Resources for Environmental Quality

Title Available As Summary Date ID Author
On Farm Mortality Disposal Options for Livestock Producers
All livestock producers at some point are faced with decisions regarding how to dispose of livestock mortality from their farm. Each option has its own benefits and limitations based on accessibility, regulatory restrictions, expense, and biosecurity concerns. Livestock producers should also know that it is their responsibility to dispose of dead animals within 48 hours by one of the approved methods highlighted below. There are approved and preferred methods of animal mortality management according to the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ). Farmers should choose the option that best suits their farm’s mortality disposal needs.
Jul 31, 2013 2909-1412 (ANR-77NP)
A Summary of Agricultural Air Quality Perceptions in Virginia Apr 20, 2010 3004-1442
Evaluation of Household Water Quality in Albemarle and Fluvanna Counties, Virginia, March-May 2009 Virginia Household Water Quality Program Nov 12, 2010 3010-1502
Distiller's Grains for Dairy Cattle and Potential Environmental Impact May 1, 2009 404-135
Pesticides and Aquatic Animals: A Guide to Reducing Impacts on Aquatic Systems
Fisheries and aquatic resources (ponds, lakes, rivers, streams, and oceans) are exceptionally valuable natural assets enjoyed by millions of Americans. They provide citizens with generous long-term benefits in return for minimal care and protection.
May 1, 2009 420-013
Understanding the Science Behind Riparian Forest Buffers: An Overview May 1, 2009 420-150
Understanding the Science Behind Riparian Forest Buffers: Effects on Water Quality
Over a third of our nation’s streams, lakes, and estuaries are impaired by some form of water pollution (U.S. E.P.A. 1998). Pollutants can enter surface waters from point sources, such as single source industrial discharges and waste-water treatment plants; however, most pollutants result from nonpoint source pollution activities, including runoff from agricultural lands, urban areas, construction and industrial sites, and failed septic tanks.
May 1, 2009 420-151
Understanding the Science Behind Riparian Forest Buffers: Effects on Plant and Animal Communities
The riparian area is that area of land located immediately adjacent to streams, lakes, or other surface waters. Some would describe it as the floodplain. The boundary of the riparian area and the adjoining uplands is gradual and not always well defined. However, riparian areas differ from the uplands because of their high levels of soil moisture, frequent flooding, and unique assemblage of plant and animal communities. Through the interaction of their soils, hydrology, and biotic communities, riparian forests maintain many important physical, biological, and ecological functions and important social benefits.
May 1, 2009 420-152
Understanding the Science Behind Riparian Forest Buffers: Benefits to Communities and Landowners
The riparian area is that area of land located immediately adjacent to streams, lakes, or other surface waters. Some would describe it as the floodplain. The boundary of the riparian area and the adjoining uplands is gradual and not always well defined.
May 1, 2009 420-153
Understanding the Science Behind Riparian Forest Buffers: Factors Influencing Adoption
The riparian area is that area of land located immediately adjacent to streams, lakes, or other surface waters. Some would describe it as the floodplain. The boundary of the riparian area and the adjoining uplands is gradual and not always well defined. However, riparian areas differ from the uplands because of their high levels of soil moisture, frequent flooding, and unique assemblage of plant and animal communities. Through the interaction of their soils, hydrology, and biotic communities, riparian forests maintain many important physical, biological, and ecological functions and important social benefits.
May 1, 2009 420-154
Understanding the Science Behind Riparian Forest Buffers: Planning, Establishment, and Maintenance May 1, 2009 420-155
Understanding the Science Behind Riparian Forest Buffers: Resources for Virginia Landowners
Riparian forest buffers can provide many benefits to society through improved water quality, reduced flooding, reduced sedimentation of streams and reservoirs, and enhanced recreational opportunities. However, the cost of establishing and maintaining these buffers on private lands can be significant to the individual landowner. To help Virginia's landowners in their restoration efforts, the agencies of the commonwealth have agreed to work with individuals and communities in their efforts to restore streamside lands by providing education, technical assistance, and funding. They are joined in this effort by federal agencies and many non-profit conservation organizations.
