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Conservation Partners Use USDA Programs in a Collaborative Effort to Assist Loca

Web image: Gullies in the pasture were preventing the producer from proper pasture management

Gullies in the pasture were preventing the
producer from proper pasture management

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Web image: An improved lane with fencing will keep animals out of a stream

An improved lane with fencing will keep
animals out of a stream

Full screen view

In 2010, a local producer approached the Broome County USDA Service Center staff with a request for grazing assistance for his dairy cows on a hill side pasture on his dairy farm.

NRCS staff and the Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) Grazing Specialist set up an appointment to visit the farm to conduct a “needs” assessment. It was evident that the cows needed to be fenced out of the stream, and they were causing the bank to collapse and erosion. The gullies running through the pasture were also an issue, causing sedimentation in the stream, creating a hazard for the animals as they tried to cross the gullies and preventing the producer from proper pasture management. The pastures were slightly overgrown with weeds and the brush was starting to over grow where the cows were not grazing efficiently.

After the farm visit, it was determined that there were several 2008 Farm Bill Programs that would help this farm. The first was the Farm Service Agency’s Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), through this program we were able to install fence along the stream corridor to remove the cows from the stream. This assisted in preventing the bank from collapse, sedimentation and pollution from cow manure. On this farm, we did not have a spring in a usable location, but we were able to allow three controlled access points along the stream so the cows could have access to water and not create resource concerns.

Through the Conservation Reserve Program, the gullies were also fixed which prevented the additional sedimentation in the stream. They were reshaped and designed as grassed waterways to handle the amount of flow coming from the above watersheds and were fenced off from the cows to prevent and further damage. A new laneway was installed at the base of the hill so the cows can cross safely and the producer can now maintain the waterways and keep them functioning as intended.

The final step was the installation of three wetland restoration projects. There were several areas along the stream corridor that were ideal for wetland rehabilitation. A series of potholes were installed to create habitat for waterfowl and amphibians. This assisted in creating more water holding capacity in the flood plain and wildlife habitat.

The second program that benefitted the producer was the Grassland Reserve Program (GRP). The Soil and Water Conservation District Grazing Specialist developed a grazing plan for the farm based on the amount of available land, and number and type of animals that would be grazing. Through this program we were able to assist the farm in rehabilitating most of the pastures.

Soil samples were taken on all of the pasture fields to determine what type of fertilizer and how much lime was needed to improve fertility. Several of the pastures have been reseeded using the No-Till seeder provided for a nominal fee from the District. Over the course of the next few years, additional improvements will be made to the farm as the rotational grazing plan is fully implemented.

The producer is already seeing an improvement in his pastures. The cows are being kept cleaner and water quality is better due to the fencing and laneways. With these two programs and the cooperation of the three agencies in the Binghamton Service Center, we were able to make big improvements for the farm, water quality, wildlife habitat, and erosion control.

With offices in nearly every county in the United States, NRCS works with landowners and communities to improve our soil, water, air, plants, wildlife, and energy use. The Conservation Reserve Program and Grassland Reserve Program are voluntary programs that provides financial and technical assistance to farmers to help plan and implement conservation practices to protect the environment while helping producers meet Federal, State, Tribal and local environmental regulations. If you are interested in how you can protect natural resources on your farm or forestland, please contact your local NRCS office.

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