Sustainable Pasture Management for Horses

Final Report for ENE04-088

Project Type: Professional Development Program
Funds awarded in 2004: $79,100.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2007
Matching Non-Federal Funds: $15,000.00
Region: Northeast
State: New Jersey
Project Leader:
Dr. Carey Williams
Rutgers University Department of Animal Sciences
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Project Information

Summary:

The goal of the ‘Sustainable Pasture Management for Horses’ project is to develop a pasture management program for horse farms in New Jersey and surrounding states in the Mid-Atlantic region. Of the thousand plus agricultural extension agents, Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) representatives, and other related agency and industry professionals in NJ, MD, DE, northern VA, eastern PA, and southern NY, 25 professionals will understand and advocate best pasture management practices, and will help impact farm managers, adapt better manure management, reduce weed competition, increase nutritive value, and promote application of fertilizers to maintain soil nutrients based on soil tests in their pastures.

This sustainable emphasis over a three-year period will lead to improved pasture quality and water-soil conditions. We seek to accomplish this through the professional development of extension agents and other industry professionals as field consultants and advisors. The essential elements of this pasture project include regional training meetings to extension, NRCS and other industry professionals, test soils and pasture forage for nutrient content, provide material accessible via web site, and video documentation. Some of the key educational components include importance of pasture to horses, soil fertility, weed control, poisonous plants, grass species selection, selecting hay, pasture composition, paddock design and fencing, on-farm strategies to protect water quality, manure management, mosquito breeding sites, and proper fertilization based on soil test results.

This project will expand the knowledge base trainer level; it will provide a longer-term programmatic focus on sustainable pasture management. Our goal will be monitored by pre- and post-project soil and forage analysis, photo and video documentation, website expansion and surveys from each of the professionals in the participating states.

Performance Target:

Of the thousand plus agricultural extension agents, NRCS, and other related industry professionals within the Mid-Atlantic region, 25 of these professionals will understand, and advocate best pasture management practices; this group will then impact farm managers to adapt better manure management, reduce weeds and increase native nutrition, improve water quality, and maintain proper nutrient soil loads in their horse pastures. Through the training sessions we have trained 102 industry professionals (methods and evaluations of the training are in the following sections), close to 75 professionals have fully understood the best management practices enough to feel comfortable giving seminars to horse farm owners. The rest of the training group have understood the concepts, but still prefer to work with other animal groups and have difficulty reaching out to the horse farm owners.

The three-year period will lead to the sustainability of the project and improved pasture quality and water-soil conditions on many of the participating farms. In order to attain this programmatic goal and forge stronger client ties into our academic community, we will outreach established agents coupled with a new Program Assistant to assess, implement and monitor sustainable practices. (Our Program Assistant was only here for 1 year of the program, and not replaced due to time constraints of hiring new staff at the university level and the time frame of the grant.) We seek to accomplish this through the professional development and training of agricultural extension agents and those in the private professional service industry as field consultants and advisors. (This goal we have achieved and details will follow.) This pasture project will expand the knowledge base of extension personnel and provide a longer-term programmatic focus on sustainable pasture management. We have seen too many instances of resource mismanagement in equine operations that are too densely populated, poorly maintained manure disposal, inappropriate selection of turf grasses, poor nutrient management plans, and associated runoff problems of non-point source pollutants.

Verification that our target will be attained by seminar sign up sheets and evaluations (achieved it and evaluation summaries follow), pre- and post soil and pasture grass surveys and grower data bases and input cards (fallen short due to the lack of having a Program Assistant), participant mailing lists (achieved it, and have utilized this mailing list for future programs and initiatives), photo and video documentation (achieved it, details on the DVD follows), website expansion and environmental surveys from each of the agents and professionals in the participating states (partially achieved it through our Best Management Farm website http://www.esc.rutgers.edu/rlp/rlpmain.htm and do have surveys from participating professionals).

