Solutions: Agriculture


Farmer Jim Hershey is one of an ever growing number of farmers using no-till and cover crop conservation practices, which help reduce the amount of polluted runoff reaching local streams and the Bay.

CBF Staff

CBF has long called for greater use of conservation practices on farms throughout the Chesapeake Bay watershed.

But what are these practices and how will they help protect the Bay?

It is estimated that widespread use of these six priority practices on Bay region farms could reduce the amount of nitrogen pollution going into the Bay from nonpoint sources by as much as 60 percent.

Conservation practices, frequently called best management practices, or BMPs, are tools that farmers can use to reduce soil and fertilizer runoff, properly manage animal waste, and protect water and air quality on their farms. Often these tools can help improve a farmer's bottomline as well by reducing operational costs.

The six most cost-effective conservation practices include:

  • Streamside Buffers
  • Streamside Fencing
  • Nutrient Management Plans (NMPs)
  • Continuous No-Till
  • Multi-Species Cover Crops
  • Grazing

These practices reduce the most amounts of nitrogen and phosphorus per dollar spent. Benefits of using these practices, besides absorbing excess phosphorus and nitrogen and reducing nutrient pollution runoff, include managing soil erosion, improving soil quality, preventing soil compaction, sequesterating carbon, controlling weeds, and increase water infiltration and conservation.

With practices like these, well-managed farms can be among the Bay's best friends.

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