West Branch


The Floyd River Watershed was identified as a statewide priority area in the Nutrient Reduction Strategy (NRS) due in large part to the fact that Sioux County boasts the highest concentration of livestock in the state.
West Branch of the Floyd River Water Quality Initiative will showcase nutrient reduction practices with a special emphasis upon accelerating the adoption across a broad section of the agricultural community. The project engages both public and private agricultural entities to foster voluntary adoption of a variety of conservation practices. Examples of conservation practices to be implemented with this project include but are not limited to: terraces, cover crops, no-till,grassed waterways, filter strips, nutrient management, and bioreactors.
The objectives of this project are to strengthen outreach, education and collaboration efforts amongst a cross-section private and public agricultural stakeholders. Until now, the agricultural community was in large part segregated with various entities working independently toward the individual goals within their respective organizations. Understanding that all sectors within the agricultural community need to look at these issues from a new perspective and work together if the goals of the Strategy are to be met, the project sponsors have engaged new partners from private and non-governmental sectors.

WQI cost-share funds are available for terraces and the following management practices with in the watershed (see map at right to view that area):

  • No-till incentive - $10/acre with an acre limit of 200 acres.
  • Low disturbance manure injection - $10/acre with an acre limit of 200 acres.
  • Cover crops - $25/acre with an acre limit of 160 acres.


The Mississippi River Basin Initiative (MRBI) signup is taking place from now through March 15 for landowners and farm operators who farm land in the West Branch Floyd watershed area.  The West Branch Floyd watershed area is an area of approximately 78,000 square miles in the middle of the county.  Orange City is on the eastern edge of the watershed and Sioux Center is on the western edge of the watershed.  The town of Middleburg is near the northern edge of the watershed, and the southern edge of the watershed is near the Plymouth county line south of Maurice.

Some of the conservation practices that are being paid through this project include terraces, grassed waterways, cover crops, no-till and strip till farming, saturated buffers and denitrifying bioreactors. The payment rates are based on 75% of the estimated incurred costs associated with practice implementation, instead of the typical 50% that is offered.  For instance, broadbase terraces typically cost $2.30 per foot to build in Sioux county.  The MRBI would pay $2.06 per foot for broadbase terrace construction, or almost 90% of the estimated cost of terrace construction.  Narrowbase terraces typically cost $1.90 per foot to build in Sioux county.  The RCPP would pay $1.69 per foot for narrowbase construction, or almost 90% of the estimated cost of terrace construction.

Cover crop payment rates for the MRBI are approximately $50/acre for winter hardy cover crops such as cereal rye.  For a winter kill species such as oats, the payment rates are approximately $28/acre.  The payment rate for no-till and strip-till farming is $16/acre.  Incentive payments for management practices such as cover crops and no-till can be made for up to 3 years.

Saturated buffers and denitrifying bioreactors would be 100% cost-share using a combination of MRBI funds and other funding sources.

The signup deadline for interested participants is March 15.  Funding decisions will be made in April.  Applications that include multiple conservation practices and treat multiple resource concerns would likely have a better chance of getting approved. If approved for funding, practice implementation would begin in the summer or fall of 2019.  If you have any questions about the MRBI program, please feel free to contact the Orange City NRCS office at 737-2253.