This is one in a series of articles about farmers in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed who have implemented Best Management Practices (BMPs) to improve water quality and efficiency on their farm. As a result of these and other success stories, we're halfway to achieving the nutrient reductions needed to restore the Chesapeake Bay and its waters. View the rest of the series here.
Dave and Tracy Lovell own and operate Old Mill Farms on the Eastern Shore of Virginia. They've been contract growers for Perdue Farms, Inc. for 21 years, operate 11 poultry houses, and produce two million broilers a year. That's a lot of chickens . . . and manure.
"I have a nutrient-management plan on my end and the farmer that takes my manure has one on his end," Dave Lovell said, referring to the farm plans that help ensure manure and fertilizer are managed in the most effective and conservative way. Nutrient management plans are key tools for protecting water quality in local streams and the Chesapeake Bay.
Tina Jerome, District Conservationist for the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) on the Eastern Shore, knows Old Mill Farms well. "The Lovells are very active in conservation. They have installed just about every practice available to them; they are model poultry farmers," she said.
And although Lovell's farm is not in the Chesapeake Bay watershed, he knows the importance of conservation programs in protecting water quality wherever a farm is located. "I'm not required to have most of these BMPs, but I know they help me be a better steward of the land," Lovell says. "I think the Bay needs to be cleaned up, and these Farm Bill programs help us do that."
Lovell has several Environmental Quality Incentive Program (EQIP) contracts with the NRCS that provide both funding and technical assistance for BMPs. He has installed specially designed wind breaks called vegetative environmental buffers around his 11 poultry houses. These buffers help filter out dust, nutrients, and other air pollutants.
The Lovells also installed concrete pads to reduce erosion on heavy use areas and have built two litter sheds and a composter. EQIP also funded a practice to add an amendment to the poultry litter that binds up even more ammonia in the manure.
Funding assistance provided in previous federal Farm Bills has made it possible for Lovell to install these conservation practices on his farm, he says.
"I couldn't do all these BMPs without help, and I hope these programs continue in the next Farm Bill."
Whitescarver lives in Swoope, Va. For more information, visit his website.
Ensure that people like the Lovells are able to continue doing these innovative things on their farms. Tell Congress to protect conservation programs--that are critical to restoring the Bay--in the Farm Bill!