Farmers use grass waterways to keep water clean

There are many ways a farmer can help the water in their fields become cleaner downstream and grass waterways is one practice being used by Nor-Kin Dairy Farms.

Peninsula Pride Farms hosted their second Conservation Conversation on Tuesday, July 28 in one of Sam Kinnard’s fields in Kewaunee County. Those that attended discussed the value and use of grass waterways.

“The main reason for the grass waterway is to keep water within our fields and help with the flow of water,” Kinnard said.

Kinnard and his wife, Shari, have used grass waterways for decades to help maintain water on their fields. Sam was taught early on by his father the importance of conservation and sustaining the land and has continued that mindset throughout his 270 acres. While a grass waterway can significantly reduce erosion, it also provides a way for crops to soak in the nutrients.

Grass waterways appear to be a hands-off practice, but they must be maintained yearly or the water won’t move properly through the field.

“Maintaining the grass waterway is important and I try to mow it once or twice a year depending on the weather conditions,” Kinnard explained.

Kinnard recently replaced a section of his grass waterway in one of his fields on Thayse Road and shared the reasoning for why he decided to do this.

“This part of our grass waterway, with all the rain had washed out, and what we had wasn’t doing its job,” he said. “We redid this section of our waterway by regrading and taking a lot of stones out before reseeding it to help with the water flow. We also redid some of the tile line to help with the water flow underground. Doing all these things has helped with maintaining the waterway and sustaining our water.”

Farmers over the years have placed a great emphasis on sustaining and conserving the land they own and operate, not only for their families but for the community around them.

“The reason we are talking conservation with farmers is because the small things can make a big difference downstream,” said Nathan Nysse from Tilth Agronomy who helped lead the conversation. “We all work together and are doing this for the environment. The water in this waterway flows through to the neighbor’s yard and if we can do our part to keep this cleaner here, it ends up being a lot cleaner water downstream. We want to emphasize the small projects farmers are doing to keep their environment better for everyone else.”

PPF’s Conservation Conversations are set for the last Thursday of each month and will be hosted by different member farms. Check for more information.

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