Conservation Choices Your guide to conservation and environmental

Conservation Choices Your guide to conservation and environmental

Conservation Choices Your guide to conservation and environmental farming practices. Natural Resources Conservation Service We will guide you through a variety of conservation and environmental farming practices and explain how each practice helps improve your land. Conservation Choices Total Resource Management:

The key to a successful total resource management system takes careful and complete planning, patience, organization, and teamwork. Like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle, each practice fits together with others to create a complete system that protects resources found on your land. Conservation Choices Total Resource Management: When designing a total resource management plan, remember to... take an inventory; think about every field, pasture, pond, stream, and wooded area consider which conservation practices

would contribute to an environmentally and economically sound farm Conservation Choices Total Resource Management Checklist: What are the natural resources on my farm? What crops do I plan to plant? Have I minimized runoff? Am I using crop rotations to reduce disease and pest problems? What type of wildlife would I like on my farm? Conservation Choices Total Resource Management Checklist: (continued) Does any practice interfere with or cancel out another practice? Can I use wetlands or filter strips to filter nutrients from runoff water?

Am I making the best use of animal manure as nutrients for plants? Conservation Choices These five icons will show the benefits each practice offers... The practice reduces soil erosion and sediment runoff, or may add organic matter to the soil. The practice protects or improves water quality. Use this practice to increase profits by reducing costs, increasing production, or both. Conservation Choices Youre thinking of wildlife by providing habitat or food sources with this practice. This practice improves air quality by

reducing odor and other problems. Conservation Practices Woodland Management Soil Soil Erosion Erosion Water Water Quality Quality Profits Profits Wildlife Wildlife Air

Air Quality Quality Woodland management improves the quality and quantity of woodland growing stock and maintains ground cover and litter for soil and water conservation. Conservation Practices Woodland Management Soil Soil Erosion Erosion

How it helps... Adds income to your farm Water Water Quality Quality Adds beauty to your farm Ground cover provides wildlife habitat, reduces soil erosion, and improves water quality Profits Profits Wildlife Wildlife Air Air Quality Quality

Conservation Practices Planned Grazing System Soil Soil Erosion Erosion Water Water Quality Quality Profits Profits Wildlife Wildlife Planned grazing systems use forage plantings and grazing rotations to maximize production and reduce sediment and nutrient runoff. Remember

to consider food, water, and herd size. Conservation Practices Planned Grazing System Soil Soil Erosion Erosion How it helps... Water Water Quality Quality Improves vegetative cover, reducing erosion and improving water quality Increases harvest efficiency and helps ensure adequate forage throughout grazing season Profits

Profits Wildlife Wildlife Increases forage quality and production which helps increase feed efficiency and can improve profits Rotating also evenly distributes manure nutrient resources Conservation Practices Manure Storage Water Water Quality Quality Profits Profits

Air Air Quality Quality Manure storage structures protect water bodies from manure runoff by storing manure until conditions are appropriate for field application. Conservation Practices Manure Storage Water Water Quality Quality How it helps... Profits Profits

Protects water quality by preventing runoff from feedlots Cuts fertilizer costs and reduces nutrient losses Air Air Quality Quality Allows for field application when conditions are right Conservation Practices Farm Pond Soil Soil Erosion Erosion Water Water Quality

Quality Wildlife Wildlife A farm pond is a pool of water formed by a dam or pit that supplies water for livestock, recreation, wildlife, and helps control gully erosion. Conservation Practices Farm Pond Soil Soil Erosion Erosion How it helps... Prevents soil erosion and protects water quality by collecting and storing runoff water Water

Water Quality Quality Provides water for livestock, fish, wildlife, and recreational activities Wildlife Wildlife Adds value and beauty to a farm or farmstead Provides a water supply for emergencies Conservation Practices Wildlife Upland Habitat Soil Soil Erosion Erosion Water Water Quality

