Case Study:

Miller's Farm: Agricultural BMPs

Agriculture is Pennyslvania’s second largest industry, but it is also a major contributor to water quality problems. The Commonwealth is the number one source of nitrogen pollution to the Chesapeake Bay, and of that, agriculture contributes more than 60 percent. Pennsylvania is also the second largest source of sediment and phosphorous pollution to the Bay. Preserving this crucial part of the economy while also protecting our waterways and other natural resources can be a delicate balancing act, but more and more farmers are taking up the challenge and achieving success.

Take the Miller family: they have been farming in Adams County for more than 50 years. While a far cry from a factory farm, the Millers juggle some 38,000 turkeys, 150 cattle, and more than 1,000 acres of land dedicated to wheat, corn, soybeans, and hay. Their operation is considered a Concentrated Animal feeding Operation (CAFO) because of their turkey contracts, and as a result, is subject to NPDES permit requirements under the federal Clean Water Act. When it comes to protecting water quality, through stormwater runoff management, they have embraced their responsibility taken a pro-active approach.

 The Millers started working with their local County Conservation District to address stormwater runoff and drainage issues on some of their fields back in 1989—and have since partnered with the CCD and Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) on numerous efforts aimed at minimizing the sediment and nutrients coming off of their land.

"In this area, we have focused most of our efforts on keeping the soil on the farm, keeping the water runoff clean, and keeping the streams functioning the way they should. But we don’t come in and tell farmers what to do. Solutions have to be based on their specific operation: the layout of the farm, how they move their livestock, what works best for them..."

-NRCS Natural Resources Specialist Jim Gillis.

 The Millers own or rent several properties, some of which are preserved as part of the Adams County Agricultural Land Preservation Program. Support from the state Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP) has enabled the Millers to set aside acreage for wildlife habitat, create a forested riparian buffer zone along a stream, and construct a pair of controlled stream crossings to provide a stabilized area for equipment and cattle to move between pastures and barns.

 With the help of partners and financial assistance through an Environmental Quality Incentive Program (EQIP) cost-sharing contract, the Millers have also developed a Nutrient Management Plan, constructed a Heavy Use Protection Area at the barnyard, and are in the process of a constructing a Roof Runoff Structure and Underground Outlet on the barnyard to remove excess stormwater.

 With a little vision and effort, the Millers are protecting their land and local water resources, improving the health of their livestock—and helping the Chesapeake Bay.


Share this Mobile-Friendly Video:

Want to spread the ideas from this video? Here is a mobile-ready version of the video page! Share the video directly via newsletters and social media. Use the QR Code on signs, print newsletters, or brochures to educate even more people. Learn more about how you can use QR Codes through our QR Code Guide.

Share the Mobile Link:

Share the QR Code:

(click for full-size image)