2012-02-28 / Front Page

Area Farmers Attend Cover Crop Workshop Hosted By Owen & Putnam County SWCDs

Indiana Farmers Urged To Utilize Drift Watch Website, Virtual Map
by Michael Stanley
Staff Writer


Jenna Smith, Extension Educator for Owen and Clay counties, provides a new Private Applicator Recertification Program (PARP) completion sticker to Ed Curry, a rural Spencer farmer, during a recent cover crop workshop. (Staff Photo) Jenna Smith, Extension Educator for Owen and Clay counties, provides a new Private Applicator Recertification Program (PARP) completion sticker to Ed Curry, a rural Spencer farmer, during a recent cover crop workshop. (Staff Photo) Farmers hailing from eight Indiana counties filled the Canyon Inn’s Oak Room inside McCormick’s Creek State Park on February 22 to take part in a workshop touting the benefits of cover crop usage, hosted by the soil and water conservation districts of Owen and Putnam counties.

Jenna Smith, Extension Educator for Owen and Clay counties, provided the roughly 50 farmers in attendance with updated information related to private pesticide application, along with a three-year recertification.

Smith also spoke about utilizing a website called driftwatch.org, which monitors the location of sensitive crops. The site offers interactive maps for Indiana, Ohio, Minnesota, Michigan, Illinois and Wisconsin.


Roughly 50 farmers hailing from counties as far away as Hamilton, Orange and Washington attended a recent cover crop workshop and Private Applicator Recertification Program in Spencer. The event was hosted by the Owen and Putnam County soil and water conservation districts at the Canyon Inn inside McCormick’s Creek State Park. (Staff Photo) Roughly 50 farmers hailing from counties as far away as Hamilton, Orange and Washington attended a recent cover crop workshop and Private Applicator Recertification Program in Spencer. The event was hosted by the Owen and Putnam County soil and water conservation districts at the Canyon Inn inside McCormick’s Creek State Park. (Staff Photo) Once a user has selected the state, a map displays specific areas with sensitive crops ranging from fruits and vegetables to various organic crops, beehives, fish farms, hardwood plantations and greenhouses. The site is meant to be another tool for farmers to monitor more closely their pesticide usage in an effort to help keep harmful chemicals from those sensitive areas, essentially protecting all crops. A Purdue University website, the service is maintained, but not funded by the office of the Indiana State Chemist.


Among those in attendance from Owen County were, left to right: father and son, Kevin and Clint Wampler of Gosport, Owen County Soil and Water Conservation District Board Chairman Paul Cummings, and Coal City farmer Arthur Bailey. (Staff Photo) Among those in attendance from Owen County were, left to right: father and son, Kevin and Clint Wampler of Gosport, Owen County Soil and Water Conservation District Board Chairman Paul Cummings, and Coal City farmer Arthur Bailey. (Staff Photo) “This is a pesticide sensitive crop and habitat registry, and it is completely free,” Smith said. “There are some places in Owen and Putnam counties that have been registered on this site. The individuals who utilize Drift Watch are producers of sensitive crops, private applicators and watershed coordinators. It is an interactive website, so the individuals with sensitive crops can go in there and change it from year to year to let you know where their crop has been rotated or if they have relocated their beehives. It identifies growing concerns, because there are issues with off target impacts of pesticides. Certain crops have increased in the number of acres over the past five years and they have been valued up to $210 million. Likewise, over 50 percent of pesticide complaints are related to drift, whether because it was applied incorrectly or when it was too windy – just simple things we can’t control but need to be aware of.”

Greg Downing from Cisco Systems spoke to the crowd about utilizing cover crops, focusing on annual rye grass and cereal rye. Just a handful in attendance acknowledged that they are currently planting either beneficial cover crop.

Those in attendance shared their experiences and preferences for methods of controlling annual rye grass and cereal rye with name brand and generic weed killing spray.

“I like all of these things, they all do a very special thing in our soil to improve our soil drainage and to get the activity in the biological life going,” Downing said. “So I don’t want to see annual rye grass just thrown out because people don’t want to deal with it. Annual rye grass is readily available, it’s inexpensive and there isn’t anything that we can choose that’s going to go any deeper into the soil and make an improvement as fast as that one little tiny thing of grass. It’s not very impressive to look at on top, but that’s not what’s important. So if you haven’t tried some, I don’t care if it’s ten acres, we just have to get some experience.”

Five farmers from around the area also spoke in a round-table type of discussion regarding cover crop usage. Hendricks County’s Mike Moore, Washington County’s David Soar, Morgan County’s Aaron Johnson, and Putnam County farmers Jim McCoughey and Ron Sutherlin each provided their thoughts on specific cover crops and their preference for either fly-over or traditional application.

While some were in favor of using the fly-over application method, many were opposed to the inconstancy of aircraft, especially helicopters.

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