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 kirsten.workman@uvm.edu and let her know.

Nitrogen: An Overlooked Macronutrient

By Kirsten Workman, Agronomy Specialist

This article was originally printed as part of our Fall-Winter 2020 Newsletter.

In the Champlain Valley, we spend a lot of time and effort managing phosphorus (P). Rightfully so, as it is the pollutant behind algae blooms in Lake Champlain. Our clay soils often bind to it tightly, making it less available to plants when they need it most, and it isn’t perfectly balanced with crop needs in our manure applications. All of this makes it a tricky nutrient to manage. However, we have taken our eye off another primary macronutrient as a result.

Nitrogen (N)

Nitrogen is the dominant macronutrient in agriculture. While it hasn’t had top billing here lately, it is probably the most important and studied nutrient from a crop production standpoint. Without adequate nitrogen, yield and quality can be compromised. Nitrogen drives vegetative growth and protein content, having a direct correlation with forage value in livestock systems and nutrition in food crops. In watersheds where the receiving surface waters are marine (e.g., the Connecticut River which drains to Long Island Sound, or the Mississippi River which drains into the Gulf of Mexico), nitrogen causes water quality issues like eutrophication and algae blooms – the same problems that phos-phorus causes in Lake Champlain. Generally, N is much more mobile than P in soil. Because of this, it is often prone to loss. The primary pathways for N loss are:

• Volatilization – N turns into ammonia gas and dissipates into the atmosphere. (Applying nitrogen when temperatures are cool, a light rain is expected to facilitate incorporation, or by physically mixing it with the soil can reduce volatilization risk. Nitrogen stabilizers can also inhibit this reaction.)

• Denitrification – Occurs in saturated soil conditions when nitrate turns into N2 and N2O gas. (Good soil drainage, high soil organic matter and proper pH, split N applications and nitrogen stabilizers can help prevent excessive denitrification.)

• Runoff – Carries nitrogen from manure, fertilizer and eroded soil off the field into ditches, creeks, rivers and streams. (Field buffers, reducing erosion, properly timed nutrient applica-tions can reduce N runoff.)

• Leaching – When N can’t attach to soil particles or be taken up by plants, it easily leaches downward with soil water toward groundwater and even out tile drain outlets. This is much more common in sandier soils that do not have the water holding capacity of heavier soils like clay and loam. (Applying manure and nitrogen fertilizer during the growing season, proper nutrient management, avoiding fall-killed sod, and utilizing cover crops to increase nutrient uptake can decrease the amount of N leaching.)

A primary reason nitrogen is analyzed so much, is that farms can often see immediate impacts from over or underutilizing nitrogen. In addition, good N management can also save a farm a significant amount of money in fertilizer savings. This often gets overlooked when N prices are low (as they have been recently), and farms are prone to “insurance applications” of N to make sure they aren’t shorting their crops. With prices averaging between $0.28 to $0.41 per pound of N¹ (depending on the type of fertilizer), it can seem like a cheap way to ensure good yields and quality. However, in a time of tight margins and increasing environmental regulation this can be an unsustainable way to operate. And if you are an organic producer, the $3 to $5 per pound cost of N fertilizer means you probably already understand the value of farm-produced nitrogen, and being as efficient as possible with those homegrown and purchased sources of N². In 2018, Vermont agricultural producers utilized almost 10,000 tons of nitrogen fertilizer, with another 7,000 tons of multi-nutrient fertilizers that likely had some portion of nitrogen³. In comparison, during this same time period, 15 tons of phosphate fertilizer was sold for agricultural use.

In the coming months, we’ll dig deeper into the world of nitrogen and see where we can do a better job providing our crops with adequate nitrogen without breaking the bank or causing unintended environmental consequences. We will consider:

– Corn and Nitrogen: Managing N in corn silage crops and how do we know if we’ve overdone N applications? A Caring Dairy Prove-It Project case study on Corn and Nitrogen.

– Managing N in hay and pasture crops and letting nature pay your fertilizer bill.

– Manure and N management – how do we make the most of the nitrogen in our manure?

– HomegrowN – taking credit for all the nitrogen on your farm, not just the stuff you purchase outright.

If you have a question about N fertilizer or manure management you can also contact Kirsten at kirsten.workman@uvm.edu.

One tool available to producers to evaluate N management strategies is the Corn Stalk Nitrate Test (CSNT), seen here on the Gosliga Farm (Addison, Vt.). It is designed to be a report card assessment at the end of the season to help modify and improve N management strategies on the farm in future years. The CSNT is a useful tool that indicates whether the nitrogen supply for that year was low, marginal, optimal, or in excess of what the corn needed this year. Corn that has received inadequate N will remove N from the lower cornstalk and leaves during the grain filling period. Plants that have received more N than needed to attain maximum yields tend to accumulate nitrate-N in the lower stalks at the end of the season.

Citations:

¹ August 2020 (Progressive Farmer by DTN), https://www.dtnpf.com/agriculture/web/ag/crops/article/2020/08/12/fertilizer-prices-remain-lower-first

² Organic N price based on estimated costs of bulk sodium nitrate (a.k.a. Chilean nitrate)

³ VAAFM, 2018-2019 Vermont Fertilizer Analysis Report https://agriculture.vermont.gov/sites/agriculture/files/documents/PHARM/Fertilizer/Annual%20Report%20Fertilizer%202018-2019.pdf

RESOURCES: https://extension.missouri.edu/publications/wq252 http://cceonondaga.org/resources/nitrogen-basics-the-nitrogen-cycle

NMP Updates for 2020

Note: UVM Extension is currently developing resources for farmers updating their NMPs using goCrop. More updates soon!

