Conservation Agriculture: What Is It, and Why Aren't All Farmers Doing It?
The Hay River Farmer-Led Watershed Council works to promote conservation practices on local farm fields. In 2022 they held field days, surveyed large-scale farmers on their actions and opinions on conservation, and provided incentive funds for practices that improve surface water quality. They also conducted the Soil Your Undies competition to get soil health top-of-mind for more folks. Tara will talk about what we learned in 2022, what farmer attitudes towards conservation appear to be, and where we're headed for 2023 with Farmer-Led Councils.
Presenter: Tara Daun
Farmer-Led Watershed Council Coordinator, Wisconsin Farmers Union
Tara Daun is the Farmer-Led Watershed Council Coordinator for Wisconsin Farmers Union. In this role, Daun works directly with 4 farmer-led councils located in Dunn, Pierce, Polk and St. Croix counties to increase farmer engagement, build council capacity, expand participation in incentive programs, coordinate water testing and programming, and foster conservation in the Red Cedar and St. Croix watersheds. She previously worked with the USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service, assisting farmers through application and contract processes to provide them with financial assistance for conservation practices.
These councils consist of farmers working alongside county staff to increase farmer awareness of water quality issues and adoption of conservation practices. Through the councils’ work, educational networking events are held on farms to showcase conservation practices such as no-till, strip tillage, cover crops, and grassed waterways with test plots and on-the-ground work.
“My hope is that we can increase soil health, farmer profitability, and water quality all at the same time. That takes farmers learning from other farmers to perfect practices that can reduce inputs and time spent on the tractor while maintaining profits and protecting the soil and water.”