The American Soybean Association was so impressed with what Mike Starkey, Brownsburg, has accomplished in protecting natural resources on his soil that the organization named him one of three regional winners in the group's 2015 Conservation Legacy Award competition.
Starkey is the Northeast Region winner. Other regional winners include Jimmy Thomas, Timberlake, N.C., for the South Region and Steve Berger, Wellman, Iowa, for the Midwest Region. A national winner from these three will be named at the ASA Awards banquet in Phoenix this Friday.
Starkey and his wife, Karen, were named Master Farmers by Indiana Prairie Farmer and the Purdue University College of Agriculture in 2014. He has worked with Bob Barr, a professor at IUPUI in Indianapolis, on water quality projects for the past 8 years.
He was heavily involved in a watershed project, now concluded, that was geared to protecting the water quality of streams entering Eagle Creek reservoir. Part of his land drains into this watershed. Indianapolis gets part of its drinking water form Eagle Creek Reservoir on the northwest side of Marion County.
Starkey has no-tilled for many years, even on level and naturally poorly drained soils, and in recent years, has converted to growing cover crops to enhance soil health even more. He hosted a farm management tour stop several years ago, and hosts at least one field day on his farm every year for farmers to learn about no-till.
His farm has also hosted a farmer meeting with U.S. Sen. Joe Donnelley and important signing ceremonies for Indiana Conservation incentive program announcements.
He is currently working with Barr and others on a long-term project to measure water quality coming off of his field under different treatment methods. The biggest obstacle in getting him to participate in this project was convincing him to do a portion of the field with normal practices for fertilization, instead of the more efficient practices he has adopted on the rest of his farm.
Congratulations Mike and Karen!