Conservation practices play an important role in decreasing food safety risks on the farm. Stream side vegetation, grassed filter strips, and wetlands help keep our water supply clean by reducing the movement of pathogens, nutrients, and pesticides into streams, rivers, and lakes.
A sustainable agriculture production system comprising a set of farming practices adapted to the requirements of crops and local conditions of each region, whose farming and soil management techniques protect the soil from erosion and degradation, improve its quality and biodiversity, and contribute to the preservation of the natural resources, water and air, while optimizing yields.
A cover crop is a plant that is used primarily to slow erosion, improve soil health, enhance water availability, smother weeds, help control pests and diseases, increase bio diversity and bring a host of other benefits to your farm. Cover crops have also been shown to increase crop yields, break through a plow pan, add organic matter to the soil, improve crop diversity on farms and attract pollinators. There is an increasing body of evidence that growing cover crops increases resilience in the face of erratic and increasingly intensive rainfall, as well as under drought conditions. Cover crops help when it doesn't rain, they help when it rains, and they help when it pours!
Nutrient management refers to both manure and other fertilizers. It helps assure that crops get the right amount of nutrients, such as; nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium, at the right time and place. This benefits the farmer by improving crop yields and reducing costs and benefits the environment by keeping nutrients on the fields and preventing them from running off to streams or down to groundwater. Nutrient management planning requires testing both soil and manure to learn what the nutrient content is. All farmers should have a nutrient management plan.
A rain garden is a depressed area in the landscape that collects rain water from a roof, driveway or street and allows it to soak into the ground. Planted with grasses and flowering perennials, rain gardens can be a cost effective and beautiful way to reduce runoff from your property. Rain gardens can also help filter out pollutants in runoff and provide food and shelter for butterflies, song birds and other wildlife.
Where stream banks are eroded, they are re-shaped and seeded, and sometimes protected with rock rip-rap or seeded with bio-engineering materials. In some cases a special wood structure (lunker) is fitted into the bank to stabilize it and provide fish habitat. Stabilizing the stream bank or shoreline protects water quality, improves fish habitat, and the vegetation provides habitat for birds and small animals. Fencing restricts livestock access to the bank or shore, with the exception of controlled areas for drinking or crossing.
Constructed or left vegetated where gullies have formed from concentrated waterflow. Waterway systems spread out the water so it flows in a non-erosive manner to Adams County water resources. Most waterway systems are planted with introduced grasses, although sometimes they have to be lined with rock because the slope is too steep or space is limited.
Waterway systems can be constructed in both farm fields and/or urban settings.
Unused and improperly abandoned wells are a significant threat to groundwater quality. If not properly filled with impermeable material, abandoned wells can directly channel contaminated surface or soil water into groundwater. Water that gets into abandoned wells bypasses the purifying action that normally takes place in the upper layers of the soil. Because groundwater flows in soil and bedrock formations (aquifers), contamination that enters old wells can move to nearby drinking water wells. Many thousands of improperly abandoned wells are threatening groundwater in Wisconsin. Whenever you see an old deteriorating windmill in the countryside, there is likely an improperly abandoned well underneath.
Wetland restoration reestablishes or repairs the hydrology, plants and soils of a former or degraded wetland that has been drained, farmed or otherwise modified since European settlement. The goal is to closely approximate the original wetland's natural condition, resulting in multiple environmental benefits.
A windbreak is a tall, dense, continuous wall of vegetation meant to protect structures, roads or any other important areas from strong, driving winds, soil erosion and snow accumulation. A windbreak can also provide wildlife habitat, pleasing aesthetics and help lower energy costs for landowners. Contact our department to learn more!