Changes in the Soil by Maia Rauh

In traditional farming, rows of soybeans or corn are sown in straight rows with large amounts of bare soil left in between each. My weaving of a traditional farm, pictured left, was done in a similar manner. In weaving a traditional twill pattern on a floor loom I replicate said farms with interchanging rows of green and brown. Maranda shared with me that with this type of farming the vast amount of exposed soil is harmful to not only the soil health, but also our waterways. To represent the way that exposed soil is carried into our waterways, I drew with the string and then packed it densely at the bottom. This resembles the way that the soil settles and degrades the quality of our waters.

The next weaving, pictured right, represents the demonstration farms’ work. The integration of different shades of greens and varying thicknesses of yarns represents the diverse species planted to cover the soil on these farms. The irregularity of the rows and mixing of different yarns in the weaving replicates the way that the demonstration farmers place their seed to cover the soil between the rows of crops. As this form of farming that demonstration farms are practicing is experimental, my weaving techniques are as well. The way that the yarns are left to hang and intertwine at the edges of the weave symbolize the way that biodiverse farms’ plants intersect and grow amongst one another, fully covering all the soil. The lack of brown yarn in this weaving fading into a flow of blue represents how when farmers cover their plots completely, leaving no soil exposed, the soil health flourishes and the water quality is improved. The pure blue contrasted by the muddied fringe of the opposing weaving clearly demonstrates there is a bright future in store for our farms, our soil health, and our waterways when conservation agriculture techniques are used on farms.


Maia Rauh is a sophomore at UW-Madison studying Fashion and Textile Design with a Certificate in 3-D Design. She has been looking for a way to utilize her artwork to connect and change the world around her. This opportunity has been the perfect way to explore making art for greater change.

ABOUT THE Water Partner

Maranda Miller is an Outreach Specialist and Natural Resources Educator with the University of Wisconsin-Madison Division of Extension. She works with two demonstration farm networks conducting outreach around soil health and water quality to reduce non-point source pollution in the Great Lakes Basin. She combines her social science and natural resources backgrounds with photography and communication skills to create images and videos that aid farmers in adopting conservation practices on their land.

The Upper Fox-Wolf and Between the Lakes Demonstration Farm Networks support a network of producers to address erosion and non-point source pollution challenges at the ground level and provide solutions that can be implemented on a large scale throughout the Great Lakes basin. Producers voluntarily join the Demonstration Farm Networks, then select conservation agricultural practices to apply on their operation. These farmers then host field days, hold public discussions, and participate in other outreach activities to show other farmers what they’re learning about conservation practices that work locally. In this way, the Networks test and demonstrate the best conservation practices to reduce non-point source pollution entering the Great Lakes basin