Van Buren Conservation District
The Michigan Agriculture Environmental Assurance Program (MAEAP) is an innovative, proactive program that helps farms of all sizes and all commodities voluntarily prevent or minimize agricultural pollution risks.
MAEAP provides educational, technical, and financial assistance to agricultural producers and landowners to identify and reduce erosion and runoff from private land into public waters, and reduce groundwater and surface water contamination risks.
The program encourages individuals to take voluntary, proactive steps to protect Michigan’s water quality and, therefore the quality of drinking water. Agricultural producers who participate in the program can become environmentally assured through the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development’s Michigan Agriculture Environmental Assurance Program.
MAEAP has four systems that address different aspects of the farm: Farmstead, Cropping, Livestock, and Forest, Wetlands & Habitat Systems. Each looks at different practices depending on site-specific management and production practices and associated risks. Farms can receive one or all of the System Verification.
The Farmstead System Assessment (Farm*A*Syst) is an environmental risk assessment on any size, type, or commodity farm and of all management practices, structures, and site conditions at the farm headquarters. The assessment helps producers identify and reduce risks to both groundwater and surface water supplies. Evaluated practices within the Farm*A*Syst include; fuel storage, pesticide storage, fertilizer storage, and wellhead protection.
The Cropping System Assessment (Crop*A*Syst) reviews production practices that occur wherever crops are grown on the farm. It reviews risks associated with pesticide and nutrient application, erosion control, and record keeping. The Crop*A*Syst focuses on field-based activities such as water use, soil conservation, and nutrient management. This category applies to all crops grown in Michigan. These include field crops, vegetables, fruit orchards, greenhouse crops, and ornamental trees.
The Livestock System Assessment (Livestock*A*Syst) reviews practices related to livestock production activities. This includes nutrient management, manure storage, transfer and land application, record keeping, feed storage, erosion, and lot management. Livestock*A*Syst relates to all types of livestock produced on the farm regardless of the animal raised or their size.
Forest, Wetland & Habitat System
The Forest, Wetland, and Habitat System Assessment reviews management practices relating to areas on the farm with woodlands, wetland, and other types of managed habitats. This review looks at the management plans created for all of these land uses to promote and ensure sustainable practices are being implemented. This includes forest health, protecting air, water, and soil; and restoring habitat.
Through the efforts by producers like the Verified Farmers in Van Buren County, over 2,500 verifications have been completed in Michigan. These 2,500 verifications has saved 32,000-10 yard dump trucks of sediment from reaching water bodies each year and found that over 600,000 acres of land receiving pesticides have made applications under an approved Pest Management Plan. Along with sprays and sediment being controlled, there have also been 14,000 acres of filter strips installed and the amount of Phosphorus and Nitrogen reduced through the actions of MAEAP and it’s participants could have grown a 1/4 inch thick blanket of algae that could cover Houghton Lake (Houghton Lake is the largest inland lake in Michigan)
Information collected from MAEAP verified farms used to calculate environmental outcomes:
Sediment Reduced: 2,131,667 lbs
Phosphorus reduced: 3,545,971 lbs
Nitrogen reduced: 7,746,249 lbs