Programs, Grants & Awards
August 18, 2017, Indiana - Fair Oaks Farms co-founder Sue McCloskey now has a Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval for general awesomeness.

McCloskey, who launched the hugely popular agritourism farm on the border of Jasper and Newton counties, was one of 15 women to receive an Awesome Women Award in the August edition of Good Housekeeping, which hits newsstands Tuesday. She was lauded for her work in turning manure into clean fuel that powers vehicles at the farm, as well as 42 delivery trucks of Fairs Oaks cheese and dairy products. READ MORE 
Published in Profiles
August 17, 2017, Chevy Chase, MD - If there is one point on which most Americans agree, it is that technology will play an increasingly important role in the way we live and work. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that in just three years there will be 1.4 million computer science-related jobs, and only 400,000 qualified job candidates.

In response, 4‑H, America's largest youth development organization, and Google are coming together for a first-of-its-kind computer science (CS) collaboration that will teach kids both technical skills like coding, and essential skills students will need in the future like, teamwork and resilience. But the program isn't just about programming computers, it's about helping students learn skills they'll need to approach problems in a fundamentally different way across every discipline from business to engineering to the arts.

The collaboration is funded by a $1.5 million grant from Google.org to establish a CS program that will empower more than 100,000 young people across 22 states in its first year. The collaboration will include an effort to reach communities where youth traditionally have limited access to computers, internet or CS training.

With Google's support, 4‑H will equip community educators with new funding, curriculum, training, devices and the support of Google CS experts. As with most 4‑H programs, the effort will feature teen-led, peer-to-peer mentoring.

4‑H and Google publicly announced the collaboration today at a press conference at the Illinois State Fair, where they also debuted a new 4‑H-themed virtual reality Expedition showcasing 4‑H youth using technology to improve their communities.

"It is incredibly exciting to combine the power of 4‑H with the impact of Google's philanthropy, products and people," said Jennifer Sirangelo, President and CEO of National 4‑H Council. "Working together, our two organizations will make a tremendous difference in the lives of young people by making computer science education accessible and engaging. No matter where kids live or what they aspire to be, these are skills that will help them succeed."

The collaboration between 4‑H and Google lays the groundwork for 4‑H to deliver computer science education across the organization, which reaches nearly six million kids in every county and parish in the United States.

It establishes an official 4‑H Computer Science Career Pathway, which helps kids progress from casual interest in CS, to dedicated studies and ultimately career experience. Utah State University Extension's 4‑H program is a key partner in co-creating the 4‑H CS Career Pathway and developing tools for educators to implement the program.

"We are proud to be a part of this effort to bring hands-on programming to our nation's youth," said Jacquelline Fuller, President of Google.org. "It's important for kids to develop a wide range of skills, like computer science skills, analytical thinking and creative problem solving, and our work with National 4‑H Council will help ensure that kids across the country have access to a better future."

In its first year, the program is available in the following states: Alabama, California, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New York, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia, and West Virginia.

Parents and educators seeking more information on how to get involved can reach out to their local 4‑H office at HTTP://4-H.ORG/FIND/.
Published in Associations
The Maryland Department of Agriculture’s (MDA) Animal Waste Technology Fund provides grants to companies demonstrating new technologies on farms and providing alternative strategies for managing animal manure.

These technologies can cover a range of innovations – generate energy from animal manure, reduce on-farm waste streams, and repurpose manure by creating marketable fertilizer and other value added products such as compost.

In October, MDA awarded Veteran Compost of Harford County, Maryland, and O2Compost of Washington State a grant for $350,300 to develop a compost demonstration project plus a public education and training facility in Anne Arundel County for livestock farmers.

The project will demonstrate aerated static pile (ASP) composting technology systems at three levels: small scale (one to four horses or livestock equivalents); medium scale: (five to 20); and large scale: (20 to 40).

All three compost systems will be solar powered to demonstrate off-grid sustainability. The medium and large systems will include storage tanks to retain roof water for use in the composting process.

The project will also include formal classes and hands-on workshops, public tours for students in kindergarten through college, and alliances with government agencies and non-profit environmental organizations. In addition, a compost cooperative website will be developed to bring together producers and end users of the finished compost products.

The compost systems that are displayed will be ones that have been in use since 2001. Peter Moon, owner of O2Compost, says he started out in the composting industry in 1989, designing and permitting large-scale municipal green waste systems. Then, in the mid-1990s, he started applying some of the industrial ideas to compost dairy and chicken manure.

After seeing a chicken farm that was composting mortalities that looked tidy but suffered from terrible odor issues, he decided that an aerated bin system was what was needed. It took him a few months to figure out the answer and was convinced that it would work.

“I ended up building a prototype in my back yard because I had to prove to myself that it would work, and it worked way better than I had hoped,” he says.

Today, O2Compost offers what they call Compost Operator Training Programs. They include four basic components – the design of the system, the aeration equipment package, a detailed training manual written in layman’s terms, and unlimited technical support – for a fixed fee.

“It’s this system and three stages of bins that will be on display,” he says. “Although I don’t know of any other company that is offering anything like it, I want to make clear I didn’t invent the concept of aerated composting. Aerated static pile (ASP) composting was first developed in the mid-1970s in Beltsville, Maryland. I just reconfigured it into an aerated bin system.”

When the MDA put out the RFP in 2016, Peter immediately thought of his client and good friend, Justen Garrity, owner of Veteran Company based out of Aberdeen, Maryland. The two had known and worked with each other since 2010 when Justen took Peter’s training program.

