Partnership Pays Off for Water Quality and More

How effectively farmers recycle farm nutrients influences water quality and the farm’s bottom line.
August 25, 2011
Pictured, from the left, Assemblyman Peter Lopez, Otsego District Manager Scott Fickbohm, Dairy Farmer Dave Dickey, Senator Jim Seward and NRCS District Conservationist Tony Capraro.
“Until this year we were spreading nearly 16,000 gallons of manure just about every day,” said Dave Dickey of South Town Dairy in Butternuts. “Now, with the new storage system, we can spread it when it is drier and more favorable to the environment and in time with our planting. That protects the water in the Unadilla River and saves us a lot on fertilizer purchases.”

The newly installed 300,000 cubic foot storage system is the product of a three-way partnership between local, state and federal agencies. “Good water is a high priority to the people in this area,” said Scott Fickbohm, District Manager of the Otsego County Soil and Water Conservation District, “and to get these types of projects done and improve local water quality you need good partners. This project would not have happened without the support of our state and federal legislators and especially the folks at the Natural Resource Conservation Service.”

“Leveraging multiple funding sources is an efficient approach,” added Tony Capraro, NRCS District Conservationist, “and it is our responsibility to the public to see that distributed funds are used in a fiscally sound manner. By leveraging NRCS’ Environmental Quality Incentives Program with the State’s Agricultural Nonpoint Source Pollution Abatement and Control Program and landowner funds we were able to reduce the amount each source contributed and leave funds available for other projects. It is a great partnership that we plan on continuing as long as we are able.”

As supporters of the Soil and Water Conservation Districts across the state, Senator Jim Seward and Assemblyman Peter Lopez were present to award Mr. Dickey with a sign recognizing the farms commitment to the environment.

“Our Soil and Water Conservation Districts do a fantastic job in balancing complex goals and community priorities” said Assemblyman Lopez. “Even as this project protects water quality in the Unadilla and Susquehanna Rivers, it also provides important support to our farm families. We’re very fortunate to have Scott Fickbohm and his staff as our partners in Otsego County.”

“This is an example of something done right,” added Senator James L. Seward (R/C/I-Oneonta). “By leveraging funding from multiple sources we were able to complete a project that helps the environment, protects the Chesapeake Bay, and improves the efficiency of a local farm. I look forward to additional successes like this that will boost the local economy and further enhance our state’s number one industry – agriculture.”

“We are able to do all of this because of the framework provided by the Agricultural Environmental Management Program,” said Fickbohm. Districts across the state use the AEM program to assess environmental concerns on farms, create a conservation plan and then implement practices to mitigate those concerns. “For us in Otsego we’ll have two other big projects done by the end of the year and have three more farms on-line to begin work next year,” continued Fickbohm “the AEM program benefits our farms, our communities and helps protect our natural resources. It’s a win-win-win scenario.”