Agriculture

Agriculture is a key cornerstone of the foundation of the District. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Indiana County has 951 farms that comprise a total of 148,288 acres, with 58% being used for crops compared to 42% for livestock, poultry, and other products.

In partnership with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), the District provides technical assistance and program availability visits to farmers throughout the county regarding drought management, best management practices, soil health, and funding assistance. Additionally, the District provides manure management assistance and Resource Enhancement and Protection Program (REAP) application guidance.

Farming remains one of the most important industries in Indiana County. The District continues to serve our farming community by implementing best management practices to reduce soil and nutrient loss, thereby making the farm more profitable while cleaning up our streams in the process.

Agriculture and the Environment

How do farmers protect the environment? Farmers can implement many practices that conserve natural resources, while still producing a product and making a profit on the farm - a win-win!

Conservation District Assistance to Farmers

Erosion and Sediment Control Plans Vs. Conservation Plans

The main changes made in the 2010 additions include:

Animal Operations

What kind of operation are you? 

There are three classifications of animal operations. CAFO=Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation, CAO=Concentrated Animal Operation, and AO=Animal Operation. Classification is determined by the size of your herd and acres of crop fields. To determine what your farm is considered, go through this quick worksheet, found here.

Do you need a Nutrient Management Plan?

What is nutrition management? Nutrient management involves the efficient use of manure and fertilizer nutrients to meet but not exceed crop needs. The goal of proper nutrient management is to maximize crop yields without over-applying nutrients, thus reducing unnecessary fertilizer costs and protecting surface and ground water from nutrient pollution. Nutrient management plans provide field-specific manure and fertilizer application rates, as well as solutions to any storm water or manure management issues that may exist on the farm. Farms defined as concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) AND concentrated animal operations (CAOs) are required by Pennsylvania’s Nutrient Management Act (Act 38) to develop and implement a nutrient management plan (NMP). A CAO is any farm having more than 2,000 pounds of live animal weight, on an annualized basis, per acre of ground where crops are harvested. Individuals can become certified to write their own nutrient management plans or they can have a plan developed by a certified commercial nutrient management planner. For farms that produce less manure than is needed to meet their crop needs, a plan can be especially useful for prioritizing which fields most need the limited manure that is available. Soil testing and good records on crop yields are at the heart of an effective nutrient management program. Even for farms that don’t develop full plans, soil testing is a must for determining nutrient and lime needs. Soil test kits are available for purchase through Penn State’s Agricultural Analytical Services Lab.

What is the District’s role in Pennsylvania’s Nutrient Management Program?

When a commercial nutrient management specialist develops a NMP for an agricultural operation in Indiana County, the plan is submitted to the District for review. The District’s Nutrient Management Specialist reviews the plan for administrative completeness, and performs a technical review to ensure that all requirements of Act 38 have been met. The plan is then brought before the Conservation District Board of Directors for approval. The District also educates the local agricultural community on the benefits of nutrient management, and works to resolve manure-related complaints.

Is there funding available to assist with the cost of NMP development?

Do you need a Manure Management Plan?

What is the Manure Management Plan? Beginning November 2011, DEP requires every farm in PA that land applies manure or agricultural process wastewater, regardless of size, to have and implement a written Manure Management Plan (MMP). 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 ACAs. In other words, farms that do not mechanically apply manure but which do have pastures or ACAs still need a MMP.

Who can write the Plan? MMPs can be prepared by the farmer although the farmer may benefit from technical assistance from certified nutrient management specialists, certified manure brokers and haulers, NRCS staff, Penn State University staff, farm organizations, or the County Conservation District. For assistance from the Indiana County Conservation District Nutrient Management Specialist, at (724) 471-4751, ext. 4.

DEP has developed a MMP Workbook for farmers to use that contains instructions and forms to complete to develop the plan. Once completed, the Workbook will become the farm’s MMP which must be implemented.

What is in the Plan? The Plan is broken into seven sections. The first four are required by all farmers regardless of size, and the last 3 are needed if they apply to the farmer:

  1. General Information: General information about the farm.

  2. Mechanical Manure Application Rate and Timing: Documents manure application rates and timing for mechanical application of manure.

  3. Farm Map: Provides a farm map identifying the location of fields, structures, environmentally sensitive areas and manure application setbacks. This section is always required in a manure management plan.

  4. Record Keeping: Provides a description of required recordkeeping and provides forms that can be used for record keeping.

  5. Managing Manure Storage in Structures and Stockpiling/Stacking Areas: Only necessary if the farm has a manure storage facility or stockpiles or stacks manure.

  6. Pasture Management: Only necessary if the farm has one or more pasture fields.

  7. Animal Concentration Areas: Only necessary if the farm has one or more ACAs (such as barnyards, feedlots, animal exercise areas).

Where can I get a Plan? The Manure Management Plan and the Manure Management Plan Workbook are both available online at the Pennsylvania Nutrient Management Program website, found here. Hard copies of the Plan and Workbook are available at the Conservation District.

Biosolids

Biosolids are not raw sewage. Biosolids are those wastewater solids that have been treated to produce fertilizers or soil amendments. Typically, biosolids are used in areas such as agriculture, landscaping and mine reclamation to promote plant growth and soil regeneration.

Information on Biosolids can be reviewed on the DEP website by clicking here.

Farmland Preservation

The Indiana County Farmland Easement Board administers the Indiana County Farmland Preservation Program. The Agricultural Conservation Easement Purchase Program, commonly referred to as Farmland Preservation, identifies properties and slows the loss of prime farmland to non-agricultural uses. It enables state, county and local governments to purchase conservation easements, also called development rights, from owners of quality farmland.

Established in 1998, The Indiana County Farmland Easement Board has preserved 1249 acres of farmland on eleven farms for a purchase price of over $2.5 million.

For Information about the Farmland Preservation program, please contact their board of Directors via the contact information below:

Janis Long, President 724-349-9474

David Bork, Board Member 724-388-1335

Programs

ICCD offers assistance with a variety of programs including DGLVR, Agriculture, Watersheds, and Permitting.

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Education

Education is a big part of what we do. Discover how ICCD can engage your students in environmental learning.

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News & events

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Friends of ICCD

Friends of Indiana County Conservation District make a big impact through fundraising events and community engagement.

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