Clean Water Initiative Program

Join s on June 28th for a ‘Lunch and Learn’ session with UVM Extension farm business advisors Tony Kitsos and Zac Smith as they discuss the details of the Clean Water Initiative Program (CWIP). They will also review examples of how farms can utilize financial assistance programs to implement water quality improvements.

Topics to be discussed include – Background on RAPs, – Types of farms and examples of water quality improvements, – Review of assistance programs, and – Farmer stories/examples

Click here to sign up to attend the webinar –

The CWIP provides funding to UVM Extension Agricultural Business program to work with dairy, livestock, and other farm businesses who are currently addressing water quality issues.

Questions? Please contact Zac Smith, 802-696-8755 or

USDA Pandemic Cover Crop Program (PCCP)

This new program is for farmers who have crop insurance coverage and have planted cover crops.

The USDA Risk Management Agency is providing a program for producers who have crop insurance and planted qualifying cover crops. This new Pandemic Cover Crop Program (PCCP) provides additional premiums to reduce crop insurance premium bills to help them maintain their cover crop systems. PCCP is available for most insurance policies.

The window to apply for the additional $5 per acre premium is short. Producers must file the Report of Acreage form (FSA-578) by June 15, 2021, at their local FSA county office.

You can find links to additional information and FAQ’s and the USDA RMA Fact Sheet about this program on the UVM Ag Risk website or you can search out this information on the USDA RMA website

Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP)

CREP takes agricultural land that is located along waterways and is currently in perennial and annual crops out of production to plant riparian forest buffers. You could receive payments for land that may not be very productive, and you could help improve water quality and critical habitat for some species.

For more information, visit or contact Ben Gabos at or Phillip Wilson at

Northeast SARE Now Accepting Preproposals for 2022 Projects

The Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program is seeking preproposals for three grant program: Research and Education, Professional Development, and Research for Novel Approaches. Preproposals, which capture the preliminary project concept, are required for each grant program and are due online by 5 pm on August 3.

A webinar about Northeast SARE and these grant programs will be offered on June 24 at noon. Although free, registration is required at: The webinar will be live captioned. To request a disability-related accommodation to participate, please contact Deb Heleba at or 802-651-8335 ext. 552 by June 3.

For more details, please go to NE SARE web page –

NE SARE is funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture and housed within University of Vermont Extension. Questions about the grant program should be directed to

VAAFM Farm Agronomic Practices (FAP) Program

The Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Farm and Markets FAP Program is open for applications for conservation practices planned only between July 1, 2021 and June 30, 2022. Applications will be reviewed in order of receipt and the Agency may not fund all applications.

Learn about FAP program requirements and rates:

The FAP program can provide funding for the following practices: conservation tillage (no-till), cover crop, crop to hay with or without a nurse crop, manure injection, and rotational grazing. Please submit one application for all practices planned July 1, 2021 until June 30, 2022.

Applications which include Rotational Grazing are due June 15, 2021. Applications which include Cover Crop are due August 1, 2021. For all other practices, applications must be submitted 30 days prior to practice install.

If you are applying for rotational grazing, you must submit a grazing plan and map, clearly indicating which pastures you are seeking assistance for, with you application. Please keep in mind that any applicant seeking assistance through FAP will be ineligible for financial assistance if the applicant is receiving financial compensation for an equivalent practice on the same field under another state or federal agreement.

If you have specific questions about practice eligibility, or how the FAP program works, you can contact Nina Gage at or 802-622-4098 or Sonia Howlett at or 802-522-4655.

Apply now

Solar Cropping System grant announcement

UVM EXTENSION EARNS GRANT TO STUDY SOLAR CORRIDORS ON FARMS Burlington–University of Vermont (UVM) Extension recently received a $68,438 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service to work with farmers interested in trying “solar corridors” in their corn silage fields. The project will be led by Dr. Heather Darby, a UVM Extension agronomist based in St. Albans and head of the UVM Extension Northwest Crops and Soils Team. Over the past decade, the team has worked with farmers to adopt cover cropping projects across the state. This new research project will further enhance the conservation benefits of cover crops on Vermont farms.

