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SLWAP reviews 2012 successes, discusses green practices for 2013

During the SLWAP annual meeting Dec. 11, a panel of farmers discussed ‘green’ Best Management Practices. From left, Brad Cates, Eric Brayman, Jim Greenfield and Erin Hull discussed soil management, cover crops and pest management.

During the SLWAP annual meeting Dec. 11, a panel of farmers discussed ‘green’ Best Management Practices. From left, Brad Cates, Eric Brayman, Jim Greenfield and Erin Hull discussed soil management, cover crops and pest management. Photo by Jason Emerson.

— The SLWAP received nearly $75,000 in grant funding from state and federal agencies during the past year, and recently submitted four grant applications to New York state that would, if approved, bring in $1.43 million and allow for the implementation of 44 Best Management Practices on 19 farms in Onondaga County, Burger said.

After the year in review, a panel of local farmers discussed four areas of ‘green’ Best Management Practices that both benefit resource conservation and help the agri-business profit.

Jim Greenfield and Eric Brayman talked about soil sampling, and how regular soil sampling of crop fields can help to establish optimum crop fertility requirements. They also discussed nutrient management and manure management plans, and how utilizing animal manure at effective rates with immediate soil incorporation best meets crop needs.

Brad Cates, of Co-Vale Holsteins in Otisco, led a lively discussion on cover crops, what types of crops work better or best, which ones can cause issues when spring comes, when to plant, how cover crops prevent soil erosion and how certain crops can be utilized in spring either as livestock feed or as fertilizer for spring planting when plowed under.

“For the amount of dollars spent, there is no other way to get as much conservation as cover cropping,” Cates said.

The final panel discussion, but also a lively discussion, was led by Greenfield and Erin Hull, who is the agriculture educator for Cornell Cooperative Extension in Onondaga County, about pest scouting. The theme of the discussion was that having an Integrated Pest Management crop scouting plan during the growing season can reduce pesticide usage and preserve crop yields for harvest.

“Scouting is extremely important,” Hull said. “Number one, it’s free.” Scouting for pests can prevent the unnecessary spraying of chemicals on crops, or, by knowing when to spray, it can prevent the loss of crops to an infestation of bugs, Hull said. “Just by taking 15 minutes a week, it will save a ton on pesticides,” she said.

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