Veteran Compost has a 30-acre farm in Aberdeen and is dedicated to employing veterans and their family members and turning food scraps into high-quality compost. The crown jewel of Veteran Compost is its vermicomposting operation –it’s one of the only commercial worm composting operations in Maryland.

Peter approached Justen and suggested that, since the company was located in Maryland, why didn’t they set up a demonstration site with bins and a larger open aerated static pile system and use it to instruct farmers in Maryland and neighboring states. They could come to them, participate in a half-day workshop and then come out to the site and see it, sense it, understand it and learn.

Justen could immediately see the value in this partnership, and so did MDA. In 2016, O2Compost and Veteran Compost received the grant.

The project would already be operational today, except for one snag. Justen and Peter had challenges finding a good site, because people in the area have been reluctant to have a composting site near them because of potential odor issues. This is despite the fact that Justen’s composting facility in Aberdeen has received zero odor complaints from neighbors in the six years that it’s been operating.

“Justen has also had to go through a process with Anne Arundel County to allow for composting on agricultural zone property,” says Peter.

It has taken a long time and numerous public hearings, but recently the county commissioners voted unanimously to allow this activity on agricultural zoned land.

Ironically, these systems will demonstrate why compost doesn’t have to generate offensive odors for several reasons: the ASP compost piles are not turned; airflow is induced into the piles resulting in aerobic conditions throughout the pile; and a biofilter cover is used for in-situ treatment of off-gases.

“It has been my experience that most people think that compost piles need to be turned to get oxygen into it,” says Peter. “What they don’t understand is that when a biologically active pile is turned, the oxygen that is introduced into the compost is then consumed by the microorganisms and depleted within 30 to 45 minutes.”

With regard to composting at the training facility, Peter and Justen will induce airflow using a high pressure, high volume electric blower and push air into the pile to replenish the oxygen and displace CO2, heat and water out of the pile.

In short, ASP composting results in aerobic composting versus turned windrow composting, which results in anaerobic composting.

Drainage isn’t a factor for the smaller systems because the bins are covered with roof structures. However, for municipal scale compost facilities managing storm water, it is always an important consideration.

“For the larger systems, municipal-type scale, yes, typically we’ll construct a pond of some kind to handle any surface water run-off.”

The liquid collected is then re-introduce back into the compost pile as process water, or in some cases directed to a sanitary sewer for processing at the local wastewater treatment plant.

“Our goal with composting is to get the pile temperature throughout the pile to exceed 55oC (equivalent to 131oF) for a minimum of three days. Meeting these time-temperature conditions effectively destroys pathogens, parasites and weed seeds in the finished compost,” says Peter.

The objective is to produce a high quality compost product that is safe to use on pastures or in vegetable and landscape gardens.

Moisture is always an important factor when composting, and will be one of the things farmers will learn more about at the site.



“Our goal is to have the moisture content somewhere between 60 and 65 percent, going into the pile,” says Peter. “At that moisture content, it will feel quite wet and you can squeeze a handful and get a drop or two to come out. At this moisture content, it won’t drain free-water that could impact surface and ground water resources.”

Peter says with dairy and pig manure, even if it’s run through a separator and the fibrous material is stacked, the base can get saturated because the water just continues to drain out. It can fill the pipes under the stack with water. To avoid this, some type of dry “bulking” material can be added. Peter often encourages dairies to look to horse stables in their area or even equine events.

“Horse farms always have that same problem, but it tends to be very carbon rich and very dry, which is exactly what you want to marry-up with wet substrates.”

Flexibility is built into the system.

“For example, companies may accumulate their food waste in batches and then mix it up to compost out. Or you can build a pile over a 30-day period as you would on a horse farm,” says Peter. “The idea with the MDA grant is to teach people what is possible, and that there is a method that’s simple and effective and an excellent investment on their farm with an ROI of two to five years.”

There is also flexibility in the use of pipes. With small, aerated bin systems, the air is delivered by an air-floor and there are no pipes to work around.

For larger systems, aeration pipes can be laid directly on the ground with the pile constructed directly on top. Some farms sacrifice the pipe when they bring in their frontend loaders. Others choose a thick-walled HDPE pipe.

“That pipe can literally be pulled out from underneath the pile and reused.”

One of the key features of the system is low maintenance. Once the compost pile has been built, it’s pretty much hands off. The blower and timer to do all of the work.

“You monitor the composting process, but you don’t need the big windrow turner and someone out there driving it,” says Peter. “You’re not paying for fuel, maintenance or repairs and you are able to greatly reduce air emissions. ASP Composting requires about 25 percent of the space when compared to turned windrow composting, and it can be operated at less than 50 percent of the cost.”

Both Peter and Justen feel that once the training facility is in operation, which looks to be late summer of 2017, farmers will be excited to discover that aerated static pile composting yields too many benefits to ignore. It speeds up the process, reduces odors and basically eliminates neighbor issues. It also destroys parasites, pathogens and weed seeds in the mix, has a small footprint, reduces the cost of operation, can handle any organic waste material and is simple to operate.

“The question I get a lot is, ‘If this is all so easy and it’s everything you say it is, why isn’t everybody already doing it?’” asks Peter. “For some reason everybody is just locked onto the idea you need to turn the pile, but you don’t. We have over 1,200 systems in operation in 21 countries. It is a simple technology that is easy to learn – and it works.”


Published in Compost
August 16, 2017, Sacramento, CA – CDFA will begin accepting applications today from non-profit organizations, California academic institutions and California Resource Conservation Districts that provide technical assistance to grant applicants in the Alternative Manure Management Program (AMMP).

Applicants may apply for funding ranging from $5,000 to $10,000. They must meet several minimum requirements, including holding at least one technical assistance workshop, reporting on workshop attendance to CDFA, and providing computers and internet access to allow dairy and livestock operators to complete AMMP applications.

