Urban Ag Conservation Planning

Two men marking land contoursDo you have erosion or stormwater management issues on your urban farm? Do you want to improve the health of your soil and attract beneficial pollinators? We can help!

A conservation plan is a tool designed to help you better manage the natural resources on your urban farm. Our Urban Agricultural Conservation (UAC) Planner will meet with you to evaluate the soil, water, air, plant and animal resources on your property and offer several alternatives to address these resource conditions. You and the UAC Planner will work together collaboratively to select and implement the conservation practices that will work best for your unique farm enterprise. Implementing the conservation plan will help you not only protect your urban farm’s natural resources but contribute to the overall health of the Chesapeake Bay Watershed. In addition, many soil and water conservation practices positively affect farmers’ bottom lines by increasing productivity and biodiversity while decreasing costly inputs. Check out this 2019 article on the economics of soil health practices, The math is in: Soil health practices produce real return on investment.

There is no associated cost for any technical services provided by the District or our state partner, the Maryland Department of Agriculture (MDA), and federal partner, the National Resource Conservation Service (NRCS). The costs of implementing conservation practices are absorbed by the cooperator and/or landowner, however. There are some practices that are eligible for Federal or State cost-sharing programs that can reduce the out-of-pocket costs. Your UAC Planner will help you navigate this process. Some of the more popular financial incentive programs are:

A High Tunnel System, commonly called a “hoop house,” is an increasingly popular conservation practice for urban farmers, and is available with financial assistance through NRCS’ Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). High tunnels protect plants from severe weather and allow farmers to extend their growing seasons – growing earlier into the spring, later into the fall, and sometimes, year-round.

For more information about the benefits and requirements of conservation plans in Maryland, please refer to MDA’s brochure on Soil Conservation & Water Quality Plans.

Ready to start a conservation plan on your farm? Contact our Urban Agricultural Conservation Planner, Kim Rush Lynch.