Richland Soil and Water


Lake Erie CREP (Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program) 

The Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program or CREP, is a federal and state conservation partnership designed to address agriculture-related environmental concerns. Participants receive financial incentives from USDA to voluntarily enroll environmentally sensitive cropland or pastureland in contracts for 15 years. In return for annual rental payments that average about $154 per acre and financial incentives, participants convert the land to native grasses, trees and other conservation vegetation. Enrollment is on a continuous basis, as funding permits. Eligible land must be in the portion of the Lake Erie Watershed and must meet basic eligibility criteria for USDA's Conservation Reserve Program. 


  • An additional $200 per acre incentive will be provided for all newly enrolled filter strip and riparian area practices through February 20, 2020.

Benefits of Conservation Buffers:    

  • Buffers provide another line of defense to filter surface water before it enters streams and water sources that contribute to nutrient loading to Lake Erie
  • Streambanks without buffers tend to be less stable and have higher erosion rates
  • Conservation buffers are a visual demonstration of your commitment to land stewardship                

CREP Landowner Contract 

CREP Sign Up Process

CREP Factsheet

CREP Practices

NRCS EQIP Cover Crop Program 

The NRCS Disaster Recovery EQIP funding opportunity to plant cover crops on flooded cropland acreage. The sign-up began July 1 and continues until the funding is exhausted. 

NRCS News Release

NRCS Prevented Planting Fact Sheet

NRCS Seeding Recommendations

Western Lake Erie Basin Funding

The Ohio Department of Agriculture, in partnership with Richland Soil and Water Conservation District (Richland SWCD) is providing funding for new assistance programs for farmers to help protect water quality within the Upper Sandusky River watershed in the western basin of Lake Erie through the Ohio Working Lands program. 

Voluntary Nutrient Management Plan

The Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) and the Ohio Agribusiness Association are announcing the expansion of the Voluntary Nutrient Mangement Plan Development to all 4R Certified Nutrient Dealsers in the Western Lake Erie Basin. 

Started as a pilot program with two 4R certified Nutrient Retail providers, the Voluntary Nutrient Management Plan Development Porgram is a partnership with the Ohio Agribusiness Association, in which producers are reimbured for nutrient management plans. The Voluntary Nutrient Management Plans will help to ensure that the 4R principles are put into place.

"The pilot program was a great success and is one more way to encourage farmers to practice the 4R principles on their farms," said Director Pelanda. "We are proud to expand this program that helps farmers implement Nutrient Management Plans that work towards our common goals of soil and water conservation."

"Our members understand how important our role is helping farmers practice proper nutrient stewardship and the 4R's," said Chris Henney, President and CEO of the Ohio Agribusiness Association. "We're excited to be part of these programs and stand ready to help Northwest Ohio farmers."

Producers located in the Western Lake Erie Basin are encouraged to contact their local 4R Nutrient Certified dealers to learn more and sign up for the program. 

For more information, contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., Richland SWCD Agriculture Technician. 

Forage Management

Funding Programs

Buffer Program:  Encourages producers to establish year-round vegetative cover on eligible crop land. The program will promote conversion, establishment and maintenance of forage/hay land on certain cropland acres.  Program enrollment for FY 2020 started June 17. 


Buffer Criteria for Seeding, Establishment and Maintenance

Buffer Agreement and Verification Form

Small Grains Program:  Encourages producers to plant small grains such as wheat, barley, oats or cereal rye on eligible cropland. This promogram promotes the planting of small grains not only for the conservation benefits, but to provide livestock producers with a longer time period to land apply manure and nutrients.   

Small Grains Fact Sheet

Small Grains Criteria for Seeding and Establishment

Small Grains Guidelines

Small Grains Signup Process

Small Grains Producers Agreement and Verification Form

Ohio Agronomy Guide

Appendix A Cover Crop


Ohio Applicator Forecast

The Ohio Applicator Forecast is designed to help nutrient applicators identify times when the weather-risk for applying is low. The risk forecast is created by the National Weather Service and takes snow accumulation and melt, soil moisture content, and forecast precipitation and temperatures into account. The chances of surface runoff in the next 24 hours are displayed on the overview map of the state. If you zoom to street level, seven days of weather conditions and runoff chances are predicted.

Risk is grouped into 3 categories: Low, Medium, and High. When the risk is Medium, it is recommended that the applicator evaluate the situation to determine if there are other locations or later dates when the application could take place.

Click the Forecast Map on the menu above to see the forecast in your area, or the About page for more information about the forecast system.

590 Application Map

This map has been developed utilizing the nutrient application standards from the 2012 Ohio NRCS 590 Nutrient Management Practice Standard. These optional standards were developed to:

  • Budget, supply, and conserve nutrients for plant production.
  • Minimize agricultural nonpoint source pollution of surface and groundwater resources.
  • Properly utilize commercial fertilizer, manure and/or organic by-products as a plant nutrient resource or soil amendment.
  • Protect air quality by reducing odors, nitrogen emissions (ammonia, oxides of nitrogen) and the formation of atmospheric particulates.
  • Maintain or improve the physical, chemical, and biological condition of soil.

