Jerry Raynor, State Conservationist for Indiana’s USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), today announced a second round of funding to improve soil health on former mine land in southwestern Indiana. All applications for funding consideration must be received by Feb. 26.
Money is still available for the Reclaimed Coal Mine Lands Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP), led by the Knox County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD). This project works with farmers, landowners and mine operators to implement a suite of soil health practices on reclaimed mine lands in order to improve the health of the soil, reduce the amount of sediment-laden runoff reaching local waterbodies and improve wildlife habitat.
“The RCCP program is a good example of how we can leverage public dollars to solve local problems. This project has the benefit of leveraging federal funding with locally driven conservation, reclamation professionals and mining industry participants,” said Raynor. “The project has the benefit of targeting lands which have historically not had a high participation rate in conservation programs nor a significant application of soil health practices in spite of the fact that these lands would benefit more than comparable lands that have not been mined or reclaimed.”
This RCPP Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) project helps farmers implement conservation practices on their agricultural land. This project is aimed to improve roughly 175,000 acres of reclaimed mine lands that are cropped in the Indiana counties of Vigo, Clay, Sullivan, Greene, Knox, Daviess, Gibson, Pike, Dubois, Warrick and Spencer.
Reclaimed lands tend to be more erosive than comparable non-mined lands due to poor tilth and compaction layers. Sheet and rill erosion and ephemeral gullies continue to afflict these lands for years post-reclamation and is often exacerbated by tillage and low residue levels due to poor plant condition. This project is focused on promoting the implementation of a suite of conservation practices including cover crops, nutrient management, no till and pest management.