Spring 2018 Newsletter

Our Spring 2018 Newsletter is Out!

In this Issue:


Got Questions? Contact Us! 802-388-4969

April Events

April 1 or 14: Manure Spreading Ban Reminder. 

The annual manure spreading ban Dec 15-April 1, OR Oct 15 – April 14 on mapped “frequently flooded soils” is lifting; please remember that the RAPs dictate manure should not be spread on frozen, saturated or snow covered ground (without exemption). For questions about spreading contact VAAFM (802) 828-2431.

April 11: No-Till and Cover Crops: A Systems Approach. 

10:30 am-12:30 pm. Monument Farms Hamilton Shop, Hamilton Rd, Weybridge, VT. Hosted by Champlain Valley Farmer Coalition, The Champlain Valley Crop, Soils, and Pasture Team, along with Jeff Sanders of the Northwest Crops and Soils Program. We will lead a hands on discussion of practical tips, advice, and steps farmers can make to be successful when moving to a reduced or no-till system on their farm. We will have a no-till planter on display, and share research and observations of what does and doesn’t work with no-till and cover crop systems in Vermont.  RSVP online, or by contacting Nate – 802-388-4969 ext. 348

April 18: McKenzie Brook Meeting. 

10:00 am-12:00 pm. At Champlain Valley Crop, Soil and Pasture Team office, UVM Extension, Middlebury, VT. This is only for farmers in McKenzie Brook Watershed and for those providing technical assistance. RSVP or for questions, contact us at 802-388-4969 or George Tucker at 802-771-3032.

April 19: Compost Farm and Barn Tour. 

10:30 am-12:00 pm. 1090 South Middlebrook Rd, Vergennes, VT. Join the Champlain Valley Farmer Coalition and UVM Extension as we visit a compost bedded pack barn. We will tour the entire facility to see and discuss how the pack is managed daily and seasonally, and we will discuss the economic and animal health benefits of this new housing system in comparison to a tradition manure management system. Contact Nate Severy for more information 802-388-4969 ext. 348.

April 20: Next VT NRCS EQUIP Funding Pool Deadline. 

VT NRCS Deadline: EQIP Cropland Funding Pool application deadline of 4/20/2018 for fall 2018 cover cropping, erosion control projects, nutrient management practices. This maybe the last opportunity for 2018 funding. For questions call your local USDA-NRCS office. In Middlebury, contact 802-388-6748.

April 27: Cover Crop Demo and Research Field Day. 

10:30 am-12:30 pm. Hemingway Hill Rd, Shoreham, VT.  Come see our demonstration project looking at strips of winter wheat, barley, rye, triticale with and without oats. We will also be discussing the various research and demonstration projects we have going on in the area, including work with NRCS on watershed planning in McKenzie and East Creek. Contact Nate Severy for more information 802-388-4969 ext. 348.

Deadline April 30: Nominate Dairy Farmer of the Year.

This program through UVM Extension awards a farm each year. Great milk quality, innovation on the farm, progressive management practices, community service and ambassadorship for the industry are all characteristics of past recipients. To submit a nomination, go here, and click on the right hand link “nominate a farmer”.

Through April On-Going: Farm Business Clinics.

This is an opportunity for farmers to meet privately, one-on-one, for 90 minutes with a UVM Extension Farm Business staff member. Meetings are conveniently scheduled at various locations across Vermont. Use the time to develop a balance sheet, update financial statements, review a business plan, consider changes to your business, and more. Registration is $25. For more information about this program contact 1-866-860-1382, or register online at go.uvm.edu/businessclinics2018

On-Going Survey: Voluntary, Anonymous, Subsurface Tile Drainage Survey of VT Farms.

By gaining a better understanding of the acreage and cropland impacted, as well as the conservation opportunities made available by installing drainage systems, the NW Crops and Soils team is evaluating how tile drainage has mitigated financial and environmental risk on VT Farms. All VT Farmers are invited to participate in this survey. You are free to not answer any questions and/or withdraw at any time.  If you choose to participate in the survey, it will take about 10 minutes to complete, and all information collected is anonymous. More information can be found here, or to take the survey, click here.