Technical assistance will be made available through a partnership between CDFA and the Strategic Growth Council to achieve the mutual objective of providing technical assistance to AMMP applicants. Technical assistance workshops that provide hands-on application assistance are critical to the success of AMMP and the reduction of methane emissions from dairy and livestock operations.

Organizations that wish to receive funding to provide technical assistance must access the "Technical Assistance: Request for Applications" at https://www.cdfa.ca.gov/oefi/ammp/.

The Request for Applications contains detailed information on eligibility and program requirements. Applications must be submitted by email no later than August 16, 2017, 5:00 p.m. PDT. Grants will be awarded on a first-come-first-served basis beginning today.

AMMP is part of California Climate Investments, a statewide program that puts billions of cap-and-trade dollars to work reducing greenhouse gas emissions, strengthening the economy and improving public health and the environment—particularly in disadvantaged communities. The cap-and-trade program also creates a financial incentive for industries to invest in clean technologies and develop innovative ways to reduce pollution.

California Climate Investment projects include affordable housing, renewable energy, public transportation, zero-emission vehicles, environmental restoration, more sustainable agriculture, recycling and much more. At least 35 percent of these investments are made in disadvantaged and low-income communities.

For more information, visit California Climate Investments. This effort is in partnership with the Strategic Growth Council which provides technical and community outreach assistance funds from the California Climate Investments.
Published in Business/Policy
August 10, 2017, Seneca Falls, NY – New York State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball recently congratulated Dueppengiesser Dairy Farm, located in Wyoming County, as the recipient of the 2017 Agricultural Environmental Management Award.

Each year, the award honors the outstanding efforts of a New York State farm to protect and preserve soil and water quality.

“Congratulations to the Dueppengiesser Farm on receiving the Agricultural Environmental Management Award,” said Ball. “This family-run farm has long worked with the Wyoming County Soil and Water Conservation District to ensure they are taking the steps to take care of the environment while increasing the profitability of their operation.”

Dueppengiesser Dairy Farm was recognized, along with the Wyoming County Soil and Water Conservation District, during a ceremony at the Empire Farm Days, being held in Seneca Falls. The New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets, the Empire State Potato Growers, and the American Agriculturist Magazine presented the award to the family for their implementation of conservation best management practices that benefit the environment and protect the community.

“At Dueppengisser Dairy, we have always been aware of the need for environmental conservation, and we strive to implement practices that will protect our lands for the future,” said Mike Dueppengiesser, owner of Dueppengiesser Dairy Farm. “Best management practices are a priority for our farm business, and we do our best to keep up with latest technology in conservation efforts such as implementing the use of cover crops, GPS technology, zone tillage and dragline systems. Working closely with our employees, plus collaboration with the Wyoming County Soil and Water Conservation District, strengthens our environmental stewardship efforts.”

Dueppengiesser Dairy Farm is a third-generation family farm that manages nearly 2,000 milking cows and young stock and operates more than 2,000 acres of cropland, producing corn, alfalfa and wheat. As early adopters of the principles of agricultural environment management, the family has implemented several practices, such as reduced tillage, use of cover crops, and nutrient management, to protect soil and water quality. The family is also very active in the community, hosting several agricultural education programs on their farm, including the Farm Bureau School Education Program, Agri-Palooza and the Western New York Soil Health Field Day.

The farm has worked closely with the Wyoming County Soil and Water Conservation District, which provides technical assistance to advance agricultural environmental management practices within the county. The Wyoming County Soil and Water Conservation District has a very active agricultural environmental management program that has assisted over 361 farms since its inception. Their AEM Strategic Plan focuses on nutrient management and reducing cropland erosion, and Dueppengiesser Dairy Company has implemented various practices to address these issues that will improve soil health and protect water quality.    

“The Dueppengeiser family has been a pleasure to work with over the years as they have proactively undergone numerous implementation projects related to improving conservation on their farm, along with hosting many educational outreach programs on their dairy, such as soil health workshops, and Wyoming County’s Agri-Palooza event,” said Greg McKurth, Wyoming County Soil and Water Conservation District manager. “I am proud of the Wyoming County farms for working collectively and progressively with our district staff to be good stewards of the land.”

The annual Agricultural Environmental Management Award is jointly sponsored by the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets, American Agriculturalist Magazine, and the Empire State Potato Growers. Award winners are chosen from nominees submitted by County Soil and Water Conservation Districts from around the state.
Published in Dairy
August 8, 2017, Warsaw, NY – New state regulations that prevent farms from spreading manure on ground that is frozen or saturated has pushed improvements to agricultural waste storage capacities.

“There’s a big demand across the state, with the [NYS] DEC requiring farms to have enough storage to get through the wet and rainy seasons,” Wyoming County Soil and Water Conservation District Manager Greg McKurth told The Daily News after a new round of Agricultural Nonpoint Source Abatement and Control Program grants were announced August 7. READ MORE
Published in State
August 2, 2017, Welton, IA - Iowa State University Extension and Outreach Beef Specialist Denise Schwab is coordinating a conference that will address topics related to cattle manure.

The conference will be 9:45 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Friday, Aug. 25, at Buzzy's in Welton, Iowa.

The conference will feature important safety tips on managing manure to prevent illness or injury among humans and animals.

Speakers include: Extension Engineer Dan Andersen, Stephanie Leonard from Great Plains Center for Agricultural Health and Extension, and Ag Engineer Greg Brenneman.

Schwab will also share the Beef Quality Assurance, or BQA, Feedyard Assessment and certify participants in the BQA program.

