Agricultural Erosion & Sedimentation (E&S)
The revised Chapter 102 regulations that were released in 2011 by the PA DEP include new regulations that affect farmers. All farms that till or plow (including no-till) must make use of Best Management Practices (BMP) to minimize erosion and sedimentation. Any farm that plows or tills more than 5,000 square feet must have a written Agricultural Erosion and Sedimentation Control Plan (Ag E&S Plan).
In addition, any farm that contains an Animal Heavy Use Area (AHUA), sometimes called an ACA (Animal Concentration Area), must also have a written Ag E&S Plan. According to PA Chapter 102.1, an AHUA is a "Barnyard, feedlot, loafing area, exercise lot, or other similar area on an agricultural operation where due to the concentration of animals it is not possible to establish and maintain vegetative cover of a density capable of minimizing accelerated erosion and sedimentation by usual planting methods."
The following video, made by Blair County Conservation District, explains the new regulations:
The Ag E&S Plan should include the following:
The plan must meet the soil loss tolerance (T) for crop rotation. T can be found by using the RUSLEII program.
- Fields within 100 ft of a stream or river must have at least 25% plant or residue cover. For fields without 25% cover, additional BMPs may be used instead, as long as they minimize erosion and sedimentation.
- The E&S Plan must identify BMPs that address AHUAs and those BMPs must meet the design standards of the NRCS.
- Maps of the operation must be included in the plan. These maps must "show the location of features including surface waters of this Commonwealth, and drainage patterns, field and property boundaries, buildings and farm structures, animal heavy use areas, roads and crossroads, and BMPs; soils maps; and a description of BMPs including animal heavy use area practices and procedures, tillage systems, schedules, and crop rotations."
- The Plan must contain an implementation schedule and BMPs should be operated and maintained for as long as plowing and tilling or AHUAs exist on the farm.
The BMPs should be reasonable and cost-effective. They should fit with the farmer's management of the farm and the planner should involve the farmer in developing the plan. A Conservation Plan should meet these requirements, but older plans may not meet the new regulations, so farmers should call BCCD to update their plans.
Earth disturbances that do not involve AHUAs or tilling, such as construction of a new barn, still require E&S BMPs and those activities over 5000 square feet require an E&S Plan. Earth disturbances over one acre will need an NPDES permit. E&S Plans and Permits should be developed and obtained before any earth disturbance begins.