Controlling Phosphorous Run-off: A Pilot Project Experiments with Monitoring and Management

Project Summary: New grazing and monitoring programs on a buffalo farm managed by the Oneida Tribe are helping reduce excessive fertilizer and manure runoff from entering the Fox River.

Project Name: Oneida Tribe Buffalo Farm

Location: Near Green Bay, Wisconsin

Description: The Lower Fox River watershed had increasing phosphorous loads over the last few years due to nutrient run-off from area farms. A new pilot project has funded numerous ways of monitoring farm activity and improving farm practices to minimize excess phosphorous use. With 48 contracts to help nearby farms in the Fox River watershed, almost 20,000 acres are covered.

The Oneida Tribe of Wisconsin's Farm utilizes a rotational grazing system for their buffalo herd, which helps reduce runoff into the Fox River. Photo courtesy of the USDA-NRCS.

The Oneida Tribe of Wisconsin’s Farm utilizes a rotational grazing system for their buffalo herd, which helps reduce runoff into the Fox River. Photo courtesy of the USDA-NRCS.

Thanks to this program, the Oneida Tribe of Indians of Wisconsin run a farm that has been able to expand its acreage, change how the buffalo graze on the land, and manage how the herd interacts with water on the property. As their herd reached 140 buffalo, with only 150 acres of pasture, access to healthy pasture became an issue. With help from the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative and the Natural Resources Conservation Service, the Oneida Tribe was able to expand their pasture to 214 acres. Additionally, a rotational grazing system was implemented, allowing the plant life to recover and ultimately be more nutritious for the buffalo. How water reaches the buffalo heard was changed, and benefits to water quality have been noticed.

Workers install edge-of-field monitoring equipment on the border of an agricultural field within the Fox River watershed. Photo courtesy of the USDA-NRCS.

Workers install edge-of-field monitoring equipment on the border of an agricultural field within the Fox River watershed. Photo courtesy of the USDA-NRCS.

Approximate Cost: $70,000 with some of funding from the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative

Resource Challenges Addressed: High nutrient levels in waterways, algae blooms, and lack of funds for conservation efforts in agriculture

Key Partners (Public and Private): Great Lakes Restoration Initiative; U.S. Geological Survey; Environmental Protection Agency; Natural Resources Conservation Service; Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection; Outagamie County Land Conservation Department; and Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources

Types of Jobs Created: Scientists, engineers, hydrologists, construction workers, fencing contractors, well diggers, conservationists, and general laborers

Results and Accomplishments: On the Oneida Buffalo farm, a rotational grazing system was implemented, allowing the plant life to recover and ultimately be more nutritious for the buffalo. A well and watering facilities were also installed on the property, which controls how often the herd interacts with water. These changes have improved forage quality, are keeping pastures healthier, and have reduced ways for pathogens from the buffalo to enter the water supply.

Website: http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/main/wi/newsroom/stories/

Originally Published: August 30, 2013

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