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Home » From the Commissioner

Moose Plates Bring No-Tiller Seeder to Cheshire County

New Hampshire Department of Agriculture, Markets & Food (January 3, 2011)

From Your Commissioner . . .

It all started when dairy farmer Bradley Fletcher, of Fletcher Farm in Walpole, expressed to his local state representative his wish for a no-till seed drill to help area farmers reduce soil erosion and nutrient runoff. His state representative happens to be Tara Sad of Walpole, chair of the House Environment and Agriculture Committee, and also an associate supervisor of the Cheshire County Conservation District (CCCD). Sad told district manager Amanda Costello about Fletcher’s idea, and they began working on the project that would become the Cheshire County No-Till Farming Initiative—and a successful grant application to the State Conservation Committee’s (SCC) Conservation Grant Program, known as the Moose Plate grant program.

 The Moose Plate grant of $32,252 will cover most of the total cost of the no-till initiative, with an additional $13,000 of inkind services contributions provided by CCCD and its partners. Terry Robison, president of R.N. Johnson, Inc. of Walpole, reported that the equipment dealer fielded more than a dozen requests for no-till seed drill rentals this past season. R.N. Johnson will maintain and house the no-till drill to be purchased with the grant funds, providing an estimated $3,000 a year in in-kind services to the program for the life of the equipment. Interested farms will schedule rentals for a modest fee directly with the CCCD. The conservation district and UNH Cooperative Extension ag resources educator for Cheshire County, Carl Majewski, will coordinate educational programming and demonstrations beginning in May 2011.

“We are thrilled to be able to start offering the drill to farmers this spring,” noted Costello. “The CCCD chose this project because when we made inquiries with area farms we realized the acquisition of this machinery would be a benefit to many.” The high cost of equipment that is only needed for short periods is the barrier to farmers adopting no-till practices which can help prevent soil erosion, protect water quality, and enhance soil quality and health. “We look forward to continue our work with local farms to better understand their needs and find ways for the CCCD and partners to help meet them,” Costello added. The CCCD recently hosted a listening session with farmers to identify their agricultural infrastructure needs and concerns.

Twelve farms in seven towns have committed to using the no-till drill on a minimum of 541 acres in the first two years. More farmers are expressing interest as they learn about the project. The CCCD grant application said farmers from other counties could also rent the drill.The Cheshire No-Till Initiative is one of 12 grants totaling $236,062 recently awarded by the State Conservation Committee to municipalities and conservation

organizations. Applications were up this year, from 15 last year to 22. “The Cheshire CCD no-till project is an innovative and very practical project,” commented Dea Brickner-Wood, program administrator. “It was well researched and the proposal provided very clear measurable outcomes, met the SCC Conservation Grant program goal to reduce, prevent and manage soil erosion and/or flooding, and will serve as a model program.” To learn more about the State Conservation Committee Conservation

Grant Program, visit grants, or contact Dea Brickner-Wood at (603)868-6112,

Lorraine Merrill, Commissioner,  New Hampshire Department of Agriculture, Markets, & Food
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