Water Stewards Program Makes Inroads
Grower-driven initiative focuses on water stewardship and conservation
By Deana Knuteson, Ph.D., University of Wisconsin (UW) Department of Horticulture, and Jed Colquhoun, professor and extension specialist, UW-Madison
Water is a critically important resource in agricultural ecosystems across the United States, and quantity and resource availability are key areas of concern.
In Wisconsin, the water quantity issue was tackled by a group working together to develop reasonable solutions for the long-term viability of the resource.
This working group created sustainable options by developing a grower-driven plan, ultimately becoming known as the Wisconsin Water Stewards Program, focused on water stewardship.
The Wisconsin Water Stewards Program started in 2018 with the goal of developing a plan that would allow farmers to be recognized when providing water stewardship and documenting improvements. It is based on progress toward research-based water stewardship and conservation goals.
This led to the Water Stewards tier-based program that is now being used by potato and vegetable growers in Central Wisconsin.