Conservation Practices

Below is a list of common conservation practices with a brief description, image/photo of a local example and a link for more information.

COVER CROPS:  A cover crop is a plant that is used primarily to slow erosion, improve soil health, enhance water availability, smother weeds, help control pests and diseases, increase biodiversity and bring a host of other benefits to your farm or garden.  When selecting cover crops, first consider your objectives for including them in your operation (i.e. increase organic matter. reduce erosion).  Additional general information on cover crops can be found at the Sustainable Agriculture Research & Education (SARE) website.

The following programs are available to assist farmers for cover crop implementation:  EQIP

Cover crop examples: 1. oilseed radish   2.  crimson clover  3.  oats and kale

FILTER STRIP:  A filter strip is an area of grass or other permanent vegetation used to reduce sediment, organics, nutrients, pesticides, and other contaminants from runoff and to maintain or improve water quality.  Additional general information on cover crops can be found on USDA’s website.  

Filter strip examples in Highland and Brown counties.

RIPARIAN FOREST BUFFER: A corridor of trees and/or shrubs planted adjacent to a river, stream, wetland or water body. The planting is of sufficient width and up-gradient and near the water body to insure adequate functioning for the desired purpose.  More info can be found on USDA’s website.

Riparian buffer examples; Picture 2. shows the main stem of the East Fork Little Miami River as it enters Harsha Lake.

RIPARIAN HERBACEOUS COVER: Grasses, grass-like plants, and forbs that are tolerant of intermittent flooding or saturated soils that are established or managed in the transitional zone between terrestrial and aquatic habitats.  More info can be found at USDA’s website.

Grasses, shrubs and other vegetaion function as buffers for smaller streams.

ACCESS ROAD: An access road is an established route for equipment and vehicles.  More info can be found on USDA’s website.

HEAVY USE AREA PROTECTION (HUAP): is a way to stabilize a ground surface that is frequently and intensively used by people, animals, or vehicles. More info can be found at USDA’s website.

FENCING: A constructed barrier to livestock, wildlife or people.  More info and examples can be found at USDA’s website.

GRASSED WATERWAY:  A shaped or graded channel that is established with suitable vegetation to convey surface water at a non-erosive velocity using a broad and shallow cross section to a stable outlet.  More info can be found at USDA’s website.

NUTRIENT MANAGEMENT:  is the matching of the site specific soil, production history and crop management to the “Right Rate,” “Right Source,” “Right Time,” and “Right Place” (commonly known as the 4R nutrient stewardship) of nutrient applications.  The NRCS nutrient management plans are designed to document practices that address natural resource concerns related to soil erosion, water quality and nutrient applications.

Nutrient management is typically done in combination with cover crops.  The plans follow the Tri-state guide for nutrient placement, soil testing, variable rate technology and 4R nutrient recommendations.

For more info, visit USDA’s website.

HIGH TUNNEL:  a high tunnel system, commonly called a “hoop house” is an increasingly popular conservation practice for farmers, and is available with financial assistance through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP).  With high tunnel systems, no summer is too short or winter too cold because high tunnels:

  • Extend the growing season
  • Improve plant quality and soil quality
  • Reduce nutrient and pesticide transportation
  • Improve air quality through reduced transportation inputs
  • Reduce energy use by providing consumers with a local source of fresh produce

For more info, visit USDA’s website.

MANURE STORAGE FACILITY:  a storage facility built to contain manure for some period of time.  It is designed and constructed by the type and form of manure and size of the operation.  The purpose is to keep nutrients from moving off site.  Storage facilities allow producers to store manure until it is needed and nutrients can be placed in a safe manner.

  • Extend the growing season
  • Improve plant quality and soil quality
  • Reduce nutrient and pesticide transportation
  • Improve air quality through reduced transportation inputs
  • Reduce energy use by providing consumers with a local source of fresh produce

For more info, visit USDA’s website.

 

BRUSH MANAGMENT: is the management or removal of woody (non-herbaceous or succulent) plants including those that are invasive and noxious.

  • Create the desired plant community consistent with the ecological site or a desired state within the site description.
  • Restore or release desired vegetative cover to protect soils, control erosion, reduce sediment, improve water quality, or enhance hydrology.
  • Maintain, modify, or enhance fish and wildlife habitat.
  • Improve forage accessibility, quality, and quantity for livestock and wildlife.
  • Manage fuel loads to achieve desired conditions.
  • Pervasive plant species are controlled to a desired level of treatment that will ultimately contribute to creation or maintenance of an ecological site description “steady state” addressing the need for forage, wildlife habitat, and/or water quality.

For more info, visit USDA’s website.

 

WETLAND CREATION:  Wetlands are a home to many species of migratory and resident birds, reptiles and amphibians, fish, insects, and plants. They also benefit society by storing floodwaters, filtering pollutants, serving as a carbon sink, and providing recreation sites for boating and fishing, just to name a few. There are three major groups of wetlands:  marine, tidal, and non-tidal. The planning, design, implementation, and monitoring of wetland restoration, enhancement, or creation project requires a multidisciplinary approach involving the disciplines of engineering, biology, geology, and soil science, among others.  Wetlands are a good indicator of planetary environmental health.  The impact of human activity on wetlands is a major concern of NRCS.  Considerable guidance exists to minimize harmful impacts and encourage wetland conservation.

For more info, visit USDA’s website.