This protocol was signed by all of the participating farmers in October of
February 2001, Cacapon Institute, the Natural Resources Conservation Services
(NRCS), the West Virginia
University Extension Service, and the West Virginia Department of
Agriculture met with all of the farmers and spend a day reviewing and
modifying the Natural Resources Conservation Service Conservation Practice
Standard for Prescribed Grazing in Riparian areas. After reviewing the
protocol line-by-line, we all agreed on certain, common-sense, modifications. The
USDA-NRCS agreed to adopt the proposed changes as a
demonstration project with the Headwater Farms group. The details are
NATURAL RESOURCES CONSERVATION SERVICE
CONSERVATION PRACTICE STANDARD
CHANGES BY HEADWATER FARMS PARTNERSHIP IN ITALICS
convert presently grazed riparian areas to a managed livestock grazing system.
stabilize streambanks, help protect water quality, and improve forage production
for demonstration purposes.
THE DRAFT HEADWATER FARMS CERTIFICATION DOCUMENT STATES:
“The riparian area is not to be managed as other areas on the
farm; it is never to be used as a concentrated livestock feeding area nor grazed
during wet periods when streambanks are likely to break down and erode. This area is to be managed to preserve its function as a
buffer between the stream and animal wastes and other potential pollutants.”
height will be a minimum of 8 inches (tall grass) and 5 inches (bluegrass) at
the beginning of a grazing period.
grazed period will not exceed 3 days or minimum grass height of 4 inches for
tall grasses and 3” for bluegrass.
grazing season will extend from May – October.
REWORD: The grazing season
will generally extend from May – October. However, limited grazing of stockpiled grass in this area
will be allowed at other times so long as this area is not grazed during wet
periods when streambanks are likely to break down and erode.
density will not exceed 75% of carrying capacity of the riparian area. (Appendix
or other water bodies will be used for watering livestock only if no alternative
method is feasible.
or permanent electric fencing and solar charger can be used to limit livestock
access to streambank.
livestock trained to electric fence will be released into paddock(s) with
temporary electric fence.
soil amendments according to a soil test every 3 years.
REWORD: Soil amendments will be applied only
according to soil test (every 3-5 years) recommendations
if needed to maintain the effectiveness of the vegetative buffer.
manure will be spread within 50 feet of top of streambank.
will be excluded from streambank on slopes greater than 5% and/or slopes with
less than 50% ground cover.
REWORD: Livestock will be excluded from streambank slopes with less than 50%
ground cover. RATIONALE: a 5% streambank slope limitation would exclude nearly all
streams in the Potomac Headwaters region. A
well vegetated 30 or 40% slope will perform equally well for erosion control if
grazed according to the protocols listed above.
minimum width of a grazed riparian area is 50 feet to help insure distribution
of manure away from streams and water bodies.
Unnecessary micro-management and, in practice, unnecessarily difficult to
implement -- as streams meander. The
protocols as described above will achieve the goal of maintaining the riparian
corridor as an effective agricultural buffer while allowing an agronomic benefit
for the farmer.
using portable watering systems to minimize cost.
severely eroding or unstable streams consider establishing riparian forest (391)
to protect adjacent land from downstream meander migration.
absentee livestock producers consider grazing schedule for weekends.
pasture subject to repeated flooding consider use of temporary fence.
livestock and temporary fence if threat of flooding is evident.
livestock water sources, temporary fence and grass height daily.
a record keeping system to support a case study report. MOVE
THIS TO CRITERIA .
practice standards are reviewed periodically, and updated if needed. To obtain
the current version of this standard, contact the Natural Resources Conservation