Extension Feedlot Specialist and Director of the Iowa Beef Center, Dan Loy, will address keys to improving bunk management.

Preregistration is $15 by Aug. 18 or $20 after that date. The fee is payable at the door.

To register, call 319-472-4739 or email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .
Published in Applications
August 2, 2017, Marshfield, WI - Mike Biadasz's death has spurred his family to help prevent a similar farm tragedy from occurring again.

The 29-year-old and six cattle on his family's farm near Amherst were overcome by toxic gas released from a manure pit last year.

Today, the Biadasz Family donated $40,000 it raised to the National Farm Medicine Center (NFMC) based at Marshfield Clinic Research Institute and Marshfield Clinic Center for Community Outreach (CCO) establishing the Mike Biadasz Farm Safety and Education Memorial Fund.

Farmers can apply for a rebate that covers the cost for a portable gas monitor device that detects gas levels and alerts them when potentially lethal levels are reached. READ MORE 
Published in Profiles
July 31, 2017, Waunakee, WI - A coalition of government, farmers, businesses and clean water advocates have come up with plan to help more farmers in southern Wisconsin apply liquid manure more effectively without disturbing the soil so other conservation practices can be protected.

Dane County Executive Joe Parisi announced the partnership July 13 at Carl F. Statz and Sons machinery dealer in Waunakee, another partner in the project.

The effort will make available a Low Disturbance Manure Injection (LDMI) toolbar – a way to apply liquid manure while cutting down on soil erosion, odors and the amount of phosphorus leaving their fields, Parisi said during a short ceremony.

"Our partnership reflects a unified effort between local leaders and businesses to ensure the Yahara Watershed stays clean and healthy while providing farmers with innovative tools they need to succeed in an environmentally friendly way," he said.

Dane County and the Yahara Watershed Improvement Network (Yahara WINS) will each allocate up to $60,000 to purchase a manure tanker and the toolbar. Yahara Pride Farms will rent a tractor from the Waunakee-based implement dealer to haul the tanker and LDMI toolbar on each participant's fields.

The county's share of the deal is contingent upon approval of the allocation by the county board.

Brian Peterson, with Field's, a Mt. Horeb-based manure handling business, said it makes sense to him to have a specific tractor dedicated to using the manure-injection equipment.

"That will give it uniformity from use to use," he said. "They wanted to have something that any farmer could use."

The unit which was at the press conference is one that is being used on a Waunakee area farm, Henson Brothers Dairy, and several other farmers in the watershed are using the technology. Field's will supply a new manure tanker, toolbar and unit once the deal is finalized.

The technology was shown to farmers at a Yahara Pride field day and it created a lot of interest, Peterson said. "Farmers like it because you can't see a lot of disturbance after it goes over the field – not like you'd see with a shovel-type injector."

The flow is based on a pump and PTO speed as well as tractor speed, he explained and the unit coming for Yahara Pride will have a flow meter which will indicate to the driver how many gallons are going on.

"This system, once it was showcased in this watershed, built interest further away than just right around here," Peterson said. "It has been building interest through the county and the region." READ MORE 
Published in Manure Application
July 21, 2017, Delaware - Delaware poultry growers using freezer storage units for routine mortality management can now recoup 75 percent of the collection fee paid to have their frozen deadstock hauled away.

The Delaware Nutrient Management Commission unanimously approved a pilot cost-share program intended to motivate increased adoption of freezer units.

Commission members cited several reasons for supporting the relatively new nutrient management practice, including improved worker welfare, enhanced biosecurity, better neighbor relations and a creditable reduction in pollution.

The commission, which has a long history of promoting good stewardship practices, already administers another hauling cost-share initiative. The state's manure relocation program, which has been operating for a decade, assists with the transport of litter from a farm where the excess nutrients were generated to another farm in need of nutrients or to an alternative-use facility.

"The new mortality relocation program is a natural complement to the original one," said Victor Clark, who co-owns Greener Solutions, a mortality collection service based in Millsboro. "Whether the excess nutrients are in the form of manure or mortality, encouraging alternatives to land application is one of the commission's stated strategic goals."

Interested farmers can apply to the Nutrient Management section of the Delaware Department of Agriculture for the cost-share funding. The reimbursement procedure is simple:

Growers must first register at www.accounting.delaware.gov/w9_notice.shtml before applying for cost assistance the first time.

The mortality collection company will send its customers a reimbursement form in January of each year containing the total fees paid in the prior year.

That form is then filled out and submitted to the Delaware Department of Agriculture as the invoice for mortality collection reimbursement.

The payment is then deposited directly into each applicant's bank account.

The reimbursement form will be added to the nutrient reduction statement that the collection company already mails annually to its customers. That one-page statement sets out how many pounds of mortality - along with the associated amount of nitrogen and phosphorous - were prevented from being land applied and potentially polluting area waterways.

"We thought it was important to share with the growers the real-world impact of their nutrient management efforts, so we began issuing these annual nutrient reduction statements a few years ago," said Terry Baker, Clark's business partner.

The amount of nitrogen and phosphorous being diverted from land application has broader implications. A joint application by Delaware and Maryland to assign the use of freezer units "interim best management practice" status was approved last year by the Chesapeake Bay Program's Ag Workgroup.

Member states can now use this BMP as part of their menu of options for reaching their pollution reduction targets. Once those interim numbers for nitrogen and phosphorous content are deemed final, all of the nitrogen and phosphorous that has been diverted since interim status was granted will be grandfathered in, meaning the states can claim those reductions, helping them to meet their overall nutrient reduction goals.

Chris Brosch, commission administrator, said, "The method of crediting this BMP already exists because it works the same way manure transport out of the state works, but with more ancillary benefits."

