Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Fall Bulb Sales Across NH

Below are links and information for the Fall Bulb Sales Across the state. Deadline for order forms is September 11th!! 

Fill out order form and mail with payment to BCCD, 64 Court Street, Laconia, NH  03246.  Your purchase helps support conservation efforts in Belknap County.
Click on the document titles to download the information.

Pick up at CCCD Office: Monday, October 2nd, 8am-6:30pm; Tuesday, Oct. 3rd, 8am-1pm or contact us to set up a time. A reminder will be sent out when bulbs arrive.

Bulb pick up days are September 25th and 26th from 7:30am - 3:30pm at the office in Lancaster. If either of these days don't work for you, please contact us to arrange a different time. 

*Website is currently having difficulties* To receive an order form and color flier showcasing the flowers available, contact the district office 673-2409, ext. 100, e-mail or visit

Pick up will be the last weekend in September.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

2017 Envirothon Recap

This year, NH sent a team from Conant High School in Jaffrey to the North American Competition, held July 23-29 in Emmitsbrug, Maryland.

This year's challenge topic was Agricultural Soil and Water Conservation Stewardship. Teams researched agricultural BMPs that would be appropriate for NH farms. They contacted the NH Conservation District office in their county to determine one or more local farms to be the focus of their study.  Using the Web Soil Survey and Granite View II, the teams mapped existing soils and land use.  They then established what BMPs are currently implemented at their focus area by interviewing the farmers responsible for implementation and maintenance of the BMPs.  Team then recommended other BMPs that could be implemented at the location to improve ecological, economic, and/or social conditions.  The recommended BMPs were required to include a cost-benefit analysis.

At the North American Competition, students took part in three jam-packed days of area tours, meals, and study sessions. All culminating in oral presentations and a final awards ceremony on Friday.

First place went to Pencrest High School in Media, Pennsylvania. Congratulations to all the teams that made it to this competition and thank you to all the teachers, volunteers and staff for your time and effort this year! Looking forward to the 2018 competition!

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

No-Till Corn Planting

For generations, the cycle of growing corn to feed cattle has been pretty much the same: every spring farmers spread the winter’s accumulation of manure on the corn fields, plow them under, and smooth them out with harrows before planting the season’s corn.

Stuart Adams of Windyhurst Farm in Westmoreland plants corn directly into a cover crop of winter
rye using NHACD's no-till corn planter back in May.

Plowing and harrowing acres and acres for corn every spring is an expensive proposition. And more and more we’re realizing that it’s really hard on our soil and our environment. Corn can be planted without tilling the soil first. No-till corn offers lots of benefits to the environment and farmers. For example, no-till corn:

  • Improves soil health by leaving a covering of mulch, making it more resilient to drought and less prone to erosion during heavy storms.
  • Reduces soil surface compaction, which helps keep nutrients from getting washed into nearby streams and rivers and keeps them where the corn crop can use them.
  • Cuts down on the amount of fuel that farmers need to burn to get their corn crops started, not to mention labor and wear and tear on equipment.
  • Allows farmers to plant directly into a green, living cover crop, keeping living plant roots in the soil -- key for a healthy soil ecosystem.

But it takes a specially-outfitted corn planter that most farmers in New Hampshire don’t have. With funding from a Conservation Innovation Grant from the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, the New Hampshire Association of Conservation Districts purchased three no-till corn planters this spring that will give farmers a chance to try no-till corn.

With a single trip across the field, these planters:
  • Roll down the cover crop, breaking the stems and stopping their growth so it doesn’t compete with the corn crop for water and nutrients
  • Open a furrow that’s just the right depth for planting corn
  • Apply a small amount of fertilizer to help the seedling get started
  • Set the corn seed at the proper depth and spacing
  • Close the furrow over the seeds and gently firm the soil to ensure good seed-to-soil contact

No-till corn looking robust in late June. Note the mulch left behind
by the winter rye. The mulch will help hold moisture and keep the soil cool during the hot summer months.
Using the planters from the NHACD, farmers can try no-till corn planting without making a huge investment in retrofitting their current planters or replacing them. We have one of the test fields right here in Cheshire County, and we’ll be watching it to see how it does compared with traditionally-planted corn alongside it. So far it looks great!

