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    Conservation News

    Welcome to Conservation News, the District's news journal. Our goal is to highlight the latest news from USDA, K-LSWCD, as well as other farm, food, and conservation news.

    Subscribe to articles via RSS Feed using the link in the sidebar.

    Feel free to add your comments -- and don't forget to sign up for our e-newsletter or visit us on Facebook for more farm and food news, videos, events, and announcements.

    Caveat: We do not necessarily endorse the following programs, events, or organizations. We leave it to you to decide if the articles and links are useful.



    Using Untreated Seed to Boost Beneficial Insects

    By Laura Barrera posted on December 15, 2015 | Posted in Crop Protection

    Lucas Criswell isn’t afraid to try new things for the benefit of his soils, crops, and ultimately profits.

    So when he learned that Penn State University entomologist John Tooker’s work suggested that neonicotinoid seed treatments may have negative effects on beneficial insects, he decided to make a change. 

    For the past few years, the Lewisburg, Pa., no-tiller has been trying untreated corn and soybeans to help his beneficial insect community. So far, he’s had good success with untreated soybeans. He’s given up some cosmetics, as bean leaf beetle feeding has increased a bit, but it hasn’t affected his yield.

    “We’ve been planting soybeans untreated for the last 3 years with no yield disadvantage at all,” he says. “So we’re saving close to $15 an acre in seed treatment costs on soybeans.”

    Corn, on the other hand, has been touchier, he says. In 2014, the corn that was untreated yielded the same as his treated corn, but in 2015 it didn’t perform as well. He believes it has more to do with the variety he picked than the fact it was untreated. 

    “Our hands are tied if we want to buy untreated corn seed — you only have a limited number of hybrids that you can select,” Criswell explains. “We can’t select the best hybrids without a treatment on. There are only a select few they do that with.”

    Criswell is going to continue experimenting with different untreated hybrids, not for potential cost savings but to move away from neonicotinoids.

    “Some of the work Tooker has done opened my eyes and I’ve taken a stance on it,” he says. “Everybody says seed treatment is cheap insurance, but it’s actually expensive because you’re shooting yourself in the foot by taking out the natural predators, due to the side effects of neonicotinoids.”

    Laura Barrera is the associate editor of No-Till Farmer and Conservation Tillage Guide magazines. Prior to joining No-Till Farmer, she served as an assistant editor for a greenhouse publication. Allen holds a B.A. in magazine journalism from Ball State University. Contact Laura:

    - See more at:



    NRCS 2016 Conservation Webinars

    A list of the 2016 webinars and how to attend can be found at:

    Webinar titles are linked when more information is available. Contact us for assistance.

