In 2010, Pennsylvania revised the laws that regulate Erosion and Sedimentation within the Commonwealth. The new regulations now include agricultural plowing and tilling activities. They also include Animal Heavy Use Areas (AHUAs for short) which are often called Animal Concentration Areas (ACA). Any operation that plows or tills or has an AHUA over 5,000 square feet is required to have an agricultural E&S plan.
Under Pennsylvania law, an AHUA is defined as “Barnyard, feedlot, loafing area, exercise lot, or other similar area on an agricultural operation where due to the concentration of animals it is not possible to establish and maintain vegetative cover of a density capable of minimizing accelerated erosion and sedimentation by usual planting methods.” In other words, an AHUA is anywhere grass is not growing due to the presence of animals. The following video from Blair County Conservation District explains the new regulations in more detail:
Some more details about the Agricultural E&S regulations:
- Fields within 100 feet of a stream or river must have at least 25% cover at all times. If you cannot provide 25% cover at all times, alternate BMPs that reduce erosion and sedimentation can be used in its place.
- For agricultural plowing or tilling activities, the E&S Plan must, at a minimum, limit soil loss from accelerated erosion to the soil loss tolerance (T) over the planned crop rotation.
- For animal heavy use areas, the E&S Plan must identify BMPs to minimize accelerated erosion and sedimentation. Some BMPs that can be used for AHUAs include Heavy Use Area Protection, Critical Area Planting, Fencing, Wastewater Treatment Strip, Constructed Wetland, Use Exclusion, Animal Trails and Walkways, Diversions and Roof Runoff Structure.
- The E&S Plan must contain plan maps that show the location of features including surface waters of this Commonwealth, and drainage patterns, field and property boundaries, buildings and farm structures, animal heavy use areas, roads and crossroads, and BMPs; soils maps; and a description of BMPs including animal heavy use area practices and procedures, tillage systems, schedules,
and crop rotations. The plan must be consistent with the current conditions and activities on the agricultural operation.
If you have a Conservation Plan, it may fulfill your E&S requirements under state law, though some plans may have been developed before the new regulations took place. If you need your Conservation Plan updated, or need one developed, please contact the Agricultural Resource Conservationist for assistance.