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Success Stories Brian Spurgin - Indiana

Brian Spurgin
16070 Bentonville Rd
Milton, IN 47357
Fayette County

Brian Spurgin.

Brian Spurgin has been a grain and livestock producer for over 30 years. He raises corn, soybeans and wheat on 800 acres of cropland. He also runs a 30 head cow-calf operation on 30 acres of pasture and 25 acres of hay ground. In addition to being a conservation minded farmer, Brian serves on the Fayette County Soil & Water Conservation District (SWCD) board for 16 years, some of that time as chairman. He has also served regionally as a Region Representative for the State Association of SWCDs, and statewide as Secretary of the Association.

Brian's conservation ethic has driven him to be a conservation leader, advocate and innovator in Fayette County over the last 15 years. He began integrating conservation tillage in his production systems in 1989. In 2006 he completed his transformation to a complete no-till system with some help from the Environmental Quality Incentive Program (EQIP). After consultation with the local NRCS staff, Brian recently added cover crops to his rotation, using annual rye grass and winter wheat to build soil quality.

Brian has integrated nutrient and pest management as part of his livestock waste utilization. He balances the nutrients that he applies to his fields and pastures assuring that they are utilized by the crops he is growing, and improving soil health and reducing the overall amount of nutrients he has to buy and apply. He was one of the first landowners in his area to exclude his livestock from the perennial flowing stream on his farm. Additionally, he planted a 15 acre riparian buffer along the stream to help stabilize the bank and protect the quality of the water in the stream. Brian has installed a spring development to provide a dependable and clean source of water for his cattle so that he could divide his pastures into paddocks and set them up for rotational grazing. He annually completes pasture restorations and renovations to improve the quality of the forages he raises.

Working with a forestry consultant, Brian manages his woodlands by completing selective harvests and forest stand improvement. The following list of practices he has integrated in his operation help to illustrate the variety of soil characteristics and types, and management units that Brian's farm includes. They also help to demonstrate the high level of conservation treatment that he applies to his operation:

No-Till

Waster Storage Facility

Cover Crops

Waste Utilization

Grassed Waterways

Nutrient Management

Subsurface Drains

Pest Management

Grade Stabilization Structures

Heavy Use Area Protection

Flared Inlet

Spring Development

Pasture & Hayland Planting

Riparian Forest Buffer

Rotational (Prescribed) Grazing

 

Forest Stand Improvement

 


Brian has consulted with NRCS staff on many different levels from conservation planning on his farm to construction of practices in the field to promotion of conservation programs to other producers in his community. Brian consults closely with the District Conservationist in the local office to do the conservation planning on his farm. Brian was quoted as saying, "I rely on the NRCS staff to help plan, design, layout and guide installation on my conservation practices because I want to do it the right way, and I know they will give me good advice. They always work with me to accomplish my objectives and I trust what they say. I would not have made the transition to no-till farming without their support and assistance." Over the last 20 years Brian has worked with 5 different District Conservationists on his farm. He attributes the beginning of his involvement with the local SWCD to the District Conservationist who first encouraged him to volunteer to serve as a SWCD supervisor. Through the years, Brian has encouraged or inspired a number of other local producers to visit to the NRCS office to find out about conservation practices and conservation programs.

One of the biggest diversity challenges Brian faces in conservation farming is over 50% of his cropland is classified as Highly Erodible Land (HEL). He farms on 6 different soil types in 8 different mapping units with three different slope ranges including A, B and C slopes. They range from low flood plains to prime farmland to upland slopes with a high potential to erode. Each soil has a different productive capability and fertility needs. The steepest slopes are the soils that Brian uses for hay production and rotational grazing so that they are productive and protected.

As Brian has integrated conservation into his operations over the year, he has also stepped forward in his community to support overall conservation efforts in Fayette County and in Indiana. Besides his voluntary service as a local SWCD Board Member as a Region Representative and statewide officer with the Indiana Association of SWCDs, he coordinates and sponsors local events working with the Fayette County SWCD to bring conservation support to other producers in the county with workshops and field days. It is his way of returning what he has received from others, and at the same time have a larger impact on soil and water resources in his community and the state.