    2016 Planned Conservation Webinars Sponsor1
    Jan 12 The New Division of Soil Health: Approach and Benefits Soil Health
    Jan 14 Soil Water Sensors for Agriculture – Theory and Issues WNTSC
    Jan 19
    Management of Confined Livestock Systems from a Producer's Perspective
    Jan 20 Grazing Strategies for Riparian and Wet Meadow Improvement in the Sagebrush Steppe WNTSC
    Jan 26 What's New With CNMP? S&T
    Jan 27
    Urban Environments - Conservation Practices for Developed Areas
    Feb 2
    Conservation Buffers to Support Beneficial Insects on Organic Farms Organic
    Feb 9 The Science Supporting Changes in Soil Health Soil Health
    Feb 11
    Soil Water Sensors for Agriculture – Applications and Usefulness S&T
    Feb 16
    Effectively Engaging Producers in the Conservation Conversation S&T
    Feb 23
    Environmental Evaluation Series No. 11: Appropriate Use of Categorical Exclusions S&T
    Feb 24
    Economics of Herd Age Management: When to Cull Cows for Reproductive Performance and System Economics ENTSC
    Mar 15
    Getting to the Bottom of Resource Concerns: What concerns are really legit? S&T
    Mar 22
    NRCS/RD MOU, Coordination of Programs, and the Ability to "Stack" REAP and EQIP Funding for Energy Programs S&T
    Mar 30
    Conservation Planning Considerations for Outdoor Swine Operations ENTSC
    Apr 5
    Transitioning to Organic Production Organic
    Apr 19
    Conservation Planning for Pastureland: Essential and Needed Practices and Planning Policy S&T
    Apr 26
    Soil Erosion: A Historical Perspective S&T
    Apr 27
    Feed Management: the NRCS Practice Standard, Installation, Management and Explanation of the Conservation Activity Plan ENTSC
    Alternative Strategies for Grazing Annual Crops S&T
    Online Tool for Design of Manure Pit Entry Ventilation S&T
    Newest Research on the Value of Habitat for Pest Management ENTSC
    Jun 7
    Weed Management in Organic Cropping Systems Organic
    Jun 28
    Filter Feeding is Cool: Aquaculture in NRCS S&T
    Jun 29
    Record Keeping for Grazing Systems - It's Not Just Spreadsheets Anymore ENTSC
    Jul 19
    Solid-Liquid Separation Alternatives for Manure Handling and Treatment S&T
    Jul 26
    OSHA Safety Training: Part II S&T
    Jul 27
    Submerged Soils and their Importance for Species and Marine Ecosystems ENTSC
    Aug 2
    Residue and Tillage Management in Organic Farming Systems: Eastern States Organic
    Aug 16
    Alternative Stewardship Strategies for Winter Feeding S&T
    Aug 23
    Using the Wind Erosion Prediction System (WEPS) within the Conservation Planning Process S&T
    Aug 31
    An Overview of NRCS’s PLANTS Database and Web site ENTSC
    Sep 20
    Review of New ACI 318 (Structural Concrete) and ACI 350 (Environmental Engineering Concrete Structures) Code S&T
    Sep 28
    Using NRCS’s PLANTS Database in Conservation Planning ENTSC
    Oct 4
    Residue and Tillage Management in Organic Farming Systems: Central States Organic
    Oct 18
    Eastern Forage Agronomy S&T
    Oct 25
    Restoring Native Plant Communities: Soil and Hydrology Suited Planning Tool S&T
    Oct 26
    Buying Seed - Not a Leap of Faith ENTSC
    Nov 15
    Farming Implements in Action: Impacts on the Soil, Erosion Potential of Tillage Systems, and Economics S&T
    Nov 16
    Managing Forages to Decrease Risk of Parasite Infections in Goat Production in the Southeast ENTSC
    Dec 6
    Residue and Tillage Management in Organic Farming Systems: Western States Organic
    Dec 15
    Understanding and Implementing Energy Audits S&T
    Jan 17
    Writing and Monitoring Grazing Plans: Available Tools, Site Specific Planning and the Economics of Southern Forage Management (2017)
    Jan 25
    Update on Eastern Forest Pests (2017)

    Maine FSA November Newsletter


    FSA County Committee Elections to Begin; Producers to Receive Ballots Week of Nov. 9

    November 2015

    Having trouble viewing this email? View it as a Web page.

    Kennebec-Knox-Lincoln County FSA Updates

    Kennebec-Knox- Lincoln County
    FSA Office

    21 Enterprise Drive, Suite 1
    Augusta, ME 04330

    Phone: 207-622-7847
    Fax: 855-602-4400

    County Executive Director:
    Maria T. Granger

    Farm Loan Manager:
    Brenda Wells

    Program Technician:
    Evan Longfellow

    Farm Loan Officer Trainees:
    Daniel Henry
    Janice Ramirez

    Farm Loan Analyst:
    Mary Sanstrom

    County Committee:
    Donald Burke, Chairperson
    Neal Caverly, Vice Chairperson
    Berndt Graf, Member
    David Cheney, Member
    Jeremiah Smith, Member
    Anne Weston, Advisor

    Next County Committee Meeting: 

    December 8, 2015 at 10:00 A.M

    FSA County Committee Elections to Begin; Producers to Receive Ballots Week of Nov. 9

    Farmers and Ranchers Have a Voice in Local Farm Program Decisions

    Farm Service Agency (FSA) today announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will begin mailing ballots to eligible farmers and ranchers across the country for the 2015 FSA County Committee elections on Monday, Nov. 9, 2015. Producers must return ballots to their local FSA offices by Dec. 7, 2015, to ensure that their vote is counted.

    Nearly 7,700 FSA County Committee members serve FSA offices nationwide. Each committee has three to 11 elected members who serve three-year terms of office. One-third of county committee seats are up for election each year. County committee members apply their knowledge and judgment to help FSA make important decisions on its commodity support programs; conservation programs; indemnity and disaster programs; emergency programs and eligibility.

