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Best Management Practices

Best Management Practices (BMPs) are designed to maintain or improve water quality and conservation while still allowing for healthy agricultural production. BMPs include topics such as nutrient management, structural barriers, and other water and field management practices.

Vegetative Practices

Image of a field planted with grass to protect from soil erosion; critical area planting; vegetative BMP

Critical Area Planting

Planting grass or other vegetation protects a severely eroding area from soil erosion.

Image of a field planted with cover crop, includes a Cover Crops sign; cover crops; vegetative BMP

Cover Crops

Cereal grains such as wheat, rye, oats, and barley are planted in the fall following the harvest of corn, soybeans, and vegetable crops. 


Cover crops protect the soil from erosion and immobilize unused nitrogen from the root zone.

Image of a field planted with grass to protect from soil erosion; pasture planting; vegetative BMP

Pasture Planting

Planting grasses and legumes to improve forage production, improve livestock nutrition, and protect the soil from erosion and improve water quality.

Image of a field with woody plants plotted; tree/shrub establishment; vegetative BMP

Tree/Shrub Establishment

Establishing woody plants by planting seedlings or cuttings, direct seeding, or natural regeneration.

Image of a green field with a line of trees to protect from soil; riparian buffer; vegetative BMP

Riparian Buffer

Trees, shrubs, or grasses planted next to waterways (including rivers, streams, and drainage ditches) filter runoff, improve water quality, protect the soil from erosion, and provide wildlife habitat.


Structural Practices

Image of a green area with a diversion structure; diversion; structural BMP


A long earthen embankment built across the slope to redirect runoff

Image of a green area with a grade control structure; grade control structure; structural BMP

Grade Control Structure

Earthen, wooden, concrete or other structure built across a drainageway to control and reduce  water flow.

Image of a natural drainageway with grassed sides; grassed waterway; structural BMP

Grassed Waterway

Shaping and establishing grass in a natural drainageway to prevent gullies from forming and control soil erosion.

Image of a green area with a heavy use area structure; heavy use area protection; structural BMP

Heavy Use Area Protection

Stabilizing areas that are disturbed because of frequent and intensive use by livestock or farm equipment.

Image of a livestock watering system; livestock watering system; structural BMP

Livestock Watering System

A system of troughs and water lines to provide livestock with water from a spring, pond, or well.

Image of a manure storag structure; structural BMP

Manure Storage Structure

These structures are used to store manure produced by livestock until conditions are right for field application or transport off the farm.

Image of a roof runoff system from a farm building; structural BMP

Roof Runoff System

A system for collecting, controlling and discharging runoff water from non-residential farm buildings.

Image of a fence to prevent erosion or encroachment; structural BMP


A constructed barrier to livestock, wildlife, or people.

Image of a water control structure, a stone pathway to convey water between fields; structural BMP

Water Control Structure

A structure in a water management system that conveys water, controls the direction or rate of flow, maintains a desired water surface elevation or measures water.


Management Practices

Image of a grassy field; contour farming; management BMP

Contour Farming

Tillage, planting and other farming practices performed on or near the contour of the field (not up and down the hill).

Image of a field with corn crop residue; crop residue management; management BMP

Crop Residue Management

Leaving residue from the previous crop on the soil surface for a specific period of time by reducing tillage.

Image of a field with a crop beginning to grow; crop rotation; management BMP

Crop Rotation

Changing the crops grown in a field on a regular basis.

Image of a weed growing in a field; integrated pest management; management BMP

Integrated Pest Management

Evaluating and using a tailored pest management system to reduce crop and environmental damage. A range of management strategies is used only if pests reach threatening levels or begin to cause serious crop or plant damage.

Image of dairy cows in a pasture; nutrient management; management BMP

Nutrient Management

Nutrient Management planning is a series of best management practices aimed at reducing nutrient pollution by balancing nutrient inputs with crop requirements.

Image of horses in a pasture; rotational grazing; management BMP

Rotational Grazing

Managing pasture grazing by moving livestock from one area to another at the proper time to maintain high quality forage.

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