Indiana shows strong conservation and water quality improvement trends for 2021

Last Updated on April 29, 2022 by Indiana State Department of Agriculture

INDIANA – The Indiana Conservation Partnership (ICP) announced its 2021 soil health and water quality accomplishments. The ICP works with Hoosier landowners to provide technical or financial assistance for the implementation of conservation projects. In 2021, landowners supported by the ICP installed more than 31,500 new conservation practices. 

“Agriculture is big business in Indiana! Those words have always stood true, from the formation of our state to today,” said Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch, Secretary of Agriculture for the State of Indiana. “I commend each of our Hoosier farmers and landowners who year after year break conservation records and ensure agriculture will continue to be a driving force in our state for many generations.”

The Indiana Conservation Partnership report showed that over the last year landowners helped prevent nearly one million tons of sediment, over 1.9 million pounds of nitrogen and 991,446 pounds of phosphorus from entering Indiana waterways. Cover crops and no-till practices implemented with ICP’s assistance sequestered an estimated 42,000 tons of soil organic carbon, which is the equivalent to the carbon emissions of more than 30,000 cars.

While the term conservation practices can mean many things, in Indiana, some of our most common conservation best management practices are cover crops, nutrient management, residue and tillage management, conservation cover, early successional habitat development/management and grassed waterways

Over the last several years, data shows Hoosier farmers and landowners strive to improve their conservation of soil and increase water quality year over year. The table below shows Indiana’s living cover acres and best management practices installed since 2016. 

YearLiving Cover AcresBest Management Practices Installed
2021Data is currently being collected and will be released in summer 202231,505

“Despite the ongoing challenges we are facing with extreme weather patterns, a growing population and natural resource concerns, our farmers were still able to implement an impressive  31,000+ conservation practices throughout Indiana with the assistance of our conservation team,” said Indiana Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) State Conservationist Jerry Raynor. “It’s partnerships like this that are the driving force behind great stewardship efforts. We look forward to continuing our collaborative conservation efforts and strengthening our commitment to the environment to best serve the needs of our producers.”

ISDA Director Bruce Kettler is proud of the achievements of our Hoosier farmers and landowners. 

 “The conservation practices installed each year are outstanding, but soil conservation and water quality initiatives of this magnitude wouldn’t be possible without the landowners and farmers who assist and allow these practices to be implemented,” said Kettler.

The ICP is made up of public and non-profit groups, along with landowners, that work together for the betterment of soil health and water quality. ICP organizations include, Indiana Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts, Indiana Department of Environmental Management, Indiana Department of Natural Resources, ISDA, Indiana State Soil Conservation Board, Purdue Extension, USDA-Farm Service Agency and USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service.

The Indiana Conservation Partnership is a crucial part of Indiana’s Nutrient Reduction Strategy, this illustrates the continued success and challenges of conservation and serves as a tool to help set watershed priorities and reduction targets, manage conservation resources and to further stakeholder involvement across Indiana. 

To find more information on soil and water conservation in Indiana, soil and carbon sequestration, soil conservation trends, Indiana’s work in our three water basins or partnerships between other states in the full report, click here or visit 

*As conservation work has changed over time, the conservation survey has been modified to better measure current conservation goals. At its inception the transect was designed to measure tillage and residue cover. In 2011 the survey efforts were expanded to include collecting data on cover crops. In 2014, a second fall survey was started as a specific effort to measure cover crops. In 2020, the timing and collection categories were adjusted to further fit the effort to measure cover crops. Click here to learn more. 

SOURCE: News release from Indiana State Department of Agriculture

The Indiana State Department of Agriculture (ISDA) was established as a separate state agency by the Legislature in 2005. Administratively, ISDA reports to Lt. Governor Suzanne Crouch, who also serves as Indiana’s Secretary of Agriculture and Rural Development. Major responsibilities include advocacy for Indiana agriculture at the local, state and federal level, managing soil conservation programs, promoting economic development and agricultural innovation, serving as a regulatory ombudsman for agricultural businesses, and licensing grain firms throughout the state.

NRCS is helping private landowners improve the health of their operations while protecting our natural resources for the future. We are working to ensure the long-term sustainability of American agriculture. Our mission and vision statements serve as the foundation for our work and help guide our efforts when faced with competing demands, exciting challenges, and new opportunities that stem from complex Farm Bills and fluctuating industry needs. USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer and lender.