UNIVERSITY PARK, PA – If you’re a farmer in 14 counties in central Pennsylvania, now you have the opportunity to highlight the steps you’ve taken to protect and improve your backyard water quality. local water and the Chesapeake Bay.
Several farm and government organizations have partnered to develop a survey, available at https://farm-bmp.psu.edu, which asks growers in Bedford, Center, Columbia, Cumberland, Dauphin, Huntingdon, Juniata, Lebanon, Lycoming, Mifflin, Northumberland, Perry, Snyder and Tioga counties to document the conservation practices they have adopted to promote the quality of water and soil health in the bay’s watershed.
“Pennsylvania agriculture has done a lot to improve the water quality of our local rivers and streams and the Chesapeake Bay,” said Matt Royer, director of the Agriculture and Environment Center at Penn State’s College. of Agricultural Sciences. “Yet this positive story often goes untold. We are giving farmers a chance to tell this story.”
This survey follows a successful effort undertaken in 2016, when farmers in the Pennsylvania portion of the Chesapeake Bay watershed were asked to complete a similar survey. Nearly 7,000 have done so, resulting in many reported and credited conservation practices in Chesapeake Bay cleanup efforts.
Yet even with this successful effort, conservation practices on about 80% of Pennsylvania farms in the bay watershed remain unreported. Additionally, farmers who completed the 2016 survey will have the opportunity to report new practices installed since then, report on annual practices such as nutrient management and cover crops, and report on the continued success of previously reported practices.
The survey is administered by the Penn State Agriculture and Environment Center, which will send a letter this week with the survey web link to farmers in all 14 counties to encourage their participation. Researchers from the College of Agricultural Sciences will analyze survey responses and cumulative results will be provided to the Chesapeake Bay office in Pennsylvania to document the practices farmers have adopted to conserve soil and water and protect quality. some water.
Ten percent of participants will be randomly selected for farm tours by Penn State Extension to evaluate inventory results and help researchers better understand the methods used and challenges encountered when adopting various management practices.
Responses will be kept completely confidential and will never be associated with a farmer’s name or location, according to Royer, the survey’s lead researcher.
“Results reported to the Pennsylvania Chesapeake Bay office will be provided in summary form and will not include any names or locations of survey participants,” Royer said.
Rick Roush, dean of the College of Agricultural Sciences, noted that many of the conservation practices farmers have implemented over the years are not accounted for in tracking progress toward priority quality goals. of water, including cleaning up the Chesapeake Bay.
“This is especially true when farmers have adopted these practices on their own initiative and using their own money,” Roush said. “This survey will allow farmers in 14 high-priority counties in the Chesapeake Bay watershed to report conservation practices being implemented on their farms so that the farming community can get the credit it deserves for improved water quality, and we hope it will help us set priorities for educational research and extension programs that can help growers identify and adopt appropriate best management practices.”
Farmers are encouraged to complete the survey online at https://farm-bmp.psu.edu. This new and improved online tool for responding to the survey is secure and user-friendly and will facilitate data collection and analysis. Farmers will also have the option of completing a paper version of the survey, which will be mailed in February to those who have not yet completed it online.
Participants are requested to submit their responses by April 1st. All farmers who complete the survey will receive a free Penn State soil test kit. Farmers who participate in extension farm tours will receive a free copy of the Penn State Agronomy Guide.
The survey was developed collaboratively by Penn State, Pennsylvania Farm Bureau, PennAg Industries Association, Pennsylvania Farmers Union, Pasa Sustainable Agriculture, Professional Dairy Managers of Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, Pennsylvania State Conservation Commission, Pennsylvania Association of Conservation Districts and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection.
For more information, contact Matt Royer at 814-863-8756 or [email protected]