Developing a Stewardship Plan for Water Quality

Project Overview

FNC94-086
Project Type: Farmer/Rancher
Funds awarded in 1994: $4,538.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/1996
Matching Non-Federal Funds: $97,300.00
Region: North Central
State: Michigan
Project Coordinator:

Commodities

  • Agronomic: canola, corn, soybeans, wheat, grass (misc. perennial), hay

Practices

  • Animal Production: manure management, feed/forage
  • Crop Production: strip tillage
  • Education and Training: demonstration, extension, farmer to farmer
  • Soil Management: composting

    Summary:

    PROJECT BACKGROUND
    My farming operation consists of 900 acres. Commodities are fairly diversified; they consist of approximately 450 acres of alfalfa and mixed hay, 175 acres of wheat, 100 acres of soybeans, 75 acres of canola, and 20 acres of corn. All crops are used as part the complete rotation. Also I have on the farm 32 acres of strip crops. The strips are of alfalfa, wheat, soybeans, and corn. Strips were set up in 1993 and will rotate each year.

    PROJECT DESCRIPTION AND RESULTS
    I will address possible changes that I may have to make in my farming operation so that I might continue to farm profitably. The onset of rules and regulations resulting from the Clean Water Act, the Costal Zone Management Act, and the Michigan Groundwater Legislation present a new barrier for farmers in Michigan. These barriers will be addressed collaboratively by doing a complete Farmstead Assessment and using the Best Management Practices as set forth in the Michigan Right to Farm Law.

    This grant will assist me in accomplishing the following:
    1) Soil testing
    2) Groundwater quality testing
    3) Manure and/or compost testing
    4) Part-time (student) help to keep logs and records
    5) Attend information meetings and workshops at Michigan State University and Michigan Department of Ag.

    In my request for funding we listed several things that we would try to accomplish. Over time we have fulfilled most of those expectations. Some things are still happening because of things that became part of our farming operation.

    The “Stewardship Plan for Water Quality” (SPWQ) was originally conceived to address the things a farmer might have to do to fulfill the requirements set forth in Michigan’s Groundwater Legislation. From the onset many people had an interest in and got involved in the project. The following is a list of individuals and their association with involved entities.

    Mr. Bob Pigg – MI Dept. of Agriculture
    Mr. Mark Schwartz – MI Dept. of Agriculture
    Mr. Jack Knorek – MI Dept. of Agriculture
    Ms. Vickie Pontz – MI Dept. of Agriculture at the onset was with Michigan Farm Bureau
    Ms. Vickie Anderson – NRCS
    Mr. Steve Barre – NRCS
    Ms. Jane Herbert – Local Soil Conservation District and Crooked Lake Association
    Mr. John Bartholic – Water Resource Institute
    Ms. Ruth – Water Resource Institute
    Mr. Dean Solomon – MSU Kellogg Biological Station
    Mr. Jim Good – MSU Cooperative Extension (County)
    Ms. Sally Stuby – MSU Cooperative Extension (State)
    Mr. Kevin Krik – Michigan Farm Bureau
    Ms. Meg Moyinhan – Michigan Integrated Food and Farming System
    Mr. Ben Zimont – Department of Natural Resources
    Ms. Gloria Hecht – Retired, Department of Natural Resources
    Ms. Mary Meagher – Crooked Lake Association
    Ms. Diane Finchem – Farmer and Neighbor
    Mr. James Fish Jr. – Farmer and Neighbor
    Mr. Tom Guthrie III – Farmer and Tom’s son

    Soil testing, water quality testing, manure, and compost testing has been done on the farm and will become an integral part of future fertility recommendations and applications. Original participant’s roles have changed so that my son Tom III, Ms. Diane Finchem, and Ms. Jane Herbert now keep records and do project activities. We have all at times attended Michigan State University and other workshops that have been related to water quality.

    Records have been kept of the various testing and are being coordinated as part of a total Nutrient Management Program for the farm. This program was developed and supported by MSU.

    All individuals involved in the project participated in a complete Farm-A-Syst evaluation. They also went on to complete an Ontario Environmental Plan for the farm. The Farm-A-Syst provided an awareness of some of the things around the farm that needed attention. The Ontario Farm Plan let us develop a plan for addressing some of these concerns.

    An assessment of an improved economic viability of the farm is hard to justify at this time. Many of the practices and other suggested practices will take much more time to start showing positive economic results. Much of the plan does make good environmental sense and will become a permanent part of the farming operation.

    Many of the things learned from these experiences were as much “what not to do” as they were “what to do”. These kinds of lessons learned can be shared with other farmers as well as non-farmers who might in some way have an interest in farming. Certainly the data bases of the collaborators involved have been enhanced. There is much more documented information to be shared.

    OUTREACH
    Field days have been held with a variety of audiences. Farmers have been the main targeted audiences, but MSU Extension, MI Department of Ag, MI Farm Bureau, NRCS, DNR, and High School Agriculture and FFA teachers have used the project as a resource to further educate their people about water quality and Sustainable Agriculture.

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.