Yahara Pride Farms has just released its Annual Report that documents information and research on the reductions in phosphorus delivered to nearby surface waters by farmers in the Yahara watershed in 2018. YPF has measured on-farm results for six years, and this is the third year that an annual report has been compiled to share program outcomes with the public. In 2018, Yahara Pride Farms documented an impressive 22,000 lbs of phosphorus delivery reduction.
The 2018 phosphorus reduction represents a 20% increase over 2017. Aided in part by cost-share dollars, farmers have made changes to their farming practices in order to help make a difference in the watershed.
“Farmers in the Yahara watershed continue to be supportive of Yahara Pride farms and seek alternative farming systems and conservation practices that reduce phosphorus and sediment loss,” said Jeff Endres, a dairy farmer from Waunakee, Wis. “Despite a down ag economy, farmers are still striving to try new things.”
Highlights of the report include:
- 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 22,000 lbs. of documented phosphorus reduction in 2018
- There are barriers to water quality in Dane County, such as legacy phosphorus, that are beyond farmer’s control, but are being addressed with the help of public-private partnerships.
In 2018, 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 for farmers in the program. For each practice, the number of acres without cost-share far exceeds the number of acres with cost-share.
The YPF board of directors and resource managers are available for group presentations and individual questions. The report is available for free download at yaharapridefarms.org.
About Yahara Pride Farms: Established in 2012, Yahara Pride Farms is a farmer-led 501c(3) non-profit organization that strives to preserve agricultural heritage while simultaneously encouraging farmers to engage in proactive environmental stewardship within the Yahara Watershed. Participating farms employ practices that result in the preservation and enhancement of soil and water resources for today, and for generations to come. In 2018, farmers in the program reduced phosphorus delivery to Madison lakes and the Yahara River by 22,000 lbs. For more information, visit yaharapridefarms.org.
Cover crop planting– Cover crops reduce the amount of soil erosion by wind and water. They also improve the soil’s ecosystem by increasing biodiversity and soil organic matter content.
Compost turning– The nitrogen in compost is less soluble, making it less likely to be washed out and into ground and surface water.
Low-disturbance manure injection– Surface applications of manure have been shown to increase nitrogen and phosphorus runoff to rivers and streams, while injection/incorporation places manure below the surface where it doesn’t interact with runoff water during storms.