UVM Extension - Champlain Valley Crop, Soil & Pasture TeamOCTOBER 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
CV Crop Soil Pasture Team
UVM Extension helps individuals and communities put research-based knowledge to work.

  Issued in furtherance of Cooperative Extension work, Acts of May 8 and June 30, 1914, in cooperation with the United States Department of Agriculture. University of Vermont Extension, Burlington, Vermont. 


University of Vermont Extension, and U.S. Department of Agriculture, cooperating, offer education and employment to everyone without regard to race, color, national origin, gender, religion, age, disability, political beliefs, sexual orientation, and marital or familial status.

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Q: ELSIE...I hear lots of people talking about a TMDL in Lake Champlain.  What is a TMDL and how does it affect me?


A: TMDL stands for Total Maximum Daily Load...although that probably doesn't help you understand what it means any better.  The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) administers the TMDL program under their jurisdiction of enforcing the Clean Water Act - Section 303(d).  All states, territories and authorized tribes in the USA are required to develop lists of impaired waters, also known as a303(d) List, that do not meet water quality standards.  The law requires that these jurisdictions establish priority rankings for waters on the list and develop TMDLs for each of them. 

A TMDL is a calculation of the maximum amount of a pollutant that a waterbody can receive and still safely  meet water quality standards.

TMDLs exist for all kinds of waterbodies all over the United States.  In Vermont alone, there are 71 streams and rivers and 15 lakes and ponds with TMDLs.  These bodies of water are on the 303(d) list for all kinds of pollutants including sediment, e.coli bacteria, temperature, stormwater runoff, and phosphorus.  Lately the Lake Champlain TMDL for phosphorus has gotten a lot of attention.  Usually individual states are in charge of determining TM
DLs for each river, stream or lake and developing plans to reduce pollutants and improve water quality.  In 2011, however, EPA disapproved Vermont's TMDL for Lake Champlain and took over the development of the phosphorus TMDL.   This process is very important to farmers in the Lake Champlain basin, as it is directly impacts state policies and laws that regulate farms and how they manage manure, nutrients, livestock, crops, fields, silage storage, milkhouse waste, and much more.  See Jeff's intro letter above for more information on this  and other water quality topics that  may interest you.

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UVM Extension
Champlain Valley Crop, Soil & Pasture

waterIf you farm in Vermont, the state of Lake Champlain will continue to affect state farm regulations, water quality program incentives and your very business for many years to come. You need to be an advocate for yourself and tell the story of all the great practices that farmers have installed to help clean up the Lake. But excess Phosphorus remains a concern throughout Lake Champlain. The 2012 State of The Lake report from Lake Champlain Basin Program clearly shows that the Phosphorus mainly comes from Agriculture, Urban areas and Streambank erosion. You should read that report. A recent VT ANR study suggests that Phosphorus loads from tributaries to most regions of the Lake were stable or decreasing from 1991 to 2008. That is a direct result of your efforts as farmers to control manure and soil loss. Then along came Storm Irene. It will still take time to clean up the Lake, but some people want it done right now.


Act 138 - The Vermont Rivers and Lakes Bill report to the legislature is due before the end of the year and this will stir the pot in Montpelier to hurry up and clean up the lake. This bill requires that the secretary of natural resources (ANR) submit a report ...on how to remediate or improve the water quality of the state's surface waters, how to implement remediation or improvement of water quality, and how to fund the remediation or improvement of water quality. This will impact all farmers in the state.


TMDL - You need to be aware that there will be new rules created by EPA and the Agency of Agriculture to lower the TMDL (Total Maximum Daily Load) of Phosphorus that enters the lake through our local streams. The Lake watershed covers 10 counties in Vermont, so it is not just the people near the lake or right on a major stream. By next spring this will be ironed out at the state level. Look for local meetings this fall where you can comment on what you believe farmers can do to improve Lake Champlain water quality with a Farmer Certainty Program and hold off more excessive regulations.

The Soil Quality Workshops next week are a good place to start with learning more about the improvements to Water Quality that can be had with better Soil Management.

This newsletter goes to hundreds of farmers and policy makers at the local and state level. We want to highlight many of the projects that you are doing such as Cover Crops to hold soil and nutrients, Fencing cows out of streams, Improving Soil Health with good crop practices, No-Till seeding in hay and pasture and not plowing, Incorporating Manure with Aeration tillage and injection, and the list goes on.
Help us tell your story about the many Conservation Farm Practices you do to improve Water Quality.  

News and Events
For Vermont Farmers in the Lake Champlain Watershed

by Jeffrey Carter, Extension Agronomy Specialist 


The Otter Creek Conservation Farmer of the Year Awards were presented today (October 9th) to two farms in Bristol and Addison. The Conservation District sponsors this award each year to recognize farm improvements that enhance environmental protection and strengthen the agriculture community in Addison County.


The Butler Family at Cedar Hill Farm (Bristol).

