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EQIP Conservation Success

Conservation Success in New Jersey through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP)

Micro-irrigation at Overdevest Nurseries in Cumberland County

Ed Overdevest at nursery operationEd Overdevest wanted to improve the irrigation system at Overdevest Nurseries in Cumberland County, NJ, which he owns with his wife and business partner Gail. He was concerned about low-flow runoff and irrigation-induced erosion, and wanted a solution that was both environmentally responsible and business-friendly. Over the past several years he has worked with NRCS through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) to plan and implement practices to address his resource concerns.

Ed was among the first in New Jersey to install a tailwater recovery system, treating and recycling irrigation runoff from overhead sprinklers for reuse. Overdevest estimates that by using this system her reuses 80 million gallons of water a year. He also installed micro-irrigation on his container nursery stock, giving him the ability to direct water and nutrients to the root zone area. Many nursery owners choose overhead irrigation rather than micro-irrigation because of the expense, labor and management involved with micro-irrigation systems.Overdevest oversees work at nursery operation

Ed Overdevest's commitment to conservation innovation is helping him run a successful business while he is protecting the natural resources that he manages. Recognized as a leader in his industry, Ed Overdevest sets a good example for other nursery owners and operators.

Improving a Dairy Operation in Warren County

New and improved holding areaMaura Mowbray's dairy operation in Blairstown, Warren County, New Jersey, is currently milking about 32 cows and has 14 replacement heifers for a total of 50 animal units on the farm. The operation has been visibly improving thanks to the Mowbray's conservation efforts in the last few years. In fact, it was recently selected to be included on a tour of historic farms.

In July 2004, conditions around the barnyard were less than ideal. The lane leading from the fields where the cows and heifers were pastured was so muddy and full of manure that during wet times of the year the cows would have to wade in muck almost to their bellies to come in to the barn to be milked. Liquid manure sat in pools around the lanes in an area mapped as emergent wetlands by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). Runoff from the barn roof ran onto the lane and added significant amount of water to the manure, making it hard to manage. Pools of manure were even leaking into the ends of the barn. A feeding area in front of the barn sloped down into a drainage way that led into the Paulins Kill River. Faced with everyday issues such as stuck equipment and cows that refused to walk through mud, the producers reached out to NRCS for guidance.

Conservation Plan Developed and Implemented

NRCS worked with the Ms. Mobray to establish a Conservation Plan with three objectives:

  1. Reduce the amount of clean water from running onto the heavy traffic areas around the barnyard;
  2. Stabilize and protect the animal lane from the pastures to the barnyard for more efficient movement of the animals;
  3. Eliminate the excessive inputs of manure to surface waters in the area.
EQIP Provides Assistance

With financial assistance through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), the Mowbrays began to implement this plan:

  • Two surface inlet boxes were installed at corners of the barn where excessive runoff caused manure to flood into the barns and pollute the milking areas.
  • The surface inlets were connected to an underground drainage pipe which outlets in a pond located on the roadside section of the property. This ensures that clean roof runoff water is getting directly to the pond, instead of mixing with manure and loading the pond with excessive nutrients and pathogens, as was previously occurring.
  • To avoid the complication of having manure from the lane run into the inlet boxes, concrete blocks were installed and function as a curb around the boxes.

The access lane was constructed of compacted shale. The material for the shale lane was obtained onsite from a large shale pit on the property. The abundance of shale was important because it helped to cut down the material costs for the project. Once the area for the lane was properly graded, a woven geotextile fabric was installed underneath the compacted shale to provide a more stable base. The fence along the animal lane was measure using Geographic Positioning System (GPS) units that were recently acquired in the past year by the Hackettstown field office. 

Benefits and Outcomes

Maura Mowbray and her husband are thrilled with the improvements to the barnyard area accomplished with assistance from NRCS. The cows no longer stall each day and refuse to walk to the barn, which speeds up the time required for milking. The improved lane not only facilitates herd movement, but also allows for easier access to other important areas in the barnyard such as the machine shed and hay maul. An historic barn tour is going to take place in Blairstown next month and the producers were selected as a stop on the tour. They are pleased to show off their facility with the well-maintained, properly functioning barnyard, as opposed to the mucky, manure-laden mess that used to be there. They are especially excited about the prospects of keeping their boots dry and on their feet this spring!

Emergent pasture after constructionThe pastures on both sides of the lane are already recovering from the restored drainage and eliminated manure loads. By managing the pasture with the seasonal ditch with flash grazing, the area now boasts green vegetation, as opposed to barren, eroding channels throughout. Water quality in the farm pond, as well as the Paulins Kill River, will benefit from the reduced nutrient-rich runoff. Removing the cows from the emergent wetland has led to growth of a few noxious invasive in the pasture, but Brush Management (314) was included as a practice in the contract in anticipation of this occurring. The producers will continue to maintain the pasture as an early successional habitat. 

Conservation has proved to be very contagious for these producers. They decided to re-grade and improve a feeding area on the side of the barn facing the road on their own. More filter area and a rotational grazing system will be installed.

Martinsburg formation uncovered during excavationThe local NRCS Soil Scientist was able to utilize our contact with the landowner to confirm some soil mapping issues in Warren County, which is currently being remapped. An impromptu soils/geology session took place at the shale borrow pit, where a Martinsburg formation was exposed during excavation.

submitted by Heather McMahon, Fall 2005


Vegetable Grower Donald Garrison is Protecting Soil and Water Quality in South Jersey

Donald Garrison at his AHFDonald Garrison is a vegetable and grain farmer in south Jersey who knows the importance of managing the agricultural chemicals he uses on his farm. He serves as one of five Supervisors for the Cumberland-Salem Soil Conservation District and is serious about protecting soil and water quality. His permanently preserved farm which straddles Salem and Cumberland Counties is a showcase for the benefits of conservation planning.

Mr. Garrison has utilized technical and financial assistance available from the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to plan and implement conservation practices. With financial assistance through NRCS’s Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) and programs available from the State of New Jersey, Mr. Garrison planned and built an Agrichemical Handling Facility (AHF) to contain and manage fertilizers and pesticides that are typically used on vegetable operations.

Agrichemical Handling FacilityMr. Garrison had some ideas about the AHF that he wanted for his property and was willing to supplement the additional expenses for the design modifications which he requested. NRCS engineers worked with him to incorporate some of his ideas into the design. The vegetable grower is pleased that he can now manage ag chemicals in a protected area. This facility is working very well for him, and it is not uncommon for him to invite other farmers to visit his farm to inspect his AHF.

Using an AHF for loading and cleaning tanks protects air quality by minimizing drift and water quality by decreasing the chance of chemical spills and subsequent groundwater and surface water contamination. With ever-increasing environmental regulations for New Jersey operations, this conservation practice enhances the producer’s ability to comply with new regulations while reducing waste of the chemical products.

Mr. Garrison is quick to encourage other operators to pursue NRCS assistance. “Farmers like what works,” he says. Clearly, the technical and financial assistance he received for this conservation practice is working for him.

Read about other conservation successes in New Jersey!