This picture clearly shows that Porter County can hold its own when it comes to natural beauty! Just another reason to be thankful this holiday season.
We provide technical assistance and education programs focused on caring for the amazing natural resources we enjoy in Porter County.
This picture clearly shows that Porter County can hold its own when it comes to natural beauty! Just another reason to be thankful this holiday season.
Mark your calendar for Thursday, March 5th, the date for our annual meeting. This 2020 event will be held at the Porter County Expo Center with a delicious country buffet catered by Birky Family Farm Country Gourmet. Our speaker will be Brad Bumgardner, Executive Director, Indiana Audubon Society. Brad will discuss the connection between agriculture and the sandhill cranes in our area. The cost remains at $10 per person and tickets will be available after the new year. Photo courtesy of the Indiana Audubon Society.
Be on the look-out for cover crop and pollinator habitat cooperator signs in fields around Porter County. These are the folks who are putting conservation on the ground!
We are getting ready for another round of field research using the HOBOS to measure soil temperature over the winter to learn more about cover crops and other farm management practices.
Happy Veteran's Day
A soldier does not fight because he hates those in front of him.
He fights because he loves those he left behind.
The Indiana State Department of Agriculture just announced a Clean Water Indiana Grant award of $50,000 to Jasper, LaPorte, Newton and Porter County Soil & Water Conservation Districts for a collaborative project in the Kankakee River Basin. Deep rooted Indiana native flora and annual cover crops will be planted in farm fields, along stream banks and in low-lying areas in order to retain and store water and reduce bank erosion in the river basin. We are pleased to be partnering with the Kankakee River Basin and Yellow River Basin Development Commission in their mission with this project as well. The photo from the Development Commission's website shows bank failure, one of the concerns to be addressed by the project.
If you live in Liberty Township beware of the giant radish this Halloween! There are hundreds of them helping improve the soil health in this and many other fields thanks to the cooperation of our office with many Porter County farmers.
Check out this video from Wheeler High School with our Porter County Soil & Water District Program Manager, Jared O'Brien, and Robert Suseland, Pheasants Forever Farm Bill Biologist, speaking to students about invasive species on their school grounds.
Specialists from the Soil and Water Conservation District of Porter County discuss native vs invasive species and removal techniques.
We are getting ready for our spring tree sale. American Arborvitae (14-24") in bundles of 10 for $20 are available. Also available in bundles of 5 for $10 are White Flowering Dogwood (24-36"), River Birch (14-28"), White Oak(14-22") and American Tamarack (12-18"). All trees are bare root. Pick-up will be Friday, April 17th, at our office on Chicago St., Valparaiso. If you would like an order form send an E-mail to [email protected] or call 219-462-7515 ext. 3.
This year fall will be a little greener in Porter County. Due to so many fields unable to be planted with the rainy spring, many farmers are cooperating with our office to plant cover crops, such as, rye, wheat, radish and oats to enrich the soil on these fields over the winter and into the 2020 planting season. In addition to our Soil & Water cover crop cost share program, staff also cooperated with the federal USDA-NRCS emergency cover crop cost share program to process cost share on more than 2,000 acres in Porter County. Here is a field in north county where a large number of acres were flooded this spring.
Just one month into the school year and 1,985 students have participated in our soil and water in-school programs. This special note is from the Hebron first graders who participated in an outdoor hike around their school to learn more about how nature plants seed through seed dispersal. We are pleased to offer all of our programs free of charge.
A sure sign that summer is coming to an end.
An up close look at a working pollinator!
It's sunflower time in Porter County!
Farmers unable to plant their fields this spring, who plant cover crops can sign up for cost share through the USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service. You must complete an application by this Friday, August 9th. Contact our office at 219-462-7515 ext. 3 or E-mail: [email protected]
Thirty-two women enjoyed our "Room to Bloom" women landowners' gathering today. Cindy Muffett, USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service, Area Program Specialist, shared information on NRCS programs available to landowners to provide technical assistance and cost share. Kris Livovich, Owner and Designer, Sugarfield Flowers, Chesterton, demonstrated how to use field collected flowers and greens to decorate creatively at home. Who knew pokeweed and tomato plant clippings could be so beautiful! A special thanks to Prairie Creek Family Farms for the plant material used in the program.
