Vance Glewen, who farms 850 acres in the southwest corner of Fond du Lac County and in the southeast corner of Green Lake County began participating in the Rock River Watershed Program in 2007. His farm is located along the South Branch of the Rock River.
"I've always done a lot of conservation practices on my farm," Glewen says. "I've had a conservation plan on the farm for many years."
Then in 2007, Glewen attended a meeting to learn more about establishing a nutrient management plan for his farm and about establishing grassed buffers to keep sediments and nutrients from entering the South Branch of the Rock River.
Glewen created traps – shallow scrapes – around the marshes on his land to prevent anything from running into the marsh.
"It turned into a wildlife habitat," Glewen says. "It's still production ag, but it has been treated with buffers and sediment traps."
He also has a nutrient management plan and an overall conservation plan including crop rotation."
Glewen says in addition to cost sharing 90% of the expense of establishing the grassed buffers, there is financial incentive to participate in the program.
"We laid out the economics of renting the land out, vs. farming it vs. putting it in his program," he explains. "What this does is provide income off that acreage and we don't have to plant or harvest this land. You know for 15 years what your income off those acres is."
Glewen says it's also nice not to have to come back and plant the land near the marsh when it dries out in the spring, typically after the rest of the land in the field is already planted. He also likes his silt traps.
"There's a huge benefit to the silt traps because you can use the soil on areas of the field that need the soil, like the top of the hill. It's kind of like reverse erosion," Glewen explains.
"I did this to help my land first and foremost, but I get an immense feeling of satisfaction seeing all of the birds and wildlife around the marsh," Glewen says. "We have white pelicans, shoveler ducks, a bald eagle and hundreds of egrets. We get birdwatchers out here who are just excited about what they see. It's wonderful to know we're helping the environment."