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!

Reminder:

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.

Spring Newsletter is Here!

View the Newsletter Here (pdf link)

In This Issue:

  • Focus on Agriculture, by Jeff Carter
  • News, Events & Info You Should Know
  • Opportunities for Grazing Funding, by Cheryl Cesario
  • Grassland Manure Injection: By The Numbers, by Kirsten Workman
  • Two Bedrock Professors Retiring: Will Be Missed in Jeffords Hall and Beyond
  • End of Gypsum Project Leaves us with Important Lessons and Questions, by Kristin Williams
  • USDA Authorized Flexibilities Help Producers During the Coronavirus Pandemic, by Jake Jacobs
  • Notes on the Wild Side, by Jeff Carter

Newsletter Highlight From Grassland Manure Injection: By The Numbers (pg. 4)    With funding from VAAFM’s Clean Water Fund and the help of Ken and Debbie Hicks at Hicks Equipment, we purchased the right equipment from the Netherlands. With the expertise of Eric Severy of Matthew’s Trucking to operate it, we began demonstrating the utility of this system. Shallow slot grassland manure injection gets liquid dairy manure just two inches below the soil where it is protected from runoff during rain events while still well within the root zone where the plants will use it. Read More

Save the Date: 2021 No-Till Cover Crop Symposium March 4-5, 2021. More information coming soon.   We’re joining forces with the Northeast Cover Crop Council to bring you a full day and a half of information related to no-till and cover cropping. go.uvm.edu/ntccs    If you missed this year’s symposium you can also read presentation pdfs and the proceedings online.

Soil and Manure Sampling Changes and Lab Operations

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 Maine.
  • Manure can be frozen for months, just make sure you leave enough space in the jar for expansion.
  • Empty 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.

Soil Samples:

  • 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.

NMP Update Sessions

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.

Contact our office for more details, 802-388-4969.       

To request a disability related accommodation to participate in this program, please contact Karen Gallott at (802) 388-4969 or 1-800-956-1125 (toll-free in Vt. only) so we may assist you.

2019 Conservation Farmer of the Year

November 5, 2019; 10:00 am – 2:00 pm  

At the Addison Fire Station, 44 VT Rte 17, Addison, VT  

The Otter Creek Natural Resource Conservation District (NRCD) recently named the Correia Family, owners of Wynsum Holstein’s, as the 2019 Conservation Farmer of the Year and will be hosting an event to honor the family.   

There will be a free lunch, but please RSVP by October 18, to Pam Stefanek at Pam.Stefanek@vt.nacdnet.net   

Tony and Barbara, along with their sons Jeff and Stephen, manage a herd of over 400 Holstein’s at their medium sized operation in Addison, Vermont. Their farm is in the McKenzie Brook Watershed, which was identified as a priority area of focus for USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS). The Correia’s work closely with conservationists and have developed a conservation plan in partnership with the NRCS and Otter Creek NRCD. They grow corn, grasses, and alfalfa, and practice no-till, reduced-till and cover cropping. They have also worked with NRCS to install a rock-lined grassed waterway. Wynsum is named after an old English word for “pleasant natured”, and forty-five years after it was first founded, the family remains committed to conserving natural resources on and around their operation.

Stay Cool and Read Our Newsletter – Summer 2019

In this Issue:

  • Focus on Agriculture: Summer Seeding Options & Other Management Adjustments, by Jeff Carter
  • News, Events & Info You Should Know
  • Save-the-Date 2020 No-Till and Cover Crop Symposium
  • USDA 2017 Census of Agriculture Results, by Kristin Williams
  • Focusing on Effectiveness with Grass-Fed Beef, by Cheryl Cesario
  • Vermont Farmers Are Conservation Leaders, by Nate Severy
  • Nutrient Mass Balance: Operating in the Green Zone?, by Rachel Orr 
  • Research Update: Gypsum Trails, by Kristin Williams

View our 2019 Summer Newsletter Here!

2018 Summer Newsletter is Here!

Read the entire PDF here!

In this Issue:
Blog links:

Field Day with Manure Grassland Injector!

FRIDAY, JUNE 8, 2018
10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
Barnes Black & Whiteface Ranch – Bridport Ventures Farm
Please join us to see our new grassland shallow slot manure injector in action!  

 

WHAT YOU’LL SEE & HEAR 

  • Veenhuis Euroject 1200 grassland injector.
  • Dragline manure application.
  • Hicks Sales LLC (Vermont Veenhuis dealer) will be on hand to talk about this technology and other models available in the United States.
  • Eric Severy, Matthew’s Trucking, will share his experience and expertise with manure injection and talk about how the equipment works and what situations might be best suited for it.
  • UVM Extension Agronomists will discuss the benefits of injection and how it can reduce runoff and increase yields.
  • Farmers will share their experience using other forms of manure injection.
  • Find out more about how to get this grassland injector on your farm.
DON’T FORGET TO RSVP:
champlain.crops@uvm.edu | 802-388-4969 x347
June 8, 2018
10:00 – 12:00
Or contact Kirsten Workman if you have questions or want more information.   
To request a disability-related accommodation to participate in this program, please contact Karen Gallott at 802-388-4969 or 800-956-1125 by June 6, 2018 so we may assist you.