Pay for Performance Agricultural Conservation in the Kalamazoo River Watershed (MI)


Why Our Work is Needed

Delta Institute is reducing excessive phosphorus loading in the Kalamazoo River Watershed associated with agricultural sources using a market and performance-based agricultural incentive program. Performance-based programs provide a targeted approach to investing in conservation when program funding is limited. Instead of paying for implementing a particular conservation practice, such as cover crops or riparian buffers, in terms of acres or feet, payments to farmers are based on the net environmental improvements that result from that practice.

Brief Overview of What We’re Doing

Delta implemented a reverse auction, also known as Pay for Performance, to pay farmers to implement conservation practices on their farms to reduce nutrient losses. Participating farmers entered bids to achieve phosphorus loading reductions at the lowest cost by implementing conservation practices. Farmers whose bids are accepted are paid to achieve those reductions. The payments are be based on estimated reductions and the farmers’ ability to implement the practices at a cost lower than the maximum allowable price set by the program.

Pay for Performance-focused conservation projects are an established area of Delta’s expertise, and both has been operated and is currently operating in other targeted Midwestern / Great Lakes geographies.


The area shown on the map below displays the land eligible for participation in the reverse auction. Zoom in on the map to explore the project area in greater detail.

Project Materials and Resources

The additional resources below also contain helpful information about the project and the tools that have been developed by the project team.

Auction Materials

The resources below were provided to farmers interested in participating in the program.

Frequently Asked Questions

Click here to view/download.
This document contains important information regarding how to participate in the auction. For more detail, check the auction rules.

Auction Rules

Click here to view/download.
This file contains the most up-to-date auction rules.

VIDEO: How to Participate in the Phosphorus Reduction Auction




Delta Institute is grateful for our partnership and the Allegan County Conservation District and the Michigan Farm Bureau.


This project has been funded wholly or in part by the United States Environmental Protection Agency under assistance agreement GL00E02796 to Delta Institute. The contents of this document do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Environmental Protection Agency, nor does the EPA endorse trade names or recommend the use of commercial products mentioned in this document.

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