A Soil Conservation and Water Quality Plan (SCWQP) is comprehensive plan that addresses natural resource management on agricultural lands and utilizes best management practices (BMPs) that control erosion and sediment loss and manage runoff. SCWQPs includes management practices such as crop rotations and structural practices such as sediment basins and grade stabilization structures. At the request of a farmer, a Soil Conservation District, Maryland Department of Agriculture (MDA) or USDA professional works with the farmer to determine the group or system of practices needed to address specific erosion and runoff concerns on the farm. The practices are designed to control erosion within acceptable levels and to be compatible with management and cropping systems. A SCWQP can be used for up to ten years without revision if substantial changes in management do not occur. Nutrient reduction is only one of many benefits derived from SCWQPs. Also included in a SCWQP are recommendations concerning forestry management, wildlife habitat and plantings, pond construction and management, and other natural resource management recommendations.
Cost-share grants are available from state and federal programs to help farmers install BMPs outlined in the SCWQP, especially structural practices.
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