Farmer interest meetings to be held in Delaware County

Mar. 15—Delaware County Soil and Water Conservation District will hold two informational meetings for farmers about a local custom manure application service.

The district received a $2 million U.S. Department of Agriculture Conservation Innovation Grant for On-Farm Trials of the new way to get rid of manure, a media release said. The project is a collaboration of partnering agencies, including the Watershed Agricultural Council and Cornell Cooperative Extension of Delaware County, with the district as the grantee and administrator of the grant.

The project will focus on the development of a local custom manure application service and "incentivizing the local adoption of enhanced nutrient management strategies including shallow disc manure injection, targeted nutrient distribution, GPS-based rate control and geospatial record keeping," the release said. While none of those concepts or practices are new to the agriculture or conservation world, they have yet to be adopted or successful in the region. The primary goal of the project is to assist and incentivize farmers to adopt the changes over the next three years, and prove the effectiveness so that they continue to be used beyond the life of the grant. To help support that goal, the project will also fund $450,000 of research to quantify social-economic impacts of the custom service model on participating farms, as well as model environmental impacts on water quality through a partnership with Virginia Tech and Cornell University, according to the release. Grant funds will also be used to hire a project manager and for project outreach.

Farmers operating farms in Delaware County or the New York City West-of-Hudson Watershed that generate a minimum of 100,000 gallons of liquid manure or 100 tons of semi-solid/solid manure annually and have an existing storage, or storage to be implemented in the grant period, and an up-to-date nutrient management plan are eligible for the program, the release said. Farms must be registered in the USDA Farm Service Agency system, be eligible for the Environmental Quality Incentives Program and found to be in compliance the USDA Farm Bill's conservation compliance and Adjusted Gross Income provisions. The project is targeting approximately 45 farms for participation and the volume of manure will be capped per farm based on annual participation.

There will be two informational meetings about the project on the following dates and locations:

—March 21, 6 p.m. Hobart Community Center, 80 Cornell Avenue, Hobart.

—March 26, 1 p.m. Ouleout Creek Golf Course, 13503 State Hwy 357, Franklin.

Attendance at an informational meeting is mandatory for participating in the program, even if in a later year of the project, the release said. Attending farms will be asked to formally indicate their interest in participating in the program at that time by signing a letter of intent, along with an estimate of the manure they are willing to commit annually to the project services.

To register, call Donna Wood at 607-865-7161 by 3 p.m. Monday, March 18.