CHESAPEAKE BAY PROGRAM
The Lackawanna Conservation District has participated in the Chesapeake Bay Program since the late 1980’s. Over this time, numerous landowners have volunteered to identify non-point source pollution and addressed these problems with Best Management Practices (BMP’s). These BMP’s included barnyard improvement and stabilization, manure storage, grazing systems, stream crossings, buffers, diversions, etc. All the while Lackawanna Conservation District was pioneering the way into no-till farming and soil health improvement through composting and the use of cover crops. As a result these practices have been adopted as crucial BMP’s for the purpose of improving water quality in the 21st century.
The Chesapeake Bay Program has found it still has much to do to improve water quality in the Chesapeake Bay. New and shifting focuses dictate that:
– Erosion and sediment control plans are required on Ag tillage, including no-till fields and animal heavy use areas (current NRCS Conservation Plans may meet these requirements).
– A Chapter 91 manure management plan or Act 38/NRCS 590 Nutrient Management will be required of all farmers and operations that produce and/or land-apply manure.
– More emphasis is being placed on cost-efficient BMP’s such as cover crops, streamside buffers, etc.
To assist farmers in understanding new regulations and requirements and to aid in the implementation of these practices on their farms, we have been conducting education/outreach visits the last 3 years. With a goal of 100 farms visited per year since the start of the initiative, the District hopes to be able to reach out to and assist each and every farm within Lackawanna County.
AGRICULTURAL BEST MANAGEMENT PRACTICE PROGRAM
In 2014, the Lackawanna County Conservation District began its new Secondary Agricultural Best Management Practice Program. The goal of this program is to install
Best Management Practices (BMP’s) to protect water quality. This program is designed for “small” projects that often don’t rank high enough to get funded through other funding programs, but can still provide valuable environmental benefits. Eligible BMP’s include both structural and crop related practices including but not limited to roof runoff control, stream bank fencing, rotational grazing, manure stacking/storage, diversions/waterways and more. This program will fund the lesser of 50% total project cost or $5,000. All program participants must be in compliance with Nutrient/Manure Management and Agricultural Erosion and Sediment Control regulations. In addition, projects can only be completed on lands owned by the applicant. Applications are accepted until December 31st of each year.
NO-TILL/SOIL HEALTH PROGRAM
Since its inception, the Lackawanna Conservation District No-Till Program has changed in scope, but not in purpose. In recent years, thanks to grants and tax benefits along with great success of the no-till program, farmers have been given the opportunity to purchase their own no-till seeders and planters. Due to a reduced demand for rental equipment from the District, a no-till corn planter and seeder were sold to local producers for their continued use in production. Despite this, the district is dedicated to providing continued education and technical advice on no-till, soil health, and cover crop use. The District still has one no-till seeder for hay and cover crop seeding for our farming community to utilize.
In addition, the District remains committed to our soil health program. As water quality is directly related to soil health, education on the topic is essential to the continued effort to reduce sedimentation in the Chesapeake Bay. Upon request, soil health analysis can be performed at minimal cost to determine what management needs may be necessary to improve soil health and decrease runoff into the bay. Along with this, educational workshops and meetings will continue our efforts to increase awareness and help improve soil health in Lackawanna County.