    Producers must participate or cooperate in an FSA program to be eligible to vote in the county committee election. Approximately 1.9 million producers are currently eligible to vote.  Farmers and ranchers who supervise and conduct the farming operations of an entire farm, but are not of legal voting age, also may be eligible to vote.

    Farmers and ranchers will begin receiving their ballots the week of Nov. 9. Ballots include the names of candidates running for the local committee election. FSA has modified the ballot, making it more easily identifiable and less likely to be overlooked. Voters who do not receive ballots in the coming week can pick one up at their local FSA office. Ballots returned by mail must be postmarked no later than Dec. 7, 2015. Newly elected committee members and their alternates will take office Jan. 1, 2016.

    For more information, visit the FSA website at  You may also contact your local USDA Service Center or FSA office.  Visit to find an FSA office near you.

    USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer. To file a complaint of discrimination, write: USDA, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, Office of Adjudication, 1400 Independence Ave., SW, Washington, DC 20250-9410 or call (866) 632-9992 (Toll-free Customer Service), (800) 877-8339 (Local or Federal relay), (866) 377-8642 (Relay voice users).

    Contact Us


    Local Work Group Meetings: Nov 10 and Nov 17

    Seeking recommendations for allocation of Farm Bill funds in Knox, Lincoln, Kennebec & Waldo counties

    Kennebec, Knox-Lincoln, and Waldo Soil & Water Conservation Districts (SWCDs), in cooperation with the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), invite all local residents with an interest in conservation practices on private agricultural lands and woodlands to participate in a Local Work Group meeting.

    This year local meetings will be held at the following times and locations:

    • Lincoln/Kennebec, Tuesday, November 10, 2015 from 1:00-3:30 pm at the Whitefield Fire Station, 24 Townhouse Road
    • Knox/Waldo, Tuesday, November 17, 2015 from 1:00-3:30pm at the Searsmont Town Office, 37 Main Street South

    Click to read more ...


    Farmer Veteran Coalition - ME Chapter Meeting, Oct 29, 1pm, Augusta

    Welcome! We hope you've had a great Summer and Fall harvest season! Through the efforts of many, we have set the foundation for the Farmer Veteran Coalition - Maine Chapter (FVC-ME), and we are happy to report that we are moving ahead with this effort.
    Coming up, we are holding a Farmer Veteran Coalition - Maine state chapter meeting.We are hoping to cover a lot of ground with this meeting. It will be an opportunity for all of us to meet our new board members, hear about the chapter and its progress, plan for the coming year, and establish our advisory council.

    Click to read more ...


    Specialty Crop Block Grants Strengthen Maine Agriculture and Generate New Economic Opportunities

    Augusta – Agriculture Commissioner Walter Whitcomb announced that Maine is partnering with USDA Specialty Crop Block Grant Program to invest $562,583.50 to support Maine Specialty Crop Producers. Maine will conduct 10 initiatives to strengthen and enhance Maine specialty crops, including: potatoes, wild blueberries, organic vegetables, strawberries, hops and horticultural crops. Funds will also help farmers and producers meet new federal food safety rules.

    Click to read more ...


    Beyond the Field Edge: Forestry and Your Farm - Nov 6



    Avia Flu: Biosecurity reminder and prevention

    From: Maine NRCS

    ime for a Biosecurity reminder and a brush-up on your knowledge and prevention practices. The concern for spread of the Avian Flu via migrating birds and waterfowl is heightened right now, due to the high incidence in the Midwest, and the imminent fall migration. While most of us probably do not work with large poultry operations in Maine, we do come into contact with poultry and fowl on farms and at home. The article “Now’s the Time to be on the Lookout for Avian Flu in your Flock” from On Pasture will help you to recognize symptoms in poultry.

    This is a good time to review the NRCS webinar on biosecurity. New employees who have not seen this, should do so at the earliest opportunity: Webinar at Science and Technology Training Library


    The Maine Federation of Farmers’ Markets Receives Two USDA Grants

    Last week Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack helped to kick off the nation's harvest season by announcing nearly $35 million in new funding through four grant programs to support local and regional food systems, including farmers’ markets. The Pittsfield-based Maine Federation of Farmers’ Markets will be the recipient of two of those grants, bringing more than $348,000 in federal funds to Maine for work in communities across the state.

    Click to read more ...


    Seminar for beginning dairy, livestock farmers offered in Freeport

    Oct. 7, 2015

    FREEPORT, Maine — University of Maine Cooperative Extension and Wolfe's Neck Farm are partnering with the Wisconsin School for Beginning Dairy and Livestock Farmers to offer a seminar focused on business planning. 