The 590 Application Map displays several information categories to help users adopt the 590 guidelines. Information provided on this map includes soil drainage and flooding frequency classes, water table depth, N leaching potential and runoff vulnerability.

Nutrient Regulations

There are a variety of laws, regulations, and guidelines for the management of fertilizers and manures in Ohio. The Nutrient Regulation page summarizes these rules and the areas of Ohio where they apply; for example in 2011 special rules were enacted for watersheds in distress, and again in 2014 for land in the Western Lake Erie Basin.

For more information on the Ohio Applicator Forecast, contact us.


The District was founded in 1948 on the principle of providing solutions to erosion and water quality concerns. These services work together for the improvement of the farm and community. The United States Department of Agriculture – Natural Resources Conservation Service (USDA-NRCS) with assistance from the Richland Soil and Water Conservation District provides technical assistance to landowners or land managers with the purpose of addressing a natural resource concern such as reducing soil erosion and protecting water quality. This in turn has a positive effect on the environment and our natural resources.  

The Conservation Plan Process

  • Schedule an on-site visit to address concerns you have about your property’s resources 
  • You determine and share your objectives
  • While on-site, your property’s resources are evaluated with respect to your objectives
  • If needed, recommended practices are discussed with you
  • You decide which conservation practices you want to implement
  • A Conservation Plan is created for you
  • Technicians will survey, design, draft and lay out the practice for construction
  • We will work with the Farm Service Agency (FSA) and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) in the allocation of cost share funds for the project, if available and/or wanted
  • Implement the Conservation Plan
  • Evaluate the Conservation Plan

What Is a Conservation Plan?

An agricultural/livestock owner tries to run their operation as efficiently as possible. Sometimes certain areas become problems to their operations. These operators may seek the assistance of USDA-NRCS to develop a conservation plan. This plan will help the operator address these problem areas and other areas that could affect natural resources. Through the use of Conservation Practices, NRCS can help the operator determine what conservation practices will correct these concern areas. There are many Conservation Practices that NRCS has developed, but the following are a list of commonly installed practices in Richland County. At the conclusion of the plan creation, material will be provided to you to help implement the plan.

Examples of Conservation Practices

Access Roads
Access RoadFarming operations often utilize frequently traveled areas to access particular areas of the farm. Sometimes these areas become rutted, muddy, pot-holes. This can be due to an unsuitable soil type in that area, the physical location of the area or poor weather conditions. An Access Road can be used to protect these areas. They are developed by installing a particular depth of gravel material to withstand frequent travel. They protect soil, water, air, wildlife and other adjacent resource areas. 
Agrichemical Facility
Many farming operations frequently use fertilizers and chemicals to maintain their crops. Rather than hire a company to apply these chemicals, an operator may want to apply their own. To do this they need to have storage tanks on-site to store the appropriate chemicals. If any of the tanks were to develop a leak it could be a big threat to natural resources. An Agrichemical Facility addresses this situation. It is a designed basin with an impermeable liner where all storage tanks are placed. In the event of a leak or a spill while mixing, all chemicals would be contained, pumped out and disposed of properly. 
FencingLivestock operations need to keep their animals within certain areas. Also, it has been found to be beneficial to have smaller pasture fields and rotate livestock within these fields at regular intervals. This promotes healthier vegetation in the pastures, better nourished livestock and erosion protection. 
Filter Strip
A filter strip, typically adjacent to a ditch, stream or river, is an area of vegetation established for removing sediment, organic material, and other pollutants from runoff and wastewater. 
Grassed Waterway
Grassed WaterwayWhen a whole field is tilled and planted, there may be areas where two hill slopes come together (what we call a swale). During a rain, water will naturally flow to these swales and eventually to a stream or creek. In some instances, the slope, soil type, tilling type, tilling direction or all of the above are not adequate to hold the soil in place. Eventually, these swales become gullies that can be difficult or impossible to cross and they carry sediment to the steam or creek. Grassed Waterways are engineered, shallow grassed channels designed to handle the water flow, keep soil in place while allowing cropping equipment to safely cross over it. 
Grazing Management (Prescribed)
Grazing Management

This is the management of the kind of animal, animal number, grazing distribution, length of grazing and/or browsing periods and timing of use to provide grazed plants sufficient recovery time to meet planned objectives. The management of livestock movements is based on the rate of plant growth, available forage, and allowable utilization target. Proper grazing management will maintain and improve vegetation and soil conditions, improve water quality, and enhance wildlife habitat.

