My name is Dave Bradway. I follow Ginger Davis as the new Conservation Administrator for the SWCD. I went to Ball State University where I graduated with a degree in environmental management. I focused in several areas in college: water resources, energy, chemistry and German language. I have worked in the public sector for one of the country’s oldest wastewater pretreatment organizations supervising sampling of industries, storm water and surface water and in the private sector as the environmental manager for a large paper recycling company. I am also the president of a local mountain bike advocacy organization.
When I think about conservation, I consider both the bigger picture of conservation on a broad scale and a local level. How is what I am doing at home affecting the county, state, region, etc.? I think about the miles I drive to work and wonder what difference it would make if I rode my bicycle to commute once or a few times per week. If I remove invasive species on my property and explain why to my neighbors, will this affect the overall program of invasive removal? Where is the water that is running off my roof, gutters, and property ending up, and how can I conserve this water to help ensure the water quality of ponds and streams around me?
The answer to all these questions lies in the fact that the decisions we make influence the world around us. If I ride my bike, that is less gas I burn and less traffic for someone else on their commute. If I talk to my neighbor, they may remove invasive species and plant native species in their yard because of our conversation. If I collect some or all my runoff in a rain barrel or rain garden, it will sequester any contaminants from entering larger and larger waterbodies.
Conservation to me means taking approaches to the environment around us that maintain or improve its sustainability; the idea that we should leave the environment the way we found it or better. The reality is not as easy as the idea. Our commutes might be too far to ride or we may not know how to identify invasive species, but the first step towards conservation is the consideration of our effects.
What does conservation mean to you? Email your response or additional questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Diane Turner - Conservation Technician & Outreach Assistant
In July 2021, a population of spotted lanternfly (Lycorma delicatula) was identified in Switzerland County, Indiana near the Ohio River. DEPP and USDA are conducting surveys to ascertain the extent and source of the infestation as well as determine what management strategies will be implemented.
Spotted lanternfly is a major pest of concern across most of the United States. This insect is native to China and parts of India, Vietnam, Japan and Taiwan. It was first identified as an invasive species in 2004 in South Korea and is now a major pest there. Spotted lanternfly was first detected in the United States in Pennsylvania in 2014.
This insect is a planthopper with a distinctive wing pattern. Wings are held downward and folded when the insect is at rest. The forewings, which are visible in the resting position, are greyish with black spots and the wing tips show a network of veins. Part of the hind wings is red with black spots and the remainder is white and black. Adults are approximately one inch long from the head to the end of the folded wings. The abdomen is yellowish with black bands. Adults may not be seen flying (as they are weak flyers) but will likely be seen hopping or crawling.
Mark McCauley, Resource Conservationist
The Indiana State Department of Agriculture (ISDA), The Nature Conservancy and partners throughout the state have worked with the USDA Risk Management Agency (RMA) to establish an initiative in the West Fork Upper White River watershed counties to increase cover crop usage in Indiana. Our focus for this program is to target first time cover crop users in an effort to expand awareness and the adoption of cover crops as a tool to improve farm resiliency.
This program is providing a $5/acre crop insurance premium discount for farmers who employ a cover crop on insured acres in the Upper White River watershed. We will be promoting year round to raise awareness and give farmers time to plan for a cover crop in the Fall. More detailed info on how to apply and FAQs can be found at the button below.
Kris Gertz, Office Coordinator
The judging for the 7th Annual Hamilton County SWCD Photo Contest is complete. Thank you to all are photographers, judges, and social media judges. This year’s judges Micheal Jack, Hamilton County resident and talented photographer, Emily Archer, Graduate Art student, and our Soil & Water Conservation District Board Member, Amanda Egler selected winners from many beautiful entries! Winners in the Nature’s Renewal contest were Steven Gass, adult and Ben Boyce, youth.
New this Year is the People’s Choice Award. Winners were chosen on our Social media platforms. The winners were Tristen Defoe, adult and youth winner Ben Boyce.
All photos submitted are available to view on the Hamilton County SWCD website by clicking here.
Mulching with Organic Materials in the Small Community Garden: A View into How GrowLocal Urban Gardens Network Mulches
Even if not considered the most exciting part of gardening, mulching can be a simple source of many benefits. Some benefits of mulching are weed suppression, soil moisture retention, increased soil organic matter, temperature regulation, erosion reduction, decreased soil compaction, and the improvement of a garden's appearance, among others. Mulch supports the soil health principle of keeping the ground covered and is commonly defined as any plant or suitable material applied to the land surface. In other words, almost any material used to cover the ground could be considered a mulch, and could be synthetic or organic. There is often interest in organic mulches since these materials are frequently available on the farm. Plant residues, leaves, grass clippings, and newspapers can be recycled and used as mulch. Straw and hay can be purchased or otherwise sourced to use as mulch. These materials can also be left on the ground at the end of the growing season. In addition, since organic mulches are in close contact with the soil, they can also help increase soil organic matter (as they break down) and serve as a source of carbon and nitrogen that impact the soil's nutrient availability.
There are a myriad of ways in which gardeners use organic material mulches. Typically, if transplanting, mulch is placed on the growing bed before, and if directly seeded, the mulch is added when the crop plant is well established. Some growers plant cover crops that winterkill (e.g. oats), and then space is made between the crop residue to direct seed in the spring. However, there are ways to incorporate mulches without long-term planning. For example, plant residues can be laid on walkways to reduce soil compaction, and tree leaves placed on top of beds (preferably composted). Another way of mulching is to put down newspaper on top of the soil before adding straw mulch. This method helps increase weed suppression. These are a few examples, and if you have doubts or questions about a specific material, reach out to your local Soil and Water Conservation District office.
How GrowLocal Urban Gardens Network Mulches
GrowLocal Urban Gardens Network –a garden network in the greater Lafayette, Indiana area– uses two different mulches at a couple of their gardens. One of the growers and garden managers, Harry Smith, uses wheat straw and wood chips donated from various sources. Harry applies wheat straw for annual crops and wood chips for permanent walkways and perennials, including fruits, trees, bushes, nuts, and berries. For Harry, the benefits of mulching go beyond the before mentioned (e.g., weed suppression, moisture retention…). Harry said: "Most of our lots were developed with buildings at some point in their history. The result is soil containing many urban artifacts: rock, brick, concrete, metal, and even asphalt. These solid materials at or near the surface absorb and hold heat, accelerating soil surface moisture loss and increasing the need for irrigation. Mulching puts these solid materials in the shade and keeps them cool." He described this process as "Making peace with the rocks."
IASWCD Urban Soil Health Program Website
NRCS - Mulching Tip Sheet
Missouri Botanical Garden - Mulching Publication
Marion County SWCD - Mulching Publication
Article written by Marian M. Rodriguez-Soto, Regional Urban Soil Health Specialist for the Urban Soil Health Program-a contribution agreement between NRCS and IASWCD.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.