Extension Recognizes Pennsylvania Farms that Adopt Sound Management Practices Protecting Water Quality and the Environment

Horses, Animal Manure Management March 16, 2015 Print Friendly and PDF

penn state extension environmental friendly farm signPurpose

The Environmentally Friendly Farm program was developed by Penn State Equine Extension and is designed to recognize farms that adopt environmentally sound management practices that protect water quality and the environment. The program is supported by funds from the USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS), Conservation Innovation Grant. Strategies are employed on Environmentally Friendly Farms to maintain productive pastures, reduce soil erosion, limit nutrient runoff from animal facilities and barnyards, safely store manure, recycle nutrients, and control animal access to surface waters. Excess sediment and nutrient runoff from manure poses health threats not only to the environment, but also to animals and people. Farm managers who practice environmental stewardship maintain healthy environments for their animals, their families, and their community.

What did we do?

Farm managers can apply for the program by request a copy of the application from Penn State Equine Extension by visiting us online at http://www.extension.psu.edu/equine, emailing or calling our extension office. Second, complete the Environmentally Friendly Farm application requesting background information about the farm operation.

Next, complete the Environmentally Friendly Farm Self-Assessment Checklist. Each statement is checked “yes” if the practice is in place on the farm, “no” if the practice is not in place or “non-applicable if the statement does not pertain to the farm operation. The checklist consists of a series of statements that identify potential on-farm practices in the following areas: Environmentally Sensitive Areas, Pastures, Animal Concentration Areas, Manure Storage, and Mechanical Manure Application.

Once the paperwork has been received, a farm site visit will be scheduled. Personnel from Penn State Extension, the County Conservation District, or the Natural Resource Conservation District (NRCS) will visit farms to verify that statements made in the application and checklists are accurate. At the same time, additional information and assistance will be provided to help improve farm management and develop any necessary plans for the farm.

The farm will be recognized by the public, conservation and agricultural agencies, and other farm managers as an operation that is committed to clean water and a healthy environment. Each farm manager will receive an Environmentally Friendly Farm sign that can be displayed on the farmstead. Farms that qualify will also be given permission to use the Environmentally Friendly Farm artwork on their website, brochure, and other marketing materials. Approved farms will be listed on the Penn State Equine Extension website.

This recognition will reflect the commitment of the farm manager to environmental stewardship and can serve as a marketing tool for the farm.

What have we learned?

After personnel visited farms to verify that statements made in the application and checklists are accurate. At the same time, additional information and assistance is provided to help improve farm management and develop any necessary plans for the farm. In addition, agency personal developed a personal relationship with the farm manager. The farm managers who practice environmental stewardship maintain healthy environments for their animals, their families, and their community.

Future Plans

This program will be continued through 2016. We hope to provide additional information and assistance to help improve farm management.

Authors

Ann Swinker, Extension Horse Specialist aswinker@psu.edu

Donna Foulk, Helene McKernan, Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA 16802

Additional information

Farms can request a copy of the application from the Penn State Extension Equine Team by visiting us online at http://www.extension.psu.edu/equine

Acknowledgements

This program was funded partly by a USDA NRCS-CIG grant.

The authors are solely responsible for the content of these proceedings. The technical information does not necessarily reflect the official position of the sponsoring agencies or institutions represented by planning committee members, and inclusion and distribution herein does not constitute an endorsement of views expressed by the same. Printed materials included herein are not refereed publications. Citations should appear as follows. EXAMPLE: Authors. 2015. Title of presentation. Waste to Worth: Spreading Science and Solutions. Seattle, WA. March 31-April 3, 2015. URL of this page. Accessed on: today’s date.

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This work is supported by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, New Technologies for Ag Extension project.