On-farm Adoption of Best Management Practices

Fourteen farm owner/managers that completed the Environmental Stewardship short course have been selected to participate in a Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) grant project.
On-farm Adoption of Best Management Practices - Articles
On-farm Adoption of Best Management Practices

This project is designed to help farm managers implement practices to increase the canopy cover and desirable forages in pastures, reduce nutrient and sediment loss from farms, and reduce the overfeeding of nutrients in the ration.

The cooperators will implement at least two identified practices designed to reduce phosphorus levels in their feed and /or reduce soil and nutrient loss by increasing canopy cover within the pastures. Most literature reports the need for maintaining 70-75% vegetative cover in pastures. Below this level significant sediment loss can occur. A minimum of 10 of the farms have been selected for this project based on the criteria that the pastures are overgrazed and have canopy covers that are less than 50%. The target for the 10 farms is to increase canopy cover to 70 to 80% which will reduce sediment loss by over 1 ton per acre, per year. Soil loss figures will be derived using RUSLE2 Erosion Calculations. Routine overfeeding of dietary protein and phosphorus results in significant nutrient losses in manure. The adoption of lower-nitrogen and phosphorus feeding practices for the test farms is expected to result in reductions in nitrogen and phosphorus loading. If 30% of PA's operations (approximately 64,800 equine), implement feeding practices that meet requirements, there would be a reduction of 195 tons of nitrogen and 56 tons of phosphorus/yr., respectively. Practices being implemented on test farms include:

  • Development of heavy use areas/stress lots to reduce grazing pressure and increase canopy cover and pasture quality. N=12
  • Implementation of rotational grazing plans. N=10
  • Adoption of an intense rotational grazing program that involves constructing paddocks and moving horses on a weekly/ daily basis. N=
  • Renovating pastures based on a management plan which provides weed control, fertilization and overseeding recommendations. N=1
  • Fencing stream corridors to restrict horse access to streams. N=
  • Managing water flow on heavy use areas by constructing bioswales. N=
  • Ration evaluation and modification to reduce excess nutrients in manure. N=14