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All PA Farms Need Conservation and Manure Management Plans

October 26, 2009

Now that fall has arrived and the crops are starting to come off, reflecting on the status of your conservation or manure management plan should be a priority before spring arrives. Two separate chapters of Pennsylvania Code Title 25 Environmental Protection require these plans. Chapter 102.4 states “Written Erosion and Sediment Control Plans are required for agricultural plowing or tilling activities that disturb 5,000 square feet or more of land.” Chapter 91.36 states “The land application (of animal manure and agricultural process wastewater) follows current standards for development and implementation of a (manure management) plan to manage nutrients for water quality protection, including soil and manure testing and calculations of proper levels and methods of nitrogen and phosphorus application.”

An Erosion and Sediment Control Plan is also known as an Ag E&S Plan or a Conservation Plan. Five thousand square feet is a little more than one tenth of an acre. Some backyard gardens are bigger than one tenth of an acre. This plan needs to be written by someone trained and experienced in erosion and sediment control methods and techniques. The written plan must include the following: a topographic map, soils description, description of plowing and tilling activities, best management practices (BMP’s) to reduce runoff and erosion, map showing the waters of the Commonwealth, and calculations showing the amount of run-off from the project and its upstream watershed. If you do not have a Conservation Plan on your farm, you should contact NRCS, the Conservation District, Penn State Cooperative Extension or your local Crop Consultant. Any of these professionals will be able to help you in getting or updating your Conservation Plan.

Basically a Manure Management Plan needs to show that the manure nitrogen being applied does not exceed crop need. In addition, the Phosphorus Index must also be included in this Plan if one is in a special protection watershed, has made a major management change, has a soil test P level higher than 200 ppm, or is closer than 150 to a receiving body of water. The Phosphorus Index takes into consideration soil test P, manure P, distance to water, and slope to determine the potential for the excess phosphorus to pollute receiving waters. A soil test and a manure nutrient analysis should be taken for one to correctly calculate the crop nutrients needed. The soil test should be done every three years and the manure nutrient analysis should be done every year. For more information on a Manure Management Plan or soil and manure testing, contact your local Conservation District, NRCS, or Penn State Extension.

A Conservation Plan and a Manure Management Plan are required by law. If you do not have one, you should start working on getting one now. Due to recent events involving the Chesapeake Bay and the environment, enforcement could be something we see more of in the future.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. January 2, 2010 7:55 pm

    Awesome, I did not heard about this topic up to the present. Cheers.

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