WVDA’s Environmental Programs and Laboratories are based at the Moorefield, West Virginia, Regional Agricultural Complex. These programs began in 1993 and involved the employment of a chemist and the installation of equipment for the testing of nutrients in animal manures. These efforts expanded with the additional testing activities for an outside nutrient digesting project relating to poultry litter. Additional employees were hired to perform the testing required for these projects.
In 1997, seven streams in the eastern panhandle were listed on the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection (WVDEP) 303d list, and Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) parameters were written for all seven of these streams. The implication was that agriculture contributed significantly to this situation. Because of this implication, it was decided that the West Virginia Department of Agriculture (WVDA) would conduct long term monitoring on these streams to better evaluate water quality trends over time. The WVDA facility in Moorefield was then expanded to include additional laboratories and offices. This allowed for increased services to the Eastern Panhandle communities, especially with the testing of surface water.
This section of the READ division is now involved in monitoring the water quality of fifteen streams, working with State and Federal agencies on the restoration of the Chesapeake Bay watershed, working with agricultural producers on nutrient management and compliance with regulations, verification of agricultural Best Management Practices, assisting the poultry industry in many aspects, and reaching out to the agricultural community and the public with meaningful agriculture education programs.
The Environmental Laboratories specialize in surface water and drinking water analysis, poultry litter and manure analysis, soil analysis, microbiology, and dairy sample analysis. All laboratories participate in check sample programs for proficiency as well as certification by outside agencies.
WVDA currently employs five full-time Nutrient Management Specialists who work one-on-one with agricultural producers to provide them with nutrient management plans. To create these plans, employees obtain detailed farm information, collect soil, manure and litter samples from producers and obtain field/soil maps and note the best management practices that have been installed on each farm. Once all the information is obtained the Specialists give recommendations to the producers on plant fertilizer needs using organic and inorganic sources, crop rotations, liming needs and proper best management practices to follow. Nutrient Management Specialists must also continue to earn education credits to maintain Nutrient Management, USDA-NRCS Technical Service Provider and Certified Crop Advisor certifications.
Nutrient Management Laboratory
The WVDA Nutrient Management Laboratory at Moorefield analyzes manure samples for nutrient content as a service to farmers and an aid in the creation of nutrient management plans. The information from the manure analysis is used in conjunction with soil test results to write a plan that helps a farm maximize crop yield while at the same time helping to minimize the impact of land application on surface water pollution.
Farmers are required to submit samples to keep the nutrient management plan current and meet the requirements of the Chesapeake Bay Program Watershed Implementation Plan (WIP). The WIP includes detailed, specific steps each Bay watershed will take to meet the pollution reduction goals of the Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) by 2025. The Chesapeake Bay TMDL requires the reduction of Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and sediment. The Nutrient Management Lab tests manure samples for Total Kjeldahl Nitrogen, Phosphorus, Potassium, Moisture, Copper, Calcium, Magnesium, and pH.
The Nutrient Management Lab also works in cooperation with the West Virginia Conservation Agency’s cost share incentive programs that provide the farming community with resources to install Best Management Practices (BMP’s). The BMP’s protect the long-term productivity of the farm resources while also protecting water quality. The Nutrient Management Lab’s reports provide the information needed to help implement the BMP’s.
WVDA established a soil testing laboratory at the Moorefield Regional Agriculture Complex in January 2016 to assist the nutrient management staff in developing nutrient management plans for West Virginia farmers. The lab achieved certification status through the North American Proficiency Test (NAPT) program in March 2016. This NAPT certification is required for soil test analysis by the NRCS Conservation Practice Code 590.
The NAPT program operates as an activity of the Soil Science Society of America (SSSA) and was developed to provide laboratories with standard soil, plant, and water samples and deliver a summary of the accuracy and precision of the analytical results provided by each laboratory. The proficiency program requires successful analysis of quarterly proficiency samples.
The Moorefield laboratory receives samples collected by the nutrient management staff as well as the public and analyzes each sample for a routine panel of tests which include six analyses along with a liming recommendation.
Nutrient Management Sample Collection
The nutrient management plan includes soil testing and manure/litter analysis in a process that provides improvements that protect the long-term productivity of farm resources while also preserving water quality.
Contact: 304-538-2397 and request to speak to a Nutrient Management Specialist
Nutrient Management Certification Program
Why Become Certified?
Certified nutrient management planners are in demand in West Virginia. Working for both agencies and industries, planners provide a professional service that benefits agriculture producers.
Who Should Be Certified?
West Virginia has a voluntary certification program available to individuals providing guidance to farmers or others to manage manures or organic by-products.
How Do I Become Certified?
Persons wishing to become certified nutrient management planners must first pass an exam and meet the minimum education and work experience requirements. These requirements include:
A four-year degree in agriculture or natural resources and one year of nutrient management
Experience, or a combination of five years of post-secondary education and/or nutrient management experience.
In either case, these must be deemed acceptable by the West Virginia Department of Agriculture.
When is the Exam?
The exam is generally given twice a year, on the first Friday of February and August. Contact the West Virginia Department of Agriculture.
How Do I Keep My Certification?
Nutrient management certificates are valid for two years. To remain certified, twelve hours of West Virginia Department of Agriculture approved continuing education is required every two years.
