NEWPORT, Vt. — The Orleans County Natural Resources Conservation District (NRCD) – in collaboration with UVM Extension, the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, the Vermont Association of Conservation Districts and local producers – has created an accessible, engaging, educational online course for livestock farmers of all size operations and agricultural service providers to learn about Vermont’s Required Agricultural Practices (RAPs).
The RAPs are required rules for agricultural land management that are intended to improve the quality of Vermont’s waters by reducing and eliminating cropland erosion, sediment losses, and nutrient losses. The rules outline nutrient, manure, and waste storage standards, establish requirements for vegetated buffer zones and livestock exclusion from surface water, and make recommendations for soil health.
The RAP online quiz explains the most important and confusing topics in the RAPs through photos, videos, and fun facts. This online course is available in three different versions, to ensure that the information is relevant to the size of the producer’s farm operation, and takes about 1-2 hours to complete. Producers can also earn two hours of Water Quality Education Credits online from home! Emily Irwin, the Nutrient Management Specialist at the Orleans County Natural Resources Conservation District, says of the quiz, “The RAP quiz is an invaluable resource for both farmers and service providers – something they can return to as a refresher every year, or even use to answer questions about the RAPs as they come up.”
Paul Knox, an experienced dairy farmer in Bradford and Wells River, discovered the RAP quiz last year. Paul said that going through the RAP quiz, which emphasizes the importance of keeping the soil covered for as much of the year as possible, was one more piece of the puzzle that inspired him to try planting no-till corn. “You know the quiz just raises a couple of little points here and there that increase a person’s sensitivity about water quality, and… alternate ways to do things,” Paul says.
For more information, or to take the quiz, go to the Vermont Association of Conservation Districts website at www.rapquiz.vacd.org.
–Vermont Association of Conservation Districts
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