August 2019 Edition of the
Michigan Soil and Water Conservation Society

The official newsletter of the Michigan Chapter
of the Soil and Water Conservation Society

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President's Report
MI-SWCS Adopt-a-Highway on September 6th
Registration and guest options available for  Annual Meeting at MACD Conference

Michigan Chapter Reflects on International SWCS Conference



MI CLEAR learns about new edge-of-field technology in Lenawee County

Day that measures consumption of resources moves earlier
What to Watch in Great Lakes Legislation


"I slept and dreamt that life was joy. I awoke and saw that life was service. I acted and behold, service was joy."

-Rabindranath Tagore


 President's Report

Dear Michigan SWCS Members:
Part of fostering the science and art of soil and water conservation requires transfer of practical information from one generation of conservationists to the next. I think we can agree, there is a lot of critical information we don't learn in school. 

To that end, the Executive Council has had Anna Debraber, our Communications Intern, prepare a short survey as an initial step in exploring a mentorship program within the Chapter. If adopted, we have no idea, currently, what that mentorship program might look like. Instead of a common notion of "someone under someone's wing" it could be as simple as having members write an occasional piece for a "Mentor's Minute" column in the newsletter.

The purpose of the survey is two-fold, first we'd like to catch up on some basic background information on our members in order to hopefully provide material of greater interest, and, secondly, to gather views about mentorship. Whatever your views on the idea, your opinion is valuable and will help guide the future of our Chapter.  Please
access the survey with this link.
Thank you,

John Freeland, President
Michigan Chapter Soil and Water Conservation Society
Registration has begun for the annual MACD fall convention, where MI Chapter SWCS will hold its annual meeting. Guest options are available for SWCS members who wish to attend the meeting and/or field trip without registering for a full day or more. Please notify if you plan to attend without registering or register at the following link: 

Michigan Chapter Reflects on International SWCS Conference

We are grateful to hear back from Dan Kesselring regarding the International SWCS Conference in Pittsburgh, PA last month. Many of the discussions addressed issues we face in Michigan and in the world at large, including the competition  between soil health and soil conservation, cooperation between local chapters and national SWCS, balancing technical and social approaches to conservation.

Michigan Chapter received two awards, one for 2019 Chapter Achievement and another for Outstanding Chapter. (Award narratives and photos are featured on the MI-SWCS website.) We are honored to be acknowledged and thankful for the representation provided by Dan Kesselring and the three other presenters from Michigan: Zouheir Massri, Ben Wickerham, and Glenn O'Neil. 

Please consider getting involved in expanding the efforts and impact of SWCS as an integral part of your professional development and personal service.

MI-SWCS Adopt a Highway on September 6th

Don't forget our twice-a-year commitment to Adopt-A-Highway! Members and friends will be meeting at 12 noon on September 6th at the USDA state office building in Lansing before heading out to our allotted section to pick up litter.

Please join in!

Do you have some conservation-worthy news to share?  Upcoming events or topics of interest to the SWCS Professional Development Committee?  Please feel free to share them with newsletter editor, Rebecca Bender at


MI CLEAR learns about new edge-of-field water quality research in Lenawee County

Blissfield, Mich. – Members of the Michigan Cleaner Lake Erie through Action and Research (MI CLEAR) recently visited an edge-of-field water quality monitoring project site in Lenawee County. The group met with Dr. Ehsan Ghane, head researcher on the project, to learn how drainage conservation practices help reduce phosphorus loading into the Western Lake Erie Basin.

The five-year edge-of-field research project is a partnership between Michigan State University, Lenawee County Conservation District, and the Michigan departments of Agriculture and Rural Development and Environment, Energy, and Great Lakes.

“It’s well-known that there are a number of factors which go into feeding algal blooms in the Western Lake Erie Basin with nutrient run-off from farms being one of them,” said MDARD Director Gary McDowell. “We really need to understand how to help farmers keep these vital nutrients on the ground and reduce run-off. And, thanks to research like what’s being done by Dr. Ghane and his team, we’re doing just that.”

Dr. Ghane demonstrated to the group how controlled drainage works in a viewable model. He also walked through how a new technology is starting to be experimented on in Michigan to adjust for elevation differences between farm fields and the drainage control structures, as well as reducing the number of control structures needed if a field has a slight slope.

