Extension provides one-on-one expertise to farmers implementing RAPs

MIDDLEBURY — University of Vermont (UVM) Extension in Middlebury and St. Albans will provide ongoing support in 2017 for Vermont farmers as ACAP — the Agronomy and Conservation Assistance Program — continues.
Through this program, UVM Extension field agronomists work one-on-one with local farmers to help them implement new conservation practices on their farms including nutrient management plans, cover crops, no-till and field buffers. They also assist them with improved manure handling and livestock exclusion fencing to reduce soil and phosphorus runoff into Lake Champlain and its tributaries.
Since ACAP’s inception in 2011, more than 370 individual farms have received assistance through the program. This past year UVM Extension ACAP agronomists Jeff Sanders, Kristin Williams and Kirsten Workman helped farmers employ conservation practices to protect water quality on more than 24,000 acres of cropland, primarily corn and hay fields.
The ACAP agronomy staff works with UVM Extension agronomists Jeff Carter and Heather Darby to identify high priority projects for farms to meet water quality goals to reduce phosphorus loading in Lake Champlain. They also coordinate and share activities with a similar ACAP program at the Poultney Mettowee Natural Resources Conservation District at the southern reaches of Lake Champlain.
Farmers in the Lake Champlain Watershed, which includes the Missisquoi, Lamoille, Winooski and Otter Creek Watershed areas, can contact UVM Extension to request one-on-one technical assistance with adopting new farm practices. Priority farms for ACAP are those farms now subject to the new Required Agricultural Practices as outlined in the Vermont Clean Water Act passed during the 2015 legislative session. The requirements cover small farm certification, nutrient storage, soil health, buffer zones, livestock exclusion, nutrient management and tile drainage.
ACAP agronomists help farmers understand and meet these requirements along with the Lake Champlain Revised Total Maximum Daily Loads for phosphorus as defined by the 2011 Federal Clean Water Act. In addition, they help farmers gain access to state and federal cost-share assistance for installing new practices, and then provide verification of proper installation for payment eligibility.
Support for the ACAP program is provided through a continuing grant from the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation with funding provided by the Lake Champlain Basin Program and the Great Lakes Fishery Commission. UVM Extension also provides additional support for faculty and staff, along with office space and facilities, to enhance the ACAP outreach program.
Farmer participation is encouraged. For more information, contact Jeff Carter at (802) 388-4969, ext. 332, or by email at [email protected]. For direct assistance in the St. Albans area, contact Jeff Sanders at (802) 524-6501 ext. 453, or in the Middlebury area, Kirsten Workman at (802) 388-4969, ext. 347.

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