Moniteau County Neighbors Alliance

Community Conservation

Missouri’s landscape is classified as 97% rural with only 30% of Missouri residents living in the rural areas. As the minority of the population has significant influence over the majority of the landscape, MCNA promotes the use of Conservation Practices in our county to protect the natural resources for all people of the state. Read about the Missouri Comprehensive Conservation Strategy

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Healthy Soil 

A single teaspoon of healthy soil holds billions of soil microorganisms, including bacteria, fungi and other tiny life forms.  They form symbiotic relationships with plant roots through mycorrhizal fungi.  The flow of carbon to the soil depends on this partnership between plant roots and soil microorganism.  

Graphic from Rodale Institute Soil Health


Healthy soil aggregates bind together to hold water so plants can better survive drought conditions and reduce soil erosion from runoff.  Plants grown in healthy soil are better able to fight disease and pest attacks because there are more minerals and nutrients to feed the plants.  Learn more: Ten Ways Organic Improves Soil Health. 

The use of pesticides can cause significant damage to soil health. Pesticides change the composition, diversity and basic functioning of the soil microflora.  While just a small amount of the pesticide may actually be needed to kill the target species, what remains can have significant nontarget effects throughout the ecosystem, causing soil, air, and water contamination. Learn more: Pesticides and Soil Health 

Soil Maps 

The National Cooperative Soil Survey is updated and maintained online as the single authoritative source of soil survey information. It is used for farm, local, and wider area planning to provide soil data and information produced by Federal and State agencies, universities, and professional societies to deliver science-based soil information.

Soils of Missouri map from National Cooperative Soil Survey

Nutrient Loss 

Continues to Increase 

The runoff that occurs from agricultural land causes the loss of essential nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorus.  The loss of nutrients from land applied materials such as animal waste and chemical fertilizers has increased dramatically in the past 50 years and become one of the nation’s costliest and most challenging pollution problems.  Excessive nutrient loss can have negative impacts on human health, aquatic ecosystems, the economy and the quality of people’s lives.

Incremental phosphorus yield in kilograms per square kilometer per year. From USGS Report: Models of Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and Sediment Loads in Midwestern U.S. Streams

Missouri is one of the mid-America states contributing to the nutrient runoff problem, which causes contamination of Missouri waters, as well as contributing to Dead Zone in the Gulf of Mexico.  MNDR has a Nutrient Loss Reduction Strategy that provides guidance for how Missouri can reduce its contribution to this problem and collaborates with other states through the Mississippi River Hypoxia Task Force.

Missouri Soil and Water Conservation Program

In the 1930s, Americans experienced devastating soil erosion as the Dust Bowl swept across the nation, relocating an estimated 300 million tons of soil. Missouri had the second highest erosion rate of any state in the Union. 

This disastrous situation led to the creation of the Missouri Soil and Water Conservation Program in 1944, which set up Soil and Water Conservation Districts (SWCD) to promote conservation practices that reduce soil erosion and protect water resources. There is a SWCD in each of the 114 Missouri counties and each is governed by a board of farmers elected from the county. 

Beginning in 1984, Missouri citizens began paying into the Parks, Soils, and Water Sales Tax.  Half of the funds raised through this tax amount to about $45 million annually, which is divided between the counties and used to cost-share farmer’s conservation practices.  Even with this decades-long effort to prevent erosion and soil loss, 55 million tons are still lost annually; enough soil to fill I-70 from Kansas City to St. Louis, all four lanes, 30 feet deep. (MDC Podcast)

Contact Moniteau County SWCD

New studies show failure of conservation practices

Conservation Practices 

Funding Available 

Rural landowners can access public funds to implement Conservation Practices that help build healthy soils, prevent erosion, and reduce nutrient loss through the following programs: 

The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) delivers science-based soil information to help farmers, ranchers, foresters, and other land managers effectively manage, conserve, and appraise their most valuable investment — the soil.

The Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) is a partner-driven approach to conservation that funds solutions to natural resource challenges on agricultural land. 

The NRCS provides cost share for many Conservation Practices such as filter strips shown here.

Learn about Conservation Practices: Conservation Choices: Your Guide to 32 Conservation and Environmental Farming Practices

Sustainable Agriculture Research Education (SARE) offers farmer-driven, grassroots grants and education programs.

MDNR Soil and Water Conservation Program (see above) - Sales Tax Funds available through the Soil and Water Conservation Districts


Resource Library 

Farming Practices

The Land Institute - Promotes perennial agriculture and developing food production methods that sustain the land and soil. See “Kernza”

Regenerative Agriculture 101 - Provides a guide for building healthy soil and climate-resilient communities based on more than 100 interviews with farmers and ranchers. 

Permaculture Research Institute - Supports a self-sufficient and sustainable farming system based on crop diversity, resilience, and natural productivity.

Restoration Agriculture - The 20 year research site of the New Forest Farm in SW Wisconsin Driftless Area that converted a former degraded corn farm into a perennial agricultural ecosystem.

University of Missouri

Center for Regenerative Agriculture - Provides information on agricultural systems to regenerate soil health while building increased resiliency for farms and food production.

Ag Intel - Offers a tool to learn about alternative agriculture opportunities based on a given producer’s needs. 

AgSite Assessment Tool - Provides data on soils, streams, wetlands, ponds, watersheds, floodplains, Karst geology, legal description, and threatened and endangered species to aide farming practices.

Center for Agroforestry - Provides Integrated practices that enhance land and aquatic habitats for fish and wildlife and improve biodiversity while sustaining land resources for generations to come.

Organic Farming

The Rodale Institute - Promotes organically grown food production. Active for the past 70 years.  See 40-year Farming Systems Trial proving organic grain growing systems are competitive with conventional yields.  Also see Soil Health Report

Happy Hollow Farm – Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) - Provides the only organically grown produce in Moniteau County. 

Marbleseed - Supports regenerative and organic farmers in the Upper Midwest to build thriving regional food and farming systems. 

National Organic Program - Sets national standards for marketing organically grown food.  

Organic Farming Research Foundation - Fosters adoption of organic farming systems. 

Nonprofit Organizations

Farm Action Network - Envisions a fair, inclusive, and competitive food and agriculture system that respects land, natural resources, and neighbors around the world.  The Truth About Industrial Agriculture 

Illinois Sustainable AG Partnerships (ISAP)- Promotes a sustainable agriculture system with improved soil health, water quality, profitable and resilient agriculture systems, and thriving communities. (Download the Illinois Sustainable Partnership brochure.) 

Midwest Cover Crops Council (MCCC) - Supports cover crop use in the Midwest. See Cover Crop Recipes intended to provide a starting point for farmers who are new to growing cover crops. 

Missouri Young Farmers- Supports beginning farmers who represent the changing face of Midwestern agriculture. 

Soil and Water Conservation Society (SWCS) - Fosters sustainable land and water management for the security of the earth and its people. 

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