UVM Extension - Champlain Valley Crop, Soil & Pasture TeamMAY 2012 
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Jeff Carter
Extension Agronomist
(802) 388-4969 ext.332

Rico Balzano
Agronomy Outreach Professional
(802) 388-4969 ext.338

Kirsten Workman
Agronomy Outreach Professional
(802) 388-4969 ext.347

Cheryl Cesario
Grazing Outreach Professional 
(802) 388-4969 ext. 346 

Poultney Mettowee NRCD
(802) 558-6470


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Q: ELSIE...What is that grass that has already headed out and is going to seed in my pastures?  It looks like Timothy, but I know it isnt't.  Help?Ask ELSIE

A: Meadow foxtail (Alopecurus pratensis L.) is the plant you are seeing and it typically flowers at the beginning of May. This species of foxtail is a perennial bunchgrass and is adapted to soils with a high water table. The inflorescence (arrangement of flowers) is similar to timothy, but is smaller and darker in color. Also timothy generally heads out later in the season, making it easier to distinguish between the two. As cows are starting to go out on pasture this spring, the early flowering meadow foxtail is already at maturity. It is not considered a desirable grass from this cow's perspective since its palatability is low.

meadow foxtail

If you would like to Ask ELSIE? a question, please email her by clicking  HERE.

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UVM Extension
Champlain Valley Crop, Soil & Pasture Team
It seems as though the growing season is upon us here in Vermont.  Driving around the Champlain Valley, you will see lots of spring seedings jumping out of the ground...you may even see some corn coming up in fields that were planted during our early heat wave!!

We have lots of useful information in our newsletter and hope you take the time to read it.  If you would like to see more or different things included in this newsletter, please let us know.  We want this to be a useful form of communication with information YOU want to know and READ.  Be sure and share it with your friends and neighbors!!

News and Events
For Vermont Farmers in the Lake Champlain Watershed


MAY 2012
May 10 - RMA: Final planting date for Barley (Spring)

May 19 - RIBBON CUTTING: Green Mountain Organic Creamery
              1:00 - 4:00 PM (Hinesburg, VT) 
Join Kimball Brook Farm in celebrating the completion of its new facilities and the start of production at their new Green Mountain Organic Creamery and the neighboring Vermont Smoke & Cure in Hinesburg, VT.  Festivities will include a ceremony featuring Senator Patrick Leahy, followed by tours of the new facility.

May 31st - RMA: Final planting date for Wheat (Spring)
Click HERE for more Crop Insurance deadlines and dates.

JUNE 2012
June 2 - Celebrate 30 Years at Gleason Grains! (Bridport, VT)
                10:00 am - 1:00 pm - Workshop
          1:00 pm - 3:00 pm - Celebration
 Join Ben & Theresa Gleason, UVM Extension, Northern Grain Growers Association and the 1772 Foundation in celebrating 30 years of growing and milling grains in Addison County. The workshop will focus on grain production and value-added processing as well as highlight a farmer participatory wheat breeding project.
More Information, including where to register HERE.
June 7 - Industrial Hemp Workshop in Addison County

Rural Vermont and ACEDC are hosting a workshop Wednesday June  7th at 7:00 PM on the merits of industrial hemp. Learn about the uses, current policies around the issue, and the economic potential of hemp as a part of Vermont's agriculture.    

The talk is led by Netaka White of the VT Sustainable Jobs Fund.

 Click here for more info on Rural Vermont  or call for details: 802-223-7222


June 10 - RMA: Final Planting Date for Soybeans, Silage Corn & Grain Corn

June 10-30 - RMA: Final Planting Date for Fresh Market Sweet Corn
                    (varies by county)
Click HERE for more Crop Insurance deadlines and dates.


White Paper Highlights Challenges, Opportunities, Needs in Animal Agriculture

A White Paper that identifies and describes the challenges and opportunities today's farmers and ranchers in animal agriculture face is now available. Developed by the National Institute for Animal Agriculture - a non-profit organization that unites the beef, dairy, equine, goat, poultry, sheep and swine industries, the White Paper synthesizes information 50-plus experts presented at NIAA's recent Annual Conference.Specific challenges and opportunities topics addressed in the White Paper include technology, regulatory pressures, antimicrobial use, exports and traceability as well as the value of, and the need for, collaboration and outreach.  