Application for Certification
Verification of Nutrient Management Experience
Continuing Education Approval Form
Nutrient Management Renewal Notice
Nutrient Management Continuing Education Sign-In Sheet
Recommended List of Study References for Certified Nutrient Management Planners
Information for Certification Applicants
Information and Guidelines Regarding Continuing Education Requirements for Certification Renewals
Information and Guidelines Regarding Continuing Education Appeal Process
Annual Activity Report for West Virginia Certified Nutrient Management Planners
WVDA Nutrient Management Certification Rule
Concentrated Animal Feed Operations (CAFO)
Animal feeding operations (AFOs) are agricultural enterprises where animals are kept and raised in confined situations. AFOs congregate animals, feed, manure and urine, dead animals, and production operations on a small land area. Feed is brought to the animals rather than the animals grazing or otherwise seeking feed in pastures, fields, or on rangeland. There are approximately 450,000 AFOs in the United States. Concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) are a relatively small number of AFOs that are regulated by the EPA.
Contact: Johnny Halterman, Nutrient Management Specialist I email@example.com, 304-538-2397
The poultry industry is one of the main commodities in West Virginia’s agriculture production. In fact, poultry and egg sales accounted for 51% of all agricultural sales in West Virginia in 2018. To accommodate the needs of the poultry industry, our Environmental Programs section has a Poultry and Environmental Specialist on staff to provide outreach and education to the general public, poultry growers, poultry integrators, and government agencies. This includes answering questions regarding backyard flocks, commercial poultry, and the impacts of commercial agriculture production on the economy and the environment.
There are two types of Avian Influenza, low pathogenic and high pathogenic. Of these two types, there are 144 total viruses that can affect poultry. For more information on avian Influenza click here.
Biosecurity is a practice designed to prevent the spread of disease onto farms. It is accomplished by maintaining the facility in such a way that there is minimal traffic of biological organisms (viruses, bacteria, rodents, etc.) across its borders. Biosecurity is the cheapest, most effective means of disease control available. No disease prevention program will work without it.
For more information on Biosecurity:
Biosecurity for Birds
Contact: Jerry Ours, Poultry and Environmental Specialist:firstname.lastname@example.org
Poultry Litter Transport
The West Virginia Litter Market serves as a communication resource linking buyers and sellers of poultry litter. Click on the image below to be directed to the landing page. There you can request to be added as a seller or buyer of poultry litter or you can simply request a list be emailed to you.
Chesapeake Bay Project
In West Virginia, the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection (WVDEP), West Virginia Conservation Agency (WVCA), and West Virginia Department of Agriculture (WVDA) have partnered together on the Chesapeake Bay Program Water Quality Initiative.
Since joining the initiative in 2002 as a headwater state, WVDA’s Environmental Programs staff has spent a considerable amount of time in Chesapeake Bay restoration efforts. WVDA has developed and implemented a tributary strategy with nutrient and sediment reduction goals that will meet the cap load allocations set forth by the Chesapeake Bay Program. WVDA has been reaching Watershed Implementation Plan (WIP) goals through various Best Management Practices (BMPs) that, once put in place, will meet the cap load allocations for the state.
The process to reach this point has taken immense amount of time and effort by multiple agencies and stakeholders. Collectively they are now involved in aggressive implementation procedures to meet the goals set forth in the WIP. Part of this effort includes an aggressive outreach campaign to encourage participation in cost share programs and BMPs that directly and indirectly affects both West Virginia and the Chesapeake Bay.
WVDA staff participates as a voting member Chesapeake Bay Agriculture Workgroup, ensuring that West Virginia’s concerns are valued. This workgroup advises EPA on agriculture policy, directing new BMPs and providing feedback. WVDA is also involved in other Bay groups such as the Principals’ Staff Committee, Water Quality Goal Implementation Team, Verification Committee and West Virginia’s Tributary Team. As of 2014 the EPA acknowledged West Virginia is on track to meet Phosphorus and Nitrogen goals, with further emphasis on sediment reductions, outreach goals, and verification of BMPs.
Water Quality Program
The WVDA Water Quality Program consists of sampling and analyzing 16 streams in the 8 counties that makeup the eastern panhandle of WV. Samples are collected at a frequency of 1 to 3 times per month depending on the specific stream.
Field parameters such as pH, temp, conductivity dissolved oxygen, etc. are recorded at each site; samples are then collected and preserved to be taken to the WVDA Water Quality laboratory at the WVDA Moorefield Office for further analysis. Since July 1998, over 50,000 water samples have been collected and analyzed at the WVDA Moorefield Field Office.
Data that has been collected by the WVDA Water Quality Program has been used by a variety of groups and agencies, including the WV Department of Environmental Protection, Chesapeake Bay Program, United States Environmental Protection Agency, West Virginia Department of Agriculture, West Virginia University, West Virginia Conservation Agency, and several non-profit organizations.
The data has been invaluable for assessing water quality trends over a long period of time, as well as prioritizing Best Management Practices (BMP) which in turn help to reduce nutrients and sediment in the streams of West Virginia.
West Virginia Conservation Agency (WVCA)
West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection (WVDEP)
West Virginia University (WVU) College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design
Farm Service Agency (FSA)
Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS)
United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA)
WV Chesapeake Bay Webpage
Chesapeake Bay Program (CBP)
Ohio River Valley Water Sanitation Commission (ORSANCO)
Mississippi River Basin and Gulf Hypoxia
WVU Poultry Extension
West Virginia Poultry Association Facebook