News, Events and Info You Should Know (2018 Winter Newsletter)

2018 Vermont Farm Show – January 30, 31 and February 1, 2018                       Your product entries for the Vermont Farm Show can be dropped off at a nearby Extension office or other location by 4:00 p.m. on Friday, January 26 or drop them off at the Champlain Valley Expo on Monday, January 29 between 9:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. (judging starts at 4:00 p.m.). Give us a call to find out which offices are participating and what the rules are. Read more about the farm show at www.vtfarmshow.com. We hope to see you there!

Nutrient Management Planning (NMPs)
Winter is the time to create and update your plan. NMP classes begin in January. If you need an NMP but don’t have one, please contact your local conservation district to get the process started for next winter’s classes. NMP update sessions for those farmers who have already taken our class and finished an NMP with us will be held in February and March. Tentative dates in Middlebury are February 8 and 15, and March 8 and 14, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. An RSVP is requested – please call our office to confirm you are coming. Remember, an NMP has to be updated every year to be accurate and reflect Vermont RAPs regulations. If you need to find out whether your operation is required to have an NMP call us, 802-388-4969, or check out Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets (VAAFM) online at go.uvm.edu/raps.

8th Annual Organic Dairy Producers Conference
Thursday, March 15, 2018 at Vermont Technical College. More details to follow at go.uvm.edu/crop-soil-events.

Farm Business Clinics
The clinics will run from January through April 2018. This is an opportunity for farmers to meet privately, one-on-one, for 90 minutes with a UVM Extension Farm Business staff member. Meetings are conveniently scheduled at various locations across Vermont. Use the time to develop a balance sheet, update financial statements, review a business plan, consider changes to your business, and more. Registration is $25. For more information about this program contact 1-866-860-1382, or register online at go.uvm.edu/businessclinics2018. Ongoing Water Quality Business Planning is an additional in-depth program also offered by UVM Extension.

5th Annual No-Till and Cover Crop Symposium – March 1, 2018 DoubleTree by Hilton (formerly the Sheraton Burlington Hotel and Conference Center) in Burlington, Vt.

Registration Is Now Open
Learn the latest techniques! Discover how your neighbors are using this integrated system of cover crops and no (or less) tillage to create better soil health, increase profitability and meet water quality goals. Learn from other farmers, talk to your local ag dealers about equipment or seed, speak to NRCS about funding, listen to regional and national experts, and hear about research at UVM and in nearby states. This is the fifth year of this conference! If you haven’t come in a couple years, now is the time to come back and celebrate. Let’s keep the momentum going! For more information and to register go to go.uvm.edu/ntcc.

View Our Entire Newsletter HERE


Winter 2018 Newsletter

In this Issue:
Focusing on Agriculture in the Champlain Valley and Beyond 
By Jeff Carter. Changes for a new year. 
News, Events & Info You Should Know 
Vermont Farm Show; Nutrient Management Planning; 5th Annual No-Till and Cover Crop Symposium; Organic Dairy Producers Conference; Farm Business Clinics. News and Event Info also on our blog page here. 
Should I Have Crop Insurance?  
By Jake Jacobs. Deciding if and what coverage makes sense for your business; upcoming deadline. 
UVM Extension Provides Financial Analysis for Producers Doing Water Quality Projects  
By Tony Kitsos. Opportunities still exist for farmers to receive assistance from Farm Business Planning on water quality projects. 
Fall Pasture Walks Highlight Extended Grazing Season 
By Cheryl Cesario. Two different farm pasture walks this fall addressed how local farmers approach management for extended fall grazing. 
Why Do We Care About Water Quality? 
Champlain Valley Farmer Coalition. Why we care and how we engage other farmers and the community at-large in the conversation. Join to add your voice!  
Winter is the Time to Focus on Record Keeping 
By Kristin Williams. Good record keeping is key to effective decision making, both in the financial word and for nutrient management.
Ongoing Field Research and a Look Forward
By Nate Severy. A look at work we’ve been doing this past fall that continues into the new year, and planning for spring planting success.

Fall 2017 Newsletter

Our Fall 2017 Newsletter is out! View it HERE.

In this Issue:

Focusing on Agriculture in the Champlain Valley and Beyond By Jeff Carter.  This season’s challenges and ways to move forward.

