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Funding is limited and is available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Whole Farms for Clean Water Flyer
Download and share our project flyer with your network of farmers!

Grow a healthy business while improving water quality

Through this project the Huron River Watershed Council aims to empower you to measurably reduce phosphorus runoff into the Huron River and Lake Erie with sustainable and profitable long-term conservation approaches that are good for your farm.

WE can identify measurable, flexible and cost-effective conservation techniques for your farm and fields.

Our project team, including farm consultants and agronomists, will work directly with you to collect farm and field-specific information. We combine your farm data with watershed-level nutrient and economic modeling. The model predicts measurable results for a variety of conservation practices. Together we will explore scenarios and conservation options that meet your business goals.

YOU will be eligible to get paid for calculated reductions in phosphorus for the techniques you choose to implement.

More than reducing phosphorus runoff, working with Whole Farms for Clean Water is an investment in the success of your farm.

During the project, you can choose to develop a Whole Farm Plan. It is a comprehensive plan for your farm that recommends new markets and long-term approaches for profitability across your entire farm operation. The Whole Farm Plan captures your farm’s history, resources, opportunities and constraints. It investigates and suggests potential revenue streams and conservation practices. It identifies the best local, state and federal resources and partnerships for achieving your business goals.

Data-Driven. We use farm and field-specific information combined with Huron River-specific watershed-level nutrient and economic modeling. The data informs the appropriate best management practices for reducing phosphorus runoff from your fields and saving you money.
Responsive. Technical staff will meet with you in person to input shared information into a model and run scenarios of different management practices together.
Flexible. The model can estimate the technical performance (per pound of phosphorus reduced) and cost-effectiveness of the conservation practices that are best for your business.
Profitable. You get paid (per pound of phosphorus reduced) when you implement conservation practices.
Measurable. You will  find out what actions will make a measurable difference.
Lasting. Get a customized Whole Farm Plan produced by a professional agronomist for your farming operation to use beyond the project.
Confidential. Your information will be kept private and only used for the program. No information that identifies specific participants or farms will be shared with anyone outside of the project team without your express permission.
You are in Control. You decide what is best for the bottom line of your farm.

Immediate Questions

Contact Whole Farms for Clean Water project manager, Ric Lawson via email or call (734) 769-5123 x 609.

Project Support

The Environmental Protection Agency is providing financial support in the amount of $649,353 to the Huron River Watershed Council for the Whole Farms for Clean Water project. Principal project partners include Environmental Consulting and Technology, Ohio State University, Solutions in the Land and the University of Michigan.

Important Information

The Huron River watershed is contributing significant phosphorus loads to Lake Erie. Excess nutrients in Lake Erie have caused numerous harmful algae blooms, affecting drinking water, fish populations, recreation and tourism. Next to the Detroit River and the River Raisin, the Huron River is Michigan’s third largest tributary and fifth overall contributor of phosphorus loads to Western Lake Erie. Impoundments of the Huron River downstream of the program target area – Ford and Belleville lakes – are significantly impaired by excess nutrients as well, which has led to regular algae blooms in the summer recreation months. A federal regulatory policy was established to reduce excess phosphorus.

HRWC and partners have demonstrated success in reducing phosphorus and sediment loading from urban sources in the watershed. The phosphorus load from urban stormwater sources (including stormwater and waste water) has been reduced by an estimated 40%.

However, agricultural sources have not been addressed. Recent data from HRWC’s water quality monitoring program indicate that total phosphorus concentrations from Mill Creek (primarily agricultural land uses) have increased by 17% since 2003. Since Mill Creek is such a large watershed and generates a large flow volume, loading has increased by over 50% since monitoring began in 2003. Agricultural drainages now contribute 48% of the total phosphorus load to the impaired lakes.