Jerry and Calihan Butler and Family at Cedar Hill Farm in Bristol were recognized for farm improvements to protect water quality and make heifer handling much easier. A project that tied together a new heifer barnyard, heifer barn expansion, feed bunks, milk house waste and silage leachate all collected into a new concrete manure storage structure keeps the New Haven River a little bit cleaner. The heifers will not be going out and crossing that creek on the way to the old pasture. Already they are seeing the benefits of an easier system for the farm and increased wildlife in the old meadows.


Bernard DuBois hosts a tour at DuBois Farm (Addison)

Bernard, Mike, Andre Dubois and family were recognized for their installation of a manurehandling system for the farm. Central to their system is a methane digester and 6,000 kW engine/generator set that produces electricity and a new Gen-Till aeration tool for incorporating the liquid manure after the solids are separated out for bedding or compost. They use a custom manure hauler service with a draghose for most of their manure spreading, and now can incorporate manure on the fields where trucks still spread. Supporting production of renewable energy for public use helps this farm continue their role as part of a solution to our local energy needs.


After presentations of plaques to both Conservation Farms for 2012, Dave Dunn, from the Green Mountain Power Energy Innovation Center was the after lunch speaker at the Addison Fire House. Since 2005 over 6 million kWh of power has been sold to over 3,000 consumers in Vermont as "Cow Power". The program has returned $2.4M in premiums to farmers through this popular program. Currently there are 15 digesters on-line in Vermont and two more in the works to start producing electricity. From 150 cow to 1,500 cow farms all are getting into this program and Vermont seems to be leading the country in adopting this new way of generating sustainable local energy.


 by Kirsten Workman, Agronomy Outreach Professional  


Your UVM Extension Champlain Valley Crop, Soil & Pasture Team has been getting very 'social' lately.  No, I don't mean standing around the office talking about the latest and greatest cropping strategies (although we may be guilty of doing a little of that too)...I am talking about Social Media.  Did you know that we have a very dynamic Facebook page, a newsworthy blog site, a YouTube channel, and a new website home!!  Just like our farmers, we have become very tech savvy. 

To get 'social' with us...check out these links:

Our Facebook Page
See the latest postings and pictures from the field, give us feedback, and 'Like" us to stay in the loop on our activities
Our YouTube Channel
See videos of our team and local farmers in action.  Ever wondered what the AerWay or No Till Drill look like when they are running in the field?  Want to see a the helicopter seeding rye cover crops into standing corn?  Don't miss our latest videos.
Our Blog

Lots of interesting news, events, and publications to see here.  Have an extra minute to  see all the resources we have to offer?  Stop by the blog to catch up on all the latest news, read an article or a fact sheet by one of our team members, download the new Grazing  Guide, and there's even a page where you can meet all the members of our team and find out more about us.  



NO-TILL SEED DRILLS: From Hayland & Pastures to COVER CROPS 

by Jeffrey Carter, Extension Agronomy Specialist


As October rolls over, we have transitioned our No-Till Drills from pasture and hayland improvers into cover crop applicators.  Already the drills have seeded rye, vetch, triticale and winter wheat into corn fields, pastures...and even a vegetable field in one single pass.  No harrowing, no field prep, just seed away.  Despite the recent wet weather, they have successfully seeded into all kinds of soil types and all kinds of field conditions: conventionally tilled corn silage fields, no-till corn fields, and vegetable residue to name a few.  Sandy soil, clay soil, and everything in between.  As long as the tractor can make it through, the drill has been able to seed into all kinds of residue, from corn stubble to rows of harvested squash plants.  So far, the seed seems to be jumping out of the ground within 48 hours, giving the farmers who have used it a leg up on their cover crops.   

drilling rye corn stubble.MP4
drilling rye corn stubble.MP4

Give us a call at (802) 388-4969 if you are interested in using one of the drills, and stay tuned for more in depth coverage of the drills and what we've been doing with them!!   



There are some great soil workshops happening in October. See the descriptions below.


SOIL QUALITY: Better Crops, Cleaner Water, Bigger Profits
FREE NRCS Meeting for Farmers with Lunch provided - Bring your Boots

Workshop Highlightsworkshop
* Identify and recognize soil quality characteristics 
* Learn the benefits of soil quality improvements to farms and the environment
* See how enhanced soil quality improves water quality
* Learn how to implement practices to improve soil quality

Three Dates/Locations
  • October 15th - Swanton (Swanton Village Complex) 9am -3:30pm
  • October 16th - Richmond (VYCC-West Monitor Barn) 10am - 4:30pm
  • October 18th - Middlebury (American Legion)  9am-3:30pm

Email or Call Leslie Hendricks at NRCS to register or for more information:

(802) 951-6796 x222  |  leslie.hendricks@vt.usda.gov 



Are you interested in learning more about improving and managing your agricultural soils?  Do you want to see bigger yields and larger profits?  Are you curious about how better soil management can lead to improved water quality?  If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you'll certainly benefit from this free upcoming workshop


October 18, 2012 from 1:30 PM - 4:00 PM  

at Littlewood Farm in Plainfield.   


Representatives from WSH Consulting, UVM Extension Champlain Valley Crop, Soil & Pasture program, and the Vermont Association of Conservation Districts will be on hand to discuss soil profiling, soil organic matter, nutrient management, and various practices for reducing soil and nutrient losses.  