News, Events & Info You Should Know  Agricultural Conservation Highlights Tour; NMP Updates; Mock Inspections; Business and Ag Support for You; New Grazing Class; No-Till and Cover Crop Symposium. 

What Do I Do Now? RMA Update  By Jake Jacobs. Coping with weather unpredictability by planning ahead.

Demonstrating Success: Corn Hybrid Trials  By Kirsten Workman. Corn hybrid trials were a successful way to see what shorter season hybrids might be paired with cover crop adoption. 

Newsletter Feature – Grazing as a New Management Practice  By Cheryl Cesario. The process of adopting grazing management seen through one farmer’s experience. Also – new grazing class to teach you how to develop a grazing plan!

Managing Slugs Begins in the Fall  By Rico Balzano. Making decisions now to manage slugs next year.

Helping Farmers Adapt to a Changing Landscape By Nate Severy. UVM Extension and the Champlain Valley Farmer Coalition are working together to provide farmers with valuable insights for adaptive management.



Two Great Events in Two Weeks…Don’t Miss Out

Don’t miss these two great events.  You can RSVP for either or both at
802-388-4969 or champlain.crops@uvm.edu

Wednesday, August 23rd
Innovation in Action: No-till roller crimper
(A #CleanWaterWeekVT Event)
12:30 – 3:00 PM
Bonaspecta Holsteins | 1133 Jersey Street S., Addison, VT

Click HERE for the flyer

Join the UVM Extension Champlain Valley Crop, Soil and Pasture Team and the Champlain Valley Farmer Coalition for a field day at Bonaspecta Holsteins Farm to see innovative agricultural practices designed to reduce erosion and protect water quality. Come learn more about:
  • Using a Roller-Crimper to flatten and terminate Winter Cover Crops
  • No-till corn tips and troubleshooting problems
  • Cover Crop mixes and how to decide on species and seeding rates
  • Water quality monitoring in the McKenzie Brook Watershed: methods and data to quantify water quality in an agricultural watershed

TWO (2) Water Quality Training Credits for farmers!

This event is one in a series of events happening for Clean Water Week.

Free lunch at 12:30 generously sponsored by Seedway. Come join the fun!
To register (free) and for more information contact:
Nate Severy
nsevery@uvm.edu or (802)-388-4969

Thursday, August 31st
2017 Short Season Corn  Hybrid Field Day11:00 AM – 2:00 PM
Vorsteveld Farm | 3925 Panton Road, Panton,  VT (just across the street from the telephone building, next to the new solar panel installation)

Click HERE for the flyer

Join the UVM Extension’s Champlain Valley Crop, Soil & Pasture Team and local seed suppliers in the field to see our corn hybrid demonstration, comparing shorter season corn varieties (85-98 day). Can we accomplish high yielding corn and timely cover crop seeding? Come check it out. We’ll take a trip down the road and check out some long season hybrids too! Research in northern VT has suggested that variety, as opposed to just day length, is important in determining corn yield. To this end, we have planted 21 corn hybrids ranging from 85 DRM to 98 DRM to assess yield and quality. The objective is to test varieties on our soils and find optimum day length so that there is more time in the fall for cover crop seeding and establishment without sacrificing yield. We will also have the opportunity after lunch to look at some longer day hybrids in a different field and take a look at this farms novel approach to no-till, manure application and cover cropping.

Upcoming Events – August


8 am - noon

Events hosted or with programing support by the Champlain Valley Crop, Soil and Pasture Team:

Addison County Fair and Field Days. August 8-12, Addison, VT. Drop off submissions for our crop exhibit August 7, 8 am-noon. Help us demonstrate local crops and conservation work to the public. Fair entry guidelines and More information about the fair. Contact our office for drop submission questions (802-388-4969). See you at the fair!

Grass-Fed & Grass-Finished: Beyond the Basics. Workshop with Jim Gerrish. August 14, 10 am-3 pm, at Lucas Cattle Company, Orwell, VT. Jim Gerrish is an internationally recognized grazing consultant and this should be an highly informative conversation about high-quality, grass-finished beef production. Register here. For more information contact Cheryl Cesario (802-388-4969 ext. 346).

