Rushville Republican

January 3, 2014

Field days offer soil health learning opportunities


Rushville Republican

---- — INDIANAPOLIS - On Jan. 29, farmers, agronomists and others interested in soil health improvement will have an opportunity to attend a Conservation Cropping Systems Initiative (CCSI) field day near Vincennes. On the following day, Jan. 30, high school students are invited to take part in hands-on soil health demonstrations.

Mike Brocksmith, field day host and one of 12 CCSI farmers feels strongly that cover crops and soil health synergies are the missing link in protecting, rebuilding, and enhancing soil resources.

“The average farmer only gets to manage about 40 cropping seasons. Improving soil health is a long term process, you don’t just decide you want healthy soil and flip a switch or throw some dollar bills out there and have healthy soil.” said Brocksmith. “Improving soil health is a marathon, not a 100 yard dash. The time to start is now.”

The Jan. 29 field day will focus on providing farmers and crop advisors with tools to adopt and evaluate practices that can lead to improved soil health as well as avoid costly mistakes. To better understand the slug infestations that plagued many Midwest growers in 2013, Dr. Ron Hammond, Ohio State University will discuss slug research and control. To better understand the differences between the newer “soil health” tests, Dr Mary-Jane Orr, Purdue Agronomy Research will discuss the four commercially available tests being utilized by the CCSI.

Other presentations at the Jan. 29 event include: How to set up replicated strip trials to evaluate systems; and planter, combine, and other equipment modifications and adjustments; and avoiding chemical drift

“I was shocked to learn about some costly damages to hardwood trees from early spring herbicide applications. And Spring of 2013 made it pretty obvious that we have a lot to learn about slug control, “ said Lisa Holscher, CCSI. “This workshop is going to help both farmers and their advisors get a better handle on these issues - as well as get a better handle on what the new soil health tests are about.”

The cost to attend the Jan. 29 event for farmers and other ag professionals is $10. Registration is required by Jan. 22 and may be completed online at www.Brocksmith2014.eventbrite.com or by calling the Knox County Soil and Water Conservation District at 812-882-8210 x3.

For the following day, Jan. 30, a separate event has been designed to help the next generation of farmers and other ag professionals get a jump start on their 40 seasons to improve soil health: Area high school students are invited to participate in a series of hands-on soil health experiments at Brocksmith Farms followed by a tour of the Vincennes University. The Southwest Indiana NRCS Soil Health Team and CCSI staff will lead the demonstrations and discuss career opportunities in conservation and agriculture fields with the students.

The Jan. 30 event for students is free, however registration is required by Jan. 22. For more information or to register, contact Susan Brocksmith, Vincennes University Agribusiness Program Chair 812-888-5718 sbrocksmith@vinu.edu

The field days are presented as projects of the Conservation Cropping Systems Initiative; Brocksmith Farms; theIndiana Conservation Partnership; Vincennes University; Knox, Sullivan, Daviess and Pike SWCDs; and the West Central Indiana Watershed Alliance.