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Skaneateles farmers promote conservation practices

John F. Tucker & Sons Farm one of many working with Skaneateles Lake Watershed Agricultural Program

The Tucker farm liquid manure storage tank is 80 feet across, 14 feet deep and holds 450,000 gallons of barnyard waste. Its intent is to reduce fertilizer costs and improve soil quality. It was funded mainly by city, state and federal grants with minimal cost to the Tuckers.

The Tucker farm liquid manure storage tank is 80 feet across, 14 feet deep and holds 450,000 gallons of barnyard waste. Its intent is to reduce fertilizer costs and improve soil quality. It was funded mainly by city, state and federal grants with minimal cost to the Tuckers. Photo by Jason Emerson.

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The view of the Tucker farm liquid manure storage tank from the milkhouse waste tanks. The tanks pump waste milk and water directly into the storage tank. Visible at the right is the barn roof on which roof gutters and drip trenches were installed to collect clean water.

— What do dairy farms do with all their cow manure in the winter?

That’s not a trick question. In fact, it is an important consideration for farm costs, soil and animal health, and even lake watershed purity.

The owners of the John F. Tucker & Sons Farm at the corner of Coon Hill and Rickard roads have just had installed a new 450,000-gallon liquid manure storage tank to help accomplish what they hope will be reduced fertilizer costs, improved soil quality and better resource conservation. And the best part about the project: it was paid for mostly through city, state and federal funding.

This project — as well as others ongoing at the Tucker farm — are part of the NYS Agricultural Environmental Management program, administered by the Skaneateles Lake Watershed Agricultural Program in the Skaneateles Lake watershed area, and funded by the city of Syracuse.

“This is a very effective, very popular program, and the fact that only two farms out of the 41 in the watershed area have opted to install conservation practices on their own says a lot,” said Erick Haas, resource conservation specialist with the Skaneateles Lake Watershed Agricultural Program. “This program has given the Tucker farm an opportunity to install good conservation practices on their farm, increasing the protection of the Skaneateles Lake watershed and thereby enhancing the overall environmental health of the land.”

The mission of the SLWAP is to carry out a cost-effective, innovative program for the farming community that upholds the high drinking water quality standards of Skaneateles Lake. The city of Syracuse established the program in 1994 as an alternative to a costly filtration system required by the 1986 Amendments to the Safe Drinking Water Act. The SLWAP is a voluntary program operated out of the Onondaga County Soil and Water Conservation District that serves portions of Onondaga, Cortland and Cayuga Counties within the watershed.

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