When Mike and Judy Chandler host the Indiana/ Purdue Forage Day next week (June 21), based at the Lawrence County fairgrounds near Bedford, you'll see an example of land that once was more of a hindrance than a help to erosion control. Mike and Judy, through raising cattle and growing lots of hay on their rolling, sensitive land, have turned it into an example of what can be done to keep soil and other pollutants out of the river. In their case, they wanted to improve water flow and erosion control to protect nearby White River.
The Chandlers are prime examples of folks who could be designated as River Friendly Farmers. It's an award program that recognizes farmers who are going above and beyond, practicing either conservation tillage and/or installing conservation practices to reduce the sediment load in rivers and streams. In turn, that reduces the sediment load in lakes and reservoirs.
Several dozen Indiana farmers have already been recognized through the program. They receive a large, River Friendly Farmer' sign to display at their farmstead. They will also be recognized in special ceremonies on Farmer's Day at the Indiana State Fair in Indianapolis. The awards, previously presented in the FFA pavilion on the north side of the fairgrounds, will be officially presented on Aug. 15 at 2 p.m. EDT this year in the 4-H Exhibit Hall Auditorium, in the revamped 4-H complex on the northwest corner of the fairgrounds.
The first step is to see that quality farmers who are doing a good job controlling runoff from their land are nominated for the award. Jennifer Boyle, executive director of the Indiana Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts, notes that the deadline for submitting nominations is Wednesday, June 27. The list of official award winners will be released during the first week of July.
Nominations typically come from soil and water conservation districts. Most will host a meeting yet this month where they could decide to send in such a nomination, if they haven't already done so. If you know of someone worthy of this recognition, contact your local SWCD office right away.
Be prepared to come join in saluting these good stewards at the Indiana State Fair Farmer's Day, August 15, in the 4-H Exhibit Hall. You'll want to make a special effort to be in attendance should someone from your county receive the River Friendly Farmer award.