Using on-farm freezer units for mortality management is simple. Routine mortality is stored inside a specially designed freezer collection unit. A customized collection vehicle arrives between flocks to empty the units so they are ready for the next flock.

The deadstock is taken to a rendering plant where the material is recycled for other uses (like using poultry fat to make biofuels), which is why the material must be preserved in a freezer until pickup.

Growers switching to freezer units have been able to greatly reduce the time and money they previously spent on composting, realizing thousands of dollars a year in operational savings. They have also enjoyed better biosecurity because the sealed containers lock out scavengers and flies, reducing the risk of disease transmission. The grower, and the grower's neighbors, enjoy a greatly improved quality of life with the elimination of smells and flies.

For more information about the cost-share program, visit the Delaware Nutrient Management Commission at 2320 S. Dupont Highway, Camden, or call 302-698-4558. For more information about on-farm freezer collection units, go to www.FarmFreezers.com or call 844-754-2742.
Published in Applications
July 20, 2017, NY - On Wednesday, Aug. 9, the New York Ag Leadership Luncheon at Empire Farm Days will honor Mike and Peter Dueppengiesser as recipients of the 2017 Agricultural Environmental Management Award.

Ag Commissioner Richard Ball is scheduled to present the Empire State's top environmental award to this third-generation family farm for their exemplary environmental management.

The brothers' Dueppengiesser Dairy Co. of Perry, N.Y., is proof that farms can grow and be both sustainable and profitable by being environmentally responsible.

They closely worked with Wyoming County Soil and Water Conservation District to meet the state's top (Tier 5) standards while growing their business from 110 milking cows and 750 acres in 1990 to today's 1,100-cow milking herd and 2,100 cropland acres. READ MORE 
Published in Profiles
July 19, 2017, Vermont -  You can tell a lot about a farm by looking closely at the soil. That's why the new, statewide program to recognize Vermont's most environmentally friendly farmers will be based on soil-sampling and monitoring.

Today, Governor Phil Scott announced the pilot launch of the new Vermont Environmental Stewardship Program (VESP), which will use soil-based analysis to identify farmers who are going above and beyond to protect our natural resources.

Surrounded by state and federal officials at the North Williston Cattle Company, owned by the Whitcomb family, Governor Scott emphasized the important role farmers play in Vermont communities.

The program is a partner effort by the Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets, the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, the Vermont Association of Conservation Districts, Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation, and the University of Vermont Extension.
Published in Business/Policy
July 19, 2017, Washington - The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) announced July 7, an award of $1 million to the Stillaguamish Tribe for an innovative project in dairy nutrient management at Natural Milk Dairy in Stanwood.

As the lone recipient in Washington state of a nationally funded Conservation Innovation Grant (CIG), the tribe proposes to demonstrate successful implementation of an emerging animal nutrient treatment system for dairy farms.

The technology, originally developed to address human waste in developing countries, is now being adapted to treat dairy nutrients. READ MORE
Published in Profiles
July 18, 2017, Berlin/ Williston, Vermont - The Winooski Natural Resource Conservation District, in conjunction with the Vermont Association of Conservation Districts, UVM Extension and USDANRCS, are offering a program to help small farms write Nutrient Management Plans (NMP) to meet the new Required Agricultural Practices.

"By writing your own NMP you can: understand the nutrient needs of your soil, learn how to improve water quality and soil health on your farm, learn how to best use your manure on your land and meet a requirement of the state's Required Agricultural Practices." The Winooski Natural Resources Conservation District is here to help you at no cost. This free program for small farms that spread manure, benefits from District staff working one-on-one with the farmer to collect and analyze soil and manure and create an individualized plan through in class instruction.

Participants will receive a land treatment plan that identifies what management practices can be implemented that will protect not only water quality and soil health, but the economic viability of the farm.

Farmers in Chittenden and Washington County interested in participating in the NMP class or learning more about Agricultural Best Management Practices that can be implemented please visit: www.winooskinrcd.org or email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

The deadline to register for this years' class is July 31, 2017. Our updated website contains valuable resources and available assistance for farmers. In addition links to handouts, presentations and upcoming workshops on the new Required Agricultural Practices.

The Winooski Natural Resources Conservation District is one of 14 conservation districts throughout Vermont. It encompasses all of Chittenden and Washington County as well as parts of Orange County (Orange, Williamstown and Washington). The district relies on grants and individual donations to complete its conservation work. The WNRCD focuses its resources on completing conservation projects within the areas of agricultural assistance, forestland enhancement, urban conservation and watershed stewardship.
Published in Associations
July 13, 2017, Guelph, Ont. — Applications are now being accepted for the Robert L. Ross Memorial Scholarship, which gives a Canadian farmer the chance to attend the Canadian Total Excellence in Agricultural Management (CTEAM) program.

The program, run by Agri-food Management Excellence (AME), provides farmers the opportunity to learn detailed financial, marketing and human relations management skills, using their own operation as a case study.

Robert (Bob) Ross was instrumental in guiding the CTEAM program, inspiring and encouraging farm management excellence across Canada through his leadership and passion for the agricultural community. Bob fought a courageous battle with cancer, passing in March 2014.

As a tribute to his passion, leadership and legacy, Agri-Food Management Excellence, Farm Management Canada, Family Farms Group and the Ross Family, established the Robert L. Ross Memorial Scholarship program, rewarding one Canadian farmer with the opportunity to participate in the CTEAM program and continue on a path towards excellence, as inspired by Canada's leading experts and a one-of-a-kind support network of peers and colleagues.