Quality Wildlife Wildlife Wildlife upland habitat is designed to create, maintain, or improve food and cover for a variety of upland wildlife. Conservation Practices Wildlife Upland Habitat Soil Soil Erosion Erosion How it helps... Water Water Quality Quality

Ground cover reduces soil erosion, adds organic matter to the soil, filters runoff, and increases infiltration It can add value to your farmstead Wildlife Wildlife Planned wildlife habitat provides food and cover for wildlife. Conservation Practices Wildlife Food Plot Soil Soil Erosion Erosion Water

Water Quality Quality Wildlife Wildlife Wildlife food plots establishe a variety of plants that furnish food for wildlife. Conservation Practices Wildlife Food Plot Soil Soil Erosion Erosion How it helps... Water Water Quality Quality

Standing crops with unharvested grain provide food to wildlife that may otherwise not be accessible after heavy snows or ice A food plot helps maintain wildlife on your farm by providing a reliable food source Wildlife Wildlife Conservation Practices Filter Strip Soil Soil Erosion Erosion Water Water Quality Quality

Wildlife Wildlife Filter strips are strips of grass, trees, or shrubs that filter or clean runoff and remove contaminants before they reach water bodies or water sources, such as wells. Conservation Practices Filter Strip Soil Soil Erosion Erosion How it helps... Grass, trees and shrubs provide cover for small birds and animals Water

Water Quality Quality Ground cover reduces soil erosion Wildlife Wildlife The vegetative strip moves rowcrop operations farther from a stream. Vegetation prevents contaminants from entering water bodies, protecting water quality Conservation Practices Grade Control Structure Soil Soil Erosion Erosion

Water Water Quality Quality Wildlife Wildlife A grade control structure is an earthen, wooden, concrete, or other type of structure built across a drainageway that prevents gully erosion. Conservation Practices Grade Control Structure Soil Soil Erosion Erosion How it helps... Water

Water Quality Quality Wildlife Wildlife Grade control structures are often used at the outlet of a grassed waterway to stabilize the waterway outlet, preventing gully erosion Grassed, non-eroding waterways made possible with a grade control structure provide better water quality, can be easily crossed with equipment, and look better than non-stabilized gullies If designed to store water, a grade control structure may provide a water source and habitat for wildlife Conservation Practices

Critical Area Planting Soil Soil Erosion Erosion Water Water Quality Quality Wildlife Wildlife Critical area plantings consist of grass or other vegetation that protects badly eroding areas from soil erosion. Conservation Practices Critical Area Planting Soil

Soil Erosion Erosion How it helps... It reduces soil erosion Water Water Quality Quality Wildlife Wildlife A vegetated area improves water quality by reducing the amount of sediment, nutrients, and chemicals running off farmland Protects areas such as dams, terrace back slopes, or gullied areas when vegetation may be difficult to establish Vegetation can be planted to provide small areas of nesting cover for birds and small animals

Conservation Practices Contour Stripcropping Soil Soil Erosion Erosion Water Water Quality Quality Profits Profits Wildlife Wildlife Contour stripcropping is crop rotation and contouring combined in equal-width strips of corn or

soybeans planted on the contour and alternated with strips of oats, grass, or legumes. Conservation Practices Contour Stripcropping Soil Soil Erosion Erosion How it helps... Water Water Quality Quality Profits Profits Wildlife Wildlife

Contour stripcropping reduces soil erosion and protects water quality Contour stripcropping may help reduce fertilizer costs by providing nutrient inputs naturally Conservation Practices Diversion Soil Soil Erosion Erosion Water Water Quality Quality Wildlife Wildlife

Diversion is an earthen embankment similar to a terrace that directs runoff water from a specific area. Conservation Practices Diversion Soil Soil Erosion Erosion How it helps... Water Water Quality Quality Reduces soil erosion on lowlands by catching runoff water and preventing it from reaching farmland below

