Conservation Practices

The below practices are currently, or have been in the past, part of the SWMO's Cost Share Program. Please contact the Scott Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) if you are interested in learning more or speaking with a knowledgeable expert about any of the below practices. Call 952-492-5425 or visit the Scott SWCD website (linked above) to schedule an appointment. Click on any of the pictures below to enlarge the image.  

Shoreline Protection

Cedar Lake Regional Park Shoreline Restoration

This practice stabilizes and protects shorelines from erosion. In certain situations, hard armoring such as rock rip-rap is required. However, the use of native plants and other "soft" practices is preferred. In many cases, shoreline protection practices will also benefit water quality by eliminating direct sources of sediment (soil and other fine particles that carries pollutants).

Native Grasses

Native Grasses
Native prairies were common in Minnesota prior to European settlement. Native prairies are beautiful and beneficial to water quality. They filter, slow, and reduce the amount of runoff reaching downstream. A mix of both grasses and forbs are planted to enhance wildlife habitat quality, including for birds and pollinators.  

Prescribed Burning

Prescribed Burns to Manage Prairie Grasses
The purpose of prescribed fire is to improve wildlife habitat or to restore native plant communities. A fire is set in a specific area and controlled using methods like firebreaks. The fire removes litter and competing invasive species so that native plant communities can grow instead. 

Riparian Buffers

Riparian Buffer 1
Riparian Buffers are good for water quality and provide habitat corridors for wildlife.  Plants that are tolerant of occasional flooding and saturated soils comprise the buffers.  


Bioretention Basin
Raingardens are small and inexpensive landscape features that filter runoff from rooftops, sidewalks, driveways, or other hard surfaces water cannot soak into.  They are constructed in a location where the runoff collects.  Water contained in the raingarden will soak into the ground and replenish groundwater. 

Wetland Restorations

Wetland Restoration
Wetlands are the kidneys of the landscape. The purpose of this practice is to restore the functions and values of degraded or former wetlands that have been farmed. 

Grade Stabilization Structure

Grade Stabilization
Grade stabilization structures are designed to prevent erosion issues.  Soil erosion can form gullies, or head cuts where there is a sudden elevation drop in a stream over a short distance.  These structures may also help prevent severe washouts, which can harm infrastructure and risk public safety.  

Channel Stabilization


Channel stabilization uses structures to stabilize the stream. This practice controls the amount of sediment that collects or erodes from the stream channel. It is done in areas that cannot be controlled by clearing obstructions, planting vegetation, or installing upstream water control structures.

Cover Crops

Cover Crops
A cover crop is a crop grown for protection or enrichment of the soil. Cover crops can be grasses, legumes, forbs, or other herbaceous plants that provide cover though the winter and into spring.  

Critical Area Planting

Critical Area Planting
Critical Area Plantings establish permanent vegetation in sites that have conditions that prevent normal planting practices.  This practice can be used on sites that have or are expected to have high erosion rates.

Filter Strips

Filter Strip
Filter strips are designed to slow runoff and soak up pollutants that would contaminate a protected water resource.  Permanent vegetation is planted along a stream, wetland, or other sensitive area.  The plants can buffer against sediment, organic matter like leaves or grass clippings, nutrients, and pathogens.  

Grassed Waterway

Grassed Waterway

A grassed waterway is a vegetated channel that is shaped to slow water flow. It is used to carry runoff from terraces, diversions, or other water concentrations to a stable outlet. This practice is used to repair or prevent gully erosion, and to protect water quality. 


The purpose of a Terrace is to reduce sheet and rill soil erosion.  It is an earth embankment, or a combination ridge and channel, constructed across the field slope. 

Underground Outlet

Underground Outlet
An underground outlet is a conduit installed beneath the surface that is used to carry surface water to another location. The purpose of the outlet is to carry the water without causing damage by erosion or flooding. This practice may be used when completing other conservation practices, like diversions or terraces.  

Water & Sediment Control Basin

Water and Sediment Control Basin
A water and sediment control basin (WASCOB) traps sediment and other water pollutants from running off of fields. WASCOBs are a series of small embankments built across concentrated flow paths (gullies) on cropland. They store and then slowly release runoff through an underground outlet. 


The purpose of a diversion is to divert water away from farmsteads, active gullies, or agricultural waste systems.  It is a channel constructed across a slope with a supporting ridge on the lower side.

Innovative Practices

Innovative Practice - SWMO Tour 2016

Experts at the Scott Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) design innovative practices to resolve complex issues harming water resources.  The purpose of the pictured practice is to slow water coming down from upstream ravines.  Sediment carried in the water was occasionally blocking a downstream culvert.  This practice uses several methods such as check dams and native vegetation buffers to slow the water and let the sediment settle before it reaches the culvert. Contact Scott SWCD today to see what they can do for you.

Well Decommissioning

Well Decommissioning
Well decommissioning seals and permanently closes inactive, abandoned, or inoperable water wells. This protects groundwater resources by preventing pollutants from flowing or being dumped into the well.

Nutrient Management

Nutrient Management
The purpose of Nutrient Management is to minimize pollution to surface and groundwater resources.  This practice plans the amount, source, placement, form, and timing of plant nutrient applications and soil amendments.  

Agricultural Waste Storage

Agricultural Waste Storage
This practice constructs an embankment, dug out pit, or a structure to temporarily store agricultural waste. Examples of agricultural waste include: manure, wastewater, and contaminated runoff.

Agricultural Treatment

Waste Water Treatment
This practice treats agricultural waste by either mechanical, chemical, or biological methods.