A weekly blog for all things conservation
Miranda Neville, Agricultural Resource Specialist, BCCD
“I only have 2 horses. I’m not a farm. Do I need a Manure Management Plan?” In an effort to reduce nutrient loads in the Chesapeake Bay, the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), has been conducting agricultural inspections on any operations that have livestock/production animals, (yes…even a few chickens) over the past several years in all counties within the Chesapeake Bay watershed. DEP requires operations that have livestock, land apply manure, or do any tillage to crop ground to have a Manure Management Plan and/or an Agricultural Erosion and Sediment Plan. Bradford County is included in the Bay watershed. Bradford County is included in the Bay watershed. By this point, the majority of our farms are aware of the visits and planning needs, but those who may not classify themselves as ‘farms’ may not know that they need a Manure Management Plan.
Here at the Bradford County Conservation District, we have assisted with plans for individuals with a handful of backyard chickens, hobby farms, two-horse operations, all the way to large beef or dairy farms. If you have ‘manure’ on your land, there is a good chance that you will be contacted by DEP to provide a Manure Management Plan.
To those not familiar with the agricultural/nutrient management planning process, it may sound daunting. “There’s a lot of paperwork.” The Manure Management Manual, created by DEP, looks like a cumbersome document, however of the roughly 80-page booklet, only 10 (or less depending on the operation) are the actual plan. In theory they are designed so individual operators can fill them out themselves but are often overwhelmed by the number of papers they have to sift through. The Ag Team here at the Bradford County Conservation District is here to help simplify the process. Many of the operations that are being inspected in our county are simple backyard ‘farms’ which means the plans typically take no more than 20 minutes to complete. When contacting us for assistance in filling out your Manure Management Plan (MMP), you don’t need to bring any extra information with you. If you have your own farm/property maps or call ahead so we can look them up for you. Doing that step ahead, drastically reduces your time so you can get on with your day, though we always enjoy visiting with our farmers in the field or in the office. We can assist you in getting maps and focus on asking basic farm/operation related questions to help fill in the plan sections. The plan is designed to capture an overview of nutrients (manure) utilized on your property and how to get the most benefit from it while protecting your local water sources. It’s also a good opportunity to discuss any areas of concern and opportunities to discuss funding opportunities that we may have available.
So, you may see DEP vehicles around your operation, or receive letters in the mail requesting you to contact them to provide a Manure Management Plan. We encourage you to NOT be intimidated, threatened, or to disregard these contacts attempts all together. This article is meant to be reassurance that these plans do not need to cause you headaches or concern, but they are here to help you keep your animals and land productive and healthy all while contributing to the ‘bigger picture’ of saving the ‘Bay’. If you have any concerns or questions regarding Manure Management Plan requirements, please don’t hesitate to contact us at the BCCD. We have seen an influx of farmers and landowners in recent months who requested help in completing MMP’s and, personally, those are my favorite days. Any time I can ‘talk farming’ and have meaningful conversations with our county farmers are my favorite days and they leave with completed plans and a little less weight on their shoulders.
The Bradford County Conservation District is committed to helping people manage resources wisely. You can visit the Bradford County Conservation District at 200 Lake Rd in Wysox across from the Wysox Fire Hall. Contact us at (570) 485-3144 or visit our web page at www.bccdpa.com.
Various staff at the Bradford County Conservation District