The Delmarva Chicken Association (DCA) Vegetative Environmental Buffers Program was created to help with air quality improvements on chicken farms in Delaware, the Eastern Shore of Maryland, and the Eastern Shore of Virginia. DCA assumed responsibility for the program in 2006 after its creation by the University of Delaware.
The planting of trees around chicken houses has both air quality and water quality benefits. Properly designed vegetative environmental buffers with farm-specific plants -- trees, shrubs and warm season grasses -- help capture air emissions from chicken houses. Additionally, these vegetative environmental buffers can absorb nutrients in the soil and water around chicken houses and help prevent the movement of nutrients to adjacent waters.
Vegetative environmental buffers also let growers reduce the time and expense of mowing grass. And DCA is also pioneering the adaption of pollinator-friendly vegetative environmental buffers, which promote crop pollination on top of their other advantages. In 2017, DCA was awarded a grant from Bayer's Feed A Bee program to help growers on Delmarva plant pollinator-friendly vegetative environmental buffers. Beginning in 2019, we've collaborated with the Nanticoke Watershed Alliance to research which pollinator-friendly plant species work best for growers, and converted high-maintenance mowed areas to low-maintenance pollinator-plot meadows all across Delmarva. This guide helps growers add pollinator-friendly buffers to their farms and transition lawns to meadows, including in swales between chicken houses.
Since 2006, the DCA Vegetative Environmental Buffers Coordinator has worked with hundreds of growers and overseen the designs of vegetative environmental buffers, helped growers navigate the systems of cost-share programs, and identified contractors to help with the plantings.
Delmarva chicken growers can contact program coordinator Jim Passwaters to learn more about this internationally known environmental program.