Agriculture: A Team Approach to Overcoming Challenges

Agriculture: A Team Approach to Overcoming Challenges

2020 has presented the West of Hudson Watershed Agricultural Program (WAP) with many challenges, but with the teamwork of our partners and dedicated professional satff, the WAP met the challenge and has continued to implement Best Management Practices (BMPs) throughout the region. Staff used a variety of methods to continue full operations during the pandemic which eventually lead to on-farm visits when the health department guidelines allowed.

Four of our large structural BMPs began implementation in late May from previously contracted projects in the Fall/Winter of 2019. One of those projects was located at Squan I, LLC, in Meredith, NY owned by Ron Cieri. At ~300 animal units, it is one of the largest beef farms in the NYC Watershed. The 1,000+ acre farm has approximately 140 cow/calf pairs and runs another 60-80 head of young stock. Since joining the program in 2010, numbers BMPs have been implemented to help facilitate rotational grazing on roughly 600 acres of pasture on the farm.

The current project is a covered feeding area for ~160 weaned calves and feeder cattle. The 8,500 square foot feeding area will be split into two sec- tions for each group of cattle, and there is a centralized 3,500 square foot manure storage that is sized to hold ve months of manure which can then be spread according to their Nutrient Management Plan (NMP). This structure replaces the old barnyard that had a watercourse running through it where the animals were historically fed through the winter and there was little to no means to collect manure.

Another large project completed was a 4,000 square foot roofed barn- yard and feeding area at Black Willow Morgans Farm, which is a horse breeding and training facility located in Delhi, NY near Lake Delaware. The owners , Jeff and Kim Wilson, breed, train and sell Morgan horses. This BMP was designed to provide a covered area for the 25+ horses to be fed on during the winter, as well as a place to stack and store manure. Previously the horses were fed outside where runoff from the manure could not be controlled and ran directly to a watercourse. The new structure contains the manure so that it can be properly managed and spread according to their NMP. The new BMP protects surface and ground water by diverting it away from the site, so it is kept clean as it flows to the Little Delaware River.

While 2020 has brought unprecedented challenges, we are proud of our team of professionals including the WAC, Cornell Cooperative Extension of Delaware County, Delaware County Soil and Water Conservation District, Natural Resource Conservation Service and Farm Service Agency.

Pilot Manure Injection Program

In an effort to further reduce phosphorus and nitrogen loss, enhance crop production and move to the next level of manure management, the WAP led by Cornell Cooperative Extension of Delaware County (CCE), facilitated a coulter manure injection demonstration on several farms from August through October 2020. The purpose of these demonstrations was to allow farmers and program staff to see what this technology looks like, and how it works in our soil and terrain. Research has shown that these type of injectors are effective in reducing soluble phosphorus loss in surface waters, and they are compatible with no-till production and injection of manure on sod and in stony soils, all objectives the WAP would like to meet. Thus far, the results look promising and the demonstration will help the program consider how this type of technology can be implemented efficiently through the WAP.

Read the 2020 Annual Report here.