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News Release

ATTENTION FARMERS IN THE WESTERN LAKE ERIE BASIN WATERSHED! SAVE MONEY, SAVE SOIL, SAVE TIME!

News Release - Indiana

United States Department of Agriculture
Natural Resources Conservation Service

6013 Lakeside Boulevard
Indianapolis, IN  46278
www.in.nrcs.usda.gov

Indianapolis, IN, March 27, 2012 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture is making conservation dollars available to farmers in northeast Indiana as part of an effort to improve water quality in Lake Erie. Farmers have until April 27, 2012 to apply for the conservation funds at their local USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) office.

“This is a good opportunity for farmers in the Western Lake Erie Basin to put additional conservation on the ground that will improve water quality and the health of their soil on their land. These efforts provide the added bonus of helping them reduce fuel and fertilizer costs,” said Jane Hardisty, NRCS State Conservationist.

The NRCS has allocated $280,000 from the Environmental Quality Incentive Program for assisting farmers who want to use conservation practices in the Indiana portion of the Western Lake Erie Basin priority area. The area includes parts of Adams, Allen, DeKalb, Noble, Steuben, and Wells counties. These will help farmers apply conservation practices that will help prevent nutrients and sediment from their land from entering Lake Erie.

The Western Lake Erie Basin is a priority area because of an increase of algal blooms in the lake over the past five years. Increased levels of phosphorus in surface water contribute to algal blooms. The blooms diminish water quality and are harmful to fish and other aquatic wildlife. Agricultural land in the Western Lake Erie Basin was determined to be one of the sources of increased phosphorus in surface water due to water and wind erosion.

Conservation planners recommend a core group of conservation practices to keep precious top soil from eroding off fields, to improve the quality of the soil, and to keep costly agricultural inputs from running off of the field. Using conservation tillage, cover crops, conservation crop rotations, field borders, and buffers along waterways go a long way towards preventing soil erosion from both wind and water. A combination of practices is the most effective at curbing nutrient and sediment loss.  It takes a long time, hundreds of years, to form an inch of soil. Once it’s gone, it’s usually gone for a lifetime; it pays to keep soil in place.

Using the right fertilizer source, at the right rate, at the right time, with the right placement (the 4Rs) are also critical to keep phosphorus out of Lake Erie. Practicing the 4Rs also saves money; phosphorus that stays on the field will be used by the crop to grow, not used by the algae. Better crop growth increases the chance of higher yields. 

To learn more about the financial and technical assistance available to save soil, keep phosphorus on the field and out of Lake Erie, and ultimately improve agricultural productivity, visit the local NRCS office or online at www.in.nrcs.usda.gov and click on Programs. A listing of NRCS offices in Indiana can also be found online at http://go.usa.gov/EEK.  Work with an NRCS District Conservationist to apply for the Western Lake Erie Basin Environmental Quality Incentives Program. We’re accepting applications until Friday, April 27, 2012. 

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Contacts:

Jane Hardisty, State Conservationist, 317.295.5801 (jane.hardisty@in.usda.gov)

Jill Reinhart, Assistant State Conservationist, Special Projects, 317.295.5883, jill.reinhart@in.usda.gov

Rebecca Fletcher, State Public Affairs Specialist, 317.295.5825 (rebecca.fletcher@in.usda.gov)

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