Well-Managed Livestock Farms Help Ensure Clean Water

Clean water is essential for the health of our economy and communities. Vermonters - including farmers and landowners - are embracing their responsibility to do their part in protecting Vermont's waterways, and UVM Extension staff and faculty are available to help.

As our colleagues at Vermont's Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets say on their website:

More than 1.2 million acres of Vermont land is devoted to farming, and agriculture is one of our most important industries. As a whole, agriculture preserves open land, provides us healthy local foods, and is an essential part of Vermont's identity.

At the same time, Vermont's waters are critical to our economy and to our quality of life. We do not have to trade one for the other. Vermont's RAPs are an important tool designed to help farmers implement effective waste management practices that simultaneously promote the long-term viability of farms and the health of our state waterways.

UVM Extension Staff & Faculty Available to Help You Address Water Quality on the Farm

Heather DarbyHeather Darby
Extension Professor: Agronomy Specialist

Serving farmers across Vermont, particularly those in the NW and the Lake Champlain Watershed.
heather.darby@uvm.edu or 802-656-7613




Joshua FaulknerJoshua Faulkner
Farming & Climate Change Coordinator

Serving farmers across Vermont
joshua.faulkner@uvm.edu or 802-656-3495




Vern GrubingerVern Grubinger
Extension Professor: Vegetable & Berry Specialist

Serving vegetable and berry farmers across Vermont
vernon.grubinger@uvm.edu or 802-656-7534




Becky Maden

Becky Maden
Vegetable Nutrient Management Specialist

rebecca.maden@uvm.edu or 802-656-7585



Jeff SandersJeff Sanders
Agronomy Outreach Professional

Serving the Lake Champlain Watershed (based in St. Albans, serving the north lake)
jeffrey.sanders@uvm.edu or 802-656-7623



Top Recommendations for Farmers and Land-Owners Working on Water Quality

Many of the resources we suggest are based on the belief that healthy soils will help you protect water quality, and also will increase profitability, help sequester carbon, and increase your farm's resiliency to withstand extreme weather events. Healthy soil means both healthy water and a more profitable farm operation.

  1. Our top recommendation for anyone working with the land is to consider soil health, including building soil carbon, reducing tillage and covering the soil 24/7, as your first priority .
  2. Familiarize yourself with Vermont's Required Agricultural Practices.
  3. Find a farmer group in your area (see list towards the bottom of this page) so you can learn from your neighbors what is and isn't working for them.
  4. Let your UVM Extension staff and faculty know if we can help!  We are here to help with nutrient management plans, and other ways to assess and address the particular situation of your farm, considering both profitability and environmental impact.

Extension Programs & Information to Help You Address Agricultural Water Quality

Learn about Extension's Work to Improve and Protect Vermont's Water Quallity

Want to learn more about Vermont’s Required Agricultural Practices?

Take the RAP Online Quiz!

The RAP Online Quiz, an engaging educational course created by the Orleans County Natural Resources Conservation District, includes an outline of how the RAPs apply to your farmstead, field & nutrient management, with video and photo examples of commonly misunderstood RAP topics, such as livestock exclusion from surface water, information on how different management practices impact water quality, and links to resources for grants and assistance. The quiz takes about an hour to complete and farmers will receive two water quality credits upon successful completion.

Regional Farmer Groups Working on Water Quality Issues

  • Connecticut River Farmers Watershed Alliance: a farmer-led group aimed at helping farmers implement environmentally sound practices in Vermont & New Hampshire.
  • Farmers' Watershed Alliance : a Franklin and Grand Isle based organization that provides assistance and funding to farmers to help minimize environmental impacts.
  • Champlain Valley Farmer Coalition : a group of Farmers in the Lake Champlain Basin who have taken on a leadership role to show that a strong Local Farm Economy and a clean Lake Champlain can work together.

Resources to Help Farmers Implement Conservation Practices


Policy, Regulations & Efforts to Improve Vermont's Agricultural Water Quality


Interested in knowing more about the Center's work or do you have a question we haven't answered here?  Contact us via email or  802-656-5459 and we'll do our best to help.

Woodcut of a farm with people gathering produce and cows grazing


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