The National Association of Conservation Districts (NACD) Soil Health Forum and Conservation Tour is coming to Indiana in July and the registration window has now opened. The tour is July 21 and 22 in Indianapolis.
Earl Garber from Louisiana is president of NACD, and he tells HAT Indiana is a great place to be focusing on soil health.
“The state of Indiana has been on the forefront and cutting edge of this soil health effort with cover crops being kind of the main focus to get it going. Many other things are being developed to go along with it to improve soils, to make them stronger and more productive and reduce the loss of nutrients in soil itself into the water streams of America. So it’s exciting to be going to where all of the technology has been developed for this and we hope we can showcase it.”
The association hopes to use the Indiana event as a springboard for larger events each year.
“Our goal is to make this somewhat of a conservation expo and we hope we can grow it even larger in the future and have corporations and agencies in the USDA and other agencies, even the EPA to be involved in showing how we can do all of this voluntarily and yet accomplish what they’re asking for.”
USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack has been invited to open the soil health forum on Monday the 21st. Other speakers include ISDA Director Ted McKinney and the chief at NRCS, Jason Weller. Indiana Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts, EPA and NRCS are partners with NACD for the event.
Panel discussions focusing on soil health will include panelists from all parts of the soil health spectrum. One will feature agriculture industry leaders from organizations including John Deere, Case IH, Ohio State University, and the American Association of Crop Insurers. A second panel will feature farmers, whose success with soil health practices is celebrated throughout the nation, including Dave Brandt of Ohio and Chris Furr of North Carolina.
Three of Indiana’s leading soil health farmers will open their farm gates for tours on Tuesday. Participants will have the opportunity to visit one of three farms:
• Rulon Enterprises: Economic Opportunities of Soil Health Systems
• Starkey Farms/Little Ireland Farms: Measuring the Benefits of Soil Health for Water Quality/Farming for Soil Health and Upstream from Indy’s Drinking Water Source
• Legan Farms: Irrigation and Manure Integration for Soil Health and Water Quality
On Tuesday afternoon, the tour will visit the Indiana State Fairgrounds to visit the “Pathway to Water Quality” watershed demonstration site and the Indiana Soybean Alliance “Glass Barn,” a vivid experience of what life is like for Indiana farmers.
According to Jeff Meinders, President of the Indiana Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts, “The NACD Soil Health Forum and Conservation Tour will be an excellent opportunity to learn more about the soil health outreach efforts happening in Indiana and across the nation.”
All the details, including the agenda, tours, hotel, local attractions and links to register are online.