Protecting Water Quality in the Sheboygan River Watershed
The Nature Conservancy is working with Sheboygan County conservation staff, farmers and other partners to test a more efficient and effective way to improve water quality in area streams.
One of the challenges facing farmers in Wisconsin and nationwide is keeping sediment and nutrients on the land and out of rivers and lakes.
Too many nutrients in rivers and lakes can lead to algae blooms, which foul beaches and degrade habitat for fish and other aquatic plants and animals.
The Conservancy and its partners are using science to target conservation practices on those fields and pastures with the greatest potential for contributing nutrients to streams.
The partners are working with landowners and farm operators to gather information on crop rotation, fertilizer, manure applications, etc. Soil samples are taken on each field and pasture at no cost to the landowner.
Sheboygan County conservation staff are working with 11 farm owners in Otter Creek, the test watershed, to identify and implement alternative management practices.
Alternative practices include installing grassed waterways in fields and buffers along Otter Creek to absorb runoff.
Other conservation practices such as changing corn and soybeans to no-till and planting cover crops to reduce soil erosion and, thus, nutrient loss, are also being implemented by farmers in Otter Creek watershed.
Scientists are gathering data on stream flow and water quality so we can measure any changes in nutrient levels as a result of the implementation of conservation practices.
Scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey are collecting sediment samples to determine the amount of phosphorus stream banks are releasing back into the stream.
We believe this targeted approach will not only improve water quality in streams but benefit farmers as well by retaining more soil on farm fields, reducing fertilizer runoff and improving dairy cow pastures.