POMPEY, N.Y. — The New York State Interagency Soil Health Working Group, New York Soil Health Initiative, King’s AgriSeeds, and Empire Farm Days have announced the Soil Health Center Farmer Panelists for the August 3-5, 2021 Empire Farm Days. Farmers from dairy, cash grain, and organic operations will discuss their soil health practices, including efforts to reduce tillage and incorporate cover crops.
After a year off from in-person Empire Farm Days, Soil Health Center organizers and participants are excited to be back and interacting with one another again.
The farmer panels begin at 11 am daily, following the day’s keynote speaker. The programming includes expert speakers, farmer panels, cover crop tours, and soil health demonstrations.
On Tuesday, August 3rd, Marty Young of Whey Street Dairy in Cortland County; Jason Cuddeback of Cayuga County Soil & Water Conservation District and Cuddeback Farms; Jamie Baker of Sweyolakan Farms in Tompkins County will talk about their soil health practices in their operations. Aaron Ristow, American Farmland Trust, will moderate the discussion.
- Marty Young is the owner/operator of Whey Street Dairy, a 600-cow farm operating over 1684 acres in Truxton, Cortland County, NY. They raise 1244 acres of corn, alfalfa, and grass hay crops supporting the dairy operation. Whey Street Dairy LLC is a family farm that has been in operation since 1959. Young was an early adopter of the principles of Agricultural Environmental Management. The farm will often invest in new, cutting-edge technologies to better their management and environmental stewardship and be a leader, setting an example for other farms to follow. Their willingness to share what they have learned with their fellow farmers and community is a testament to their commitment to environmental stewardship. The farm switched to using a zone till corn planter in 2006, reducing soil loss and fuel for tillage. They added the use of a no-till drill for seedings and regular use of cover crops to their tillage and field management practices in 2016.
- Jason Cuddeback has been working for the Cayuga County Soil & Water Conservation District for 16 years as a Grazing Specialist. Cuddeback is a certified crop advisor for the District, implements the district soil health program, and designs Concentrated Nutrient Management (CNMP)/Agricultural Environmental Management (AEM) Tier 3 plans for Cayuga County farmers. Cuddeback is also a farmer working on his father’s 800-acre family farm in Skaneateles, NY. Cuddeback has worked with his father since 1999 to develop and run a corn/soybean operation. More recently, the farm has moved into utilizing a zone till system on the corn grain ground. In 2008, the farm moved into a precision planting program to better utilize seed, fertilizer, and herbicide/pesticide placement. Tractors, planters, and sprayers were all implemented with onboard computers/GPS precision guidance instruments.
- Jamie Baker is the owner of Sweyolakan Farms, a 270-cow dairy working over 1000 acres in Ithaca, NY, Tompkins County. He also does animal nutritional consulting and raises some organic crops. He has been planting cover crops for 18 years but in the last 5-8 years has gotten more aggressive with cover crops and double cropping and is in the process of converting to all no-till.
On Wednesday, August 4th, Donn Branton of Branton Farms in Genesse County; Dave Magos of Morning Star Farms in Jefferson County; and John Kemmeren of Angel Rose Dairy in Chenango County; will talk about their soil health practices in their grain/dairy systems. Janice Degni, Cortland County Cornell Cooperative Extension, will moderate the discussion.
- Donn Branton farms 1,500 acres at Branton Farms in Genesee County, NY, with his son Chad. They grow a variety of cash crops, including corn, soybean, alfalfa, peas, sweet corn, lima beans, dry beans, wheat, oats, and rye. Donn is a tireless advocate and innovator of reduced tillage and cover cropping practices that improve soil health. Branton is the current president of the Western New York Soil Health Alliance, a farmer-led organization that promotes soil practices and serves as a collective voice for farmers in western New York. He started experimenting with planting green in 2005 before there was a name for it. In the past few years, they have been experimenting with a practice called Biostrip Till, which uses precision planting technology to plant alternating rows of two different cover crop treatments. One of these rows will have a cover crop that helps break up compaction, and this will be the row they will plant the following corn crop. In contrast, the other row may have a cover crop that is favorable for suppressing weeds, and this row will be where the future between-row space is between corn rows.
