Seventy-five percent of Wisconsin wetlands are privately owned. When private landowners act to conserve those wetlands, we all benefit. Wetlands provide much of the groundwater recharge that we all depend on to make sure our wells have enough water for our homes and families. We all depend on wetlands for flood control during the spring thaw and heavy rains. They also filter out sediments that would otherwise clog our rivers and streams.
Wetlands also provide water, food and shelter for a wide variety of wildlife we all enjoy. Likewise, wetlands are critical resting places for migrating birds.
Farmers are the largest group of private wetland owners. They live on the land and make their living from the soil. As stewards of their land, farmers make decide how to best use their property. They can protect wetlands or ignore them. In the past, farmers often drained or degraded wetlands to make way for grazing and cropland.
Today, farmers take a different view of the places they used to see as wasteland. Farmers like Nick and Dianne Somers, potato farmers in Plover, are leading a revolution on the farm. Wetland are starting to get the attention and respect they deserve. Nick shares his love for the wetlands on his property in a Wisconsin Wetlands Association video, Farmers Care for Wetlands.
The Wisconsin Wetlands Association produced it as part of a six part video series, celebrating American Wetlands Month and their 50th Anniversary. They provide information and assistance to farmers and other private landowners in Wisconsin who want to preserve their wetland resources. You can also check out our Resources page.
Wisconsin farmers hold the future of our wetlands, the groundwater and biodiversity in their hands. Nick believes, “It’s something everybody should do.” When you choose to protect and improve your wetlands, you are making an investment in your family’s future and the wildlife that call you farm home. As Wisconsin’s most important land stewards, the decisions you make will ensure we all continue to enjoy the this great natural heritage.
You probably know about the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) and may already be participating. But there are more things you can do around the farm or ranch to improve your bottom line while helping the land. The Conservation Stewardship Program provides help for forest landowners, ranchers and farmers. Your application must be received by March 2, 2018 to be considered this year for this funding but year. Applications received later will be considered for the 2019 growing season.
Apply for the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) to improve your operation and land health. USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) uses CSP to help private landowners build their business while using conservation practices that improve sustainability. NRCS plans to enroll up to 10 million acres in CSP in 2018.
How Does This Work?
CSP lets you earn payments for actively managing, maintaining, and expanding conservation activities, including: cover crops, ecologically-based pest management, buffer strips and pollinator habitat. These go hand in hand with maintaining active agriculture production on your land. CSP also helps you adopt new technologies and management practices such as precision agriculture applications, on-site carbon storage & planting for high carbon sequestration rate, and new soil amendments to improve water quality.
Some of the benefits of CSP include: improved cattle gains per acre; increased crop yields; lower input costs; more and wider variety of wildlife. CSP activities can also improve drought resistance and storm water management.
The CSP website has a CSP Enhancements tool that lets you select your land use and conservation concern. Then it displays a list of recommended enhancement practices. There is a downloadable pdf file for each enhancement.
Contact your local USDA service center or visit www.nrcs.usda.gov/GetStarted for more information.
We’re Just Getting Started
CSP and CRP are by no means the only games in town. There are more programs that can help with both money and technical assistance. The programs you choose will depend on your management goals; as well as current and planned land uses. Here is a listing of landowners programs, run by both governments and non-profit groups. You might just find the help you need for your next conservation project.