The Fair is scheduled for Tuesday, August 10 through Saturday, August 14. For schedule, exhibits and forms visit https://www.addisoncountyfielddays.com. We need your crop submissions to make our display spectacular! Submit your crops at the north end of the 4-H Exhibit Building on Monday, August 9, between 8:00 a.m. and noon. Judging begins at 1 p.m. Contact Karen Gallott if you have any questions about entries – 802-388-4969, email@example.com
On the Wild Side: Planting Food Plots
This post is from our Summer 2021 Newsletter by Jeff Carter.
I have had great success utilizing summer seedings in early August to grow high quality food plots for fall. The same system used in farm fields for seeding pastures and hay fields works for clover, chicory, peas, radishes and Brassicas for wildlife food plots. Remember that warm soil and fewer weeds means the new crop can grow very fast compared to an early spring seeding. However, water is needed for good germination, so wait until the hot dry days of July have passed. The seeding rates (below) are in pounds per acre (43,560 sq. ft.) so adjust according to your food plot size. Make sure to take a soil test before any crop planting, and remember to feed your crops lime and fertilizer if you want to feed the wildlife. Find wildlife food plot recommendations at https://go.uvm.edu/ag-testing.
I like to plant these mixes in separate plots, or side-by-side, right at the end of July or the first week in August:
• Cool season perennial: 8 pounds clover mix plus 4 pounds chicory per acre. Add 30 pounds of oats as a nurse crop (and to keep the bears busy) while the clover gets good roots established.
• Cool season annual: 6 pounds Brassica mix, plus 2 pounds radish per acre. Overseed 100 pounds of oat/wheat/rye mix 30 days later for a tasty treat in late fall that provides for winter feed and spring green-up.Toward the end of August, try this mix:
• Cool season Annual: 50 pounds oats plus 50 pounds winter peas. Add 100 pounds of wheat or rye in early September for that extra boost of feed. Reach out to Jeff if you have questions on food plots at firstname.lastname@example.org or 802-388-4969 ext. 332
Carbon in the Soil – How Much to Add, How to Measure?
This article is based on two accompanying articles by Jeff Carter and Kristin Williams in our Summer 2021 Newsletter. Read the full articles on page 6 and additional info from Kirsten Workman on page 1.
Adding carbon to agricultural soils is being tossed about as the preferred currency for extra payments to support farms, improve soil health for better crops, hold precious rainwater, and reduce those pesky CO2 greenhouse gases (GHG) in the atmosphere which are hurting our planet. This leaves farmers and service providers asking, “how much carbon should we be trying to add to our soils?” The short answer is, “as much as you can.”
Right now, the Vermont Climate Council, the Payment for Ecosystem Services (PES) workgroup, and the Addison County Climate and Economy Action Committee (CEAC) are all discussing the values of increasing carbon in farm fields, for short-term income, long-term soil base preservation, and GHG mitigation. Easy to talk about, but much harder to accomplish if you are a farmer.
The University of Vermont is in the process of soil health testing, including measuring carbon for multiple projects. This include a Conservation Effects Assesment Project (CEAP) lead by Joshua Faulkner with support from our team, which is a long term water quality project in Addison County. Allison White is conducting a ‘State of Soil Health’ survey of farms across Vermont. Joshua is also leading another initiative looking at soil health and climate.
Read the full articles in our Summer 2021 Newsletter.
Check out these sites for the status of these projects in Vermont:
Opportunity for Farmers to Develop Grazing Plans
This fall, through Northeast SARE funding, we will again offer a grazing management course for farmers to learn about the benefits and challenges of grazing from both economic and environmental perspectives. Participating farmers will develop a plan specific to their own operation that considers their personalized farm goals.
The class will meet once per week over the course of a month and each farmer will receive a copy of Sarah Flack’s book “The Art and Science of Grazing” as both the course textbook and helpful future reference. Outside of class, one-on-one farm visits will provide additional support as new practices and strategies are implemented on the ground.
Read more about the course on page 3 of our Summer 2021 Newsletter. You can also contact Cheryl Cesario at 802-388-4969 ext. 346 or email email@example.com.
