Agriculture is the number one industry in Berks County. Realizing this, the Conservation District has put great effort into helping farmers and landowners in resource protection for this generation and generations to come. The Berks County Conservation District works cooperatively with USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) to accomplish this goal. The two services are committed to the conservation of soil and water resources in and around Berks County. This commitment is realized through assisting farmers with survey, design and layout of conservation practices. These practices may include contour strips, crop rotation, conservation tillage, diversions, grassed waterways, wind breaks, wildlife habitat, manure storage, stream bank fencing and buffer strips. The District also assists in the use of biosolids applications and nutrient management. The staff cooperates with the landowner to identify and install practices that will best meet their needs and the goals of resource conservation.
The Conservation District can also provide landowners with information on funding resources that are available to help with the installation of conservation practices and resources development. Financial assistance is available through many programs such as CREP and EQIP. The cost share rates and availability vary for each program. Contact our staff to review assistance options.
Both the Conservation District and the USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service look forward to serving the agricultural community. It is our commitment to provide quality assistance through planning, design and construction. Contact the Conservation District if you have any questions or are interested in conservation practices or programs for your farm.
Click here for a photo guide of Agricultural BMPs (produced by the Snyder County Conservation District).
Types of Conservation Practices
Contour Buffer Strips
Planting bands of permanent vegetation across the slopes on the contour. Use this practice to minimize the amount of a field in hay while maximizing the potential to reduce erosion.
Conduct tillage, planting, and harvesting operations around the hill, not up and down. Increasing the height of ridges after planting creates miniature terraces increasing the effectiveness of this practice.
Planting alternate bands or strips of crops on the contour. Strip widths range from 60 to 150 feet. Systems utilizing hay are most effective in reducing erosion.
Close-growing crops that temporarily protect the soil where major crops don’t provide cover.
Alternating crops grown in a field according to a planned sequence. Rotations may include annual and perennial crops as well as grasses and legumes.
Cross Slope Farming
Farming across the slope, nearly on the contour. This practice is not as effective as contour farming and may result in the need for more waterways.
Cross-slope constructed channel seeded to permanent vegetation used to intercept and safely dispose of surface runoff. Concentrated flows and sheet flow may be intercepted. Hay may be harvested. Diversions also provide wildlife habitat when managed for that purpose.
A band of grass or legume at the edge of a field used in place of end rows.
Shaping if necessary and seeding a natural drainage way to prevent gullies from forming.
Bands of grass or legumes that filter runoff and other contaminants before they reach water bodies or sources.
Pasture and Hayland Planting
Grasses and/or legumes are planted for use as pasture and/or to be harvested as forage. Species are selected based on soil properties and specific use.
Planned Grazing Systems
Managed systems where forage production and quality is increased by controlling grazing pressure and by providing optimum conditions for plant growth.
Protecting the soil from erosion by limiting tillage to the prior year’s crop residue on the soil surface. Includes no till, mulch till, and ridge till.
Sediment Control Basins
Small earthen dams built across a drainage way. May be used where terraces are impractical or to intercept long duration flows in a drainage way or in a grassed waterway.
Cross-slope constructed channels which are cropped similarly to adjoining fields. Terraces intercept sheet and concentrated flows. Collected water is held to allow for maximum infiltration or is carried to a suitable outlet away from the cropland.
Establishing trees in areas adapted to woodlands.
Upland Wildlife Habitat
Plant species are planted or managed to provide wildlife food and/or cover. Species selection should be consistent with the type of wildlife being managed for and with the surrounding habitat.
Rows of trees and shrubs that protect areas from wind and provide food and cover for wildlife.