As of right now, the UVM Agricultural and Environmental Testing Lab is still receiving manure and soil samples directly and the lab in Maine that UVM works with us is still open. However, we will not be transporting samples from our office in Middlebury to the lab in Burlington. Additionally, please understand that the manager of the lab will not be in the office every day and there many be an additional delay in processing samples. Call the lab at 802-656-3030 if you have questions.
Manure Samples: It’s nearing time for manure spreading… and also manure sampling! The best time to sample manure to get an accurate sample is right when you are about to spread it.
We ask that you sample, freeze and hold on to manure sample(s) for a future date
to be analyzed when we can transport it to the lab. Manure can be sent
in the mail, but it’s more ideal to just hold on to it. If you need a
timely result, call the lab, you may be able to send it directly to
Manure can be frozen for months, just make sure you leave enough space in the jar for expansion.
manure jars will be left in the sample box at the entrance of our
office, but any plastic quart jar could work – do not use glass jars.
Our fact sheet on how to take a manure sample can be found here.
The form for manure sample analysis can be found here.
While we recommend soil sampling at the same time each year, given circumstances, if you can wait to sample it is advised to do so. If you do need an analysis, you can direct mail your soil sample(s).
There will be soil test kits left in the sample box at the entrance of our office, but any clean sandwich type plastic bag will work. You only need 1/2 to 1 cup of soil per sample – over doing it doesn’t help the lab and costs you money. Just make sure you take adequate sub-samples, mix your soil sample well, and send a representative mix. Soil probes will not be available until a future date.
The form and instructions for soil sample analysis can be found here.
If you have any questions about manure and soil sampling you can still give our office a call, and someone will get back to you – 802-388-4969.
Did you know you need to update your NMP every year to stay in compliance with the State of Vermont Required Agricultural Practices (RAPs)?
If your plan is out of date or you need assistance in updating your nutrient management plan, UVM Extension can help!!
If you took a NMP class through UVM and designed your plan in goCrop, please call the office where you took your original NMP class, or contact your closest location (listed below). You will need manure sample results every year, soil sample results every three years, and field records of the activities you performed annually. You may also need updated rotation calculations, depending on your situation. UVM Extension can help you identify everything you need and walk you through the process of getting it accomplished.
The three locations that can help you are:
Middlebury Extension Office – 802-388-4969 or 1-800-956-1125
St. Albans Extension office – 802-524-6501 or 1-800-639-2130
St. Johnsbury Extension office – 802-751-8307 or 1-800-545-8920 (800 numbers toll free in Vt.).
At Middlebury UVM Extension Office
23 Pond Lane Suite 300, Middlebury, Vt
we are holding update sessions on the following days:
These sessions are for folks who have already taken a class with UVM Extension. If you have not taken a class with us, but would like help, give us a call.
Our sessions are informal. Please bring a lunch or snack if you need it to keep you going!
We have laptops, or you can bring your own. Remember to bring your NMP binder along with any records and documentation, including your login information. If your goCrop account is out of date you will need to renew your subscription with debit or credit card. If you have any other paperwork that is related to an updated NMP, such as MFO/LFO permitting, bring that along too. If you have new fields, you will need new maps and field information, including yearly and average RUSLE2 calculations.
[Past- Middlebury, VT October 18, 25, November 1, 8, 2018]
10:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m
The fee is $40 which includes The Art and Science of Grazing book by Sarah Flack. This class is for farmers who currently own livestock and want to create, improve or expand their pasture management system.
Want to change from confinement or set rotation to management intensive grazing?
Have a grazing plan, but want to better understand how to implement it?
Need grazing infrastructure (e.g. fence, water, animal trails) and would like to design a system that may qualify for NRCS financial assistance?
Pasture plant identification of common species, looking at favorable growth conditions, and how plants respond to grazing impact.
Pasture nutrition and how it can affect grazing behavior and overall intake and animal performance.
Grazing management concepts such as measuring dry matter availability, determining paddock sizes, stocking rate versus stocking density and overall acreage requirements.
Soil health in pasture systems and the benefits of soil, forage and manure testing to understand nutrient cycling and nutrient management within pasture systems.
Pasture system design to determine infrastructure needs and management techniques to avoid overgrazing damage, decreased carrying capacity and other negative impacts.
Grazing record keeping systems and the benefits of monitoring and documenting activities
In addition to 4 class dates, there will also be opportunity for one-on-one consultation.
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!
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)
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.
We just finished a two-year, multi-farm study on the health of clay soils, funded through a VT Conservation Innovation Grant through the NRCS. Measures of soil health (using Cornell’s soil health test) were not consistent, and we found that comparing practices over time was more informative than comparing field to field. One interesting, and maybe
obvious, lesson was the correlation between soil health practices and crop yields.
So, how do soil health practices influence yield? Research suggests soil health can improve yields. It is important to note our project focused on demonstration, not replicated research. We compared no-till and conventional/reduced till corn silage on 5 farms with clay fields in our region. A simple t-test revealed no significant difference in yield between no-till (19.1 tons/acre) and conventional (19.2 tons/acre). More importantly, we were able to demonstrate that a farmer can grow no-till without yield losses, and be successful with good management practices. A yield gain might take time as the soil builds up its condition.
