Tag Archives: conservation

“Soil Health Champions” Receive Conservation Awards

Extension Specialist Eric Bendfeldt (left) with Kevin Craun and Ryan Blosser

Extension Specialist Eric Bendfeldt (left) with Kevin Craun and Ryan Blosser

Harrisonburg, December 18, 2017 – Bridgewater brothers Kevin and Steve Craun and Augusta County farmer Ryan Blosser recently received the fourth annual Carl G. Luebben Soil Health and Water Quality Awards for their contributions to conservation in the commonwealth.

Sponsored by Houff Corporation, the award is named for Luebben, a former Houff salesman known for his passion for agronomy, sustainable systems, soil health research, 
and mentorship of conservation professionals.

The Craun brothers are fourth-generation dairymen who operate Hillview Farms, Inc., a 435-acre dairy with 150 milking cows, 150 replacement heifers, and 100 head of beef cattle in the southwestern corner of Rockingham County near Bridgewater, Virginia. They are true “soil health champions” who have a well-established cropping system, including alfalfa in the rotation, and take care to closely balance residue management to build organic matter. Other notable Best Management Practices include no-till planting, cover crops, manure storage, and side-dressing nitrogen. Numerous practices have also been installed on pastures to promote herd health, cow comfort, and forage production.

Kevin and Steve sell their beef and milk through local co-ops, which showcase locally grown food from farmers who cherish the land and its sustainability. They have opened their operation to numerous school groups, production tours, and conservation agencies to provide a closer look at these practices. The brothers also serve on various boards; Kevin is a former Shenandoah Valley Soil and Water Conservation District director and board chairman.

Ryan Blosser is the owner-operator of the Dancing Star Farm, where he grows high-quality, chemical-free vegetables with limited tillage. Blosser plants highly diverse crops in permanent rows that are tilled while the rest of the soil remains untouched. The residue remaining on his fields increases organic matter, and crop rotation breaks up pest cycles without chemicals. His soil-health-building practices offer added benefits of increasing water-holding capacity and reducing runoff, leaching, and erosion. Blosser also uses a swale system to filter water, leaving it cleaner than when it entered the farm.

Blosser runs a very successful Community Supported Agriculture program on just 1.25 cultivated acres and focuses on giving back to the agricultural community. He is an executive director for Project Grows, a nonprofit group that hosts summer camps and field trips to teach children about gardening while providing food for the community. He is also involved with the Shenandoah Permaculture Institute, which teaches citizens about this form of intensively planned, environmentally restorative agriculture.

The Crauns and Blosser received their awards at the Virginia Farm to Table Conference, hosted by Virginia Cooperative Extension and USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service at Blue Ridge Community College on Dec. 6, 2018. Carl’s son Dan was on hand to participate in the presentations. Carl Luebben, who died in October 2015, previously served on the Rockingham County Virginia Farm Bureau Board and the Shenandoah Valley Soil and Water Conservation District.

Contact:
Eric Bendfeldt
ebendfel@vt.edu
540-432-6029, ext. 106

Share

Virginia Tech eBee unmanned aircraft has endless applications for lands management

two white men standing in field.

Professor John McGee, right, discusses the unmanned aircraft flight with Robert Stieg, CEO of the Clermont Foundation, which operates the Clermont Farm property. The aircraft was operated by Daniel Cross, an employee of Virginia Tech’s Conservation Management Institute who is a licensed pilot, in accordance with Federal Aviation Administration safety regulations and other guidelines.

Virginia Tech has another tool in its arsenal for managing land resources, from inventorying forests and identifying land-use changes to assessing soil erosion and water runoff on agriculture lands. A small 1.5-pound unmanned aircraft, commonly called a drone, showcased its potential to collect data in early May, flying over Clermont Farm in Clarke County.

“Our unmanned aircraft, a fixed wing eBee, flew about 350 feet above Clermont Farm, a site that is a Virginia Department of Historic Resources operating farm,” said John McGee, professor and Virginia Cooperative Extension geospatial specialist in Virginia Tech’s College of Natural Resources and Environment.

The unmanned aircraft’s sensors gathered information that will support future projects by supplying researchers with information about this cultural landscape.

Continue reading >>

Share

Sustainable farmer, advocate receive conservation award from Virginia Cooperative Extension

Mark Schonbeck (left) and C.J. Isbell (right) were recognized by Virginia Cooperative Extension and the U.S. Department of Agriculture-Natural Resources Conservation Service for their commitment to sustainability and soil health.

Mark Schonbeck (left) and C.J. Isbell (right) were recognized by Virginia Cooperative Extension and the U.S. Department of Agriculture-Natural Resources Conservation Service for their commitment to sustainability and soil health.

BLACKSBURG, Va., Feb. 8, 2016 – Virginia Cooperative Extension and the U.S. Department of Agriculture-Natural Resources Conservation Service recently presented Mark Schonbeck and C.J. Isbell with the Soil Health and Water Quality Award for their contributions to conservation in the state of Virginia.

The award was created in partnership between Extension, USDA-NRCS, and the Virginia Soil Health Coalition, and is sponsored by Houff Feed and Fertilizer. The award commemorates former Houff salesman, Carl G. Luebben, who was known for his prolific soil health research, papers, and mentorship of conservation professionals.

Schonbeck and Isbell received their plaques from Duane McAllister of Houff Feed and Fertilizer and Dan Luebben, son of the award’s namesake, at the Virginia Farm-to-Table Conference in Weyers Cave, Virginia.

The senior Luebben, who passed away in October of last year, previously served on the Virginia Farm Bureau Board, the Shenandoah Resource Conservation and Development Council, and the Shenandoah Valley Soil and Water Conservation District.

Continue reading >>

Share

Virginia Cooperative Extension hosts 2016 Winter Forage conferences, features experts on tall fescue

Virginia Cooperative Extension and the Virginia Forage and Grassland Council are hosting several winter conferences on tall fescue in January to demonstrate novel approaches to managing fescue production and also disease management of the grass.

The theme of the conference series this year is “Tall Fescue in the 21st Century,” and will highlight current knowledge and practices that producers can apply to management of their tall fescue-based grazing systems.

The conferences will occur throughout the state from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m in the following locations:

  • Tuesday, Jan. 26: Southern Piedmont Agricultural Research and Extension Center, Blackstone;
  • Wednesday, Jan. 27: Wytheville Meeting Center, Wytheville;
  • Thursday, Jan. 28: Weyers Cave Community Center, Weyers Cave.

Read more>>

Share