In 2020, a record number of farmers in the watershed signed up for cost-share for conservation practices through Yahara Pride Farms (YPF), which receives funding from Yahara WINS. With the addition of 18 new farms in 2020 (a net increase of 11 from 2019), 56 farms implemented one or more conservation practices with the help of YPF cost-share. According to YPF, the increased signups may have partially been due to favorable weather for conservation practices, but also the increasing interest in conservation practices.
The practice with the biggest increase in sign-ups from 2019 to 2020 was overwintering of cover crops, a practice that has been shown to result in 55% less water runoff and 50% less soil loss annually than on fields with no cover crops. Additionally, YPF began offering cost-share in 2020 for a new practice of delayed termination of alfalfa, which keeps alfalfa on fields over the winter rather than terminating it in the fall. Twenty-three farmers signed up for this practice, which acts like a cover crop to stabilize soil to prevent runoff.
YPF has been helping local farmers become more familiar with new conservation practices and learn how they can be implemented on their farms. Before implementing new practices, farmers need to have confidence that the practice will work on their farms. Through demonstration days and peer education, YPF is helping farmers grow that confidence in new practices and is providing resources to make implementation of those practices possible.