Our Summer 2021 Newsletter is Here
In This Issue:
- Focus on Agriculture
- News, Events and Info You Should Know
- Opportunity For Farmers to Develop Grazing Plans
- Managing Nitrogen in Hay and Pasture Crops
- How Much Carbon Should You Add to Your Soil? and Soil Health Testing Coming to a Field Near You
- On the Wild Side
- Addison County Fair and Field Days Crop Entry Info
Read the full Summer 2021 Newsletter as a pdf.
Managing Nitrogen in Hay and Pasture Crops
This article is part of our Summer 2021 Newsletter by Kirsten Workman.
Perennial crops can be hard to target for nitrogen (N) applications, as the decision often depends on stage of establishment and species composition. Both factors change over time and adjustments should be made from season to season, or even within the same season. Below are factors to consider when trying to target the most efficient use of manure-based and purchased nitrogen in your perennial crops.
Grass and legumes (alfalfa, clovers, trefoil) each have very different nitrogen needs. Grass crops will respond readily to both manure-based and fertilizer-based nitrogen. Grass species not only reward adequate N supply with increased yield, but also increased quality. Applying up to (and sometimes over) 200 pounds of nitrogen per acre on grasses almost always yields an economically viable response. Legumes, on the other hand, do not need additional nitrogen from manure or fertilizer. Legumes have a fascinating symbiotic relationship with a soil-borne bacteria known as rhizobia. Rhizobia fixes atmospheric nitrogen in nodules on the roots that it colonizes, and then transforms it into plant-available nitrogen. As a result, a clear stand of clover or alfalfa would not need additional nitrogen fertilizer or manure to reach maximum yield or quality. However, very few hay or pasture stands in Vermont are 100% grass or legume, and most farmers want a combination to maximize the benefits of species diversity and production. In these cases, we adjust the recommended nitrogen application rate to maximize production but still encourage the legumes in the stand to fix nitrogen. Fixing nitrogen is a trade-off for the plant, which shares carbohydrates with the rhizobia. This means that if extra nitrogen is available, plants can become “lazy” and not invest energy in that association. Additionally, a mixed stand with legumes that is treated with N up to the grass rates will encourage a shift of dominant species towards grasses as the grasses begin to outcompete the legumes.The table below shows how the nitrogen recommendations change depending on the legume content of the stand. In this case, grass is defined as any stand with less than 30% legume.
Because N is mobile (both in the soil and the plant), it is important to split applications to maximize uptake by the plant and reduce losses. With hay and pasture, fortunately, we take multiple harvests and have the opportunity to split applications into reasonable amounts to be utilized by the crop over the course of the season:
• Grass: split applications into 50 to 75 pounds per acre increments, ideally following each harvest.
• Mixed stands (30-60% legume): one single 40-pound application; if applied in early spring, a second 40-pound application may be beneficial.
N During Establishment (New Seedings)
Nitrogen fertility is not recommended for establishing legumes and mixtures. The exception is when a small grain is seeded with the legume or mixture. In this case, a 30 pound per acre application is recommended to get the companion crop up and growing ahead of the weeds. For a new grass seeding, the following recommendations apply:
• 50 pounds per acre for a spring seeded crop.
• If more than one harvest occurs in the seeding year, a second application of 40 to 50 pounds should be applied.
• Late summer seedings only need 30 pounds per acre.
Reducing Needed N With Maintenance of Legumes
If nutrients are limited and you are trying to reserve manure-based nitrogen for crops like corn or pure grass, take steps to maintain legumes in your stand. This will reduce or eliminate the need for manure or purchased nitrogen. Strategies to help maintain legumes include:
Maintain higher soil pH (6.8).
• Leave adequate crop residual between cuttings, but especially after your last cutting.
• Consider a less intensive cutting schedule to ensure adequate regrowth between harvests. Time your last harvest to allow for adequate regrowth before frost.
• Monitor and maintain adequate potassium and boron levels in the soil.
At the end of the day, managing nitrogen resources on hay and pasture crops will pay off. A well-fertilized grass crop will pay you back in most years. However, manure is especially tricky, as it is easy to overapply N on mixed stands and this can contribute to legumes becoming less competitive, leaving the stand open to weeds. If you want to maintain legumes, back off on N and manage for legumes. Split applications for the best effect and, if possible, utilize low disturbance injection to really make the most of N in manure applications.
