No-Till Seeder

Now Scheduling for 2022 Rentals

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 and 2021, it was utilized on approximately 600 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

Reserve your preferred rental dates early, as there is typically a lot of interest in spring from farmers ready to try the no-till method and repeat rentals.  

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.” 

Berkshire County Pollinator and Native Plant Initiative

The District announces receipt of grant funding to address the decline of native pollinators and their host plants across all landscapes.

Berkshire Conservation District is pleased to announce the receipt of grant funding from the Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs, Commission for Conservation of Soil, Water and Related Resources and Berkshire Agricultural Ventures to continue our commitment to conservation and sustainability in the community.  This funding will enable us to launch a new program to support healthy habitats, including pollinator plantings and to increase the number of Berkshire communities adopting Pollinator-Friendly Community resolutions, while educating the greater community about the importance of healthy soils and native plants, especially those that benefit pollinator species.  We will also be establishing a pollinator garden in an environmental and social justice community.

This program builds on the success of the Hinsdale pollinator garden project, a pilot program that promoted small-scale pollinator gardens in the town of Hinsdale, MA, which approved 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 District will begin planning over the winter to include on-line webinars led by knowledgeable pollinator and native plant specialists.  We will be working with communities that want to pursue Pollinator-Friendly status, and planning a community event that will feature an opportunity to purchase native plants that attract and benefit pollinators, as well as include educational offerings from other non-profit environmental organizations.

The District welcomes volunteers interested in getting involved in these projects.  For more information and to be part of this exciting program, contact the District at berkshireconservationdistrict@gmail.com 

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.

 

Nutrient Management

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 was 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.

Here are summary fact sheets for agricultural and non-agricultural turf and lawns.

 

Conserving Natural Resources for Our Future