Conservation Practices

The following is a partial detailed list of BWSR approved conservation practices which have been set as a priority for Brown SWCD cost share funding

Grass Waterways
Shaping and establishing grass in a natural drainageway to prevent gullies from forming.

A natural drainageway is graded and shaped to form a  smooth, bowl-shaped channel.  This area is seeded to sod-forming grasses.  Runoff water that flows down the drainageway flows across the grass rather than tearing away soil and forming a larger gully.  An outlet is often installed at the base of the drainageway to stabilize the waterway and prevent a new gully from forming.

An earthen embankment around a hillside that stops water flow and stores it or guides it safely off a field.

Terraces break long slopes into shorter ones.  They usually follow the contour.  As water makes its way down a hill, terraces serve as small dams to intercept water and guide it to an outlet.

There are two basic types of terraces:

  • Storage terraces collect water and store it until it can infiltrate into the ground or be released through a stable outlet. 
  • Gradient terraces are designed as a channel to slow runoff water and carry it to a stable outlet like a grassed waterway.

Riparian Buffer Strips
Strip of grass or legumes which is adjacent to a drainage ditch, stream, river or lake which helps trap sediment and nutrients.

Critical Area Stabilization
Planting grass or other vegetation to protect a badly eroding area from soil erosion.

Grass, legumes, trees or shrubs are established in small, isolated areas of excessive erosion.  The vegetation provides surface cover to stop the raindrop splash and slow water flow.

Earthen embankment similar to a terrace that directs runoff water from a specific area.

A diversion often built at the base of a slope to divert runoff away from bottom lands.  A diversion may also be used to divert runoff flows away from a feedlot, or to collect and direct water to a pond.

Field Windbreaks / Farmstead Shelterbelts
Rows of trees and shrubs that protect areas from wind and provide food and cover for wildlife.

Multiple rows of coniferous trees or a combination of coniferous and deciduous trees are planted to protect a farmstead or feedlot from wind and snow.  One or two rows of shrubs are also often planted.  The established windbreak slows wind on the down-wind side of the windbreak for a distance of 10 times the height of the trees.  The tree rows also act like a snow fence, trapping snow within the windbreak.  Field windbreaks can also be planted to reduce wind speed in open fields.

Contour Stripcropping
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.

Crops are arranged so that a strip of meadow or small grain is alternated with a strip of row crop.  Not more than half a field can be planted to row crops.  Meadow slows runoff, increases infiltration, traps sediment and provides surface cover.  Ridges formed by contoured rows slow water flow which reduces erosion.  Rotating the strips from corn to legumes allows nutrient-needy crops to benefit from the nitrogen added to the soil by legumes.  This practice combines the beneficial effects of contouring and crop rotation.

Other Approved Practices Include:

  • Streambank, Shoreland and Roadside Projects
  • Sediment Retention, Erosion or Water Control Structures
  • Waste Management Systems

References and more conservation practices information:

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