Soil and Water Stewardship Week is April 27 to May 3, 2014

In 1955, the National Association of Conservation Districts began a national program to encourage Americans to focus on stewardship. Stewardship Week is officially celebrated from the last Sunday in April to the first Sunday in May. It is one of the world’s largest conservation-related observances.

The program relies on locally-led conservation districts sharing and promoting stewardship and conservation activities. Districts provide conservation and stewardship field days, programs, workshops and additional outreach efforts throughout their community to educate citizens about the need to care for our resources. Many district activities extend beyond the one week observance to include an entire year of outreach.

The Stewardship concept involves personal and social responsibility, including a duty to learn about and improve natural resources as we use them wisely, leaving a rich legacy for future generations.

One definition of Stewardship is “the individual’s responsibility to manage his life and property with proper regard to the rights of others.” E. William Anderson suggests stewardship “is essentially a synonym for conservation.”

Stewardship Week helps to remind us all of the power each person has to conserve natural resources and improve the world. When everyone works together with their local conservation district, that power continuously grows. We have seen these good deeds multiply across the nation’s network of conservation districts and the results are spectacular!

When the land does well for its owner, and the owner does well by his land—when both end up better by reason of their partnership—then we have conservation. – Aldo Leopold

Stewardship week each year is always the last Sunday in April to the first Sunday in May.

Saco River Conference April 23 Addresses Conservation Challenges

The Oxford County Soil & Water Conservation District (OCSWCD) is pleased to announce a first-of-its-kind conference, on April 23, which brings together experts from two states – Maine and New Hampshire – to discuss the many conservation challenges facing the river and its watershed. The day-long conference will be held at the Leura Eastman Performing Arts Center on the campus of Fryeburg Academy.
OCSWCD is sponsoring the event. Co-sponsors include the Carroll County Conservation District in New Hampshire, the University of New England, Wells National Estuarine Research Reserve, Fiddlehead Environmental Consulting, Maine Association of Conservation Districts, and Norway Savings Bank. Advance registration costs $30 for non-students, $15 for students. For those registering after April 20 registration is $35 for non-students, $20 for students.
The Saco River Watershed faces many conservation challenges. A partial list includes mitigating the impact of flooding, protecting water quality, preventing river bank erosion, and enhancing fisheries. At the same time, the Saco River is prized for outstanding recreational opportunities. It is home to rare ecosystems and plant and animal species. Protecting the watershed’s unique assets into the future presents a huge challenge to planners, state and municipal officials, and residents. This conference aims to start that dialogue.
Topics range from fisheries, tourism and invasive species (terrestrial and aquatic) to discussions about conservation easements, public education, recreation, and restoring native sea-run fish populations. The final session of the day is titled “Where do we go from here?” and will, with audience participation, explore strategies, such as developing a two-state working group, to begin addressing issues that affect the watershed on both sides of the state line.

On April 23, the day of the conference, registration begins at 7:45 a.m. After brief introductory remarks by the conference coordinator at 8:30 a.m., the keynote address starts at 8:40 a.m. and will be delivered by Christine Feurt, Ph.D. of the University of New England. The title of her presentation is “Sustaining the Saco – The power of collaboration from the headwaters to the sea.” The morning features concurrent breakout sessions, while there will be combined sessions in the afternoon. Throughout the day, there will be breaks for networking. Lunch will be served at the Fryeburg Academy dining hall which is a short walk from the performing arts center. The conference ends about 3:40 p.m.
For more information about the conference, the full agenda, and to register online go to the OCSWCD website: Alternately, registration forms can be downloaded from the website and mailed with registration fees by check payable to: Oxford County SWCD, 17 Olson Rd., South Paris, ME 04281. Maine Code Enforcement Officers are eligible for 1 contact hour in Land Use or Shoreland Zoning offered by the Maine Departments of Economic and Community Development and Environmental Protection. Foresters are eligible for 3.5 category 1 CFE credits from the Society of American Foresters. For planners, the conference is pending 6.5 AICP CM credits from the American Planning Association.
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For more information:
– Jeff Stern, Watershed Specialist, Fiddlehead Environmental Consulting, email address:, telephone: 207-627-3126.
– Michele Windsor, Project Manager, Oxford County Soil & Water Conservation District, email address:, telephone: (207)743-5789 X101.

