DE PERE, Wis. (WFRV)- A ribbon-cutting event was held Wednesday to mark the opening of a new facility that aims to help improve area water quality and promote sustainable agricultural practices.

The ‘Soil Health Education and Demonstration’ site or S.H.E.D., is a 30-acre parcel of land on W162 Jordan Court off County Highway U in De Pere. This site was made available by the Oneida Tribe and involves a collaboration between NEW Water, Fox River Watershed Alliance, and Outagamie County.

Greg Baneck, the Land Conservation Director for Outagamie County, says that the lower area of the Bay of Green Bay and the Fox River has been identified as an area of concern from a water quality standpoint, as excess nutrients and sediment enter the watershed that feeds into the waterways.

Baneck explains why participating in sustainable agricultural processes, including cover cropping, no-till, and continuous cover demonstration, can help benefit soil health:

“Improving soil health really helps to improve soil structure which has multiple benefits: helps increase infiltration, reduce runoff, and sequester carbon which all help to reduce greenhouse impacts and long-term side benefit,” says Baneck. “With reduced runoff, you have reduced flooding downstream and you have reduced nutrient runoff which then reduces harmful algal blooms within the bay.”

On top of playing an important role in improving area water quality, this site also is home to specialized machinery that could serve as a trial for area farmers before they invest in that machinery for their own farms. This facility will serve as a meeting ground for local farmers to share new ideas as to how to participate in sustainable agricultural practices.

If farmers are curious as to what this facility is doing, Baneck says his staff will be happy to help:

“They can bring farmers out here and to look at what we are doing here or they are happy to go out and work one-on-one at those farms themselves to look at their systems and look for opportunities to tweak what they are doing and make some changes.”

This ribbon-cutting event served as a time to thank all partners involved and give an overview as to what this facility will do in the future.