As the early days of March warm and break the frosty grip of winter, farmers are dusting off their planting equipment and getting ready for the mad dash to the fields. Before farmers run off to begin their springtime activities, they should double-check with the conservation district to make sure they are still in compliance with Chapter 102 regulations.
For most farms, the Chapter 102, or Erosion and Sediment Control Plan (E&S), is the farm’s conservation plan. Last November, updates were made to plan requirements for several practices, including plowing and tilling. In the changes, there are expanded requirements for plowing and tilling activities that take place within 100 feet of a river or stream. If the area has less than 25 percent plant, the farmer will be required to implement Best Management Practices (BMPs) to reduce erosion from the fields.
There were other updates also included in the regulations regarding Animal Heavy Use Areas and National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permitting requirements for agricultural construction.
The take-home message is simple, if your farm conservation plan is out of date or nonexistent, now is the time to contact the county conservation district or USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) for assistance.
-Charlene Shupp Espenshade, Special Sections Editor