Introduction:

The goal of the Sustainable Pasture Management for Horses project, also known as “The Mid-Atlantic Equine Pasture Initiative” or MAEPI in our area, is to train extension agents, governmental agency employees, and other industry professionals to serve as informed field consultants and advisors to horse farmer owners and managers in New Jersey and surrounding states in the Mid-Atlantic region.

This objective over a three-year period is to increase outreach and assistance to these clientele, improve their knowledge, and adoption of practices that improve pasture quality and reduce environmental impact.

The essential elements of this pasture project include regional training meetings, and the development of training materials (PowerPoint presentations), as well as a summary of resources accessible via web sites and video. Some of the key educational components include importance of pasture to horses, soil fertility, weed control, poisonous plants, grass species selection, pasture composition, paddock design and fencing, on-farm strategies to protect water quality, manure management, and proper fertilization based on soil test results.

Our goal is to have 25 agricultural extension agents, NRCS representatives, and other related agency and industry professionals in NJ, MD, DE, northern VA, eastern PA, and southern NY that will understand and advocate best pasture management practices. Using this gained knowledge they will help impact farm managers adapt better manure management, reduce weed competition, increase nutritive value, and promote application of fertilizers to maintain soil nutrients based on soil tests in their pastures.

Expected outcomes include the expansion of the knowledge base at the extension staff and industry professional levels, and longer-term programmatic focus on sustainable pasture management. Achievement of these outcomes will be assessed by pre- and post-project evaluations from each of the professionals in the participating states. These evaluations would evaluate our training seminar and the tools given to assist the professionals in developing their own program. It will also evaluate pasture program plans and then if they were carried out.

Cooperators

Click linked name(s) to expand
  • Amy Burk
  • Karyn Malinowski
  • Robert Mickel
  • Erin Petersen
  • Bill Sciarappa

Educational Approach

Educational approach:

1. The Training Seminars (Dec. 2005) were completed and successful (see seminar evaluation summaries in the outcomes section). Our goals for the MAEPI training sessions were to:
• Develop an understanding of the role that pastures play in providing nutritional, behavioral, and physical advantages for horses.
• Develop an understanding of the potential equine health risks that can be associated with pasture forages and toxic plants.
• Be able to evaluate the productivity of equine pastures.
• Learn how to assist clients in the development of realistic goals for the pastures on their farms based on farm-specific conditions, farm management practices, and stocking rates.
• Learn how to properly take soil samples on a farm, interpret the soil test results, and develop an environmentally sound fertility program.
• Be able to identify the major forage species.
• Be able to provide forage species recommendations that are based on farm site conditions and grazing pressure.
• Be able to identify major weeds and toxic plants typically associated with equine pastures (and /or resources that can be used for assistance)
• Develop an understanding of how to evaluate the need for herbicide applications.
• Be able to explain how to choose the correct herbicide and when and how to apply it.
• Understand the importance of rest and rotation to survivability of a pasture sward.
• Be familiar with the types of fencing materials that are typically used on horse farms and be aware of the risks and benefits of each type.
• Understand the principles and strategies associated with renovation of pastures.
• Be able to develop sustainable pasture management plans for farms that have high stocking densities by incorporating modified rotation, dry lots, and limited turnout into the plan.

The training sessions were organized by our team and each goal was taught by a specialist or agent who had a particular specialty in this area. Evaluations were taken at the conclusion of each training session, a year after the training session and 2 years after the training session to measure impact and value of the session itself and the materials provided by the program.

2. The Training Module was developed and 200 copies were distributed (evaluation summaries are included in the outcomes section). Materials provide by the program were the Training Module, which included a binder with fact sheets and other hard copy material related to each subject listed above. Along with the hard copies the module contained a CD with PowerPoint presentations for the trainers to use and tailor to their own specific needs when presenting at meetings and seminars of their own. These eight PowerPoint presentations covered our main topic areas including importance of pasture to horses, soil fertility, forage species identification, manure management, forage growth and pasture rotation, weed control, toxic plants to horses, renovation equipment and technique, and environmental concerns for horse owners. Value of this module is detailed in the outcomes/impact section as evaluations were taken after the training and a few times after the clients had time to use the materials in their own programs.