“Through continued partnerships like we have with our state and local partners, we are working towards finding out the efficiency of drainage conservation practices,” said Dr. Ghane. “We are demonstrating how much these practices will help reduce phosphorus runoff in agricultural farmland. High levels of phosphorus in water has a big impact on the quality of life for people living close to the affected areas.”

Three farm sites in Lenawee County were selected for the project. Measurements and water samples are being collected year-round to determine the effectiveness of drainage water management systems.

The project is looking at two drainage conservation systems. One is controlled drainage, the practice of managing water by storing it in the field; and the second is saturated buffers, which filter water through the soil by diverting drainage from the field into buffer soil at the edge of the drain bank. Baseline data is being collected at each site. The project is set to end September 2022.

“It's great to see the collaboration between MDARD and MSU Extension, to recognize solutions that address not only the needs of farmers, but also benefits our Great Lakes,” said Michigan Farm Bureau President Carl Bednarski.

MI CLEAR is a coalition of stakeholders from environmental, agricultural, universities, and other groups, who are working together to improve the water quality of the WLEB.

For more information on the edge-of-field project contact Ehsan Ghane, To learn more about MI CLEAR visit

Dr. Ehsan Ghane (previous speaker at ANR events) demonstrates controlled outlet and monitoring structures at MDARD field day.

Day that measures consumption of resources moves earlier
By Ray Garcia, WKAR guest, August 12, 2019

July 29 marked this year’s Earth Overshoot Day. That’s the annual date where it’s estimated that humans have taken more resources from the planet than it can produce for that year. The calculations for the date are provided by the Global Footprint Network, with the date changing almost every year.

There is rising demand to meet the needs of the planet’s 7.6 billion people, said Robert Richardson, a professor of Community Sustainability at Michigan State University.

“This date has been inching earlier and earlier each year, primarily because of humanities demands on nature. This is what we’re consuming as households and companies and so forth,” said Richardson.

Richardson said a significant portion of what is produced is also wasted; the transformation to the land has generated significant levels of pollution impacting water, forests, soil and many other crucial aspects of nature.

Richardson said there will be dire consequences to the planet if humanity doesn’t reduce its carbon footprint; the impact of what is taken is made worse by the amount of carbon emissions released into the atmosphere.

The estimate for Earth Overshoot Day is likely not perfect, said Richardson. If anything, it is underestimating how much humanity has taken but it does help to raise awareness.

“I think its greatest value is in raising awareness that our lifestyles do have tremendous environmental impacts that impact the ability of future generations to meet their basic needs” said Richardson.

For the past 15 years, the date has landed in August, but this is the first time it has landed as early as July.

Read this article and more in Great Lakes Echo.

Graph showing the 1970-2018 Earth Overshoot dates; Global Footprint Network
Earth overhoot day has arrived progressively earlier since 1970

What to Watch in Great Lakes Legislation

The Trump administration is poised to sharply curtail the regulation of methane emissions, according to an industry official. This comes after an unprecedented rate of regulation rollbacks, far exceeding the demands of Executive Order 13771 (82 FR 9339, February 3, 2017) to repeal at least two existing regulations for each new regulation issued in FY 2017 and thereafter.

The Environmental Protection Agency maintains a list of EPA Deregulatory Actions, pending and complete, that you might wish to review:


Michigan Chapter SWCS

September 6, 2019 Adopt a Highway
12pm USDA State Office parking lot meet to depart
Lansing, Michigan

October 28-30 Annual Fall MACD Convention
Shanty Creek, Bellaire, MI
Registration now available

Other Organizations

September 12-3, Drainage Field Day 2019
9am-4pm both days
8815 Samaria Rd., Riga, MI 49276
The field day will educate people about drainage system installation, water quality, and soil health with continuous field demonstrations. Register for this free event on MSU Extension website

May 20-21, 2020 Watershed Management Conference: A Clear Vision of Watershed Management

Henderson, Nevada
*Now accepting abstracts*


MDEQ Calendar:

MDNR Calendar:

MSU Extension Calendar:
Copyright © 2019 Soil and Water Conservation Society: Michigan Chapter, All rights reserved.

This newsletter is a monthly compilation of news stories of interest to Michigan SWCS members and stakeholders. The opinions expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect official policy of the Soil and Water Conservation Society unless so stated.

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