Protecting Soil and Water

Recently our Natural Resources Conservation Services pasture specialist dropped off a 48 page bulletin from the Vermont Natural Resources Conservation Districts titled: Conservation in Vermont--Best Management Practices for Farm and Forest Owners. The guide outlines state-of-the-art practices that promote water and soil conservation on farms. Of the 18 practices listed specific to farms we are implementing 13:

  1. Roof runoff structures
  2. Animal Trails and Laneways
  3. On Farm Composting
  4. Seasonal High Tunnels
  5. Alternative Water Sources
  6. Cover Cropping
  7. Nutrient Management
  8. Soil and Manure Testing
  9. Efficient Irrigation
  10.  Rotational Grazing
  11. Riparian Forest and Herbaceous Buffers
  12.  Stream Crossings
  13.  Livestock Exclusion Zones

In addition we built the coverall barn which has been rated the most effective cow housing for capturing and recycling manure and urine nutrients and retaining carbon (reducing green house emissions).

After fifteen years of experimentation there is still a lot to figure out when it comes to what it means to be a ‘farm-based community,’ particularly in a time when industrial agriculture puts such pressures on small farms, but it is rewarding to see that, at least in the eyes of conservation experts, we have made some really good choices!