Farmers in Yahara Watershed dramatically reduce phosphorus delivery in 2016

Wisconsin State Farmer
Low disturbance manure injection technique is just one of the practices that has helped improve water quality in the Yahara Watershed thanks to member farmers of Yahara Pride Farms.

BROOKLYN - Practices implemented by farmers in the Yahara Watershed are working.

Yahara Pride Farms released its 2016 Annual Report documenting information and research showing reductions in phosphorus delivered to nearby surface waters by farmers in the Yahara watershed in 2016.

Yahara Pride Farms (YPF) has measured on-farm results for four years, but this is the first year that an annual report has been compiled to share program outcomes with the public.

Aided in part by cost-share dollars, farmers have made changes to their farming practices that have resulted in more than 27,000 pounds of documented phosphorus remaining on the land and thus not entering surface water since the group began in 2012.

“Farmers in this watershed are committed,” said Jeff Endres, a dairy farmer from Waunakee, WI, and chairman of YPF. “We have a role to play in water quality, and we take that responsibility seriously - this report documents our work.”

Report highlights

  • A commitment by farmers to reduce soil loss and phosphorus to the Madison chain of lakes
  • Documentation about how specific farming practices are reducing phosphorus
  • The data set is made up of farms in the Yahara watershed, all numbers are from the Yahara watershed
  • Data shows that farms are reducing phosphorus loses from their fields
  • Long-term, this report provides hope and assurance that agriculture nutrient losses are being addressed
  • More than 11,000 lbs. of documented phosphorus reduction in 2016; 27,000 lbs. since 2012
  • There are barriers to water quality in Dane County, such as legacy phosphorus, that are beyond farmer’s control

In 2016, five practices were promoted by YPF: Strip tillage, low-disturbance manure injection, low-disturbance deep tillage with cover crops, cover crops and headland stacking of manure. Additional data was collected for combining practices, continuing a practice for multiple years and combined practices over time.

The report breaks down phosphorus delivery reduction achieved, along with the number of acres and the cost per pound of phosphorus for each practice. It is important to note that conservation techniques endorsed by YPF have been adopted as best-management practices by farmers in the program. For each practice, the number of acres without cost-share far exceeds the number of acres with cost-share.

“Together, we have created a culture of continuous improvement among farmers in the watershed,” said Endres. “We rely on our community partners to support this paradigm shift both with their investment and their belief that we must strive for excellence to sustain our farms.”

The report is available for free download at