Agricultural Services

Nutrient Management Planning

WPC’s Watershed Conservation Program staff members are certified to develop nutrient management plans through the Pennsylvania State Conservation Commission. In addition, the program offers on-site consultation for the implementation of related best management practices, such as stream bank fencing, stabilized stream crossings, roof runoff management, waste storage and general barnyard management.

Click here for more information about the Pennsylvania Nutrient Management Program.

Agricultural Best Management Practices

What are stream bank fencing and stabilized stream crossings?

Stream bank fencing and stabilized stream crossings are approved best management practices that help improve water quality in streams flowing through agricultural lands. Fencing limits animals’ access to specific stream crossing points and thus decreases soil disturbance on the stream bank.

Agricultural runoff is one of the pollution sources affecting streams in Pennsylvania. Excess nutrients and sediments are carried downstream and become a problem for not only neighbors, but also all animals that depend on streams for food, water and habitat.

WPC’s Watershed Conservation Program works with the USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service, US Fish and Wildlife Service, PA Game Commission, county conservation districts and other organizations to provide the stream bank fencing program.

How are the projects funded?

Project funding comes from state and federal grants and contracts, as well as various private sources. Watershed conservation staff will work with the landowner to determine the costs that the program will cover.

What are some benefits of stream bank fencing?
  • Healthy Livestock
    Fence and stream crossings may help reduce the risk of animal injury. Limiting livestock's access to streams reduces animals' contact with waterborne bacteria that may cause black leg, mastitis and other ailments.
  • Vegetation
    Vegetation provides erosion control, wildlife habitat and flood control and acts as a buffer between the pasture and the stream, trapping run-off such as animal waste, pesticides, fertilizers and sediment. Shade from vegetation can also help regulate water temperature.
  • Improved Water Quality
    Limiting livestock's access to streams prevents animal waste from entering the water source. The survival of everything from small organisms - such as mayfly larvae - to large organisms - such as brook trout - depend on clean waterways.
  • Natural Landscape
    Buffers consist of native trees, shrubs, grasses and wildflowers enhance the beauty of a farm.
How is water quality monitored?

The Watershed Conservation Program monitors stream bank fencing sites before and after construction, or for about two years, to ensure the plans are working and will issue reports to document changes in water quality. Staff will take samples from the stream’s entrance into and exit out of a property. Staff will consider a number of parameters and indicators when assessing water quality, including:

  • Nitrates
  • Phosphates
  • Turbidity
  • Conductivity
  • pH
  • Temperature
  • Dissolved Oxygen
  • Total Dissolved Solids
  • Stream Insects

Consistent monitoring is key to assessing a stream’s water quality. For an example of water quality reports from a stream bank fencing site in the Juniata River watershed, click here.

The Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP)

The Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP) provides eligible area farmers with financial and technical assistance to help them address conservation issues through the voluntary establishment of wetlands, hardwood trees and riparian buffer practices.

Interested landowners can contact their local Farm Service Agency for enrollment.


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The Western Pennsylvania Conservancy is a nonprofit, tax-exempt charitable organization under Section 501(c)(3)
of the Internal Revenue Code, and 100% of your donation is tax-deductable as allowed by law.