We also wondered how cover crop species or mixes might affect corn silage yield. We had an opportunity to use a field where the corn was accidentally killed. We planted 15 different combinations, including 4 single species, 6 two-way mixes, and 5 three-way mixes. This project was a slight anomaly in that the cover crops were planted with a drill in late August, which allowed for a more vigorous production of all cover crops. Radish was a star in the fall, maximizing both phosphorus and nitrogen uptake. We did not measure phosphorus content in the spring, so we do not know how much was retained in the soil. It seems to have allowed
for more available nitrogen in the soil at the time of a pre-sidedress nitrogen test (PSNT), therefore requiring less nitrogen. Surprisingly, legume mix covers had good fall biomass, but that did not translate into more N mineralization.
We applied nitrogen to each plot as per the PSNT recommendation for 20 tons/acre corn silage. At the end of the season, we measured corn silage
yield and compared that to nitrogen applied (see graph). The winter rye plot had a lower corn silage yield and required more nitrogen. Other than the nutrient effect of less uptake and slower decomposition, there may have been a physical barrier created by the standing rye crop, which was particularly vigorous in the spring. However, our three-way mix (winter rye – oats – radish) actually had the highest average corn silage yield, even though it required more N at PSNT time than the pure radish stand.
So, do not go abandoning your winter rye just yet. In fact, we think this three-way mix has promise and we are looking for a mix that gives both fall and spring soil conservation. Radish alone will winter kill, which may be good for mineralization, but not as good for spring soil conservation. Oats also winter kill but provide faster fall soil cover than rye by itself.
When using an over-wintering cover crop, it is clear that timing and success of termination is critical for subsequent crop yields. Nitrogen mineralization may happen later in the season with a plant such as winter rye that has a heavier carbon content. In a no-till system particularly, you may need to adjust your nitrogen rates/timing and put more on upfront. If you are using cover crops, a PSNT seems like a wise investment.
It is also important to remember that soil health is a long game, and it may take time to see the results of your labors with cover crops. We have replicated this project by replanting these cover crops in the fall of 2016, this time planted in September, and will look at this again this coming season.
We all have learned a lot about using no-till and cover crop farming practices on clay soils over the past few years, and feel good about it because improving soil health for the future really is important. If not, I don’t think you would be farming.
But the fabric of agriculture is a bit tricky as one side pulls the covers off the other, then back, and over and over. Field practices to improve crop yields and water infiltration come back to bite us with reports of fear that this will increase the amount of dissolved phosphorus in the soil, which is exactly what you want for better crops, but not if it leaks out and pollutes Lake Champlain. Now the quilt comes off again and it becomes apparent that the environmental damage may be increased by activities like improving soil health with tile drainage, no-till planting, even cover crop roots that go down into the soil to reduce compaction. All are field practices we promote with confidence that this will solve the “problem”.
Now in a recent report from Farm Journal, Field Agronomist Ken Ferrie discusses how improving soil health increases the concerns about nitrate and water-soluble phosphorus losses down through the soil. But let’s not stop with that part of the equation. This is not a bad thing; it’s just that now farmers need to be even more aware of how their field management practices impact their P losses. And how important the work we do at Extension to compare different cropping system components helps farmers decide what balance of tillage and crop types is right for their farm. One response is to stop if we are afraid; the other is to carefully move ahead with calculated confidence that we are making a positive difference, measure the effect, recognize some new problems, and move ahead.
The Required Agriculture Practices are now here, and we will have a lot of “quilt pulling” as changing one thing like – requiring buffers along ditches – may trigger responses that are counter-productive like installing tile in the whole field and burying those ditches. Which way is better? I’m not sure; just that when the quilt gets pulled off me, I pull back. Switching to no-till corn is a proven way to help soil aggregate structure, greatly reduce soil erosion and reduce fossil fuel use. Yet the reaction is that preferential flow paths through the soil form as a conduit to move manure and P too fast through the soil matrix.
The Vermont Tile Drainage Advisory Group report has been submitted to the Agencies of Agriculture and Natural Resources, and will inform the Secretaries for their joint report to the legislature in January. I participated on that advisory group and the discussions highlighted that these issues are not simply good and bad. Every action, like improving soil drainage, forces a conflict between a current farm business and family sustainability, and the cost of water quality remediation for past indiscretions in our lake that we are faced with fixing.
The only way that we will be able to keep a reasonable perspective is for everyone (both sides of the bed) to continue to be vigilant to maintain a good balance of using our land resources to make money, but keep the water clean. This will never end, as the challenges of farming in Vermont are made more difficult with awareness of how a little P makes such a big problem in the Lake.
I heard a great quote: “there are no wrong turns on the journey, just course corrections when we figure out where we want to go next.” I think we should be focused on learning how to make the best next moves, together, for farming practices that will help us meet the P reduction goals of the Vermont Clean Water Act. I don’t agree with the folks who want to curtail the dairy industry in Vermont with hopes that a different farming model or land use is better. Get active in your local farmer watershed group (there are three in Vt.), come to conferences and workshops we offer to get better at these decisions, speak up so the general public and legislative policy makers hear your voice.