When the Indiana Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts holds its annual conference Jan. 9-11, 2012, at the Indianapolis Marriott, several districts will be recognized for outstanding efforts. One of the awards will be called the Showcase Award Winners. These awards are actually for top-flight projects completed by soil and water conservation districts on the local level in 2011. In some cases, more than one district SWCD may be involved in the project.
The first of the four Showcase Awards will go to the Dubois County SWCD. The award is officially for utilizing what are called contribution agreements, and accomplishing conservation on the land.
One big effort of the Dubois SWCD in 2010 and again this year was a cover crop program. The district made sure farmers who wanted to try cover crops could have cover crop seed aerially applied. By coordinating the flights and providing a larger acreage than if one farmer contracted for aerial seeding by himself, the district was able to keep the cost to a reasonable level. The district also rents out other tools that either help farmers establish no-till crops, or helps those with cattle and pasture build fence, such as around a pond, to keep cattle out of water sources.
Jasper County SWSCD will also receive a Showcase Award. Among other accomplishments, the district and several farmers within the county agreed to pilot the on-Farm Network project in 2010, and continue with it in 2011. Originating in Iowa, the On-Farm Network is basically a program whereby farmers in regional areas do the same kind of test plots of subjects related to new practices, such as a new way to apply nitrogen, or a new cover crop to try. Then the district held a roundtable discussion to discuss results of what farmers found during the first year of the project. Hans Kok and Dan Towery of the Indiana Conservation Tillage Initiative helped put together the roundtable and oversee the testing program during the pilot year.
The Pike County SWCD in southwest Indiana, featuring the famous smokestacks of a power plant that generates energy used by Indianapolis Power and Light, will also receive one of the Showcase awards. Their award is for two projects carried out by the county SWSCD, including First Times and Awesome Achievements in soil conservation.Finally, the fourth Showcase Award will recognize several districts that worked together on a project. The districts involved include Posey, Gibson, Vanderburgh and Warrick Counties in southwest Indiana. And once again their project involves making cover crops a reality for more farmers. These district developed a cost-share program that made aerial seeding of cover crops available at a reasonable cost.