For more information on no-till corn planters, contact Bill Fosher with the NHACD at

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Districts Can Make Connections

Districts can make connections

By Mike Beacom
In 2003, Linda Brownson and her husband relocated to New Hampshire from Texas, where for nine years she helped manage forestland and rangeland while her husband grew a family financial consulting business. The couple purchased a two-centuries-old New Hampshire farm that sits 1,500 feet above sea level in the western foothills of the White Mountains. Its 200 forested acres are an even mix of northern hardwoods (sugar and red maple, black cherry, birch, red oak) and conifers (balsam fir, white and red pine, eastern larch). It was a paradise for Brownson, but the property presented a series of management ideas and obstacles. She needed help.....

Full Article:

Monday, April 24, 2017

Register Now: Principles of Rotational Grazing May, 2017 in Spofford, NH

'Join Bill Fosher and Carl Majewski for a day-long workshop designed for graziers with less than five years of experience with rotational grazing covering these questions and many more. We’ll spend part of the day in a classroom setting, and part of it in the field, looking at pasture and working with different kinds of fencing.'

For full details and to register, click here 

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Updates from Merrimack County

Merrimack County Conservation District has a couple of updates! See below:

Read the latest Merrimack County Conservation District Newsletter

Upcoming event: April 25th Annual Dinner and Farmer Appreciation night. Click here for a flyer/registration form!

Monday, April 10, 2017

Dave Montgomery: Healthy soil is the real key to feeding the world

Andy Pressmen emailed this story by Dave Montgomery this morning; we're posting it here to easily be found.

Healthy soil is the real key to feeding the world

Image 20170329 8557 1q1xe1z
Planting a diverse blend of crops and cover crops, and not tilling, helps promote soil health. Catherine Ulitsky, USDA/Flickr, CC BY
David R. Montgomery, University of Washington
One of the biggest modern myths about agriculture is that organic farming is inherently sustainable. It can be, but it isn’t necessarily. After all, soil erosion from chemical-free tilled fields undermined the Roman Empire and other ancient societies around the world. Other agricultural myths hinder recognizing the potential to restore degraded soils to feed the world using fewer agrochemicals. The Conversation
When I embarked on a six-month trip to visit farms around the world to research my forthcoming book, “Growing a Revolution: Bringing Our Soil Back to Life,” the innovative farmers I met showed me that regenerative farming practices can restore the world’s agricultural soils. In both the developed and developing worlds, these farmers rapidly rebuilt the fertility of their degraded soil, which then allowed them to maintain high yields using far less fertilizer and fewer pesticides.
Their experiences, and the results that I saw on their farms in North and South Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Ghana and Costa Rica, offer compelling evidence that the key to sustaining highly productive agriculture lies in rebuilding healthy, fertile soil. This journey also led me to question three pillars of conventional wisdom about today’s industrialized agrochemical agriculture: that it feeds the world, is a more efficient way to produce food and will be necessary to feed the future.

Myth 1: Large-scale agriculture feeds the world today

According to a recent U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) report, family farms produce over three-quarters of the world’s food. The FAO also estimates that almost three-quarters of all farms worldwide are smaller than one hectare – about 2.5 acres, or the size of a typical city block.

A Ugandan farmer transports bananas to market. Most food consumed in the developing world is grown on small family farms. Svetlana Edmeades/IFPRI/Flickr, CC BY-NC-ND

Only about 1 percent of Americans are farmers today. Yet most of the world’s farmers work the land to feed themselves and their families. So while conventional industrialized agriculture feeds the developed world, most of the world’s farmers work small family farms. A 2016 Environmental Working Group report found that almost 90 percent of U.S. agricultural exports went to developed countries with few hungry people.

Of course the world needs commercial agriculture, unless we all want to live on and work our own farms. But are large industrial farms really the best, let alone the only, way forward? This question leads us to a second myth.

