Indianapolis, February 14, 2018 – Jill Reinhart, Acting State Conservationist for Indiana’s USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) announced today a second round of funding to improve water quality in two targeted watersheds in northern Indiana. All applications for funding consideration must be received by March 16, 2018.
Dollars are still available for the “Indiana Watershed Initiative” Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP), led by the University of Notre Dame. This project is helping to strengthen agricultural operations and improve water quality in the Shatto Ditch watershed located in Kosciusko County and the Kirkpatrick Ditch watershed located in Newton, Jasper and Benton counties.
“The RCCP program is a good example of how we can leverage public dollars to solve local problems. The university is providing water quality data directly to farmers, allowing them to take control and make decisions about the resource issues on their land,” said Reinhart. “Farmers can see the impacts of cover crops on water quality and their bottom line. That results in more buy-in and a return on investment in conservation that benefits natural resources.”
RCPP is funded through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program to help farmers put in conservation practices. These practices improve water quality by reducing the amount of nutrients and sediment flowing off farm fields into waterways and build soil health which can make crops more resilient during times of extreme weather.
To date this project has been focused on promoting planting winter cover crops and installing two-stage ditches as solutions to nutrient and sediment loss from cropland. Now farmers can sign up for two new practices which provide similar environmental benefits. Saturated buffers use a subsurface distribution pipe to divert and spread water from the drainage system to a vegetated area to allow more saturation. Denitrifying bioreactors are a simple technology that remove nitrates from agricultural drainage waters. These structures contain a slowly degrading carbon source, such as woodchips that neutralizes the water as it passes through.
"This project demonstrates how conservation solutions can help farmer boost their productivity, while protecting the natural resources we all depend on,” Reinhart said.