Community A - L: Soil Conservation Practices
Cover Crops
Critical Area Plantings
Diversion
Filter Strip
Grade Stabilization Structure
Grassed Waterways
Nutrient Management
Residue Mgt: Mulch Till
Residue Mgt: No Till & Strip Till
Residue Mgt: Seasonal
Stream Crossing & Livestock Access
Tree/Shrub Establishment
Vegetative Barriers
Waste Management Systems
Well Decommissioning
Wetland Restoration
Windbreak/Shelterbelt Establishment


Cover Crops

Cover crops include grasses, legumes, forbs or other herbaceous plants established for seasonal cover and conservation purposes.

The purpose of this practice is to reduce erosion from wind and water, increase soil organic matter, manage excess nutrients in the soil profile and promote biological nitrogen fixation. This practice also increases biodiversity, aids in weed suppression and soil moisture management.

This practice applies to all lands requiring vegetative cover for natural resource protection. For example, cropland, orchards, vineyards, small fruit areas or conservation use areas to be planted to trees or permanent vegetation at a later date.

Critical Area Plantings

Critical area planting involves establishing vegetation, such as trees, shrubs, vine, grasses or legumes on highly erodible or critical areas. It does not include tree planting mainly for wood products.

This practice may be applied as part of a conservation management system to support one or more of the following purposes:
§ To stabilize the soil and thereby reduce damage from sediment and runoff to downstream areas.
§ Stabilize sand dunes, shifting sands or sand areas subject to blowing.

This practice applies on highly erodible or critically eroded areas. These areas usually cannot be stabilized by ordinary conservation treatment and management. If left untreated, these areas can cause severe erosion or sediment damage.

Examples of applicable areas are: dams, dikes, mine spoils, cuts, fills, surface-mined areas, sand blown areas and denuded gullied areas, grass waterways or heavy use areas where vegetation is difficult to establish with usual seeding or planting methods.

This also applies to small concentrated flow areas where the drainage area is five (5) acres or less; and where adequate capacity exists without earth moving.

Diversion

A diversion is a channel with a supporting ridge on the lower side constructed across the slope.

Filter Strip

A filter strip is a strip of grass or other permanent vegetation used to reduce sediment, organics, nutrients, pesticides and other contaminants.

A filter strip functions to remove sediment from runoff from cropland, grazing land, and disturbed areas, to remove sediment in runoff from forestland and to remove nitrogen, phosphorus, pesticides and pathogens runoff from cropland, grazing land and urban areas. It is also used to remove sediment, organic material and other pollutants from polluted water as part of an animal waste utilization plan. Also, it is used to remove sediment from runoff and redirect flow toward a riparian forest buffer and to provide wildlife habitat.

This practice applies:
1.On cropland at the lower edge of a field or above conservaiton practices.
2.On fields upgrade of intermittent or perennial streams, ponds, lakes or sinkholes.
3.In areas requiring pollutant entrapment as part of an animal waste utilization plan.
4.When sediment entrapment is required on forestland.
5.As a riparian forest buffer component.
6.Where there is minimal concern for movement of leachate from the filter toward shallow ground water.

Grade Stabilization Structure

A grade stabilization is a structure used to control the grade and head cutting in natural or artificial channels.

Grassed Waterways

A grassed waterway is a natural or constructed channel that is shaped or graded to required dimensions and established with suitable vegetation.

This practice may be applied as part of a conservation system to support one or more of the following: conveying runoff from terraces, diversions or other water concentrations without causing soil erosion or flooding or to reduce gully erosion and to protect/improve water quality.

This practice applies in areas where added water conveyance capacity and vegetative protection are needed to control erosion resulting from concentrated runoff and where such control can be achieved by using this practice alone or combined with other conservation practices. Grassed waterays should not be designed for the conveyance of polluted runoff from livestock facilities.

The drainage area above the grassed waterway must be protected against erosion to the extent that expected sedimentation will not shorten the planned effective life of the grassed waterway.

The grassed waterway practice is not applicable to watercourses where construction of a waterway would destroy important woody wildlife cover and the present watercourse is capable of handling the concentrated runoff without excessive erosion.

Nutrient Management

Nutrient management involves managing the amount, source, placement, form and timing of the application of nutrients and soil amendments.

The purpose of nutrient management is to budget and supply nutrients for plant production, to properly utilize manure or organic by-products as a plant nutrient source and to minimize agricultural non-point source pollution of surface and groundwater resources. It is also used to maintain or improve the physical, chemical and biological condition of soil and to minimize nutrient losses on organic soils.

This practice applies to all lands where plant nutrients and soil amendments are applied.

Residue Mgt: Mulch Till

Mulch till involves managing the amount, orientation and distribution of crop and other plant residue on the soil surface year-round, while growing crops where the entire field is tilled prior to planting.

This practice may be applied as part of a conservation system to support one or more of the following:

  • Reduce sheet and rill erosion.
  • Reduce wind erosion.
  • Maintain or improve soil organic matter content and tilth.
  • Improve surface water quality by reducing pesticide and sediment movement.
  • Conserve soil moisture.
  • Provide food and escape cover for wildlife.

This practice applies to all cropland and other land where crops are grown and includes tillage methods commonly referred to as mulch tillage, or chiseling and disking. It applies to tillage for annually planted crops, and to tillage for replanting perennial crops.

Residue Mgt: No Till & Strip Till

This practice involves managing the amount, orientation and distribution of crop and other plant residue on the soil surface year-round, while growing crops in previously untilled soil and residue.