Clean Water Week is August 20-26. We are hosting a Clean Water Field Day, August 23, 1 pm to 3 pm, in Addison, VT at Rob Hunt’s farm. We will be discussing a no-till/cover crop trial, McKenzie Brook initiative through NRCS that we are a part of, and a collaboration with VT DEC to better quantify rainfall and stream patterns in McKenzie Brook. For more information contact Nate Severy (802-388-4969 ext. 348).

Corn Hybrid Trial Field Day. August 31, 11 am-2 pm, Panton, VT at Vosterveld’s Farm. This is the second year we have established corn hybrid trials. Join us in a discussion of how they are doing in these less than ideal growing conditions. For more information contact Kirsten Workman (802-388-4969 ext. 347).

Events hosted by other affiliates:

2017 Summer Farm Meeting. August 17, 10 am-2:30 pm, Franklin, VT. UVM Extension Northwest Crops and Soils Program, Friends of Northern Lake Champlain, and Farmer’s Watershed Alliance at Tim and Martha Magnant’s farm, Bridgeman View Farm. Topics to include innovative agronomic practices of interseeding, no-till and cover cropping, and soil health. Free with registration.

Pasture Management, Recovery After a Drought. August 30, 10 am-2pm. Beidler Farm, Randolph Center, VT. More information and registration.

Other News:

Forage Analysis: Even More Important This Season [see our blog post]. As we all know, this is a challenging year for successfully planting and harvesting crops in the Champlain Valley and beyond. At the end of the day, the real challenge will be how to feed those crops to your animals successfully. This year, more than most, forage analysis will be very important. You will need to take a close look at your forage quality and make adjustments to your other feed stocks accordingly.

 NRCS Announces Soil Survey Work in Addison County. NRCS is updating soil survey data in the Lake Champlain Basin (as part of a long term process), and is currently focusing on areas in Addison County mapped as high clay soils. You may be hearing from NRCS employees to conduct on-site reviews of soils for classification purposes. For more information see their factsheet or contact Vicki Drew.
The Agricultural Business / Farm Viability Program, through UVM Extension has ongoing funding for water quality business analysis, to help farmers analyze options for meeting conservation and regulatory compliance goals. Analysis will include financial planning, strategic planning and coordination with related agencies. For more information see our recent blog post, or contact Tony Kitsos at (802) 524-6501 or (800) 639-2130 ext. 440. 

Forage Analysis: Even More Important This Season

As we all know, this is a challenging year for successfully planting and harvesting crops in the Champlain Valley and beyond. As a group of agronomists, we often talk about the timeliness of planting and harvesting crops as they relate to crop yield, quality, and protecting soil health. That said, at the end of the day, the real challenge will be how to feed those crops to your animals successfully. This year, more than most, forage analysis will be very important. You will need to take a close look at your forage quality and make adjustments to your other feed stocks accordingly.

Dr. Leonard Bull shared some great advice and information for us about how forage quality this year may impact how those forages are fed out and how you make up the differences:

Delayed first cutting of grass and legume forages in the Northeast results in a steady decline in digestibility of the forage. And while yields may go up, the extra tons of dry matter are not much advantage if digestibility is lower and inert gut fill greater. The average decline is about 0.5-0.7 percentage units per day in total digestible nutrients (TDN). In addition, protein content declines by about 0.1 percent per day of delay. Combined, if these are the only forages fed to dairy cows the total diet will need about 1 percent more concentrate of higher protein content for every day of delayed harvest.

In addition to perennial forages, the delayed planting we experienced this year in Vermont can affect the quality of annual forages like corn silage. A lot of corn is going to have lower energy values unless we see a major turnaround soon. Again, concentrates will need to be adjusted accordingly.

Dr. Leonard S. Bull, Ph.D., PAS * Emeritus Professor of Animal Science North Carolina State University * New Haven, Vermont

Forage Sampling & Analysis

Proper forage sampling is important. As the saying goes, garbage in equals garbage out. Your goal is to collect a representative sample of the total volume being sampled. Penn State Extension has a great fact sheet on the subject: Forage Quality Testing: Why, How, and Where (Agronomy Facts 44). Some highlights are listed below.