More Information

Heavy Use Pad
Feedlot Facility (Heavy-use Pad)Livestock operations utilize certain areas frequently to feed and water their animals. Sometimes these areas become rutted, muddy pot-holes. This can be due to an unsuitable soil type in that area, the physical location of the area, poor weather conditions or frequent use. A Heavy Use Pad can be used to protect these highly used areas. They are developed by installing a particular depth of gravel material to withstand the frequent travel. They protect soil, water, air, wildlife and other adjacent resource areas. 
Seasonal High Tunnel
High Tunnel

This practice is intended to extend the growing season earlier and later in the growing year. Tunnel systems are designed to extend the cropping season and benefit natural resources by improving plant quality, soil quality, and water quality through methods such as reduced nutrient and pesticide transport. A seasonal high tunnel is a polyethylene-covered structure with or without electricity, heating, or mechanical ventilation systems. High tunnels modify the climate to create more favorable growing conditions for vegetable and other specialty crops grown in the natural soil beneath it. Crops must be grown in the soil under the high tunnel, not in pots, growing racks or hydroponics systems. The structure utilizes passive solar heating and can use a supplemental heating system, if required. Ventilation is usually provided by manually rolling the sides up or down. However, mechanical systems may be used to improve effectiveness. High tunnel systems are not greenhouses.

More Information

Nutrient Management
corn field

Nutrient management involves managing the amount, placement, and timing of plant nutrients to obtain optimum yields and minimize the risk of surface and groundwater pollution.

Download the Nutrient Management Plan PDF

The 4Rs were created to educate and promote wise nutrient management to conserve water quality and soil health using four “rights”: 

Right Source: Ensure a balanced supply of essential nutrients, considering both naturally available sources and the characteristics of specific products, in plant available forms. 

Right Rate: Assess and make decisions based on soil nutrient supply and plant demand. 

Right Time: Assess and make decisions based on the dynamics of crop uptake, soil supply, nutrient loss risks, and field operation logistics. 

Right Place: Address root-soil dynamics and nutrient movement, and manage spatial variability within the field to meet site-specific crop needs and limit potential losses from the field. 

More About the 4Rs

Waste Storage Facility
Manure Storage FacilityThe main byproduct of livestock operations is manure. Fortunately, manure is also a valuable resource, and it can be applied back on the land where it will provide nutrients and organic matter to the soil. However, manure cannot be applied at any time. Care must be taken to apply manure when the land is ready to receive it. It cannot be applied when the ground is saturated with rain, right before a rain event or on frozen-snow covered ground. Manure obviously cannot be applied when agricultural crops are actively growing. As you can see it can be difficult to find suitable conditions to apply the manure. A lot of operations do not have the adequate manure storage capacity to wait for the ideal application situation. A Waste Storage Facility provides a stable facility with enough storage capacity to hold the waste until ideal land application opportunity exist. The storage structure types include liquid waste storage ponds or tanks, and solid waste stacking structures.
WindbreakWindbreaks or shelterbelts are single to multiple rows of trees and possibly shrubs planted in a linear fashion. They are established upwind of the areas to be protected. Windbreaks and shelterbelts are primarily used to reduce soil erosion from wind; protect crops, livestock, and farmsteads from wind; area related microclimate effects; control snow deposition; and improve air quality by intercepting drifting chemicals and odors.

Conservation practices contribute to energy efficiency and fuel savings.

Energy website

The Benefits of a Conservation Plan 

A conservation plan ensures that the land’s unique natural resources are managed in the best possible way, while maintaining sustainability and productivity. 

Other benefits of a conservation plan:

  • Help landowner comply with environmental regulations
  • Qualify landowner for USDA conservation programs that can help him or her implement conservation measures
  • Adapts to changing farm or ranch operational goals
  • Establishes an implementation schedule that fits landowner’s timetable and resources

USDA Services – Farm Bill

Farm Bills are annually adjusted to prioritize USDA programs and offer services within the budget cycle of the funding year. The 2014 Farm Bill recently became law, providing funding for the nation’s major conservation programs. As the federal government’s primary agricultural and food policy tool, the Farm Bill supports many USDA programs. This includes the conservation programs that provide farmers, ranchers and forest landowners with technical and financial assistance to address resource concerns on their land.

Assistance includes both technical expertise and funding to help put conservation practices on fields and in forests in Ohio and across the country. For example, USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service helps farmers conserve water with more efficient irrigation systems and improve soil health with cover crops. NRCS works with landowners and land managers to heal eroded farm fields and improve surface water quality. NRCS works to promote rotational grazing systems which enables pastures to grow better food for livestock while keeping grass in place to prevent soil erosion. Small farm assistance such as High Tunnel production of vegetables and fruit are available also. 

All of this assistance is made available through a variety of conservation programs. The 2014 Farm Bill consolidates and expands several programs, and key changes include:

The Farm Bill is investing $18.7 billion in NRCS-administered conservation programs over the next five years. It’s a good time for you to see if conservation is right for your land. Visit or set an appointment with Jason Ruhl, USDA-NRCS Resources Conservationist, at 419-747-8691 to learn more. For more information on the Farm Bill, visit

Other Partner links you may find helpful

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