Engaging the Private Sector to Expand Adoption and Improve Performance of Manure Injection in the James River Basin
This project engages the private sector to accelerate reduction of nutrient and sediment pollution loads from agricultural working lands through expanded adoption of two high-priority conservation practices: manure injection and cover crops. Sustainable Chesapeake and partners propose to use James River Water Quality Improvement Program (JRWQIP) funding to overcome two critical barriers to widespread adoption: lack of manure injection equipment and lack of time in the fall and spring for conservation activities. Sustainable Chesapeake is partnering with the largest custom manure applicator in Virginia (Shen-Valley Customs) and the largest farm operation in Virginia (Engel Family Farms) to overcome these barriers. If funded, this project will engage 11 farmers in expanding manure injection and cover crops on 3,700 acres of land in the James River Basin per year, reducing annual loading rates for nitrogen (32,489 lbs), phosphorus (1,207 lbs), and sediment (22,968 lbs). Virginia Tech experts in grain production, nutrient management, and soil health will evaluate the cost-effectiveness of this approach and share results with farmers and agronomy/conservation specialists throughout the region. Rockbridge and Headwaters Soil and Water Conservation District staff will help to recruit farmers and encourage widespread, continued adoption. These performance evaluation and outreach efforts will continue to accelerate implementation beyond the timeframe of this project.