A weekly blog for all things conservation
By: Nathan Dewing, Agricultural Team Leader, BCCD
Early each year the Bradford County Conservation District’s agriculture committee holds a strategy session. We consider how we are accomplishing our mission and reconnect with WHY we do what we do. Our mission (from an agricultural perspective) is to engage farmers and consumers to manage resources wisely. When we ask ourselves why, the answers sum up something like this – “because the small decisions we can impact today, turn into foundations for generations.” We use words like this and others like - planning ahead, lasting, sparking curiosity, and coming alive, to describe the process we go through in understanding the natural system. Learning to make wise use of natural resources like soil, water, air, sunlight, plants and wildlife can again shift a farmer’s perspective from work to worthy enterprise, and a consumer’s perspective from food to health.
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: Kevin Brown, Ag. Resource Specialist
It is that time of year again. For the very important, local people that bring food to your table, it is the time of year to be thinking about how I am going to manage, and even improve, my field health through the winter months. (This goes for gardens too). Typically, we have given our fields a rest for the winter. Sounds like a good idea, right? Everything needs a rest. Well, in this case, a rest is basically the starvation of the very soil life that we need to help us grow food. Look up any kind of article or research on soil health. Two of the things that good soil health requires are to always keep it covered and have a living root in the ground. Soil biology feeds off living roots. Take away the root, take away the food. Take away the food, everything dies. You are left with the D word (dirt- which is not even a word in most soil professions). Why do we want a field to work for us 4-5 months out of the year and against us 7-8 months of the year? It just doesn’t make any sense. Read some articles from other parts of the country. They will tell you that they couldn’t make a living on one crop per year. They need multiple crops per year. It would help us an awful lot here too. How do we do this? Cover crops.
Various staff at the Bradford County Conservation District