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Jefferson County NY farm wins enviro award


August 8, 2013, Seneca Falls, NY – Sheland Farms of Ellisburg, NY, is the recipient of the 2013 New York State Agricultural Environmental Management (AEM) Award.

The Shelmidine family, who operate the farm, were honored during the Agricultural Leadership Luncheon at the Empire Farm Days in Seneca Falls, NY.

“I congratulate the Shelmidine family on this tremendous achievement,” said NY State Agriculture Commissioner Darrel J. Aubertine. “For 100 years, the Shelmidine’s have been farming this land in Jefferson County. From generation to generation, their family has grown and their farm has persevered. Today, it is a thriving dairy farm using cutting edge technology to increase profits and protect the environment.”

Sheland Farms milks approximately 700 cows and utilizes 2,100 acres of land to grow all the crops needed to feed the dairy cows and young stock on the farm. They use reduced soil plowing practices and cover crops to enhance the health of the soil and increase the amount of organic carbon that can be sequestered and utilized by growing crops. These proven conservation systems also reduce the loss of nutrients and topsoil to the nearby waters of Sandy Creek, an important tributary to Lake Ontario.

Sheland Farms have made the necessary investments in their farm to not only improve efficiencies and minimize impacts to the local watershed, but they have also taken an extra step by covering their manure storage, successfully capturing and filtering methane emissions. Sheland Farms is also digesting cow manure to produce a renewable source of electricity for the operation of the farm and utility grid.

With the help of state and federal funding, Sheland Farms has invested in conservation practice systems to protect water quality by eliminating runoff from barnyard, feed storage, and milkhouse areas. Diverting and collecting rainwater or melting snow away from these areas minimizes pollution concerns from manure and allows for nutrient recycling when manure is properly applied to fields as natural fertilizers to crops. Conservation practices like these are a win-win scenario for both the farm’s economic bottom line and the environment.

The Shelmidine family is very active in their community, serving on the local Cornell Cooperative Extension Board, Jefferson County Agricultural Development Board, Jefferson County Farmland Protection Board, and in town government. In addition, the Shelmidine family participates in the NYS and Jefferson County Farm Bureaus, 4-H, Future Farmers of America, and the Northeast Dairy Producers Association. The Shelmidine’s also volunteer in both school and church organizations and have opened their farm for a number of community and educational tours. Finally, to further support their commitment to the environment beyond Jefferson County, Doug Shelmidine has served on the nationwide USDA Agricultural Air Quality Task Force for 10 years.


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