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9 farms will get $290k for conservation work

Posted 12 March 2013 at 12:00 am

Press Release: Soil and Water Conservation District

Nine Orleans County farms, a dairy and eight cash crop operations, have been approved for $290,402 in state funding for conservation work in the Oak Orchard Watershed.

The grant will cover 75 percent of the costs to buy seeds and plant cover crops over three years. The cover crops will reduce erosion and soil loss on valuable crop land, said Dan Schuth, manager of the Orleans County Soil and Water Conservation District, which applied for the grant on behalf of the farmers.

The cover crop takes up nutrients in a plant, preventing them from becoming diluted in water and washed away. When the cover crop is killed at planting time for the cash crop, the nutrients are returned back into the soil, he said.

After the three-year grant period, farmers will be expected to be familiar with planting cover crops and will carry on the process unassisted, Schuth said.

The grant comes from the state Department of Ag and Markets’ “Ag Nonpoint Source Abatement and Control Program.” Soil and Water is working on a similar grant application for farmers in the Sandy Creek Watershed.

“Farmers are great stewards of our land and depend upon it for their livelihood,” Schuth said. “They understand the need for soil conservation and clean water on a very personal level. Grants such as this help keep farms profitable, while furthering our interest in a better environment for future generations.”