Solar corridor cropping systems use wide-row spacing of narrow, single or twin rows of corn to create a corridor between rows. This practice maximizes the amount of sunlight reaching the cover and corn crops, which can increase the yields of both. This type of cropping system also allows crops to grow throughout the year, which contributes to soil carbon storage, thus keeping carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere. In addition, better cover crop establishment aids water quality by increasing ground cover and holding soil in place to reduce nutrient runoff into lakes and streams.

Darby and her team will work with farmers to implement this new practice and develop practical and suitable recommendations for the Vermont landscape. Results will be shared at UVM’s No-till and Cover Crop Symposium, the Northeast Cover Crop Council annual meeting, Franklin Grand Isle Farmer’s Watershed Alliance meetings and on-farm field days, including UVM’s annual Northwest Crop and Soils Field Day.

More information about the research and outreach work of the Northwest Crops and Soils Team can be found at

Frost Seeding

Spring is right around the corner, but it might not be too late to think about forage improvements! Frost seeding is a simple practice that can help improve pasture and hay field yield, quality, and composition over time. The general principle of frost seeding is to broadcast forage seed onto pastures or hay fields in early spring when the ground freezes at night and thaws during the day. The time is now! Below are some helpful tips to make your frost seeding a success.

Expectations- Frost seeding will not look like a new seeding. New plants will grow over time and hard seed may sit around for a while until conditions are right. The first year you may not notice a huge difference but frost seeding a little bit each year around your farm can help maintain stands and avoid the need to do costly and extensive reseeding.

Limit competition– Frost seeding will be more successful where the seed can easily reach the soil surface. Fields that have a lot of bare ground showing or where you have grazed or mowed very short, will be more successful than fields with a lot of residue covering the ground.

Be ready to go when the conditions are right– At this time of year, fluctuations can happen quickly. Be ready. Walk your fields and decide which are the best candidates for frost seeding and what you’d like to seed (more on species selection below). When the snow is gone or mostly gone and the ground is freezing at night but thawing during the day, you should frost seed. Sandy soils that don’t heave and shrink under these conditions are generally poor candidates for frost seeding.

Species selection– To be ready when the weather is ready, you must select your species and purchase seed ahead of time. Frost seeding is more successful with legumes and grasses that can germinate quickly in cool temperatures. Red and white clovers are generally the most successful legumes while perennial ryegrass and orchardgrass are relatively successful grasses. Seeding rates of recommended species can be found in the table below.

Equipment– Frost seeding is often done with seeders mounted on ATVs, or a tractor mounted or hand held broadcast seeder. When frost seeding with a broadcast seeder, make sure to first determine the effective seeding width to avoid possible overlap of seed. Although not always necessary, a disk or cattle can help incorporate the seed into the soil. A no-till drill can be used but this will increase the number of trips across the field.

More information on frost seeding can be found at

Happy seeding!

Evaluating the Sensory Characteristics of Organic Grassfed Milk

By Roy Desrochers, Heather Darby, and Sara Ziegler

In the food and beverage industry, marketing and sales can get you first time buyers. However, product sensory quality — specifically aroma and flavor — are what drives repeat purchases and creates sustained market share. Simply put, food and beverage products that best meet consumer expectations for smell and taste sell better. Despite the rapid expansion of the grassfed milk industry in the last few years, little is known of the sensory characteristics and consumer preferences for grassfed milk. To address this, researchers from the University of Vermont, University of New Hampshire, and the USDA Agricultural Research Service (ARS) were awarded a USDA Organic Research and Extension Initiative grant to explore many aspects of grassfed dairy production in the U.S. One of the goals of the research is to gain a better understanding of the sensory quality of grassfed milk, and which factors at the farm level influence the presence and intensity of milk aroma and flavor characteristics preferred by consumers. And while we are still analyzing the results, at least one general finding stands out so far: There is a lot of variability in the aroma and flavor of grassfed milk products.

