If you don't think filter strips along a creek help, look closely at the one pictured here. It's a wide area of permanent grass that runs from the creek up toward the field. What you can't see in the picture is that the crop area above the filter strip is steep.
Fortunately, the farmer no-tills and uses cover crops. Otherwise the soil loss coming off the field would be extremely high. Even so, there will still be some movement of water, and when water moves, nutrient and pesticide particles can move with it.
The goal of the filter strip is for the particles to settle out in the grassy strip instead of making it all the way to the creek and entering the waterway. When the grass cover is as good as the filter strip pictured here, very little water should make it to the creek except under extremely rare rain events.
Susan Hovermale, who deals with conservation programs with the Farm Service Agency, says the sign-up for continuous conservation reserve practices is now underway. It was put on hold for a while as government officials sorted out the impact of the sequester. Now, there is also a general sign-up underway if you want to bid your price to enter a whole field into the Conservation Reserve Program.
Hovermale is hopeful that some of the land in filter strips and grass waterways that are part of the continuous conservation reserve program will be re-enrolled by landowners and farmers. Some 47,000 acres are expected to roll out of CRP this year in Indiana. That acreage includes land in the continuous conservation reserve program.
Practices that qualify for continuous conservation reserve funding include filter strips, grass waterways and field borders. Water and sediment control basins and other structures that involve moving dirt to build a soil conservation structure do not qualify. Producers who want help with those types of practices should consider the EQIP program, she notes.