The Upside of Poor Spring Weather in Vermont?

The extra few days of lousy field conditions may actually serve to help some to get a few necessary things in order. Here are a few things that are new this year that all farmers should understand while there is still time to implement the practices:

  • The vast majority of professional dairy farmers in Vermont are now legally required to soil test every three years.  This applies to “certified small farm operations,” MFOs, LFOs, and maybe even UFOs.
  • The farms mentioned above are also legally required to test each the manure from each storage source at least once every year.  It is better to take spring and fall samples from each storage source if you are able.
  • Both of these arise from the VT-RAP requirement (6.03.a) that these types of farms follow the Vermont-specific USDA-590 standard on nutrient management planning.
  • These farms will be periodically be inspected by the state, so it is not just and “accepted practice,” it is required and will be enforced.
  • Part of executing your required nutrient management plan is record-keeping.  Among other things, be sure to keep good records of how much manure went in which field, at what rate, when it went on, what the conditions were, etc (this is not a comprehensive list of the records you are required to keep).

These very practical (and legal) realities about soil and manure testing that arise from the Vermont Required Agriculture Practices (RAPs) issued from the legislature last year, and are part of the overall requirement to have a nutrient management plan.  The five bullet-points above are not an exhaustive representation of the law, so be sure to familiarize yourself with it by clicking on the link.

If you are having trouble discerning how this law this applies to you, please contact me, another UVM Extension agronomist., or better yet, Ryan Patch (VT Agency of Agriculture).  Please understand that we (UVM) are just messengers – we did not write the law. That being the case, we are glad to help you understand and comply with it.

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About Daniel Hudson

Daniel is an agronomist for University of Vermont Extension in the areas of agriculture and nutrient management.
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