Innovation is in the air…and on the ground

by Kirsten Workman, Agronomy Outreach Professional

(Originally published on the WAgN Blog on May 28, 2014)

 

The growing season if finally starting to take hold. I have seen corn plants poking through the ground, vegetable crops starting to look like something edible, and first cut hay is on the ground in some places with hopes of a dry day to bale tomorrow. And with a new growing season comes all the hope and suspense of another year…all the potential for the best year ever or the worst, or maybe something in between. Farmers are going all out this week. We may not be able to predict what the weather will do this year, but one thing is for certain. Farmers in Vermont are innovative.

Planting Green:  no-till planting corn into a standing crop of winter rye
Planting Green: no-till planting corn into a standing crop of winter rye

As I traveled from farm to farm today, I had the pleasure of talking with several different farmers – all of whom are trying something new this year. I saw fields of winter rye that were ‘planted green,’ that is no-till planted corn into standing rye before the cover crop was terminated. Innovation. I measured out 16 strips in a soon-to-be corn field with one farmer to help analyze two different reduced tillage systems this year. Innovation. He wants to interseed three different cover crops over those strips once the corn is up. Innovation. Another farm rounded out a SARE partnership project that analyzed two different cover crop mixes by no-till planting corn into those cover crops right next to a conventionally managed part of the field to see how these two systems will perform on his farm. Innovation. Another farm asked to borrow our GPS and try their hand at some precision agriculture. Innovation. A vegetable farmer is trying out different strategies to implement cover crops in his rotations for green manure, weed suppression, mulch and livestock forage. Innovation. A soybean grower has just modified his corn planter so he can no-till soybeans in 30-inch rows and will be trying out higher populations and some interseeded cover crops in those same soybeans. Innovation. I talked to three farms who have agreed to partner on a cover crop mixture demonstration project and will be hosting field days on their farms to share the results. Innovation. I have spoken with several farmers this week growing new crops like chicory, quinoa, and berseem clover.  Innovation.  I emailed with a new member of the Champlain Valley Farmer Coalition who is excited to be part of a farmer-based watershed group looking to protect Lake Champlain and thriving agriculture in Vermont. Innovation.

As you walk around your own farms, identify the many ways you are being innovative. As you drive down the road, what are your neighbor farmers doing to be innovative? If you see some fields this year that look a little different – instead of wondering if something went wrong, maybe its just another Vermont farmer trying something new.

Here’s to Innovation!

A grain grower marking out strips in a field to compare tillage practices.
A grain grower marking out strips in a field to compare tillage practices.
Winter rye with hairy vetch used for a green manure before vegetables and ear corn.
Winter rye with hairy vetch used for a green manure before vegetables and ear corn.
Chicory planted with grass, clover and alfalfa in a pasture

2014 No-Till and Cover Crop Symposium

First Ever UVM Extension

No-Till & Cover Crop

Symposium

February 19 & 20, 2014

Sheraton Hotel & Conference Center   |   Burlington, VT

Click HERE for the complete conference brochure and agenda!

Did you miss the symposium…here is some of the information that was presented during the two-day conference.

The UVM Extension Champlain Valley Crop, Soil & Pasture Team and the Northwest Crops & Soils Program were joined by farmers and technical advisers at the first conference in New England dedicated to No-Till and Cover Cropping systems for field crop growers in our area.  We welcomed speakers from around the country and from Vermont – including Extension specialists and researchers, farmers and consultants.

Conference Proceedings

Click the picture below for the PDF version of the conference proceedings.

NTCC Proceedings_Cover ThumbnailVideos:

Frank Gibbs NRCS Resource Soil Scientist sharing from a root pit

The ‘smoke test’ results from Frank Gibbs’ experiment on continuous no-till soils.

Aerial Seeding Cover Crops into Corn (Richmond, VT) – 2013

Loading Cover Crop Seed into the Helicopter – 2013

Earth Worms Working in the  Field (filmed  by Jean-Marie Harvey, Soil Conservationist, Quebec Ministry of Agriculture)

Presentations:

DAY ONE (Feb. 19)

Reduced Tillage Success – presented by Rico Balzano

No-Till Considerations – presented by Jeff Sanders

No-till and Cover Crops on a Pennsylvania Dairy Farm – presented by Jim Harbach and Gerard Troisi

Keeping Your Phosphorus Where it Belongs in No-Till Fields – presented by Frank Gibbs

Precision Agriculture for Conservation Tillage Success – presented by Guy Palardy

DAY TWO (Feb. 20)

Cover Crops No-Till and Diversity – presented by Jeff Carter

Earthworms – The Key to Quality No Till Soils_- presented by Frank Gibbs

Cover Crop Mixes After Corn Silage – presented by Sjoerd Duiker

Cover Crops at North Island Dairy – presented  by Andre Quintin

Cover Crops for No-Till Systems on a Pennsylvania Dairy Farm – presented by Jim Harbach

Double Cropping with Cover Crops – Winter Rye Forage at Deer Valley Farm

Aerial Seeding Cover Crops in Vermont – presented by Kirsten Workman

 THANK YOU TO OUR 2014 SPONSORS

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2014 Sponsor and Exhibitor Form

Click HERE for the complete conference brochure and agenda!

Two Great Upcoming Events…Pastures & Cover Crops

The Champlain Valley Crop, Soil & Pasture Team is pleased to announce two fantastic events in November:

November 8th * 10:00 am to 11:30 pm  *  Ferrisburgh, VT
No-Till Cover Crop FIELD DAYinterseed

Can no-till, cover crop mixes and manure work in corn silage on the clay soils of the Champlain Valley??  We’re trying to find out.  Please join us at the site of one of our on-farm research trialsJoin the Champlain Valley Crop Soil & Pasture Team and Deer Valley Farm as we share our preliminary results from our  Cover Crop Diversity in No-Till Systems SARE Partnership Project.  Come check out our on-farm research plots of two different cover crop mixes in corn silage on CLAY SOIL

Click HERE for the Field Day flyer

RSVP to (802) 388-4969 or kirsten.workman@uvm.edu

 

November 14th  *  10:00 am to 2:30 pm  *  Bridport Community Hall
Champlain Valley Grazing SymposiumOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Join us as we wrap up this year’s grazing season and think ahead to next year! Come hear how planned grazing can be fun
and profitablee. Troy Bishopp, aka “The Grass Whisperer” is an accomplished grazier on his own farm in NY state, in addition to working with the Madison County Soil & Water Conservation District/Upper Susquehanna Coalition as their regional grazing specialist. Troy brings a holistic approach to grazing planning by helping farmers chart a course that pays attention to their personal goals as well as their profits. Julie Smith, UVM Extension Dairy Specialist, will also be here to discuss how to manage and troubleshoot common herd health issues including Johne’s, BVD, and nutritional deficiencies. Julie’s focus is on biosecurity and preventive animal health management. Hope to see you there!

Click HERE for the Grazing Symposium flyer

Register & purchase tickets:  http://grazingsymposium2013.eventbrite.com/

 

Please join us for one or both of these fantastic events. 

If you have  any questions or need more information, please give us a call at (802) 388-4969 or email us at champlain.crops@uvm.edu.

SEE YOU THERE!