Making nutrient management decisions systematically on your farm and keeping good records is all part of having a nutrient management plan. Even without a formal plan, you can make informed decisions based on these basic principles. We are here to help farmers optimize yields and manage their inputs wisely.
*All recommendations are from “Nutrient Recommendations for Field Crops in Vermont” (September 2020, https://go.uvm.edu/br1390). For specific recommendations, consult your crop adviser or call Kirsten for more information. If you would like help managing nutrient application rates, or have other related nitrogen questions, contact Kirsten at firstname.lastname@example.org or 802-338-4969 ext. 347.
Sign Up for New Priority EQIP Practices
In Vermont sign up deadline for all 2021 EQIP contracts is March 19, 2021.
You can still sign up for EQIP after that, but you will be considered for next year.
VT Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) has announced a top ten “high-priority” list of Environmental Quality Incentive Program (EQIP) practices. The state chose these practices to motivate producers to implement important practices that address critical resource issues but that are not as widely adopted. This is part of the 2018 Farm Bill – states were allowed as of 2020 to provide increased payment rates for up to 10 high-priority practices. These practices will be incentivized at a 90% cost payment rate. In consultation with each state’s Technical Committee, the State Conservationists designates their state’s priorities.
In Vermont, the ten priorities are: Contour Buffer Strips (332), Cover Crop – multi-species only (340), Residue & Tillage Management – reduced-tillage (345), riparian forest buffer (391), Pasture and Hay Planting (seeding down continuous corn) (512), Open Channel (582), Stripcropping (585), Nutrient Management (manure injection only) (590), Tree / Shrub Establishment (612), Phosphorus Removal System (782).
Some of these practices are probably more familiar to our audience than others, like reduced tillage. Other practices like stripcropping offer soil conservation benefits particularly on steep slopes, but are not commonly seen in our area. Open Channel refers to a two-stage ditch, and Phosphorus (P) Removal System is the installation of an end-of-pipe filter system to mitigate P losses in tile drains.
If you are interested in signing up for one of these practices, call your local NRCS office, in Middlebury – 802-388-6748. You can also call our office – 802-388-4969, if you’d like to discuss how we might assist you in getting a project implemented. NRCS accepts applications on a rolling applications but processes them in batches, sign up deadline for 2021 practices is 3/19/21.
Clarification for Changes to 590 NMP Standard
VT NRCS has made some changes to the 590 standard, which is the standard that applies to Nutrient Management Planning.
The most important change is what is allowable under a medium and high P-Index score.
Here is a summary of some changes:
VT NRCS summary of changes as shared by Sandra Primard, State Agronomist:
Recently the VT Nutrient Management Standard 590, UVM ‘Nutrient Recommendations for Field Crops in Vermont’ and the Vermont Phosphorus Index have undergone updates.
The UVM ‘Nutrient Recommendations for Field Crops in Vermont’ corrected some typos, made a few minor edits for clarity and updated sample soil and manure submission forms. The recommendations have NOT changed. The new version is BR.1390.3 and can be found at https://www.uvm.edu/extension/agriculture/vermont-phosphorous-index
The Vermont Phosphorous Index updated the nutrient management interpretations of the Vermont PI scores to fit the new VT 590 standard. The new version is Version 6.2. No changes to the structure or calculations in the P-Index were made, just the resulting nutrient management interpretations which are given at end of this email. Scores produced using Version 6.2 should be identical to those produced using Version 6.1, given the same inputs. The Vermont Phosphorous Index can be found at https://www.uvm.edu/extension/agriculture/vermont-phosphorous-index
The updated VT Nutrient Management Standard 590 occurred because every five years the NRCS National Headquarters updates the National Standards. Then each state shapes the National Standard to fit their state. Each state can make the National Standard stricter but not less strict. Vermont worked with its many partners to update the standard so that it fits with the State laws of the Required Agricultural Practices (RAPs) and the State Water Quality Regulations. In the past, the Vermont added language in the standard was in blue font. Now it is in bold italics. The VT 590 can be viewed here:
Summary of 2020 VT Nutrient Management 590 Standard Changes
Aligns with the State water quality regulations and requirements including the Required Agricultural Practices (RAPs).
Soil tests must be no older than 2 years when developing new nutrient management plans.
Additional clarification on annual sampling of manure tests.
