Soil & Water honors Yates farm for conservation practices

Photos by Tom Rivers: Gary and Nancy Thering accept the Agricultural Environmental Management (AEM) award for Conservation Farmer of the Year from Katie Sommerfeldt, the district technician for the Orleans County Sol & Water Conservation District.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 8 February 2018 at 9:37 am

Thering Family Farm works to protect soil, environment

Gary Thering thanked the Soil & Water staff for helping the farm implement many conservation practices.

GAINES – A Yates family that has been farming together on Millers Road since 1976 was honored on Wednesday for their years of conservation practices.

Gary and Nancy Thering grow corn, mixed hay and apples. They also  have 85 cows, 25 heifers, 42 calves and Black Angus bulls. The Therings are known for their mini straw bales. They designed and built a twine baler that turns 800-pound round straw bales into mini bales.

The Orleans County Soil & Water Conservation District honored the farm on Wednesday as the 2017 “Conservation Farmer of the Year.”

The farm has worked to optimize soil health and reduce erosion by installing drainage tile, rotating crops, and reducing chemical usage as part of Integrated Pest Management. The Therings target use of pesticides.

They built a covered feedlot and also an Agrichemical Handling and Mixing facility which reduces runoff.

“We never could have done it by ourselves,” Gary Thering said during a luncheon Wednesday at Tillman’s Village Inn.

He thanked the Soil & Water staff for their expertise in helping the farm implement many of the soil-saving practices. The Therings have worked with Soil & Water since 1999 to participate in the Agricultural Environmental Management program.

“We’re very, very grateful,” Thering said. “It makes our farm better. It makes our community better.”

Soil & Water presented these photos of Thering Family Farm, where Gary and Nancy have been farming together since 1976 on Millers Road.

During the meeting 73rd annual meeting of Soil & Water on Wednesday, staff reviewed accomplishments from 2017, which included:

• Surveying and designing 56 miles of drainage tile for farmers

• Working with local highway departments to survey and design 22 culvert replacements and 8,175 feet of drainage ditches

• Implementing Best Management Practices for several farms, with projects including two grassed waterways, a silage leachate collection and treatment system, a covered feedlot, 3,340 feet of exclusion fencing to keep livestock out of local streams, 55 acres of conservation cover, and 1,959 acres of cover crops

• Purchasing a new tractor and boom mower that was shared with the 10 towns, county and Oak Orchard Small Watershed Protection District to mow and clean drainage ditches throughout the county, which helps keep water moving and reduces flooding. The “Slashbuster” was used to clear and open up 17,315 feet of stream blockages.

• Soil & Water also was awarded several grants. One from the NYS Ag Non Point Source Pollution program helped pay for a covered feedlot for a local farm.

• Soil & Water also used 10 separate grants from the NYS Grown & Certified program for five variable rate sprayers, four micro irrigation systems, and one Agrichemical Handling Facility.

• The district also received funding the through the North Atlantic Aquatic Conductivity Collaborative program to assess 160 culverts in the lower Oak Orchard Watershed for structural integrity and aquatic conductivity (fish passage).

• The district also distributed 8,000 tree and shrub seedlings and transplants to 120 landowners for conservation practices.

• Soil & Water also runs a fish program and distributed 2,800 yearling bass, bluegill and minnows to seven farm fishpond owners, and also distributed 27 grass carp to four pond owners to help control nuisance weeds.

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