West Virginia Conservation Agency  •  1900 Kanawha Blvd. E. •  Charleston, WV 25305  •  304-558-2204
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BMP Definitions


Crops including grasses, legumes and forbs for seasonal cover and other conservation purposes. The purposes include reducing erosion from wind and water, increasing soil organic matter content, capturing and recycling or redistributing nutrients in the soil profile, promoting biological nitrogen fixation, increasing biodiversity and enhance habitat for pollinators, weed suppression, providing supplemental forage, soil moisture management, reducing particulate emissions into the atmosphere and minimizing and reducing soil compaction.


Establishing permanent vegetation on sites that have, or are expected to have, high erosion rates, and on sites that have physical, chemical or biological conditions that prevent the establishment of vegetation with normal practices.


This practice is applied to facilitate the application of conservation practices by providing a means to control movement of animals and people. The purposes include reducing erosion and improve water quality by controlling livestock access to streams, springs, wetlands and ponds, protect newly planted areas from disturbance until established and protecting sensitive environmental areas and their flora from vehicular, pedestrian or animal traffic and use.


Establishing legume species within existing stands of grasses. The purposes include establishment of legume species within grassland areas in order to increase forage quality and quantity, to provide for alternative forms of nitrogen fertilizer for cool season grasses, providing a less expensive option compared to conventional and no-till methods and providing a legume species within a grass dominated stand to provide habitat for wildlife and forage for pollinators.


The stabilization of areas frequently and intensively used by people, animals or vehicles by establishing vegetative cover, by surfacing with suitable materials, and/or by installing needed structures. The purposes include reduction of soil erosion, improving water quantity and quality, improving air quality, improving aesthetics and improving livestock health.


The management or removal of woody (non-herbaceous or succulent) plants including those that are invasive and noxious. The purposes include creating the desired plant community consistent with the ecological site, restoring or releasing desired vegetative cover to protect soils, control erosion, reduce sediment, improve water quality or enhance stream flow, maintaining, modifying or enhancing fish and wildlife habitat, improving forage accessibility, quality and quantity for livestock and wildlife and managing fuel loads to achieve desired conditions.


The application of agricultural limestone is used to increase the soil pH (reduce soil acidity). When soils are very acid (pH less than 5.5 to 5.8) soil bacteria and nitrogen-fixing bacteria in legumes are adversely affected and soil biological activity is reduced. Also, at low pH the solubility of aluminum and manganese increases. These minerals are toxic to plants and aluminum ties up phosphorus and makes it less available to plants. Established grasses allow society to benefit from an available supply of food and fiber, clean air and water. Other benefits include habitat for wildlife aquatic systems and healthier riparian areas. More positive aspects are reduction of soil erosion from wind and water contributing to flooding.


An irrigation system for frequent application of small quantities of water on or below the soil surface: as drops, tiny streams or miniature spray through emitters or applicators placed along a water delivery line. Micro irrigation systems may be utilized in high tunnels to efficiently and uniformly provide moisture for plant growth.


Fertilizers provide one or more of the elements needed for plant growth and development. Applying fertilizer correctly can increase plant yields. Fertilizer assists in plant growth therefore protecting the soil with the plants foliage from the elements and reducing erosion by covering the bare soil from the rain. Through AgEP fertilizer must be applied according to soil test recommendations.


This practice is applied to facilitate the application of conservation practices by providing a means to control movement of animals and people. The purposes include improving distribution and timing of livestock grazing, facilitate handling, movement and feeding of livestock in a pasture environment and protect newly planted areas from disturbance until established.


Establishing adapted and/or compatible species, varieties, or cultivars of herbaceous species suitable for pasture, hay, or biomass production. The purposes include improving or maintaining livestock nutrition and/or health, providing or increasing forage supply during periods of low forage production, reducing soil erosion, improving soil and water quality and producing feedstock for biofuel or energy production.


Planting of select seed mixtures to create or enhance pollinator habitat. Pollinators depend on the plants’ nectar (sugar and water) and pollen (protein) as their primary food source. Established pollinator plantings provide food and habitat for pollinators to help them thrive, increases production per acre in farming situations and in the wild, biodiversity increases and wildlife food sources increase.


Removal of sediment build-up within agricultural-use ponds. This helps provide clean water source for livestock. The program encourages ponds be fenced after clean-out.


Precision agriculture is a farming management concept based on observing, measuring and responding to inter and intra-field variability in crops. The goal of precision agriculture planning is whole farm management with the goal of optimizing returns on inputs while preserving resources.


Structures that collect, control, and transport precipitation from roofs. The purposes include improving water quality, reducing soil erosion, increasing infiltration, protecting structures, and/or increase water quantity.


This group of practices range from raised bed kits to rain barrels. The purposes include increasing food production and encouraging locally-grown foods, soil and watershed protection by soil erosion reduction and increased stormwater management.


Watering facility is a device (tank, trough, or other watertight container) to provide watering for livestock at selected locations. The purposes include protect and enhance vegetative cover through proper distribution of grazing, Provide erosion control through better grassland management or protect streams, ponds, and water supplies from contamination by providing alternative access to water.


Managing grazing land to "stockpile" forages for later term grass sustainability and improved forage health resulting in higher quality forage for livestock. Eliminating a minimum of one hay cutting reduces fuel and labor. Water quality is improved since manure is evenly distributed throughout the pasture as livestock graze, and nutrient loading at hay feeding sties, if needed, is reduced. The purposes include soil erosion reduction, water quality protection, reduction of fossil fuel requirements, and reduction of farm input costs.

*Descriptions taken from NRCS Field Office Tech Guide, WVU Extension Service materials, AgEP materials

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