Thursday, January 2, 2014

ISDA Announces Meg Leader as Program Manager for Agriculture and Environmental Affairs

INDIANAPOLIS – ISDA Director Gina Sheet is pleased to announce that Meg Leader is joining the department as Program Manager for Agriculture and Environmental Affairs.

Prior to joining ISDA, Leader served as the conservation director of the Vermillion County Soil and Water Conservation District.  A civil engineer by training, Leader is a graduate of Syracuse University.  She has worked on conservation projects throughout California and the East Coast, including wetland replication in New England and storm-water runoff design in Los Angeles County.

“The Division of Soil Conservation is pleased to welcome Meg Leader as our agriculture and environmental affairs program manager,” DSC Director Jordan Seger said.  “Her extensive knowledge of conservation efforts throughout the United States, and experience with Indiana’s Soil and Water Conservation Districts, will serve our program participants well.”

ISDA believes that conservation of soil is crucial to the continued viability of agriculture.  ISDA’s Division of Soil Conservation personally works with land owners and farmers throughout the state, offering voluntary conservation programs aimed at establishing best management practices and benefitting bottom-lines.

Leader, originally from a farm in upstate New York, currently resides in Terre Haute with her husband.

About ISDA
The Indiana State Department of Agriculture (ISDA) was established as separate state agency by the Legislature in 2005.  The Director is appointed by the Governor and is a member of the Governor’s Cabinet.  Administratively, ISDA reports to Lt. Governor Sue Ellspermann, who also serves as Indiana’s Secretary of Agriculture.  Major responsibilities include advocacy for Indiana agriculture at the local, state and federal level, managing soil conservation programs, promoting economic development and agricultural innovation, serving as a regulatory ombudsman for agricultural businesses, and licensing grain firms throughout the state.

Media Contact:
Ben Kenney
Indiana State Department of Agriculture

Monday, December 30, 2013

By Bill Bollman

Veteran no-tillers are increasingly interested in cover crops as a means to continue improving their soil’s health. The management mindset is no longer sustainability of what may well be a degraded resource, but one of improving and restoring that soil resource. The benefits to establishing a cover crop are many and include: erosion control, reduces nitrate and phosphorus losses, increases soil organic matter, increases biodiversity, weed suppression, soil moisture management, minimizes soil compaction and promotes biological nitrogen fixation.

 The economical and environmental benefits have farmers brainstorming on how to integrate cover crops into their production systems. The best method to accomplish cover crop seeding may vary between operations due to differences in geography and crop mixes involved, as well as differences in the labor and machinery available.

Here are some of the different methods utilized to establish cover crops:

Air Delivery Seeder behind Vertical Tillage Tool

Air Delivery Seeder mounted on Grain Header 
Rotary Harrow behind Broadcast Application

Seeding with No-Till Drill

Aerial Application into standing crop
For technical assistance in your area, please visit: 

For more information on cover crops, please visit:

Monday, December 23, 2013

Working to Protect our Resources

George Reger                     
Resource Specialist  - Team Leader
Job Duties: surveying, engineering, design and layout projects. I also work with the local districts with conservation projects.
Areas of Interest/Expertise: Working the public and delivering a conservation message to them.
Background:  I was raised on small farm in Boone Co. I was a 10 year member in 4-H, main projects were swine and beef.

On August 29, Jessica Norcross and I show the stream bank erosion table to the 4th graders from the Montgomery schools. The demonstration show the student that  without protecting our soils with cover crops and reduce tillage the damage can be costly. 

The Montgomery SWCD coordinate this field day and it was held the Cain’s farm.

Our goals at the end of a grass waterway that there will cleaner water. And looking upstream we can see the effect s of soil health taking place. At the end of day we should look back and be thankful for our resources. And hope tomorrow will be as colorful as rainbow.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Funds Available for Livestock Promotion

ISDA – Office of Communications

Ben Kenney                                                 Abigail Maurer
Director of Communications                      Assistant Director of Communications
Tel.: 317-690-3303                                       Tel.: 317-605-6960
E-mail:                   E-mail:

Dec. 19, 2013

Funds Available for Livestock Promotion

INDIANAPOLIS – Indiana State Department of Agriculture is offering three grants to champion Indiana’s livestock industry. The Indiana Livestock Promotion Grant, Indiana Livestock Market Development Grant, and the 4-H/ FFA Youth Livestock Grant. The deadline for all livestock grants is Feb. 1, 2014.