  1. Collect a representative sample. This includes collecting multiple sub-samples, mixing them together thoroughly, and then taking your sample for analysis from this larger sample. For instructions on how to sample by type of forage and whether you are sampling at harvest or after it has been stored, visit this helpful resource from Penn State University Extension.
  2. Store and ship samples appropriately. Be sure and use the recommendations provided by the lab, but as a general rule of thumb, you should keep dry hay samples in a cool place and haylage and silage samples frozen in an airtight container. Mail the sample in an insulated bag—preferably early in the week—to prevent bacterial decay that might alter the results.
  3. Select a laboratory with proper analysis and protocol. Use a certified lab that participates in a proficiency testing program like the National Forage Testing Association and uses duplicate/quality control check samples. If you are using near infrared reflectance spectroscopy (NIRS), make sure they are calibrating appropriately with chemical analysis periodically.  While we do not endorse any particular lab, some local labs that meet these criteria are Dairy One and Cumberland Valley Analytical Services.
  4. Fill out the lab forms completely and accurately. This is especially important when using NIRS analysis so that the proper calibration is selected for your forage (i.e., corn silage versus haylage).
  5. Know how to read your forage analysis report. Once you receive your results, be sure and take a close look and review your results with your animal nutritionist, veterinarian, consultant or extension advisor. There is a great document from Cornell Extension, that helps decipher a forage analysis report here.

As always, if you need more information or would like assistance please don’t hesitate to contact us:

UVM Extension * Champlain Valley Crop, Soil & Pasture Team

(802) 388-4969




Wet Weather Updates

Champlain Valley Farmers,

As you well know, 2017 is turning out to be WET year.

Our office is fielding many questions about how to report crop losses, options for late planted annual forages, and new seedings.  We thought it might be useful to compile some resources for all of you.

How to report crop losses and prevented planting.

If you were unable to plant due to wet conditions and/or suffered crop loss because of flooding or rainfall, you should report that to your Farm Service Agency (FSA) office.  The deadline for crop reporting for 2017 is as follows:

Friday, July 14th for producers with crop insurance policies

Monday, July 17th for producers who do not have crop insurance

For more information about crop insurance and details about eligibility and provisions, please find a factsheet here.

If you suffered damage to fields, facilities or infrastructure on your farm (especially as a result of the most recent flash flood event), you should also report that to FSA so they can keep track of losses in order to determine if individual counties or the State of Vermont may qualify for emergency assistance from the federal government.

Contact your local FSA Office:

Addison County FSA Office

 68 Catamount Park * Middlebury, VT 05753 * (802) 388-6748

Chittenden County FSA Office 

300 Interstate Corporate Center * Williston, VT 05495 * (802) 288-8155

Rutland County FSA Office

170 S. Main Street, Suite 4 * Rutland, VT 05701 * (802) 775-8034

FSA State Office

356 Mountain View Drive * Colchester, VT 05446 * (802) 658-2803

Or click here for a directory of all county offices

Flooding or Ponding in Crop & Hay Fields

If you had hay and/or crop fields that experienced flooding or ponding, you should take special considerations on those fields to assess damage and mitigate appropriately in order to maintain yields and avoid issues at harvest.

Purdue University Extension has some great advice from their experiences earlier this year.

University of Minnesota Extension also has good information for  flooded corn and soybeans.

Penn State Extension also has good advice for northeastern growers on flood damaged crops, including hay.


Options for Late Season Forage Plantings

While wet weather has delayed and prevented harvesting hay and planting forages like corn, there is still time (and growing degree days) to produce some high quality forage.

Please check with your crop insurance agent before making any decisions that may affect your crop insurance claims or payment.

Warm season grasses like sorghum, sudangrass, and sorghum-sudangrass hybrids can still be planted through early July with potential for high quality feed and decent yields.  The links below have some great information about how to plant these crops and how to manage them at harvest time to maximize yield and quality coming out of the bunk (or bale).

Small grains planted for a fall harvest are a viable option, as are small grains mixed with legumes like peas.  You may also want to plant your small grain winter cover crops with a spring harvest in mind and up your seeding rates and choose varieties and seed based on a goal of harvesting it next spring.

New seedings that were planned for April or May can still be planted in early to mid-August.  It is not recommended to plant in June or July as the warm summer temperatures are not conducive to these cool season species being established well.  They also have to compete with summer annual weeds.  Waiting until August will provide better growing conditions and less weed pressure and should allow for adequate growth before winter, although you may want to avoid slow germinating species like birdsfoot trefoil or reed canarygrass.

