2014 - 2018



Conservation District Business Plan

Starke County Soil and Water Conservation District

I find the great thing in this world is not so much where we stand as in what direction we are moving – Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr.

Who We Are:

A district constitutes a governmental subdivision of the state and a public body corporate and politic exercising public powers (IC 14-32-5). The Starke County Soil & Water Conservation District (SWCD) was officially organized on January 15, 1962. This organization occurred through the efforts of local landowners and upon completion of a successful referendum. The purpose of the district is to provide leadership in the conservation development of soil, water and related natural resources within Starke County. This leadership is provided through technical assistance, education, public information, and various programs.

The SWCD is governed by a board of five supervisors, all of whom are Starke County residents. Three supervisors are elected by landowners within the county and two are appointed by the State Soil Conservation Board, upon recommendation of the local SWCD.

What We Do: Provide the public 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 education, technical and financial assistance to implement conservation practices and technologies.

Mission Statement: The mission of the Starke County Soil and Water Conservation District is to educate and assist the citizens of Starke County to efficiently and economically manage the soil and water resources of the county for present and future generations.

Core Values:

The Supervisors of the Starke County SWCD are committed towards offering the best assistance and programs available to meet the natural resource needs of the county.

Critical Natural Resource Issues:

Degraded plant condition

Soil Erosion

Soil Quality Degradation

Excess/Insufficient Water

Air Quality Impacts

Fish & Wildlife

Information About the County (resources, landuse, population, etc):

Demographics (US Census, 2010)

Total county population


Knox population




African American


American Indian


Hispanic or Latino


Land Use (AgCensus, 2007)

Starke County contains 309 square miles

Land in Farms: 153,651 ac (77.7% of Starke County land area)

Ranked 1st in IN for Mint production, 6th in US

Our Key Partners and How They Assist:

IN State Department of Agriculture- Division of Soil Conservation

Natural Resources Conservation Services

Farm Service Agency

Purdue Extension

IN Department of Natural Resources

IN Department of Environmental Management

Specific Five Year Goals for addressing the Resource Concerns

By December 31, 2017 we will accomplish the following:

(Develop goals based on SMART criteria: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Timely)

(Sample format:

__________ __________ to__________ from __________ __________ .

action verb who/what measure (number, rate, percentage of change and baseline) purpose

Example: Increase cover crops by 2500 acres over 2012’s levels in an effort to improve soil health.)

Degraded Plant Condition

Educate 35 landowners about invasive species per year.

Soil Erosion

Reduce conventional tillage in Starke County by 25% (using 2013 Tillage Transect data) on corn and soybean acreage by 2018.

Increase acres of filter strips by 200 acres per year through 2018.

Soil Quality Degradation

Increase cover crops usage by 2,000 acres per year through 2018.

Excess/Insufficient Water

Assist in the calibration of 10 irrigation systems per year through 2018.

Air Quality

Plant 15,000 ft of windbreaks per year through 2018.

Fish & Wildlife

Plant 300 acres of native grass/pollinator friendly species per year.

Establish 200 acres of wetland restoration/development.

Key Strategies


· Host or partner with a neighboring SWCD to hold a cover crop field day for local producers once per year.

· Partner with NICWMA to educate landowners about invasive species.


· Utilize local media to advertise field days and other SWCD events.

· Utilize website to promote SWCD activities and events.

Technical Assistance

· Partner with NRCS and other agencies to provide technical assistance to landowners.

Financial Assistance

· Utilize cost-share incentives to promote filterstrips, cover crops and other BMP practices.

· Pursue Clean Water Indiana grants to provide cost-share to Starke County landowners.

· Provide monetary incentive and equipment for irrigation calibration systems.

Partnership Collaboration

· Partner with LaPorte County’s Irrigation Specialist to assist with irrigation calibration.


· Utilize volunteers to distribute information for education activities, such as the RC&D rafting days, cover crop education programs, school programs and other events.

Additional Staffing Needs:

In the next 5 years, investigate potential avenues of funding an additional staff person to concentrate on technical assistance.

Additional Equipment Needs:

If needed, acquire office and technical equipment for additional staff.

Replace Great Plains drill within the next 5 years.

This business plan was completed by the County SWCD Supervisors with the assistance of SWCD staff and supporting conservation agency partners on December 17, 2012. It was updated December 3, 2013.