During a farm-city tour Thursday, parents, teachers and children were full of questions about the small manure holding area near the barnyard on the Schmidt Family Farm in Hustisford. Kathryn Eggers of the Dodge County Natural Resources and Conservation Office in Juneau explained how the runoff from roofs and concrete yards is caught in a holding area and filtered through a grass strip to prevent the runoff from making its way to area ditches and waterways.
She said the county NRCS conservationists helped design the system and other systems like it and also provided cost-sharing that helps farmers with their efforts to protect the water.
Eggers also talked about other ways the federal NRCS helps farmers, including assistance with cover crops that help hold soil in place over winter and also contribute to building organic matter in the soil for healthier crops.
Eggers said the NRCS recently announced a special funding opportunity to help landowners plant cover crops for erosion control, soil improvement or other conservation needs.
"Cover crops are highly effective in reducing soil erosion, as well as suppressing weeds and building up organic matter and soil health," she said. "The cover crop may include rye, oats, millet, wheat, red clover, turnips, canola, radishes or other species, either alone or in combination."
According to Eggers, cover crops reduce wind or water erosion by literally covering the soil. They also use up excess nutrients in the soil reducing risk of runoff, they sequester carbon and they improve soil structure.
Farmers with crop insurance will need to check with their crop insurance agent to make sure the cover crop is terminated so as not to impact their insurance payments or coverage.
Sign up at the NRCS office by July 11 to be considered for this funding. For more information, visit www.wi.nrcs.usda.gov, or contact NRCS Service Center.