One scholarship of $11500 CAN is available to be applied towards tuition and travel. The successful applicant can choose to attend CTEAM starting in December 2017.

Applicants must be more than 21 years of age and possess passion and devotion to excellence in farm business management. See the application for a complete list of requirements.

The deadline for scholarship applications is Sept. 15, 2017.

Applications can be downloaded at www.agrifoodtraining.com.

Criteria:

The Robert L. Ross Memorial Scholarship will be awarded to a deserving farmer who emulates and demonstrate Bob's lifework through his or her passion and devotion to excellence in farm business management. The award is intended to encourage existing or relatively new farmers who have increasing or major responsibilities in their operations. This includes either farmers who have overall managerial responsibility for their operations or newly entering farmers who have responsibility for specific portions of farm operations. Applicants should demonstrate a desire for managerial excellence in their current and future responsibilities.

Scholarship applicants must:
Be over 21 years of age

Submit an application demonstrating:
  • A progressive operation and entrepreneurial spirit
  • How the value gained from CTEAM will be used:
    • To contribute to the farm business
    • To contribute to the agricultural industry at large
  • Why taking CTEAM interests you personally
  • Passion for the industry
  • Submit 2 non-family references
  • Provide permission to be interviewed for industry media
  • Provide a testimonial or report on their experience and impact of the Scholarship within 3 months of program completion, crediting the scholarship partners for making the opportunity possible
  • AME Contract Staff, FMC Board and staff, and FFG staff are not eligible to apply.
Application Process:

Applicants must submit a completed application form along with two non-family references.

Deadline for scholarship applications is September 15th, 2017. The application must be received by email to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or by mail to Agri-Food Management Excellence, R.R.1, Donalda, AB, T0B 1H0

If an email is provided, you will be notified acknowledging receipt of your application.

If you have any questions, please email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or call Heather Broughton at (780)781-2840

Winner will be notified prior to September 30th, 2017 and will be publicly announced at the Agricultural Excellence Conference Banquet in Ottawa, Ont., on November 23, 2016.
Published in News
July 12, 2017, Lethbridge, Alta. - Farmers know the importance of keeping the land, water and air healthy to sustain their farms from one generation to the next. They also know that a clean environment and a strong economy go hand-in-hand.

Minister of Veterans Affairs and Associate Minister of National Defence and Member of
Parliament (Calgary Centre) Kent Hehr today announced a $1.1 million investment with the
University of Lethbridge to study ways to reduce methane gas emissions in cattle.

This project with the University of Lethbridge is one of 20 new research projects supported by
the $27 million Agricultural Greenhouse Gases Program (AGGP), a partnership with
universities and conservation groups across Canada. The program supports research into
greenhouse gas mitigation practices and technologies that can be adopted on the farm.

"Reducing the amount of greenhouse gases produced by the cattle sector is important both
environmentally, economically and helps build public trust. Producers want to operate in a
sustainable fashion and our study results will help them do that," said Dr. Erasmus Okine, University of Lethbridge Vice-President (Research). 

The study led by the University of Lethbridge will investigate whether the use of biochar, a feed supplement, in beef cattle diets improves the efficiency of digestion and reduces the amount of methane gas produced.
Published in Business/Policy
July 11, 2017, Oregon - A dedication to protecting the environment, maintaining good employee relations and preserving herd health has earned Louie Kazemier of Rickreall Dairy an Outstanding Dairy Farm Sustainability Award from the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy.

The award, now in its sixth year, is awarded for a dairy's use of sustainable practices in areas of cow care, energy conservation, water conservation, nutrient management, and business and employee relations.

Rickreall is the first dairy from Oregon to win the award. It was one of only three such awards in the country this year, and the only one west of the Mississippi River.

Kazemier, who has managed Rickreall Dairy since 1991, summed up his commitment to sustainability as a constant effort "to do the right thing."

"I believe that if we know a better way to do stuff and don't do it, I don't think we are honoring our purpose here in life," he said.

His work on the dairy, more than defining him, he said is an extension of his philosophy on life.
Among reasons cited by the U.S. Dairy Innovation Center for Kazemier's award are his philanthropic efforts to help others.

Kazemier travels regularly to Uganda to instruct dairy farmers, build housing and mentor young men. In Oregon, Kazemier built Camp Attitude, a camp for families with special-needs children.

In Rickreall, residents know him for his open-door policy, and the steps he takes to be a good neighbor.

"We are ultra-sensitive to the public," Kazemier said. "We only irrigate certain fields, certain times of the day, because of wind direction and concerns with odor. And we have an open door policy, where anybody who wants to see the dairy can come in. We bring in a minimum of 2,000 school children a year at no cost to the schools."

When it comes to the environmental improvements, Kazemier worked with Energy Trust of Oregon and the U.S. Department of Agriculture to upgrade his barn lighting and parlor laundry systems, steps that have reduced his energy use by hundreds of thousands of kilowatts per year.

Kazemier's nutrient management plan involves applying only the amount of nutrients plants take up, so nutrients don't leave the soil profile. He conducts water-quality tests in a nearby creek on a quarterly basis, and takes soils tests on the farm's cropland on an annual basis, just to be sure.

Additionally, Kazemier provides neighboring farmer Scott Zeigler excess manure nutrients from Rickreall Dairy in exchange for feed, an arrangement that has proved beneficial to both parties.

Kazemier's father-in-law, Gus Wybenga, a third-generation dairy farmer who expanded and redesigned Rickreall Dairy when he purchased it in 1990, designed it with water conservation in mind. Kazemier has refined the system to capture and conserve water, and ensure that tap water is recycled at least three times before being used for irrigation.

