DOVER, Del., March 21, 2011- USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) recently announced that Delaware will receive $180,000 to help fund a Strategic Watershed Action Team (SWAT) to help growers develop nutrient management plans throughout targeted areas of the Chesapeake Bay Watershed.
NRCS is deploying four SWATs, or technical experts, to provide additional planning, education and technical assistance to farmers to further improve water quality. The four teams will focus on working with producers in the Delmarva area (Delaware and Maryland), Piedmont area (Pennsylvania), Shenandoah Valley (Virginia), and West Virginia.
According to Delaware State Conservationist Russell Morgan, the Delaware portion of the Delmarva SWAT will provide up to two specialists working with farmers to develop and write more than 300 Animal Waste Management Plans or Nutrient Management Plans. “Together with our conservation partners, we can target our resources to significantly reduce nutrient and sediment losses to the Chesapeake Bay.”
Delaware’s conservation partners, the local conservation districts and the State of Delaware, are committing $50,000 in additional funding. Each SWAT will help individual agricultural producers plan and implement conservation practices needed to address priority natural resource concerns.
SWATs will not only help achieve USDA goals, but also support State Watershed Implementation Plan goals for Best Management Practice implementation set through the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) process. It is anticipated that SWAT would further environmental improvement while keeping production agriculture competitive and profitable.
SWAT is just one component of the Presidential Executive Order (EO) Strategy for Protecting and Restoring the Chesapeake Bay Watershed to help USDA implement new conservation practices on four million acres of agricultural working lands in priority watersheds by 2025. Acres treated by SWAT will be tracked to count toward the EO Strategy goal.
SWAT teams are expected to be in place this spring. For more information about SWAT, contact your local USDA Service Center or visit www.nrcs.usda.gov.