and PROGRAMS for LANDOWNERS
office offers conservation assistance and cost-share programs to owners
and operators of farmland and rural lands.
Programs change from year to year, however, the basic assistance we
provide to landowners and land managers hasn't changed much in the more
than seventy years there has been a Soil and Water Conservation office in
the years this office has helped farm owners install many conservation
best service begins with a farm visit.
Looking at a particular problem
area, or maybe taking a broader look at the farm operation.
Just as our name implies, we work
with people to conserve soil, water
and other natural resources, with a focus on reducing soil erosion and
protecting water quality.
While we typically work with active farm operations primarily, our
programs are also available to landowners with an interest in conserving
public's increasing interest in protecting the Environment, and
specifically in water quality, has really affected the programs we offer
and the kind of advice we give.
We recommend practices such as:
goal of all these practices is to keep soils and agricultural nutrients on
the farm, maintain high quality soils to produce food, fiber and wildlife,
and prevent pollution of our streams, lakes and groundwater.
rental or easement programs provide some income on land which is put to a
more permanent conservation use. These
encourage you to look at the broader picture, usually in the form of a
Conservation Plan, for the entire farm or property.
More information on these and other Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) Programs check out their website or contact Derrick Harmon, District Conservationist, USDA-NRCS by e-mail or phone at (330) 722-2628 ext. 110.
Agricultural Best Management Practices (BMPs)
are proven conservation practices that when applied, minimize soil
erosion, maintain soil productivity and protect water quality.
Several key BMPs are important for our area.
Conservation tillage is defined as having at least 30 percent ground cover after planting and is also known as crop residue management. These practices improve soil quality, water quality, air quality and on-farm productivity while reducing expenses. No-till, one type of conservation tillage, can reduce erosion by 90 percent and conserve 2-4" of soil moisture for dryer periods. In addition, surface residue causes organisms to remain active for longer periods contributing to soil humus formation.
Widely adopted throughout most of the United States, today's technologically advanced equipment and crop protection products make conservation tillage a practical option for most climates and soil types. Growers save time, fuel, and equipment cost while maintaining and/or increasing yields and profits. Over several years, fewer tillage trips improve soil quality through increased organic matter, earthworm and other biological activity.
Conservation tillage also improves water quality by reducing the movement of soil and associated potential pollutants---like phosphorus and crop protection products---to surface water. Excess phosphorus in fresh water often results in abundant algal growth. It also increases microbial activity throughout whichspeeds the breakdown of crop protection products.
Crop nutrient management is defined as increasing nutrient efficiency to maximize economic return while maintaining or improving the environment. To increase nutrient efficiency, growers apply plant nutrients at the right time and place to achieve their estimate yield. This approach helps reduce potential pollution of surface and ground water. All sources of plant nutrients---manure, fertilizers, previous crops, irrigation tailwater, etc.---are included in the budget. Specific management practices include soil testing, split applications, side dressing, nitrogen stabilizers, manure testing, application calibration, variable rate technologies and livestock/poultry feed rations. The basic components of a crop nutrient budget and the resulting management plan are:
Specific practices include scouting fields, rotating crops, planting resistant crops, encouraging beneficial insects and, when necessary, utilizing crop protection products. When crop protection products are used, application rates and methods are based on threshold populations, safety to non-target organisms, soil types, sensitivity and a variety of other site-specific factors.
Conservation buffers are strategically planted grasses, trees, and other ground cover. When planned and implemented to match the site, they reduce the impact of runoff from adjacent fields.
Buffers can reduce up to 80% of sediment and 40% of phosphorous (on average) from reaching surface water by trapping it in the vegetation. Significant amounts of nitrate can be removed from the system by the root structure and stored in the plant material. Buffers also can reduce wind borne pollutants.
Several years of cost analysis show areas suitable for buffers are often the least profitable areas in the field. In fact, the continuous buffer sign-up for the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) can turn unprofitable acres into a profitable situation. Buffers can also:
|Other BMPs especially suited
for Medina County include:
A structure that protects water bodies from manure runoff by storing manure until conditions are suitable for field application or proper removal.
Download NRCS-Ohio Manure Management Standards:
or contact the SWCD Office at 330 722-9320 for further information.
Additional Sources of Information:
Shaping the ground and establishing grass in a natural drainageway to prevent or repair gullies.
Protecting a stream by excluding livestock and by establishing buffer zones of vegetation to filter runoff.
Installing practices to manage water levels to improve habitat or restore wetlands.
Creating or improving food and cover for upland or wetland wildlife.
Planting and designing grazing rotations to optimize production, reduce sediment and nutrient runoff.
is an aerobic (oxygen requiring) process in which microorganisms break
down complex organic components of animal waste and bedding (e.g. straw,
sawdust) into simple
organic soil-like material.
relatively inexpensive composting:
ideal composting system may take eight to twelve weeks to complete, and
then progresses to a curing period which typically lasts for another four
Organic materials to be composted must have the appropriate carbon to nitrogen (C:N) ratio that supports growth and activity of the microorganisms that carry out composting.
compost piles from horse operations consist of manure and bedding
materials and have a high C:N ratio.
This combination composts well by itself, especially if the bedding
material is straw. If
bedding material is sawdust, it may take a longer time to compost.
The composting process can be improved if materials with higher
nitrogen content, such as grass clippings or urea, are added as needed to the pile.
Oxygen is needed by microorganisms during respiration while breaking down the materials. Aerobic composting requires a lot of oxygen, particularly at the initial stage. A tremendous amount of energy in the form of heat is given off, creating an ideal environment for the microorganisms. They operate best in temperatures between 110F and 150F. At 140 F or higher, pathogens, weed seeds, and fly larvae in the composting materials are destroyed. However, at temperatures above 160 F, the microorganisms will die. Therefore, it is essential to regulate the oxygen and temperature levels by regularly turning the compost pile, about three times a month. Monitor the temperature for best results.
Moisture is necessary to permit biological activities and the supporting chemicals process. Moisture should be about 50 percent of the content. Estimate the moisture content by squeezing a handful of composted material. It should feel like a damp sponge after the water has been wrung out. Moisture is continuously lost due to the high temperature. Therefore, regularly wet the materials without waterlogging them.
Benefits of Composting: