Skip

CIG Project Descriptions

Vermont State CIG Projects for 2014

Tile Drainage Phosphorous Removal System in the Rock River Watershed
The purpose of this project is to monitor and measure water flow and total and dissolved phosphorous and nitrogen concentrations coming out of drainage tiles on a farm in the Lake Champlain Basin where two Phosphorus Removal Systems have been installed. The project will use two different filtering medias, or one filtering media on two tile lines with different phosphorus concentrations, over a period of two years. Under the study design paired monitoring systems will be installed above and below each of the media filtering systems in order to quantify the performance.  Ideally, the flow coming out of a single drain would be split or two separate drains on fields on the same landscape would be monitored.  In either case, the upstream/downstream monitoring design will allow the quantification of the nutrient removal of the systems, and determine if there are reductions in nutrient concentrations that are attributable to the phosphorus removal systems. (Friends of Northern Lake Champlain, $50,000, 36 months – September 2017)

Vermont State CIG Projects for 2013

Better Cover Crop Mixes in Vermont
The purpose of this project is to show that cover crop mixes are a viable alternative to fall plowing in the Champlain Valley and can improve soil health, protect water quality and increase crop yields on farms. A mixture of plant species will enhance biomass production, nitrogen fixation, deep taproot penetration and soil nutrient scavenging. Demonstration trials with different methods and timing of establishing cover crops will be used to show other farmers alternative cover crop production practices that they can adopt on their own farms. Farmers in the Champlain Valley will be more receptive to cover cropping if these mixes can be shown to improve overall soil health and increase crop yields in the long run. (University of Vermont, $70,566, 36 months – September 2016)

Development of a Web-based APEX Tool for Optimizing Best Management Practices and Conservation Planning on Vermont Farms
The APEX model is a powerful tool for conservation planners, providing valuable, real time information on the effectiveness of different BMP scenarios for specific agricultural fields. This project will evaluate the performance of the APEX model in simulating agronomic systems and conservation practices in Vermont, and result in a user friendly web-based APEX conservation planning tool capable of simulating and comparing the environmental benefits of a wide range of best management practices across the state of Vermont. Using the APEX model as the basis for land management decisions will bring a scientifically defensible and transparent approach to the process, improving the public acceptance and understanding of the outcomes.(Stone Environmental, Inc., $74,750, 18 months - March 2015)

Soil Health Demonstration Farm on Clay Soil
The goal of this project is to demonstrate to farmers that reduced tillage systems, including vertical tillage, zone tillage and no-till systems, are viable options on heavy clay soil in the Champlain Valley. The development of a working demonstration farm and documentation of these systems will be implemented on soils that are typically plowed in the fall after crop harvest leaving the soil exposed to sediment and nutrient losses through the winter. Cover crops will be planted for over-wintering of the soil. This project will show other farmers in Vermont that these practices can improve soil health for increased farm productivity. (University of Vermont, $75,000, 36 months – September 2016) 

Vermont State CIG Projects for 2012

Innovative Technologies for Energy Conservation in Vermont Greenhouses
The purpose of this project is to continue improvements to the design of key components of a greenhouse bubble insulation system and implement improvements in a demonstration greenhouse. This represents one of the most innovative technologies available for improving energy efficiency in greenhouses. A system suitable for installation in Vermont greenhouses will be shared with other greenhouse growers through demonstration and outreach activities that show the value of energy conservation. (University of Vermont, $16,398, 12 months – September 2013)

Champlain Valley Farmer Coalition for Improved Water Quality
The purpose of this project is to stimulate the development and adoption of innovative agricultural conservation approaches and technologies through the development of a watershed based farmer conservation group in Addison, Chittenden, and Rutland Counties. The Champlain Valley Farmer Coalition will promote on-farm agricultural practices that improve water quality in Lake Champlain. The farmer group will demonstrate to other farmers and explain to the public and legislators about successful conservation practices that help to improve the environment while maintaining an active working landscape and viable livestock agriculture industry in Vermont. (University of Vermont, $30,436, 30 months – March 2015)

Using Grass-Based Livestock Farms to Demonstrate Regenerative Agriculture
The goal of this project is to demonstrate and to educate livestock farmers and service providers regarding techniques used by grass-based farming innovators to improve soil and water quality, renew marginally productive lands, increase forage production, support wildlife, and encourage transition to environmentally beneficial methods of livestock production. Outreach will include peer to peer learning, and use of electronic and social media to share information. An economic analysis of the transition from conventional to pasture grazing system (cash flow plus quality of life, etc.), energy savings analyses, and life cycle assessments are part of the plan of work. (University of Vermont, $72,786, 36 months – September 2015)

