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A Year in Review: AFT and NRCS Partnership on Genesee River Demonstration Farms Network Supports Conservation Practices with Economic and Environmental Benefits for Farmers

Hands in Soil

American Farmland Trust and USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service launched the Genesee River Demonstration Farms Network in the fall of 2018 to highlight the impacts of practical and innovative conservation practices on farm viability, water quality, and other natural resources, demonstrated on real New York farms. This partnership is supported by collaboration among researchers, agricultural and conservation organizations, and others within the Genesee River Watershed.

The key to the program’s success has been getting farmers together, out in the field, to share knowledge and lessons learned while trying new practices.

With one full year completed, AFT is celebrating the accomplishments of the network by releasing its first annual report and making it available on the Genesee River Demonstration Farms Network webpage. Highlights include:

  • Jay Swede, a farmer with 4,500 acres in production, is one of two demonstration farms currently participating in the program and was featured in a soil health case study conducted by AFT and NRCS. The study found that he improved his bottom line by $55 per acre and by $82,257 on a 1,500-acre rotation by adopting strip-till, cover crops and nutrient management, a 343% return on investment.
  • Through support from partners such as Cornell Cooperative Extension, the Genesee River Coalition of Soil and Water Conservation Districts, and the Genesee Valley Conservancy, AFT conducted 10 local and regional outreach events, directly reaching 365 farmers, agricultural service providers, policy makers, and researchers.
  • The early support from the NRCS and the two demonstration farms helped American Farmland Trust secure additional funding from the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative and the New York Farm Viability Institute to grow the network in 2020.

Please visit the Genesee River Demonstration Farms Network webpage to view the report and find additional resources such as upcoming field days and events hosted by demonstration farms in the network, soil health case studies, educational videos, and more.

About the Author
Aaron Ristow

New York Ag. Stewardship Program Manager



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