Agricultural Environmental Management (AEM)

With agriculture recognized as a potential source of pollution, NYS Ag and Markets, NYS DEC and NYS Soil and Water Conservation Committee, have been working for years to develop a coordinated format for dealing with potential water quality problems of farms.  The Agricultural Environmental Management (AEM) program is the framework, which while used for the last several years, has recently been codified into NYS law for dealing specifically with non-point source pollution on farms.

For those not familiar with the AEM, it is a consistent, structured framework for farms in the State to protect and enhance the environment while maintaining economic viability.  It is a process consisting of 5 tiers, or steps. These steps are used to take an inventory of the ag. operation, document existing environmental stewardships, identify any environmental concerns, develop a plan to deal with the environmental concerns, and the implementation of the plan and/or solutions to the environmental issues.

You can begin the AEM process by completing  the Tier1Questionnaire.  Please email the questionnaire to  or mail it to 174 Finney Blvd., Malone NY 12953.  If you have any question please call our office at 518-651-2097


2024-2025 Funding Opportunity through AEM Program

Over the past decade Soil and Water Districts have worked diligently with their farming communities on implementing agricultural environmental management (AEM) best management practices (BMPs) to further farm viability. Due to each party’s hard work in 2019 a new component was added to the AEM Program; a cost-share program to aid in funding projects on farms. Districts can receive funding to implement projects within their county with a cap of $50,000 per farm. 2024 will start the third round of this funding availability.

 What is it?

            A grant opportunity to implement small projects on farms. This funding would assist farmers in implementing best management practice systems on their farm. This means that the applying farm must have a conservation plan written before applying, and that, if funded, the farm must upfront the initial cost of the total project, and upon completion of that project, to standard, the district reimburses the farm up to 75% of the total project cost; leaving the farm responsible for at least 25%. Projects must be completed within 2 years.

Who is eligible?

Any farm within Franklin County Soil and Water’s Agricultural Environmental Management (AEM) program. Must be a farmer in Franklin County, a U.S. Citizen and at least 18 years of age. Previous funding does not make you ineligible for this round of funding.

Soil and Water employees as well as Board Members are NOT eligible for this funding

How to apply?

Any farm interested in this funding opportunity must fill out an application and return it to the Franklin County Soil and Water office at 151 Finney Blvd. Malone, NY 12953, either by mail or hand delivery, before November 30, 2023 by 4:30pm, emailed applications will NOT be accepted. Applications can be found at the Soil and Water office or on our website Applicants may add additional pages to the application, if necessary. If completing the application by hand, please fill it out legibly as we cannot fund your project if we are unsure of what it is.

*If the application is returned to the District after November 30 2023 at 4:30pm it will be deemed ineligible for it was returned after the deadline*

BMP Systems Eligible are…..                                                                                                                            

  • Access Control Systems,
  • Agrichemical Handling and Storage System,
  • Irrigation Water Management System,
  • On-farm Secondary Containment System,
  • Prescribed Rotational Grazing System,
  • Process Wash Water Management System,
  • Soil Conservation System
  • Forest Conservation
  • Erosion Control System (Cultural)

         If you have any questions or concerns about applying, your eligibility, eligibility of projects, etc. Please don’t hesitate to contact Devin Normaneau by phone (518) 651-2097 or by email at

Examples of eligible projects….

Prescribed Rotational Grazing System

             This is for any farm that is currently grazing or wants graze to livestock: goats, sheep, chickens, pigs, cows, horses, alpacas, etc. A plan would be written with recommendations on rotationally grazing livestock using 5 or more paddocks during the grazing season. Alternating paddocks allows for forage vigor and regrowth, decreases the reliance of supplemental feed, potentially decreasing feed costs, improving soil health, potentially decreasing fertilizer cost, improving herd health, and decreasing soil erosion in areas where livestock tend to congregate. The plan would be written based on the current animal numbers that the farm has and a scenario would be included that showed the number of animals the land could support. Cost share funding for implementation of a Prescribed Rotational Grazing plan could be utilized for fencing, watering systems, laneways, etc. 

Erosion Control System (Structural)

This is for any farm that manages a farm woodlot or sugarbush. A Forest Conservation Plan would be written for the property and would include Forestry Best Management Practice (BMP) recommendations for forest trails, landings, stream crossings, etc. to address erosion issues. These recommendations would include water bars, gravel, culverts, rubber belt deflectors, etc. that would assist the producer in addressing water quality impacts. Cost share funding could be utilized to assist in implementing forestry best management practices to divert water from trails and roadways such as water bars, culverts, rubber belt deflectors, etc. or to fix ruts or other soft spots that impede access and cause unnecessary erosion. If you are interested in improving the health of your woodlot through thinnings there are other cost share programs that can address those concerns.

Soil Conservation System (Cover Crops)

            This is for any farm who utilizes cropland, pasture, vegetable and fruit production, orchards and vineyards. Soil Conservation Plans use management-based measures such as crop rotation, tillage, cover cropping, etc. to reduce/control soil erosion, reduce run-off, enhance soil health and improve productivity of land. This plan is utilized to assess risk of water and wind erosion and make specific recommendations for how various practices will work together to address concerns.  Farms may rent Soil and Water’s 10ft Great Plains No-till drill to implement practices. Cost-share funding could be utilized to assist in cover cropping, contour farming, forage and biomass planting, strip cropping etc. 

On-farm Secondary Containment System

            This is for any farm who utilizes petroleum products on their farm. A conservation plan can be written to implement a permanent facility designed to provide secondary containment for oil and petroleum products. Having secondary storage minimizes the risk of accidental release of these products to prevent contamination of groundwater and surface waters, as well as to provide measures for safe, effective, and timely cleanup of a spill or leak. If your farm store petroleum or oil products on your farm and there is a threat of contaminating soil, groundwater or surface water contact the office.

Many other BMP Systems are eligible!