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The Agriculture Water Quality Act was passed by the Kentucky General Assembly in 1994. It states that landowners with 10 or more acres in agricultural production must develop a water quality plan. If you farm 10 or more acres or plan to harvest trees on 10 or more acres in Kentucky, then you are required by state law to implement an agriculture water quality plan, according to Amanda Gumbert, UK Water Quality Extension Specialist.
Actually, very few Trimble County farmers have completed their required water quality plans.
This plan documents the best management practices you’re using to protect water resources.
These best management practices could include planned grazing systems for livestock, filter or buffer strips around crop fields, animal waste storage structures and nutrient management plans. It should also include plans to limit livestock access to streams. In addition, the document should include information about proper handling of herbicides and pesticides and proper maintenance of septic systems.
To implement a water quality plan, first look at the activities in your operation. You can use a web-based planning tool to answer questions about the operation. By answering these questions, you can identify the appropriate best management practices needed. Then, you document that these practices are being used and properly maintained.
In many cases, proper practices are already in place, and creating an agriculture water quality plan provides a document stating that you are doing the right things to protect water quality on your farm.
However, keep in mind that an agriculture water quality plan is not a voluntary document, and the Kentucky Agriculture Water Quality Act has not gone away. Periodically review and update your plans to reflect changes in farming and forestry practices or land ownership. Additionally, a water quality plan is required by the local Soil and Water Conservation District if you plan to apply for state cost share programs.
By implementing an agriculture water quality plan, you help protect both surface and groundwater from agricultural contaminants. Keeping the water resources of the state clean protects human and animal health and reduces the cost of treating drinking water.
For more information on the Kentucky Agriculture Water Quality Act, please contact the Trimble County Cooperative Extension Service at 502-255-7188.
Michael Pyles is Trimble County’s Cooperative Extension agent for agriculture.