Vegetation in the diversion channel filters runoff water, improving water quality Wildlife Wildlife Vegetation provides cover for small birds and animals Allows better crop growth on bottomland soils Conservation Practices Grassed Waterway Soil Soil Erosion Erosion Water Water Quality Quality

Wildlife Wildlife Grassed waterways are shaped to establish a natural drainageway that prevent gullies from forming by safely conveying water flows off the field. Conservation Practices Grassed Waterway Soil Soil Erosion Erosion How it helps... Grass cover protects the drainageway from gully erosion Water

Water Quality Quality Vegetation may act as a filter, absorbing some of the chemicals and nutrients in runoff water Wildlife Wildlife Vegetation provides cover for small birds and animals Conservation Practices Contour Buffer Strips Soil Soil Erosion Erosion Water Water Quality

Quality Wildlife Wildlife A contour buffer strips are strips of grass or legumes in a contoured field, which help trap sediment and nutrients. Similar to stripcropping, buffers have more narrow grass/legume strips. Conservation Practices Contour Buffer Strips Soil Soil Erosion Erosion How it helps... Vegetation provides cover and habitat for small birds and animals

Water Water Quality Quality The strips reduce erosion by slowing water flow and increasing water infiltration into soil Wildlife Wildlife By reducing siltation and filtering nutrients and chemicals from runoff, grass strips improve water quality Conservation Practices Contour Farming Soil Soil Erosion Erosion

Water Water Quality Quality Contour farming is farming with row patterns that run nearly level around the hill--not up and down the hill. Conservation Practices Contour Farming Soil Soil Erosion Erosion How it helps... Contouring can reduce soil erosion by as much as 50% from up and down hill farming Water Water Quality

Quality By reducing sediment and runoff, and increasing water infiltration, contouring promotes better water quality Conservation Practices Field Border Soil Soil Erosion Erosion Water Water Quality Quality Profits Profits

Wildlife Wildlife A field border is a strip of grass or legumes established at the edge of a field used in place of end rows. Conservation Practices Field Border Soil Soil Erosion Erosion How it helps... Water Water Quality Quality Vegetative cover reduces sheet and rill erosion

by slowing water flow Vegetation filters runoff, improving water quality Profits Profits Wildlife Wildlife Grass and legume strips may be harvested in some cases and are easier to turn on than end rows Vegetation provides cover and habitat for small birds and animals Conservation Practices Well Protection Soil Soil Erosion

Erosion Profits Profits Wildlife Wildlife Well protection is necessary when changing farming practices which occur on or near the farmstead in order to reduce the risk of contamination of water sources--mainly the well. Conservation Practices Well Protection Soil Soil Erosion Erosion

How it helps... Profits Profits Modifications in farming operations may improve your efficiency and reduce operation or production costs Soil conservation practices may be necessary to divert runoff from the well area Wildlife Wildlife Conservation Practices Windbreak Soil Soil Erosion Erosion

Profits Profits Wildlife Wildlife Air Air Quality Quality Windbreaks are rows of trees and shrubs that protect areas from wind and provide food and cover for wildlife. Conservation Practices Windbreak Soil Soil Erosion Erosion

How it helps... Profits Profits A windbreak reduces wind erosion, conserves energy, reduces heating bills and beautifies a farmstead Trees serve as a sound barrier, muffling road noise Wildlife Wildlife Air Air Quality Quality Trees and shrubs provide wildlife food and cover Improved livestock weight gains can be expected when livestock are protected from winter winds and

snow Conservation Practices Pasture Planting Soil Soil Erosion Erosion Water Water Quality Quality Profits Profits Wildlife Wildlife Pasture planting is used to plant grass and

legumes that reduce soil erosion and improve production. Conservation Practices Pasture Planting Soil Soil Erosion Erosion How it helps... Water Water Quality Quality Heavy grass cover slows water flow, reducing soil erosion Good pastures protect water quality by filtering runoff water and increasing infiltration