May 1, 2009 420-156
Phosphorus, Agriculture & The Environment May 1, 2009 424-029
Urban Water-Quality Management: Insect Pests of Water Garden Plants
Aphids are often called plant lice. Several species are troublesome pests on above-water leaves (a), stems, and flower buds of aquatic plants. These sucking insects distort succulent new leaves, causing them to curl, wilt, or turn yellow.
Apr 8, 2015 426-040 (HORT-124P)
Urban Water Quality Management–Residential Stormwater: Put It in Its Place. Decreasing Runoff and Increasing Stormwater Infiltration
Humans and plants depend on an adequate supply of clean water for a number of reasons, from producingfood to sustaining life. The average Virginia resident uses 826 gallons of fresh water daily (Virginia Department of Environmental Quality [VADEQ] 2008). In the Commonwealth alone, there are more than one million households that depend on well water, withdrawing more than 50 billion gallons annually (Virginia Department of Health 2008). For groundwater replenishment, we depend largely on recharge (water moving from the surface to groundwater) from infiltration of precipitation through permeable surfaces in the environment — an important part of the natural water cycle (VADEQ 2010).
Jun 18, 2015 426-046(HORT-160P)
Groundwater Quality and the Use of Lawn and Garden Chemicals by Homeowners May 1, 2009 426-059
Urban Stormwater: Terms and Definitions Sep 5, 2013 426-119 (BSE-78P)
Best Management Practice Fact Sheet 1: Rooftop Disconnection Sep 5, 2013 426-120 (BSE-93P)
Best Management Practice Fact Sheet 2: Sheet Flow to Open Space
Sheet flow to open space (SOS) is a group of best management practices (BMPs) designed to disperse concentrated runoff to sheet flow into filter strips or a riparian buffer. An SOS reduces runoff volume and associated sediment and nutrients that are carried with it (see figure 1). It is used as a stormwater treatment practice in both urban and rural areas. This practice is often used after another treatment practice to disperse or eliminate runoff. In a few cases, an SOS can be used as a pretreatment to remove small amounts of sediment via a vegetated filter strip — prior to a bioretention device, for example.
Sep 6, 2013 426-121 (BSE-83P)
Best Management Practice Fact Sheet 3: Grass Channels Sep 6, 2013 426-122 (BSE-88P)
Best Management Practice Fact Sheet 4: Soil Restoration
Soil restoration (SR) is the technique of enhancing compacted soils to improve their porosity and nutrient retention. It includes biological (worms) and mechanical aeration, mechanical loosening (tilling), planting dense vegetation, and applying soil amendments. Soil amendments involve the spreading and mixing of mature compost into disturbed and compacted urban soils (see Figure 1).
Sep 6, 2013 426-123 (BSE-80P)
Best Management Practice Fact Sheet 5: Vegetated Roofs
A vegetated roof (VR) is a best management practice (BMP) that reduces stormwater runoff and pollution. Vegetation and media create a permeable system on a previously impervious surface. The VR intercepts rainfall and filters runoff while reducing the volume and velocity. Vegetated roofs consist of a waterproofing barrier, drainage system, and engineered growing media. There are two types of VRs: intensive and extensive. Intensive vegetated roofs are deeper and heavier, while extensive vegetated roofs are shallower, lighter, and more common (see Figure 1). The type of VR determines the amount of maintenance necessary to maintain the vegetation.
Sep 6, 2013 426-124 (BSE-81P)
Best Management Practice Fact Sheet 6: Rainwater Harvesting
Rainwater harvesting (RWH), also known as rainwater harvesting systems or cisterns, are devices that intercept, divert, store, and release collected roof runoff from rainfall for later use as an alternative water supply (see figure 1). RWH can also be designed to provide runoff reduction benefits. Therefore, it is classified as a best management practice (BMP) for treatment of urban stormwater. Because of its dual purpose and benefit, RWH is often classified as a sustainable urban BMP.