- Dave Magos farms 2,200 acres of cropland at Morning Star Farm in Jefferson County, NY. He grows corn silage and alfalfa for his 780-cow dairy herd and corn grain, soybeans, and wheat as cash crops. He began planting cover crops in 2007 and about the same time decided to try no-till. He is now 100 percent no-till, and plants cover crops across all acres (weather permitting, of course). He has experimented with many diversified cover crop mixes and no-till corn planter attachments and is always up to share what he’s learned with other farmers and professionals.
- John Kemmeren manages Angel Rose Dairy, a 750-acre dairy farm in Chenango County, NY. He was one of the first farmers in the region to experiment with no-till back in 1975, and he has been planting no-till ever since (>40 years). Kemmeren also incorporates cover crops into his rotation whenever possible to combat erosion and feed the soil. He is committed to always trying new and innovative practices to increase the sustainability of his crop rotation. His integrated farming practices have allowed him to reduce costs and improve soil health. Recently, he has been experimenting with no-till reseeding organic pastures.
On Thursday, August 5th, Liz Martin of Muddy Fingers Farm in Schuyler County; Luke Gianforte of Gianforte Farms in Madison County; and Maryellen Sheehan of Hartwood Farm in Madison County; will talk about their soil health practices in their vegetable and grain systems. Joseph Amsili, New York Soil Health Initiative, will moderate the discussion.
- Liz Martin and Matthew Glenn run Muddy Fingers Farm, an organic vegetable CSA in Hector, Schuyler County, NY. They grow a diverse array of vegetables using ecological and sustainable farming practices. They use a combination of extensive cover cropping and reduced tillage techniques, like permanent beds and tarping, to manage weeds, fertility, and soil health (compaction, erosion, infiltration, and soil biology). Martin and Glenn are committed to sharing what they learn from their farm through several collaborations with the Cornell Small Farms Program over the years. Visit their blog for more info: http://muddyfingersfarm.blogspot.com/
- Luke Gianforte and his father Pete run Gianforte Farm, a 650-acre organic grain in Cazenovia, Madison County, NY. They grow corn, a diverse array of small grains (hard wheat, soft wheat, rye, barley, buckwheat, oats and triticale), roughly 150-200 acres of soybeans for a tofu processing facility, and various other bean crops. Soil health is carefully monitored and enhanced through cash crop and cover crop selection and periodic use of soil amendments such as gypsum and compost. They often underseed many of their small grains with red clover to improve soil fertility and soil health. Luke Gianforte is featured in Matthew Ryan’s recent guide for organic farmers on “Organic No-Till Planted Soybean Production.” Visit their website for more info: http://www.gianfortefarm.com/
- Maryellen Sheehan and Matt Robinson run Hartwood Farm, a 70-acre organic farm in Fenner, Madison County, NY. They actively manage 10 acres each year, with five acres in a large diversity of vegetables and the rest in cover crops. Sheehan and Robinson are 100% committed to raising healthy and delicious food to feed their central New York community in a way that supports a healthy environment. Hartwood Farm has a long-term goal of building good soil health and biodiversity to build a resilient foundation for their tasty vegetables. Sheehan is constantly working towards this goal by committing to cover cropping and trying new innovative practices like tarping. Visit their website for more info: https://www.hartwoodfarm.com/
The Soil Health Center at Empire Farm Days is made possible by the New York State Interagency Soil Health Working Group, New York Soil Health Initiative, King’s AgriSeeds, and Empire Farm Days.
For more information and the schedule of events: www.newyorksoilhealth.org/soilhealthcenter/
–New York Soil Health
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