Profits Profits Wildlife Wildlife Lush pastures offer wildlife cover and habitat As plants recycle and roots die, organic matter in the soil is improved Conservation Practices Stream Protection Soil Soil Erosion Erosion Water Water Quality Quality

Wildlife Wildlife Stream protection is a practice that protects streams by excluding livestock and establishing buffer zones of vegetation to filter runoff. Conservation Practices Stream Protection Soil Soil Erosion Erosion How it helps... Streambanks are covered with rocks, grass, trees, or other cover to reduce erosion Water Water Quality

Quality Better water quality results from reducing amounts of nutrients, chemicals, animal waste, and sediment entering the stream Wildlife Wildlife Buffer zones provide cover and habitat for birds and small animals Conservation Practices Manure Testing Water Water Quality Quality Profits Profits

Manure testing is used to sample and test manure to determine nutrient content. This promotes proper nutrient application to fields. Conservation Practices Manure Testing Water Water Quality Quality How it helps... Manure testing and proper application to the land can reduce crop input costs Profits Profits Preventing over-application of manure to crop

fields results in improved water quality Conservation Practices Tree Planting Soil Soil Erosion Erosion Water Water Quality Quality Profits Profits Wildlife Wildlife Air

Air Quality Quality Tree planting is used to establish trees in areas adapted to woodlands. Conservation Practices Tree Planting Soil Soil Erosion Erosion How it helps... Water Water Quality Quality Profits Profits

Wildlife Wildlife Improving stands of woodlands can increase profits Ground cover created by trees and associated debris protects soil for rill and sheet erosion Ground cover also protects water quality by filtering excess nutrients and chemicals from surface runoff and increasing infiltration rates Healthy, well-managed woodlands provide long-term wildlife habitat Air Air Quality Quality Conservation Practices

Crop Residue Management Soil Soil Erosion Erosion Water Water Quality Quality Profits Profits Wildlife Wildlife Air Air Quality Quality Crop residue management is leaving last years

crop residue on the soil surface by limiting tillage. Includes no-till, mulch till, ridge till, and strip till. Conservation Practices Crop Residue Management Soil Soil Erosion Erosion How it helps... Water Water Quality Quality Profits Profits Ground cover prevents soil erosion and protects water quality

Residue improves soil tilth and adds organic matter to the soil as it decomposes Fewer trips and less tillage reduces soil compaction Wildlife Wildlife Air Air Quality Quality Time, energy and labor savings are possible with fewer tillage trips Conservation Practices Wetland Enhancement Soil Soil Erosion

Erosion Water Water Quality Quality Wildlife Wildlife Wetland enhancement is installing practices such as dikes into existing wetlands to manage water levels and improve habitat. Conservation Practices Wetland Enhancement Soil Soil Erosion Erosion

How it helps... Water Water Quality Quality Wetlands filter nutrients, chemicals, and sediment before water infiltrates into ground water supplies Wetlands provide habitat for waterfowl and many other species of wildlife Wildlife Wildlife Wetlands add beauty and value to a farm Conservation Practices Crop Rotation Soil

Soil Erosion Erosion Water Water Quality Quality Profits Profits Wildlife Wildlife Crop rotation is changing the crops grown in a field, usually year by year. Conservation Practices Crop Rotation Soil

Soil Erosion Erosion How it helps... Water Water Quality Quality Profits Profits Wildlife Wildlife Pesticide costs may be reduced by naturally breaking the cycles of weeds, insects, and diseases Grass and legumes in a rotation protect water quality by preventing excess nutrients or chemicals from entering water supplies

Meadow or small grains cut soil erosion dramatically Crop rotations add diversity to an operation Conservation Practices Nutrient Management Water Water Quality Quality Profits Profits Nutrient management is applying the correct amount and form of plant nutrients for optimum yield with minimal impacts on water quality. Conservation Practices

