EPA Region 3
Topic: Improving Farm Productivity; Reducing Pollution
Size: : 2,781k
Date: June 4, 2012
Welcome to Environment Matters, our series of podcasts on environmental issues in the mid-Atlantic region. I’m Lena Kim.
If you ride by the Rohrer Family Farm in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, you’ll notice some changes.
There’s new streambank fencing to keep the farm’s cows out of a tributary to the Little Conestoga Creek. There’s a newly planted, two-acre buffer of trees and shrubs to help keep pollutants out of the stream. There’s a new unit that allows the Rohrers to store manure until the proper time to spread it as nutrients on their fields. And there’s a concrete barnyard to help control polluted runoff during storms.
These are just some of the basic changes that have helped the farm improve its operations and reduce pollution affecting downstream neighbors.
The Rohrer Family Farm is one of more than 40 farms in central Pennsylvania to benefit from a voluntary initiative funded by the federal Recovery Act and coordinated by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation to install pollution controls on farm properties.
One of the partners in the project was Red Barn Consulting. Its president, Peter Hughes, says the improvements have helped the environment and the farms’ daily operations.
Peter Hughes: We were able to interject money into the farm that not only helped the producer—the farmer himself, his herd health—with helping the environment by planting trees and riparian buffers, but also giving them more flexibility in the timing and application of nutrients in the form of manure. We probably would not have seen the extensive amount of projects going in within Lancaster County. So it was really a win-win as far as job creation and long-term environmental benefits.
Lena Kim: In central Pennsylvania, agricultural land accounts for a sizeable amount of the nitrogen, phosphorus and sediment pollution entering the Susquehanna River through local creeks and streams. And the Susquehanna provides about half of the fresh water that flows into the Chesapeake Bay.
As stewards of the land, farmers have done much to reduce that pollution. But much more needs to be done as Pennsylvania and other states work to do their share in meeting a pollution diet to restore local waterways and the Bay.
In all, with 14.2 million dollars in funding provided by the federal Recovery Act, farms across central Pennsylvania were able to take more than 200 actions that helped provide jobs and improve farm productivity, and will continue to generate major pollution reductions to local waters and the Chesapeake Bay.
For more information on EPA’s Recovery Act projects, visit www.epa.gov/recovery. And thanks for joining us on Environment Matters.