Helping Saugeen Watershed Farmers Conserve Topsoil, Improve Water Quality

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Tori Waugh describes it as the best bang for their buck.

She’s the new Agricultural Outreach Coordinator for Saugeen Conservation.

She’s talking about their new Cover Crop Incentive Program.

The program pays farmers 10 dollars an acre to plant a cover crop, up to 200 acres.

Waugh says cover crops will conserve valuable topsoil, reduce erosion, improve water quality and enhance soil phosphorous retention.

“They’re the ones that see first the water quality coming off of gullies, they’re the ones that see their soil erosion first, so they’re the ones that are kinda more acutely aware of what’s going on on their own property in terms of their soil health and in terms of their water quality.”

Waugh points to positive results from a similar program in Huron County.

The goal is to spread the 17 thousand dollars budgeted for the program this year evenly across the Saugeen watershed.

However, Waugh says they will give more weight to applications from farmers planning to put those cover crops on land that’s especially vulnerable to erosion.

“A steep slope going over a thousand feet and have a waterway directly on their property, that’s going to show to us that it’s land highly susceptible to erosion that will impact a waterway.”

She points out farmers are the experts on what’s going on on their own property in terms of soil health and water quality.

To qualify, farmers have to be seeding a cover crop mixture of at least two varieties and leaving it on their field over winter.

More details are on the Saugeen Conservation website – or by calling Tori Waugh at 519-364-3040, extension 249.

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Agricultural Outreach Coordinator Tori Waugh says besides improving topsoil, the program will also help improve water quality.

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Waugh says planting that crop will help farmers conserve valuable topsoil, reduce erosion, improve water quality and enhance soil phosphorous retention.

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Waugh says while they’d like to distribute the funding evenly across the watershed, they’ll also be giving a little added weight to applications from farmers with land that’s especially vulnerable to erosion.