Maintaining and even improving the health of Indiana’s soils and water remains a priority for conservationists, farmers, and the experts with Purdue Extension around the state. Recently Hoosier Ag Today discussed the efforts ongoing in Adams County with Brad Kohlhagen, the Agriculture and Natural Resources Educator there.
He said soil health is a constant topic.
“Lately I’ve been doing a lot more slide presentations and programs just on soil health,” he said. “I want to say that term has been around for a couple of years but there is no doubt here in recent years it has really taken off.”
There is a lot of focus on the Western Lake Erie basin. Adams County is a part of that and Kohlhagen said they have frequent meetings about the algae bloom going into Lake Erie.
“In particular here we have the St. Mary’s watershed that feeds into that, so we’re definitely concerned with all the nutrient runoff and manure, especially being a livestock county. We try to get a handle on our manure and overloading our nutrients. I know farmers are aware of that, and I do still feel in my heart that we are doing a better job today than we were a long time ago.”
Expanded farmer awareness has led to more of those efforts to do better and to continue improving because farmers want to be good stewards on their own.
“There’s no doubt we don’t want any more regulation, but I think in general we do want to have better water, water quality, better soil health, and so that alone drives a will of a person to do a good job I think. Right now we’re trying to focus on manure management plans. I know the Indiana state chemist office housed at Purdue is trying to get more people trying to evaluate their nutrient management plan and make sure they’re not overloading our soils.”
Kohlhagen told HAT the ‘county agent’ of many years ago has changed with technology and the availability of information from so many other sources. But the key for county educators in Purdue Extension is the research happening at the university and even more contact than ever with the on-campus specialists.