Agricultural Professional Development Workshop Offered

A workshop on management practices to reduce agricultural emissions, focusing on adaptation and mitigation, will be held February 24th from 7:30 A.M. until 4:00 P.M. at the USDA Service Center, 254 Goddard Road, Lewiston. Sponsored by the Androscoggin Valley Soil and Water Conservation District, the workshop is partially funded by a Northeast SARE Professional Development Grant, and is being offered through the Maine Earth Smart pilot program. The goal is to provide topics of interest to agricultural professionals who want to stay on top of local and regional developments, keep abreast of research and gain additional knowledge of agricultural practices that will help farms adapt to changing climate conditions and reduce agricultural emissions. Adaptation and mitigation are keys to agricultural sustainability in a changing climate. Speakers include: Ivan Fernandez PhD., Eric Gallandt, PhD., and John Jemison, PhD., all of the University of Maine, Timothy Griffin, PhD., Tufts University, and Allison Morrill Chatrchyan, Ph.D., Cornell University. Their presentations will be applicable to both organic and non-organic farming. There will be ample time for discussion, questions, a panel discussion and group activity.

The full day program has seven CEU’s available, six from the American Society of Agronomy (three for professional development, two for soil and water resources and one for integrated pest management) and one Maine pesticide applicator CEU from the Maine Board of Pesticide Control. Space is limited and pre-registration is required by February 17th. The agenda and registration form can be downloaded at or contact Androscoggin Valley Soil and Water Conservation District at 753-9400 X400. The cost is $35 per person, refreshments included.

Southern Aroostook SWCD Announces “Winter Ag School”

Southern Aroostook Soil & Water Conservation District
WINTER AG SCHOOL: February 18 – March 29, 2014
Confirm class location and time under each class listing

Tuesday, February 18, 8:30 am – 12:30 pm
Live video feed from Omaha, NE and soil health discussion with local NRCS staff
Mars Hill High School, Music Room, 35 Pleasant St, Mars Hill
Pre-registration is appreciated – please contact the District
• Panel of farmers will discuss experiences with cover crops and impacts on soil health (live video feed)
• Soil health in Maine discussion
1 Pesticide Credit
2 Nutrient Management Recertification Credits
2 Certified Crop Advisor Credits – Soil &Water

Tuesday, March 4th, 6:00 – 8:00 pm
Dave Handley, Small Fruit and Vegetable Specialist, Cooperative Extension
Houlton office of Cooperative Extension, Military St, 2nd Fl
• Basic care of growing small fruits such as raspberries, strawberries, and blueberries

Tuesday, March 11th, 6:00 – 8:00 pm
George McLaughlin, Agricultural Engineer, Maine Potato Board
Houlton High School, Rm 34
• Broad discussion regarding precision ag and its uses, including pros and cons
1 Pesticide Credit

Tuesday, March 18th, 5:30 – 7:30 pm
Gary Anderson, Animal & Bio-Sciences Specialist, University of Maine Cooperative Extension
Houlton High School, Room 34
• General overview of estate planning and issues of transferring the farm/generational transfers
• Outcome of determining need and interest level for future day-long workshop on this subject

Thursday, March 27th, 6:00 – 9:00 pm
Dan Jacobs, District Forester, Keith Kanoti, Water Resources Forester – Maine Forest Service, and Pat Sirois, Director, Maine SFI
Houlton High School, Library
• BMPs to protect water quality
• Maine SFI programs and updates
• Interactive BMP demonstration on the SFI water table
• Intro to new Forestry Rules of Maine
2 QLP Continuing Education Credits
½ day CLP Recertification Credit
2 Continuing Ed Credits for Licensed Foresters