This practice may be applied as part of a conservation management system to support one or more of the following:

  • Reduce sheet and rill erosion.
  • Reduce wind erosion.
  • Maintain or improve soil organic matter content.
  • Improve surface water quality by reducing pesticide and sediment movement
  • Conserve soil moisture.
  • Manage snow to increase plant available moisture or reduce plant damage from freezing or desiccation.
  • Provide food and escape cover for wildlife.

This practice applies to all cropland and other land where crops are grown and includes tillage and planting methods commonly referred to as no-till, zero till, slot plant, row till, zone till or strip till.

Residue Mgt: Seasonal

This practice manages the amount, orientation and distribution of crop and other plant residues on the soil surface during part of the year, while growing crops in a clean tilled seedbed.

This practice may be applied as part of a conservation management system to support one or more of the following:

  • Reduce sheet and rill erosion.
  • Reduce soil erosion from wind.
  • Manage snow to increase plant available moisture.
  • Provide food and escape cover for wildlife.

This practice applies to all cropland and other land where crops are grown and includes residue management methods practiced during the part of the year from harvest until residue is buried by tillage for seedbed preparation.

Stream Crossing & Livestock Access

A stream crossing and livestock access is a constructed stable area extending either into or across streams or other shallow water bodies.

This practice may be applied as part of a conservation system to minimize sediment and nutrient delivery where livestock need access to streams or other shallow water bodies for watering and/or crossing and/or to minimize sediment and nutrient delivery where a vehicle crossing of shallow water bodies is needed.

This practice applies where livestock impact water quality by direct deposition of manure nutrients, organic matter and pathogens; or livestock and vehicles impact water quality by detachment and transport of sediment and nutrients from streambanks and shorelines, and where:

  • Agricultural operations require access to water bodies for livestock watering.
  • Livestock and vehicles need access to land on both sides of a shallow water body.
  • Normal streamflow depths and velocities do not present a hazard.
  • Alternative watering facilities located away from the surface waters are not practical and economically feasible.

If these conditions exist, livestock are to be excluded from the surface waters except for controlled access.

Tree/Shrub Establishment

Tree/shrub is establishing woody plants by planting or seeding.

The purpose of the practice is to establish woody plants for forest products, provide erosion control for landscaping and energy conservation and to reduce air pollution for uptake of soil and water borne chemicals and nutrients. This practice is also used to beautify an area, protect and improve watersheds and ecosystems within them and provide wildlife food and habitat.

This practice applies on any areas where woody plants are suited.

Vegetative Barriers

Vegetative barriers are established rows or narrow strips of herbaceous vegetation at designed intervals on cropland.

The purpose of this practice is to reduce wind erosion, crop damage, control snow and conserve moisture.

This practice applies on cropland producing annual crops on soils which are particularly susceptible to erosion by wind, for crops susceptible to damage from blowing soil particles and on cropland where there is a need to trap snow.

Waste Management Systems

A waste management system is a planned system in which all necessary components are installed for managing liquid and solid waste, including runoff from concentrated waste areas, in a manner that does not degrade soil, water, air, plant or animal resources.

The purpose of this practice is to manage waste in rural areas in a manner that prevents or minimizes degradation of soil, water, air, plant or animal resources and protects public health and safety. Such systems are planned to preclude discharge of pollutants to surface or groundwater and to recycle waste through soil and plants to the fullest extent practicable.

This practice applies where: (1) waste is generated by agricultural production or processing; (2) waste from municiapl and industrial treatment plants is used in agricultural production; (3) all practice components necessary to make a complete system are specified; and (4) soil, water, air, plant and animal resources are adequate to properly manage the waste. Human waste shall not be discharged into the system.

Well Decommissioning

Well decommissioning is the plugging and permanent closure of a well no longer in use.

This practice serves to prevent entry of vermin, debris or other foreign substances into the well or well bore hole, eliminate the physical hazard of an open hole to people, animals and farm machinery and prevent entry of contaminated surface water into well and migration of contaminants into unsaturated (vadose) zone or saturated zones. This practice also prevents the mixing of chemically or physically different groundwaters between separate waterbearing zones.

This practice applies to any drilled, driven, dug, bored or otherwise constructed vertical water supply well determined to have no further beneficial use.

This practice does not apply to wells that were used for waste disposal, and for which evidence of contamination still exists.

Wetland Restoration

Wetland restoration is a rehabilitation of a drained or degraded wetland where the soils, hydrology, vegetative community and biological habitat are returned to the natural conditions to the greatest extent possible.

The purpose of this practice is to restore hydric soil conditions, hydrologic conditions, hydrophytic plant communities and wetland functions that occurred on the disturbed wetland site prior to modification to the extent practicable.

This practice applies to sites with hydric soil which were natural wetlands that have been previously degraded hydrologically and/or vegetatively.

Upon completion of the restoration the site will meet the current NRCS soil, hydrology and vegetative criteria of a wetland.

Windbreak/Shelterbelt Establishment

Windbreak or shelterbelts are linear plantings of single or multiple rows of trees or shrubs established for environmental purposes.

The purposes of windbreaks and shelterbelts is to reduce wind erosion, protect growing plants, manage snow, provide shelter for structures and livestock and provide wildlife habitat. Windbreaks also provide a tree or shrub product, provide living screens, improve aesthetics and improve irrigation efficiency.

This practice applies on any areas where woody plants are suited.