Demonstration Farms at

Genesee River in Pennsylvania

Pioneer innovative pollution controls

Farm Network models best practices for farmers along the Genesee River, creates opportunities to test and implement new conservation methods.


The Genesee River begins in Potter County, Pennsylvania, flowing through Pennsylvania and New York before discharging into Lake Ontario. Farms along the river have long been a source of nonpoint pollution, discharging nutrients and runoff into the river, which end up in Lake Ontario. This runoff can have adverse effects to the ecology of the river and Lake Ontario, such as low levels of oxygen dissolved in the water and elevated bacterial growth that can make people sick if they come into contact with polluted water.

Thanks to funding from the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), in collaboration with Pennsylvania State University (Penn State) and Penn State Cooperative Extension, Demonstration Farms have been set up in the Upper Genesee watershed, modeling best practices and new techniques to reduce runoff and maintain the local ecosystem.

These farms highlight conservation systems that build soil health and benefit water quality, with on-farm research opportunities to evaluate and demonstrate conservation practices. In addition, the network serves as a platform to share technology, information and lessons learned with farmers, businesses, landowners and the public.

Resource Challenges Addressed

  • Agricultural Runoff
  • Erosion
  • Poor water quality
  • Habitat degradation


Demonstration Farm in Pennsylvania models best practices to prevent runoff and improve yield. Credit: USDA

Results and Accomplishments

The establishment of a demonstration farm network has provided opportunities for local farmers to try out new methods of conservation and implement improved forest, pasture and cropland management practices, as well as manure management practices including waste storage facilities and heavy use areas.

By implementing the conservation practices that are part of this demonstration farm network, projects such as this support the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative goal for reducing nutrient runoff from agriculture.