Additional clarification on realistic yield goals.
Additional clarification on applying nutrients on frozen, snow covered and saturated soil conditions.
The Plans and Specification section has been developed more fully.
The Operations and Maintenance section has been developed more fully.
Vermont Phosphorus Index
The medium rating of the VT PI requires P application not to exceed crop P removal rate or soil test P recommended rate.
The high rating of VT PI also requires P application not to exceed crop P removal rate or soil test P recommended rate. In addition, a soil P drawdown strategy is needed along with implementation of mitigation practices.
The very high rating of VT PI requires no manure or P fertilizer applications. In addition, a soil P drawdown strategy is needed along with implementation of mitigation practices.
NMP Updates for 2020-2021
North West Crop and Soils Team has developed a factsheet that walks you through the process of updating your NMP in goCrop.
See a recent video recording which walks through the basics of NMP record keeping and a pdf of slide notes (also housed on their NMP page).
See changes to VT NRCS 590 Nutrient Management Planning Standard.
They’ve created an Records Sheet to streamline the process:
Our website has NMP resourses as well.
Given the realities we face, we’ve decided to make NMP Updates one-on-one, on an appointment basis only. You should have received a letter or email from Susan Brouillette letting you know. We will also be reaching out to folks in the coming months. We are encouraging folks who can to have one-on-one video chats, in which we can walk anyone through the process of updates. We are happy to also help folks set up video chat if you are unfamiliar with it. We also encourage everyone to do as much work ahead of any meetings as possible, including gathering records. Phone call appointments are also available.
Give us a call at 802-388-4969 to schedule an appointment.
Below is the letter Susan Brouillette sent to individuals who have taken past NMP classes. If you took your NMP class with us (Middlebury, Richmond, Rutland), give us a call. Otherwise, you can call Susan with questions. This letter contains additional info on what materials are needed to prepare for updating your NMP!
Our Current and Ongoing Office Policy
The Middlebury Extension office is open by appointment only. Please plan ahead and give us at least 2 days’ notice to make arrangements for your appointment by calling 802-388-4969. This way we will be able to meet your needs.
- Face masks are required upon your arrival at the office
- Sign in at the front desk for contact tracing
- Use the provided hand sanitizer
- Maintain a 6-foot distance between yourself and others
If you do not feel comfortable coming to our office, please call 802-388-4969 leave a phone message and we will return your call in one business day. We will do our best to provide you with the service you need.
January 2021 – goCrop is being updated! Hopefully those updates will make it easier to get your records entered and roll over your plans. However, we are happy to help everyone navigate these new changes as smoothly as possible.
Curl Up Next to Fire with our Newsletter – Fall/Winter 2020
This season we have combined the Fall and Winter Newsletter.
In This Issue
- Focus on Agriculture, by Kirsten Workman
- News, Events and Info You Should Know
- Winter Planning for 2021 Farm Risk Management, by Jake Jacobs
- Nitrogen, An Overlooked Macronutrient, by Kirsten Workman
- Transition to Grazing: Farmers Thinking Outside the Box, by Cheryl Cesario
- Giving Credit Where Credit is Due: Farmer’s Practices Make Gains Towards Meeting TMDL, by Kristin Williams
View the Full PDF Here!
See our highlighted article on Nitrogen management (which will become a series) as a blog post.
Important update on our No-Till, Cover Crop Symposium included in the newsletter:
We have made the difficult decision to forego our annual in-person No-Till and Cover Crop Symposium in order to comply with COVID safety precautions, and keep folks safe and healthy. But we have some other exciting options in the works. The 2021 event was intended to be a partnership between our conference and the Northeast Cover Crop Council’s Annual Conference. The NECC Annual Conference has moved online and will be held on March 4, 2021. Save the date and stay tuned for more details including an agenda which will be posted soon on the http://northeastcovercrops.com/ website. In addition the Champlain Valley Crop, Soil and Pasture and Northwest Crops and Soils Teams are working on bringing the NTCC Symposium ‘hyper-local” by potentially hosting smaller in-person meetings (with remote participation available) to build on the virtual NECCC meeting and fill the void of the NTCC Symposium. If there are topics you’re interested in hearing more about in your locale, reach out to Kirsten at email@example.com and let her know.