Geothermal Heating and Cooling in Northern Latitude Greenhouses, For Sustainability and Profitability
The purpose of this project is to displace fossil fuel energy, increase the farm’s energy efficiency, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by using geothermal resources (ground-source heat pump) to heat and cool the propagation compartment in a greenhouse. Reporting will articulate the beneficial effects, and potentially, unforeseen adverse effects of using geothermal cooling and ground-source heat pump technology. Outreach activities will include a virtual tour of the ground-source heat pump system on the web, presentations about the success of the project at conferences, and field days to tour the system at the farm. (Long Wind Farm Inc., $75,000, 15 months – December 2013)

Development of an Agricultural Certainty Program in Vermont
This award is to develop a coordinated program among various agricultural partners that supports agricultural water quality improvements while providing a level of “certainty” to agricultural producers that engage in water quality improvement projects. This program will create a framework that uses indicators of progress as the key measurement unit and where applicable nutrient and/or sediment reduction measures. This effort will entail an assessment of the various conservation programs and staff resources from agricultural organizations in order to improve their ability to help establish and implement goals and progressive measures. Incorporating the on-going efforts of multiple partners into a process will support the restoration of Lake Champlain and other TMDL-based nutrient pollution reduction efforts in Vermont. (Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food, & Markets, $75,000, 27 months – January 2015)

Vermont State CIG Projects for 2011

Yestermorrow’s Greenhouse: A Model of Innovation
This project will include innovative systems in the construction of a passive solar greenhouse that will reduce energy demands, improve vegetable production, and are not commonly integrated into greenhouses in northern New England in order to demonstrate the viability of these systems and their benefits to farmers throughout Vermont. It will be used for food production and increase the amount of locally produced food offered at Yestermorrow Design/Build School, and serve as a demonstration site for regular class offerings, as well as for area farmers. (Yestermorrow Design/Build School, $5,000, 26 months – December 2013)

Innovative Technologies for Energy Conservation in Vermont Greenhouses
The purpose of this project is to improve the design of key components of a greenhouse bubble insulation system and implement improvements in a demonstration greenhouse. This represents one of the most innovative technologies available for improving energy efficiency in greenhouses. A system suitable for installation in Vermont greenhouses will be shared with other greenhouse growers through demonstration and outreach activities that show the value of energy conservation. (University of Vermont, $11,530, 12 months – August 2012)

Digging Deeper: Improving the Implementation of Nutrient Management Practices in Vermont
The goal of this project is to develop, evaluate, and verify the effectiveness of innovative nutrient management implementation strategies on Vermont farms that will help decrease agricultural nonpoint source nutrient pollution. The project will further refine and develop new education tools and strategies to broaden the adoption and effectiveness of nutrient management planning and implementation on Vermont farms. The results of this effort will be available for use by farmers, agricultural professionals, and natural resource organizations. (University of Vermont, $63,422, 24 months – September 2013)

Fuel from the Field to the Flue: Grass Pellet Heating Equipment Combustion Optimization Project
This project will evaluate two different types of grass pellet heating equipment, and identify the most suitable species of grass fuel. The combustion performance of the equipment will be evaluated and adjusted to optimize their efficiency. Feedback will be given to the manufacturers to incorporate the modifications into production, as well as made public so Vermont consumers could purchase similar heating equipment that will burn grass pellets more reliably and efficiently. Documentation will also be made available to assist farmers in the selection of grass species to produce the optimal fuel. (Meach Cove Farm Trust, $73,400, 33 months – June 2014)

Vermont State CIG Projects for 2010 

Increasing Livestock Production for Vermont Markets by Improving and Reclaiming Marginal Pasture
This project will increase farmers’ access to land for livestock production by reclaiming marginal and existing grazed pasture through the biological control of weeds. The practice has already been successfully used in California, Colorado and Montana. Farmers in Vermont will be able to train livestock to act as biological controls of weeds, creating a sustainable and valuable tool to reduce the negative impacts of weeds on livestock production, increase farm profitability, and improve Vermont’s working landscapes. This project will demonstrate and monitor the effectiveness of the biological control of weeds in Vermont and the northeast, and share information on this practice as well as farmers’ experiences. (University of Vermont Extension, $69,153, 36 months – September 2013)

Vermont State CIG Projects for 2009

White River Watershed Landscape Auction
The project will test a new market-based payment mechanism known as a Landscape Auction within the White River and Northern Forest landscape of Vermont. This form of market-based incentive has been tried in the Netherlands and other places in the world with success. Through this approach private capital will be raised to protect watershed values of private agricultural or forested working lands for at least ten years. The project seeks to test the application of this approach as one more ‘tool’ to reduce parcelization and fragmentation of forest and agricultural working lands while conserving clean water, fish and wildlife habitat, open space and other ecosystem services. This tool may be particularly useful in places where there is an immediate threat to these values, but private landowners are not amenable to long-term easements. (White River Partnership, $12,000, completed December 2010)

