Informational Farm Visits
Changes in regulations affecting agriculture have taken place. As part of a public information campaign, all farms in Blair County are required to have an Informational Farm Visit conducted by the Blair County Conservation District or DEP.
Please contact Rich Huether at the District to schedule your farm visit. We would prefer to schedule visits so that the timing is convenient for you and your operation.
Manure Management / Nutrient Management
Every farm in Pennsylvania that has animals and/or land applies manure or agricultural process wastewater (generated on the farm or received from an importer), regardless of size, is required to have and implement a written Manure Management Plan. This includes manure and agricultural process wastewater application by various types of equipment and/or direct application of manure by animals on pastures and in Animal Concentration Areas (ACAs). In other words, farms that do not mechanically apply manure but which do have pastures or ACAs still need a manure management plan. This applies for any size of farm from 1 animal to thousands of animals. A person who has1 horse or 1 goat in the back yard is under these regulations. A Manure Management Plan is used to determine and plan how much manure (nutrients) can be placed on fields. This is determined by the soil test, crop grown, anticipated crop yield and manure type.
There are several levels of plans that an operator can have. The level of plan depends on the size and type of operation. To determine what level of plan you need, refer to the What type of Nutrient/Manure Management Plan do you need for your farm? and/or Is My Operation a CAO/CAFO worksheet. A CAO (Concentrated Animal Operation) is defined as an Operation with more than 8,000 lbs of animals and 2,000 lbs or more of animals per acre available for Manure application (2AEU/ac). A CAFO (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation) is defined as an Operation with 1 million pounds of animals or more, a CAO w/ over 300,000 lbs of animals, or an operation with a certain number of animals. The Is My Operation a CAO-CAFO worksheet has these threshold numbers. CAO and CAFO's are required to have an ACT38 Nutrient Management Plan. All other farms are required to have a Manure Management Plan, but can volunteer to have Nutrient Balance Sheets, an NRCS 590 Plan or an ACT 38 Nutrient Management Plan.
The Manure Management Plan can be written by anyone using the State "Land Application of Manure A Supplement to Manure Management for Environmental Protection". Farm maps are one of the requirements for the Plan. Maps can be hand drawn or computer generated. The PA ONESTOP website is a site that anyone can use to make a farm map with all of the required information.
An Act 38 Nutrient Management Plan (Top level of Plan) must be written by a PA Certified Nutrient Management Specialist. A producer that is following an Act 38 Plan that is reviewed and approved the County Conservation District Board has limited liability protection.
Agricultural Erosion and Sedimentation
(PA Chapter 102.4)
All operations that have agricultural plowing and tilling activities (including no-till) of more than 5,000 sq ft or have an Animal Heavy Use Area (AHUA) are required to have a written Agricultural Erosion and Sedimentation Plan (AG E&S). A Heavy Use Area is defined as "a barnyard, feedlot, loafing area, exercise lot or other similar area on an agricultural operation where due to the concentrations of animals it is not possible to establish and maintain vegetative cover of a density capable of minimizing accelerated erosion and sedimentation by usual planting methods". This Plan is to address the implementation and maintenance of erosion and sediment control BMP's that may be required to minimize the potential for accelerated erosion and sedimentation from Agricultural areas. Plan requirements include:
- Plan must meet the Tolerable Soil Loss "T" over the rotation for that particular soil type.
- Near Stream Areas: Areas within 100' of a river, or perennial or intermittent stream, need to maintain 25% cover at all times (or implement a BMP such as a permanent 35 Foot vegetative Buffer).
- Animal Heavy Use Areas (AHUA): The plan must identify BMP's to minimize accelerated erosion and sedimentation. AHUA include: barnyards, exercise lots, manure handling areas, sacrifice areas, feed areas, shade areas, etc.
- Plan Maps that show the location of water, drainage patterns, field and property boundaries, buildings, AHUA, roads, and BMP's. (Maps can be made using the PA One Stop website (http://www.paonestop.org/)
- A soils map of the operation.
- A description of BMP's including AHUA practices and procedures, tillage systems, schedules and crop rotations.
- An implementation schedule.
A Conservation Plan that has been written by USDA-NRCS will meet most of the requirements of the AG E&S Plan. However, traditional NRCS plans probably will not address the Near Stream Areas or AHUA criteria. A Landowner can request NRCS to write or update a Conservation Plan to meet the AG E&S (or 102) requirements. Contact the NRCS office to make this request.
The PAOneStop website is developing an Ag E&S Plan module. Penn State is working to include soil loss calculations in this module with the expectation that the PAOneStop will be easy for farmers and planners to use to develop Ag E&S Plans that meet Chapter 102 requirements. This module is scheduled to be available late summer 2012.
Construction on Farms and Permitting
Construction activities on farms require a written Erosion and Sedimentation Control Plan when disturbing more than 5,000 sq ft, as with any other type of construction (residential, commercial, industrial, etc.). NPDES Permits are required for planned disturbances of over 1 acre when building structures such as barns, manure storages, houses, silos, bunk silos, etc. Permits are to be issued prior to commencement of earthmoving. Normal plowing and tilling and the installation of BMP's such as waterways, barnyard improvements and animal walkways may not need an NPDES Permit or construction E&S plan as long as those activities are included and addressed in the farms Ag E&S Plan. As with any construction, activities in or around streams and wetlands may require additional approvals.
Contact the Conservation District to find out if your proposed activities will necessitate permits, plans and approvals.
Please contact the Agricultural Conservation Specialist if you have any questions about Farm Regulation, AG E&S or Manure Management.