July 19 2018 08:34 AM

Farmers in Yahara Watershed dramatically reduce phosphorus delivery in 2017

The information below has been supplied by dairy marketers and other industry organizations. It has not been edited, verified or endorsed by Hoard’s Dairyman.

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 2017. YPF has measured on-farm results for five years, and this is the second year that an annual report has been compiled to share program outcomes with the public. In 2017, Yahara Pride Farms documented an impressive 18,000 lbs of phosphorus delivery reduction.

The 2017 phosphorus reduction represents more than a 60% increase over 2016. 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.

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.

“Farmers are progressively putting phosphorus reduction practices to work on their farms despite the difficult farm economy,” said Jeff Endres, a dairy farmer from Waunakee, Wis. “Farmers continue to prioritize conservation practices even through difficult times where resources can be cut short.”

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 18,000 lbs. of documented phosphorus reduction in 2017
  • There are barriers to water quality in Dane County, such as legacy phosphorus, that are beyond farmer’s control
  • In 2017, 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 nitrogen in compost is less soluble, making it less likely to be washed out and into ground and surface water.

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.
By injecting manure directly into the soil verses spreading it on top, nutrients can be maximized while phosphorus runoff from the field is reduced.

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 2017, farmers in the program reduced phosphorus delivery to Madison lakes and the Yahara River by 18,000 lbs. For more information, visit yaharapridefarms.org.