Rotational grazing for maximum fertility and soil health

CEW-MR-2-ROTATIONAL-GRAZING_18312by Sanne Kure-Jensen

Farmers have understood for centuries that animal manure helps return vital nutrients to crop fields. Many farmers pull mechanical spreaders behind fossil fuel-burning tractors to move manure into fields, but at Polyface farm, livestock spread their own manure. Joel Salatin of Polyface Farm in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley advocates rotational grazing; they blend livestock and pasture species to puzzle pests.

Well managed grazing concentrates livestock in one area for a short period and then move them on. At Polyface farm, portable electric fences contain grazing beef herds. Farmers move the fences and livestock daily. Salatin said his animals look forward to their fresh “salad bar” each morning. The cattle graze forage at a sustainable level. They trample their manure patties ensuring good soil contact and starting the decomposition process. [Read more…]

Animal aeration

CEW-MR-1-Animal-aeration12by Troy Bishopp

Have you ever had a dream so vivid it woke you from a sound sleep? Two weeks ago, it seems I fell prey to dreaming of green pastures, fence moves and frolicking cows. This joyful trance was rudely interrupted by a loud “MOO”. It was the kind of sound that suggests it’s a bit too real. This was not a dream, but what we affectionately call, “A class one farm emergency.”

As I bolted from the confines of a comfortable bed in unison with the “The cows are out” declaration, I saw several heifers munching on my wife’s shrubs under our window. Confusion, panic and anger swept over my demeanor as my wife, daughter and I tried to find some appropriate cow-catching attire at 4 a.m. My mind and heart raced as I propelled my sock-less feet into the cold rubber boots not thinking I was about to commit a fatal mistake. [Read more…]

Make a difference says Farm Fusion speaker

CEW-MR-1-Farm-Fusion3by Pat Malin

EAST SYRACUSE, NY — As a sought-after professional speaker and radio commentator, Steve Gilliland logs thousands of miles on the road each day. It would be easy for him to lose direction and a sense of purpose.

It doesn’t happen, however, because he remembers the dark days that forced him to examine his life and take control.

Gilliland was the keynote speaker at the New York Farm Bureau’s Fusion Forum: “Fusing Purpose, Passion & Pride to Ignite Your Potential” at the DoubleTree hotel in East Syracuse in March. It was the first of two days of lectures and workshops aimed primarily at young farmers and ranchers. [Read more…]

Grazing under contract

by Tamara Scully

Are you hearing that rumble? If some of the top grazing specialists in the Northeast have their way, you will be. They’ve organized together to develop a potential new source of agricultural income, a innovative means of utilizing non-prime farmland, a means of keeping lands in agriculture, and a way to promote the actual grazing of livestock as a reliable feed source.

About 100 people attended the inaugural 2015 Northeast Contract Grazing Summit, held in late March in Morrisville, NY. Hosted by the Weaver Family Farm, and organized by Troy Bishopp, Madison County Soil and Water Conservation District Grazing Specialist, aka “The Grass Whisperer.” The event brought together a diverse group of farmers, grazing experts, butchers, and legal and insurance industry representatives, all of whom offered advice, shared successes and learning experiences, and underscored the real opportunities which contract grazing can bring to the region’s agricultural community.

“We think this is good for New York. We keep trying to get someone to listen, now we’re just doing it,” Bishopp said, indicating a team that includes Brett Chedzoy, Mike Baker, Steven Lorraine and many other of the workshops speakers. [Read more…]

Air blast sprayers: useful but difficult to calibrate

CN-MR-2-AIR BLAST2by Bill and Mary Weaver

Now New Hampshire and PA Extensions have a grant-funded calibration unit that can quickly and accurately measure the output of each nozzle on the sprayer. In Pennsylvania, the cost to the grower is $50 for the first sprayer and $35 for a second one. The rest of the expenses, estimated at $200, are paid for by grant funds supplied by the PA Department of Agriculture and the State Horticulture Association of PA. The calibration unit has eight cylinders, each with a quick-connect hose that connects to the nozzles on your air blast sprayer. “The unit does the job with precision,” says Dr. Kerry Richards, Director of the Pesticide Education Program for Penn State Extension. According to Richards, the grower can see on the unit which of his nozzles are ‘off’ and not working properly. “What’s at stake is your bottom line,” [Read more…]