Oct 21, 2022
Voluntary conservation by farmers works to improve water quality

Working in partnership with USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), farmers are using proven conservation practices to help improve water quality downstream.

Our customers are stewards of our nation’s farmland, voluntarily stepping up to the plate to make an impact. They are improving the natural resources in their communities while at the same time boosting the health of their operations for the future.

The practices and systems that NRCS promotes can help farmers improve the health of their soils, keeping expensive nutrients on their lands and feeding crops, and out of nearby streams and waterways. For example, cover crops keep soil covered and protected throughout the year, and no-till helps keep the soil structure intact. These practices increase the organic matter in the soil, improving water infiltration and reducing run-off. Through grassed waterways, farmers reshape eroding areas on the farm and plant grasses that can help prevent further eroding.

Healthy soils can also help producers manage extreme weather events, with better water retention for crops during drought and more water and nutrients staying in the soil during floods.

Conservation applied on any acre delivers a benefit, but when conservation efforts target the most vulnerable watersheds and lands, the results are greater. Over a 10-year period, conservation practices implemented by farmers across the nation reduced the amount of sediment lost from cropland fields by 74 million tons and reduced average annual wind and water erosion across the nation’s croplands by 94 million tons and 76 million tons, respectively.
Visit the NRCS website to learn more about improving water quality and voluntary conservation programs.

― Dr. Gene W. Kim, NRCS National Water Quality Specialist & National Aquatic Ecologist in Conservation

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