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Cindy Newkirk column Feb. 20, 2013

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Cindy Newkirk column Feb. 20, 2013

Soil health theme of annual meeting

The Hancock County Soil and Water Conservation District’s 59th Annual Meeting is slated for 6 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 28, 2013 at the Buck Creek Township Fire Department Conference Center, located at 5809 W. Airport Blvd., Greenfield.

Tickets are $5 per person and children up to age 12 are free.

Soil Health is our theme for this year.

In Indiana, a Soil and Water Conservation District is a subdivision of state government responsible for soil and water conservation programs within its boundaries. The purposes of the SWCD are to provide information about soil, water, and related natural resource conservation; identify and prioritize local soil and water resource concerns; and connect land users to sources of educational, technical, and financial assistance to implement conservation practices and technologies.

Our current Board of Supervisors are: Jeanie Foster (chair), Ray Helms, John Moran, Mike Conner and Gerald Mercer, and Associate Supervisors are Alice Bogemann, Dave Huffman, Brian Gandy, Tom Nigh and Tom Roney.

Our guest speaker will be Jeff Frey of the United States Geological Service, speaking to us about drainage tiles. Leary Weber Ditch Basin of our Sugar Creek Watershed in Hancock County is one of seven first-order basins selected from across the United States as part of the “Agricultural Chemicals: Source, Transport, and Fate” study conducted by the National Water-Quality Assessment Program of the U.S. Geological Survey. The nationwide study was designed to increase the understanding of the links between the sources of water and agricultural chemicals (nutrients and pesticides) and the transport and fate of these chemicals through the environment.

Agricultural chemicals were detected in Leary Weber Ditch and in every associated hydrologic compartment sampled. Pesticides were detected more frequently in samples collected from overland flow and from the ditch itself and less frequently in ground-water samples. The lowest concentrations of pesticides and nutrients were detected in samples of rain, soil water and ground water. The highest concentrations of pesticides and nutrients were detected in samples of tile-drain water, overland flow, and water from Leary Weber Ditch. Samples collected from the tile drain, overland flow and Leary Weber Ditch soon after chemical applications to the fields and coincident with rainfall and increased streamflow had higher concentrations of pesticides and nutrients than samples collected a longer time after the chemicals were applied.

A mass-balance mixing analysis based on potassium concentrations indicated that tile drains are the primary contributor of water to Leary Weber Ditch, but overland flow is also an important contributor during periods of high-intensity rainfall. When maximum rainfall intensity was 0.5 inches per hour or lower, overland flow contributed about 10 percent and tile drains contributed about 90 percent of the flow to Leary Weber Ditch. When maximum rainfall intensity was 0.75 inches per hour or greater, overland flow contributed about 40 percent and tile drains contributed about 60 percent of the flow to the ditch. Ground-water flow to Leary Weber Ditch was negligible.

Tile drains are an important agricultural-chemical transport path to Leary Weber Ditch, based on the hydrologic contributions of overland flow and tile drains to the ditch. Overland flow is also an important agricultural-chemical transport pathway during high-intensity rainfall; however, storms with high-intensity rainfall are sporadic throughout the year. Tile drains and the soil water moving to the tile drains is the primary transport pathway for agricultural-chemical transport to Leary Weber Ditch during most storms as well as between storms.

Our meal will from McAllister’s Deli and will be a salad and full potato bar, drink and desserts.

The business meeting agenda will consist of presentation of the Annual Report, including the Annual Financial Report and the MS4 Stormwater Annual Report, and the election of a new Soil and Water Conservation District Board Supervisor. Vying for the position will be Ray Helms. To serve as an elected supervisor, a person must be of voting age, maintain his or her permanent residence within the district, and be capable of performing the duties of the supervisor. Mike Conner will be sworn in as Appointed Supervisor. To vote in a supervisor election, an individual must be of voting age and either own or rent property or land within the district or represent a firm, company or corporation that does. (Eligible individuals also include the owner and tenant of the same land or property as well as any owner’s or tenant’s spouse.)

Tickets are only $5 and you can reserve your spot by calling by Tuesday, Feb. 26, to the District office at (317) 462-2283 Ext. 3. Come enjoy the food, the fun and friends. If you have any questions, stop by the office or call us.

Cindy Newkirk, Environmental Educator for the Hancock Couny Soil and Water Conservation District, can by contacted at 462-2283, ext. 3 or cindy.newkirk@in.nacdnet.net. Find the district online at www.hancockswcd.org.

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