A name synonymous with no-till and cover crops in Indiana is Barry Fisher. Formerly district conservationist in Putnam County years ago, he started the Conservation Tillage Initiative, which morphed into the Conservation Cropping Systems Initiative.
Combined, these programs and the efforts of hundreds of Indiana farmers has made Indiana one of the 'go to' states as a model for using cover crops and no-till in combination to improve soil health.
The Natural Resources Conservation service within USDA elected to start a Soil Health Division this year to spread what's happening in Indiana and a few other places, especially North Dakota and North Carolina, across the country.
Most recently Fisher was a state agronomist and precision farming specialist with NRCS, based in Indianapolis. He has visited countless field days, donned coveralls, grabbed no-till coulters and many more things, and in a hands-on way, showed farmers what he has seen work and not work when it comes to no-till and cover crops.
He will still work in Indiana as regional manager of the Soil Health Division for NRCS. "I will be responsible for helping spread the word in Indiana and Illinois," Fisher explains. "I will also have three other managers reporting to me."
Those managers will cover other states in the Midwest. Since all regional managers haven't been hired yet, the Soil Health Division is still in its infancy and its exact objectives aren't clear. However, Fisher says he took the position believing he could help spread what is happening and has happened in Indiana to other parts of the Midwest.
The Soil Health Division is staffed at the top with heavily science-based people. Yet Fisher is hoping for enough leeway to get down to the farm level and help farmers learn about and implement what works best on their farms.
Fisher will be helping Mike Plumer from central Illinois talk about cover crops in the cover crops area at the Farm Progress Show all three days next week. Be sure to stop by and congratulate Barry on his next challenge.
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