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NRCS Packages on an Natural Farm

How Animal Integration and Crop Rotations Assist Maintain Generations of Farmers at Elmwood Inventory Farm

Elmwood Inventory Farm is a diversified natural farm in Georgetown, Kentucky, producing blended greens, fruits, beef, hen, turkey, lamb, pork and value-added merchandise. As a sixth-generation farm, Elmwood has realized to adapt to altering occasions, shifts in market alternatives, and modifications in state and Federal help applications over the generations. For farmer John Bell, a key to Elmwood’s success has been an ongoing fertility program based mostly on crop-livestock integration and lengthy crop rotations. For the Bell household, the presence of livestock and the follow of crop rotations are a part of a family-farm heritage, one which has lengthy been supported by applications like these provided by the Nationwide Useful resource Conservation Service (NRCS).

At Elmwood, land stays in perennial pasture with multi-species grazing for 4-5 years earlier than being opened up for intensive vegetable or grain manufacturing for 3 years. Any such fertility program, with a deal with lengthy relaxation intervals and grazing, just isn’t new to the farm. Even earlier than natural certification, John Bell’s mother and father and grandparents farmed tobacco with an identical rotation, elevating hay and cattle on lands for 4 or extra years earlier than switching to tobacco for a couple of seasons. Using applications like these provided by NRCS just isn’t new to the farm, both. Many years in the past the Bell household used applications of the Soil Conservation Service, the precursor to the NRCS, to develop a spring on the farm right into a system of gravity-fed tanks for livestock water, a system that’s nonetheless in use immediately.

“Lengthy-term, it’s the fertility program that normally determines whether or not anyone is profitable with natural.”
-John Bell

Early and late-season tomatoes are being produced in 300′ excessive tunnels at Elmwood Inventory Farm.

Extra not too long ago, Elmwood has utilized the NRCS Excessive Tunnel Initiative three separate occasions for season extension of high-value, high-demand crops like tomatoes. For years, Elmwood had three, 300’ Haygrove excessive tunnels, however they wished to extend manufacturing. In addition they acknowledged a necessity for relaxation intervals for his or her current tunnels, to mitigate issues with steady manufacturing like salt buildup and nematodes. The primary time they used the NRCS initiative to put in a 100’ tunnel (the utmost size for that initiative) subsequent to the present tunnels. Their second yr utilizing the initiative, they added one other 100’ to that new tunnel, plus they put in one other 100’ themselves to deliver it to 300’ to match the Haygroves.

Now, a minimum of one tunnel is rested every year, with the plastic off in order that rain and climate work together with the soil, which helps mitigate the buildup of salt and nematodes. The third yr utilizing the initiative they put in 100’ of what is going to grow to be the fifth tunnel, in order that two tunnels are rested every year.

John has additionally utilized incentives like NRCS-EQIP (Environmental High quality Incentives Program) to plant overwintering cowl crops and to assist set up numerous pastures when rotating fields out of their 3 years of vegetable and grain manufacturing. Sooner or later, Elmwood could look towards utilizing the CSP (Conservation Stewardship Program) or associated applications for help with pasture and forage diversification. With the intention to keep natural certification, all necessities of any program have to be allowable below the Nationwide Natural Program. The NRCS, together with organizations like OFRF, are working to make sure that applications and help are appropriate for natural techniques.



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