CONSERVATION AGENCIES ADDRESS WATER QUALITY IN A BIG WAY!
With issues concerning water quality in the headlines everywhere you look these days, some might say we are setting ourselves up for the “perfect storm”. Adams Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) along with several local, state and federal partners is working hard to combat the “perfect storm” with their own “perfect CONSERVATION storm”. Here’s how…
Water Quality Protection Program
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) awarded the Adams SWCD a grant as part of the 2015 Mississippi River Basin Healthy Watersheds Initiative (MRBI). Titled the “Upper Ohio Brush Creek Watershed Water Quality Improvement Project”, this grant will provide Environmental Quality Incentive Program (EQIP) funds for producers in the focus area to complete conservation practices that improve overall soil health, reduce erosion, and curb nutrient leaching. This $800,000 EQIP project will be available for the next four years.
The project focus area encompasses five 40 square mile sub-watersheds of the Upper Ohio Brush Creek Watershed which extend throughout northwestern Adams and adjoining areas of Brown and Highland Counties. These sub-watersheds include: Little West Fork Ohio Brush Creek, Headwaters West Fork Ohio Brush Creek, Cherry Fork, Georges Creek-West Fork Ohio Brush Creek, and Little East Fork-Ohio Brush Creek. The SWCD chose this area of focus due to the high density of livestock producers and crop fields, as well as Ohio EPA’s designation as “impaired” due to excessive sediment and nutrients.
The SWCD will promote cover crops and inter-seeding pastures as the two primary practices to protect water quality and reduce soil erosion. According to Lee Walker, Resource Conservationist with NRCS, “other available practices will include crop rotation with perennials, grass waterways, forage and biomass plantings, pipelines, watering facilities, subsurface drains, access roads, heavy use areas, stream crossings, spring development, nutrient management and prescribed grazing.”
Interested producers may submit applications for EQIP at any time. To be considered for funding this year, submit an application by June 19, 2015. Applications received by this date will be ranked according to their overall environmental benefit. Those providing the highest environmental benefit will be selected for funding this year. Contact the NRCS office located in the USDA Service Center at 807 NE Main St. #B, West Union, Ohio for applications.
New No-till Drill and Lime Spreader Available for Rent
The Adams SWCD purchased a Haybuster 10 foot no-till drill to help producers install cover crops, filter strips, and waterways, or to seed pastures and manage conservation crop rotations. Producers can rent the drill for a nominal fee ($10 /acre). The drill can also seed warm season grasses, a common Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) practice. Along with the rental comes the technical assistance of Adams SWCD’s newest employee, Richard Purdin. Richard will assist producers with seeding recommendations according to NRCS standards, soil testing and recommendations, as well as properly setting up the drill.
Our long time conservation partner, Farm Bureau (FB), has also become more proactive about water quality. Ohio FB pledged $1 million statewide to help county Farm Bureaus improve water quality. As such, Adams County Farm Bureau received $20,617 to help purchase the no-till drill as well as a 3 ton lime spreader. The Adams SWCD owns and rents out both pieces of equipment to enable better use of our land, reduce erosion and nutrient leaching into our waters. Because of FB’s generous contribution towards the acquisition of this equipment, FB members will receive a 50 percent rental rate discount until November 2016.
87 Acre Demonstration Farm
The Adams SWCD wanted a demonstration farm to share information with producers about cover crops and such in an outdoor setting. Dayton Power and Light is generously donating 87 acres to the SWCD to create this demonstration farm, which is located on Peterson Road, just off of SR 32. Here, Adams SWCD staff plans to plant test plots of different cover crops and host field days. This farm will no doubt prove invaluable in “selling” cover crops and producers will be welcome to visit the test plots throughout the various stages of growth at their leisure. Watch this paper or our website for upcoming field days.
Soon, the Adams SWCD offices will relocate from the Adams County Government Center back into the USDA Service Center to facilitate delivery of the MRBI program and to better serve our customers. Our phone number (937-544-1010) will remain the same. Our new address will be: 807 NE Main St., #B, West Union, OH, 45693. We will post all the latest information on our website so that you may stay on top of what is happening in our world of conservation (adamssoilandwater.org).
Bill Wickerham, Adams SWCD District Manager/Wildlife Specialist summed it up by saying, “together all of these agencies are devoting the time, tools, technical assistance as well as the financial assistance to truly help producers in making a real difference in our water quality.” We would like to thank the following partnering agencies/organizations and representatives/staff for their contribution and/or support of this important conservation work:
Adams, Brown, and Highland SWCD’s Supervisor’s and Staff
USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service
ODNR Division of Soil and Water Resources
Adams County Board of Commissioners
Dayton Power and Light
Adams, Brown and Highland OSU Extension
Ohio Federation of Soil and Water Conservation Districts
ODNR Division of Wildlife
USDA Farm Service Agency
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