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Champlain Valley Crops, Soils & Pastures – BLOG PAGE

Grazing Road Trip

Posted: November 5th, 2012 by Champlain Valley Crop, Soil and Pasture Team


UVM Extension Grazing Specialists Kim Hagen and Cheryl Cesario (taking the picture) spent the day last week with Willie Gibson of NOFA-VT and grazing expert Darrell Emmick from NY state. The group visited an organic dairy farm in East Montpelier and a grass-fed beef operation in Waitsfield. They spent a whirlwind day discussing topics such as large herd grazing planning, forage quality and quantity, and reclaiming pasture land.

In the Press: UVM tests aerial planting of cover crops

Posted: October 18th, 2012 by Champlain Valley Crop, Soil and Pasture Team

Read this article in VT Digger about our Aerial Cover Crop project.

UVM tests aerial planting of cover crops.

New Grazing Guide From UVM Extension

Posted: October 11th, 2012 by Champlain Valley Crop, Soil and Pasture Team

Managing Pasture as a Crop – A Guide to Good Grazing, written by Darrell Emmick while on staff at UVM Extension in Middlebury is now available. The 80 page book is a great read for livestock farmers who want to learn more about getting the best from their land.

Check it out HERE Managing Pasture as a Crop

Managing Pasture as a Crop

A Guide to Good Grazing, by Darrell L. Emmick, Ph.D.

Top Grazing Mistakes (and how to avoid them)

Posted: October 10th, 2012 by Cheryl Cesario


The Northeast Organic Dairy Producers Alliance (NODPA) annual field days recently took place in Brattleboro and while this event is a chance for organic dairy producers across the region to get together, many of the topics presented are relevant for any grazing dairy producer, organic or not. One of the great workshops was ‘Top Grazing Mistakes’ presented by three grazing experts – Sarah Flack, organic consultant; Dr. Cindy Daly,  California State University; and Kathy Soder, USDA Agricultural Research Station in Pennsylvania. This is a brief excerpt. A complete article from this workshop can be found by clicking HERE. 

What are some common mistakes made by dairy grazers?

  • Inadequately designed system/infrastructure (incorrectly sized paddocks, too few or too many acres, poor grounding for fencing, poor quality land used for grazing)
  • Pasture nutrition problems (overfeeding protein in the barn and lack of forage quality in the pasture)
  • Less than ideal grazing management (resulting in overgrazing damage, soil erosion, an increase in weeds, less productive plants, and internal parasite issues)

At this time of the year it is important that pasture plants go into winter with enough energy reserve for next spring. Remember that the plant height you see above the ground is an indicator of the root length below the ground. Sending plants into dormancy with 1 inch of overall height does not give them much energy storage for survival, as these reserves are generally stored in the first 2-4 inches of the plant base. Overtime this can result in weakened plants that die out and decrease the overall density and quality of the pasture. Keeping a higher residual height will allow plants to store more energy and get a robust start in the spring.


So what are some of the practices at this time of the year that can result in overgrazing damage?

  • Removing the interior fences and letting cows ‘clean up’ the pastures.
  • Letting animals graze the same pasture for more than 3 days.
  • Returning animals to a pasture before all the plants have regrown. At this time of year, that period is approximately 40 days.
  • Not adding additional acreage into the grazing rotation when plant growth rates slow down.
  • Using follower groups that graze close and do not leave enough plant residue.

If you have found yourself doing any of the above, don’t despair! Now is the time to identify any issues and formulate a plan for next year to ensure that pastures remain healthy and productive all season long.

Drilling Cover Crops into Vegetable Fields

Posted: October 2nd, 2012 by Champlain Valley Crop, Soil and Pasture Team

Drilling Cover Crops into Vegetable Fields.

Check out this photo album on our facebook page of The Farm at VYCC using one of our No Till Drills to plant winter rye cover crops into their veggie fields.

Winter Triticale Forage

Posted: September 28th, 2012 by Champlain Valley Crop, Soil and Pasture Team

Trying to decide on a cover crop this fall?  Thinking about trying to get a double crop by harvesting it for forage in the spring?  Have you thought about Winter Triticale??

Cornell Extension Agronomy Fact Sheet: Winter Triticale Forage
factsheet56.pdf (application/pdf Object).

Aiming for Higher Profits | University of Vermont Extension Agronomators

Posted: September 27th, 2012 by Champlain Valley Crop, Soil and Pasture Team

Aiming for Higher Profits | University of Vermont Extension Agronomators.

Champlain Valley Crops, Soil & Pasture Team : University of Vermont

Posted: September 27th, 2012 by Champlain Valley Crop, Soil and Pasture Team

Champlain Valley Crops, Soil & Pasture Team : University of Vermont.

Have you seen our new website?

Conservation Field Days 2012

Posted: September 27th, 2012 by Champlain Valley Crop, Soil and Pasture Team

Click on the link below to see a photo album on our Facebook Page of the team educating Addison County 5th and 6th graders about conservation farming practices.

Conservation Field Days 2012.

Tillage Radish: An Exciting Pasture Plant

Posted: September 20th, 2012 by Champlain Valley Crop, Soil and Pasture Team


Our no-till drill saw a lot of pasture activity during summer of 2012 and one of the many exciting things we experimented with seeding was tillage radish. Unlike the little red radishes you find in your salad, the tillage radish is a large tap-rooted variety that has the ability to grow several inches long in a short period of time. As with other tap-rooted plants, it has the ability to pull up nutrients from deeper in the soil and also helps break up soil compaction. The radish, being an annual crop, will rot over the winter months leaving a channel where it grew the previous year. This channel enables water and air to percolate into the lower soil layers.

One farmer who has been experimenting quite a bit with tillage radish is Guy Choiniere of Highgate. Guy broadcasts a mix of radish and ryegrass seed at 10 pounds to the acre. He will typically seed heavy use and other problem areas in June with a seeder mounted on his ATV. Once the radish has established, Guy lets his Holstein cows graze the radish tops. The tops re-grow enabling the cows to graze them again later in the season. If you haven’t already seen the UVM Extension ‘Across the Fence’ program about this project, click here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AYHL5CCkhYM

Addison County farmers have wondered if the radishes would do as well on our heavy clay soils (Guy’s soils are fairly sandy). This season we were able to seed tillage radish with the no-till drill into pastures on farms in Addison, Cornwall, and Orwell. Success was noted in Cornwall, where radishes were seeded onto land that had been grazed and rooted by pigs. Seeding occurred before a light rain and germinated after just 2 days. Plants seeded in mid-August grew tops over a foot tall before frost set in and radishes grew up to 6 inches long. Next spring we hope to do more seeding trials earlier in the season so that the radish can grow to its full potential. Stay tuned!

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