June 9, 2013

Farm briefs: June 9, 2013


---- — Applications are due for Conservation Stewardship

MALONE — The Natural Resources Conservation Service’s Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) will provide about $175 million in funding for up to 12.6 million additional acres enrollment this year.

Although applications are accepted all year, farmers, ranchers and forestland owners interested in CSP should submit applications by June 14 to their local NRCS office to ensure they are considered for this year’s funding.

“CSP is different than our other financial-assistance programs,” said NRCS State Conservationist Don Pettit. “It offers payments to producers who maintain a high level of conservation on their land and agree to adopt higher levels of stewardship. It’s about conservation activities on the entire operation, focusing on multiple resource concerns.”

Because of the extreme weather in 2012, more interest and participation in the cover crop enhancements is expected this year, according to NRCS experts. Other CSP enhancements available help to improve soil quality, water quality, plant health and/or animal habitat.

A CSP self-screening checklist is available to help producers determine if the program is suitable for their operation. The checklist highlights basic information about CSP eligibility requirements, stewardship threshold requirements and payment types.

Information regarding NRCS New York conservation programs can be found at Anyone interested in applying may visit Applicants may also apply by visiting their local NRCS field office, which can be located using the web site


Mixer for farmers to be held at Grange Hall

KEESEVILLE — The Greenhorns organization will be holding a Grange Summer Solstice Revival at the Keeseville Grange Hall on the shore of the Ausable River in downtown Keeseville Saturday and Sunday, June 22 and 23.

Participants may join them for an afternoon hay-wagon multi-farm tour plus an evening with history, poetry, music, dancing and local food to celebrate the height of the summer season. Local farmers will be running at a gallop to get in all the crops and keep them weeded, so their efforts will be toasted at a celebration feast of the longest day of the year.

The party is open to farmers from other regions as well. Last time, there were farmers from five states plus Canada in attendance. An RSVP required. Contact cara@thegreenhorns for a full schedule and confirmation.

The event is organized by The Greenhorns, a five-year-old grassroots organization for young farmers recently re-located to the Champlain Valley. Greenhorns produces multi-platform events, workshops, mixers, publications and new media for and about young farmers, including a new documentary (still in production) called “Our Land.” Greenhorns will be selling their 2013 New Farmers Almanac and presenting a travelling exhibit about the history of the grange. Also in attendance will be Erik Andrus of the Vermont Sail Freight Project along with a model of his sailboat.

The Vermont sail barge will transport hot sauce, salsa, jam and other shelf-stable products down the Hudson River in September for the boat’s maiden voyage. Andrus will make a presentation about the construction of his sailboat, about his own Vermont farm where he grows commercial organic rice and the vision for a fleet of distribution vessels owned by farmers up and down the Champlain Valley.

There will also be a spoken-word performance from Laura-Brown Lavoie, an urban farmer from Providence, R.I., and a performance by Pocatello, a rural punk band from the Hudson Valley. Participants will feast on produce and pork from local farms including Fledging Crow in Keeseville, Juniper Hill Farm in Wadhams and Smithereen Farm in Essex with rhubarb and strawberries on the menu if the weather cooperates.


Farms successfully growing winter cover crops

PLATTSBURGH — Farmers in Northern New York and a Cornell University research team are evaluating the value of planting winter cereal crops, such as triticale, wheat and cereal rye, as cover crops for spring harvest as a forage for dairy cows.

The farmer-driven Northern New York Agricultural Development Program funded two years of cover-crop trials on 11 North Country dairy farms in 2011 and 2012. Eight Northern New York farms are participating in 2013 trials to learn how much nitrogen is needed at crop greenup to grow the winter cereal crops as cover crops for harvest in May as forage.

When the grains are grown as cover crops that are also harvested for forage, they can increase annual per-acre crop yields. The cover crops also help protect water quality, reduce soil erosion, conserve plant nutrients and improve soil quality.

The research focus has included the amount of nitrogen taken up by the cover crop seeded after corn silage harvest, the amount of N that can be credited for use by the spring-planted crop after the cover crop is harvested or plowed into the soil, and the yield and forage quality that can be expected from harvesting the cover crop.

At McKnight’s River Breeze Farm in Waddington, Travis McKnight successfully harvested triticale planted as late as early October in the Northern New York climate. He plants in well-drained or tiled fields that are in second-fourth year corn.

Yields at Mapleview Dairy in Madrid were excellent in 2011 and 2012, but the trial this past winter showed that without snow cover triticale can winterkill with prolonged periods of exposure to low temperatures.

Trials on these St. Lawrence County farms show the potential for cover crops to provide excellent yields of high-quality forage. The trials also demonstrate that attention to recommended crop-management practices, such as seed-bed preparation, is critical to success.

More information on this research is on the Cornell Nutrient Management Spear website at Detailed results also are posted at


Empire Farm Days promises new info, exhibits

SENECA FALLS — The 2013 Empire Farm Days is set for August 6 through 8 with new attractions for all agricultural interests. This is the 26th year the Lott family has hosted the Northeast’s largest outdoor agricultural show that fills 300 acres with the latest equipment, educational seminars, demonstrations, test driving and ask-the-experts opportunities. The show runs from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Tuesday and Wednesday and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Thursday. Admission is free; parking is $10.

For the dairy-minded, the 2013 Dairy Profit Seminars are focused on the next generation of young dairy operators, robotic milking technology and how to measure, monitor and improve cow comfort. The free seminars start at 10:30 a.m. and are open to the public at the Empire Farm Days Dairy Seminar Center. Industry updates from the American Dairy Association and Dairy Council and the Beef Checkoff Program will be offered, and a picnic lunch follow immediately. 

On Wednesday, Aug. 7, the 2013 class of Junior Dairy Leaders graduate with presentations of their experiences with the hands-on program for 16-to-19-year-old youth interested in learning about career opportunities in the dairy industry.

Dairy operators interested in learning more about how to comply with farm-worker housing requirements can take advantage of the new mini-seminars on farm labor offered by the New York State Department of Labor daily at 10 a.m., 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. New York State Agriculture Labor Specialists Parker Filer and Laura Tramontana will also address how to use forms developed specifically to assist agricultural employers in complying with New York’s Wage Theft Prevention Act. 

New product exhibits will feature everything from one-piece group hutches for calves and a natural fine-texture agricultural lime for balancing soil pH to cover crop seeders, large capacity mixing wagons, LED lighting, and the latest in smart remote control technology.

Those interested in farm and home-size wind energy opportunities can see turbines on display and attend daily information presentations at the Wind Center.

Cattle handlers will want to stop by the 11:30 a.m. daily demonstrations by Cornell University Beef Extension Specialist Dr. Mike Baker, who will be working with the latest equipment and demonstrating the farmer-developed Bud Box method for directing cattle into chutes and pens. The New York Beef Industry Center is also adding clipping demonstrations this year.

Learn more at or contact Empire Farm Days Manager Melanie Wickham at 877-697-7837,