Join the Conservation Cropping Systems Initiative (CCSI) in celebrating a decade of providing soil health education across Indiana.
"Soil Health is a journey, not a destination," is a phrase often used by Barry Fisher, Central Team Leader for USDA-NRCS Soil Health Division. CCSI’s journey began with a small group of individuals on the Natural Resources Policy Committee of the Indiana Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts that identified conservation cropping systems rather than single practices as the means to protect and improve farmland. Funding soon followed. “It was a grassroots effort. It rose from people who farm the land and who have a connection with the land. It was a bottom-up process. It was not top-down. And I think therein lies its strength,” CCSI Founder and current Oversight Committee Member Les Zimmerman explained.
CCSI success can be credited to its unique and wide-ranging partnerships of farmers, researchers, conservation organizations, government agencies, commodity groups and more. “CCSI has given me the opportunity to conduct some of my research on farmer's fields. I have been able to test out ideas about cover crops, soil health, and no-till on a variety of sites across the state. It's enabled to help us educate both farmers and field staff and to help spur adoption faster than any one of those groups could do individually,” stated Eileen Kladivko, CCSI Founder and Purdue University Professor of Agronomy.
CCSI has become a resource that both farmers and conservation staff can depend on for accurate farmer-proven, fact-based information. “I think it's a great initiative. They bring a lot of knowledge and expertise and build a lot of connections that are helping move in Indiana forward. In our partnership with CCSI, they've been beneficial for some of our statewide programs, specifically a program called INfield Advantage. We work with the local Soil and Water Conservation Districts across the state to enroll farmers in that program and different trials as well,” noted Aly Wells, Director of Production and Environment with the Indiana Corn Marketing Council / Indiana Soybean Alliance.
State-wide education orchestrated by CCSI has taken many forms over the past decade: training courses, newsletters, popular podcasts, an impressive social media presence, as well as traditional meetings, workshops, and field days. Over 10 years, more than 33,000 people have attended CCSI-supported events. “I think that they play a critical role in helping get the message out for the direction that farming needs to go for the american farmer to continue to survive,” Southwestern Indiana Farmer and 2019 Event Organizer Pat Bittner said.
Interested in learning more? Check out Event Calendar. Subscribe to our Newsletter at the bottom of this page. Or reach out to our Staff to learn about efforts close to you. Together we can continue the journey to healthier soils on Indiana cropland.