Conservation Planning

Lancaster County has some of the most fertile non-irrigated land in the country. By implementing a conservation plan you are helping to maintain the rich farming history in Lancaster County.

The goal of conservation planning is to identify and address natural resource concerns on agricultural land, such as gully erosion, excess nutrients, and sediment runoff. Addressing resource concerns around your property benefits your local streams, creeks, and rivers.

What is a Conservation Plan?

The conservation plan itself is a record of the farm operator and/or landowner’s decisions as to how these concerns should be addressed. In some cases, it may also include a strategy to improve air quality, animal health, energy efficiency, wildlife habitat, or control invasive plant species. Along with land that you own, the plan will also include all rented land that you operate.

Who is required to have a Conservation Plan?

According to the PA Clean Streams Law, a written Ag Erosion and Sediment Control Plan is required for all agricultural plowing and tilling activities including; no-till and Animal Heavy Use Areas disturbing 5,000 square feet or more of land.  A written Ag Erosion and Sediment Control Plan or a Conservation Plan meet the requirements for agricultural operators.

Additionally, a current conservation plan is required to participate in many state and federally funded programs such as REAP, EQIP, and Agricultural Land Preservation.

Many municipalities require some type of Conservation Plan and a Nutrient Management plan to apply for permits.

Click below to learn more about the two types of plans.

What is inside a Conservation Plan?

  • Summary of the decisions made by the farmer to reduce erosion. This is accomplished through the use of Best Managements Practices (BMPs).
  • Soil loss calculations and documentation including but not limited to RUSLE and RUSLE2.
  • BMP implementation schedule
  • Pasture management
  • Maps that show location features including.
    • Buildings and farm structures
    • Planned and implemented BMPs
    • Roads, Streams, Ponds, other water features
    • Soil, aerial, and topographic maps
A full Conservation Plan is necessary to qualify for federal programs such as EQIP, CREP, or MILC. In addition to addressing resource concerns, it also considers potential cultural resources on the farm and assesses the impacts of farm operations on the environment.
Ag E&S Plans are the minimum level plans required for agricultural operations in Pennsylvania. While very similar to full Conservation Plans, they do not meet requirements for participating in federal programs.

LCCD staff are trained to assist farmers in developing conservation plans for their operations.
You may also contact a private consultant to write your conservation plan.

The success of conservation planning and implementation depends upon the voluntary participation of the farm operator.