Conservation in Vermont


Agrowing number of new farmers, part-time producers and small value-adding enterprises are showing up on the land — establishing diversifi ed fruit and vegetable operations, making artisanal cheeses, starting mechanized logging companies or specializing in organic products, for example.

In this guide, new and small farmers, forest and agricultural landowners will be introduced to a number of Best Management Practices for protecting water quality. Nearly all of them will protect or improve the community resource that is clean water. Many will additionally enhance soil health, improve crop yields or save energy. Just as importantly, however, these practices will also help producers improve their business’s bottom line. That is how Vermont’s working landscape and agricultural economy will survive and continue to grow.

Conservation in Vermont: Best Management Practices for Farm and Forest Owners

This guide has been prepared by Vermont Natural Resources Conservation Districts (NRCD) through a special allocation to the Natural Resources Conservation Council from the Vermont Legislature to address agricultural water quality. The purpose of this guide is to provide Vermont farmers, producers and partnering organizations with a technical but clear document reviewing conservation practices on farms that help protect water quality and enhance agronomic benefits.

Written and Developed by:

  • Shelly Stiles, Bennington County CD
  • Dana Ruppert, Windham County NRCD
  • Kim Komer, Lamoille County NRCD
  • Kerry O’Brien, Caledonia County NRCD
  • Justin Kenney, Winooski NRCD


We thank the members of our advisory committee, many of whom not only suggested practices or reviewed copy but also contributed photographs, web links, and much personal experience.


Ben Waterman, University of Vermont Extension; Charles Armstrong, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service; Chris Smith, US Fish and Wildlife Service; Dan Hudson, University of Vermont Extension; Gary Sabourin, VT Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation; Jen Alexander, Poultney Mettowee NRCD; Jill Arace, Vermont Association of Conservation Districts; Kimberly Hagen, University of Vermont Extension; Kip Potter, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service; Laura DiPietro, Vermont Agency of Agriculture Food & Markets; Les Wright, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service; Mary Sturgeon USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service; Michael Middleman, Vermont Agency of Agriculture Food and Markets; Robert Sylvester, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service; Rick Hopkins, Ecosystem Restoration Program VT DEC Watershed Management Division; Sarah Damsell, Vermont Association of Conservation Districts; Vern Grubinger, University of Vermont Extension; and Willie Gibson, Northeast Organic Farming Association.

Photographs provided by:

Ben Gabos, Dana Ruppert, Dayna Cole, Troy Dare, Gary Sabourin, Jen Alexander, Justin Kenney, Kim Komer, Mary Sturgeon, Sarah Damsell, Shelly Stiles, Leah Szafranski, Sue Greenall, and Cornell Waste Management Institute.

Special thanks to the dairy farm family owners of Cabot Creamery for their support of this project.