Sep 6, 2013 426-125 (BSE-90P)
Best Management Practice Fact Sheet 7: Permeable Pavement
Permeable pavement (PP) is a modified form of asphalt or concrete with a top layer that is pervious to water due to voids intentionally created during mixing. PPs include pervious concrete, porous asphalt, and interlocking concrete pavers. These materials are used as stormwater treatment practices in urban areas. They are used in place of traditionally impervious surfaces to allow infiltration and storage, thus reducing runoff (see figure 1).
Sep 6, 2013 426-126 (BSE-84P)
Best Management Practice Fact Sheet 8: Infiltration Practices
Infiltration practices provide temporary surface and/or subsurface storage, allowing infiltration of runoff into soils. In practice, an excavated trench is usually filled with gravel or stone media, where runoff is stored in pore spaces or voids between the stones (see figure 1). These systems can reduce significant quantities of stormwater by enhancing infiltration, as well as provide filtering and adsorption of pollutants within the stone media and soils. Infiltration practices are part of a group of stormwater treatment practices, also known as best management practices (BMPs)
Mar 2, 2012 426-127 (BSE-85P)
Best Management Practice Fact Sheet 9: Bioretention
A bioretention cell, or rain garden, is a best management practice (BMP) designed to treat stormwater runoff from roofs, driveways, walkways, or lawns. They are a shallow, landscaped depression that receives and treats polluted stormwater with the goal of discharging water of a quality and quantity similar to that of a forested watershed (figure 1).
Sep 6, 2013 426-128(BSE-92P)
Best Management Practice Fact Sheet 10: Dry Swale
A dry swale (DS) is a shallow, gently sloping channel with broad, vegetated, side slopes. Water flow is slowed by a series of check dams (see figure 1). A DS provides temporary storage, filtration, and infiltration of stormwater runoff. Dry swales function similarly to bioretention, and are comparable to wet swales; however, unlike a wet swale, a DS should remain dry during periods of no rainfall. A DS is an engineered best management practice (BMP) that is designed to reduce pollution through runoff reduction and pollutant removal and is part of a site’s stormwater treatment practice (see figure 2).
Sep 6, 2013 426-129 (BSE-86P)
Best Management Practice Fact Sheet 11: Wet Swale
A wet swale (WS) is an engineered, best management practice (BMP) arranged in a straight line that is designed to reduce stormwater pollution. A WS consists of a shallow, gently sloping channel with broad, vegetated, side slopes and slow flows (see figure 1). Wet swales typically stay wet because the bottom of the swale is below the water table. This is done to encourage the growth of wetland vegetation, providing water quality treatment similar to a natural wetland. This stormwater treatment practice also functions as part of the stormwater conveyance system. Wet swales have a relatively low capital cost; however, maintenance can be is intensive and expensive when compared to other BMPs.
Sep 9, 2013 426-130 (BSE-89P)
Best Management Practice Fact Sheet 12: Filtering Practices
A stormwater filtering practice (FP) treats stormwater runoff by passing it through an engineered filter media consisting of either sand, gravel, organic matter, and/ or a proprietary manufactured product, collecting it in an underdrain, and then discharging the effluent to a stormwater conveyance system. FPs are stormwater treatment practices that are often obtained from the marketplace due to unique proprietary technologies (see figure 1).
Sep 9, 2013 426-131 (BSE-87P)
Best Management Practice Fact Sheet 13: Constructed Wetlands
A constructed wetland (CW) is a low-cost and sustainable, engineered, best management practice (BMP) designed to reduce stormwater pollution. Constructed wetlands are considered to be one of the most reliable stormwater treatment practices. They are designed to function similarly to a self-sustaining natural wetland, and should require only moderate maintenance to function (figure 1).
Sep 9, 2013 426-132 (BSE-91P)
Best Management Practice Fact Sheet 14: Wet Ponds
Wet ponds (WP) are ponds or lakes which provide treatment and storage of stormwater. The water depth is set by a structure known as an outlet structure. Wet ponds are probably the most well-known best management practice for treatment of stormwater. Because of their size, they are usually designed to include storage above the normal pool elevation. This added storage can provide reductions in downstream flooding and assist in protecting stream channels. They tend to be large; in some cases, they can become a passive community amenity (See Figure 1).
