Obviously this has been a very difficult year for most farmers, and although most of the crops were eventually planted, there are fields scattered across the county that did not get planted. On those fields farmers have been trying to make the best decisions possible with the information available, which in itself has been updated several times. The SWCD has made every effort to get the latest information to producers as soon as it reached our hands, and we continue to do that.
If you are still in a situation where you have an unplanted field, it is not too late to do something, and particularly, planting a cover crop. The federal guidelines, potential cost share, crop insurance considerations, etc., have all seemed to evolve almost daily, but below is the latest information we know of at this point in time, and the quickest way to get this to you is through this means. If you have questions, please call NRCS (765) 482-6355 Ext.3, your local FSA office Tipton (765) 675-2316, Boone (765) 482-6355, Madison (765) 644-4249, or the Hamilton County SWCD (317) 773-2181.
New "EQIP Disaster Relief" recently available !
If you are interested in funding for cover crops on your prevented planting acres the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) may help. Funding has recently became available. Up to $28/acre may qualify! Deadline is August 9! NOTE: You must get enrolled in the program prior to planting the cover crop, and there are some restrictions on the cover crops chosen (i.e. 50% of the seed mix has to be winter hardy).
The phone numbers for local USDA-Farm Service Agencies are, Tipton (765) 675-2316, Boone (765) 482-6355, Madison (765) 644-4249.
Attached to this email are the application forms and information about this program for your reference, please return the CCC-1200 form application pages 1-4, the 1199 direct deposit form and maps of the locations you wish to plant to the NRCS office by August 9th. See attached forms.
The EQIP program has special incentives (special audiences) for military veterans, beginning farmers and agricultural landowners with limited means. To be eligible as a Limited Resource farmer the applicant must have an average household income below the poverty level for that county. If the land is under the control of an entity all members of that entity would have to be meet the criteria of special groups in order for the entity to qualify (i.e. all trust member must be veterans to receive veteran preference), see the application for more information.
2019 Market Facilitation Program Update
USDA recently announced the payment rates and program information for the 2019 Market Facilitation Program (MFP), geared toward farmers whose commodities may have been impacted by recent trade disputes. Information about the program is available at link below. In summary, payments will be divided into three tranches, with the first payable in mid-to-late August. For Hamilton County, total payments will amount to $70/acre of eligible 2019 planted crops. Cover crops on prevented planting ground are eligible for a $15/acre payment, but must be planted by August 1, 2019.
FSA emphasized that to be eligible to receive the MFP Payments, a producer must have certified all of their cropland. This means certification of planted acres, as well as certification of acres on which prevented planting claims were filed. The certification deadline has passed (7/22/19). Late certification is possible with payment of a $46 late fee per farm. Planting a cover crop does not affect your eligibility for MFP payment on your regular acres of planted cropland. Failing to certify all of your acreage will impact your eligibility. Cover crops should be certified within 15-days of planting.
Federal Crop Insurance
From a crop-insurance perspective, there is no direct financial incentive to plant cover crops, though there are obvious benefits to soil health and fertility. Your 2019 actual production history (APH yields) will not be impacted for prevented planting acres, regardless of cover-crop status. Your APH may be impacted by poor yields this year. If farmers elected to purchase the “Yield Exclusion” option available with their federally subsidized crop insurance, their APH will be spared if the 2019 county average yield falls at least 50-percent below the county’s average yield for that crop for the past 10 years. (For example, in 2012, Hamilton County received Yield Exclusion for their yellow corn yields, while Madison and Tipton counties did not.). More information on the yield exclusion is available below.
Ginger Davis, Conservation Administrator
The Soil and Water Conservation District along with two neighborhoods, James Place and Wellington Northeast in Noblesville have been discussing what could be done with Stony Creek to help reduce erosion and to recreate the flowing stream that once flowed from Greenfield Avenue down to White River. After investigating and talking with experts, it was suggested that the quality urban habitat and stream conditions were well suited to investigate the issue further. With the awarded $40,000 grant through the Lake and River Enhancement, an engineering feasibility study will help determine the best course of action to address the stream bank issues, downcutting issues, and the influence from low head dams in the area. The goal of the Department of Natural Resources, Division of Fish & Wildlife's Lake and River Enhancement (LARE) Program is to protect and enhance aquatic habitat for fish and wildlife, and to ensure the continued viability of Indiana's publicly accessible lakes and streams for multiple uses, including recreational opportunities.
The stream, which once flowed along a 1,900-foot bend in the stream along the edge of James Place, now takes a 500-foot shortcut through the land of the Welling ton Northeast homeowners. That is a loss of 1,400 feet of stream habitat, along with several tons of sediment that is making its way down Stony Creek and the White River. As a result, the homeowners have seen a loss of land and increase in long lasting flooding conditions in their backyards. Additional speed (rate of flow) of Stony creek is likely due to the increase slope in the short-cut making bank erosion more serious as Stony Creek makes its way to the White River. The grant is necessary due to the complexity of the project and the potential for loss to infrastructure in this area.
