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Heavy rain causes serious flooding on the sod farm

In the 2016 book Smarter Faster Better, Charles Duhigg wrote about the importance of Stretch goals. A Stretch goal is a goal that requires you to think big and aim for one of your greatest dreams. Here at Underwood & Associates one of our Stretch goals is to make RSC

(Regenerative Stream Channel) an approved Best Management Practice (BMP) with an established cost share plan for landowners through the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). As of September, we are one step closer to achieving this dream.

Sediment-laden runoff

NRCS awarded Underwood & Associates a State Conservation Innovation grant to construct an RSC on a working sod farm in Anne Arundel County to slow stormwater flows, allow for filtration of pollutants, recharge groundwater, create habitat, and improve overall water quality. The innovation part of this grant really comes into play with the second major goal of the project- to provide an example of how RSC can be used on agricultural land to manage stormwater in a nature-based way that benefits the farmer, the water, and the wildlife. Once completed in spring 2021, this demonstration site will introduce the RSC technique to a wider audience and be used to pursue the establishment of a new NRCS Conservation Practice Standard.

Although RSC is a common method around Anne Arundel County, it is largely unused on agricultural land. We aim to change this, since RSC is a win-win-win. Agricultural landowners win because they get the stormwater management they need. The County and the State win because they get the TMDL reduction credits they need. And nature wins because RSC mimics natural systems, creates habitat, and uses native plants to vegetate the project site. Managing all of a farm’s runoff to create stream/wetland complexes using this single tool of RSC is an innovative, pioneering way to think about the intersection of functioning farms and environmental stewardship.

Polluted runoff entering tidewater

Charles Duhigg wrote, “Come up with a menu of your biggest ambitions. Dream big and stretch. Describe the goals that, at first glance, seem impossible, such as starting a company or running a marathon. Then choose one aim and start breaking it into short-term, concrete steps.” The completed RSC on the sod farm is one step towards establishing RSC as an NRCS Conservation Practice Standard with the eventual objective of founding a cost share plan for landowners. The cost share component will make the practice more accessible to a wide variety of agricultural landowners. We dream of seeing regenerative stormwater management integrated into the whole farm ecosystem on agricultural land across America, from RSC to shining RSC.


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