A weekly blog for all things conservation
Kevin Brown, BCCD, Ag Team Leader
So, it is that time of year again. Time to let the animals out to pasture. No more feeding them stored forages that you had to make. No more catering to their every whim. Now, they can be let out and go take care of themselves. Well, at least for a short period of time. We like to say that we are “pasturing” our animals, but are we really? Yes, there are some that are, and do a really good job of it. However, opening the gate and letting them roam free on the same pasture for the next 6-7 months is not pasturing. That is an exercise lot. Yea, there may be some grass growing there originally, but unless you have an expansive pasture, that goes away fast. And even if you have a big enough lot that you don’t have to feed them any stored forages, you really aren’t doing the best thing for any of the resources you have. I will try to give you some information on some of the things going on with this style of “pasturing” that you may not know. It could make you a lot more money.
By: Kevin Brown, BCCD
In case you missed last week’s meeting, I will give a quick overview of some of the information that was gone over at the meeting. First off, ANYONE that owns a farm animal needs to have a Manure Management Plan. Period. One chicken, one cow, one horse, etc. Now before you go getting all jacked up, it is easy as pie to do. We all know of an operation somewhere that only has a few animals and they are having a huge impact on the stream. (That’s PC for what’s really going on). This is why it applies to anyone having a farm animal. Now, if you want to write the plan yourself, go to www.paonestop.psu.edu and you have the ability to write your own plan. You do not need to send it in anywhere. No one needs to verify it. You just keep it, and keep records on where your manure goes. If you have any questions, contact me and I will help you work through it. For an operation with only a few animals, it won’t take long at all. And, if DEP or the Conservation District stops for any reason, it will be the first thing they ask for. It is law.
By Kevin Brown- BCCD, Ag team Leader
If you are a regular reader of the column, or you have read something that sparked your interest, or you just disagree with something you have read, here is your chance to talk about it. We have received a grant to hold two meetings to talk about a lot of the conservation practices that we continually talk about and promote. I am going to structure the meetings to be more informal where we can listen to each other and find out what experiences other locals have had. There are a lot of people out there that are a lot smarter than I am and they have maybe done things a certain way for a long period of time and have been very successful at it. Why wouldn’t we want to hear from them? If you would like to be one of “them”, or if you want to hear from “them”, make plans to be there. I think we have plenty of great topics to talk about.
By BRIAN ZEIDNER
Over the summer I shared some of my hay-making experiences with you. I wrote about using nitrogen fertilizer, commonly known as urea, on hay fields. Many hay producers really want to know — Is it worth it? To answer that question, we must measure the quantity and quality of the harvest.
As noted previously, my first cutting off-farm, non-fertilized fields produced less than two round bales per acre, while my on-farm nitrogen-fertilized ground produced 5.5 round bales per acre. The increase in the amount of hay certainly seems substantial.
I also measured the quality of the hay using forage tests. I am raising beef cows and although there are many forage considerations, I look closely at three different measures on my forage tests, Crude Protein (CP), Neutral Detergent Fiber (NDF) and Energy (TDN). Although I reference these factors there are many other measurements on forage tests that a professional nutritionist may use to make recommendations.
By Kevin Brown, Ag Team Leader
For those of you out there who like to be controlled all summer long by your garden, feel free to only read the next sentence. If your routine for gardening every year is to rototill it two or three times, then pick rock, and then pick weeds all summer long; not to mention watering every couple days, this article is not for you. This article is for us lazy people who really like to have a garden, but like to do things other than continually tending to it. I met a person yesterday at our Green Career Day at Sunfish Pond who heard my talk and wanted to know more. She wanted a garden, but not all the hard work that came with it. I said, “Problem solved”. But, if you want to really do a great job with it, the time to start is NOW.
By: Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection
Pennsylvania’s Commonwealth boundaries encompass at least 85,568 miles of streams and 242 major publicly accessible lakes comprising 125,119 surface water acres. Section 303 of the Federal Clean Water Act requires that states, territories, and authorized tribes, collectively referred to in the act as "states," prepare water quality standards and assess all streams and lakes. Since1972 enactment, each water body is to have calculated an upper pollution limit that maintains water quality meeting state standards for each pollutant present. Standards vary among the states depending on each state’s protected uses. In Pennsylvania, these protected uses are listed as fish consumption, recreation, public water use, and biological life.
By: Kevin Brown, Agricultural Resource Specialist
We all know people who strive to have the best lawn in the neighborhood. If that is you, I am going to give you all the secrets you need to get you there. First off, have you ever thought, “what makes it the best lawn in the neighborhood”? Is it look? Is it because it is level and you can use it for many different things? Is it because it allows water to infiltrate into the ground which not only replaces the groundwater that you use for drinking and bathing, but also reduces flooding downstream? Is it the best based on functionality? I am not talking about what you can use it for. I am talking about how many life functions are going on in the lawn. What? What are you talking about? You have lost your mind? Stay with me a minute longer because I am first going to tell you that if you are one of the quintessential “best lawn in the neighborhood” people, you are probably doing just about everything wrong for the environment that you could do. Ouch, that hurt. Let me explain.
By: Brian Zeidner, Guest Columnist and Bradford County Beef Producer
I have a confession. I dislike numbers. But I do like information and have found that if I want to know how well my small beef farm is running, I need to measure my progress and track the results.
Tracking the grain inputs of steers when finishing and checking the grade of the beef after butchering lets me know and measure the quality of my product. Calculating manure application on the hay fields builds my soils and ensures I do not contribute to water quality issues with nutrient run-off.
By: Cathy Yeakel, District Manager, BCCD
Pennsylvania and neighboring states are working at local levels to clean up our state’s waterways that flow into the Chesapeake Bay. In 2019, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) submitted the Phase III Watershed Implementation Plan (WIP), which established tangible nutrient reduction goals based on locally-led initiatives to reduce water pollution, improve quality of life, address flooding problems, and obtain credit for previously installed best management practices. Within the Phase III WIP, all 43 Pennsylvanian counties within the Chesapeake Bay watershed were tasked with developing their own Community Clean Water Action Plan (CAP).
By: Kevin Brown, Agricultural Resource Specialist
Hopefully part 1 gave you some things to think about and maybe even got your blood boiling a little bit. That was my intention. I want you thinking about this and even thinking that maybe you can do something about it in your own little corner of the world. It really doesn’t take much to make a huge difference in some cases. Our goal, as homeowners AND business owners, should be that absolutely no rainwater leaves our properties, especially in normal rainfall events. NONE. I know it is easy to run inside while it is raining and just not realize, or maybe even care, where that rainwater is going. Well we should. Next time it rains, grab the rain suit and head outside. Take a stroll along your property and take note of what you see. Are you adding to the problem, or not? Is water leaving your property, or not? If it is, is there anything you can do about it?
Various staff at the Bradford County Conservation District