The 4-H/ FFA Youth Livestock Grant is an opportunity for 4-H or FFA chapters to “pay it forward.” Students can use the funds to help fellow students purchase breeding stock to start a livestock operation or to add animals to an existing operation.

The Indiana Livestock Promotion Grant is for qualifying organizations to submit project proposals designed to promote the livestock industry in Indiana through shows, sales, exhibitions, conventions, or similar events and programs.

The Indiana Livestock Marketing Development Grant is for qualifying organizations to submit project proposals for value added feasibility studies, research projects, market development, or other projects that encourage the development of business and industry related to livestock production, processing and distribution.

The deadline for grant applications is Feb. 1, 2014. For more information, please visit ISDA’s website.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Think Twice Before You Spray That Ditch

By Don Ryan, Resource Specialist
Don Ryan is a Resource Specialist with the ISDA Division of Soil Conservation in Southwest Indiana, stationed in Daviess County.  Don was raised on a small diverse livestock and crop farm.  He started his conservation career in Daviess County as a district technician and has been with the State for 26 years.

Several years ago, I was asked to look at a ditch with a producer.  This ditch was behind her house and just outside her horse pasture.  When I arrived, it was completely bare.  It had no vegetation, and the erosion was bad.    She had sprayed it earlier because she didn't like the tall grass and weeds growing out her back door.  She stated that it had really gotten out of hand, so she unknowingly traded in weeds and grass for a nasty looking brown and exposed soil ditch by eliminating the vegetation.  

Now, several years later, that ditch is mostly weeds and looks worse now than it did before it was sprayed.  Fortunately, some grass is coming back.

There is a time and a place for everything.  There are times when noxious weeds need to be removed and the most effective way to take care of them is spraying.  If broad leaf weeds are the major concern, maybe a chemical specifically for those weeds could be used.  Another option for weed control in ditches could be a systematic approach of spraying and reseeding, that might take a couple of years, so as to not have complete exposure at once.

An effective way to maintain a ditch is mowing and the good ol' weed eater on those steep banks.  This is not always the most fun way to take care of things, but it is very effective.  Just keep in mind that you don’t want to cut the grass too short.  The best way to protect that ditch from erosion is a good stand of grass with strong roots.

One last thing to keep in mind!  You are using a chemical in an open and flowing water course.  Please follow label directions for best results and safety.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

2013 Sullivan County Wabash River Raft Trip

October 1, 2013 marked the 13th Annual Wabash River Raft Trip organized by the Sullivan County Soil & Water Conservation District. Eighth grade student from around the area enjoy a day on the Wabash River learning about natural resources. 

Numerous volunteers are needed to assist with getting the students safely down the river in the rafts, making sure the lunch time break and learning stations flow smoothly. 

Students learn about river history, timber along the river, water quality, soils and how they all effect waters that are essential to life. DNR Officers are on hand to questions about fishing. There was a station about how to apply for a permit to do construction in a flood plain and students were urged to construct something to see how water flow would affect it.

 The eight mile trip had student looking for different resource along the way and using GPS to mark set points along the way. The last 4 miles of the 8 mile journey was a dash to the finish, all survived!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

On Farm Network Part 2

By Jamen Frederick

This is Doug Hendrickson and his son Adam who farm in Warrick County.  They have taken advantage of the On Farm Network guided stalk sampling tests for their reclaimed mine land.  They feel that it is a great tool to assist them in checking their nitrate levels for corn fields. 

Don Ryan is demonstrating the sampling method for On Farm Network where stalk samples are taken from mature corn plants and analyzed for residual nitrate concentration in the stalks.  These samples along with aerial yield maps taken of the fields in summer help farmers assess their cultivation and fertilizer application practices.

 Some OFN sampling is being done strategically on adjacent field areas where cover crops have been planted next to areas where cover crops have not been used to assess differences in nitrate use in corn.