1124 Professional Drive
Suite #500
Dodgeville ,
WI
53533

8 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.
Monday - Friday
County Conservationist
Katherine Abbott
Conservation Specialist
Landon Baumgartner
Conservation Technician
Sarah Hovis
Department Assistant
Mayme Keagy

Land Conservation FAQ

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General Questions

We are located in the USDA Service Center at 1124 Professional Drive in Dodgeville. Professional Drive connects off of Grace Street, which runs between Culver’s and McDonald’s. When you come in the main doors, take a left at the end of the hallway and our office is down that hall on the right.

Nutrient Management Planning is an excellent tool for ensuring your crop is getting needed nutrients without wasting money or risking water contamination from over-application. A Nutrient Management Plan will also calculate soil loss and phosphorus levels to make sure you are in compliance with State Agriculture Performance Standards.

Anyone who wishes to claim the Farmland Preservation Program income tax credit must have a current Nutrient Management Plan (NMP) on file with the Land Conservation Department. NMPs are also required for certain cost-sharing practices or permits (such as the County’s manure storage permit). NMPs are also required by Wisconsin Administrative Codes NR151 and ATCP50 for any farmers who apply fertilizer or manure.

Farmers can work with an agronomist to write nutrient management plans, or write their own if they successfully complete training that meets the standards. Iowa County UW-Extension and Land Conservation regularly hold these trainings.

If you are a landowner who rents out your farmland, talk to your renter. They may already have included your property in their own NMP.

The first step is to test the nutrient levels in your soil. Nutrient recommendations and restrictions are based on these soil tests. A computer program called SNAPplus takes into account soil tests, crop rotations, tillage, soil type, slope, and other factors to alert you to any under- or over-application, erosion, or other issues. Contact your agronomist or the Land Conservation Department for more details.

Ideally all plans would be updated each year to take into account the previous year’s yields and actual nutrient application rates. While the Land Conservation Department prefers to receive an update each year via the Department of Agriculture checklist, we are not currently finding landowners out of compliance for the Farmland Preservation tax credit for not submitting a checklist.

However, soil tests must be re-taken every four years, followed by a new NMP to reflect the new soil tests. If these are not turned in in a timely manner you will not be able to claim the tax credit. We prefer to receive plans and updates before the cropping season starts. Please call the Land Conservation Department to discuss this timeline.

Annual updates are particularly important for farmers applying manure as those rates tend to be more variable, if your crop yield was significantly different than predicted, or if you want to change tillage or crop rotation.

If you are new to the program, contact the Land Conservation Department. The biggest hurdle is often completing a Nutrient Management Plan and this must be completed in the year for which you wish to take the credit, preferably before the cropping season starts. A site visit is also likely required. Once the Land Conservation Department finds your farm complies with the Agriculture Performance Standards we will issue a Certificate of Compliance.

If you have already taken the tax credit, your Certificate of Compliance remains active unless there is an ownership change or your farm falls out of compliance. We will issue a new Certificate if the owner name changes (for example changing to a Trust) or if land is sold. If new land is purchased it must be included in an updated Nutrient Management Plan and verified to be following the Agriculture Performance Standards to be eligible.

Contact the Land Conservation Department as soon as possible, as our funding is often spoken for 6-12 months in advance of the project. The Natural Resources Conservation Service also provides cost-sharing; they have sign-up periods once or twice a year, often in the fall. They also need to be contacted well ahead of application deadlines as eligibility verification, paperwork, and site visits may be needed before an application is valid.

There are over 35 types of practices we can cost-share, and many more that could be funded through the Natural Resources Conservation Service. If it solves a soil loss, water quality, nutrient, or wildlife issue there is a good chance there is a program to help, so if you have an idea or question please give us a call! Some of the most common practices that the Land Conservation Department funds include grassed waterways, cattle stream crossings, spring developments, nutrient management planning, and well decommissions.

 

Please see our list of contractors. Contactors are added to the list at their request and in no way constitutes a recommendation from Iowa County. It’s always wise to compare prices, ask for references, and ask your friends and neighbors about their experiences.

Contact your local Farm Services Agency office. The Iowa County office can be reached at 608-935-2791 x2.

In Iowa County, Managed Forest Law (MFL) questions should be directed to DNR forester Jason Sable (608-935-1964). Non-MFL questions can be directed to DNR forest Tom Hill (608- 574-0859). There are also many private foresters, consultants, and non-profits that can help. The DNR maintains a list of cooperating foresters at https://dnr.wi.gov/topic/ForestLandowners/locator/. MyWisconsinWoods.org is also a good place to start.

Related to agricultural practices, you will likely need a permit when building a manure storage structure or when making any alterations to a stream or wetland.

A Wisconsin animal feeding operation with 1,000 animal units or more, or smaller farms that discharge pollutants to navigable waters or contaminate a well, will need a Wisconsin Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (WPDES) permit from the Department of Natural Resources.

Other uses and alterations may require a permit so check with your Township, County planning office, or related State department to verify permitted uses.


 

Below is a summary of the Standards. For full details see the Wisconsin Administrative Code NR151 Subchapter II https://docs.legis.wisconsin.gov/document/administrativecode/subch.%20II%20of%20ch.%20NR%20151: 
All Farmers Must:

  • Meet tolerable soil loss (“T”) on cropped fields and pastures.
  • Annually develop and follow a Nutrient Management Plan (NMP) designed to keep nutrients and sediment from entering lakes, streams, wetlands and groundwater. Farmers may hire a certified crop advisor or prepare their own NMP if they have received proper training.
  • Use the phosphorous index (PI) standard to ensure that their NMP adequately controls phosphorous runoff over the accounting period.
  • Avoid tilling within 5 feet of the edge of the bank of surface waters. This setback may be extended up to 20 feet to ensure bank integrity and prevent soil deposition.

Farmers With Livestock Must:

  • Prevent direct runoff from feedlots or stored manure from entering lakes, streams, wetlands and groundwater.
  • Limit access or otherwise manage livestock along lakes, streams and wetlands to maintain vegetative cover and prevent erosion.
  • Prevent significant discharges of process wastewater (milkhouse waste, feed leachate, etc.) into lakes, streams, wetlands, or groundwater.


Farmers Who Have, or Plan to Build, Manure Storage Structures Must:

  • Maintain structures to prevent overflow and maintain contents at or below the specified margin of safety.
  • Repair or upgrade any failing or leaking structures to prevent negative impacts to public health, aquatic life and groundwater.
  • Close idle structures according to accepted standards.
  • Meet technical standards for newly constructed or significantly altered structures.
     

Farmers with Land in a Water Quality Manage­ment Area (300 feet from streams, 1,000 feet from a lake, or in areas susceptible to groundwater contamination) Must:

  • Avoid stacking manure in unconfined piles.

Divert clean water away from feedlots, manure storage areas, and barnyards located within this area.