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SLWAP reviews 2012 successes, discusses green practices for 2013

During the SLWAP annual meeting Dec. 11, a panel of farmers discussed ‘green’ Best Management Practices. From left, Brad Cates, Eric Brayman, Jim Greenfield and Erin Hull discussed soil management, cover crops and pest management.

During the SLWAP annual meeting Dec. 11, a panel of farmers discussed ‘green’ Best Management Practices. From left, Brad Cates, Eric Brayman, Jim Greenfield and Erin Hull discussed soil management, cover crops and pest management. Photo by Jason Emerson.

— It’s been a tough year for local agriculture, but there were still many conservation successes in the Skaneateles Lake watershed area in 2012, attendees of the Skaneateles Lake Watershed Agriculture Program annual meeting were told last week.

About 40 farmers, conservation specialists and officials and a representative from the office of State Senator John A. DeFrancisco attended the meeting Tuesday, Dec. 11, at the Skaneateles Presbyterian Church. The meeting offered not only a year in the review for the SLWAP but also panel discussions on “Green practices to help your bottom line” and a talk on crop insurance from a crop insurance specialist.

“It’s been a really busy year; a challenging year with the economy, the drought and everything in between,” said SLWAP Program Manager Mark Burger.

The program’s mission is to carry out a cost-effective, innovative program for the farming community that upholds the high drinking water quality standards of Skaneateles Lake. The SLWAP is a cooperative effort between the City of Syracuse, the Soil and Water Conservation Districts and Cornell Cooperative Extension associations of Onondaga, Cortland and Cayuga counties, the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, and Skaneateles Lake watershed farmers. Principal funding is provided by the City of Syracuse.

There are 48 farms that participate in the SLWAP, and during 2012 the SLWAP completed 20 Comprehensive Nutrient Management Plan reviews (to evaluate all aspects of farm production and offer conservation practices that help achieve production and natural resource conservation goals) and 40 annual Whole Farm Plan reviews (to evaluate current conditions and practices on the farm, with the development of alternatives for both the business enterprise and water quality protection), Burger said.

The program also implemented numerous Best Management Practices at farms throughout the area for issues such as manure storage, gully erosion, clean rainwater collection, pasture rotation, stream bed and bank stabilization and effective cover crop planting.

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