Myth 2: Large farms are more efficient

Many high-volume industrial processes exhibit efficiencies at large scale that decrease inputs per unit of production. The more widgets you make, the more efficiently you can make each one. But agriculture is different. A 1989 National Research Council study concluded that “well-managed alternative farming systems nearly always use less synthetic chemical pesticides, fertilizers, and antibiotics per unit of production than conventional farms.”

And while mechanization can provide cost and labor efficiencies on large farms, bigger farms do not necessarily produce more food. According to a 1992 agricultural census report, small, diversified farms produce more than twice as much food per acre than large farms do.

Even the World Bank endorses small farms as the way to increase agricultural output in developing nations where food security remains a pressing issue. While large farms excel at producing a lot of a particular crop – like corn or wheat – small diversified farms produce more food and more kinds of food per hectare overall.

Myth 3: Conventional farming is necessary to feed the world

We’ve all heard proponents of conventional agriculture claim that organic farming is a recipe for global starvation because it produces lower yields. The most extensive yield comparison to date, a 2015 meta-analysis of 115 studies, found that organic production averaged almost 20 percent less than conventionally grown crops, a finding similar to those of prior studies.

But the study went a step further, comparing crop yields on conventional farms to those on organic farms where cover crops were planted and crops were rotated to build soil health. These techniques shrank the yield gap to below 10 percent.

The authors concluded that the actual gap may be much smaller, as they found “evidence of bias in the meta-dataset toward studies reporting higher conventional yields.” In other words, the basis for claims that organic agriculture can’t feed the world depend as much on specific farming methods as on the type of farm.

Cover crops planted on wheat fields in The Dalles, Oregon. Garrett Duyck, NRCS/Flickr, CC BY-ND

Consider too that about a quarter of all food produced worldwide is never eaten. Each year the United States alone throws out 133 billion pounds of food, more than enough to feed the nearly 50 million Americans who regularly face hunger. So even taken at face value, the oft-cited yield gap between conventional and organic farming is smaller than the amount of food we routinely throw away.

Building healthy soil

Conventional farming practices that degrade soil health undermine humanity’s ability to continue feeding everyone over the long run. Regenerative practices like those used on the farms and ranches I visited show that we can readily improve soil fertility on both large farms in the U.S. and on small subsistence farms in the tropics.
I no longer see debates about the future of agriculture as simply conventional versus organic. In my view, we’ve oversimplified the complexity of the land and underutilized the ingenuity of farmers. I now see adopting farming practices that build soil health as the key to a stable and resilient agriculture. And the farmers I visited had cracked this code, adapting no-till methods, cover cropping and complex rotations to their particular soil, environmental and socioeconomic conditions.
Whether they were organic or still used some fertilizers and pesticides, the farms I visited that adopted this transformational suite of practices all reported harvests that consistently matched or exceeded those from neighboring conventional farms after a short transition period. Another message was as simple as it was clear: Farmers who restored their soil used fewer inputs to produce higher yields, which translated into higher profits.

No matter how one looks at it, we can be certain that agriculture will soon face another revolution. For agriculture today runs on abundant, cheap oil for fuel and to make fertilizer – and our supply of cheap oil will not last forever. There are already enough people on the planet that we have less than a year’s supply of food for the global population on hand at any one time. This simple fact has critical implications for society.

So how do we speed the adoption of a more resilient agriculture? Creating demonstration farms would help, as would carrying out system-scale research to evaluate what works best to adapt specific practices to general principles in different settings.

We also need to reframe our agricultural policies and subsidies. It makes no sense to continue incentivizing conventional practices that degrade soil fertility. We must begin supporting and rewarding farmers who adopt regenerative practices.

Once we see through myths of modern agriculture, practices that build soil health become the lens through which to assess strategies for feeding us all over the long haul. Why am I so confident that regenerative farming practices can prove both productive and economical? The farmers I met showed me they already are.

David R. Montgomery, Professor of Earth and Space Sciences, University of Washington
This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.