Agronomy and Conservation Assistance ProgramThe ACAP program provides direct outreach and technical assistance to animal agricultural operations within the Lake Champlain Watershed. The goal is to implement farm practices that reduce export of soil and nutrients to minimize the potential adverse effects of agricultural operations and improve water quality in Lake Champlain and its tributaries. Jennifer Alexander, PMNRCD’s Agronomy Outreach Professional and Certified Crop Advisor, works with participating farmers to identify and implement water quality improvement practices on their farms.
Jennifer helps ensure that farmers understand and meet the State’s Required Agricultural Practices (RAPs) and focuses on implementing Best Management Practices (BMPs) such as cropping methods to reduce erosion and nutrient loss from fields, farmstead best management practices for improved manure and water management, fencing to keep livestock away from water resources, reducing phosphorus runoff using soil aeration and alternative manure application systems, and other identified practices.
On average, the District works with 50 farms per year and through ACAP focuses on 20-30 farms to complete on-farm assessments, document current farm operations and watershed concerns, set priorities for conservation measures, assist farmers secure additional funds or technical assistance for implementation, and create a long-range plan to continue sustainable conservation practices.
Current Agricultural Programs
Through the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP), the District has been able to provide soil sampling and planning assistance for farms developing Nutrient Management Plans. This program was first offered in 2015 and will continue through 2018 (partners are making efforts to continue this program).
The basic elements of nutrient management planning include: livestock manure management, nutrient budgeting for farm soils, and resource conservation through appropriate land management practices. Nutrient management plans are developed to address the needs of individual farmers as well as applicable regulations and other resource conservation goals.
In Vermont, guidelines, regulations, and resources exist to help encourage practices that will ensure high water quality. Please call us with your questions on nutrient management practices and the programs that may be available to you.
Rental Conservation Practice Equipment
The District owns and manages two aerators which are available for use by landowners. The charge is $6/acre, which covers the cost of replacement parts and insurance. If farmers plan to use the aerators on hay fields with liquid manure, there may be cost-share assistance from the Vermont Agency of Agriculture.
The District has recently purchased a Haybuster 107C No-Till drill which features 2 large seed boxes and a legume/small seed box. This unit will be free of charge until 2018, and will be prioritized for farms in the South Lake (Poultney and Mettowee) watershed, followed by farms in the Lake Champlain Basin of Rutland and Bennington Counties.
The District and UVM-Extension now own scales to help farmers weigh manure spreaders and harvest carts. If you need this information for your nutrient management plan, please call us to schedule a time to borrow the scales (they even come with staff to assist you!).
Please contact Jennifer Alexander for more information on our Equipment Rental availability and policies.