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Best management practices (BMPs) are important tools in controlling non-point source pollution and its affect on the environment.  

While there are many sources of NPS pollution, agriculture is among the most significant in Virginia because many acres here are devoted to farming. For example, one EPA study estimates that 27 percent of the phosphorus and 60 percent of the nitrogen entering the Chesapeake Bay originate from cropland. 

The Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) administers programs through local soil and water conservation districts (SWCDs) to improve or maintain water quality in the state's streams, lakes and bays through the installation or implementation of agricultural BMPs:


Through these programs, financial and technical assistance are offered as incentives to carry out construction or implementation of selected BMPs.


Details on the BMPs that apply to both programs can be found in:


Virginia Agricultural BMP Cost Share Manual


Funding varies by SWCD each year. The state provides funds to SWCDs for targeted priority hydrologic units. Areas with the greatest pollution potential receive the greatest funding.


Assistance is available year-round to those willing to carry out an approved conservation plan. The business of farming requires as much planning and organization as any other. Strategies to protect surface and ground water should be included in those plans. Many plans qualify but all must be approved by the local district board to participate in these programs. SWCDs seek and recruit individuals whose efforts can make the greatest positive impact upon water quality.


Need help with your conservation plan? Contact Kelly Snoddy, Conservation Specialist (



Other agencies that offer assistance include the USDA Farm Service Agency and Natural Resources Conservation Service, Virginia Cooperative Extension, Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, and the Virginia Department of Forestry. 

Nutrient Management

This video was shot during a farm tour that was hosted by the Peter Francisco Soil and Water Conservation District. It focuses on cover crop and nutrient management practices that were put in place with the help of funds from the Virginia Agricultural Cost Share Program

Livestock Exclusion and Rotational Grazing

This video features best management practices that have been put in place with the help of funds from the Virginia Agricultural Cost Share Program. The video footage was primarily shot at a farm tour that was hosted by the Piedmont Soil and Water Conservation District and highlights livestock exclusion and rotational grazing practices.

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