Tom Cyrulik and his son Mike liked a conservation structure known as a concrete block chute that their neighbor installed in 1987 on a waterway on his Clinton, Ill., farm. So the Cyruliks put in their own chute last year about 100 yards down the same waterway where the flow empties into a creek.
Concrete block chutes are actually cheaper than aluminum drop spillways and poured concrete structures. Plus, over time, block chutes look natural again. They fill with dirt and grass and are hardly visible. They are also very low in maintenance. They do, however, require much labor to build. Each block must be laid by hand. The current cost of a block chute in the Cyrulik's county is $4.25 a block, but farmers get 60% of that cost back through cost-sharing funds. Nationwide, USDA's Agricultural Conservation Practices (ACP) programs limit cost sharing to 75% per structure, up to a maximum of $3,500.