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: 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.
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: 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