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Do You Need a New Conservation Plan?

Do You Need a New Conservation Plan?

Tilling and plowing activities require the development and implementation of a Conservation Plan.

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We can provide you with guidance, technical advice, and resources.

All farming operations in Pennsylvania that include tilling and plowing activities are required by Pennsylvania law to develop and implement conservation plans. A conservation plan details the Best Management Practices (BMPs) that will be implemented, as well as a timeline for implementation. Many farmers already have plans that comply with the legal requirements, reduce erosion, address livestock use on land, and prevent pollutants from entering streams. Once written, a plan can serve the landowner well for years.

However, there are often reasons for creating a new conservation plan. Plans must be kept up to date with current conservation practices and BMPs. Some landowners may be new to agriculture or not yet have a conservation plan. And some types of plans can qualify landowners for more grants and funding programs.

Creating or updating a conservation plan is generally a three-step process which begins with an analysis of current land conditions, uses, and concerns. Next, operational and conservation goals are set, and a plan is outlined. The plan and implementation step includes treatment methodologies, locations and schedules; and items, operations and maintenance for the conservation practices.

We recommend using USDA NRCS-level plans (United States Department of Agriculture- Natural Resources Conservation Service), which address much more than the basic concerns related to tilling, plowing and stream sedimentation. They also qualify the landowner for various federal or grant-funded cost-share programs. NRCS has established planning protocols to address effects on the seven natural resources that the NRCS Resource Management System focuses on. Their SWAPAH+E system addresses farming’s effects on Soil, Water, Air, Plants, Animals, Humans and Energy, and a NRCS-level conservation plan will do the same.

As these plans are quite detailed, the Brandywine Conservancy can often provide guidance, technical advice and financial assistance for developing and implementing them. Our “whole-farm” preservation and conservation planning programs include a focus on the farming family and business aspects of the operation. Most often, those practices required for compliance and most successful at preventing erosion, sedimentation and nutrient pollution can also be the most fiscally sound for a sustainable farm business. If you’re considering an NRCS-level plan or have questions about your existing plan, contact Grant DeCosta at gdecosta@brandywine.org to request assistance.