Evaluating water quality benefits from soil aeration
The Winooski Natural Resources Conservation District (WNRCD) is working to raise the awareness of soil aeration in Vermont through research, education and outreach. Although aeration of hay-land is a well-known conservation practice, its adoption and use is not widespread in Vermont. Furthermore, the link between aeration and phosphorus pollution reduction is poorly understood.
In an effort to raise understanding and build usage of this important best management practice, the WNRCD has partnered with Shelburne Farms and Stone Environmental (SE) to continue a third year of an innovative, paired-watershed research project focusing on how water quality may be impacted and improved by soil aeration. Data was collected until the end of December 2015 and data analysis occurred in January-March of 2016. Upon reviewing and interpreting results, WNRCD will develop outreach materials that interpret the findings for the agricultural community and general public.
Data analysis occurred between January-March 2016, and SE provided WNRCD the draft paired-watershed research report on April 27th, 2016. After receiving the finalized plan, WNRCD staff reviewed the report and interpreted the findings to prepare for updating the District’s aerator factsheets and other outreach materials.
Development of Outreach Materials
WNRCD has begun the process of updating its outreach materials, which will be finalized in early January in preparation for the Vermont Farm Show and Northeast Organic Farming Association conferences, as well as UVM Extension’s Nutrient Management Plan class. This factsheets will be showcased at these events.
Analyze collected data
Because data collection continued into December 2015, data analysis did not begin until spring 2016. WNRCD received SE’s draft study report at the end of April 2016. This caused setbacks in updating outreach materials, and thus this work won’t be complete until mid-January 2017.
Exhibit/present findings and outreach materials at the Vermont Farm Show
Exhibit findings at other agricultural event
Meet with farmer coalition groups and attend field days to talk about the study findings
The aerator outreach materials were featured at the 2016 Vermont Farm Show. WNRCD’s Agricultural Specialist at the time, provided details about this project and shared the importance of aeration with local farmers she worked with during the spring, summer, and fall of 2016. Ms. Janson also presented on the benefit and importance of aeration and provided background on this project at UVM Extension’s 2016 Nutrient Management Plan class. The NESARE program was prominently displayed or mentioned during every outreach event, so people were informed about who had funded this important project.
01/2017 (NOTE: changed date from 3/16 and 5/16 to 1/17)
Incorporate data from analysis into existing outreach materials
Complete all outreach products
Due to delay on receiving final report from SE, WNRCD has not yet completed updating the outreach materials to include findings from this study. This work is scheduled to be complete by mid-January, and the updated aerator factsheets will be shared at the 2017 Farm Show, 2017 Northeast Organic Farm Association conference, and featured at UVM Extension’s 2017 Nutrient Management Plan class.
03/31/2017 (NOTE: changed date from 12/15/16 to 03/31/17)
Complete all projects and present NESARE with final report
Upon showcasing the updated aerator outreach materials, WNRCD will draft a final project report documenting feedback from local farmers and professionals working in the agricultural field.
Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes
WNRCD has received increased interest from farmers requesting information about aerator use and the benefits of aeration. WNRCD will develop a before and after survey for 2017 Farm Show participants to take. This will help to determine how knowledgeable participants are on aeration before and after visiting our booth. Results from this will be shared in the final project report.
Neill Farm LLC
1946 North Road
Waitsfield, VT 05673
Office Phone: 8023804338
Natural Resources and Assistant Woodlands Manager
1611 Harbor Road
Shelburne, VT 05482
Office Phone: 8029858686