Now's the time to join a Farmer-Led Watershed Council
By Tara Daun | WFU Watershed Coordinator
Before planting gets underway, consider connecting with your local Farmer-Led Watershed Council. With 43 councils funded across the state in 2023, it’s likely that there is a network of farmers near you who are looking to promote stewardship and efficiency on farms. Most groups have finalized their 2023 programs and may have monetary and educational opportunities for you and your farm.
What does a farmer-led council do?
Farmer-Led Watershed Councils are groups of farmers who work together to share ideas and resources on adopting practices like limiting tillage, planting cover crops, diversifying rotations, increasing nitrogen efficiency, and engineered structures that limit erosion. They host field days, network to share farming tips, and provide incentive funds to farmers for adopting conservation practices.
If you’re interested in connecting with a council, check to see if there are any existing watershed councilsnear you. All councils are truly farmer-led by local farmers, which means that each council has different incentives, field programs, and priorities.
Examples of Incentivized ActivitiesActivityIncentive PaymentWatershed Available InBuffer Strip adjacent to Stream$650/acreDry Run Area WatershedSoil Health Bundle: Cover crops, No-till, Planting Green$60/acreRed Cedar Conservation FarmersCover Crop Planting$15 – 35 / acreMany watershedsPlanting small grains 1st time$15/acreFarmers of the Sugar RiverConservation Walkover$250South Kinni Area FLWCContract with an Indpendent, Soil Health Agronomist$500Hay River Area FLWCLow Disturbance Manure Injection$20/acreYahara Pride FarmersReduce Phos. Runoff$25/ lbs PDodge County FarmersPhos Indexing$1/acreHorse Creek Area Farmers
Why do farmers join these councils?
Everyone has a different reason for getting involved in a local group. But there are a few main reasons that come up over and over again:
To learn more about soil health and improve their farm & community by learning from other farmers.
To reduce erosion after seeing larger rainfall events.
To show the community that farmers do care about stewardship.
To prevent water quality issues from getting worse and prevent onerous regulation related to water quality for farmers.
How do you plug in to these councils?
To see summaries of each group and contact information you can look here: https://datcp.wi.gov/Pages/Programs_Services/ProducerLedProjectSummaries.aspx Contacting the coordinator for the council is the best first step to see what your local council is doing and what is available in your area. If you’re in northwestern Wisconsin and would like to join a listserv of farmers and professionals in the region, you can sign up by emailing email@example.com.
If you can’t find information on a group, contact the Wisconsin Farmers Union Watershed Coordinator, Tara, and she will help. firstname.lastname@example.org 715-492-0329.