AGRICULTURAL PROJECTS, BEST MANAGEMENT PRACTICES and GRANT PROGRAMS
The Chenango County Soil and Water Conservation District's mainly works with the agricultural community to design and implement best management practices (BMPs) to maintain good water quality, prevent soil erosion and increase soil health, and help maintain the economic viability of farming in our county. With our partners, the District utilizes both state and federal funding to implement best management practices that are identified as needed to achieve clean water and reduce soil erosion.
Approximately 98% Chenango County is located in the Upper Susquehanna River watershed. The Susquehanna River and all of its watershed is the largest contributor of fresh water to the Chesapeake Bay. Unfortunately, over the past several decades, the water quality of the Chesapeake Bay has declined considerably causing impairments to the fisheries and recreational uses. One of the major causes of this problem is nutrient pollution from agricultural and municipal sources. The three major pollutants of concern are nitrogen, phosphorus and sediment. In reaction to this pollution and other sources of pollution within the entire Chesapeake Bay watershed, the Environmental Protection Agency placed the Bay on a "pollution diet" or Total Daily Maximum Load (TMDL) to regulate the amount of pollutants delivered to the Bay annually. The District works to chip away at the amount of nutrient and sediment pollution by implementing practices such as covered barnyards, manure storage structures, Comprehensive Nutrient Management Plans (CNMP), cattle trails and walkway improvements, forest and grass riparian buffers, pasture management practices, silage leachate water management systems and milkhouse waste management systems.
"You cannot escape the responsibility of tomorrow by evading it today." Abraham Lincoln.
CHESAPEAKE BAY TOTAL DAILY MAXIMUM LOAD
Covered barnyards are designed to cover barnyard areas so that clean water from rain and roof runoff do not mix with manure and sediment. Areas of heavy animal traffic cause erosion and causes concentrated sources of sediment and manure to enter surface water resources. By utilizing concrete pads, roofs, diversion ditches and other water management techniques, polluted water can be contained, cleaned and utilized for fertilizer while clean water can safely be conveyed to surface waters. This management practices is not intended for permanent housing for cattle or other livestock, but a temporary area for animals to congregate before heading to pasture or a wintering area while the barn is being cleaned and an area utilized for heat detection.
In order for a farm to be eligible for state and federal money the farm must have a CNMP, there must be a resource concern identified to justify the practice, and the the need for a roof must be justified in that a filter field or VTA to "treat" barnyard runoff is not viable or economically practical. This means that a properly sized VTA cannot be sited on the farm to be constructed in the appropriate soils or the minimum distance from a stream or river.
SILAGE LEACHATE WATER MANAGEMENT
This management practice collects and treats liquid effluent that is a by-product of ensilaged feed. Silage leachate is an extremely toxic contaminate to surface waters. The leachate has what is known as a high biological oxygen demand, where in the process of decomposition, the leachate "steals" oxygen from the water and suffocating vegetative and animal life. Effluent is collected on an impervious surface where it is then passed through a stainless steel screen. Effluent that mixes with rain water or "high flow" bypasses a tank and is piped to a vegetated filter field, or leach field. "Low flow" or highly concentrated effluent is colleted into a concrete tank and is periodically pumped and then mixed with manure and land applied.
Above: Silage leachate is collected from the backside of a bunk silo. This leachate would have normally runoff into a small stream located on the other side of the farm road.
Above: The concrete tank collects the "low flow" leachate with the blue pipes disperse the "high flow" leachate to the filter field in the background.
Above: Leachate is colleted in this concrete basin and goes through a screen system before it enters either the vegetated treatment area (filter field) or to a concrete tank.
COMPREHENSIVE NUTRIENT MANAGEMENT PLANS (CNMPs)
A Comprehensive Nutrient Management Plan (CNMP) is a conservation plan that is unique to feeding operations and are designed to evaluate the methods of farm production. The plan guides landowners towards conservation practices to produce quality food while working towards good natural resource management. The CNMP balances the amount of nutrients generated on the farm from manure and other sources between the nutrient needs of the farm's production acreage. The CNMP will develop a nutrient spreading schedule for each farm field by utilizing soil tests, analyzing the nutrient content of manure, the soil character, slope, and flooding frequency of the area receiving manure and assessing the nutrient needs of the crop. The CNMP will provide information which also addresses farmstead issues including the need for manure storage. The District and NRCS partners with certified CNMP planners and private consultants to develop the plans . A CNMP is required to participate in most of the programs that the District and NRCS offers. For example, the CNMP will outline the need for a manure storage system on a farm and cost sharing through either a Farm Bill Program or through the NYS AgNonPSPA&CP will not be available unless the need is outlined in the CNMP. Additionally, a CNMP is required for other farmstead waste best management practices such as covered barnyards, silage leachate water management and milkhouse waste water management projects in order to be cost shared.
CNMPs are also the foundation for the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation's environmental regulatory program, known as the Concentrated Animal Feed Operation or CAFO program, to control non-point source pollution from agricultural sources. For farms that are permitted through the NYS State General Permit, the CNMP must be followed in order to be compliant with state law. Alternatively, a CNMP can be developed and implemented by any livestock farm who wishes to manage their natural resources by utilizing science based methods.
MANURE STORAGE STRUCTURES
Manure storage structures allow for at least a six month storage capacity of manure to allow for the timely application of manure on production ground. Spreading manure on frozen or seasonally saturated soil, especially on steep slopes or land designated as highly erodible often results in a resource concern as the nitrogen and phosphorus content found in the manure will enter surface and ground water resources. A Comprehensive Nutrient Management Plan will outline the need for a manure storage structure because it will balance the amount of manure generated on the farm with the amount of production acreage that a farmer spreads manure on.