The original Stony Creek channel was blocked during a utility crossing and has progressively been further blocked over the years causing an unnatural meander cut-off to occur. Erosion of the side channel due to this alignment causes significant erosion with continual loss of trees and other sources of bank stability. The original channel area has been used as a utility crossing, which may have been the source of blockage. This crossing has been utilized for many years and local accounts mention that the area has been filled with stone by utility workers. We believe that the excess stone from utilities crossing, along with the construction of the under-stream sewage line, stream realignment in between the late 1980’s and early 1990’s under Greenfield Ave during road reconstruction, and construction of a low head dam in the 1960’s, all have contributed to the issue at hand.
The channel diversion has cut through to an area that previously had a minor drainage feature. Visual evidence has suggested that this channel is experiencing downcutting and bank loss at an extremely fast rate. Aerial imagery shows that in one particular location since 2009, approximately 1,400 square feet of bank has been lost. This channel, once only 5.6 ft wide is now averaging 28 ft. Along the new short-cut, an estimated 8,750 square feet of land area has been impacted by erosion and carried to the White River.
The original channel has a legal drain that enters into it from the north which historically was a location of the Bridgestone Clean-up site. PCB levels in Fish Tissue have retreated below detection level in this area along with well samples and other measurements taken from this area showing that the PCBs are not an issue. Restoring this area to a recreational asset would be of benefit to the community as a result of this.
A low head dam constructed in the late 1950's and rerouting of the stream in the late 80s early 90s may also have been catalysts to this adjustment. These stresses on the system, caused the stream to actively cut off a meander, which has caused significant bank erosion and head cutting of the stream. We believe that if left unaddressed this channel head cutting will proceed under the bridge of Greenwood Avenue. This would compromise the structural integrity of the bridge-- making it a potential hazard for the community. The head cutting may continue adjusting upstream to the low head dam. There would be the potential for the low head dam to become more dangerous to recreational users with an enlarged plunge pool. The high-quality steam upstream of the dam has been restored for wetland function and would be a great location for aquatic species to retreat to during flooding events from the White River.
However, the low head dam makes it impossible for fish and other aquatic wildlife to move upstream to calmer waters during a flooding event. The low head dam in this area blocks sediment and therefore has been filling in the recreational pond with sediment making it much more like a stream in recent years.
The LARE funded engineering feasibility study will be conducted by a third party to determine the best method to address the situation in this area to make it much more stable and allow for increased habitat in this urban center.
By Jenny Blake- Conservation/Outreach Technician
Noblesville West Middle School Garden Club and HCSWCD Partner to Develop Accessible Raised Garden Beds
Andrew Fritz, Urban Agriculture Conservationist
Accessible raised garden beds offer accessibility for persons with physical disabilities, persons who use a wheelchair, or for some who experience limitations in their physical range of motion. This poses a unique opportunity to explore novel and sustainable ways of creating a raised garden bed to meet the needs of persons with physical disabilities and support a healthy garden. For a raised garden bed to be successful, it must support a lot of weight especially when the soil is wet, be deep enough for roots to grow, allow for persons in wheelchairs to not only fit underneath the raised bed but be able to reach across it as well, and it should last for more than a few years by delaying decay while avoiding treated lumber for food safety purposes.
But this is a opportunity that Emily Crapnell, Noblesville West Middle School science teacher and Garden Club sponsor, reached out to the HCSWCD urban agriculture program for assistance in 2018. The Garden Club, started in 2013, was in the process of a renovating their garden space which now required raised beds with some of them being accessible.
Traditional accessible raised garden beds (like this one) tend to rot or sag within a few years and do not allow for a person in a chair to reasonably reach all areas of the garden. Other raised bed options were cost prohibitive, like the Terraform Wheelchair Accessible Garden. Furthermore, the VegTrug, regretfully not discovered until this year, has a biodegradable permeable liner that allows water to come into contact with the wood. This means that the liner would need to be replaced on occasion presenting a cumbersome maintenance challenge.
With no other viable options to meet our needs, we decided to design and build one ourselves. After some searching, we discovered accessible raised beds from the Sedona Winds Assisted Living Healing Garden, which became our primary source of inspiration. The design was contemporary, clean, and used sturdy construction that would hold up over time. Conversations with Sedona Winds indicated that they were a success, too.
After conceptualizing the design through sketching and diagramming, the design was imported in SketchUp to help us visualize how users could interact with it.
The materials being used varied in size to achieve the look we were hoping for. We avoided using treated lumber and used only food-grade plastics (HDPE) to line the trough of the bed. The bottom of the trough would include a drainage pipe to decrease water-logging and, therefore, weight. Furthermore, the design would be fitted with irrigation.
Additional Model Images
Constructing First Raised Garden Bed
Together, we built the first bed to work out any kinks. Ideally, the project would require at least two people. And, if you had to build more than one, you could do so easily by cutting two (or more) of everything you needed.
The finished beds look and function as planned! Should you choose to construct something similar, consider the following recommendations:
Jenny Blake, Conservation Technician/Outreach Assistant