Indiana farmers are on a Health Kick! Soil Health is soil managed to its maximum potential through a system of conservation practices, including never-till, cover crops, advanced nutrient and pest management, and buffers and drainage systems where appropriate. This approach results in healthy soil that reduces erosion, requires less nutrient inputs, manages the effects of flood and drought, and reduces nutrient and sediment loading to streams and rivers. Indiana success with this approach, being promoted through the Conservation Cropping Systems Initiative, is getting national attention and will be a focus of NRCS this year.
Mike Starkey says you have to be a good manager to make soil health management systems work. Producers should gradually “grow into it,” Mike says, and they should be open minded and willing to learn from their peers. Mike has done all of that, and it’s paying dividends on his farm. Watch video
Rodney Rulon and his family were a little bit reluctant to get started with cover crops. They didn’t have any experience with covers, and so they started with about 60 acres their first year. But the Arcadia, Indiana family soon saw the benefits and now have about 3,000 acres “under cover.” More importantly, they’re very pleased with the results. Watch the video: Profile in soil health: Rodney Rulon.
Thanks to his focus on soil health, Jack Maloney says his yields have increased on his “Little Ireland Farms” every year for the past 10 years. “It hasn’t been easy,” he says, “but with the right attitude, you can make it work.”See video
Dan DeSutter is focusing on the long-term, but says he’s already seeing improved yields and better water infiltration on his farm thanks to his soil health management system. Watch video
Indiana Soil Health Briefings
In May 2016, the Indiana NRCS Soil Health Team joined forces with Indiana Prairie Farmer to promote their passion of soil health through monthly articles titled “A Salute to Soil Health.”
The articles are provided to help Indiana landowners understand the fundamentals of soil ecology, what they can do to build soil health on their farm and how to work with their farming partners to increase their land’s long-term production potential. For nearly five years now, the team submits between three to six monthly articles regarding a soil health topic. These briefings are published on the Indiana Prairie Farmer website and in its print magazine. What sets them apart from the others is that their stories are not only in being utilized Indiana, but all over the country – most recently in South Dakota.
Soil is a living and life-giving substance, without which we would perish. As world population and food production demands rise, keeping our soil healthy and productive is of paramount importance. So much so that we believe improving the health of our Nation’s soil is one of the most important endeavors of our time.
By focusing more attention on soil health and by educating our customers and the public about the positive impact healthy soils can have on productivity and conservation, we can help our Nation’s farmers and ranchers feed the world more profitably and sustainably – now and for generations to come.
The resources on this soil health section of our site are designed to help visitors understand the basics and benefits of soil health – and to learn about Soil Health Management Systems from farmers who are using those systems.
Indiana NRCS leadership will make the relentless pursuit of functioning soil health a priority for all NRCS employees in Indiana. This decision is based on the positive resource benefits achieved from the promotion of soil health through conservation cropping systems across the state over the past several years.
The Indiana Conservation Cropping Systems Initiative (CCSI) promotes a systematic approach to production agriculture focusing on continuous no-till/strip till, cover crops, precision farming, and nutrient and pest management. This will result in improved soil quality, water quality and profitability on Indiana cropland. The CCSI is a resource for the 92 Indiana Soil and Water Conservation Districts to carry out their conservation cropping systems goals and objectives.
A new report from the USDA North Central Region Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program and the Conservation Technology Information Center (CTIC) indicates that farmers who used cover crops in drought-affected parts of the country last summer had better corn and soybean yields than those who didn’t. Cover crops are a critical management component in soil health management systems.