The research team is using a three-phase approach, each working at a different level within the grassfed milk value chain, to address these objectives: 1. Evaluate, characterize, and document the variability of grassfed milk aroma and flavor available to consumers in the U.S. market. 2. Evaluate and document the sensory characteristics of grassfed milk collected on-farm. 3. Define and quantify consumer overall liking for the aroma and flavor of grassfed milk samples representing a range of aroma and flavor quality.

What are sensory characteristics? Sensory characteristics are grouped into aroma and flavor. Aroma is what you smell when you sniff with your nose. Flavor includes everything you perceive when you put a product in your mouth, such as what you taste on your tongue, what you smell in your nose, and how it makes your mouth feel. Your tongue detects five basic tastes using its taste buds: sweet, sour, salty, bitter and savory (umami). Everything else that you think you taste in your mouth is actually flavor compounds that travel from your mouth to your nose through the back nasal passage. You can try this at home by simply holding your nose while you taste a food product. While holding your nose, you will be able to taste any of the five basic tastes present, but nothing else. When you let your nose go, you will taste (actually smell) the rest of the flavor. Mouthfeels are exactly what the term implies, which is how your mouth feels during and after consuming a product. For example, your mouth might feel dry when eating bread, or you may pucker when you drink a sour lemonade. In the case of milk, you will often experience a fatty or creamy coating inside your mouth.

Objective evaluation: Although laboratory analyses may be able to measure something like the pH or salinity of a sample, they cannot accurately measure the wide range of aroma and flavor a human can perceive. Therefore, the type of sensory evaluation in this project requires using humans as an objective analytical instrument. To evaluate samples objectively, tasters are trained using known reference standards to identify aromas and flavors on a standard, seven-point intensity scale: 1- No smell or taste, 2- Very slight smell or taste, 3- Slight smell or taste, 4- Slight-to-moderate smell or taste, 5- Moderate smell or taste, 6- Moderate-to-strong smell or taste, and 7- Strong smell or taste.

Trained tasters evaluate samples using the intensity scale to measure the following aroma and flavor attributes: Total intensity of aroma: The overall intensity of smell (aroma) of the sample. Balance: The harmony of the flavor. If individual flavors stick out and are easy to detect, the flavor is not balanced. Fullness: Fullness is a measure of the complexity of flavor. If the product tastes simple and thin, it is not very full. Total intensity of flavor: The overall intensity of taste of the sample. Five basic tastes: The intensity of sweet, salty, sour, bitter and savory taste on the tongue. Mouthfeel: The overall intensity of mouthfeel regardless of the type. This may be a mouth coating, dryness, salivation, etc. Others: The overall intensity of other notes detected that do not belong in one of the previous categories. Aftertaste at one and three minutes: The overall intensity of taste, regardless of what it is, left in your mouth at one and three minutes after your last sip. Others at one and three minutes: The intensity of other tastes in the sample at one and three minutes after the last sip. Mouthfeel at one and three minutes: The overall intensity of mouthfeel at one and three minutes after your last sip.

A panel of trained tasters used this approach to evaluate organic grassfed milk products purchased at supermarkets and grocery stores. In total, the trained tasters evaluated 35 milk samples representing the spring and fall seasons, three major milk companies, and three regions of the U.S. Although we are still analyzing results, so far we have learned: • Grassfed milk aroma and flavor vary between regions. • Grassfed milk aroma and flavor vary between seasons. • There is variability in grassfed milk aroma and flavor between milk companies. • There is variability in grassfed milk aroma and flavor within each milk company.

Again, these aroma and flavor differences were found in retail milk that had been both pasteurized and homogenized. This indicates there might well be major differences found in the bulk tanks of different farms. Recently, our project team began evaluating the aroma and flavor of grassfed milk samples collected directly from farms. So far, sensory analysis has been conducted on 31 milk samples from 29 farms in Vermont and New York. A second round of milk samples will be collected in the winter of 2021 to assess seasonal differences in milk aroma and flavor.

