TIPPECANOE COUNTY, Ind. (WLFI) - A $325,000 federal grant will support the Wabash River Enhancement Corporation's cost-share program, which reimburses farmers for implementing sustainable farming practices.
The grant also helps the corporation promote the program and educate the community about water quality issues, says watershed coordinator Shannon Stanis.
"Agricultural practices like cover crops, grass waterways and two-stage ditches are all things that can be done on our corn and soybean agricultural fields that actually hold water in place and hold nutrients in place so that we are reducing the amount that is running off into our streams that lead to the Wabash River," she says.
Stanis says the corporation will reimburse farmers up to 75 percent of the cost of these practices.
"And that's important because these things can be expensive and it's not something that folks can always pay for out of pocket," she says.
Jane Frankenberger, an expert in water quality at Purdue University, says the cost-share program is a win-win for farmers.
"Practices like cover crops are good for the water and also good for the farmers because it keeps the nutrients there and also builds soil health, which is so important," she says.
Fertilizers are good in the fields but can promote the growth of algae in streams and cause other water quality issues, Frankenberger says.
"Nitrogen and phosphorous are great on corn but when they get into the water, they also cause plants to grow in the water and that's where we don't want them," she says.
Stanis says applications for the cost-share program are due in March.
The corporation is also planning its 10th Wabash sampling blitz next week. Volunteers will sample local streams to assess their water quality.
You can find more information on the Wabash River Enhancement Corporation website.