If you take the highway east out of Jasper proper toward the Dubois County Fairgrounds, Ferdinand, and eventually Holiday World in Spencer County, you will pass a campus tucked up in the wooded landscape on the north side of the road. It's the Vincennes University at Jasper Campus. Besides being an educational hub for students, President Alan Johnson hopes it will soon be an environmental showcase for how you can manage resources.
Johnson has teamed up with the Dubois County Soil and Water Conservation District to let them apply state-of-the-art practices on the farmland and wooded land surrounding the campus. Alan Smock, a supervisor with the SWCD, is excited about the opportunity.
"We're going to get the chance to show how conservation practices can save soil and protect water quality," Smock notes. The project is in its second year.
Drought and marestail took its toll on crops last year, but it's being custom-farmed again this year. Meanwhile, the SWCD invested money in redoing several dry dams along one side of the property that collect lots of water. The property is surrounded on at least two sides by houses. One goal is to measure how conservation practices affect the water once it reaches the property.
The dry dams already there were old and not working because they had not been maintained, Smock says. So they were removed and a new series of water and sediment control basins, or dry dams, were installed. The bottom one farthest from the property border was hooked to a separate line so that water quality could be measured for the water running into that particular riser.
The project is all about education, he notes. Johnson is so committed that he had about 10 acres of prairie grass planted on the front part of the campus leading to the buildings. While controversial to some who don't like to see brown grass all winter long, he believes that it's the right way to handle the resource.
Learn the complete story about this project in the May issue of Indiana Prairie Farmer.