Although the study is yet to be completed, thus far we’ve seen that the range of sensory qualities collected on grassfed farms is similar to the supermarket samples. These findings are encouraging, as they indicate a possible opportunity for improvement by linking on-farm factors to grassfed milk sensory quality. For instance, it is very possible that specific grassfed feeding strategies can be developed with the idea of improving and maintaining the reliability of aroma and flavor qualities. We hope to initiate the consumer testing aspect of the project in late 2021. This testing will establish a specific sensory quality index that we can assign to all on-farm milk samples. We will then be able to correlate these against the farm factor data we are collecting to determine which factors and practices aid milk sensory quality.

We will continue to share results as they become available. Please feel free to reach out if you have any questions or feedback: contact Heather Darby at or 802-524-6501. This work is supported by OREI Project no. 2018-02802 from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture.

Roy Desrochers heads up the sensory panel at UVM Extension and has over 37 years of experience working with food and beverage companies around the globe on issues relating to aroma and flavor.

Dr. Heather Darby is an Agronomist and Nutrient Management Specialist at UVM Extension where she leads agronomic research, outreach, and education programs on a wide variety of crops and cropping systems.

Sara Ziegler is a research specialist at UVM Extension focused on forage production and grass-based dairy systems.

Pasture, Rangeland, and Forage Insurance

Here is information shared by the RMA program and a link to a USDA news release about a public comment period on Pasture, Rangeland and Forage Insurance. The comment period is open until November 5, 2020. Comments can be submitted via email to or by mail to Director, Product Administration and Standards Division, Risk Management Agency, United States Department of Agriculture, P.O. Box 419205, Kansas City, MO 64133-6205.

Questions? Please contact Jake Jacobs, email: or message phone line: 802-656-7356 Website:

Be on the Look Out!

Hemp Diseases Creeping into Fields Across Vermont

Following are pictures of Septoria.

As the weather cools, rains, dews and fogs are becoming more common and diseases are on the rise. In the past couple of weeks, the UVM Hemp team has been scouting fields in the state and noted Alternaria and Septoria foliar leafspot diseases and Powdery mildew on plants. The foliar leafspots start low in the plant as small discreet circular spots (often with advancing yellow margins) that can coalesce over time and result in defoliation. The spores from these pathogens are rain splashed or blown throughout the foliage with each rain or wetting period. As air circulation becomes poorer in bushy mature plants, leaves are slow to dry off, increasing infection. Plastic mulches can help retain soil moisture and prevent spore splash up to the lower leaves early in the season. In one field, a Vermont grower used mulch both in the rows AND the alley ways, and no foliar leafspots were noted during scouting last week. This extra protection may have reduced humidity and helped minimize the incidence of leafspots. Although leafspots rarely kill a plant, they increase plant stress, reduce vigor and can negatively impact yield depending on their severity.

Powdery mildew is another foliar fungal disease that is becoming common in some fields now. This pathogen’s spores results in the characteristic white powdery coating on the foliage. This disease can be managed with applications of potassium bicarbonates and the horticultural oils. Again, repeat applications are necessary to keep foliage and buds protected. Below are pictures of Powdery mildew.

Fungicides may be necessary at this point in the season to protect the foliage and flower buds from further infection. Fungicides would also help protect buds from botrytis blights as the season progresses. Fungicide options in Vermont are limited to Bacillus spp. (Double Nickel, Serenade); Streptomyces spp. (Mycostop, Actinovate); several mineral or plant oils; hydrogen dioxides and peroxides, Regalia™, potassium bicarbonates, etc.

See link for the full list of what is allowable in the state:

These materials are applied as ‘protectants’ and would need to be reapplied on a regular basis until harvest. As with any pesticide, read the product label carefully and follow the instructions listed on the label.

Skip to toolbar