INDIANA, Elkhart County SWCD – Jim Hess with the Elkhart County Soil and Water Conservation District and Amanda Kautz with the U.S. Department of Agriculture have been urging farmers to consider practices like planting cover crops and installing filter strips. Cover crops are meant to protect and enrich the soil in the off-season, while filter strips are permanent grassy areas that prevent runoff of sediment, nutrients or other things that would otherwise enter waterways.
Each agency offers its own programs to help as well as incentivize farmers to adopt soil conservation practices.
Hess told members of the Elkhart County Stormwater Board at their June 24 meeting that after seeing the rates of crop plantings amid the heavy rain this spring, they’ve been approaching farmers and landowners about considering cover crops.
“I anticipate this year to be probably a big year, mostly because we don’t want to sit idle, we don’t want weeds to grow,” he said. “It’s an opportunity for them to put (cover crops) in for several reasons.”
He told the board that 13,488 tons of soil were saved from going into ditches in 2018, based on numbers seen in the county’s cover crop program. The number increases to 23,000 tons when you add in other programs, like one funded by a Clean Water Indiana grant and one through the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service.