Agriculture is one of the largest users of surface water and groundwater, with irrigation being the greatest use. Crop production depends almost entirely on irrigation. Competition for water is increasing as a result of increased human populations. In addition, agricultural runoff can impact water quality, carrying potential pollutants into streams, lakes, and ground water supplies.
The Utah ESC Cropping System focuses on field-related environmental issues, such as irrigation and water use, soil conservation, and nutrient and pest management. The Cropping System is applicable to all crops grown in Utah, including field crops and vegetables, fruit orchards, greenhouses crops and ornamental trees.
Each Crop*A*Syst tool includes a series of risk questions to assess effective crop management practices and ground- and surface water protection resources. Crop*A*Syst helps develop and implement a plan to prevent water resource contamination while maintaining economic crop production. Plans conform to applicable Utah Agriculture Code guidelines and comply with applicable state and federal environmental regulations.
Crop*A*Syst is coordinated with resources provided by the Utah DEQ?) Your local Conservation District can help you complete the risk assessment and provide information about other educational, technical and financial assistance.
Once a plan to address the risks identified in an assessment has been developed, and immediate risks of groundwater and surface water contamination have been implemented, farmers can contact the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food to request Cropping System verification (801 538-7120 or email@example.com). An Utah ESC certifier will visit the farm to verify that a plan has been implemented and to ensure that the farmer is addressing all applicable environmental risks.
Once a farm is "certified," a farmer can purchase a Utah ESC farm and/or office sign and the farm is eligible for Utah ESC sign rebates, cost-share incentives, tax credits, low-cost lending and reduced liability insurance premiums from participating companies.
In order to maintain Utah ESC verification a farmer must attend an educational session and request a site visit from UDAF at least every five years.