Grass waterways — thinking ahead …

By Ryan Evers - Conservation in the County

This is a great time of the year to consider where you may need grassed waterways. Although they can be inconvenient to farm around, they are very effective in saving the soil on your farm. As you are harvesting your fields this fall look for small gullies and erosion control issues. This well-known practice is installed to repair small gullies in crop fields, and manage the flow of rainfall runoff. Grassed waterways are typically 30 to 50 feet wide, are designed to be crossed by farm equipment, and typically include installation of a tile which helps keep the waterway dry. The continuous signup portion of the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), administered by USDA-Farm Service Agency, is a particularly attractive program for assisting landowners with the installation of waterways. Currently financial assistance is available based on the current Farm Bill. The best way to plan for a grassed waterway next year is to plant the field to wheat this fall, since the construction can occur after wheat harvest and still allow time for the grass seeding to get established. Waterways can also be constructed in the spring. Ideal conditions allow for installation of the tile in the fall and construct the waterway the following spring or summer. The district needs time to investigate, survey and design the waterway, so don’t wait to sign up, the best time to install is shortly after wheat harvest. Once your grassed waterway is installed it is important to maintain it in order for it to do its job.

CRP Programs

The Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) has cost share dollars for installing grassed waterways. The program is as good as it has ever been. Because it is a water quality issue, federal dollars are available through the Farm Service Agency to assist landowners with the cost of construction. Currently, a certain percentage of the cost of installation is reimbursable to the landowner. Another percentage of the installation cost will be rewarded to the landowner as in incentive payment. In addition, landowners are eligible to receive rental payments on the area seeded for a period of ten years, which is the life expectancy of the sod waterway. The minimum eligibility requirements for a sod waterway include:

1. Site must be in cropland 4 out of 6 years from 2008 – 2013

2. Must have an erosion concern

3. Must have adequate outlets for the surface and subsurface drainage

If you have an eroded area (gully), contact the office to setup a site visit. The SWCD personnel will determine if the site is eligible and explain the program to you. One extremely crucial factor is that waterways take several months from start to finish, so contact us in advance.

If you are interested in learning more about sod waterways or any other conservation program, please call the Shelby SWCD at 937-492–6520. For program details, eligibility and cost share rates contact FSA at 937-492–6520, ext. 100

Thank you to all who have thought about and implemented conservation measures on the land. Conservation efforts would not be where they are at the present day without the people right here in Shelby County willingly signing up for these programs. This shows devotion and a desire for continued water quality for a cleaner tomorrow.

By Ryan Evers

Conservation in the County

The writer is a district technician for Shelby Soil & Water Conservation District. He can be reached at 937-492-6520, ext. 119 or via email,

The writer is a district technician for Shelby Soil & Water Conservation District. He can be reached at 937-492-6520, ext. 119 or via email,