Take the BMP Challenge for reduced tillage
Aug. 21, 2009 - - Western United Dairymen has partnered with Sustainable
Conservation and American Farmland Trust in encouraging farmers to participate
in the Best Management Practices (BMP) Challenge. The “BMP Challenge for Reduced
Tillage” is now available to all Central Valley farmers growing corn for grain
or silage, and the “BMP Challenge for Nutrient Management” is currently
available in San Joaquin, Merced, and Stanislaus counties.
Participating in the “BMP Challenge” will be a “win-win” for everyone—farmers and the environment, says Senior Project Manager Ladi Asgill of Sustainable Conservation. The award-winning nonprofit organization partners with California farmers to promote practices that are good for the environment and good for business. The challenge can be added to what producers are already doing in their management plans to meet air and water quality standards, and to help reduce permit fees. California farmers have shown that they want to implement practices that can both save money and improve the environment. The BMP Challenge does just that, as numerous California farmers have found. Farmers will find this program educational and risk-free as it can be done on a small test plot, says Asgill.
Participating farmers who incur crop or revenue losses due to implementing beneficial practices on their land will receive reimbursement. Farms interested in trying conservation tillage on a limited basis can use one of a number of implements on loan from the California Conservation Tillage Workgroup at UC Extension. Tom Barcellos, a WUD board member from Tipton, has been using conservation tillage since 2001, and he has not purchased a cultivator bearing in seven years. He can attest that no extra equipment needs to be purchased; even a basic planter with a coulter attachment can be used.
Barcellos, who farms over 1,800 acres, started implementing best management practices just to meet conventional tillage yields due to the savings with fuel and labor. Barcellos now uses less water at pre-irrigation, sees an improvement in the turnaround time of crops, and has decreased the amount of equipment he uses, allowing more time to monitor the crop needs. Frank Silva, another California farmer from Walnut Grove, has been using conservation practices for six years and has been reaping the benefits ever since. Over 150,000 lbs. of nitrogen and 2,000 tons of sediment loss have been saved by those already participating in the program, says Asgill. He explains that what makes this program so practical is that you can see the results at harvest time when comparing yields and net returns.
Sustainable Conservation, in collaboration with American Farmland Trust, Aglex, Integrated Pest Management Institute of North America, and the California Conservation Tillage Workgroup, has been able to utilize a grant from the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, which will allow farms to participate in the BMP Challenge for the 2009 spring planting. For more information, contact: Ladi Asgill, Sustainable Conservation (209) 576-7729; Jeff Mitchell, California Conservation Tillage Workgroup at (559) 303-9689; or Paul Martin, Western United Dairymen at (209) 527-6453.