The Environmentally Friendly Farm program was developed by Penn State Equine Extension and is designed to recognize farms that adopt environmentally sound management practices that protect water quality and the environment. The program is supported by funds from the USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS), Conservation Innovation Grant. Strategies are employed on Environmentally Friendly Farms to maintain productive pastures, reduce soil erosion, limit nutrient runoff from animal facilities and barnyards, safely store manure, recycle nutrients, and control animal access to surface waters. Excess sediment and nutrient runoff from manure poses health threats not only to the environment, but also to animals and people. Farm managers who practice environmental stewardship maintain healthy environments for their animals, their families, and their community.
What did we do?
Farm managers can apply for the program by request a copy of the application from Penn State Equine Extension by visiting us online at http://www.extension.psu.edu/equine, emailing or calling our extension office. Second, complete the Environmentally Friendly Farm application requesting background information about the farm operation.
Next, complete the Environmentally Friendly Farm Self-Assessment Checklist. Each statement is checked “yes” if the practice is in place on the farm, “no” if the practice is not in place or “non-applicable if the statement does not pertain to the farm operation. The checklist consists of a series of statements that identify potential on-farm practices in the following areas: Environmentally Sensitive Areas, Pastures, Animal Concentration Areas, Manure Storage, and Mechanical Manure Application.
Once the paperwork has been received, a farm site visit will be scheduled. Personnel from Penn State Extension, the County Conservation District, or the Natural Resource Conservation District (NRCS) will visit farms to verify that statements made in the application and checklists are accurate. At the same time, additional information and assistance will be provided to help improve farm management and develop any necessary plans for the farm.
The farm will be recognized by the public, conservation and agricultural agencies, and other farm managers as an operation that is committed to clean water and a healthy environment. Each farm manager will receive an Environmentally Friendly Farm sign that can be displayed on the farmstead. Farms that qualify will also be given permission to use the Environmentally Friendly Farm artwork on their website, brochure, and other marketing materials. Approved farms will be listed on the Penn State Equine Extension website.
This recognition will reflect the commitment of the farm manager to environmental stewardship and can serve as a marketing tool for the farm.
What have we learned?
After personnel visited farms to verify that statements made in the application and checklists are accurate. At the same time, additional information and assistance is provided to help improve farm management and develop any necessary plans for the farm. In addition, agency personal developed a personal relationship with the farm manager. The farm managers who practice environmental stewardship maintain healthy environments for their animals, their families, and their community.
This program will be continued through 2016. We hope to provide additional information and assistance to help improve farm management.
Ann Swinker, Extension Horse Specialist firstname.lastname@example.org
Donna Foulk, Helene McKernan, Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA 16802
Farms can request a copy of the application from the Penn State Extension Equine Team by visiting us online at http://www.extension.psu.edu/equine
This program was funded partly by a USDA NRCS-CIG grant.
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