Conservation Practices

Vegetative Environmental Buffers

Poultry house surrounded by vegetation buffers to trap particulate and improve air quality. Image courtesy of USDA NRCS.

According to the Delmarva Poultry Industry, “Properly designed buffers with farm specific plants, either trees or grasses, help capture air emissions from chicken houses.  Additionally, these buffers can absorb nutrients in the soil and water around chicken houses and help prevent the movement of nutrients to adjacent waters.” More information about the buffers and DPI’s program is available through their website.

The Natural Resources Conservation Service also offers technical and financial assistance for buffers. Visit your local USDA Field Service Center to meet with a planner and discuss the options that are available for your farm. Here are three factsheets that may be helpful:

Common recommendations include Green Giant Arborvitae, Holly species, or a deciduous species in the first row of a planting, and Switchgrass varieties (in 2 or 3 rows), as close as 20′ from the tunnel fans. (Grasses may be more suitable in front of the fans.) Both grass and tree plantings near the poultry houses need to be irrigated.

The Sussex Conservation District also offers planning services and an online shop for purchasing plants for your buffer.

Stormwater Pond Buffers 

Planting a buffer around the perimeter of your stormwater pond can help to deter geese and other waterfowl, create pollinator habitat and improve the aesthetics of your farm. Contact the Sussex Conservation District to learn more about these buffers and the opportunities available on your farm.

Pollinator Habitat

Native bee collects nectar from clover. Image courtesy USDA NRCS

Pollinators, especially bees, are an essential part of Delaware’s environment and agricultural production. They help to maintain healthy plant communities, provide food that sustains wildlife, and play a vital role in the production of fruit and vegetable crops. Providing landscapes that include native plants rich in pollen and nectar is the most significant action you can take to support pollinators. Bees and butterflies require nectar as their primary energy source, and pollen provides the main food for bees’ offspring.

On your poultry farm, you may consider planting species that support pollinators around stormwater ponds and odd-shaped areas that aren’t suitable for other purposes.

In addition to honey bees and bumblebees, Delaware has many species of native or wild bees. From the beginning of spring until late autumn, bees are searching for pollen and nectar. Because of the diversity of bees and their long season of activity, it is essential to have plants in the landscape provide a sequence of food resources throughout the growing season.

Delaware’s Pollinator Protection Plan aims to increase the availability and quality of plants for pollinators throughout the state. Delaware’s Nursery and Landscape industry is a key partner in achieving this goal. This plant list was developed by the Delaware Department of Agriculture from a variety of sources: