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water quality

Quantifying Water Quality Benefits of Conservation Practices

Although we know that farm conservation practices, like cover crops, reduced tillage and nutrient management, as well as improve overall performance and environmental outcomes, it’s difficult to say exactly how these practices affect resources, such as water quality. We can say that the water coming off of a field with conservation practices might “look cleaner,” but what does this really mean in terms of nitrogen, phosphorous, and sediment? These challenges can make it difficult for producers to decide which practices to implement, because there’s no way to determine which are the most effective at improving their soil health or reducing their environmental impact. There’s an element of risk as well, because it’s difficult to predict how new conservation practices might affect yield.