October 13, 2013

Farm briefs: Oct. 13, 2013


Halloween fest to be held at Country Dreams Farm

PLATTSBURGH — On Saturday, Oct. 26, from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., Country Dreams will host their first ever “aMAZEing halloWINE” festival.

Country Dreams Farm, opened in 1993, is a working farm specializing in fall and winter fun for the whole family. Celebrating the spirit of Halloween, visitors of all ages are encouraged to come dressed in costume to enjoy all of the festivities including wine tasting in the corn maze from 5 to 9 p.m. (must be 21 or older), a family friendly corn maze from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., a costume contest for adults and children, Gordie Little telling ghost stories at dark around the bonfire with S ‘mores, the Old Country Grass Band from 2 to 5 p.m., a barbecue chicken dinner, a farmers market, a petting zoo and goat mountain, a crooked corn house and kids play area, and pumpkin picking in the pumpkin patch.

Tickets for the event are $15 per person, which includes entry to the corn maze, wine tastings and the barbecue chicken dinner. Tickets can be purchased at Country Dreams Farm in advance or the day of the event.

For more information, call 561-8941, visit or log onto

Also, a Pink Pumpkin Patch will be held at the farm in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Country Dreams Farm has teamed up with the Pink Pumpkin Patch Foundation to aid in the fight against breast cancer. For every pink pumpkin sold, Country Dreams Farm will give a percentage of proceeds to organizations involved in breast cancer research.

Visitors to Country Dreams Farm can now take home these pink pumpkins and help spread the word by placing them on their porch this fall.

Country Dreams Farm, located at 260 Pellerin Road in Plattsburgh, is a working farm using horses for much of their “horse power.” It offers farm tours, winter sleigh rides, wagon and carriage rides and a fall corn maze and pumpkin patch. 

Tile Drainage Conference to be held at Miner

CHAZY — Miner Institute, in collaboration with the Northern New York Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and the Lake Champlain Basin Program, will host a Tile Drainage Conference on Thursday, Oct. 24, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Miner Institute in Chazy. The meeting is free and open to the public though pre-registration is encouraged. Register by contacting Rachel Dutil,, or 846-7121, Ext. 115. 

The meeting will be held at the Joseph C. Burke Education and Research Center, 586 Ridge Road in Chazy.

The practice of installing tile drainage in poorly drained agricultural fields to improve workability, crop productivity and profitability has been a key management practice for more than 100 years. Tile drainage can offer multiple agronomic and environmental benefits. Under certain conditions, drainage may accelerate the loss of certain nutrients and site-specific practices may be needed to reduce losses to surface waters.

Speakers include Dr. Matthew Helmers from Iowa State University discussing best management practices for water quality in tile-drained systems; Larry Geohring from Cornell University discussing historical and current drainage research in Northern New York; Dr. Bianca Moebius-Clune of Cornell Universty discussing how to use adapt-N to minimize nitrogen leaching to tile drainage water; Peter Wright from USDA-NRCS discussing the use of subsurface drainage in conservation practices using the New York State drainage guide; Dr. Eric Young of Miner Institute discussing tile drainage research at Miner Institute; and Dr. Aubert Michaud of the Quebec Ag-Environment Research and Development Institute (IRDA) discussing monitoring and modeling phosphorus flow path and speciation.

Grass, willow bioenergy research underway

WILLSBORO — As the nation prepares to celebrate the first National Bioenergy Day on Oct. 17, researchers funded by the Northern New York Agricultural Development Program are continuing their study of willow and grass crops as alternative energy sources for agricultural producers in New York’s six northernmost counties.

Cornell University Crop and Soil Sciences Professor Dr. Jerry Cherney is evaluating the potential for a closed-loop, regional renewable-energy system that makes marginal farmland productive, creates local jobs, lowers greenhouse-gas emissions and helps reduce dependency on fossil fuels. 

Since 2006, Cherney has developed and conducted on-farm research in response to the farmer-driven program’s interest in producing bioenergy with grasses harvested from regional farmland that is not otherwise productive. 

“A closed-loop system that would supply the Northern New York region with a homegrown heating resource created from grasses produced, processed into pellets or briquettes, and marketed locally would greatly reduce the use of non-renewable fuel sources, would lower greenhouse gas emissions, help farms reduce energy costs, improve soil health, maintain open spaces and generate rural jobs,” Cherney said. 

“The goal is to determine a process for identifying which mulch-type hay is appropriate for all scales of biomass combustion and/or which types would be better used for light industrial and industrial heating applications.”

Cherney is specifically focused on three species with high-yield potential and on the impact of soil type, soil moisture and fertility management on the yield and composition of switchgrass, reedcanarygrass and tall fescue as bioenergy feedstocks. The end use of the harvested grasses impacts how the crops’ potential is evaluated. For example, mixed-species stands may not work very well for ethanol production that requires uniform feedstock but would work fine for heating combustion use.

In a separate project, Cornell Associate Professor of Horticulture Larry Smart is establishing a shrub willow trial at the Cornell Willsboro Research Farm to evaluate varieties and to test new methods for more sustainable site conversion and crop establishment in typical Norther New York fields.