3. The Satellite Meetings partially worked in NJ, but not as well in other states (or feed back was just limited). Participants were encouraged to take the materials from the meetings and use them for their own meetings and seminars. If funding was a problem getting seminars set up trainers were encouraged to contact the team for financial help. Several meetings were set up in NJ by extension specialists and agents (programs included in mailed appendices).

Evaluations from the programs are also summarized in the outcomes/impacts section. As for surrounding states, fewer programs were developed and even fewer were developed using the SARE grant monies. Few programs from other states will be included in appendices, but the individual pasture program evaluations are unavailable. For future grants it is encouraged to have better follow up of the participants in the program to help facilitate satellite meetings in the surrounding region.

4. The DVD documentation was completed, however we don’t know its impact yet as it is still too new. One of the satellite meetings in NJ, “The Farm and Land Management Short Course” was held in March of 2007. During this meeting video documentation of the entire program including on farm demonstrations was compiled into a 10 disk DVD set. The goal of this video was for trainers to use if they were unable to attend the training sessions. Many of the topics covered in the training module are covered in this DVD. Farmers or end users of the program could also use this as a learning tool to help benefit their individual farm. No follow up data is available on this DVD as they have only recently been distributed to trainers of the meeting and advertised for use.

5. Renovation of horse farms into Best Management Practice (BMP) farms was not as successful as we would have liked. Originally part of the grant funding was going to be used to partially help farmers renovate their horse pastures to make them environmentally friendly using the MAEPI guidelines. Rutgers BMP farm at the Equine Science Center is developing one of their own with money from grants from NRCS, NJ Department of Agriculture, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and the Rutgers Equine Science Center, while the SARE grant has helped fund the educational portion including seminars held at the BMP farm. The University of Maryland is also developing a version of their BMP farm on a smaller scale and asked us to help them with the set up. Details on these farms, the progress and future plans are detailed in the outcomes and accomplishments section (supplemental letter from the principal investigator is included in mailed appendix). Other farms did not pursue this opportunity for partial funding on their farms; many of our team members suggested a reason for this being many of the farmers were unwilling to chip in the other part of the funding to renovate their pastures and paddocks.

6. The Soil Tests on farms collected before and after the training and term of the grant was not completed. Originally one of the goals of the grant was to, with the help of the Program Associate, take pre and post program soil samples to determine if the strategies use by the MAEPI program were having an impact on the environment. However, after the Program Associate resigned from her position at Rutgers University the team felt it was too late to search for another qualified applicant to fill the spot. So the soil tests were unable to be completed due to the time commitment of gathering the samples.

7. Water Sampling around Composting Areas was a project added to the SARE grant late in 2007. The goal of the project was to investigate the environmental benefits obtained from a covered composting process as compared to a static manure pile. The environmental concerns associated with manure runoff are well documented. This project will demonstrate how a well managed composting procedure can minimize water contamination while providing a beneficial soil amendment. The proposed design will include the composting operation, as well as, a static pile for comparison. A weir system will be installed to collect runoff from each pile after a rain event. Samples will be analyzed for contaminants including fecal coliform, total phosphates, ammonia nitrogen, nitrate nitrogen, total solids and will be documented in the final report. The volume of material will be recorded in each pile and percentage of volume reduction calculated. This will help municipalities determine the size and number of operations needed based on the agricultural wastes provided. Information obtained on this trial site will provide the regulatory community with invaluable data for making regulatory decisions. Selected operations may be selected to determine the environmental benefits obtained by removing the agricultural waste from the particular operation. Samples are in the process of being collected and analyzed (a supplemental letter from the principal investigator is included in the mailed appendices).

