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Best Practices Challenge

Taking the Risk out of Innovation with Best Management Practices Challenge

California's new regulations limiting the amount of nitrogen dairy farmers can apply to crops represent an important step in protecting clean drinking water in California's dairy communities. Still, individual dairy farmers must take the lead in changing their day-to-day practices, and they are reluctant to try new technologies or practices they fear might reduce their crop yields and thereby increase the cost of feeding their herds.

Our Role

To eliminate the risk of reduced crop yields, Sustainable Conservation has partnered with American Farmland Trust, the University of California Cooperative Extension and a risk management company, AgFlex, to offer the Best Management Practices (BMP) Challenge to California dairy farmers. The program gives dairy farmers the chance to try out innovative nutrient management practices and tillage systems on their own operations by reimbursing farmers for any reductions in crop yields.

To participate in the BMP Challenge, farmers simply enroll one or more fields, coordinate with an appointed crop advisor or technology vendor and then implement the practice. If the test field does not meet the yields of a comparable field, the dairy farmer is reimbursed for the difference. This way, dairy farmers literally have nothing to lose in trying new ways to protect clean water in their operations.

This yield-guarantee program was started in the Midwest in 1998, and has been used by farmers in seven Midwest and Mid-Atlantic states. Sustainable Conservation helped bring it to California in 2009.

To learn more or sign up for the BMP Challenge, please contact Sustainable Conservation Senior Project Manager Ladi Asgill at (209) 576-7729.