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Grazette Newsletter - March 2012

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March 2012 Edition

March usually “comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb”, so it will be interesting to see if the weather pattern finally changes this month to produce some snow and cold. If not, we may need to begin preparing for an earlier spring – now is the time to start thinking and planning for fencing projects, changes in management, and turning animals out on pasture!

New! We've added some of our past newsletters at the end of this page.

Please continue to send in notices of pasture walks and workshops by three days prior to the end of each month. The Grazette is distributed monthly.

Upcoming Pasture Workshops and Related Events

Farm to Market Connection

When: Sunday, March 4th
Where: CVI Building, One Cablevision Center, Liberty (Sullivan County)

We link image: Pure CatskillsJoin us for a day of networking and education about the most current topics in direct marketing. Gather with local food advocates from across the region including farmers, retailers, restaurateurs, specialty food producers, distributors, farmers' market staff and economic development practitioners. The Farm to Market Connection is the perfect way to get the growing season off to the right start! Dozens of past attendees have made lasting business connections as a result of attending. Buyers of all scales will be present from local retailers to regional distributors. Educational topics will suit the interest of vegetable, livestock and dairy producers. Featured speakers and workshop leaders will share perspectives from both the metropolitan and upstate marketplaces.

For more information, visit the Pure Catskills Web site, or email Challey Comer or call (607) 865-7090.

Maine Grass Farmers Network 2012 Grazing Conference

Web link image: Maine Grass Farmers NetworkWhen: Saturday, March 17th - 8:00 am to 4:00 pm
Where: Kennebec Valley Community College, Fairfield, Maine

A full day of workshops, speakers, and demonstrations featuring keynote Ben Bartlett of Michigan State University, as well as UVM’s Sid Bosworth and Vermont’s Gourmet Butcher Cole Ward.

For more information visit the Grazing Conference Web site.
 

Northwest Pennsylvania Grazing Conference – “The Nature of Grazing”

Web link image: Headwaters - Resource Conservation and Development CouncilWhen: Thursday, March 22nd
Where: Zion Church, Clarion, Pennsylvania

This year’s conference will focus on the use of sound ecological principles of grazing management to improve soil health – “farming in nature’s image.” Sessions will also cover topics such as the importance of good planning and record keeping in grazing management as well as equine pasture management. The keynote speaker is Ray Archuleta, a 23 year veteran soil scientist with the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service. Ray will talk about his passion – healthy soil – as the foundation of healthy pastures and healthy livestock. He is a Certified Professional Soil Scientist with the Soil Science Society of America.

Early registration is $30 per person and includes a hot buffet lunch. Early registration must be postmarked by February 17th. Late registration is $50 and must be postmarked by March 7th. Mail the registration and fee payable to Headwaters RC&D Council, Attn: Brittany Dittemore, 109 North Brady Street. 2nd floor, DuBois, Pennsylvania 15801. Conference information can be downloaded from the Headwaters RC&D Web site or by calling (814) 503-8653.
 

Advance Notice  >>> Groundswell’s Sustainable Farming Certificate Program

When: April 18th through November 14th
Where: Groundswell Center for Local Food and Farming, Ithaca (Tompkins County) - Now accepting applications

Web link image: Groundwell CenterThis spring the full-season training program for aspiring and beginning farmers and market gardeners will again be offered. The Sustainable Farming Certificate Program provides 124 hours of classroom training, hands-on workshops, farm visits, and supervised work experience on sustainable farms. Trainees can choose to concentrate their studies on the management of vegetables and fruits, livestock and poultry, or pursue a diversified curriculum. Each trainee will have an individualized Learning Contract, and will be evaluated on the basis of that contract before being awarded Groundswell's Sustainable Farming Certificate. Instruction will be provided by experienced farmer mentors, as well as subject matter experts from our partner institutions such as Cornell University, USDA, and Cornell Cooperative Extension. Trainees who complete 100 hours of training or more are eligible to receive Groundswell's Sustainable Farming Certificate.

Groundswell is committed to the vision of a regionally self-reliant food system that provides good food and economic opportunities for everyone. The program seeks to engage trainees from diverse cultural, racial, and economic backgrounds to participate in a supportive, trainee-driven learning environment. People of color, new immigrant and limited resource trainees are especially encouraged to apply. Tuition for the Sustainable Farming Certificate Program is on a sliding scale and ranges from $125 to $800, with substantial support offered to people of color, new immigrant and limited-resource trainees. Applications for the Sustainable Farming Certificate Program are now online. Visit the Groundswell Web site to learn more and apply today.

Pasture News

The winning entries from the Grazing Land Conservation Initiative (GLCI) writing contest are being published! The first two were published in the winter issue of Small Farms Quarterly, which is a publication of the Cornell Small Farms Program. The spring issue will have two more of the winning entries, so keep an eye out for those as well. If you know a farmer who is “on the fence” about grazing, show them these articles because the authors have all done an amazing job of explaining the benefits.

