Seven years of water-quality monitoring have intensified the Bragger family’s commitment to conservation. “We have to be aggressive in farming — we have families to support,” Bragger says. “But at the same time, we have to take care of our land so the next generation can farm. If we run it down, wash it out, destroy it, it won’t be there for future generations.”

The family continues to make conservation improvements. They’ve increased their cover cropping — all corn silage acres are now planted with cover crops after harvest. They quit baling cornstalks on the most vulnerable fields. They also combined some small fields to reduce the number of field roads, which were runoff conduits.

Today, “All our conservation practices are field- and site-specific.”

 “Systems appropriate in one watershed may not be appropriate in another watershed,” Frame says. “It comes down to individual farming practices and individual land features.”