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


By Jake Jacobs, Crop Insurance Education Coordinator

Extreme weather can put a farmer out of business, and anyone involved in production and agricultural business knows this very well. Given the variability of weather conditions in Vermont, it is somewhat common to experience excess water early in growing season, as is the case with this spring. This is in stark contrast to last summer’s drought, which caused different problems for area farmers. One tool to deal with this variability is insurance.

Forage seeding is insurable if:

1. It is alfalfa, or forage mixture

Birdsfoot trefoil. Photo credit: King’s Creek Farm.

containing at least 50 percent alfalfa, clover, birdsfoot trefoil or any other locally recognized and approved forage legume species (by weight); or
2. It is planted during the current crop year to establish a normal stand of forage. This policy does not cover any acreage that is grown with the intent to be grazed, or grazed at any time during the insurance period; or interplanted with another crop (except nurse crops).

Fall-Seeded Forage 2017
• Sales Closing Date: July 31
• Final Planting Date: August 31
• Acreage Report Date: November 15
Spring-Seeded Forage 2018
• Sales Closing Date: March 15
• Acreage Report Date: May 15
• Final Planting Date May 10

More info:
Fact Sheet on Forage Seeding
Talk with a Vermont-licensed crop
insurance agent: www.rma.usda.gov/tools/agent
NOTE: Deadlines vary by state.




Self-Certification of Small Farm Operators (CSFO) triggered by the Required Agricultural Practices (RAPs) is now ongoing. Info and forms for small farmers now required to certify at: agriculture.vermont.gov/sfo

One big change is the number of farms now falling under the requirement to have a nutrient management plan (NMP). “Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets (VAAFM) understands that few Certified Small Farm Operations will have a complete Nutrient Management Plan (NMP) for 2017, but that farmers should be actively working towards NMP
completion by taking modified Morgan extractant soil samples and applying manure at agronomic rates.” If you have questions about CSFOs, taking samples, getting your NMP or other RAPs regulations, we can help you navigate this transition. Stop by our Extension office or give us a call!

August 7, 8 a.m.-noon – Drop off crop entries to participate in our FIELD CROP EXHIBIT. Addison County Fair and Field Days August 8-12: We are looking forward to your entries. This is one way we connect with the public, describe the importance of agriculture, and how farming has changed over the years. From corn and hay to wheat and soybeans, help us show and tell everybody about the great crops you grow – then use your prize winnings on fair treats for the family!

See complete contest rules here. Or call our office and ask Karen for details [802-388-4969].

Champlain Valley Farmer Coalition’s monthly meetings and field day events are a great way for farmers to connect on water quality issues that go hand-in-hand with farm profitability. When faced with changing regulations and public views, we are stronger together. Come to a CVFC meeting or field day: discover and join this progressive, exciting group
of farmers and supporting business members. Schedule at:



By Kristin Williams, Agronomy Outreach Professional

With support from Mark Cannella, Farm Business Management Specialist

It should not be news that the new Required Agricultural Practices (RAPs) are coming into effect this month. While some farms may have to make relatively small adjustments to their production systems, others may have to make drastic changes to fully comply with the law. In economic terms, this law is an attempt to “internalize” some “externalities” of farming. That is, the costs of compliance will be borne by the farmer. In many cases, most notably “conventional” dairy production, these internalized costs are not easily pushed up the chain from farmer to processor to consumer.

As farmers are acutely aware, fluid milk prices are low. With the exception of the incentive program through Caring Dairy, milk payments to farmers are generally not connected to adoption of these practices. Therefore, farmers have to navigate how these practices, minor or major, play into their farm’s economic viability. Farmers without a comprehensive business plan or economic analysis may now need to take an honest look at where they stand.

In addition, major fixes to farmstead structural projects can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars and take substantial amounts of time and effort to implement. Experts working in the fields of regulation and farmer outreach need to be asking the question: “What is the phosphorus reduction in comparison to the costs of a given project, and how can both
conservation and farm viability be met?”

