Innovations in agriculture
Agriculture is an important part of our local economy and culture. In fact, two out of every three acres in the Yahara River Watershed is farmland. Agricultural lands within southern Wisconsin supply dairy, produce, meat, and other products to national and international markets.
Partners like Yahara Pride Farms, Dane County, Yahara WINs, and Clean Lakes Alliance are working to promote smart management strategies. The efforts balance environmental stewardship with farm sustainability and profitability. This will help protect water quality and our local farms.
What is LDMI?
Low-disturbance manure injection (LDMI) is a farming method using a piece of equipment that injects manure several inches under the soil surface. This technique places the nutrients into the crop’s root zone and prevents them from washing off the soil surface.
When manure washes into nearby waterways, it brings harmful nutrients like phosphorus into our lakes. Phosphorus is the main culprit of algae blooms. Just one pound of phosphorus can generate up to 500 pounds of algae in our lakes.
Why is LDMI needed in our watershed?
Manure spreading allows farmers to recycle nutrients already on their lands. However, when manure is spread on the agricultural surface, it can easily wash into nearby waterways. Manure spreading is highly dependent upon the weather. Rain or snowmelt can have a negative impact on manure spreading efforts by causing runoff.
LDMI is a more ecologically-friendly way of contributing nutrients to agricultural lands. The process uses injection equipment to place the manure below the soil surface. This helps facilitate nutrient uptake, it prevents runoff, and reduces odors.
Clean Lakes Alliance’s role
Clean Lakes Alliance hosted a demonstration in 2013 that focused on LDMI. We then worked with Dane County to make the purchase of LDMI equipment an eligible cost-share practice beginning in 2016.
Clean Lakes Alliance contributed $60,000 to Yahara WINS in 2017. The funds helped Yahara Pride Farms purchase LDMI equipment to be rented out to area farmers. The land seeing the most use is in the northern part of the watershed. This is an area with a high density of dairy farms.
The equipment cost-share program is one way farmers can reduce their financial risk. They are able to perform conservation techniques like LDMI without having to lease or own the equipment themselves.
LDMI status in our watershed
The LDMI program helped 20 fields and 361 tillable acres in 2013. By 2018, 196 fields participated in the program and involved 3,293 tillable acres. As a result, the LDMI program achieved a 3,945-pound “edge of field” phosphorus reduction in 2018! This is the amount of phosphorus kept from washing off of agricultural fields.
- Read the entire Yahara Pride Farms 2018 Phosphorus Reduction Report