A beautiful view as the sun rises in South County!
Don't miss our display in the Expo East Building at the Porter County Fair.Our roots run deep in Porter County since 1952, caring for our amazing natural resources! Check out the banner showing the root system of Big Bluestem grass after growing in a container for three years.
In a vote of support for the many Porter County farmers, especially in the north and west parts of our county, who were not able to plant their fields this spring due to the historic rainfall, our Soil & Water board members voted to dedicate our entire Clean Water Indiana operating grant of $10,000 to providing cost share for farmers to plant cover crops on those fields. Each Indiana Soil & Water Conservation District receives an annual allotment of $10,000 from the Indiana Legislature for operating costs. Putting cover crops on the ground seemed to be the best course of action for the money, especially this year. Farmers should contact our office at 219-462-7515 ext. 3 for an application and more information.
Women who own land, reserve a chair now for our women landowners' gathering on July 31st to learn more about conservation and flowers. The event will be held at the Christ Lutheran Church , 2610 Campbell St., Valparaiso, beginning at 9:30 am. Cindy Muffett,USDA- NRCS Area Program Specialist, will speak about government technical assistance and cost share and Kris Livovich, Sugarfield Flowers, Chesterton, will demonstrate how to arrange wildflowers creatively for the home. The event is free, but registration is required by July 24th to plan for lunch and seating. Call 219-462-7515 ext. 3 or E-mail: [email protected].
An Important reminder from USDA-FSA.
This plant is most often recognized by its fluffy, floating seeds. At this time of the year, though, the milkweed is flowering throughout Porter County.
Our Chairman, Brad Hunter, (second from the right) and Vice-Chairman, Keith Gustafson,(second from the left) recently met with our Porter County Council liaisons, Council Member, Mike Jessen, and Council Member, Sylvia Graham, to discuss our 2020 budget proposal. We are grateful for the liaison program, which allows us to discuss in detail our budget in advance of the busy hearings in the fall.
Jared, our office District Conservation Project Manager collects a water sample from one of eight sites where we are focusing our water quality research this summer. With the assistance of our state and federal partners we were able to expand our North County water quality program to South County and the Kankakee River Watershed.
There's Always Room To Bloom!
Our second annual Porter County Women Landowners' Gathering will be held Wednesday, July 31st, at the Christ Lutheran Church located at 2610 Campbell St. (right across from Valparaiso High School) The day will begin at 9:30 am with Cindy Muffett, USDA-NRCS Area Program Specialist speaking on federal cost share and technical assistance for conservation planning and incorporating wildlfowers into the mix. Kris Livovich, owner and designer, Sugarfield Flowers, Chesterton, will demonstrate how to arrange flowers from the field creatively for the home. There is no charge for this event which includes a catered lunch, but reservations must be made by July 24th to [email protected] or 219-462-7515 ext. 3.
Monarch caterpiller sighting on milkweed this week in South County. Pollinators love Porter County!
A pretty purple Tradescantia growing on a wetland preserved by a South County farm family.
National Pollinator Week will be celebrated from June 17-23rd. We at Soil & Water have been cooperating with the USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service to promote the establishment of pollinator habitat across Porter County. Even small areas planted to native flowers can be a huge benefit to pollinators.
This Porter County photo is from August 2018.
Porter County farming is more than just corn and beans. Here the crew at Abbett Farms plants tomatoes which will end up on your grocery shelf.
Brent Jarnecke, Porter County Soil & Water Associate Supervisor, and his dad, Joe, cooperated with our office last fall to plant a rye cover crop, which was then put to corn this spring.
Plan now to eliminate unwanted pesticides from your farm! An Indiana Pesticide Clean Sweep Project will take place at the LaPorte County Fairgrounds on August 20th. The disposal service is free of charge up to 250 pounds per participant. Over 250 pounds, there will be a $2 per pound charge. You must complete a pesticide planning form by August 1st to help the Indiana State Chemist's Office plan for the collection. The website with the form is https://www.oisc.purdue.edu/pesticide/clean_sweep.html .
The pesticide section of OISC is charged with the administration and enforcement of Indiana pesticide laws.
