018.

“When I began this station, I knew I wanted to create a way for conservation to come to life for all age groups,” Roy says. “The main areas that I chose to highlight were the benefits of cover crops. I also wanted to add a soil profile to the display.”

See cover crops

Roy worked with the Conservation Cropping Systems Initiative, headed by director Lisa Holscher. CCSI arranged for Roy to obtain cover crop tubes with various crops planted in each one.

“The purpose of the tubes was to view the roots of the crops in the soil,” Roy explains. “Next to the tubes were informational signs that described the benefits of having cover crops in your field.”

The tubes allowed visitors to see just how far cover crop roots can grow below the soil surface. Staff of the Natural Resources Conservation Service, another partner in the Indiana Conservation Partnership, along with CCSI, helped make this part of the display possible.

Caitlyn Lewis demonstrates jigsaw puzzle
FIND THE ROOTS: FFA state officer Caitlyn Lewis demonstrates how young visitors could put this large-piece puzzle together to assemble a plant, complete with roots, in the conservation exhibit.

View soil profile

Another new addition this year was an electrical soil profile. “This allowed all guests to press different buttons that would light up the corresponding layer within the soil,” Roy says. Even if someone had virtually no knowledge about soil, they could figure out pretty quickly where topsoil fit in the overall picture.  

topsoil diagram
LEARN ABOUT SOILS: Taylor Roy designed this display so even someone without a farm background could get a feel for the importance of keeping topsoil in place.

“After my new additions and what Sami created last year, we were able to have an interactive exhibit for everyone to have a hands-on learning experience,” Roy concludes.  

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