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Farmer-Led Watershed Initiatives (fwd)
Two weeks ago I sent an inquiry regarding watershed projects that were
farmer-led. I have been looking for projects that have used innovative
ways to reduce agriculture's impact on the environment. I received a
tremendous response. Several responses were from Australia, as could be
expected. Below is a brief summary of the postings, as promised. Thanks
for the responses.
"Depending on how flexible your definition is of "farmer-led" efforts,
there are tons of potential projects like this. Many of these will have
had public funding support, such as Clean Water Act Section 319 Nonpoint
Source dollars. There are others that were initiated using private funding
sources. One of these (although it does have some 319 funding now) is the
Raccoon River Watershed Project in Iowa, managed by Roger Wolf...Also,
CTIC's national watershed network may be a source of information."
Dr. Dwight S. Fisher:
"We have a SARE grant that is funded and getting underway and entitled
"Producer Assessment of Land Management Practices to Protect Water
Quality". Both proposals are geared toward producer involvement in the
process of evaluation of BMPs. The work is in the Greenbriar Creek and
Rose Creek watersheds south of the station here in Watkinsville."
"Are you familiar with Water for Every Farm--Yeomans Keyline Method, by PA
Yeomans? It is the only system I know of in which farmers, aiming for
profit, using mainly conventional equipment or equipment close enough to be
comfortable, actually build soil instead of just maintaining it. It was
developed in Australia."
Earle W. Cummings:
John Anderson...has long been active with the California Native
Grass Association and the Yolo Resource Conservation District...He grows
native grass seed for watershed restoration as a commercial crop, and has
developed several watershed management practices in addition to encouraging
perennial grass restoration. He can demonstrate roadside plantings that
support overwintering beneficial insects, emergent wetland plantings in
irrigation tailwater recovery ponds that efficiently recapture sediment and
nutrients, or levee plantings that reduce maintenance costs on flood
protection structures as well as improving wildlife habitat and increasing
farm revenue by increasing rents available to the farmer for hunting use.
..You will also hear about Dennis Bowker, who has developed the concept of
Land Stewardships. These are watershed-based groups that stake out a role
for themselves as soil and water problem solvers. The Huichica Land
Stewardship was developed in a grape growing region, the Napa Valley.
Water quality, flooding, and endangered species concerns were being raised,
with grape growers being cast as the villains. With Dennis' help, the
vineyard owners took responsibility for managing their watershed more
actively. Interplantings of perennial grasses between rows of grapes, more
efficient irrigation systems, terracing to reduce sediment runoff and so on
are becoming the norm."
"You might want to contact the Montana Salinity Control Association. They
work with individual farmers and with farmer groups that want to mitigate
and prevent saline seep in dryland and irrigated cropping systems. Several
groups are working on an underground watershed basis, focusing on both the
seep and upland recharge areas, some covering several square miles and many
landowners. I know they also have a project with a bird refuge and
the surrounding farmers and ranchers whose farm management over the
years has impacted the refuge's water quality."
"One of the major impacts of a nation wide 'Decade of Land Care' in
Australia has been the mushrooming of large and small "catchment groups"
who come together to manage the soil, water and natural vegetation
resources on just the voluntary watershed-based principles you seem to be
You should be able to search land care and Landcare on the WWW."
Dr. Stewart Lockie:
"If you are looking for farmer-led catchment management initiatives more
generally you may like to look into the Australian Landcare Program, which
now has, reportedly, over 3,000 groups. Many of these groups are involved in
farm and catchment planning, as well as a range of other catchment
management activities. Landcare is supported and promoted by both the
Federal and State governments, but Landcare groups are themselves voluntary
The most recent books on Landcare are:
Lockie, S. and Vanclay, F. (1997) Critical Landcare. Centre for Rural Social
Research: Wagga Wagga. email Frank Vanclay at firstname.lastname@example.org for
Campbell, A. (1994) Landcare: Communities Shaping the Land and the Future.
Allen and Unwin: Sydney."
"In Australia the different states have formally initiated community-based
catchment management initiatives that are a partnership between the
community groups (mainly farmers and rural community dwellers
and larger urban communities), local governmant and state government
agencies responsible for town and country planning, watershed management,
as well as agriculture and terrestial, estuarine and marine resource
management in general. In Queensland this is known as Catchment Care
and...seeks to take a more regional ICM approach to resource management
than LandCare (which also continues)."
"Check with City of Syracuse NY whole farm planning program on Skaneateles
Lake which is water supply for 450000 people. Contact Lee MacBeth City of
Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy
2105 First Avenue South
Minneapolis, Minnesota USA 55404
Direct phone 612-870-3420
General phone 612-870-0453