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How to Prevent Agricultural Nonpoint Source Pollution


Best Management Practices

Methods and procedures that prevent or reduce pollution are known as best management practices (BMP). The following list of best management practices reduce agricultural nonpoint source pollution.


  • Practice conservation tillage. To control erosion, leave at least a 30 percent residue from the previous crop on the soil surface after planting the new crop.
  • Leave as many areas in grass as possible to reduce erosion and intercept sediment from fields. Do not plow turnrows, field borders, or traffic lanes. Use strip cropping, vegetative filter strips, and borders.
  • To control erosion from raindrops, plant a cover crop or green manure crop during fallow years and leave crop residue on fields in winter.
  • Install grassed waterways and vegetative filter strips in and around fields.
  • Convert highly erodible cropland areas to grass or trees.


  • Perform soil analysis on a regular basis to determine fertilization rates needed to achieve desired yields. Never overfertilize.
  • Reduce autumn use of nitrogen fertilizers and band fertilizers where possible.
  • Apply fertilizer in split applications at the proper time to reduce potential loss from one heavy application. Monitor soil pH to achieve maximum use of phosphates.
  • Employ contour farming and soil conservation practices to reduce erosion and prevent run-off containing sediment and nutrients. Use crop residues, forested streamside management zones, buffer strips, and grassed waterways to trap sediment that may have attached fertilizer particles.
  • Reduce the need for fertilizer with cover crops, including legumes and green manure crops.


  • Use integrated pest management techniques, scouting fields often. Spray insecticides only when pest populations warrant application, the possibility of drift is low, and run-off is at a minimum.
  • Maintain spray equipment in good working order. Never overfill spray tanks.
  • Utilize crop rotation, strip cropping, and field borders to minimize the need for pesticides.

Animal Wastes

  • Evaluate your operations to prevent animal wastes from contaminating water sources. Install waste management measures such as no-discharge lagoon systems and composting bins.
  • Check waste management systems and practices regularly to be sure they are functioning properly and follow a regular maintenance schedule.
  • Use animal wastes in an approved manner as a soil amendment on crop and pasture lands.
  • Properly treat all wastes or waste water discharged into surface waters after obtaining a permit from LDEQ authorizing discharge.

More Information

The following projects can serve as a starting point for more information.

The Statewide Nonpoint Source Educational Program encompasses a variety of initiatives to educate farmers about measures to reduce nonpoint source pollution. It is managed by local units of government, operating under the guidance of the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry/Office of Soil & Water Conservation.

Nonpoint source pollution is one of several targets of the Pollution Prevention Plan. Jointly created by government agencies (such as the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality), academic institutions, industry associations, and citizen groups, the goal is to produce model pollution prevention plans (consisting of the most effective best management practices) for each segment of the agricultural industry.

The Farmstead Assessment System (Farm*A*Syst) assists farmers who need to close an abandoned well, build a farm chemical storage facility, a mixing and loading area, or construct/modify livestock management facilities. The project is a collaborative effort between federal, state, and local agencies.

The Coastal Nonpoint Source Program targets the special needs of coastal regions.


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Last updated Monday, November 17, 2003 7:02.