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New Master Farmers Passionate about Conservation

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Master Farmers on conservation

Jack MaloneyAs Indiana conservation is center stage in Indianapolis this week during the national Soil Health Forum, two new Master Farmers from Brownsburg just outside of Indy, Jack Maloney and Mike Starkey, are busy with conservation efforts on their farms. It started with the switch to no-till in the mid 80’s for Maloney.

“Everybody said instead of using more ground why don’t you use what you have, so we tried to open up the lower profiles and get more nutrients and use the ground underneath our feet to a better use.”

He told HAT more Indiana farmers are actively pursuing various practices to conserve their resources and soils because they’re seeing the benefits.

“There are so many benefits with nutrient management, with soil quality and organic matter, the water holding capacity, and whenever you can open up that lower profile and recover some of the lost nutrients and keep the bacteria active so they can get that mineral into a usable form the plant can use, those guys are our friends. Unfortunately we know more about the dirt on the moon than we do the biology under our own feet.”Mike Starkey

Starkey has been no-till for 15 years and his farm is a tour stop for the national event Tuesday. Visitors will see his attention to the detail of keeping the Indianapolis water supply safe.

“We have a unique situation where we actually monitor our tile outlets for nitrate and phosphorous because we’re so close to Indianapolis. We’re a source of drinking water for Indianapolis so therefore we participate with the local university with that. So many things involved. It’s just part of the earth that we have. It’s given to us so I want to be passing that on to the next generation.”

Both master farmers grow corn, soybeans and wheat, and Starkey adds a 20-25 head cattle operation for freezer beef. See more of their stories in the HAT video.