And Kazemier has arranged with a local food processor to take excess waste water off the processor's hands, an arrangement that, again, benefits both parties.

When it comes to his 3,500 cows, Kazemier works closely with a nutritionist, a veterinarian and a herd manager to regulate and monitor herd health. And he uses computer software to track daily milk production and maintain health and treatment records.

Rickreall Dairy meets most of its feed needs through double-cropping ryegrass silage and corn silage and on the dairy's 1,100 acres of cropland. Kazemier supplements that with high-quality alfalfa hay, along with two byproducts from a local biofuel production plant, plus mineral supplements, beet pulp, cottonseed, hominy and corn grain, and the feed he gets from Zeigler Farms.

Kazemier uses composted manure solids for cow bedding, a practice that, in addition to providing a comfortable and sanitary bedding, also provides another beneficial use for dairy waste, and he has removed exterior walls to improve air circulation in the dairy's five free-stall barns.

According to John Rosecrans, the dairy's nutritionist, Rickreall Dairy cows consistently rank as an "A" herd, exhibiting high milk-production-to-feed rates, low cull rates and high pregnancy rates – all key elements in a dairy's success.

"This is one of those dairies where you can walk through the cow pens and they don't run from you, they follow you," Rosecrans said. "That tells you a lot about a farm."

Then there are the dairy's twenty-five year-round employees, workers with an average a tenure of twenty years.

"People don't quit very quickly here," Kazemier said, "and I take a lot of pride in that, because agriculture is a tough business, and my guys, they know that I've got their back if they put one-hundred percent into this job."

Indeed, cows, people, the community and the environment all seem to benefit from their association with Louie Kazemier and Rickreall Dairy.
Published in Profiles
July 7, 2017, Chicago, IL - The Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy®, established under the leadership of dairy farm families and importers, announced its sixth annual U.S. Dairy Sustainability Awards in a June 28 Chicago ceremony.

The program recognizes dairy farms, businesses and partnerships whose practices improve the well-being of people, animals and the planet.

From farm to table, transparency and ingenuity drive dairy forward, as demonstrated in the newly released 2016 Sustainability Report, which describes the Innovation Center's strategic plan focused on social responsibility. The plan was developed by dairy community leaders in recognition of the changing consumer and customer marketplace where health, environmental and ethical practices are of increasing interest.

Award winners represent the U.S. dairy community's voluntary efforts toward continuous improvement in sustainability.

"This year's winners demonstrated impressive leadership and creativity in the application of technology and other practices that protect our land, air and water," said Barbara O'Brien, president of the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy. "And, they're proactive about building strong relationships with their communities and employees. Based on this year's nominations, it's clear that dairy farms and companies of all sizes use sustainable practices because it's good for the environment, good for their community and good for business."

Judges evaluated nominations based on their economic, environmental and community impact. The independent judging panel — including experts working with and throughout the dairy community — also considered learning, innovation, scalability and replicability.
Through creative problem solving, this year's winners addressed water quality, soil fertility, community outreach, energy efficiency and more.

"These award-winning practices can serve as models for other farmers, too," said Jason Bateman, dairy farmer, 2016 award winner and one of this year's judges. "Winners made breakthroughs, and they improved everyday practices. It's inspiring to see people collaborate with partners outside of dairy and build on ideas from other industries."

The 2017 U.S. Dairy Sustainability Awards winners are:

Outstanding Dairy Farm Sustainability:

Kinnard Farms
, Casco, Wisconsin

The Kinnard family milks more than 7,000 cows — a scale that allows them to maximize cow comfort while supporting their rural community. They retain the area's young, college-educated residents by employing them to innovate farm technology. The Kinnards are often on the cutting edge; they made a first-of-its-kind sand recycling center — one that uses no freshwater in the process — to separate, wash and dry sand for repeated use. Sand is this farm's preferred bedding material because it provides comfort and sure footing for cows and is bacteria free, keeping udders healthy.

Rickreall Dairy, Rickreall, Oregon

Rickreall, Ore., residents know Louie Kazemier as a good neighbor. In fact, his relationships are the force behind his farm's frequent improvements. For example, when solids were building up in the manure lagoon, Louie initiated trade with a seed farmer to provide fertilizer in exchange for feed. He also collaborated with a local food processor to use their wastewater for irrigation. Kazemier depends on a whole-system approach to tend to what matters — and that turns out to be everything. The results are big: for one, most of the dairy's 25 employees have been there for more than 20 years.

SwissLane Farms, Alto, Michigan

This farm is 23 miles from downtown Grand Rapids, the second-largest city in Michigan. That poses both pressures from urban sprawl and opportunities to reach people several generations removed from the farm. Since 2006, SwissLane's Dairy Discovery program has taken advantage of this opportunity, offering farm tours that have reached more than 36,000 students, teachers and families. They have plenty to demonstrate when it comes to sustainable practices. After a farm energy audit, SwissLanes Dairy made improvements that reduced energy costs by 17 percent per cow. They also took steps to become verified through the Michigan Agriculture Environmental Assurance Program.

Outstanding Dairy Processing & Manufacturing Sustainability:

Glanbia Nutritionals, Evanston, Illinois

While consumers don't see the Glanbia Nutritionals brand in their grocery stores, it has a big footprint as one of the leading manufacturers of American-style cheese and whey. To implement a sustainability plan, they started with a single plant in Idaho. The team determined priority impact areas, measured social presence, determined metrics to demonstrate progress and identified areas where additional resourcing was needed. By 2016, the company had replicated this approach with three more plants and adopted a global sustainability strategy that promises to "nurture, grow and sustain the lives of our employees, milk producers, customers, consumers and communities."

