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News Release

Funds Available to Monitor Smith Creek Conservation Success

Chad Wentz

Richmond, VA, June 10, 2014 – Ever wondered how your conservation practices are working to improve water quality on your farm and in your community? Farmers in the War Branch and Gap Creek sub-watersheds of Smith Creek now have an opportunity to answer that question with USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service edge-of-field monitoring practices.

Participants will receive Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) payments to install monitoring equipment, collect and analyze data, and track and measure the performance of conservation systems over time. Interested producers should sign up by July 18 to be considered for FY-14 funding for monitoring system installation and data collection and evaluation.

Monitoring activities will involve a multi-year commitment based on individual crop rotation schedules. NRCS will help the participant pair a control field (no management practices) with a treatment field (practices installed) and analyze the water flowing off the land. Landowner can work jointly with a university or nonprofit organization like the Chesapeake Bay Foundation to perform the monitoring activities in the contract.

“Over the past four years, we have conducted extensive outreach activities in Smith Creek and had success implementing Best Management Practices (BMPs),” says State Conservationist John A. Bricker. “Edge-of-field monitoring, coupled with the U.S. Geological Survey’s commitment to do long-term in-stream water quality monitoring, offer us an exciting opportunity to better assess the benefits on conservation activities in Smith Creek.”

Virginia’s priority needs for edge-of-field monitoring systems include those that address or investigate:

  • Water quality benefits of cover crops; species selection and purpose (nutrient capture, erosion protection, and/or soil health).
  • Matching buffer or filter width needs with slopes, erodibility, tillage and crop rotations.
  • Water quality benefits from a conservation system with at least one practice that simultaneously helps producers avoid, control, and trap nutrient and sediment runoff.
  • The effects of timing of commercial and manure nutrient application and/or the use of amendments/inhibitors on production and nitrogen and phosphorus losses.

For more information, contact Harrisonburg District Conservationist Cory Guilliams at 540-433-2901, ext. 118, or Strasburg District Conservationist Mike Liskey at 540-465-2424, ext. 108. To learn more about NRCS’ programs, initiatives and services in Virginia, contact your local NRCS office or visit us online at