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How to Protect Wildlife, Water Quality on Your Farm

How to Protect Wildlife, Water Quality on Your Farm
Think about preserving nature's beauty on your land while in the field.

Couldn't you see the picture here enlarged, framed and hanging on your wall? Call it "geese in flight." This trio perked up and took off as I walked along the edge of a creek while waiting to visit with a farmer who was planting in the field.

If I walked along your drainage ditch, creek or fence row could I scare up geese or other wildlife?

The Natural Resources Conservation Service has programs to help with cost-share if you want to take measures on your farm to protect and promote wildlife areas. It doesn't always have to be a constructed wetland. It may be food plots or some other practice you do to encourage wildlife.

Related: Soil Erosion Took Its Toll Over the Winter

Geese in flight: This trio of birds took flight from a grassy area along a creek bank along a farm field.

Jane Hardisty, state conservationist, says conservation and funding for conservation fared well in the past farm bill. However, some of the programs are being combined, not eliminated, in an effort to make it more convenient to administer and easier for farmers to understand. Some of the programs that promote taking measures to help wildlife fall into that category. Inquire at your local NRCS office to see what kind of assistance is available.

Meanwhile, what else can you do this cropping season to protect wildlife and water quality? Hardisty says one option is to leave a filter strip along a creek or ditch bank so that as water flows across it, there is time for pollutants, including sediment, to settle out.

Cost-share is available for establishing filter strips in some cases, or you can establish your own.

If you go the cost share route, you will have to meet minimum width requirements on how much land you leave along the sides of the waterway, and may have to follow specific guidelines on what to seed as cover along the area that you are leaving near the creek.

Learn more about possible incentives both from NRCS at your local soil and water conservation district office, and from the Farm Service Agency.

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