Sep 9, 2013 426-133 (BSE-79P)
Best Management Practice Fact Sheet 15: Extended Detention Ponds
Extended detention ponds (EDs) are dry detention ponds that provide 12 to 24 hours of runoff storage during peak runoff events (see figure 1). Releases from the ED ponds are controlled by an outlet structure. During a storm event, as the discharge restriction is reached, water backs up into the ED pond. The pool slows flow velocities and enables particulate pollutants to settle. Peak flows are also reduced. ED ponds have the lowest overall pollutant- removal rate of any stormwater treatment option, so they are often combined with other upstream, lowimpact development (LID) practices to better maximize pollutant-removal rates. Due to their placement at the exit point of the watershed, ED is often the last opportunity to treat stormwater before it is discharged to a stream. Because of its low treatment performance, an ED should be viewed as the treatment option of last resort.
Sep 9, 2013 426-134 (BSE-82P)
Pest Management for Water Quality
Research has shown that consumers find reading and understanding the label to be the most difficult aspect of applying pesticides. However, an understanding of the label information is essential before work begins. The label printed on or attached to a container of pesticide tells how to use it correctly and warns of any environmental or health safety measures to take. Read the label when you purchase a pesticide and again before mixing or applying it. If you are confused about any part of the label, consult your Extension agent or a representative of the company that makes the product. Many pesticides now list a toll-free number for consumers. The label includes specific information that you should be aware of and learn to understand.Diane Relf, Extension Specialist, Horticulture, Virginia Tech Reviewed by David Close, Consumer Horticulture and Master Gardener Specialist, Horticulture, Virginia Tech
Mar 18, 2015 426-615 (HORT-138P)
Nutrient Management for Small Farms Oct 8, 2010 442-305
Selecting a Treatment Technology for Manure Management
Animal manure has been used for centuries as a fertilizer and a soil builder because it contains nutrients and organic matter. However, as animal production shifts toward fewer but larger operations, the number of confined animals has increased in some geographical locations, resulting in more manure produced than can be assimilated by the available farmland where the animals are raised.
May 11, 2009 442-306
Selection and Location of Poultry and Livestock Manure Storage Nov 19, 2009 442-307
Poultry and Livestock Manure Storage: Management and Safety Nov 19, 2009 442-308
Manure Management and Environmental Stewardship Apr 1, 2010 442-309
On-Site Sewage Treatment Alternatives Mar 27, 2018 448-407 (CSES-222P)
Water Reuse: Using Reclaimed Water for Irrigation
Water reuse can be defined as the use of reclaimed water for a direct beneficial purpose.
May 7, 2018 452-014 (SPES-1)
Mid-Atlantic Composting Directory
This directory is intended to provide contact information for service and equipment suppliers, along with sources for information and education. Every attempt has been made to present accurate information. Contents are for informational purposes only and are based on details provided by the organizations and entities listed. Inclusion in this directory does not constitute an endorsement by the publishers of the products or services of any business organization or individual listed herein.
Jan 6, 2015 452-230 (CSES-99P)
Compost: What Is It and What's It To You Feb 28, 2018 452-231 (CSES-204P)
Virginia Master Naturalist
The Virginia Master Naturalist program is a statewide corps of volunteers providing education, outreach, and service dedicated to the beneficial management of natural resources and natural areas within their communities.
Oct 27, 2014 465-300 (ANR-117NP)
Virginia Master Naturalist, American Naturalists
Jared Diamond (2005), in his book, “Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed,” defines landscape amnesia as one of the primary mechanisms for the decline and ultimate collapse of societies. This phenomenon occurs when people lose knowledge of how the natural world once was, with each succeeding generation accepting a degraded environment as the status quo. Carried to its end, a society remains unconcerned until it reaches the point of no return.
