Area farmers took the opportunity to learn more about their soil and how to keep it healthy Tuesday at the Burney Clay Volunteer Firehouse in Decatur County.

Purdue professors Dr. Eileen Kladivko and Dr. Jim Camberato were here all day and gave a well received talk and demonstration of potential delivery of nutrients to surface waters and the methods to mitigate nutrient loading through the systems.

They talked of phosphorus and Nitrogen cycling and the use and effectiveness of Urease and Nitrification inhibitors, manures as a nutrient source. Urease activity often increases the pH of its environment as it produces ammonia, a basic molecule. Ureases are found in numerous bacteria, fungi, algae, plants and some invertebrates, as well as in soils, as a soil enzyme.

Rick Scranton, certified crop advisor, with many years in the field and Decatur County farmers Gordon and Jeff Smiley and leaders in soil conservation, told of their experiences with No-til and/or cover crop systems. They also talked about the equipment needed and/or used for No-til and Next –level.

After lunch Barry Fisher and Tony Bailey talked of application limits for soil health considerations, manure types and their effects and the buildup of salts, P and other issues. Fisher is a veteran of NRCS and the State Soil Health Specialist for Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and Tony Bailey is Indiana’s NRCS Nutrient Management Specialist.

Dr. Hans Kok, and Barry Fisher gave a talk titled, “You Can’t starve your way to soil health,” and talked of the effects of practices and systems on organic matter and the role of nutrients in building soil organic matter. Dr. Kok, CCA, is an agricultural consultant based out of Indianapolis is an advocate for conservation tillage and bio-energy.

Local farmer Roger Wenning and Mike Hughes were also present at Tuesday’s gathering to answer questions. Wenning serves on the district Soil and Conservation board and has been elected to the state board where he serves as secretary and Hughes services as District Conservationist, NRCS. Jenna Nicholson, District Coordinator of the Soil and Water Conservation District helped plan the event.

The main topic of the day was the advantages of soil testing. There are many advantages when soil is tested so that the nutrient needs for a particular crop are met. It was emphasized that all phosphorus applications should be based on the results of a soil test and the recommendations of Purdue University. Soil samples should be taken every four years or less.

Several examples of soil samples were on display at the event showing the before and after using the recommendations. It was stressed during the day that healthy soil has the ability to give us clean air and water, better crops and wooded areas, good grazing fields, healthy and varied wildlife as well as better looking farms.

Contact: Pat Smith 812-663-3111 x 7011;