Seal of Dane County County of Dane
County Executive's Office

Plane Seeds Farm Fields North of Lake Mendota, Launching New Partnership Between County and Farmers to Clean Lakes

August 21, 2012
Casey Slaughter Becker, Office of the County Executive 608.267.8823 or cell, 608.843.8858
County Executive


An innovative new partnership between Dane County and farm families that will keep fields full of crops and area lakes and streams cleaner kicked off early this morning.


Dane County Executive Joe Parisi joined Town of Springfield farmer Jeff Endres and other officials this morning to survey some of the 280 acres of farmland that was seeded by an airplane shortly after dawn. Another 540 acres of fields will be seeded in the weeks ahead by additional farmers in that part of the county.  It’s all part of an innovative new effort to slow the run-off of pollution like phosphorus into the Yahara Chain of Lakes. 


“Once again, our hard-working farm families are stepping up to be a part of the solutions the county and its partners know will greatly improve the health of our lakes and streams,” said Parisi.  “This innovative new program is easy and affordable, and will make a significant impact in the cleanliness of our lakes and streams.”


Twenty farm families agreed to partner with Dane County on this new effort, which involves planting cover crops like winter rye to ensure that farm fields remain full after harvesting the farm’s regular crops.  The planting will protect 820 acres of farm fields, otherwise vulnerable to increased runoff, from large rain or melting events over the late fall and winter.  That will help keep pollutants, like phosphorus from running off of farm fields and getting into the lakes and adjacent waterways.


The cover crop program is estimated to remove 820 pounds of phosphorus from the lakes, the leading cause of unsightly algae blooms in area lakes.   Removing just one pound of phosphorus from the watershed prevents 500 pounds of algae from forming.


The farms belong to the Yahara Pride Farms organization within the Clean Lakes Alliance.  Many have already partnered with the county on a variety of other clean lakes solutions that will dramatically reduce the amount of runoff that enters our lakes.


“The Clean Lakes Alliance and Yahara Pride Farms are extremely excited about this innovative approach to reduce soil loss from runoff,” said Don Heilman, President of the Clean Lakes Alliance.  “This progressive approach by our farm partners illustrates the dedication we all have for cleaner lakes.”


Participation in the cover crop program comes at no cost to farm partners.  Farmers are given an incentive payment of $40 per acre for the number of acres they agree to seed.


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