Anaerobic Digester Effluent Treatment to Reduce Agricultural Atmospheric Emissions
Anaerobic digesters can provide dairy farms with important benefits, but this processing of manure increases its level of ammonium - a greenhouse gas (GHG) that can be lost to the atmosphere rapidly. This project focuses on evaluating the potential of a low-cost digester effluent treatment system to shape best management practices for manure and nutrient management. This system supports the nitrification of ammonium resulting in a liquid that can be applied directly to crops during the growing season. The effectiveness of the Avatar aerobic tricking filter technology in converting ammonium to nitrate will be evaluated. Field tests will be conducted on a small Vermont dairy farm to evaluate a method of weekly application of the aerobically treated liquid digester effluent onto croplands throughout the growing season. Crop yields may be improved while reducing nutrient loss due to run-off and GHG emissions. (Avatar Energy Vermont, $29,449, 36 months – August 2012)

Pellet Fired Boiler for Multiple Greenhouses
The primary goals of this project are to construct a greenhouse range that will promote a high ratio of productivity to energy consumption, and to increase the reliance of the farm on locally produced renewable fuels. A modern pellet fired biomass boiler will heat two innovative greenhouses for organic vegetable and fruit production. The structures will utilize peak vents for passive ventilation to address cooling and dehumidifying needs. The result of this project will be a highly efficient greenhouse range, in regards to both energy consumption and labor needs that will serve as a model for future projects on farms throughout Vermont. The farm will be able to utilize some of its own fuel production, as well as bring in biomass fuel from a local pellet producer. (Woods Market Garden, $40,000, 36 months – August 2012)

Promoting Zone Tillage among Commercial Vegetable Growers in Vermont
This project will demonstrate the benefits of zone tillage to commercial vegetable growers in Vermont, and encourage the adoption of this soil-improving practice. Adoption of this conservation practice has the potential to reduce soil compaction, lessen erosion, improve crop yields, and reduce fuel costs. Participating farmers will have access to the necessary equipment to try zone tillage on their fields so they can document the effect of zone tillage on soil heath and crop yields. A number of field demonstrations will be held with zone tillage equipment and farmers who use this innovative agricultural practice will answer questions from other growers who are considering zone tillage. The results of the project will be disseminated through grower publications and meetings. It is expected that many of the participating growers adopt zone tillage on an ongoing basis.
(University of Vermont Extension, $42,566, 36 months – August 2012)

Optimizing the Greenhouse Gas Storage Capacity and Productivity of Degraded Forest Lands
This project will build upon the successful market approach of carbon finance used in other regions and apply it to a degraded forest land in northeast Vermont. It will define rehabilitative silvicultural prescriptions that optimize carbon storage and productivity, identify the ability of overharvested forests to generate carbon credits under different forest project protocols, assess the actual market interest in such projects, and determine the compatibility of carbon market participation with existing landowner incentive programs. This effort will culminate in the creation of Vermont’s first market ready forest-based carbon offsets project. A case study, which illuminates the challenges and opportunities associated with carbon market participation, will be part of the project outreach.
(Conservation Collaboratives, $43,973, 36 months – August 2012)

Increasing Carbon Sequestration in Vermont Pastures
Vermont’s grass-based livestock farmers have adopted rotational grazing pastures to improve their sustainability in the face of huge challenges posed by uncertain energy costs and market fluctuations. As pastures mature, soil compaction from machinery and herd hoof traffic reduces forage yields and carbon sequestration. The project will demonstrate the implementation of promising biological and/or mechanical pasture improvement methods to increase soil carbon sequestration and reduce soil compaction, improving production while reducing dairy farm greenhouse gas (GHG) footprints. It will explain the efficacy of these practices and the practicalities of their adoption through on-farm workshops and other outreach efforts. (University of Vermont Center for Sustainable Agriculture, $74,881, 48 months – August 2013)

Designing a Sustainable Corn Silage Cropping System for Vermont
The purpose of this project is to demonstrate and evaluate the feasibility of a reduced impact corn silage cropping system in order to encourage its adoption in Vermont. The project will compare conventional tillage to reduced tillage systems that incorporate the use of cover crops and manure injection using specialized equipment in the Missisquoi Bay and St. Albans Bay watersheds. Conservation practices such as these reduce erosion and runoff of nutrients and sediment from agricultural fields. Economic costs, soil health, soil erosion and crop yields will be evaluated. On-farm workshops held on demonstration farms are part of the outreach effort. (University of Vermont Extension, $74,727, 36 months – August 2012)