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Now is the time for Conservation

October 12, 2009

Now that it is fall and the crops are coming off, farmers need to start thinking about soil conservation. When you look at your recently harvested field do you see any ditches, gullies, or areas of soil movement? If so, you need to start implementing conservation practices. Average soils in Pennsylvania regenerate approximately 5 tons of soil a year per acre. This means for us to break even with soil we can only lose 5 tons per acre. Some soils in PA only regenerate 3 tons a year per acre, which means it is very important to have conservation practices in place. You may be thinking 5 tons of soil a year, that’s 10,000 pounds, that is a lot of soil. Well 1 ton of soil spread over an acre of land is equal to the thickness of five sheets of paper. So for you to actually start noticing your soil washing away, you will have probably already lost five tons.

Every farm should have a soil conservation plan, actually you are required by law if you disturb more than 5,000 square feet of land which is approximately 1/10 of an acre. Some people have gardens bigger than that. A soil conservation plan, which can also be called an Ag E&S plan needs to contain the following items: a plan map, a soils map, a map showing the location of watercourses and their drainage patterns (a contour map with watercourses labelled) and a description of best management practices (BMPS) that will be used, including tillage practices, crop schedules, and conservation measures to be implemented or maintained.

I highly recommend anyone in need of a conservation plan to contact your local NRCS or Conservation District. They have people on staff to either write your conservation plan or to assist you in getting one written.

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