A weekly blog for all things conservation
By: Miranda Neville, Agricultural Resource Specialist, BCCD
In a fast-paced world that demands constant change with bigger-is-better ideals, many still look at small, conventional, dairy farming as an antiquated way of life. Often referred to as “stubborn farmers”, a term I’ve uttered myself more often than I care to admit…sorry husband, the advancement of farming practices has proven just the opposite. Ironically, if you were to sit down with those “stubborn farmers” you could learn so much about the growth of the industry and how they’ve had to evaluate, adapt, and adjust to so many new pressures.
The origin of the family farm was to provide a stable life for a family while supplying surrounding communities with farm fresh milk and locally grown produce. A simpler time. As communities got bigger, so did the demand on the farmer. Not only the demands, but more astringent regulatory requirements and increased skepticism from the general public. Though farmers are getting paid significantly less for their products, operating costs are at an all-time high and many cannot sustain. Dairy farmers are given two options: change to meet demands or sell the farm, the foundation of their family.
By: Kevin Brown, Ag. Resource Specialist
Every year at this time, we have a Soil Health Conference at the Wysox Fire Hall. It is THE place to be if you want to really be on the cutting edge of what is going on in soil health (Gardeners are welcome too. It is all the same soil). We talk about it all year long, but this is IT! This IS the place to be. If you don’t believe me, look at past presenters- Gabe Brown, Dave Brandt, Ray Archuleta, Russ Wilson, and the list goes on. Look for them on our web page, we have recorded some of the past presentations. Look for them on YouTube. They are the pioneers of this movement and we have had them right here in our own backyard. And, even though they are nationally renowned, we have had them here for only a $15 or $20 admission charge. This year’s group is leading the way and they are doing things that most people have never heard of, and making it work. They are doing things that outsiders would think just aren’t possible. Yet, not only are they doing it, they are getting more yield with less inputs. It is a win for everyone concerned (their wallet, our nutrition, the environment, etc.). This year’s talent will be every bit as good as past years. Maybe better.
By: Guest Columnist Troy Bishopp, Grazing Specialist, Upper Susquehanna Coalition
Conjuring Forrest Gump; “For no particular reason”, I went for a winter pasture walk and kept on walking. . .
And for no particular reason, I started to look at snow, as frozen water; ready and willing to infiltrate, when warming arrives on the landscape. In areas of the country where water is lacking, capturing this white moisture is a critical element for the tap, habitat or the future growing season.
By: Miranda Neville, Agricultural Resource Specialist
In a time when dairy farmers, or frankly any type of farmers, are struggling to stay afloat, the thought of passing down a family business seems like a very big dream and not so much a feasible reality. The struggles may be different than generations past, but one thing has stayed the same for many farm families; the concept that there is no greater place to raise a child.
Being a dairy farm mom to a spunky, sassy five-year-old daughter has been the most rewarding role. Working a full time, off-farm job at the conservation district, racing home to hear about all of the struggles of Kindergarten and making our way to the barn is our daily routine. The minute we walk in the barn any and all of our worries melt away and we are in our happy place.
By: Kevin Brown, Agricultural Resource Specialist
Every year the Conservation District organizes education days at all the local schools. We bring in the Game Commission, beekeepers, maple producers, farmers, and the like. We also do a station or two ourselves. Luckily, I often get to run one of the stations. It is the most fun I have all year. I love educating young people. I tweak my topic each time I do it, but the most basic stuff is always there. I try to bring it “home” for them. I would like to ask all of you the same thing I ask them, and really try to bring it “home” to you. What are the four things that we absolutely, positively must have to survive day in and day out? The younger kids usually get close to the right answers. I am sure there are some older folks that think cell phone, internet, cable TV and a car. You know the good stuff. My, how some of us have become “removed” from the important things that we absolutely MUST have. Have you guessed any of the four things yet?
By: Nathan Dewing, Agricultural Team Leader, BCCD
If anyone was ever deserving of the prestigious Leopold Conservation Award, it is the Jackson family of Mt. Glen Farm in Springfield Township, Bradford County. And Pennsylvania agreed, as the Sand County Foundation and Pennsylvania sponsors recognized the Jackson family on January 10th at the PA Farm Show.
Some would describe this as a lifetime achievement award in agricultural conservation, but it is more. Pennsylvania Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding described it as a multi-generational achievement award. Dean and Rebecca would be quick to credit those who have invested in them and set the pace before them. They may not realize it, but now this duo is doing the same for us.
Last week I wrote about “prime” soils and development pressure on prime farmland here in Bradford County. This week I would like to look at the three required components of farmland preservation and how the community can get involved with this important program. Farmland Preservation requires municipalities, landowners, and funding.
To be eligible for the county Farmland Preservation program, farms must:
1) be part of an Agricultural Security Area (ASA)
2) contain at least 50% class I through IV soils, as defined by USDA-NRCS.
3) contain at least 50% harvested cropland, pasture or grazing lands
4) contain at least 50 contiguous acres OR over 10 acres and utilized for a crop unique to the area or contiguous to a property that already has a permanent conservation easement.
By: Amy Kneller, Agricultural Resource Specialist, BCCD
We are often asked “Why preserve farmland here when there isn’t development pressure to protect it from?” While Bradford County doesn’t have the visible development pressure of southeastern Pennsylvania, our areas of prime farmland are under pressure to be developed.
By: Nathan Dewing, Agricultural Team Leader, Bradford County Conservation District
'Tis the Season for contemplation. Having just come through harvest and entering winter, the growing season pauses and cues us to do the same. The natural world silently screams for us to slow down. It is time to ask again the important questions like - who are we? and why are we? A good time for some solid business planning. Let's consider an often-overlooked opportunity you may way to bring into the picture - the one-tenth principle.
By: Nathan Dewing, Agricultural Team Leader
The Bradford County Conservation District celebrated difference makers at its annual appreciation dinner Friday night at the Troy Sale Barn. Volunteers were appreciated, land managers recognized, projects highlighted, supporters thanked and advances simply celebrated.
We all could stand to improve our habit of celebrating both big and little successes.
Conservation Districts set up within county jurisdictions across the country are boards of local residents who help promote sound use of natural resources in the community. Bradford County has excelled since its humble 1956 inception. Partnerships with land managers and community members are what make the wheels turn.
Various staff at the Bradford County Conservation District