As the end of the school year draws near I would like to thank all the teachers who welcomed me, "Mrs. Benson", as a representative of the Porter County Soil & Water Conservation District, into their classrooms. I was blessed to visit 10,366 students with science focused programs on plants, soil and agriculture this year. I am always humbled by the warm welcome I receive, and so grateful for the work the teachers put into preparing the children to interact so wonderfully with a visitor. Thank you for your dedication and for all the extra effort you put forth each and every day. Enjoy a relaxing and well-deserved summer vacation!
If you would like to schedule free classroom programs for next school year, now or over the summer, just send me an E-mail at [email protected] .
State Conservationist, Indiana USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service, Jerry Raynor, visited the Valparaiso Field office recently and toured some conservation projects in Lake and Porter counties with District Conservationist, Derek Schmitt and NRCS student intern, Allicia Carpenter-Jones.
We are happy to welcome Allicia Carpenter-Jones as the USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service summer student intern to our office!
Check out the lush cover crop on Brad Hunter's field in Kouts. His was one that was part of our soil temperature research over the winter and into spring to determine if cover crops delay spring planting. Some speculate that it takes longer for the soil to warm under a cover crop blanket. The initial results indicate that soil under cover crops does not take longer to warm. Watch for more data as the results from fields scattered throughout Porter County are tabulated.
It's National Soil Stewardship Week! This is a great opportunity to be thankful for all the gifts of our healthy soil!
Our Vice-Chairman, Keith Gustafson, recently shared our annual report and the District Showcase Award for our nutrient/water quality study with the Porter County Council members at their April meeting.
The Conservation team in our office just completed processing 26 EQIP (Environmental Quality Incentive Program) applications for cost share for conservation practices ranging from cover crops, invasive species control, wildlife habitat development, wetland enhancement and more in Porter County.Each application requires between 60 and 100 pages of paperwork, document uploading and mapping by the federal NRCS and county Soil & Water team. We are pleased to be a leader in our multi-county region with so many participating landowners.
A little "Spring Beauty" flowers in the rocks of Jackson Township!
Watch out farmers! The second graders at Aylesworth Elementary in Portage are giving you some competition. Check out the corn, soybean and wheat growing in this team terrarium from our visit with the Sow, Grow and Know program on March 14th. It's fun to see the progress from seed to plant in such a short time.
Farmers interested in learning more about improving their soil health are encouraged to contact Jared O'Brien, District Conservation Project Manager, at our office to discuss participation in the INField Advantage program. Originally the InField Advantage program was focused solely on nitrogen management through cornstalk tissue sampling. Now after restructuring, the program can be used to study other nutrient issues, as well, to support farmers who are interested in conservation on working lands.
The InField Advantage program is available to farmers without charge locally through our office. Costs are underwritten through corn and soybean check-off dollars.
For more information contact Jared at [email protected] or call the Porter Co. Soil & Water office at 219-462-7515 ext. 3.
Thanks to all the folks who ordered Arborvitae from us. We have sold all of them for delivery on Friday, April 5th. If you are interested in trees for next year, watch our page. We generally announce the tree sale right after the start of the new year.
Today is National Ag Day! This is the perfect day to be thankful for all of the farmers and field workers who provide our food. Here is Greg Birky, one of our board members, visiting students at Morgan Twp. El. School to teach them more about his farm as part of our Sow, Grow and Know program. Together with the Porter County Farm Bureau, Inc. members we will have visited close to 1,200 second graders by the end of March with this presentation.
We had a wonderful crowd of 90+folks at our annual meeting last evening. Everyone enjoyed a delicious meal catered by Birky's Country Gourmet, which included mammoth sized pork chops fit for Fred Flintstone! Jordan Seger, Deputy Director, Indiana State Department of Agriculture, engaged the room with an overview of Indiana agriculture, and Keith Gustafson was re-elected to the board. We are especially grateful to the state and local government officials who attended including State Representative, Michael Aylesworth, and his wife, Dolores; State Representative, Lisa Beck, and her husband, Vernon; State Representative, Pat Boy; County Commissioner, Jim Biggs, and County Council members,
Sylvia Graham and Greg Simms.
2602 Chicago St., Ste. 300
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