You can view the winning entries in two locations:

Small Farms Quarterly - Winter 2012 (Cornell Small Farms Program Web site)
Small Farms Quarterly - Winter 2012 (ISSU Digital Publishing Platform Web site)

If you would like copies of the articles to be published in local newsletters or on Web sites, please email Karen Hoffman.

Pasture Resources

Identification and Adaptation of Common Grasses, Legumes and Non-Leguminous Forbs of the Eastern United States is now available from Virginia Tech. This softcover, 388 page book provides a description of the most common and important grassland, turf, and non-crop plants and their seeds. Unlike many publications that include plant identification, this emphasizes vegetative identification. Most plants flower for a relatively short period, so the person in the field is frequently faced with identifying a plant without a flower. It also includes floral identification – because it can be definitive and can sometimes greatly simplify the identification process. The hundreds of color photographs and other illustrations are intended to help with these determinations. The book covers 23 forage legumes, 61 grasses and more than 100 non-leguminous forbs found in pastures and grasslands of the Eastern United States.

Besides identification of important species, it also describes other key characteristics such as adaptation, favorable and unfavorable soil types, seasonal growth patterns, toxicity, etc. For plants harvested for hay or silage or by grazing, it discusses cutting and grazing management, quality factors, and potential yields. Because of its organization and content, this book should be a valuable reference for farmers and farm advisors, teachers and students of agronomy, or for anyone interested in the dynamic relationship between plants and agriculture.

The book is $45.00 and includes shipping. Contact Ava Turman in the Virginia Tech Department of Crop and Soil Environmental Sciences at (540) 231-9775 for an order form.

Pasture Management Tips

Frost Seeding Review

Web image: Darrell Emmick, retired State Grazing Specialist with NRCS

Darrell Emmick, former State Grazing Specialist
with NRCS (retired).

This time of year is when farmers think about doing some frost seeding. This short article was written in 2007 by Darrell Emmick, former State Grazing Specialist with NRCS (now retired), but is worth repeating."Frost seeding only works if the seeds you broadcast actually reach the soil surface where they can germinate and send roots into the soil. Seeds that land on last year’s dead vegetation or thatch may germinate, but because they can’t reach the soil surface with their roots, they just dry up and die.

The secret to a successful frost seeding is in the planning. You will want to graze your pasture hard in the fall previous to the spring in which you want to seed. By grazing your pasture close or tightly, you are removing green vegetation before it becomes a dead vegetation problem in the spring. Remember, no seed to soil contact, no new plant growth.

I should tell you, I am not a strong believer in frost seeding. In the past 25 years of walking around in pastures, I have seen very little frost heaving. Some, yes, but more in hay fields. No frost heaving, no frost seeding. Thus, a better low cost strategy is to let your livestock stomp the seed in the ground.

As with any seeding, soil test and apply what is needed. Graze your pasture hard in the fall prior to the spring in which you want to seed. But rather than hope frost will bury your seeds, I recommend you wait until the frost is out of the ground, and broadcast your seed on a warm spring day. The soil should be soft and damp but not muddy. Once the seed has been broadcast, use temporary wire to herd your livestock on to small sections of the pasture at a time. Hoof action, is far more reliable than frost action. Caution! Do not churn the soil into a muddy mess. You will likely do more harm than good. A light stomping is a good thing, but keep in mind when we conventionally seed pastures, we are generally looking to place seeds in the soil less than one-half of an inch deep.

So what should you seed? As most livestock prefer legumes over grass by a 70:30 margin, and animal performance is higher on legumes than on grass, if I were you, I would be seeding my favorite legume. Naturally, give the new plants a chance to establish before you graze them. If you can grab a handful of 6 to 8 inch tall new plants and give them a hard tug and they come out of the ground roots and all, so can your livestock. When the new plants stay rooted and all you get is a handful of leaves, it is safe to graze the new seedings. Frost seedings and stomp seedings are not as effective as more conventional seedings, but they are cheap, and you can do them many times for the cost of a conventional seeding.

They can work, but remember, you need to have your planning and preparation work done 6 months to a year ahead of time."

Notes

Want to submit an event? Interested in subscribing? Simply send an e-mail to Karen Hoffman with your event information, or with the subject line of "subscribe" to be added to the distribution list. If submitting an event listing, please submit it three days before the end of the month prior to the date scheduled, as this newsletter will only be generated at the beginning of the month. Not interested? You may also "unsubscribe" by sending an e-mail to Karen Hoffman, with "unsubscribe" in the subject line.

Brought to you by the New York State Grazing Lands Conservation Initiative. The Grazing Lands Conservation Initiative is a grass-roots coalition of producers, agricultural industry, and conservation groups with an interest in the sound conservation of private grazing lands. The goal of this newsletter is to increase awareness of grazing events around New York and in neighboring states, as well as to provide information that is useful on the farm. For more information on GLCI, check out the national GLCI Web site. Information on the NYS GLCI can be obtained from GLCI Coordinator Karen Hoffman.

For information on facilities or services, or to request sign language interpretation or other auxiliary aids at meetings, please contact the individual listed for the event at least 10 days prior to the meeting date.

Past Newsletters

2012 January February      

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