Jun 19, 2015 465-312(ANR-20NP)
Effectiveness of Temporary Stream Crossing Closure Techniques Forest Operations Research Highlights
Protection of water quality is a critical component of forest harvesting operations. Virginia’s silvicultural water quality law (§10.1-1181.1 through 10.1-1181.7) prohibits excessive sedimentation of streams as a result of silvicultural operations. Virginia’s logging businesses invest substantial resources implementing BMPs to protect water quality. The Virginia Department of Forestry (VDOF) is responsible for enforcing this law and inspects all logging operations to ensure protection of water quality.
Aug 8, 2014 ANR-110NP
Virginia Master Naturalist Program Strategic Planning Report 2015-2020
This report summarizes the findings from a strategic planning process conducted by the Virginia Master Naturalist program in 2013-2014. The process involved three steps: a comprehensive needs assessment to identify program needs, strategic planning workshops to identify initiatives for addressing those needs, and online voting to prioritize proposed initiatives.
Apr 9, 2015 ANR-137NP
Virginia Citizen’s Guide to Environmental Credit Trading Programs: An Overview May 4, 2016 ANR-173P
Environmental Best Management Practices for Virginia's Golf Courses Feb 27, 2013 ANR-48NP
Fertilizer Applicator Certification Training May 4, 2018 ANR-66
Catastrophic Livestock and Poultry Carcass Disposal
This guide is intended to assist Virginia’s farmers in understanding their mortality disposal options during natural disasters and non-infectious disease events. Blizzards, tornadoes, extreme heat, and floods are just a few examples of the severe weather events that may result in significant losses to farm animal populations. Animal losses often cause significant financial losses to the farmers who rely on the income from these animals. Compounding the financial impact of these animal losses is the burden of responsibly disposing of the resulting animal carcasses. Improperly managed, animal carcasses have the potential to spread disease and contaminate surface and groundwater supplies.
Nov 19, 2013 ANR-76NP (ANR-90NP)
Impact of Composting on Drug Residues in Large Animal Mortality
Mortalities are inevitable in animal agriculture. For most animal operations in the United States, the average annual mortality is estimated to be between 4.5 and 6 percent of the livestock population. Common methods of mortality disposal include burial, rendering, incineration, and use of a landfill. The availability of options for disposing of mortality, particularly rendering, have changed in recent years, and financially and environmentally sound alternatives are needed
Sep 25, 2014 APSC-59P
Mitigation of Greenhouse Gas Emissions in Agriculture
In this publication, information is presented on how to increase farm productivity while potentially reducing greenhouse gas* (GHG) contributions from agricultural production. Some of the practices may be familiar to many producers, such as building soil organic matter (SOM) or increasing nitrogen fertilization efficiency, but many producers may not know that these same productivity-boosting activities also help to reduce GHG emissions and their impact on climate change. While informative to the producer, this publication will also inform those with an interest in both agriculture and the environmental impact of GHG emissions on the atmosphere.
Apr 2, 2014 BSE-105P
Greywater Reuse
Greywater is any household wastewater other than that used for toilet flushing. This water could be reused around the home (for purposes other than drinking water). An example of greywater use is landscape irrigation. Wastewater that comes in contact with human waste is referred to as blackwater. However, the definition of greywater varies according to state regulations.
Apr 30, 2014 BSE-114NP
Using Reclaimed Water
Reclaimed water, sometimes referred to as “water reuse” or “recycled water,” is water recovered from domestic, municipal, or industrial wastewater treatment plants that has been treated to standards that allow it to be safely used for designated purposes. Reclaimed water should not be confused with “wastewater,” untreated liquid industrial waste or domestic sewage. However, “gray water,” untreated water from bathing or washing, is considered one form of wastewater (Water Reuse, VCE Publication 452-014).
Apr 30, 2014 BSE-115NP
Rainwater Harvesting Systems
Rainwater harvesting is the process of collecting, storing, and later reusing rainwater from surfaces such as roofs. Rainwater harvesting has long been used for agricultural irrigation and as a source of drinking water, and allowed ancient civilizations to flourish in semi-arid and arid regions. Rainwater harvesting systems are in use today in many water-limited locations, especially in several western US regions. As population growth increases pressure on water resources in the more humid eastern US, rainwater harvesting is being considered to reduce the demand for potable water.
