A Best Management Practice (BMP) is a practice or combination of practices determined to be the most effective, practicable means for protecting our natural resources. Practicability is demonstrated through technical feasibility (research findings, field trials, experience), economic feasibility (cost effectiveness), and acceptability (the responsible party must be willing to apply and maintain them).
Water Quality BMPs
Idaho Administrative Code (IDAPA 58.01.02) calls for the Agricultural Pollution Abatement Plan (the "Ag Plan," an 86 pg. PDF document) to describe the "best management practices for the control of nonpoint sources of pollution for agriculture." It provides a list of 96 applicable component practices (table F-2), and the "commonly selected" components in 5 typical agricultural BMPs:
- Nonirrigated Cropland
- Irrigated Cropland
- Grazing Land
- Animal Waste Management
The particular lists are not given as limiting or comprehensive; a combination of the 5, or of other components may be needed to meet natural resource and pollution abatement objectives. For example, an individual farm might require both an Animal Waste Management BMP and an Irrigated Cropland BMP.
Idaho Conservation Standards
The USDA National Resources Conservation Service maintains a library of documents in its Electronic Field Office Technical Guide (eFOTG), with information indexed by state, and by county. Section IV has the detailed standards, specifications, worksheets, etc. for the component practices of conservation BMPs.
Contact your local NRCS/SCD office for help or more information.
Additional BMP Reference Documents
- The BMPs for Wellhead Protection brochure from the University of Idaho gives guidance to the 95% of rural Idahoans who use groudwater from private wells, for well location, construction, and maintenance.
- The BMPs for Idaho Gardens brochure from the University of Idaho is for gardeners who wish to protect their groundwater quality.
- The BMPs for Lawn Care in Idaho brochure from the University of Idaho discusses managing the common lawn inputs of pesticides and fertilizers to minimize their impact on ground water quality.
- The BMPs for Erosion Control is a cooperative publication of the U of I Extension, the USDA and SCS. Sediment from eroding croplands is the largest nonpoint source pollutant in Idaho's surface water. This brochure Idaho outlines specific erosion control BMPs
- The UI Water Quality Brochures Index includes links to the BMPs above and many other water quality programs and activities.
- The National Handbook of Conservation Practices contains information on why and where practices are applied, with minimum quality criteria that must be met to achieve the intended purpose. (Conservation practice standards set by particular states must be used to insure that you meet local criteria, which may be more restrictive than national criteria.)
- The Idaho Home Assessment System ("Home*A*Syst") provides a series of fact/worksheets to help you assess how effectively your homestead practices and structures protect your drinking water.