and/or Best Management Practices (BMPs) are methods,
measures, or practices used to protect, maintain, and
preserve water quality, wildlife habitat, and soil erosion.
Conservation practices are an essential component in
protecting our natural resources.
Break long slopes into shorter ones. They usually follow the
contour. As water makes it way down a hill, terraces serve as
small dams to intercept water and guide it to an outlet.
There are two basic types of
terraces--storage terraces and gradient terraces. Storage
terraces collect water and store it until it can infiltrate into the
ground or be released through a stable outlet. Gradient
terraces are designed as a channel to slow runoff water and carry to
a stable outlet like a grassed waterway.
Water and Sediment Control
An embankment is built across a
depressional area of concentrated water runoff to act similar to a
terrace. It traps sediment and water running off farmland
above the structure, preventing it from reaching farmland below.
These basins improve water quality by
trapping sediment on uplands and preventing it from reaching water
natural drainage way is graded and shaped to form a smooth,
bowl-shaped channel. This area is seeded to sod-forming
grasses. Runoff water that flows down the drainage way flows
across the grass rather than tearing away soil and forming a larger
gully. An outlet is often installed at the base of the
drainage way to stabilize the waterway and prevent a new gully from
Manure Storage Structure
type of manure storage structure you would use depends upon
your livestock operation, animal waste management system and
planned field application. Several options exist
including an earthen storage pond, above or below ground
tank, pit underneath a confinement facility or a sheltered
concrete slab area. Manure can be pumped, scraped and
hauled, pushed or flushed into your storage structure.
The structure's purpose is to safely contain the manure and
keep nutrient loss and pollution of downstream water
bodies to a minimum by preventing runoff.
A dam, embankment or other structure built across a grassed
waterway or existing gully controls and reduces water flow.
The structure drops water from one stabilized grade to
another and prevents overfall gullies from advancing up a
If it is planned to store water, a grade control structure
may provide a water source and habitat for wildlife.
A diversion is much like a terrace, but its purpose is to
direct or divert water from an area. A diversion is
often built at the base of a slope to divert runoff away
from bottom lands. A diversion may also be used to
divert runoff flows away from a feedlot, or to collect and
direct water to a pond.
Diversions reduce soil erosion on lowlands by catching
runoff water and preventing it from reaching farmland below.
Crops are arranged so that a strip of meadow or small grain
is alternated with a strip or row crop. Not more than
half a field can be planted to row crops. Meadow slows
runoff, increasing infiltration, traps sediment and provides
surface cover. Ridges formed by contoured rows slow
water flow which reduces erosion. Rotating the strips
from corn to legumes allows nutrient-needy crops to benefit
from the nitrogen added to the soil by legumes. This
practice combines the beneficial effects of contouring and
Contour Buffer Strip
A series of grass strips are placed along the slope on a
contour. The alternating strips of grass or other
permanent vegetation slow runoff flow, trap sediment from
the crop strips above, and increase water infiltration.
Because the buffer strip is established on the contour,
runoff flows evenly across the entire surface of the grass
strip, reducing sheet and rill erosion.
Crop row ridges
built by tilling and planting on the contour create hundreds
of small dams. These ridges or dams slow water flow
and increase infiltration which reduces erosion.
reduce soil erosion by as much as 50% from up and down hill
farming. By reducing runoff, and increasing water
infiltration, contouring promotes better water quality.
Planned Grazing System
divided into two or more pastures or paddocks with fencing.
Cattle or moved from paddock to paddock on a pre-arranged
schedule based on forage availability and livestock
Systems improve vegetative cover, reducing erosion and
improving water quality.
Prescribed burning is a conservation
practice where fire is applied to a pre-determined area
within a prescribed set of conditions, dates and with
appropriate safety precautions to achieve specific purposes.
Prescribed fires can be applied to forest
land, native pasture, pasture land, wildlife land, hayland,
and other land as appropriate.
Strips of grasses trees and/or shrubs slow
water flow and cause contamination like sediment, chemicals
and nutrients to collect in vegetation. Collected
nutrients and chemicals are used by the vegetation, rather
than entering water supplies. Filtered water then
enters water bodies.
Vegetation prevents contamination from
entering water bodies, protecting water quality.
of coniferous trees or a combination of coniferous and
deciduous trees planted to protect a farmstead or feedlot
from wind and snow. One or two rows of shrubs are also
often planted. The established windbreak slows wind on
the downwind side of the windbreak for a distance of 10
times the height of the trees. The tree rows also act
like a snow fence, trapping snow within the windbreak.
Field windbreaks can also be planted to reduce wind speed in
A variety of
desired tree species, either seedlings or seeds, are planted
mechanically or by hand in under-stocked woodlands or open
fields. Tree species are matched with soil types and
selected to prevent soil erosion, increase income, or boost
productivity of existing woodland.
created by trees and associated debris protects soil from
rill and sheet erosion. Ground cover also protects
water quality by filtering excess nutrients and chemicals
from surface runoff and increasing infiltration rates.
Wildlife food plot
Food plots may be established either within
an existing crop field or in a separate location. You
may simply leave for rows of corn standing after harvest to
provide food for wildlife over the winter. Or you may
plant a small plot elsewhere. These plots help
wildlife through the winter when food supplies are in short
A typical farm pond is formed by building a
dam across an existing gully or low lying area. Earth
for the dam is dug out above the dam with heavy machinery to
form a bowl. Generally the ponded area fills with
water within a year. An overflow pipe is installed
through the dam to control the water level and allow water
to spill through the dam without causing erosion.
Stabilization is used to stabilize and protect banks of
streams or constructed channels, and shorelines of lakes,
reservoirs, or estuaries. It is used to prevent
the loss land or damage to land uses, or other facilities
adjacent to the banks, including the protection of known
historical, archeological, and traditional cultural
properties. Streambank Stabilization maintains the
flow or storage capacity of the water body or to reduce the
offsite or downstream effects of sediment resulting from
bank erosion. It also improves or enhances the stream
corridor for fish and wildlife habitat, aesthetics,
woodland or other suitable land is dedicated to timber
production. Livestock is excluded. Optimum tree
populations are determined by the kinds of trees planted and
their adaptability to your soils. Existing trees or
newly planted trees are thinned, pruned and harvested to
maintain desired production.
buffer is an area of trees and or shrubs and grasses located
adjacent to and up-gradient from streams or water bodies.
Riparian buffers reduce excess amounts of sediment, organic
material from livestock waste, nutrients, pesticides, and
other pollutants in surface runoff, and reduce excess
nutrients and other chemicals in shallow ground water flow.
Riparian buffers improve water quality by establishing
permanent tree and herbaceous cover on floodplain areas
subject to out-of-bank flow and/or scour erosion.
After taking a
soil test, setting realistic yield goals, and taking credit
for contributions from previous years' crops and manure
applications, crop nutrients needs are determined.
Nutrients are then applied at the proper time by the proper
application method. Nutrient sources include animal
manure, sludge, and commercial fertilizers. These
steps reduce the potential for nutrients to go unused and
wash or infiltrate into water supplies.