Milestones

Milestone #1 (click to expand/collapse)
Accomplishments:

Publications

Rutgers University, Best Management Showcase Equine Facility: One of our milestones is to help develop demonstration horse farms where professionals can host meetings and demonstrate proper environmental stewardship. One such farm we are in the process of developing is at Rutgers University. The goal of this project is to create a research and educational venue at the Cook College, Equine Science Center (ESC) to showcase best management practices (BMPs) for equine and other animal facilities. This goal will be met by accomplishing the following objectives: 1) implementation of stormwater BMPs that will minimize water quality impacts, 2) conducting research on the effectiveness of these BMPs, 3) implementation of pasture management strategies that are protective of the environment, 4) creating an effective manure management system to minimize the environmental impacts of animal waste, and 5) conducting educational demonstrations and workshops for stakeholders on pasture, manure and water quality issues over the course of the project.

To date, the perimeter fence is completed, weeds have been identified, soil tests and proper fertilizing was also completed and will continue being maintained. In the spring of 2007 3 of the 5 fields have been completely renovated and re-seeded. One of those fields includes plots of 11 varieties of grass species to use as a teaching demonstration area. The fence layout for the rotational system and sacrifice lots have been planned and are ready to be implemented.

Four BMPs for storm water management have been selected for implementation at the ESC: 1) bioswale (treating agricultural/pasture/road runoff), 2) dry well (treating roof runoff), 3) infiltration trench (treating roof/road runoff), and 4) bioretention basin (treating agricultural/pasture runoff). Additionally, riparian buffers will be designed for controlling and treating stormwater runoff from the agricultural fields that are associated with the ESC. The dry well BMP has been completed and the other designs are in the process of being finalized.

The location for each manure stacking pad and central composting station has been established. In addition, the excavation plan to construct these facilities has been finalized. The first manure stacking area has been completed and is currently in use. Plans for the composting site are underway. The farm has also had a Certified Nutrient Management Plan recently completed and is approved by NRCS.

Educational programs will continue to be centered on the newly constructed BMPs at the ESC. Horse owners and other farmers are able to view the storm water management practices and to talk with the people who designed, constructed and maintain these BMPs. Twilight educational meetings and workshops/seminars focus on teaching this clientele how to identify areas of concern at their facilities and select the appropriate BMPs that can be constructed to address these concerns. The Rutgers Cooperative Extension personnel who are involved in this project all participate in the workshops and twilight meetings.

Several fact sheets were published (4 manure and nutrient management fact sheets and bulletins already in print and will be sent via hard copy) to disseminate the data generated by this project. These fact sheets are also be available via the RCE website (www.njaes.rutgers.edu) and the ESC website (www.esc.rutgers.edu). The team developed a newsletter (Equine Essentials) quarterly that will detail the progress of the project; stormwater, manure, and pasture management tips; and water quality issues, as well as serve as an educational resource on equine pasture and nutritionally related topics. Other methods of communicating the results of the project include on-farm extension agent consultations with farmers, publication in peer-reviewed journals (i.e., Journal of Extension planned for later 2008), and lectures and seminars around the state and region (continuous). In addition, the ESC website has expanded to detail the progress of the BMP farm along with other pasture management and environmental related tips for horse owners (http://www.esc.rutgers.edu/rlp/rlpmain.htm).

Some of our partnerships include USDA-NRCS, New Jersey Department of Agriculture, Department of Environmental Protection, Environmental Protection Agency, and Northeast SARE. Other sources of funding for research on the pasture, manure and stormwater systems have been obtained. The project has generated a significant level of interest in the Northeast as presentation of the pasture management programs have been given to the Northeast Pasture Consortium conferences in 2006 and 2007.

Horses 2007 Farm and Land Management Short Course: Horse owners and other farmers were invited to the BMP showcase at the Rutgers University Equine Science Center for the first time on March 31st and April 1st, 2007, and another course in an outlying county October 5th and 6th, 2007 where the ESC, NE SARE, and Rutgers Cooperative Extension hosted the Farm and Land Management Short Course. The first venue at the BMP farm provided an opportunity for small animal farm operators and horse owners to see a variety of BMPs that have been designed to address similar conditions that may exist on their farm.

