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On Feb. 1, I received a second round of funding from the Dairy Business Innovation Center to continue to lead a farmer cohort that was established in 2020. The $65,000 contract will be used to continue our work with educational programing, farm meetings, and one on one TA through 2024. As part of our work moving forward, the farmers and I decided to apply as a group for both a SARE Farmer Grant and a VAAFM CEAP (capital equipment) Grant. 

This idea emerged after one of our group meetings back in August 2022 where guest speaker and consultant Abe Collins introduced the farmers to new and innovative cropping strategies.

In late February 2023, the SARE Farmer Grant was awarded for $22,000 to conduct trials on warm-season perennial forages which will be grown and tested in comparison to corn silage. Additionally, in late March the farmer cohort received a grant for $26,000 to purchase a “ripsower” (a subsoiler, seeder and biostimulant applicator) to establish species in the SARE trial, as well as to incorporate broad-leaved forbs into their existing pasture stands. 

To date, this $65,000 DBIC farmer cohort project has leveraged an additional $48,000 in funding with which these producers can conduct trials and also serve as demonstration sites for this new innovative tool.

Cheryl Cesario is the Grazing Outreach Professional at the UVM Extension’s Champlain Valley Crop, Soil and Pasture Team in Middlebury.

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