Outstanding Achievement in Resource Stewardship

Kellercrest Registered Holsteins, Inc., Mount Horeb, Wisconsin

The Keller family participated in the Pleasant Valley Watershed Project, a collaboration among state, local and national agencies to reduce the local watershed's phosphorous load. Results were dramatic and positive. In fact, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources is expected to propose removing the Pleasant Valley branch from the EPA's list of sediment-impaired streams. Other farms that participated in the project saw economic benefits too, and this spurred them to form a group to build on the learnings. The Kellers, whose family has farmed the hills of Mount Horeb since the late 1840s, saw cost savings as well as environmental benefits.

Honorable Mention:

Mercer Vu Farms, Mercersburg, Pennsylvania

The Hissong family needed a manure management system that allowed them to maintain their high standard of cow comfort while protecting the Chesapeake Bay watershed. They looked at industries outside of agriculture to devise something dairy farms can replicate. They developed a system that allows them to use manure solids for cow bedding and for compost, while using phosphorus from the liquid manure as crop fertilizer in a targeted application. Their new system eliminated greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to removing 740 cars from the road.

Outstanding Achievement in Community Partnerships:

Oakland View Farms & Midshore Riverkeeper Conservancy, Caroline County, Maryland

Environmental communities and farmers haven't always seen eye to eye – especially in the Chesapeake Bay watershed, where water quality is a significant issue. But these groups identified a common goal: improve the community's water quality through cost-effective projects that could be replicated. They did that with a woodchip bioreactor – the first of its kind in Maryland – that eliminated nitrogen from agricultural drainage water. An effective, virtually maintenance-free solution, it eliminates 48 pounds of nitrate-nitrogen from flowing into the Chesapeake Bay each year.

Honorable Mention:

Food Bank of Eastern Michigan, The Kroger Co. of Michigan

Michigan Milk Producers Association and Michigan State University Extension, Novi, Michigan

The benefits of milk's nutrient-dense profile have long been established. But the Michigan Milk Producers Association (MMPA) relied on lesser-known qualities to help the residents of Flint, Mich. during a crisis in which they were susceptible to lead poisoning from contaminated water. Calcium and iron, found in dairy, can help mitigate health risks of lead consumption. Through a comprehensive partnership, 589,824 servings of milk were donated to those in need. Now there's a donation model to show this is possible in other communities affected by potential lead contamination.

Honorable Mention:

U.S. Dairy Education & Training Consortium Extension, College Station, Texas

The need for skilled agricultural professionals in the southwestern United States continues to grow, especially as universities across the region have reduced or eliminated their dairy programs. USDETC thrives today thanks to farmers and other dairy industry professionals. The goal: train animal and dairy science, agribusiness and pre-veterinary students on practical aspects of modern dairy management. Students study and visit as many different dairies, management styles and developmental stages as possible. It's all about growing participants' understanding of what a dairy operation entails so they're better equipped to lead.
Published in Profiles
June 29, 2017, Chatham, Ont. – The Thames River Phosphorus Reduction Collaborative is developing innovative tools, practices and technologies to help farmers and municipalities reduce phosphorus and algal blooms in the southwestern Ontario watershed which feeds into Lake Erie. The project was officially launched at a press conference this week.

"We're determined to improve the quality of water in the Thames, and that means working with everyone from farmers to drainage engineers and conservation authorities to First Nations and universities to come up with practical, cost-effective water management and drainage solutions for both urban and agricultural areas," said Randy Hope, Mayor of Chatham-Kent and the project's co-chair.

Elevated levels of phosphorus in water that runs off agricultural fields and collects in municipal drains can trigger the growth of toxic algal blooms in downstream water bodies. The western basin of Lake Erie has experienced several such incidents in recent years, disrupting the ecosystem, causing the closure of beaches and even, in Toledo, Ohio a ban on city drinking water for two days. Lake St. Clair, which is an indirect pathway to Lake Erie, has also been experiencing problems with near-shore algal blooms.

Among the initiatives aimed at resolving the problem is a commitment made in 2016 between Canada and the U.S. to a 40 per cent reduction in the total phosphorus entering Lake Erie. There is also a commitment among Ohio, Michigan and Ontario to reduce phosphorus by 40 per cent by 2025.

"We're doing research with the goal of creating a suite of tools and practices that farmers can use to address different situations," said Mark Reusser, Vice-President of the Ontario Federation of Agriculture (TBC). He added that the group has gathered research from around the world and is looking into how it could be applied locally.

Project partners are working to fulfill some of the recommendations made in the "Partnering in Phosphorus Control" Draft Action Plan for Lake Erie that the Canadian and Ontario governments released in March. The governments completed a public consultation in May and are expected to have a plan in place next year.

The project's new website is at www.thamesriverprc.com

The project is administered by the Ontario Federation of Agriculture and the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative. It was funded in part through Growing Forward 2 (GF2), a federal-provincial-territorial initiative. The Agricultural Adaptation Council assists in the delivery of GF2 in Ontario.
Published in Profiles
June 14, 2017 - A bill within the House is proposing to establish federal tax credits for farmers who invest in nutrient recovery systems.

The Agricultural Environmental Stewardship Act was introduced in the House last week by bill sponsor U.S. Rep. Ron Kind, D-Wisc., and cosponsor U.S. Rep. Tom Reed. Bipartisan legislation aims to promote new technological investments that produce energy and limit runoff into waterways.

The proposal could benefit farmers within the Chautauqua Lake watershed and elsewhere by making nutrient recovery systems like manure digesters more affordable. Manure digesters collect manure and convert the energy stored in its organic matter into methane. READ MORE
Published in News
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