For more ideas, seeding rates, etc., click on the links below:

UVM Extension Late Season Forage Planting Factsheet

Tom Kilcer’s Advaned Ag System Crop Soil News – July edition focuses on late planted forages

Plan for 2018

If you decide to forego any annual forage planting/harvest for this year on particular fields, you can set your sights on 2018.  Don’t just let it sit idle, prone to erosion, or let it go to weeds…set yourself up for success for next year.  We have seen farmers grow tremendous cover crops in prevented planting fields that you could otherwise not accomplish after a corn silage harvest.  You can add species like oats, annual ryegrass, radish, canola, peas, vetch, and clover if you plant by mid-August to early September with excellent results.  This could set you up for successful no-till planting next spring, reduce weed pressure in future years, provide good erosion control and even contribute some nitrogen next year.  If you have wanted to try a winter-kill cover crop but it hasn’t fit in your rotation, you could give it a try this year.

Check out our Multi-Species Cover Crop Decision Tool for more information

Or contact Kirsten Workman at our office.

Grazing in a Wet Year and Mending Pastures after Excessive Rains

Pastures can also suffer during a wet year like this one.  Animal traffic on wet soils can cause soil compaction; pugging (holes) from hooves, leading to rough surfaces; areas of bare soil; potential runoff issues; and reduced plant density and yield. If despite your best efforts, your pastures are showing signs of this kind of damage, there are some basic things you can do now that some sunny weather is on the horizon and soils dry out a bit.  Read Cheryl Cesario’s article from 2013 to learn more or contact her directly.

We know it is a challenging year, so please let us know if we can be of any assistance.


By Jeff Carter, Agronomy Specialist, Champlain Valley Crop, Soil & Pasture Team


Corn fields look a lot different this year and many people are taking notice of the changes. Yet the weather seems to repeat itself in Addison County; early warm, then too wet, and then too dry. This reminds me of two years ago, when we experienced extensive prevented plantings and over-mature
hay, followed by a good old drought for two months. I sure hope you are working closely with crop insurance agents and FSA to protect your business from the financial risk of weather extremes that we are seeing this year. This season has been a roller coaster as the early spring turned sour, and we are almost a month behind schedule for corn planting
and hay harvest.

Just taking a ride around the Champlain Valley, you see the difference in fields, with so much more cover crop activity and no-tillage taking place. I know that the rye cover crop can seem way out of control but think again, because this is a new way to farm (thanks, Robert Rodale.) The tall rye can
be a blessing for farmers who have jumped into no-till corn and use the rye to their advantage. Most of the early corn planted in May was planted no-till straight into standing winter rye, while many of the fall-plowed fields had delayed or prevented plantings. Harrowing-in a tall rye crop can be a nightmare that delays conventional planting and ties up nitrogen. However, leaving the tall rye standing can shade the new corn plants too much, even when killed. We want cover crops to benefit, not hurt, the corn crop. A few local farmers are now knocking down tall winter rye with a roller-crimper as they plant corn. (Read more about this technique
on page 4.) This looks very different, and may be a bit scary, compared to a bare soil field that was plowed and harrowed multiple times.


The rye provides a nice mulch to conserve soil moisture for a dry August and saves soil. Like other practices, it takes a new mind-set to adapt and succeed when working with these fine-textured clay soils since cover crops influence the dynamics of insect and weed pressure on the crop. Let’s see how this turns out. We have seen some great success with no-till on clay and we have also seen some disasters. Cautious, yet steady, is how you need to adopt these new farming practices for success.

We are also moving into a new set of projects this year and stretching our limits with agronomy – “the science and technology of producing and using plants for food, fuel, fiber, and land reclamation.” In coordination with partners, we are looking at the economics of no-till and cover crop systems; soil amendments such as humates, mycorrhizae, gypsum and liming materials for soil productivity; testing manure slot-injection with a drag hose into hay fields; testing P levels in streams and tile outlets; developing pasture planning and grazing classes; and evaluating a new P-Index for Vermont. We are here to help, let us know how these new farming ideas work for you.

Have a question for Jeff Carter?
(802) 388-4969 ext. 332, jeff.carter@uvm.edu