    UMaine Extension professor Rick Kersbergen will facilitate the class geared for beginning pasture-based dairy and livestock farmers. The weekly course will be offered remotely at Wolfe's Neck Farm, 184 Burnett Road, Freeport, noon to 2:15 p.m. from Nov. 12, 2015 until March 2016.

    The Wisconsin School for Beginning Dairy and Livestock Farmers ( is the host organization.

    Course fee is $300.
    For more information
    , to apply and to request a syllabus or disability accommodation, contact Kersbergen at


    University of Maine Cooperative Extension:
    As a trusted resource for 100 years, University of Maine Cooperative Extension has supported UMaine's land and sea grant public education role by conducting community-driven, research-based programs in every Maine county. UMaine Extension helps support, sustain and grow the food-based economy. It is the only entity in our state that touches every aspect of the Maine Food System, where policy, research, production, processing, commerce, nutrition, and food security and safety are integral and interrelated. UMaine Extension also conducts the most successful out-of-school youth educational program in Maine through 4-H.


    Contractor Penalized for Water Quality Violations by MFS

    The Maine Forest Service (MFS) under the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry announced that with the assistance of the Office of the Attorney General, it has resolved three violations of Maine’s Statewide Standards for Timber Harvesting in Shoreland Areas rules by Basil Stratton of Fairfield.

    The violations occurred on three separate parcels of land in Alna (Lincoln County), and Orland and Ellsworth (Hancock County). The violations consisted of: timber harvesting activities near streams that resulted in soil entering water bodies; the operation of timber harvesting equipment in waterbodies; and, harvesting too many trees within the shoreland area. 

    Click to read more ...


    Basic Woodlot Management for ALL Landowners - Waldoboro

    Medomak Valley High School, Waldoboro
    Course fee: $29
    Six sessions: Tuesdays – 9/29 to 11/3
    5:30 – 7:30 pm (The first meeting is from 5:30 – 7:30 and starting times for other classes will be discussed at that time.)
    Registration Required through Central Lincoln County Adult Education and RSU 40 Adult Education. Register online at, or, or call Susan Hall-Taylor at 207-932-5205.

    The first four of these woodlot management classes are planned to be held outside on the school’s nature trail for a hands on approach, with remaining classes planned for inside discussion. The first meeting is from 5:30 – 7:00 pm and starting times for other classes will be discussed at that time. Classes will cover vocabulary, landowner objectives, woody and herbaceous plan identification, woodlot assessment, notes & maps, plant/soil relationships, forest density, forest treatments that achieve your objectives, management plans, taxation, cost share programs, professional help, etc. Discussion will be directed at helping with your specific situations.

    This course is sponsored by the Maine Forest Service and Time & Tide Resource Conservation & Development District. Morten Moesswilde is a forester with the Maine Forest Service, and Paul Miller is a Licensed Consulting Forester with Forestry For You.


    Greenhouse Project at Whitefield School

    by Sally Allen (Lead Teacher Middle School ABLE Program - Whitefield Elementary)

    The ABLE program (Aquaponics-Based Learning and Education) at Whitefield School is adding curricula that emphasizes hands-on learn-ing through hydroponics and aqua-ponics. To that end, we wrote a grant request to the Perloff Family Foundation which enabled us to build a 10’ by 24’ greenhouse out behind the gym at Whitefield School. The greenhouse has been built with all-volunteer crew consisting of Josh McNaughton, James Willigar, Sally Allen, and Stacey Sutter. At this point it is ready for the steel roof to be installed. Our students have also been heavily involved with researching, building raised beds, and growing lettuce hydroponically in a pool, as well as growing herbs and vegetables in a window garden in our classroom. Our ultimate goal is to encourage learning through growing; as well as to supplement our food pantry and weekend backpack program with healthy and fresh vegetables during the school year. You can follow our progress on our facebook page:


    Conservation grants to help assist minority producers and address invasive plant problems in Maine

    Knox-Lincoln and Kennebec Soil & Water Conservation Districts are working iwth MNAP to help farmers manage invasive plants on their farms and woodlands. Scroll down to read more.

    Click to read more ...


