For Agriculture

For Agriculture

You Can Prevent Nonpoint Source Pollution 
When rain or stormwater flows across farm and ranch lands, rooftops, lawns, streets, parking lots, construction sites and open lots it collects all kinds of pollution from “nonpoint sources” and washes them into our rivers and streams. Typical pollutants from stormwater pollution include sediment (dirt), oil and grease, fecal coliform, pesticides and fertilizer, lawn clippings, debris, and heavy metals.

Contrary to what you might think, stormwater runoff does NOT flow into the sewer and to the wastewater treatment plant for treatment (clean up). Polluted stormwater flows directly into our fresh water rivers, streams and lakes. It also can impact groundwater sources. Cleaning up contaminated water can be costly or not possible. Preventing pollution by applying “Best Management Practices” (or BMPs) is easier and more economical.

General BMPs applicable to most agricultural operations

Funding sources for implementing agricultural BMPs

STORMWATER CONTROL
Stormwater pollution is a source water concern due to the increased volume and rate of runoff from impervious surfaces, and the concentration of pollutants in the runoff. In agricultural settings, infiltration, filtration, and retention/detention practices can help protect source waters.

Infiltration Best Management Practices seek to decrease the quantity of stormwater runoff by allowing the water to percolate through the ground and to increase the quality of the runoff by filtering the water. For example, grassy swales (shallow, vegetated channels) convey stormwater runoff to remove pollutants by sedimentation and infiltration.

Filtration BMPs primarily seek to increase the quality of runoff by filtering the water.

  • Bioretention is the practice of removing stormwater pollutants through a variety of physical, biological, and chemical treatment processes involved in soil and plant-based filtration. The process usually consists of a grass buffer strip, sand bed, ponding area, organic or mulch layer, planting soil, and plants.
  • Vegetated/Grassed Buffer/Filter Strips are densely vegetated areas of land that treat sheet flow before flowing into a surface water body. They decrease the velocity of the runoff, hold soils in place, allow some infiltration, and filter by vegetation. Further information can be found at these sites:
  • Media Filters usually consist of a settling chamber and a sand (or other media) filtration chamber designed to treat stormwater runoff. Further information can be found at these sites:

Retention/detention ponds retain water, which decreases the quantity and increases the quality of runoff.

  • Stormwater/Wet Basins/Ponds are permanent pools of water that have capacity to accommodate stormwater runoff. Generally they also include an area of vegetation around the pond to provide removal of dissolved solids. They can be distinguished from wetlands because they are generally deeper and have less vegetative cover.
  • Constructed Wetlands are permanent pools of water designed to treat runoff. They can be distinguished from wet ponds because they are generally shallower and have more vegetative cover.
  • Retention/Irrigation Systems capture stormwater runoff in a pond/basin, which then distributes the water in an irrigation system. This distribution of runoff over a large area reduces the infiltration requirements of the soil.
  • Extended Detention Basins/Dry Ponds are designed to detain stormwater runoff for a given period of time, which allows sedimentation of particulates to take place in the basin. Further information can be found at these sites:

Further information on stormwater controls is available from the California Stormwater Quality Association (CASQA) and U.S. EPA National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES).

CASQA:
Vegetated Swale Opens in a pdf window
Bioretention Opens in a pdf window
Vegetated Buffer Strip Opens in a pdf window
Media Filter Opens in a pdf window
Wet Ponds  Opens in a pdf window
Retention/Irrigation  Opens in a pdf window
Extended Detention Basin Opens in a pdf window

NPDES:
Grassed Swales Opens in a new window
NPDES Bioretention Opens in a new window
Wet Ponds Opens in a new window
Dry Detention Ponds Opens in a new window

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Integrated Pest Management
Integrated Pest Management is a safe, alternative means of managing insects, weeds, and other types of pests. Pests are identified, action thresholds are considered, all possible control options are evaluated, and selected controls are implemented. Control options used to prevent or remedy unacceptable pest activity or damage include these options:

  • Biological – introduce beneficial predators into landscapes
  • Cultural – plant native, pest-resistant plant varieties
  • Mechanical – hand-pick insects, or use traps, barriers, or water blasts to infected areas
  • Chemical – use botanical, mineral, and insecticidal soap or synthetic chemicals

Further information can be found at these sites:

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Combined Animal Feeding Operations
Animals confined to feeding lots produce large quantities of manure, which can be a source of water pollution (in the form of phosphorous) if it is not properly managed and stored. Best Management Practices to reduce pollution of the waterways include:

Stormwater BMPs

  • Construct sediment basins to trap and manage solid manure
  • Gage runoff holding ponds to help avoid capacity issues
  • Build erms around manure storage to prevent runoff
  • Use grass filter strips to protect surface water
  • Use bermed feedlots and livestock yards to contain runoff
  • Locate feedlots on sloped lands to provide good drainage
  • Use concrete ditches or well maintained grassed waterways to control effluent and carry it to a holding pool
  • Design storage tanks with sufficient freeboard
  • Cover livestock holding areas to minimize the mixing of stormwater with manure
  • Cover compost and manure storage areas to minimize runoff
  • Utilize gutters to separate clean and dirty water and prevent water from accumulating

Land Application and Nutrient Management

  • Implement and follow a nutrient management plan
  • Use a calibrated spreader to apply manure evenly
  • Center pivots with low pressure nozzles to evenly apply liquids from holding pool to avoid runoff

Managing the Land

  • Fence surface waters so cattle do not have direct access
  • Rotate pastures to provide adequate cover and prevent runoff
  • Use self watering systems to prevent direct access to surface waters
  • Centrally locate water tanks to allow cattle rotation on different pastures
  • Clean solids from ditches to allow effluent to flow freely to retention ponds
  • Develop an emergency management system
  • Test soil to help determine nutrient levels and plan for land application of manure
  • Utilize wind-row composting to allow for recycling of manure and aid in planning for nutrient management
  • Secure facilities to prevent accidents and vandalism
  • Berm, secure, and cover silage to prevent runoff

For further information refer to these sites:

Beef Cattle:
EPA Information on Beef Cattle and Environmental Stewardship Opens in a pdf window
Livestock and Poultry Environmental Stewardship (LPES) curriculum: Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations Fact Sheet Series Opens in a new window

Dairies:
EPA Information on Dairies and Environmental Stewardship Opens in a pdf window
Technical Pollution Prevention Guide for Dairy Processing Operations Opens in a pdf window

Poultry:
EPA Information on Poultry Production and Environmental Stewardship Opens in a pdf window

Swine:
EPA Information on Swine Production and Environmental Stewardship Opens in a pdf window

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Funding Sources for Implementing Agricultural BMPs

Office

Farm Service Agency

Program

Conservation Reserve

Purpose

Reduce soil erosion and sedimentation, improve water quality, create better wildlife habitat

Assistance

Direct payment for specified use

Uses & Restrictions

Land owners receive annual payments for planting vegetative cover on highly erodible land

Eligibility Requirements

Individuals, partnerships, associations, tribal corporations, estates, trusts, other business enterprises, states

Matching
Requirements

None

Contact

202-720-6221; website: www.fsa.usda.gov Opens in a new window

 

Office

Natural Resources Conservation Service

Program

Conservation Security

Purpose

Promote conservation and improvement of soil, water, air, energy, plant, and animal life on tribal and private working lands

Assistance

Direct payment for specified use

Uses & Restrictions

Land owners receive annual payments for implementing contractually defined stewardship practices

Eligibility Requirements

Individual producers, partnerships, associations, corporations, estates, trusts, other business or legal entities controlling eligible lands

Matching
Requirements

None

Contact

202-690-0848; website: www.nrcs.usda.govOpens in a new window

 

Office

Natural Resources Conservation Service

Program

Environmental Quality Incentives Program

Purpose

Assist eligible farmers and ranchers to address soil, water, and related natural resource concerns in an environmentally beneficial and cost-effective manner

Assistance

Direct payment for specified use

Uses & Restrictions

Implementation of structural and land management practices

Eligibility Requirements

Agricultural producers facing serious threats to specified resources or needing assistance in complying with governmental environmental standards

Matching
Requirements

25 percent; 10 percent for beginning farmers

Contact

202-720-1845; website: www.nrcs.usda.gov Opens in a new window

 

Office

Natural Resources Conservation Service

Program

Wetlands Reserve Program

Purpose

Restore and protect farmed wetlands, prior converted wetlands, wetlands farmed under natural conditions, and certain riparian areas

Assistance

Direct payments for specified use

Uses & Restrictions

Landowners placing wetlands under a 30-year or permanent easement or restoration agreement

Eligibility Requirements

Individual landowners, partnerships, associations, corporations, estates, trusts, businesses, or states

Matching
Requirements

None

Contact

202-7690-0848; website: www.nrcs.usda.gov Opens in a new window


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