Saturday, March 29th, 9:00 – 11:00 am
Rob Mulvey, Pleasant View Tree Farm
the Callnan’s orchard, 1245 County Rd, New Limerick
Pre-registration is appreciated – please contact the District
• Hands-on opportunity to learn how to effectively prune fruit trees
• Pruning tips for both new and established home orchards

For more information on the classes or if you require special accommodations please call:
Southern Aroostook Soil & Water Conservation District: 532-2087 ext.3 or email

Nutrient management plans

by Laura Lecker, Somerset County Soil & Water Conservation District

Nutrient Management Plans: Why should you have one? Are your fields less productive than you would like? Do you see muddy/polluted water leaving your barnyard or fields? High levels of on-farm production depend on an adequate supply of nutrients. However, if nutrients are present in the soil in greater quantities than are needed or at times when they can not be used by crops or soil microbes, they may lose their benefits as soil fertilizers and become pollutants.

A nutrient management plan (NMP) is an important planning tool for producers. The Somerset County Soil and Water Conservation District writes nutrient management plans for producers upon request, as a fee-for-service. These plans are written in conjunction with the producer and will reflect specific management and resource needs and issues on your farm.

An NMP uses soil and manure test results to match manure fertilizer value to needed nutrients in each field and for each specific crop. In addition, timing of manure applications are planned to reduce the possibility of nutrient runoff and increase the fertilizer value to the crops. Sensitive environmental resources are inventoried and safe setback distances for spreading and stacking are delineated.

Plans are intended to help the farmer provide crops with the nutrients they require while preventing these nutrients from contributing to water quality impairment. This is achieved by managing the storage, amount, source and timing of the application of nutrients and other soil amendments.

An NMP, therefore, serves several purposes:
• Allows for appropriate spreading of essential nutrients needed for optimum crop growth
• Addresses possible erosion and other water quality issues on the farm.
• Provides efficient and effective use of scarce nutrient resources
• Helps landowners maintain and improve the physical chemical and biological condition of the soil
• Minimizes or prevents environmental degradation caused by excess or inappropriate nutrient application
• Protects your right to farm under Maine’s Right To Farm law.

In an effort to protect our valuable water resources, the state of Maine requires all farms with over 50 animal units (an animal unit = 1000 lbs) or more than 100 tons of imported manure to have a certified NMP. Even farmers that do not fall under these guidelines may well wish to obtain a NMP. A well written plan is an invaluable management tool for all producers, large or small. Efficient and effective use of farm nutrients is an important issue for everyone, and a nutrient management plan can help producers look at the “big picture” while managing the specific details to make the farm as profitable as it can be. Consult your local NRCS or Cooperative Extension office for a list of certified nutrient management planners.

Once you do have a nutrient management plan, what do you need to do? Once the plan is written, the landowner’s work has just begun. Each year, it is important to be sure to keep accurate records of:
• what is spread on each field
• how much is spread on each field
• when inputs are applied
• crop yields attained for each field
• weather conditions
• other issues that have an effect on the timing and nature of the nutrient application

Your plan is a dynamic document that should be used to help you manage your farm. Farm records and soil tests monitor crop response to nutrient additions and management practices. This helps to maximize crop yields as well as help a landowner save money on unnecessary fertilizer and other inputs.

An NMP will need to be updated and re-certified any time there is a significant change in the farm operation (such as a change in animal numbers, land base or feeding/bedding used). State law requires that the plan be reviewed by the landowner once a year and updated by a certified nutrient management planning specialist at least every five years. New soil and manure tests are required at this time.

Be aware that many certified nutrient management planners, including SWCD personnel, are very busy in the early spring and fall, so it is highly advisable to schedule an appointment several months in advance of when you need the plan. Remember that a plan update can not be completed until current soil and manure test reports have been obtained, and those who have their tests in hand will be served first.

When used correctly, a nutrient management plan can be a powerful tool to help you get the most out of your fields and protect our natural resources. Contact the SCSWCD to help you with nutrient management plan creation, updates and questions.