Soil and water

Poultry farmers urged to prepare for bird flu

The Maryland Department of Agriculture is urging poultry farmers to remain vigilant and practice enhanced biosecurity on their farms after the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service confirmed findings of highly pathogenic avian influenza in the wild birds of the Carolinas.

During this time of year, migrating waterfowl that pass through Maryland are at increased risk of HPAI, which is a potentially devastating disease for poultry operations. The disease is caused by an influenza A virus, which can infect poultry (chickens, turkeys, pheasants, quails, domestic ducks, geese and guinea fowl) and which is carried by free-ranging waterfowl such as ducks, geese and shorebirds.

Producers are encouraged to follow these minimum guidelines for maintaining sanitary and biosecure premises:

  • Restrict access to poultry by posting “Restricted Access” signage, securing the area with a gate, or both.
  • Take steps to ensure contaminated materials on the floor are not carried into the barn or rearing area.
  • Provide footbaths and floor mats with disinfectant; boot washing and disinfection stations; and change of shoes or foot coverings.
  • Cover and secure food to prevent wild birds, rodents or other animals from accessing it.
  • Properly cover and contain carcasses, used bedding or other organic matter containing disease to prevent wild birds, rodents or other animals from gaining access to them and to prevent them from being blown away.
  • Allow the Maryland Department of Agriculture to enter the premises during normal business hours to inspect your biosecurity and sanitation practices.

Report any unusual bird deaths or sudden increases in sick birds to MDA’s Animal Health Program at 410-841-5810 or after hours at 410-841-5971. Also contact the USDA at 866-536-7593.

Learn more about HPAI and biosecurity measures on the MDA website. The Defend the Flock program website has many useful resources for poultry owners, including a variety of instructional videos, to help mitigate the risk of HPAI.

Transition Planning Webinar

MidAtlantic Farm Credit is hosting a free webinar on January 31 with AgChoice Farm Credit and Pennsylvania Farm Link to help farmers plan for the successful transition.

Brenda O’Brien of NY FarmNet will present best practices to implement and pitfalls to avoid when planning farm succession.

Attendees can register for the webinar at Once registered, attendees will receive all materials by email and can join live or watch the replay at their convenience.

If you have any questions for the presenter, email [email protected]

Cover Crop Conference

Mitch Hunter, an expert in sustainable agriculture and climate resilience, has been chosen as the keynote speaker for the Northeast Cover Crops Council’s fifth annual conference on March 10-11.

Hunter, director of research for the American Farmland Trust, will present on “All the C’s: Congress, Cover Crops, Climate, Carbon and Conservation.”

Concurrent sessions on March 10 will focus on three main areas: cover crops and integrated pest management, cover crops and tarping in vegetable systems, and on-farm research.

Day two topics will be sustainable precision agriculture, corn and soybean research, and cover crop strategies for weed management.

The conference will be held virtually from 9:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on both days and will include lightning talks from graduate students and several concurrent sessions led by researchers, extension and industry personnel, and agricultural producers from across the country. .

Registration is $75, payable by noon on March 7. Certified Cultivation Advisor credits are available. For more details or to register, visit To request a disability-related accommodation, email PASA Sustainable Farming at [email protected]

Conservation survey

If you’re a farmer in 14 counties in central Pennsylvania, you now have the opportunity to highlight the steps you’ve taken to protect and improve water quality in local streams and the bay. of Chesapeake.

Several farm and government organizations have partnered to develop a survey, available at, which asks growers in Bedford, Center, Columbia, Cumberland, Dauphin, Huntingdon, Juniata, Lebanon, Lycoming, Mifflin, Northumberland, Perry, Snyder and Tioga counties to document the conservation practices they have adopted to promote the quality of water and soil health in the bay’s watershed.

This survey follows a successful effort undertaken in 2016, when farmers in the Pennsylvania portion of the Chesapeake Bay watershed were asked to complete a similar survey. Nearly 7,000 have done so, resulting in many reported and credited conservation practices in Chesapeake Bay cleanup efforts.

Yet conservation practices on about 80% of Pennsylvania farms in the Bay watershed still go unreported. Additionally, farmers who completed the 2016 survey will have the opportunity to report new practices installed since then, report on annual practices such as nutrient management and cover crops, and report on the continued success of previously reported practices.

The survey is administered by the Penn State Agriculture and Environment Center, which will send a letter with the survey link to farmers in all 14 counties.

Researchers from the College of Agricultural Sciences will analyze survey responses and cumulative results will be provided to the Chesapeake Bay office in Pennsylvania to document the practices farmers have adopted to conserve soil and water and protect quality. some water.

Ten percent of participants will be randomly selected for farm tours by Penn State Extension to evaluate inventory results and help researchers better understand the methods used and challenges encountered when adopting various management practices.

Farmers are encouraged to complete the survey online at Farmers will also have the option of completing a paper version of the survey, which will be mailed in February to those who have not yet completed it online.

Participants are requested to submit their responses by 1 April. All farmers who complete the survey will receive a free Penn State soil test kit. Farmers who participate in extension farm tours will receive a free copy of the Penn State Agronomy Guide.

Subsidies for beer and wine

Pennsylvania invites proposals of up to $2 million in project funding to increase sales, quality, and production of Pennsylvania wine, beer, and cider.

The Department of Agriculture’s Wine Marketing and Research Council and the Malt and Brewed Beverages Council will review and recommend projects for funding by the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board.

Last October, the Wolf administration awarded nearly $2 million to fund 15 projects aimed at increasing tourism and the marketing of cider, craft beer, cider and wine; research to protect the wine industry from invasive spotted lantern flies and extreme weather threats; and support strategic planning to help the industry recover from the pandemic.

Detailed guidelines and instructions for wine research and marketing grant applications can be found in the Pennsylvania Bulletin. One-page concept papers outlining the activities involved in each funded project are due February 11. Proposals should be submitted to [email protected]