November 2010 //
Vol. 28 // No. 3
Oct 19, 2010
Read about Oklahoma's partnership promoting no-till wheat, milled locally into flour. The program supports both conservation and community supported agriculture.
Photo:  Great Plains Resource
Conservation and Development.
       Indian Creek Watershed Steering
       Committee will lead the planning
       for education and outreach events
       during the project.
// PROJECT SPOTLIGHT //
Indian Creek Watershed Project
Conservation Systems at Work
By Christa Martin Jones

The Conservation Technology Information Center (CTIC) and Illinois’ Livingston County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) will lead a project to demonstrate the efficacy, value and impact of agricultural conservation systems on watershed environmental health. Project partners include Illinois EPA (with funding provided through Section 319 of the Clean Water Act) and USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).

The project goal:  To determine what water quality improvements result when 50-75 percent of producers and acres in a small watershed adopt comprehensive agriculture conservation systems over a six-year period.

Indian Creek farmers will receive educational, technical, financial and social support to develop, implement and maintain comprehensive conservation systems on their operations. CTIC will direct nitrogen rate plots, nutrient efficiency studies and demonstration areas that will determine the impact of conservation systems on nitrogen. Efforts also will focus on management protocols for avoiding herbicide resistance.

To date, USDA-NRCS awarded $1,010,000 to support producers’ best resource management practices. Partners identified several local producers willing to conduct plot studies and demonstrations on their farms, and formed a steering committee to guide the project.

Agrotain, CNH, John Deere, The Mosaic Company and The Fertilizer Institute agreed to contribute funding, materials, equipment and/or technical assistance.
 

Fairbury Mayor Bob Walter discussed the Indian Creek Watershed Project with farmer John Traub.
 
And, Conservation Technology Information Center contracted with Reetz Agronomics, LLC to design demonstration sites and nutrient use efficiency studies. Dr. Harold F. Reetz, Jr., an independent agronomy consultant, specializes in high yield production systems, precision agriculture and research and education programs in crop and soil management. He will lead efforts to measure the effectiveness of how farmers manage fertilizer and manure and will demonstrate various systems of best management practices for reducing negative effects of nutrients on water quality in Indian Creek and downstream.

Indian Creek farmers will receive educational, technical, financial and social support to develop, implement and maintain comprehensive conservation systems on their operations. CTIC will direct nitrogen rate plots, nutrient efficiency studies and demonstration areas that will determine the impact of different systems and practices on nitrogen. Efforts also will focus on management protocols for avoiding herbicide resistance.
 
To date, USDA-NRCS awarded $1,010,000 through the Mississippi River Basin Initiative to support producers’ best resource management practices. Partners conducted a survey of current practices and producer perceptions about water quality,  identified several local producers willing to conduct plot studies and demonstrations on their farms, and formed a steering committee to guide the project.

Indian Creek Watershed

The 82-square mile drainage area (52,480 acres) of Indian Creek Watershed flows to the South Fork of the Vermilion River, one of the USDA Mississippi River Basin Initiative focus areas. Agriculture dominates the watershed – 95 percent of the land is tillable, and most of that is in a corn/soybean rotation, although there are numerous livestock operations. The average farm size is 500 acres. The City of Fairbury, the only urban population within the watershed, consists of approximately 4,000 people. The major resource concern for Indian Creek watershed is water quality, particularly nitrate levels. Located in the southern portion of Livingston County, the watershed drains northward to the Vermilion River and the cities of Pontiac and Streator.

Farmer Participation

Farmer leaders, with experience making conservation work, serve on the project steering committee. Every farmer in the watershed will be contacted to participate in the project and implement conservation practices as part of a system. Select farmers will host demonstration areas on their fields to showcase nutrient efficiency technologies, equipment or other practices. Several demonstration areas will be planned for 2011, including variable rate nitrogen application, cover crops and enhanced efficiency fertilizers.

CTIC will invite farmers within the watershed and surrounding areas/counties to attend project events, such as field days and winter meetings and tours, to provide technology transfer and information exchange as well as networking and learning opportunities.

The project steering committee plans to meet again on November 8, 2010 and hold an event for all Indian Creek agricultural producers in late November or early December 2010.
 

Demonstration Areas

Sponsors Needed

CTIC and Livingston County SWCD seek sponsors for demonstration areas within the watershed. Demonstration areas will highlight the economic and environmental benefits of innovative agricultural products and practices, and showcase comparisons of control plots and plots applying sponsors’ products and practices.

CTIC, Livingston County Soil and Water Conservation District, Reetz Agronomics, and producers will work with sponsors to develop and evaluate the plot comparisons. Partners will acknowledge sponsors through outreach materials, news releases, placed articles and CTIC’s web site, throughout the project period and final report.

Tier One - $11,000/year
Showcase Demonstration Area. Sponsor product used in a demonstration area, which will be featured in project field days, producer information packets, news releases and outreach material. Sponsor logo on signs, producer packets, outreach material and web site.

Tier Two - $5,000/year
Sponsor product used in conjunction with other products in a project demonstration area. Information from demonstration will be included in producer information packets, news releases and outreach material. Sponsor logo on signs, outreach material, web site.

Tier Three - $2,500/year
Sponsor name included in promotion of project, field days, news releases and outreach material. Sponsor name included on outreach material, web site and final report.

For more information on this project, contact Christa Jones, jones@ctic.org, 317-508-2450.  For information about sponsoring the project, contact Karen Scanlon, scanlon@ctic.org, 765-494-9555.