Now Available for 2021:
No-Till Seeder for Rent to Berkshire County Farmers
Berkshire Conservation District purchased a new Esch 5512 12 foot No-Till seeder drill in 2019. Built in Pennsylvania, the seeder has 5.5″ seed spacing and is equipped with a foam marker. It has a swing tongue that allows it to fold to 8’8″ for easy road transport.
This equipment was purchased through grant funding from the Massachusetts Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs and the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources.
Why No-Till? Increase crop yield, use less seed, reduce labor cost, conserve water and improve soil structure and carbon sequestration. The no-till seeding approach to planting avoids disturbing the soil structure like traditional tilling does. In 2020, it was utilized on approximately 350 acres in and around Berkshire County.
How Will Berkshire Conservation District Assist Farmers? BCD will provide training and support and will assist with delivery and pick up as needed.
Cost The No-Till Seeder is available now through BCD for just $50 per day and $15 per acre fee, plus delivery fee depending on location. Contact us for more information.
What are the steps to rent the No-Till Seeder?
1. Contact the District to inquire about availability
2. Download the Rental Agreement HERE
3. Return the completed Rental Agreement with a Certificate of Insurance listing the Berkshire Conservation District as an additional insured and a $50 deposit to hold the date(s) requested
4. Indicate if delivery and pick up is needed to your farm
5. The District Administrator will contact you to confirm the rental dates
We currently have a lot of interest from farmers ready to try the no-till method and repeat rentals from farmers who rented it in 2020.
Some comments from recent renters of the No-Till Seeder:
“It was surprisingly simple to operate and exceeded my expectations.”
“This rental program makes the benefits of a modern drill available to smaller scale farmers that otherwise would never be able to afford this equipment. I am recommending this program to my neighbors and we are already making plans to use it next year.”
A pilot program to inspire and promote small-scale pollinator gardens in Hinsdale, a Pollinator-Friendly Community.
Berkshire Conservation District announces Hinsdale Pollinator Garden Initiative
Berkshire Conservation District is pleased to announce the receipt of grant funding from the New England Grassroots Environment Fund for a project to initiate a pilot program to promote small-scale pollinator gardens in the town of Hinsdale, MA, which voted in a resolution to become a ‘Pollinator-Friendly Community’ at the May 2019 town meeting.
With the increasing loss of habitat, use of pesticides and introduction of non-native species of plants, pollinators are in decline in the US. Pollinators provide a vital ecosystem service by transferring pollen between plants to facilitate reproduction, making them responsible for 1/3 of the bites of food eaten by humans each day. “Gardening for pollinators creates links between humans and nature while fostering environmental stewardship” notes the Districts’ Board of Supervisor Chair, Adam Galambos. “Stresses on pollinators exacerbated by climate change is disrupting biological systems including the pollinator-flower relationship which poses challenges for all pollinators. By planting a variety of native pesticide-free pollinator gardens, we can help to support pollinators in our communities.”
The project will begin over the summer of 2020 by offering on-line workshops for residents led by knowledgeable pollinator and native plant specialists in our area. Gardens will be planned and planted on town-owned property for all to enjoy and get inspiration from to plant pollinator gardens on their own property. The District welcomes volunteers interested in getting involved in this project.
The Berkshire Conservation District has been serving the Berkshires since 1946 as one of more than 3,000 state-mandated agencies. Their mission is to support local agriculture and environmental sustainability in Berkshire County including conservation of soil, water quality and other natural resources through education in cooperation with the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service.
The District is grateful to the New England Grassroots Environmental Fund for supporting this project. The Grassroots Fund is dedicated to co-creating healthy and sustainable communities throughout New England. Grassroots Fund empowers individuals, groups and organizations working across a broad range of environmental and social justice issues. By helping them identify, select and access the specific tools, resources and connections they need to challenge existing systems, groups are able to develop lasting solutions to the complex problems affecting the places they live and the health of the people who live there. Grassroots Fund supports changemakers who face systemic and structural barriers to traditional funding. To learn more visit grassrootsfund.org.
For more information and to be part of this exciting program, contact the District at firstname.lastname@example.org
Here’s a great fact sheet on gardening to support pollinators from UMass Amherst Center for Agriculture, Food, and the Environment.
You can find more information on supporting pollinators in Western Massachusetts at Western Mass Pollinator Networks
Interested in making a simple mason bee house to support native bee populations? Check out this video tutorial from our friends at Bee Friendly Williamstown!
Are you concerned that a pollinator garden will increase the risk of getting stung? The reality is that the bees are stopping by for the pollen, not looking for a person to sting! Read more about the benefits of attracting pollinators to your garden and reducing your insect anxiety here.
The Berkshire County Nutrient Management Initiative program is designed to be a resource for farmers and landowners to understand the statutory nutrient regulations which strive to reduce excess nutrients washing into neighboring wetlands through runoff from lawns, pasture and farmland within Berkshire County, MA. This program is funded through the the Conservation District Innovative Grant Program of the Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs.
Interested in learning more about nutrient management? Watch this informative presentation by USDA-NRCS staff Gary Blazejewski.
Nutrient management is the process of managing the amount, source, timing, and method of nutrient application with the goal of optimizing farm and land productivity while minimizing nutrient losses that can create environmental problems. It includes developing nutrient budgets that begins with knowing the amounts of nutrients present in the soil, determining the amount of nutrients needed by the crop, accounting for all the potential sources of nutrients, and then applying manures, composts, irrigation water, or inorganic fertilizers as needed to meet the nutrient requirements of the crop. It also uses site management practices to increase or maintain soil quality to reduce the potential for erosion and nutrient transport into surface water or nutrient leaching into groundwater. Soil quality is an important component of nutrient management because it affects nutrient retention and water movement through the soil.
Environmental concerns have resulted in more emphasis on better nutrient management over the past few decades. While nutrient applications are critical to soil fertility management, they can also cause widespread environmental problems if not managed correctly.
Working closely with the USDA-NRCS, the District will assist farmers and landowners to understand the regulations, how they are implemented and how they impact the landowner or farmer. The resulting environmentally sound practices can help them to hold those nutrients on their land, cycling them in a more natural way, rather than spending excess money on inputs.
The first step in assessing soil amendment needs, if any, is to have the soil tested. The UMass Amherst Soil and Plant Nutrient Testing Laboratory is currently accepting new orders for routine soil analysis.
The full requirements for plant nutrient applications can be found here.