If interested, RSVP by October 16 to Justin Kenney at WNRCD (802) 828-4493 x113 or justin.kenney@vt.nacdnet.net. Beverages and light fare will be provided.
Click HERE for a Flyer with more information.

This free workshop brought to you by the Winooski Natural Resources Conservation District in collaboration with the Winooski Headwaters Community Partnership.



by George Tucker, USDA-NRCS Soil Conservationist


You may or may not have heard that the Vermont NRCS will give producers several opportunities to apply for their EQIP and WHIP cost-share programs in FY 2013.  In an effort to make the turn around time shorter between when producers apply and when they actually get funded contracts, there will be four cutoff dates for applying.   


  • October 1, 2012...too late for this one!  
  • November 15, 2012...call today to sign up for this one
  • February 15, 2013
  • April 1, 2013

Applications will be ranked and then obligated after each of these cutoff dates, until all funding is obligated.  If you are interested and want to apply for NRCS cost-share programs before the October 1st cutoff, please contact a Soil Conservationist at your local NRCS office as soon as possible.


NRCS Offices in the Champlain Basin:

Berlin - (802) 828-4493NRCS Logo

Middlebury - (802) 388-6748 

St. Albans - (802)  527-1296 

Williston - (802) 865-7895



by Nate Sands, Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food, & Markets  


The FAP program is making a few changes in how it manages this very popular cost-share program.  Producers who applied for cost share for the Winter Cover Crop practice should have received a contract in the mail.  Please sign and return that contract at your earliest convenience in order to get paid as quickly as possible after the practice is implemented.  If you have not received payment from the State of Vermont in the last 3 years, please also return a completed W-9 form as well.


Please contact Nate Sands at (802) 224-6850 or nathaniel.sands@state.vt.us prior to implementing any practices to verify whether or not funding is available.  


Applications and information are available online HERE.  



Healthy Soils for a Healthy Environment
Are you interested in learning more about improving and managing your agricultural soils? Do you want to see bigger yields and larger profits? Are you curious about how better soil management can l



  by Cheryl Cesario, Grazing Outreach Professional 


This year the Northeast Organic Dairy Producers Alliance held their 12th annual field days on September 27th and 28th in Southern Vermont. One of the farm visits was to the Franklin Farm in Guilford. Here Mary Ellen Franklin (with help from Lisa McCrory) explains how she uses her Holistic Planned Grazing Chart to track her cows' movement throughout the grazing season. By referring to her chart, Mary Ellen can quickly see that it has been 43 days since the cows previously grazed their current paddock and that they have grazed this paddock a total of 5 times this year. Templates of this grazing chart can be downloaded for free from the Central New York Resource Conservation and Development Project website. There are templates for 20, 30 or 40 paddock systems. If your system has more than that, you can do what Mary Ellen does and tape two charts together!      



  by Cheryl Cesario, Grazing Outreach Professional 

The Northeast Organic Dairy Producers Alliance (NODPA) annual field days recently took place in Brattleboro and while this event is a chance for organic dairy producers across the region to get together, many of the topics presented are relevant for any grazing dairy producer, organic or not. One of the great workshops was 'Top Grazing Mistakes' presented by three grazing experts - Sarah Flack, organic consultant; Dr. Cindy Daly,  California State University; and Kathy Soder, USDA Agricultural Research Station in Pennsylvania. This is a brief excerpt. A complete article from this workshop can be found by clicking HERE.Fall Grazing 


What are some common mistakes made by dairy grazers?

  • Inadequately designed system/infrastructure (incorrectly sized paddocks, too few or too many acres, poor grounding for fencing, poor quality land used for grazing)
  • Pasture nutrition problems (overfeeding protein in the barn and lack of forage quality in the pasture)
  • Less than ideal grazing management (resulting in overgrazing damage, soil erosion, an increase in weeds, less productive plants, and internal parasite issues)

 At this time of the year it is important that pasture plants go into winter with enough energy reserve for next spring. Remember that the plant height you see above the ground is an indicator of the root length below the ground. Sending plants into dormancy with 1 inch of overall height does not give them much energy storage for survival, as these reserves are generally stored in the first 2-4 inches of the plant base. Overtime this can result in weakened plants that die out and decrease the overall density and quality of the pasture. Keeping a higher residual height will allow plants to store more energy and get a robust start in the spring.


So what are some of the practices at this time of the year that can result in overgrazing damage?

  • Removing the interior fences and letting cows 'clean up' the pastures.
  • Letting animals graze the same pasture for more than 3 days.
  • Returning animals to a pasture before all the plants have regrown. At this time of year, that period is approximately 40 days.
  • Not adding additional acreage into the grazing rotation when plant growth rates slow down.
  • Using follower groups that graze close and do not leave enough plant residue.

If you have found yourself doing any of the above, don't despair! Now is the time to identify any issues and formulate a plan for next year to ensure that pastures remain healthy and productive all season long.


 If you would like help avoiding 'grazing mistakes' or keeping grazing records, contact Cheryl Cesario at (802) 388-4969 x346 or cheryl.cesario@uvm.edu. 


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