A copy of the White Paper is available online at www.animalagriculture.org.


Crop Insurance Update

  by Pam Smith, RMA

The combination of a wet spring and widespread damage last August from Tropical Storm Irene caused many producers to reexamine their farm risk management plans for this year. As we look back on how crop insurance benefited those growers who opted for insurance protection, it is important to note that 41% of the insured farms in Vermont received a payment for 2011 losses. These loss payments totaled nearly $6.4 million, which was eight times more than the farmer paid premiums for the same period, and may very well be a major contributing factor to their ability to continue to operate this season.


While producers had to make their crop insurance policy choices in March, ongoing responsibilities remain as we head into the growing season. First, is to be familiar with the prevented planting and replanting provisions of corn and soybean policies as we head toward the final planting date of June 10. Excess moisture which might reduce the quality of small grains may be another possible insurable cause of loss which should be noted.


Second, the policies require that you file a notice of damage to your crop insurance agent within 72 hours of discovery. Many fruit growers have already taken this action because of late frost damage. Prompt notice of damage allows an adjuster must be able to evaluate the damage in order to receive the full benefits of each policy(s). Additionally, if you participate in Farm Service Agency (FSA) programs, it is important to report your prevented planting acreage within 15 calendar days after the final planting date of June 10 in order to receive prevented planting acreage credit.


If you have questions on deadlines for your area or on other issues, contact your crop insurance agent promptly.



  by Kirsten Workman, Agronomy Outreach Professional 

What do we mean when we talk about incorporating manure??  Unlike spreading your manure and leaving it on the soil surface, incorporation takes the extra step to get the manure incorporated into the soil profile where it can become more aerway closestable and be available to your plants in higher quantities. Why is that important?? Well, with fertilizer nitrogen costing upwards of $1.00/pound, keeping as much of the nitrogen and other nutrients your animals produce in the ground and in your plants could save you substantial money. Every hour your manure sits around without making its way into the soil, you are losing valuable nutrients to the environment. Typical Vermont dairy manure shows the most loss of ammonium nitrogen in the first day. If you wait just one day to incorporate your spring applied manure, you have wasted 45% of your fertilizer N value of that manure. If you wait a week, you have lost 60% of the N value. On the other hand, if you are immediately incorporating your manure (in less than one hour) by injecting or aerating before manure applications you can retain 95% of your fertilizer N values. In addition, you can help protect water resources by keeping your nutrients in the ground, in the plants...and out of rivers and lakes.


There are several ways to incorporate your manure. While the best case scenario is to incorporate your manure immediately, that can be difficult if you or your custom manure spreader do not have the right equipment. A dragline system with an aerator or injection system is a very efficient way to get manure down into the soil. Not all farms have access to these setups. Another great way is to run an aerator over the field (in hay ground especially) ahead of time before dragline injectyour custom guy comes out and spreads manure. There are several units available to borrow/rent at affordable rates in Franklin, Chittenden, Addison, and Rutland counties.  In addition, use of the aerator with manure spreading qualifies for multiple cost share programs in Vermont. If that is also not an option for you, you can still retain 60%-80% of your nitrogen by plowing or tilling it in with a chisel or disc within 8 hours of spreading.


As we all know, cutting costs is an important for all farms right now. You have a valuable resource in your manure pit that should be used as efficiently and effectively as possible. Manure incorporation can and should save you money on your fertilizer budget, and it will definitely help your farm protect water quality.


For more information about nutrient availabilities, Click HERE for the UVM Publication "Nutrient Recommendations for Field Crops in Vermont". 


As we head towards the first cut of hay, it is important to call and reserve the AerWay right now.  It is lent out on a first come, first serve basis and many people will call asking for it the day they start spreading manure.  If you want to be sure and get your hands on it, or have a cost-share agreement specifying that you aerate to incorporate your manure, you should be sure your name is on the list!!

Call NOW to schedule use of the equipment:
Rico Balzano | (802) 388-4969 x338 | rico.balzano@uvm.edu

View a video of the AerWay in action at a recent workshop here.

Many of you will be spreading manure after your first cut of hay.  Grab a sample as you're spreading, put it in the freezer and then give us a call.  A member of our team will be happy to stop by, pick it up and take it to the lab for you.  Or if you're in the neighborhood, drop it by our office.