Nutrient Management Water Water Quality Quality Profits Profits How it helps... Sound nutrient management reduces input costs and protects water quality by preventing over application of commercial fertilizers and animal manure Correct manure and sludge application on all fields can improve soil tilth and organic matter Conservation Practices Wetlands Soil

Soil Erosion Erosion Water Water Quality Quality Wildlife Wildlife A wetland is a marsh-type area with saturated soils and water-loving plants. Wetlands provide wildlife habitat and serve as natural filters of agricultural runoff. Conservation Practices Wetlands Soil Soil Erosion

Erosion How it helps... Water Water Quality Quality Wetlands can provide natural pollution control. They remove nutrients, pesticides, and bacteria form surface waters and can act as efficient, lowcost sewage and animal waste treatment practices Wetlands filter and collect sediment from runoff water Wildlife Wildlife Because wetlands slow overland flow and store runoff water, they reduce both soil erosion and flooding downstream Many wetlands release water slowly into the

ground which recharges groundwater supplies Conservation Practices Pest Management Soil Soil Erosion Erosion Water Water Quality Quality Profits Profits Pest management is evaluating and using a tailored pest management system to reduce crop and

environmental damages. Scouting is done to identify insects, weeds, and diseases. Conservation Practices Pest Management Soil Soil Erosion Erosion How it helps... Scouting and spot treatment of only those pests that are threatening can save money Water Water Quality Quality Using fewer chemicals improves water quality

Profits Profits Specific treatments for specific pests on specific areas of a field prevents overtreatment of pests Conservation Practices Water and Sediment Control Basin Soil Soil Erosion Erosion Water Water Quality Quality Wildlife Wildlife

A water and sediment control basin is a short earthen dam built across a drainageway where a terrace is impractical; usually part of a terrace system. Conservation Practices Water and Sediment Control Basin Soil Soil Erosion Erosion How it helps... Water Water Quality Quality Basins improve water quality by trapping sediment on uplands and preventing it from

reaching water bodies Structures reduce gully erosion by controlling water flow within a drainage area Wildlife Wildlife Grass cover may provide habitat for wildlife Conservation Practices Terrace Soil Soil Erosion Erosion Water Water Quality Quality

Wildlife Wildlife A terrace is an earthen embankment around a hillside that stops water flow and stores it or guides it safely off a field. Conservation Practices Terrace Soil Soil Erosion Erosion How it helps... Both water and soil quality are improved Water Water Quality Quality

Wildlife Wildlife Terraces with grass on front or backslopes can provide valuable nesting habitat Conservation Practices Cover Crop Soil Soil Erosion Erosion Water Water Quality Quality Air Air Quality Quality

Cover crops are a close-growing crop that temporarily protects the soil when crop residues are not adequate. Conservation Practices Cover Crop Soil Soil Erosion Erosion How it helps... Water Water Quality Quality Air Air Quality Quality

Cover crops keep ground covered, add organic matter to the soil, trap nutrients, improve soil tilth, and reduce weed competition Conservation Choices Challenges Ahead... Farmers are applying conservation and environmental practices to their land at record rates. Farmers have accepted the challenge of protecting our natural resources and continue to educate themselves about new technologies and techniques as they are developed. Conservation Choices Your Helping Hand to Conservation The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Services technical staff is

here to give you a hand to help you put conservation on the land and protect and preserve our natural resources. Equal Opportunity Employer and Provider The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) prohibits discrimination in all its programs and activities on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, religion, age, disability, political beliefs, sexual orientation, or marital or family status. (Not all prohibited bases apply to all programs.) Persons with disabilities who require alternative means for communication of program information (Braille, large print, audio tape, etc.) should contact USDAs TARGET Center at 202-720-2600 (voice and TDD). To file a complaint of discrimination, write USDA, Director, Office of Civil Rights, Room 326-W, Whitten Building, 1400 Independence Avenue, SW, Washington, DC 20250-9410 or call (202) 720-5964 (voice and TDD). USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer.

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