The next two presentations were not given in person, but are given here because they did provide us with input on grazing technical assistance occurring in Delaware and Maryland.
John Timmons, agronomist and GLCI coordinator for USDA-NRCS in Delaware, comments were presented in a PowerPoint presentation. These are the highlights of it. Delaware Agriculture Statistic Service Census show that there are 490,000 acres of farmland left in the state in 2010, a 12.5% drop since 2000. Of this, 6,773 acres is permanent pasture. However, 27,200 acres are reported as in equine related activities. 13,000 equine are in DE. Equine related expenditures total \$280 million in revenue to businesses supplying farm related equine needs. Therefore, pasture management in DE is most needed on horse farms and hobby farms.
Pasture forage health issues in DE are soil pH, forage diversity, grazing height, and animal numbers when grazing. The high animal numbers on individual farms is a big issue, if stocking density is less than 1.5 acres per animal unit, it is a feedlot, not pasture. Grass is grazed and treaded out in many places on land sometimes called pasture.
GLCI, EQIP, GRP, and TA (all programs) helps pay our technical salary for a part time individual to work on pasture and grazing issues. With the help of University of Delaware, Delaware State University, MD-DE Forage Council, awareness of pasture and hayland issues are made available through pasture walks, Ag Week Forage Day, and research.
The biggest challenge to Delaware agriculture is the poultry industry’s agricultural waste problem as many waterways are impaired due to the excessive amount of chicken litter created that exceeds the amount of land area being cropped can handle. The excess phosphorus and nitrogen become water pollutants. Most conservation work is being directed to reduce nutrient loadings to the Chesapeake Bay since President Obama’s Executive Order has called for 100% implement of BMPs in the Bay Watershed by 2025 to meet total daily maximum loading targets.
Many so-called pastures in DE end up being heavy use areas as stocking rates for exceed the carrying capacity of the “pastures”. There is need here to do a confined animal operation conservation plan. It is critical to reduce the amount of time the animals are on “pasture” so that a good sod can be re-established. The animals need to be either in stables, on feedlots, or other paved areas or housing a part of each day rather than on “pasture”, 24-7-365/6.
Elmer Dengler, resource conservationist and GLCI coordinator, USDA-NRCS in Maryland submitted the report below.
Partnership is more important than total unity. Egos need to get lost! Work with any who have some common interests –stop trying to be in charge, work together.
Maryland’s NRCS Partners are:
MD-DE Forage Council – Public Private organization. They have a MD GLCI Coalition that works as a subcommittee made up of farmer members. Every year provide regional grazing conferences that have local and national speakers at a low cost and done in multiple places over a week. This year around 250 landowners and field staff attended. Important that farmers and field staff are there to hear the same thing. Helps build a common understanding. Expensive conferences held in one location miss the clients we most need to reach which are skeptics, beginning, active and small graziers. Folks that can’t stay overnight including overworked field staff that doesn’t get evaluated on being technical leaders just contract managers. Personal, direct mailing invites critical, can get from EQIP.
MDA – HOW - Horse Outreach Work-group - Maryland Department of Agriculture, USDA NRCS,
Soil Conservation Districts ( field personnel all agencies), University of Maryland Equine Studies, MDA Nutrient Management, State Equine inspectors for the Maryland. Around 20 technical guides on horse management issues including lots of pasture management tools. This is available on the web. DVD featuring satisfied customers that got help from equine and district staffs com-pleted December 2010. Major outreach at Horse World Expo at MD State Fairgrounds – Field staff and others talk to hundreds of equine landowners on manure and pasture management. Hundreds of referrals to districts every year.
- Maryland Grazer’s Network – A Grant written by Chesapeake Bay Foundation and USDA MD NRCS State Grazing Specialist funding from the Chesapeake Bay Funder’s Network. Core team of CBF, NRCS, Maryland Ext., interested parties, and Farmers ( Mentors, Partners, and interested parties.)
Their Products: 2010, 2011 Maryland Graziers Planner and one-on-one mentorship and pasture walks. Largest environmental group in the Bay partnering environmental stewardship with sustainable, local farming. Outreach to the Mennonite community in particular, but not only. Major speakers at Future Harvest – CASA. Future - A Start-up kit on developing a graziers network of any size.
EPA Chesapeake Bay Program Office Chesapeake Bay Program – Ag Work-group – Subcommittee on Pasture BMP’s - A group to review and improve the modeling of pasture BMP’s in the Chesapeake Bay Model. All actions in the CBW are supported or dismissed based on the impact of these practices on the reduction in nutrients (N, P, and Sediment) from the degraded condition. Nothing else matters. Products: Final review of Pasture BMP’s 2010. Changes included into the Chesapeake Bay Model before it was frozen from changes this winter till after TMDL implementation a few years from now. We now have a logical building of pasture systems in the CB model that now includes upland manage-ment (prescribed grazing). Critical to make leadership aware of the changes.
Immediate Needs for Chesapeake Bay model:
We need to be ready to improve the details once the model is unfrozen. Measurement of specific practices and their reduction from a degraded condition - N, P. Sediment truly drives what practices are implemented or ignored. Annual vs long term sustainable not always correctly modeled.
Evaluation of various levels of pasture management – Rotational Grazing and Precision Grazing (MIG) or another logical layering of intensity of management systems that the model can accept. The modelers want to work with us!
Need to be sharing research information with state agencies (MDA, MDE) that develop the WHIP plan for State Chesapeake Bay improvement activities. This need currently directs all emphasis by leadership (Federal and State) – “Just the facts” and we need to get on the ball and work on this first ! Our partners in research are key!!!
Need Pasture and Agronomy Specialists on Agricultural Work-group for Chesapeake Bay Pro-gram. Anyway we can get them on. I suggest Greensboro – NRCS National East Region Technology Center needs to have at least one permanent member on the work-group. Field level application common sense is very weak in this group, but NRCS is highly respected. Others including the industry need to request to be a part. Sound science can really improve the nature of this group. This will make technical issues, competency, and assistance once again rise to the top as the needs are clearly defined and the agencies are given their direction. This is what currently drives the direction of personnel and assistance and is where the effort to maintain the importance of pasture systems will be won or lost. We have won a major battle in beginning to get pasture systems more accurately modeled. We need to continue to be present and active.