Sand County Foundation is committed to Aldo Leopold’s land ethic.
Integral to the land ethic is the idea of land and water as inseparable
elements of one biotic community. The substantial impact of production
agriculture on water quality throughout the Midwest, therefore, is
naturally a major focus of Sand County Foundation’s project work.
The Agricultural Incentives Program was established in 2003 to find
creative ways to address the degradation of surface waters by nutrients
running off agricultural land. The Program emphasizes nitrogen and
phosphorus runoff reduction at the watershed scale — through projects
Sand County Foundation operates or supports directly, and also through
efforts to bring together directors and key stakeholders of projects
operated by other groups throughout the Upper Midwest. We also continue
efforts to evaluate individual nitrogen runoff reduction practices,
working with local and regional partners.
Ag Incentives operates in Wisconsin and other states in the Midwest,
the nation’s agricultural heartland and home of the two largest
watersheds, most populous watersheds in North America: the Mississippi
River and Great Lakes Basins. Its projects seek creative ways to keep
nitrogen and phosphorus on the land where they can help grow corn,
soybeans, and alfalfa, and out of the water where they only help grow
Good science. Incentives targeted to practices and projects intended
to have a positive impact on water quality. Experimenting with markets
that could reduce the cost of clean water for everyone by paying
farmers for preventing pollution. Demonstrating and developing new or
underused practices that can keep nutrient out of surface water without
taking land out of production. These are the tools Ag Incentives uses
to help a small organization make a big difference.