Lancaster County Comprehensive Agricultural Stewardship

A farmer smiles in front of his cattle.Valley Creek has been the subject of a long-term study of stream responses to restoration and protection efforts in an agricultural setting. It is small tributary to Octoraro Creek and the Susquehanna River, flowing from Parkesburg to Atglen, Chester County, PA. Through the Comprehensive Agricultural Stewardship project, Stroud Water Research Center was able to accelerate implementation of agricultural best management practices in in the Valley Creek area by providing technical assistance to farmers and advancing nutrient credit trading opportunities. The project was a partnership of public agencies and private groups that brought 22 farms to full regulatory compliance, demonstrating that the process is affordable and achievable.

Participating farmers adopted 135 best management practices, including 50 acres of forested riparian buffers. Land trust partners were able to explore the potential to permanently protect these buffers, linking agricultural conservation to farmland preservation. Other outcomes of the project included 31 acres of restored wetlands and 11.5 miles of livestock exclusion fencing. Collectively, these practices will sequester 187 metric tons of carbon and reduce annual pollutant loads by 43,104 pounds of nitrogen, 3,968 pounds of phosphorus, and 642,000 pounds of sediment. In addition, the project will conduct voluntary assessments of nutrient trading capacity on 125 farms. The Pennsylvania Infrastructure Investment Authority will use this information to help determine whether the value of such credits may enable increased funding for agricultural best management practice implementation.