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WHAT WE DO 

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The Watershed Protection Committee of Racine County (WPCR) creates opportunities for growth through education, incentive, and research programs. 

EDUCATION
PROGRAMS
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Education programs are designed to help farmers better understand how their farming practices influence water quality in Racine County through research of soil health, water health and nutrient management.

Winter Workshops

WPCR hosts a Winter Workshop in February for farmers to learn more about conservation practices and encourage them to implement them on their operations. 

Summer Field Days

Local farmers are invited to Racine County's Case Eagle Park in Rochester, where conservation efforts are being made. While there, speakers showcase successful no-till and cover crop practices through demonstrations and tours.

Meetings

WPCR hosts formal and informal meetings. At the meetings, producers discuss current conservation practices utilized on their farms. They also discuss new techniques they might use on their operation.

Conferences

WPCR helps connect producers with additional cover crops and no-till local, state and national conferences. Conferences include: Annual Producer Led Workshop, Wisconsin Cover Crop Conference and Fox River Summit.

Farmer Mentorships

Leaders currently in WPCR assist one or two farmers in the area who are beginning to implement conservation practices on their operation. 


Implementing new practices on a farm can be overwhelming, therefore mentors help these new farmers to utilize what they currently know about no-till, cover crops, and other practices. 

INCENTIVE PROGRAMS.

WPCR provides incentive payments for farmers and rural landowners who sign up to add new grassed buffer acreage and/or cover crop acreage. These programs encourage farmers and rural landowners to take steps towards more sustainable agriculture practices.

Grassed Buffers

Grassed buffers are areas or strips of land with permanent vegetation strategically planted next to waterways. Buffers are effective in:  

  • Preventing water bank erosion

  • Reducing surface runoff and soil erosion

  • Contributing to the removal of nitrates and other agricultural chemicals

  • Improving sedimentation control

  • Increasing water infiltration into the soil

  • Improving wildlife and fish habitats

Payment of $500 per new sign up for landowners installing new acreage into grassed buffers within one of the watersheds. 

Cover Crops

Grassed buffers are areas or strips of land with permanent vegetation strategically planted next to waterways. Buffers are effective in:  

  • Reducing surface runoff and soil erosion

  • Reducing nutrient leaching

  • Improving weed control, beneficial insects and disease suppression

  • Increasing soil organic carbon

  • Increasing water infiltration into the soil

  • Improving soil physical properties - reducing soil compaction and improving field trafficability

  • Recycling nutrients (fix nitrogen with legumes)

Payment of $25 per acre for farmers to plant cover crops (maximum of 200 acres per farmers). 

Pollinator Strips

Pollinator strips are planted on the sides of fields and pastures. They provide a many benefits: 

  • Increasing and sustaining pollinator populations and diversity

  • Promoting plant pollination

  • Decreasing “bad” bugs, which minimizes the need for pesticides

  • Reducing erosion

  • Provide seeds for various pollinator strip plants to farmers throughout the watersheds.

RESEARCH PROGRAMS.

Research programs help farmers better understand how grassed buffers and cover crops influence water quality in Racine County through research of soil health, water health and nutrient management.

Test Plots

WPCR is currently using cover crop test plots to understand the best cover crops for local farmers to utilize. On-farm test plots help to improve the reliability of crop management decisions.

Despite farmers understanding cover crops and buffers being beneficial for farmers, additional testing helps them better understand what those benefits are and how they can use them to better their operations. ​

Water Tests

WPCR is testing water infiltration on cropland utilizing cover crops. Initial testing proves water infiltration is higher on acres using cover crops than acres not utilizing such practices.

WPCR also has water testing kits to determine the amount of nutrients in water run-off. Run-off is tested 5 times a year - 2 times when the weather is dry and 3 times when it is wet.

Soil Tests

WPCR utilizes soil tests to better understand how cover crops and no-till practices are influencing the soil quality. 

Tests performed showcased how many microorganisms have begun living in the soil and how the soil temperature has been influenced. 

Case Eagle Park

WPCRC has initiated an applied research effort on farmland located at Racine County's Case Eagle Park in Rochester, directly addressing 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 practices such as no-till and cover cropping is well documented  AND the most cited reason for not using them. Our individual successes, on our own farms suggests otherwise, but 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.

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Protecting the World’s Most Precious Resource