Watershed Projects


The partnership is working together to establish innovative demonstration farms, share implementation costs, provide technical support, and use data and local knowledge to improve water quality.

Demonstration Farm

Demonstration farms

Testing new farming practices, such as new ways to manage grazing rotations or planting cover crops, often only happens on agricultural research farms and are incorporated last on the farms that could benefit the most.

The SCWP is working to change that. Partners are working together to determine which new protocol should be tested, enlist landowners willing to try something new, provide technical assistance implementing the new practices, collect samples and assist with any equipment needs.

Stockpiling winter fescue with strip grazing

Instead of cutting, drying and storing hay to feed in winter, a portion of pasture is set aside to allow the field to grow until frost and then the livestock are let in. Strip grazing is then implemented where cows are allowed on small areas of the pastures for a day or two at a time using temporary electric fencing. Stockpiling with strip grazing has the potential to decrease feed cost, reduce equipment usage, improve animal health, and improve manure distribution throughout the pastures.

MSCC (Mixed Species Cover Crop) with Delayed Corn Planting

Delaying the planting or spring corn allows the Mixed Species Cover crops to flourish in the spring and provide benefit to the soil microbes. Our new genetic material in shorter season corn varieties allows an opportunity for this to occur without negatively affecting the corn growth. We are finding that this also aligns nutrient uptake with nature and natural mineralization, disrupts pest cycles and moisture uptake patterns. All of this can reduce overall production costs while reducing nutrients and sediment in the watershed.

DThis farm is trying to increase forage yield by “double cropping.” This entails planting two crops that can be harvested separately at different times within the same area, such as planting a cover crop of barley into an already established field of alfalfa. In addition to increasing yield, double cropping can provide additional soil health benefits and improve forage nutrition.

Smith Creek


There are several programs in place to help landowners reduce costs for conservation efforts and maintenance.

Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay

The Smith Creek Watershed Buffer Incentive Program

This program offers agricultural producers the opportunity to earn additional funds to help pay for conservation work on the farm.

For each acre of streamside forested buffer planted through the USDA-FSA Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP), Virginia Agricultural Cost Share Program (VACS), or planted to NRCS standards, the Smith Creek Buffer Incentive Program will provide $4,000 as a “Best Management Practice Voucher,” up to a maximum of $20,000 per farm.

The landowner/farmer may use these vouchers to help cover costs associated with their new riparian forest buffer, or to plan and install other conservation work desired on the farm.

Vouchers can support practice design, conservation planning, construction management and project installation, equipment, and conservation easement transaction costs. Additionally, approximately $1,000 per acre of forested buffer planted will be set aside in a buffer maintenance fund and allocated each year for buffer maintenance according to a site needs assessment.

Combining the vouchers with other programs such as the USDA- NRCS Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) or Virginia Agriculture Cost Share Program (VACS) Stream Exclusion with Grazing Land Management Practice (SL-6) and/or Woodland Buffer Filter Area (FR-3) will help stretch the voucher funds.

Appalachian Conservation Corps

The Smith Creek Watershed Buffer Maintenance Program

Appalachian Conservation Corps will expand the reach of their hands-on conservation crews to include maintenance work on private lands in the watershed. ACC will work with the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay and the NRCS to create and implement a maintenance schedule for new buffers created through the Buffer Bonus Program and for buffers that were previously installed through traditional cost-share programs. The intent is to increase buffer survivorship and establishment to provide long term water quality and habitat benefits.

ACC crews will:

  • Survey and evaluate buffers to develop a detailed maintenance plan
  • Remove invasive species from buffers with mechanical and chemical treatments
  • Repair and replace damaged tubes, stakes, and mats
  • Remove debris from tree tubes
  • Replant dead, dying, and diseased trees