May 9, 2014 BSE-116NP
Communicating Climate Change to Agricultural Audiences
The objectives of this publication are (1) to outline some climate-related challenges facing agriculture, (2) to address challenges in communicating climate change issues, and (3) to propose best practices when attempting to communicate climate change issues to agricultural stakeholders. Extension educators and agricultural service providers can use the information presented here to develop outreach and educational programs focused on the impacts of climate change, the effects of climate change on agricultural production, and the best ways to motivate behavior change.
Nov 15, 2016 BSE-203P
How Do Stream Buffers Reduce the Offsite Impact of Pollution? Nov 3, 2017 BSE-38NP (BSE-216NP)
Denitrification Management Mar 27, 2018 BSE-54P (BSE-223P)
Denitrifying Bioreaders: An Emerging Best Management Practice to Improve Water Quality Apr 25, 2018 BSE-55P (BSE-227P)
Decentralized Small Community Wastewater Collection Systems
Wastewater is a significant source of carbon, sediment, nutrients, pathogens, and other potential pollutants. Reducing the quantity of these contaminants before they are discharged to either groundwater or surface water is essential to preserve or enhance water quality in receiving waters. This is accomplished through the installation of wastewater treatment and collection systems. The form of these systems can vary substantially. In Virginia, they range in size from 5,000 to 50,000 gallons per day; 49 percent are public systems and the remainder are private (Parten 2008).
Jul 10, 2014 BSE-77P
Nitrogen and Sulfur Leaching Potential in Virginia
Early summer often means locally heavy and sporadic rainfall as thunderstorms deliver intense rains, and 2015 appears to be no different with many areas in eastern Virginia receiving 3+ inches of rain in a few days (Figure 1). These storms also often coincide with the timing of sidedress nitrogen (N) and sulfur (S) applications on corn. While some rainfall after sidedress is very beneficial to facilitate N movement into soil, heavy rain (2+ inches) often leaves us wondering how much, if any, of that recently-applied N remains and if additional N is needed.
Jun 19, 2015 CSES-125NP
The Nutrient Value of Straw
The mature and dried stem, leaves, and chaff remaining after barley and wheat are harvested is known as straw. Many farmers around Virginia harvest straw by baling in small bales, large round bales, or large square bales that range in weight from 40 to 1,000 lbs. plus per bale.
Jun 19, 2015 CSES-126NP
The Soil and Me: A Perspective on Soil Health
Soil is the foundation upon which our natural living world depends; it is otherwise known as the dynamic material that civilization is built on (Lindbo, Kozlowski, and Robinson 2012). Soil serves diverse functions that are critical to the survival of humanity; without the soil, life on earth is inconceivable. It represents the critical zone of the earth where life, water, minerals, and air intersect and interact (fig. 1) because the soil constantly relates with other parts of nature. The soil is considered a living, dynamic resource at the earth’s surface and has been defined as “the unconsolidated mineral or organic material on the immediate surface of the earth that serves as a natural medium for the growth of land plants” (SSSA 2015). The thickness or depth of this surface or layer varies with the type and environment of the soil.
Nov 5, 2015 CSES-132NP
Enhanced Efficiency Fertilizer Materials: Nitrogen Stabilizers
The recent increase in fertilizer costs, especially nitrogen fertilizers, has resulted in technologies that may improve nitrogen use efficiencies in agronomic cropping systems. Many of these technologies are designed as fertilizer additives to increase fertilizer use efficiencies by increasing plant fertilizer uptake and crop yields. The resulting fertilizer formulations include some type of extra additive within the formulation or applied as a coating and are often referred to as “enhanced efficiency fertilizers” (EEFs).
Aug 22, 2013 CSES-52P
GroZone Tracker Sep 21, 2016 HORT-227P
Backyard Composting Feb 27, 2013 HORT-49P
Virginia Tech Pesticide Programs May 11, 2009 vtpp-1