Speakers from New Jersey and Pennsylvania involved in Extension and NRCS provided a variety of topics on pasture, manure and stormwater management issues. Horse farm owners and managers were taught the principals of pasture growth and rotation, weed identification and management among a variety of other lecture and demonstration topics on Saturday, March 31, 2007. Sunday’s, April 1, 2007, program included lectures and demonstrations on manure disposal and storage options, and water quality strategies. Also available to those who were interested were Certified Crop Advisor (CCA) continuing education credits for both the March and October programs. We will also provide various educational materials (“Weeds of the Northeast” and “Horse Owners Field Guide to Toxic Plants”) to help aid the attendees to be more proficient in helping manage the pastures on their farms.

University of Maryland, Equine Rotational Grazing Project: Development of farmland for housing is on the rise in the Mid-Atlantic region causing an increase number of “horse farmettes” with a high horse stocking density. The smaller acreage requires more intense management in order for horses to derive nutritional benefits from the pasture, while protecting the environment from sediment and nutrient run-off. The University of Maryland has an opportunity to become a leader in teaching horse owners in the Southern Mid-Atlantic Region how to incorporate rotational grazing practices into their small farm horse operations by developing a model rotational grazing system at its Central Maryland Research and Education Center in Ellicott City, MD. The objective of the project is to develop a 5-acre model equine rotational grazing system that showcases BMP’s for pastures at the University of Maryland’s Central Maryland Research and Education Center. The rotational grazing system will serve as an invaluable tool for educating horse farm owners about facility development and management practices that promote productive pastures while enhancing and protecting the environment. The project will also yield much needed observational data on horse and plant performance as well as some important environmental impacts associated with rotational grazing horses.

This project will deliver four main components 1) Development of a model rotational grazing system (pastures, sacrifice lot, and stormwater system), 2) Execution of educational programs (twilight meetings, seminars, and fact sheets), 3) Generation of research (animal and plant performance data, scientific articles), and 4) Protection and enhancement of the environment (adoption of BMP’s by horse owners attending educational programs).

Facility development began in the summer of 2007 followed by initiation of grazing by horse’s later in 2008. Educational programs and field studies will be conducted throughout the 3-yr project. A supplemental letter from the project principal investigator is included in the mailed appendices.

Other Regional Educational Programs: A full list of programs is included on our evaluation form and will be mailed with the appendices, along with some brochures and programs. However, throughout the Mid-Atlantic Region there have been many pasture programs developed and carried out. What this has shown us as an organizing group is that this topic is definitely popular and there is a need for more programs. More programs dealing with pasture management and other environmental issues are planned for various counties across the state of New Jersey. The team members of this grant would encourage NE SARE (and other regions) to continue funding programs of this sort directed at professional development trainees and horse farm operators, as the number of horse farms is growing along with the regulations placed upon these farm to help keep the environment healthy.

Performance Target Outcomes

Performance target outcome for service providers narrative:

Outcomes

At the end of our training sessions in December of 2005 we had asked the attendees to evaluate the program in terms of the potential value of the module and training session itself. The evaluations asked the participants to rank each category on a scale of 1 to 5 with 5 being the most valuable and 1 being the least valuable. The attendees felt the training module with PowerPoints was the most valuable portion with an average score of 4.7. The participants also ranked the value of each PowerPoint presentation and the scores ranged from 4.1 to 4.7. Attending the actual training session with speakers demonstrating the module PowerPoints was given an average of 4.6. The availability of fact sheets had an average of 4.4, mostly due to the fact that you can find these on line for free already. However, our team realizes that the ability to access everything you need dealing with pastures in one place instead of having to hunt around on the web for it is of value. Participants valued their opportunity to create a network of pasture professionals (4.3) that will be able to assists them in developing their pasture programs for equine operation managers and owners. Unfortunately due to bad weather we had to end the second training session early to ensure all attendees returned home safely so networking at that session was cut short.

