Pennsylvania Agriculture Secretary Encourages Producers to Plant Cover Crops, Protect Natural Resources

September 24, 2010

HARRISBURG, Pa., Sept. 24 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Agriculture Secretary Russell C. Redding today reminded Pennsylvania producers to plant cover crops this fall to keep beneficial nutrients in the soil and reduce nitrogen runoff into local waterways, including the Chesapeake Bay watershed.

By planting cover crops–a small grain crop planted in the fall–producers reduce soil erosion, improve soil quality, decrease nutrient leaching, suppress weeds and attract beneficial pests.

“Pennsylvania is a leader in protecting and managing natural resources,” said Redding. “By implementing core conservation practices, such as planting cover crops, our producers can improve their farm’s productivity along with soil and water quality.”

Redding noted that cover crops are one of four recommended practices outlined in the brochure “Core Conservation Practices for Your Farm.” A collaborative effort between the Pennsylvania departments of Agriculture and Environmental Protection, the State Conservation Commission, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the brochure outlines key best management practices farmers can use to reduce runoff and conserve resources.

The four practices detailed in the brochure are:

  • Plant cover crops to prevent erosion and reduce fertilizer needs;
  • Install streamside buffers to capture nutrients and protect waterways;
  • Use no-till and low-till planting techniques to minimize soil movement; and
  • Create and implement nutrient management plans for all farm acreage.

These four practices are also key components of Pennsylvania’s work to improve the water quality throughout the Chesapeake Bay watershed. As the source of more than 50 percent of the fresh water flowing into the bay, the actions of Pennsylvania’s farmers are critical to bay restoration efforts. Pennsylvania’s farming community already accounts for 50 percent of the agriculture-related nitrogen reductions made throughout the entire watershed.

“Pennsylvania farmers are the front line defenders of our natural resources,” Redding noted. “The 7.8 million acres our farmers manage and care for provides food for our citizens, as well as a living for our farm families. It is of vital environmental and economic importance that we are proactive in our conservation efforts, and I am proud of the work our farmers have done on this front.”

Support for implementing these and other conservation practices is available through the Resource Enhancement and Protection, or REAP, program. REAP provides tax credits to farmers who adopt best management practices that reduce run-off, erosion and sedimentation. To date, $28.1 million in tax credits have leveraged $57.13 million in private funds to support conservation work across the state.

For more information on Pennsylvania’s conservation efforts, or for a copy of the conservation brochure, visit the State Conservation Commission at www.agriculture.state.pa.us, click “Bureaus, Commissions & Councils,” then, “State Conservation Commission” or call 717-787-8821.

Media contact: Matt Tindall, 717-787-5085

SOURCE Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture

Source: newswire

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