Practices that reduce pollution from agriculture are well
known and proven by science. What’s more, many of them
also improve animal health, increase productivity, reduce
the need for costly fertilizers, and promote improved soil
quality—all of which can increase a farmer’s bottom line.
Some of these methods are shown below.
Bay state farmers have implemented many conservation
practices. In 2013, U.S. Department of Agriculture
released the report, Impacts of Conservation Adoption on
Cultivated Acres of Cropland in the Chesapeake Bay
Region, 2003-06 to 2011, indicating that more than 90
percent of the farms in the Chesapeake region have one or
more conservation practices in place. The report also
reveals that there is much more work to be done.
For example, buffers are in place on less than one-third of
cropped acres in the Chesapeake Bay region. According to
Bay states’ 2013 progress reports, watershed-wide, they
planted just 229 miles of forested buffer in 2013. That’s
an alarmingly small fraction of the goal of 900 miles of
forested buffer the states committed to plant every year.
How can farmers reduce pollution?
Field buffers are planted areas around
farmland that help filter polluted runoff
before making its way to our streams,
rivers, and ultimately, the Bay.
No Till/Conservation Tillage
Practices that do not disturb the soil,
reduce erosion, and improve soil quality,
benefit productivity and reduce pollution
Crops planted after the primary crop is
harvested, help reduce erosion from wind
and rain and take up nitrogen remaining
in fields after harvest. They also can
improve soil health and provide forage.
Proper Use of Fertilizer
Nutrient Management Plans guide
farmers’ decisions on the correct rate,
timing, and method of manure and
fertilizer application. In doing so, they
can help the farmer’s bottom line.
Fencing livestock out of streams prevents
stream bank erosion and direct pollution from
animal manure. Keeping livestock from standing in the water also improves herd health,
lowers veterinarian bills, and can improve a
farmer’s bottom line.
Manure management is capturing, storing, treat-ing, and utilizing animal waste for distribution on
fields in amounts that enrich soils without causing water pollution or unacceptably high levels of
phosphorus and nitrogen. Manure management
is a component of nutrient management.
Planting trees around the edge of crop fields,
pastureland, and stream banks traps and
absorbs pollution and prevents erosion. They
also cool streams and provide wildlife habitat.
Converting livestock operations from grain-fed
systems to grazing systems improves soil’s ability
to retain excess nutrients, and rotating animals
between pastures reduces erosion. These practices also lower costs and labor.
Methods to Reduce Pollution from Agriculture