When the attendees were asked to list their plans of developing equine pasture programs, 43 % commented that they plan on hosting a workshop, seminar or short course based on the materials within the next year. Half of the participants are going to host more informal twilight meetings or pasture walks this spring and more than half will at least write a fact sheet, popular press article, or dedicate a section of an existing newsletter, or develop a new newsletter on what they have learned at the training. Almost all of the attendees listed that they planned on taking more calls and answering more questions one on one to equine producers regarding pasture management.

It was evident in our attendance at the two training sessions that our publicity of the project was well done and covered all the key areas. I have received calls from outside the region as well (e.g. Georgia and Tennessee NRCS, Maine Cooperative Extension, and a Massachusetts pasture renovation and education company). Some of those calls sent people to attend the training others are interested in obtaining a copy of our training module.

The following year we sent out follow up evaluations asking attendees and others who purchased the training module but did not attend the training session last year, to evaluate the effectiveness of the module and its contents, along with give us an update on the educational programs they have been hosting. Again the evaluations asked the participants to rank each category on a scale of 1 to 5. After a year of working with the module the attendees felt the fact sheets were the most valuable portion on the CD with an average score of 4.4. Attending the actual training session with speakers demonstrating the module PowerPoints and the PowerPoint presentations themselves were scored an average of 4.0, however, not everyone filling out the survey actually attended the training session. The evaluations asked the participants to rank the value of each PowerPoint presentation and the scores ranged from 3.8 to 4.3 with “Horse Health and Pasture Importance” ranking as the highest valued presentation.

Fifteen pasture walks or field meetings were reported, along with 174 answered equine related pasture phone and e-mail consultations, and 64 actual farm visits for pasture consultations. Newsletters, newspaper and magazine articles, fact sheets and bulletins have also been produced and hard copies will also be sent with supplemental materials.

Finally, after two years of having the training modules out to about 200 people they were asked again to evaluate its usefulness on a scale of 1 to 5. After two years of working with the module the attendees felt the having the pasture related PowerPoint presentations available on a CD was the most valuable with an average score of 4.6. Attending the actual training session with speakers demonstrating the module PowerPoints (4.3) and the fact sheets (4.4) were also ranked as very valuable, however, again not everyone filling out the evaluation actually attended the training session. The evaluations asked the participants to rank the value of each PowerPoint presentation and the scores ranged from 3.9 to 4.4 with “Weed Control” and “Pasture Renovation” being the most valuable presentations.

Two years after of the MAEPI programs many seminars, talks, and pasture walks were performed throughout the region. As well as over 400 e-mails and phone calls answered and nearly 100 farm visits, not including those answered and visited by the immediate SARE grant team members. One NJ team member alone reported that “During the course of this project I have felt much more confident in speaking to the 250 plus phone calls myself regarding equine pasture. Also, either I or my assistant has visited, soil sampled and evaluated over 50 horse farms during this period.” (A few brochures of programs from participants and summaries of all evaluations are included in the mailed appendices.) Various newsletters and newspaper articles have also been developed; 6 newspaper columns with a distribution of over 40,000, Farm Notes newsletter distributed to about 27, Piscataquis Farming News goes out to 190, and the newly formed Equine Essentials newsletter organized by a few of the SARE team produces 2,000 copies for distribution.

During the course of the project, two “Farm and Land Management Short Courses” were developed and carried out (March and October 2007) in New Jersey. This program has become so popular that we have several people call and ask when we are hosting more seminars. So we have scheduled two more abbreviated versions (1-day seminars) in North and South Jersey this coming May 2008. Evaluations from the 2-day courses have shown most topics presented ranked very valuable (4.0 to 4.8 out of 5.0). The evaluations also demonstrated that the course increased knowledge of the participants (5.0 = significant increase in knowledge) most in the areas of pasture renovation (4.4), environmental concerns (4.4), equine nutrition (4.4) and manure management (4.7) topics. A majority of the participants of the two programs also commented that they plan to follow various BMP’s for pasture and manure over the course of the next year or two if they are not already currently following these practices (daily evaluations of each seminar will be included in the mailed appendices).

