If you want to see tiling equipment and big graders and other tools used in making soil conservation and wildlife habitat practices in action, the place to be will be the Southeast Indiana Purdue University Ag Center, or SEPAC, located near Butlerville in Jennings County. The dates to be there will be August 14 and 15.
The two-day extravaganza will be similar to one held before on the NEPAC Purdue farm near Columbia City. The Land Improvement Contractor's Association will be providing the people to do the work. The Purdue farm staff provides the place where they can work and demonstrate what they can do to develop practices that will limit soil erosion and benefit wildlife.
The practices that are put in will be permanent and real- not just mock-ups for the field day. Don Biehle, long-time manager of SEPAC, says they're installing drainage tile to increase productivity and efficiency. At one time it was believed that tile drainage wasn't effective in the flat, gray, wet Clermont soils of southeastern Indiana. Many acres of that soil and related soil types exist on the SEPAC farm. However, research projects over the last 30 years at SEPAC have indicated that installed correctly, tile systems can work on those soils, and increase the possibilities of tilling on time, and producing crops while still making a profit.
It's not every day that you get to see a brand new conservation practice at a field day, let alone see it built before your very eyes. That's the case this time. The contractors will demonstrate how to implement a new practice, woodland edge feathering, by actually carrying it out. It involves a tree clipper, which is scheduled to operate during the show.
According to Biehle, this new practice will not only help wildlife, but will also help them deal with the dilemma of the shading effect of trees upon crops around the edges of field. This new approach is supposed to decrease shading of crops which are planted. The practice involves cutting and piling certain trees strategically. This may be one of the stops who make sure you hit.
Other practices include installing or maintaining wetlands. These are important both for water quality and wildlife. Also expect to learn how to manage tile drainage systems since they're installed so that you can get the maximum benefit from them in terms of both higher crop yields, and improved water quality. Eileen Kladivko, a Purdue researcher, has looked at such issues on the SEPAC site for roughly 20 years. As you drive along the state road, one SEPAC field on the south side of the highway features small, white buildings at various locations. These are monitoring locations for a tile drainage project that was installed many years ago.
Call SEPAC at 812-458-6977 for more details, or contact the Jennings SWCD at 812-346-3411, Ext 3, or INLICA at 765-593-1901