Best Management Practices – Water Conservation

Are you doing your part to conserve water and soil resources on your farm? Below is an outline of best management practices that are available through Virginia’s agricultural cost-share programs to encourage implementation of more soil and water conservation on farms throughout Virginia.

For updates on technical assistance and current programs available, please visit your local USDA Service Center, Soil and Water Conservation District, or Extension office.

“Soil and Water-Virginia Agricultural BMP 
Cost Share and Tax Credit Programs.” Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation. 2014. Web. 11 July 2014.

Virginia Agricultural Cost-Share Manual

(Most photos from USDA)

CREP (Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program) Watering Systems

These are drainage systems with riparian forest buffers in the Chesapeake area. Farmers use the systems to provide water for their livestock in rotational grazing patterns, which improves forage cover.

“Virginia Best Management Practice: Cost-share Program Support for Extension of CREP Watering Systems (SL-7).” Piedmont Environmental Council. 2014. Web. 14 July 2014.

Buffers, Forested Riparian


These trees, shrubs, and plants by streams and rivers increase stream bank stabilization, biodiversity, food sources, and wildlife habitats, while decreasing storm-water and sediment runoff, hot weather temperatures, and required maintenance. Livestock entry should not be permitted.

Hawes, Ellen and Smith, Markelle. “Riparian Buffer Zones: Functions and Recommended Widths.” April 2005. Web. 11 July 2014.

Buffers, Herbaceous Riparian


These buffers with grass-like plants and forbs filter/trap runoff, anchor the soil, and prevent erosion. There are three zones. Zone 1 is made up of large trees and shrubs. Zone 2 holds managed forest or shrubs. Zone 3 has grasses and wildflowers.

“Riparian Buffers: A Technical Perspective.” n.d. Web. 11 July 2014.

“Riparian Buffers for Wildlife.” Penn State Extension. 2014. Web. 11 July 2014.

Grass Filter Strips


Photo from

Creating vegetative buffers between farmland and live waterways filters runoff, slows it down, anchors the soil, and reduces erosion.

“Grass Filter Strip.” Minnesota Department of Agriculture. 2014. Web. 14 July 2014.

“Virginia Best Management Practice: Grass Filter Strips (WQ-1).” Piedmont Environmental Council. 2014. Web. 14 July 2014.

Sod Waterway


Photo from

Planting grasses and legumes and establishing concentrated waterways through these vegetated areas improve water quality, while preventing gully erosion and non point source pollution.

“Sod Waterways WP-3.” n.d. Web. 14 July 2014.

“Sod Waterways.” 1 Jan 2011. Web. 14 July 2014.

“Virginia Best Management Practice: Sod Waterways (WP-3).” Piedmont Environmental Council. 2014. Web. 14 July 2014.

Stream Bank Stabilization


Photo from

Shaping eroding stream banks, constructing livestock crossings for the streams, and growing vegetation on the banks reduce land/vegetation loss and sediment loads, while improving wildlife habitats.

“Stream Bank Stabilization.” Sept. 1997. Web. 14 July 2014.

“Virginia Best Management Practice: Streambank Stabilization (WP-2A).” Piedmont Environmental Council. 2014. Web. 14 July 2014.

Woodland Buffer Filter Area

Establishing grass, shrub, and tree cover in flood plains benefits the wildlife and aquatic environment, while reducing erosion, sedimentation, water pollution, and nutrient loss.

“Woodland Buffer Filter Area FR-3.” n.d. Web. 14 July 2014.

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