Click HERE for the UVM Agricultural Testing Lab's website
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If you are looking for assistance with proper sampling protocol, would like to borrow a soil probe, or need a manure, compost or soil sampling materials, please feel free to contact Kirsten Workman for assistance: kirsten.workman@uvm.edu | (802) 388-4969 x347

MAY 2012
May 15- Organic Weed Management on Livestock Pastures
              (webinar) 2:00 - 3:15 PM
Join UVM's own Sid Bosworth for this eXtension webinar. 
Weeds in the organic pasture can reduce the quantity and the stand life of desirable forage plants. These unwanted plants can be more aggressive than existing or desired forage species and compete for light, water, and nutrients. Weeds may also diminish the quality and palatability of the forage available for livestock grazing, and certain weed species are potentially poisonous to grazing animals. In this webinar, Dr. Sid Bosworth will address several approaches to organic weed management, including weed species identification and their lifecycles
JUNE 2012
June 1 - Grazing School (Fayston, VT) 
A hands-on workshop with essential information to start up or improve your grazing system. Hosted by Helen Whybrow at Knoll Farm with presenters from the UVM Center for Sustainable Agriculture's Pasture Program and VT NRCS.  Contact UVM Center for Sustainable Agriculture Pasture Program Coordinator Jenn Colby with any questions at jcolby@uvm.edu or 802-656-0858.
Register HERE for the Grazing School 



  by Cheryl Cesario, Grazing Outreach Professional 

Improving plant biodiversity in pastures has several benefits. A variety of species in a pasture will give grazing animals a range of plants to eat and provide a buffer against weather and seasonal variability. A combination of grasses, legumes and herbs will provide a mix of shallow-rooted and tap rooted plants, the latter of which will create channels into the subsoil and bring up necessary nutrients. A healthy pasture 'polyculture' results in a healthy soil ecosystem, improved water percolation and reduced run-off, which in turn benefits our streams and lakes.


So, how do you improve pasture diversity? One option would be to utilize the no-till drills that the UVM Extension office has purchased (arriving nearcows grazing the end of this month) and incorporate the species of your choice into your pastures. Seed may be incorporated at 8-14 pounds per acre. An example might be 8 pounds of orchard grass, 4 pounds of ladino clover, and 2 pounds of chicory per acre. Chicory? Yes, but let's clarify we are talking about forage chicory, which is not the same plant as the one seen growing on our roadsides. Forage chicory is a great plant for mineral nutrition in livestock and is highly digestible. If the goal is to add some legumes to pastures that tend to be on the wetter side, drilling in birdsfoot trefoil or alsike clover may be beneficial. On drier ground, with a neutral pH, alfalfa may be a good choice. Red clover is adapted to a wide range of soil types and is fairly easy to establish either through interseeding or frost seeding.


While there are dozens of commercial pasture seed mixes on the market, they are not all created equally. It's important to read the seed tags and in many cases more information can be found online. For example, the website for the company of one mix that has been sold locally says, "In climates lower than Zone 4, plants may not overwinter. Persistence can be greatly increased if plants are insulated by snow cover." Although we are in Zone 4 in the Lake Champlain region, a mix like this may only be marginally hardy here, especially when we have a winter with little snow. Always check that the varieties listed in a commercial mix are appropriate for our climate.


An example of this would be the perennial ryegrasses. It is preferable to select the 'diploid' rather than the 'tetraploid' varieties, which will increase winter hardiness. This terminology will usually be indicated on the seed tag. Tall fescue is best avoided, as it has palatability issues due to the presence of internal fungi that produce alkaloids. Tall fescue is often found in seed mixes developed for warmer climates. Meadow fescue, however, is a good choice as it is more digestible and is also more winter hardy.


One mix that we have had success with on our farm is a grazing mix described as 'an excellent choice for high producing dairy livestock and grass-finished beef'. It contains 30% perennial ryegrasses, 30% grazing tolerant orchard grass, 25% meadow fescue, 7% medium red clover, 6% Alice white clover and 2% forage chicory. It's a great all-around mix with grasses, clovers and the added bonus of the chicory.


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To learn more about how to read pasture seed mix labels, click HERE to read a UVM Extension Fact Sheet by Dr. Sid Bosworth.

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Jeff Carter,
Extension Agronomist
UVM Extension- Champlain Valley Crop, Soil & Pasture Team