    Watch the Science of Soil Health Video: Natural Systems and Weeds

    Using ag technology in a systems approach

    The key: “Be smarter than a weed or an insect,” top researcher says

    Technology is a good thing, but according to Dr. Dwayne Beck, researcher and farm manager at Dakota Lakes Research Farm in South Dakota, it’s just another tool—not the only tool in the arsenal when farming with a systems approach."Technology is there to augment good management, not to replace it,” Beck says.

    As an example, Beck cites weed control. “If you put the same herbicide on the same weed, at the same time every year, it’s going to develop resistance,” he says. “The real key is to be smarter than a weed and an insect.” For Beck, it’s all about understanding how nature works and then farming in a system that considers those natural processes—and selecting the tools to manage that system wisely. Watch the three-minute video.

    It’s science you can really dig!


    Timber Tax Update for 2014: Webinar on Feb 5 at 2:00pm

    This webinar is designed to help woodland owners, foresters and their tax advisors prepare for the filing of their 2014 federal tax returns. In addition to providing useful tax tips and covering the latest changes to tax law, the webinar will also cover these important issues: tax deductions, timber income reporting, 1099-S filing, basis, loss, and the filing of Form T.

    Follow this link for more information and to join the webinar:


    2015 Maine Hunting and Fishing Licenses Available Now!

    Just in time for holiday gift giving! Maine 2015 hunting and fishing licenses now are available for purchase online or at any of the more than 800 licensing agents statewide.

    Buying a license is an easy and effective way to support Maine's fish and wildlife management efforts. All proceeds from the sale of hunting and fishing licenses stay at the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife.

    And this time of year, a license is the perfect gift for the sports enthusiast in your life!

    To purchase a 2015 licenses online go to:

    Click to read more ...


    FSA Announces New Yield Data for Safety Net Calculations

    Farmers can Update Yield History through Feb. 27, 2015
    WASHINGTON, Dec. 22, 2014 - U.S. Department of Agriculture Farm Service Agency (FSA) Administrator Val Dolcini today offered farmers new information to update program payment yields that will help them better select protections offered by the Agricultural Risk Coverage (ARC) and Price Loss Coverage (PLC) programs. The new programs, established by the 2014 Farm Bill, are cornerstones of the commodity farm safety, offering farmers protection when market forces cause substantial drops in crop prices and revenues.

    Click to read more ...


    Beginning Farmer Workshops at Ag Trade Show

    Join Beginning Farmer Resource Network (BFRN) at the Agricultural Trade Show on January 13-15, 2015 at the Augusta Civic Center. Visit us in the BFRN Networking Room, open all three days in the Knox Room, and put your farm on our map. And, don’t miss the great line-up of programs offered by coalition member agencies.

    BFRN Workshop Schedule

    Ag Trade Show info:

    BFRN website:



    10:00 - 11:00     So, You Want to Farm in Maine?

    11:00 - 12:00     Guardian Animals and Farming with Carnivores

    12:00 - 1:00       Navigating the Affordable Care Act Marketplace

    1:00 - 2:00         Maine Family Farms: Life and Business in Balance

    2:00 - 3:00         Soil Health

    3:00 - 4:00         Farm Financing

    4:00 - 5:00         Where to Sell - Choosing Farmers' Markets


    9:00 -10:00        Farm Service Agency (FSA) Session

    10:00 - 11:00     2014 Farm Bill

    11:00 - 12:00     Multigenerational Farm Communication

    12:00 - 1:00       One-on-One Business Counseling

    1:00 - 3:00         Accessing Farmland: Conducting a Land Search & Establishing Tenure
    3:00 - 4:00         Pro Bono Legal Assistance for Farmers

    4:00 - 5:00         Your Woodlot: The Winter Crop

    5:00 - 6:30         Supporting Farms in My Town



    10:00 - 11:00     Direct Marketing Agriculture Products

    11:00 - 12:00     Intro to Online Marketing

    12:00 - 1:00       Farm to Farmer Discussion – Bring your lunch!

    1:00 - 2:00         Farm Safety

    2:00 - 3:00         ID & Management: Invasive Woody Vines & Shrubs


    9:00 -10:00        Do I Need Crop Insurance?
    10:00 - 11:00     How to apply for the Maine Farms for the Future Business Planning Grant
    11:00 - 12:00     Introduction to Holistic Management
    12:00 - 1:00       One-on-One Business Counseling
    1:00 - 3:00         Tools for Managing Workplace and Employee Conflicts