Practices and engineered structures, by rule, have to meet very specific guidelines in order to meet Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) standards for financial assistance, though it may or may not always be in the best interest of the farm operation for a given structural investment. Farmers navigating these choices should have a clear understanding of their business finances, and what the horizon looks like for their operation.


Enter Agricultural Business Programs (also known as Farm Viability) at UVM Extension. These programs teach and advise farm owners working to make the best decisions for all aspects of their business. This includes business planning support, financial analysis, research projects and educational training. Right now, the UVM Agriculture Business Team is inviting farms to participate in water quality business analysis. This is in addition to their foundational “farm viability” program that is always available for in-depth business planning or transfer/succession planning.

Farms enrolling in Water Quality Business Analysis projects work one-on-one with a business educator. The team facilitates strategic planning and nut-and-bolts financial analysis to ensure positive cash flow as farmers make changes to meet water quality goals. UVM Extension business educators serve in the key coordination role of the planning process when multiple people from state agencies, NRCS and land trusts need to be at the table to see a project move forward.

More Information:
Tony Kitsos, UVM Extension Farm Management Educator
Tony.Kitsos@uvm.edu, (802) 524-6501 or (800) 639-2130 ext. 440
WEB: go.uvm.edu/ag-business-management
BLOG: blog.uvm.edu/farmvia
Application: http://blog.uvm.edu/farmvia/files/2013/04/Water-Quality_-Application-2.pdf


By Nate Severy, Agronomy Outreach Professional

On June 13, UVM Extension and the Champlain Valley Farmer Coalition
teamed up to host a bus tour to six farms throughout Addison and Chittenden Counties highlighting spring conservation practices. The tour showcased manure injection, cover crop and no-till systems, pasture management, and nutrient management on dairy and vegetable farms. It was a long, information-packed day. One of the most amazing things was that all of the host farms had the same general message: they care about our environment, and are working hard, taking risks, and investing a lot of time and money to try to be the best farmers they can.

One tour participant commented that they were flooded with information and hadn’t realized just how much farmers are standing up and taking a leadership role to protect water quality. The event was a great example of how farmer organizations and UVM Extension can work together to support the agricultural backbone of Vermont.

One of the demonstration projects on the bus tour was a trial of rolling-crimping a winter rye cover crop, using farm built equipment. Rolling-crimping works best on a more mature cover crop, which may be useful in a spring like this one if winter rye becomes thick and tall because spring rains prevent termination. Rolling-crimping also helps facilitate the
mulching effect of the cover crop and, with correct furrow adjustment, should address issues of light penetration to young seedlings.

Separately, Jeff Sanders, from UVM Extension Northwest Crops
and Soils, received a grant to purchase and demo a planter-
mounted roller-crimper. This is actually a shield and two disks on the front of each planter unit, as opposed to a single roller-crimper. These attachments are angled to part the cover crop material and roll it away from the furrow where the corn is planted.

No-till corn planted into tall winter rye cover crop in Addison County clay soil using the UVM planter with Dawn roller-crimper attachments on the front of each planter unit.

We used this technology on two Addison County farms totaling around 50 acres. After 4 hours of adjusting the planter, we were successfully rolling-crimping! One farm field had manure injected several inches below the surface a month before planting and another field had large scale
cover crop trials. When compared to a regular no-till field, which can
look chaotic, there is a very satisfying symmetry when the field
is roller-crimped.

However, we had some setbacks while  planting. There was so much residue that every few acres we had to stop and clean the closing wheels because at least one would plug with winter rye. Specific closing wheels seemed to be plugging more often, and we will have to investigate that further. We also had issues getting adequate down pressure to crimp the rye stalks properly; this may not be an issue with a heavier corn

We will monitor the fields over the next few months, observing changes in water infiltration/retention and drought stress response, weed and pest levels, nitrogen availability, and corn yield.

Thanks to Jeff Sanders and the participating farmers! We look forward to sharing results and to future trials.

Videos of the planter in action: