The Watershed Protection Committee of Racine County (WPCR) consists of a group of local farmers leading efforts in erosion control, water and soil quality improvements, and providing information to farmers and rural landowners on conservation practices.
WPCR has initiated an applied research effort on farmland located at Racine County's Case Eagle Park in Rochester. This research directly addresses the major barrier to widespread conservation practice implementation that would vastly improve surface water quality: Economics.
Within the conventional agriculture community, the fear of yield loss and income reduction from using conservation practices, such as no-till and cover cropping, is well documented AND the most cited reason for not using them.
Individual successes WPCR members' farms suggest otherwise. Farming is a business, and business decisions are driven by data, not testimonials, which is why we're doing a "head to head" comparison of conventional and regenerative systems based on economics.
YOU CAN HELP.
We need your help because high-quality research takes money. We have applied for a Conservation Innovation Grant from the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service.
If funded, the 3-year grant would provide 50% funding beginning in October. These funds will pay for supplies, sampling labor, plant and soil analysis, data analysis and project management.
We are matching our 50% share with Racine County's donation of land, our donated agricultural equipment with operating labor, inputs and the income we produce farming the Parks cropland.
We estimate our total contribution in 2022 to exceed $50,000 which is asking a lot of an all-volunteer organization trying to make a difference. With partial support from The Nature Conservancy, we launched the effort in 2021, collecting baseline data and correcting site deficiencies. This effort, with an estimated total value of $45,783, significantly reduced our cash reserve from past donations.
NEED FOR SUPPORT.
Our need for support is urgent! The 2022 growing season is the first for the trial and we need to capture critical data to make a compelling economic argument.
Our 2022 cash need is $54,365, nearly 30% of which is for specialized equipment to measure differences in soils between soils including compaction. Relieving compaction is the major reason for using tillage, yet we know that the effect is short-lived creating a tillage addiction which leads to surface water problems.
Our site-specific modeling of the regenerative system which uses no-tillage and cover crops will reduce sediment and phosphorus loss by 72 and 67% respectively. At the park, we've surrounded the trial with buffers to reduce losses into the Fox River by 92 and 84% respectively! And this is just one example where we can show impact.