Nutrient credit money distributed

More than $51,000 was distributed to local farmers whose nitrogen and phosphorus credits were sold last year through the Lycoming County Nutrient Trading Program, according to Megan Lehman, county environmental planner.

Nineteen farmers – more than double the amount from 2011 – participated in the program that generated 27,861 nitrogen and 682 phosphorus credits. Each credit equals 1 pound of nutrient pollution removed from local streams in the Chesapeake Bay watershed.

The farmers voluntarily implemented conservation practices that reduced pollution from their farm operations into local streams and waterways, Lehman said.

“Successful trades over the past two years have proven to our local producers that there is a benefit to participating in this effort,” said Mark Davidson, manager of the Lycoming County Conservation District. “We’ve enjoyed an increased level of interest within Lycoming County and even beyond the county lines.”

Multiple agricultural best management practices have been implemented on the participating farms, including riparian buffers, no-till and cover cropping, off-stream watering, rotational grazing and manure hauling,” Lehman said.

The practices generating the credits were certified by state Department of Environmental Protection and verified by the Lycoming County Conservation District.

To be eligible to participate in the program, farms are required to go beyond the minimum legal requirements to do more than what is considered the farm’s fair share of pollution reduction.

“The conservation practices used to generate these credits have local impacts that go above and beyond their benefits to the Chesapeake Bay,” said Lycoming County Commissioner Jeff Wheeland. “These farmers are creating local environmental benefits, such as aquatic and riparian habitat improvements and erosion reduction. It goes to show that if we are good stewards of the land and clean up our own streams, the Bay will take care of itself.”

Two local trades were facilitated in the second year of active trading under the county’s program, according to Lehman. In the first, 9,776 nitrogen credits were supplied to the West Branch Regional Authority. In the second, 682 phosphorus credits were sold to the Hughesville-Wolf Authority.

“Nutrient trading has been a vital part of our process,” said Eric Moore, executive director of the WBRA. “It has allowed us the time necessary to consolidate four existing sewer systems and plan for a new regional treatment plant and still remain in compliance with the Chesapeake Bay requirements.”