In Lake Ontario, excess phosphorous threatens drinking water, wildlife and recreation. We are helping vegetable farmers on the southern side of Lake Ontario experiment with new conservation practices to improve soil health. AFT is also helping dairy farmers and farmers producing field crops learn about soil practices – including tillage practices, cover crops and soil health tests.
AFT is launching a new initiative in the Great Lakes region working with landowners and farmer lessees to incentivize conservation practices on rented farmland. Conservation practices help reduce nutrient runoff and protect water quality, while building the long-term health of the soil. During the planning phase of this project, AFT realized women landowners were interested in conservation on their land, but under-served in education about these practices.
Through AFT's women's learning circles, landowners learn about the benefits of conservation practices and how to work with farmer lessees to develop leasing arrangements that are mutually beneficial and promote healthy soils and clean water.
Accomplishments to date include:
- Helping farmers plant over 5,000 acres of cover crops in the last two growing seasons
- Assisting partners
working with farmers in demonstrating soil health practices such as cover
cropping and zone tillage
- Sponsoring a Western New York Soil Health Field Day
for more than 175 farmers
- Hosted women's learning circles for landowners
about conservation practices
Stories from the Field
Many farmers on Long Island and in the Great Lakes have already taken action to protect water quality and improve soil health. As part of our
Cultivating Clean Water in New York project, we'll be highlighting stories of farmers and their conservation practices – why they do them, and how they have impacted their farm.
Schmitt Family Farm (Riverhead, NY, Long Island)
Phil Schmitt's family has grown vegetables on Long Island for over 150 years, spending the last four decades on their 250-acre farm in Riverhead. Their soil is a sandy loam, a common type for Long Island's East End, but is fairly heavy. This proved problematic as the farm grew. Learn about the conservation practices Phil used to solve this problem, and how they impacted his bottom line with an economic case study AFT and CCE Suffolk developed with a former USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service economist.
Read the full story or download the economic case study.
Pedersen Farms (Seneca Castle, NY, Great Lakes)
Rick Pedersen has always liked growing stuff. That might explain how he came to own a 1,500 acre vegetable farm and hop yard in the Finger Lakes region of the Great Lakes watershed. But it wasn't always easy. Improving the health of the farm's soil has taken Rick on a journey of learning the needs of each of his fields and protecting the waters that surround them.
Read the full story or download the PDF version.