By Kirsten Workman, Agronomy Outreach Professional
As seen in our Summer 2018 Newsletter – but including additional links below.
Farming is often a solitary pursuit. While it takes a team to make a farm succeed, daily activities often happen in solitude. Whether it is in the milk house, greenhouse, fields, tractor, shop or office, very few people will
ever “see” you at work. While that is often viewed as a positive, it also leads to a disconnect between farmers and neighbors.
Why does this matter? Try to remember the last negative interaction with someone outside the farming industry. Was this a result of lack of knowledge and understanding? Misinformation? Perhaps partially your responsibility for not considering how farming endeavors impact a neighbor? Regardless, I have found that when the farming community
opens up to the nonfarming community, the results can be powerful.
Many neighbors have no idea what you do and may be too uncomfortable to ask. I have been at public farm tours where neighbors came into a dairy barn and said, “I drive by here every day and never knew there were cows in these buildings.” People who drive by your farm often think bunker
silos are compost bins. Gone are the days when everyone’s grandparents or aunts and uncles were farmers. Folks no longer spend summer weekends helping family or neighbor bring in hay or crops. Seeing a tractor in
front of them on a state highway only makes them think about being late to an important appointment. Landlords who own your rented fields don’t always understand that manure is an organic fertilizer which makes their
hay field greener, replenishes nutrients, and builds soil health. Herbicides and insecticides, regardless of their form, are as taboo a topic as politics
It is difficult to make time to share farming information and justify the hours away from “productive” pursuits. However, I argue that putting a face on farming is a worthwhile endeavor. It isn’t always comfortable or easy. Without a personal connection to a farm it is easy to lump you in with all the negative press and assume all farms are the problem. However, when these folks are invited to visit your farm, they learn just how much goes into
your daily farming pursuits and hopefully that will have a lasting effect.
Looking For Ways To Get Involved With The Public? Here Are A Few Examples:
Breakfast on the Farm – Don’t be intimidated by the scale of this event. It is well-organized and supported by hundreds of volunteers and experts who are there to represent you and the farming community well. Want to learn more? Volunteer on July 28 and see what it’s all about.
Social Media – A low impact way to share your farming endeavors. Here are some great local examples:
Open Farm Week – A Dig In Vermont coordinated, week long event. For a small fee, any farm can participate and be promoted across the state. You must welcome visitors and host some sort of farm activity. However, technical assistance is available to help create a valuable on-farm experience for participants.
Crops Exhibit and Farm Product Contests – Join the competition at Addison County Field Days or Vermont Farm Show with hay, crops, honey, eggs and vegetables. Not only can you earn blue ribbons, premiums and bragging rights; you help us educate the public about farming in Vermont.
Cabot Open Farm Sunday – Cabot Creamery and AgriMark Farms can participate in Cabot’s Open Farm Sunday in October.
Workshops/Field Days/Tours – Volunteer! The next time your friendly Extension Agent, Crop Consultant, Feed Consultant, or Politician asks if you’ll host a group at your farm…just say YES!
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.
Focusing on Agriculture in the Champlain Valley and BeyondBy 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 LandscapeBy Nate Severy. UVM Extension and the Champlain Valley Farmer Coalition are working together to provide farmers with valuable insights for adaptive management.
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.