Additional Project Outcomes

Project outcomes:

Rutgers University, Best Management Showcase Equine Facility: One of our milestones is to help develop demonstration horse farms where professionals can host meetings and demonstrate proper environmental stewardship. One such farm we are in the process of developing is at Rutgers University. The goal of this project is to create a research and educational venue at the Cook College, Equine Science Center (ESC) to showcase best management practices (BMPs) for equine and other animal facilities. This goal will be met by accomplishing the following objectives: 1) implementation of stormwater BMPs that will minimize water quality impacts, 2) conducting research on the effectiveness of these BMPs, 3) implementation of pasture management strategies that are protective of the environment, 4) creating an effective manure management system to minimize the environmental impacts of animal waste, and 5) conducting educational demonstrations and workshops for stakeholders on pasture, manure and water quality issues over the course of the project.

To date, the perimeter fence is completed, weeds have been identified, soil tests and proper fertilizing was also completed and will continue being maintained. In the spring of 2007 3 of the 5 fields have been completely renovated and re-seeded. One of those fields includes plots of 11 varieties of grass species to use as a teaching demonstration area. The fence layout for the rotational system and sacrifice lots have been planned and are ready to be implemented.

Four BMPs for storm water management have been selected for implementation at the ESC: 1) bioswale (treating agricultural/pasture/road runoff), 2) dry well (treating roof runoff), 3) infiltration trench (treating roof/road runoff), and 4) bioretention basin (treating agricultural/pasture runoff). Additionally, riparian buffers will be designed for controlling and treating stormwater runoff from the agricultural fields that are associated with the ESC. The dry well BMP has been completed and the other designs are in the process of being finalized.

The location for each manure stacking pad and central composting station has been established. In addition, the excavation plan to construct these facilities has been finalized. The first manure stacking area has been completed and is currently in use. Plans for the composting site are underway. The farm has also had a Certified Nutrient Management Plan recently completed and is approved by NRCS.

Educational programs will continue to be centered on the newly constructed BMPs at the ESC. Horse owners and other farmers are able to view the storm water management practices and to talk with the people who designed, constructed and maintain these BMPs. Twilight educational meetings and workshops/seminars focus on teaching this clientele how to identify areas of concern at their facilities and select the appropriate BMPs that can be constructed to address these concerns. The Rutgers Cooperative Extension personnel who are involved in this project all participate in the workshops and twilight meetings.

Several fact sheets were published (4 manure and nutrient management fact sheets and bulletins already in print and will be sent via hard copy) to disseminate the data generated by this project. These fact sheets are also be available via the RCE website (www.njaes.rutgers.edu) and the ESC website (www.esc.rutgers.edu). The team developed a newsletter (Equine Essentials) quarterly that will detail the progress of the project; stormwater, manure, and pasture management tips; and water quality issues, as well as serve as an educational resource on equine pasture and nutritionally related topics. Other methods of communicating the results of the project include on-farm extension agent consultations with farmers, publication in peer-reviewed journals (i.e., Journal of Extension planned for later 2008), and lectures and seminars around the state and region (continuous). In addition, the ESC website has expanded to detail the progress of the BMP farm along with other pasture management and environmental related tips for horse owners (http://www.esc.rutgers.edu/rlp/rlpmain.htm).

Some of our partnerships include USDA-NRCS, New Jersey Department of Agriculture, Department of Environmental Protection, Environmental Protection Agency, and Northeast SARE. Other sources of funding for research on the pasture, manure and stormwater systems have been obtained. The project has generated a significant level of interest in the Northeast as presentation of the pasture management programs have been given to the Northeast Pasture Consortium conferences in 2006 and 2007.

