Soil & Water awarded $600K for conservation projects on farms in Orleans County

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 18 March 2021 at 3:33 pm

ALBION – The Orleans County Soil & Water Conservation District has been awarded two state grants for more than $600,000 for conservation projects on farms that will reduce sediment and runoff into local waterways.

The funding is part of $15 million announced by Gov. Andrew Cuomo to support agricultural water quality conservation projects across the state, benefiting 147 farms. The funding is being provided through the Agricultural Nonpoint Source Abatement and Control program, which supports projects that address water quality challenges in priority watersheds and protect the environment.

“Through the installations of these projects we are improving the water quality in Orleans County and in Lake Ontario,” said Katie Sommerfeldt, Soil & Water district manager in Orleans County. “Lake Ontario is used not only for recreation purposes, but is our drinking water source. This is just another reason why we need to protect this valuable resource.”

The first grant in Orleans County is for $282,934 for implementing 4,710 total acres of cover crops over three years on six different farms, Sommerfeldt said.

“By installing these cover crops we are reducing sediment and nutrient runoff from bare fields into nearby waterways,” she said.

The second grant is for $324,951 for implementing five Agrichemical Handling Facilities on five separate farms, including three farms in Barre, one in Ridgeway and one based in Hamlin. The Hamlin farm also operates land in Orleans County.

These facilities give the farms a safe place to store and mix pesticides, Sommerfeldt said. These buildings are designed to contain 125% of the volume of the farm’s largest sprayer.

If there is a spill while filling the sprayer, the floor will contain it. The farm would then be able to recover all spilled materials and reuse them for their intended purpose, Sommerfeldt said. “All of these facilities are located 100 feet from any watercourse or well,” she said. “By installing these facilities we are eliminating outdoor mixing sites that are located close to water bodies, thus eliminating any further water quality concerns from agrichemical spills.”