Even with this increase in agricultural phosphorus loading, the urban reductions have brought overall loads very close to regulatory policy targets. If successful, this new incentive program could reduce phosphorus losses by 10.5 tons per year. That should be enough to achieve phosphorus loading limits for Ford and Belleville lakes and significantly reduce phosphorus loading to Lake Erie.

Whole Farms for Clean Water is seeking to support farms located in the areas of the Huron River watershed shown in green on the interactive map below. Farms do not need to have a waterway on their land to participate.

The eligible subwatersheds include Mill Creek, Honey Creek, Boyden Creek, Fleming Creek and Portage Creek in addition to direct drainage to the river. See detailed maps and learn more about these creeksheds HERE at the HRWC Info Stream.



1-Farmers fill out initial interest form or contact project staff to demonstrate interest and learn about the project.

2-Farmers interested in participation complete a survey about their current field-scale management and practices, and indicate their interest level in applying new practices to reduce phosphorus runoff.

3-The technical/agronomist team runs the farmer’s current practices and scenarios of interest through the model to estimate the benefits of the new practices.

4-The technical team works with the farmer to analyze the cost/benefit of the new practices and incentives, including the payment per pound of P reduced. Whole Farm planning is introduced.

5-Farmers sign a contract acknowledging the practices they will implement and the corresponding payment structure for implementation. A Whole Farm Plan is developed as an added benefit.

6-Practices are verified by project staff after they are implemented.

7-Farmers receive payment for implementing conservation practices that improve water quality.

In order to participate in the program and receive funding, applicants must:

-share requested farm data see our  farmer survey (our technical team can help you complete the survey);

-sign a contract acknowledging the practices they will implement and the corresponding payment structure for implementation;

-provide access for on-site verification that the practices are implemented; and

-submit a W9 tax form if incentive payments exceed $999.

All data shared with program managers, technical consultants and agronomists will remain confidential (see privacy statement below).

To best support your decision-making about conservation options we will generally need:

Farm and field locations (sizes in acres), crop types and rotations (planting and harvest dates), tillage practices, nutrient applications (time, place, rate, source), current soil tests including phosphorus levels, animal types, number of animals, manure storage and spreading information, tile drainage use and any structural practices in use such as two-stage ditches, wildlife habitat, buffer strips or grassed waterways.

A farmer survey will be provided and our technical staff will help you complete it.  Click here to view the farmer survey.

Solutions in the Land is providing farm consulting and technical support to Whole Farms for Clean Water participants. If you are a farmer, Hope Hellman and Stacy Cushenbery will work directly with you. Please sign up using the form above.




Hope Hellmann, Project Coordinator & Agro Ecology Consultant





Stacy Cushenbery, Ag System Strategist & Urban Ag Consultant





Ron Doetch, Managing Partner & Agronomist


For questions about the overall project or to reach us by phone, contact Ric Lawson by email, or call (734) 769-5123 x 609.

The only information specific to your farm that will be released will be the type of best management practices implemented and the subwatershed (broad drainage area) in which your farm is located, which the project funder (U.S. EPA) requires. The project will only make other results available in a generalized, anonymous fashion, including the nutrient runoff reductions and cost-effectiveness of the combined management changes in the program. All other information, such as individual soil test results, fertilizer application rates, field-specific management techniques, and field-specific nutrient or sediment runoff estimates, will be held as confidential within the project team for purposes of computing nutrient loss reduction benefits, and will not be released to any persons or entities other than to the EPA without the prior written permission of the farmer. EPA’s use of information is limited to documenting environmental progress and/or fulfilling financial (fiduciary) responsibilities.

Summer 2019 – Pilot and evaluate program components with interested farmers

Fall 2019 – Host project learning sessions for broader farming community

Fall 2019 until program completes – Provide support to participants and complete applications and contracts. Program staff will provide technical assistance with modeling results, selecting and implementing conservation practices, completing applications, and developing Whole Farm Plans for those who want them.

2020 until program completes – Provide payments to farmers based on expected reductions in phosphorus and verify installation of management practices and provide payments