HARRISBURG, Pa., -- The state departments of Environmental Protection and Agriculture, in collaboration with American Farmland Trust (AFT), plan to celebrate the partnership that has led to nutrient reductions for the Chesapeake Bay watershed.

AFT will host an event to donate to DEP and the Department of Agriculture 4,023 nitrogen credits earned by five farmers from Lancaster, Clinton and Northumberland counties who participated in AFT's Best Management Practices (BMP) Challenge. The event will be held at 9 a.m. on Wednesday, May 11 in Conference Room E of the Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex and Expo Center in Harrisburg.

The BMP Challenge allows farmers to test new conservation techniques, including fertilizer rate reductions, in a risk-free environment. The challenge reimburses farmers if lower crop yields occur as a result.

The credits were certified for five years through DEP's Nutrient Trading Program. Municipal sewage treatment plants and communities may use the credits as an alternative, sometimes more cost-effective, solution for reducing nitrogen, phosphorous and sediment discharges.

"Market-based trading and credit solutions to environmental challenges have a long track record of success and I know we can use that same successful model as a major part of our Chesapeake Bay strategy," DEP Secretary Mike Krancer said. "I am delighted that American Farmland Trust's BMP Challenge is a part of that process, as it has not only added value to the nutrient trading program but also enabled Pennsylvania to account for our agricultural community's hard work to improve and protect our water quality statewide and the Chesapeake Bay watershed.

"American Farmland Trust's BMP Challenge not only added value to the nutrient trading program, but also enabled Pennsylvania to account for the hard work our agricultural community is putting forth to improve and protect our water quality and the Chesapeake Bay watershed," Krancer added.

"Pennsylvania's farmers work hard every day to improve conservation practices on their farms," Agriculture Secretary George Greig said. "Their commitment to the environment helps improve farm productivity along with soil and water quality."

For more information, visit www.depweb.state.pa.us or call (717) 787-1323.