John Janney describes how he has utilized the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program to manage his Loudoun County farm, Telegraph Springs.
John Janney owns a 284 acre farm in Loudoun County. He leases half of the property for cattle pasture and hay production. He reserves the other half for designated Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP) areas and established woodland.
He was surprised by how beneficial the Best Management Practices would prove to be in his overall land management plan. The contracted practices and cost-shared improvements which John implemented through CREP have actually operated to meet his needs as a landowner. The land is more usable as a result of the water systems that have been installed. When renting parts of the farm, John has found farmers are pleased to see the fences and reliable water sources are already available. Although there are a few responsibilities associated with the contract, his everyday practices have not been infringed upon.
Best Management Practice: a voluntary farm installation that improves water quality.
CREP: A program that improves water quality by restoring degraded wetlands and establishing vegetative buffers along streams and other eligible water bodies.
Pressurized Troughs: watering trough that uses a pump system from an underground reservoir through a water line.
Setback: Portion of the farm not to be utilized, in order to reduce erosion and streambank degradation.
In the summer of 2010, PEC Fellow Sarah Brey interviewed John Janny about the Best Management Practices he uses on his farm. Here's what he had to say:
How did you hear about Best Management Practices?
I first heard about the cost-share programs through the Chesapeake Bay Program at the local extension office. Now, I call up Larry Wilkinson, with the USDA in Leesburg, when I want to start a new project.
What was the decision-making process like?
My dad and I believed that the government might eventually make the fencing of streams required, so I wanted to do it early with the financial assistance offered through cost-share.
Were there key people who helped you make the decision to implement BMPs?
Larry Wilkinson (District Conservationist with the USDA in Leesburg) was the initial contact. He set me up with program funding and helped me with the planning. Then the USDA did a survey and approval. The USDA office in Warrenton was very helpful too.
How long does it take to implement BMPs, start to finish?
The first project I did took about 18 months from my first phone call to the extension office until completion. As I have done more projects, they have taken less time, although it depends on the complexity of the project installed. I am now familiar with the process and I have contacts with many of the contractors.
Were there any setbacks to reaching your desired outcome?
On one project, the contractors for the tree planting were not available to plant within the time limit, so I had to file for an extension.
What surprised you along the way?
I lost almost 20 percent of the trees in unexpected floods on one CREP project, but replanting was not required.
Have your projects yielded any economic benefits?
The land that is in CREP, I would have used for grazing. So I make six times more from the rent I get from CREP than I would if I rented it to a farmer to make hay. Plus, I get the trees along the creek.
Do you enjoy having this completed project as part of your land?
When I fenced off the creek, the cattle couldn't erode the creek banks anymore. So the creek has healed nicely. Areas like this were all open before.
Has the character of your land changed in any way as a result of the project?
I had numerous people that wanted to rent the place when I was ready to rent it. The land is kept up because there is good new fencing and there is water available. Also, there are no bare spots on the land and the area around the creek is vegetated.
Has the project led to any other changes in your land and the way you use it beyond the projects specific purpose?
I need less equipment now. Instead of using large equipment to make hay, I just have to make sure that I follow the regulations. Before I did the program, I might have been scared to lose property rights to the government, but look at the economic benefits of the program.
There isn't really an outside presence in the management of my land; my daily role is the same. There are just a few restrictions: I can't bush-hog the CREP areas from March 15 to August 15 and even though I would like to start now, I think it looks ugly, it hasn't gotten in my way. That is how the birds and their habitat survive. They also say to keep motorized vehicles off of it so... I don't let people drive across it; you can still hunt; and I have to keep invasive species controlled. I would do this anyway for the health of the farm so the "restrictions" really aren't that bad.
The program has been tailored into what I needed in terms of wanting to use less large equipment and renting the farm, because I was scaling back anyway.
Are you considering any continuing practices after your contract retires?
Once I got started, I ended up doing the whole farm. The cattle cannot get within 100 feet of any water flowing through any part of this farm. With one project, after the contract with the state ran out, I was able to sign it into CREP. I have even replanted on my own some of trees that didn't take.
How do you feel that your participation in the program fits into the larger picture?
I am doing my part to keep nitrogen out of the creek and that is the main goal. This project slows my bit of water down and the more people that do this, the slower the water goes and the fewer the particles that get moved around or get turned up.