Horses 2007 Farm and Land Management Short Course: Horse owners and other farmers were invited to the BMP showcase at the Rutgers University Equine Science Center for the first time on March 31st and April 1st, 2007, and another course in an outlying county October 5th and 6th, 2007 where the ESC, NE SARE, and Rutgers Cooperative Extension hosted the Farm and Land Management Short Course. The first venue at the BMP farm provided an opportunity for small animal farm operators and horse owners to see a variety of BMPs that have been designed to address similar conditions that may exist on their farm.

Speakers from New Jersey and Pennsylvania involved in Extension and NRCS provided a variety of topics on pasture, manure and stormwater management issues. Horse farm owners and managers were taught the principals of pasture growth and rotation, weed identification and management among a variety of other lecture and demonstration topics on Saturday, March 31, 2007. Sunday’s, April 1, 2007, program included lectures and demonstrations on manure disposal and storage options, and water quality strategies. Also available to those who were interested were Certified Crop Advisor (CCA) continuing education credits for both the March and October programs. We will also provide various educational materials (“Weeds of the Northeast” and “Horse Owners Field Guide to Toxic Plants”) to help aid the attendees to be more proficient in helping manage the pastures on their farms.

University of Maryland, Equine Rotational Grazing Project: Development of farmland for housing is on the rise in the Mid-Atlantic region causing an increase number of “horse farmettes” with a high horse stocking density. The smaller acreage requires more intense management in order for horses to derive nutritional benefits from the pasture, while protecting the environment from sediment and nutrient run-off. The University of Maryland has an opportunity to become a leader in teaching horse owners in the Southern Mid-Atlantic Region how to incorporate rotational grazing practices into their small farm horse operations by developing a model rotational grazing system at its Central Maryland Research and Education Center in Ellicott City, MD. The objective of the project is to develop a 5-acre model equine rotational grazing system that showcases BMP’s for pastures at the University of Maryland’s Central Maryland Research and Education Center. The rotational grazing system will serve as an invaluable tool for educating horse farm owners about facility development and management practices that promote productive pastures while enhancing and protecting the environment. The project will also yield much needed observational data on horse and plant performance as well as some important environmental impacts associated with rotational grazing horses.

This project will deliver four main components 1) Development of a model rotational grazing system (pastures, sacrifice lot, and stormwater system), 2) Execution of educational programs (twilight meetings, seminars, and fact sheets), 3) Generation of research (animal and plant performance data, scientific articles), and 4) Protection and enhancement of the environment (adoption of BMP’s by horse owners attending educational programs).

Facility development began in the summer of 2007 followed by initiation of grazing by horse’s later in 2008. Educational programs and field studies will be conducted throughout the 3-yr project. A supplemental letter from the project principal investigator is included in the mailed appendices.

Other Regional Educational Programs: A full list of programs is included on our evaluation form and will be mailed with the appendices, along with some brochures and programs. However, throughout the Mid-Atlantic Region there have been many pasture programs developed and carried out. What this has shown us as an organizing group is that this topic is definitely popular and there is a need for more programs. More programs dealing with pasture management and other environmental issues are planned for various counties across the state of New Jersey. The team members of this grant would encourage NE SARE (and other regions) to continue funding programs of this sort directed at professional development trainees and horse farm operators, as the number of horse farms is growing along with the regulations placed upon these farm to help keep the environment healthy.

Assessment of Project Approach and Areas of Further Study:

Potential Contributions

This SARE project led indirectly to RU funding by DEP for farmland assessment in the New Jersey Wreck Pond watershed area (largely equine) and by ESC grant for Agr-assessment of equine lands in Colts Neck, NJ. Narrowing the environmental focus for bacteria/sediment/N/P away from upland agriculture and tracking these non-point source pollutants to coastal human communities was a nice scientific contribution to municipal problem solving.

Future Recommendations

Through the evaluations after each program we have run it is evident that more programs geared towards educating horse farm owners are necessary. Topics like manure management, pasture renovation, and stormwater management are not as well understood with horse farmers as with other species or crops. I would hope that more environmental or agricultural organizations also realize the need for education of our growing population of horse farms within the Northeast and other surrounding regions.

Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.