WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Water and soil quality are the
foundation for not just a healthy farm, but a healthy community.
Meetings recently were held across the state to explain a
new conservation program focusing on public-private partnerships.
“Today we went over the Regional Conservation Partnership
Program, the guidelines for the program and everything involved in applying for
the project,” said Jill Reinhart, assistant state conservationist.
Authorized by the recent farm bill, the program combines
four programs into one, making conservation efforts more streamlined.
Harold Thompson, a retired area conservationist at Natural
Resources Conservation Service, attended the event to learn more about the
“What I took out of this meeting was a chance to enhance
methods of improving water and soil quality,” he said.
“I think it’s a way to supplement our current programs, and
the fact we can target funds to a particular watershed or project is great. It
also cuts down the competition when you’re competing nationally through a
In Indiana, it was decided that water quality, soil quality
and at risk-species habitats were the main areas on which to focus.
The program’s dollars are targeted at geographic areas based
on resource concerns.
U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack has said two areas
in Indiana are in critical need of help: The Great Lakes Region and the
Mississippi River Basin area.
People should be concerned because sediment is the leading
pollutant of our streams, Thompson said.
“There’s a direct correlation between soil quality and water
quality,” he said. “Water quality is not always distinguished by county
boundaries, so this (program) gives us more of a regional approach.
“I think a lot of our local communities and ag producers
lack funds to put practices in to action. If we can cut costs at a reasonable
rate, it’s a win-win. Society benefits from better water quality and less
Soils on a tillage and cover crop system soak up water like
a sponge, preventing it from running into streams.
The end result is improved soil and water quality, Thompson
To learn how to get started with NRCS, visit