23 research outputs found

    New insights for the future of Lake Champlain: Practical approaches and useful tools for grappling with uncertainty and weighing trade-offs in watershed management.

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    The effective management of non-point source nutrient pollution continues to prove elusive. Though the scientific literature is unequivocal that all anthropogenic land uses contribute to non-point source (NPS) pollution, variable levels of contribution over time and across location and complex relationships between cost and effect make finding technologically effective management solutions difficult. In addition, these solutions are implemented in a world of scarce resources, diverse and often competing concerns and values, and intense public scrutiny. Clearly, making the best possible decision about how to manage NPS pollution under these conditions is not simple. My overarching goal was to develop and test several practical approaches that provide insight into the implications of management decisions and the trade-offs facing water quality managers using the challenges of restoring Lake Champlain as a test case. I first demonstrate a simple spreadsheet-based method for (1) identifying the areas of greatest potential for further phosphorus reductions, (2) estimating the potential scale of those reductions, and (3) identifying the severe tradeoffs that exist between cost and effectiveness at high levels of management. Results of this method suggest that better and more extensive management of developed impervious surfaces and annual cropland and hayland represent the greatest potential for phosphorus reductions. Farmstead management, combined sewer overflows, and wastewater treatment present little opportunity under the current regulatory environment. Results also suggest that due to order-of-magnitude differences in cost-effectiveness between management practices for developed and agricultural lands, substantial tradeoffs exist between cost-efficiency and equity in the distribution of responsibility for management. Second, in an effort to quantify the variability of NPS contributions over time and space, I developed and applied a Bayesian hierarchical modeling approach to incorporate annual hydrologic variability and uncertainty about land use areas into estimates of land-use specific phosphorus loading rates and watershed-scale residual loading. The model was able to replicate both average load and the variability around that average with an acceptable degree of precision. The results of this approach suggest that for some watersheds, unmanageable sources of phosphorus are dominant. Third, I applied a Bayes network to predict the effects of alternative management scenarios on phosphorus loads. Using evolutionary optimization and a multiple-criteria decision analysis, I explored the tradeoffs between cost, effectiveness, and distributional equity in the burden of management. Results of this study indicate that the probability that phosphorus loads will comply with regulatory targets is, in some watersheds, small under any management scenario. More interestingly, it also appears that there are large differences between watersheds in the ability of management actions to raise those probabilities, and the significant and non-linear tradeoffs between cost, effectiveness, and equity will make decision-making - and achieving restoration targets - difficult. Together, these approaches provide a foundation for a fuller and more completely informed decision-making process that incorporates uncertainty and identifies key trade-offs for the State of Vermont as it implements a new management plan for Lake Champlain

    Sunflower Seeding Rate x Nitrogen Rate Trial Report

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    The 2010 growing season was warmer and slightly wetter than normal through the majority of the spring. The month of May was considerably drier than normal, though June’s rainfall exceeded 30-year averages. No effect was apparent on germination rates. Accumulated growing degree days (GDDs) for the sunflower season totaled 3,120 from the beginning of June through the middle of October, when the sunflowers were harvested, which was 264 higher than the 30 year averages (table 1). These data were recorded at weather stations in close proximity to the research site

    BMR Corn Report

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    In 2010, the University of Vermont Extension Crops and Soils Team conducted an experiment to evaluate yield and quality of Brown Mid-Rib (BMR) corn varieties at Borderview Farm in Alburgh, VT. Two seed companies submitted varieties for evaluation

    Winter Cereals as a Multipurpose Crop

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    In 2010, the University of Vermont Extension continued their research evaluating winter cereals as a multipurpose crop. Winter cereal grains including barley, wheat, and triticale are planted mid to late September in the Northeast. The crops can be harvested as pasture, stored feed, or grain and straw. This study was to evaluate if the winter cereals could be grazed and then harvested for forage or grain/straw. This would allow a farmer to harvest more than one type of feed from only one planting of cereals. Overall the goal of this project is to help organic dairy producers reduce their reliance on expensive concentrates through the production of a variety of high quality annual forages. Winter cereals begin to grow early in the spring when air temperatures are in the low 40s. The growth of cereal grains begins before cool season pasture. Hence these cereals may provide early season grazing opportunities and then still be able to provide later harvested stored feed or even grain/straw

    Vermont Organic Corn Silage Performance Trial Results

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    In 2010, the University of Vermont Extension conducted short and long season organic corn silage variety evaluations in cooperation with Vermont Technical College (VTC) and Organic Valley Farmers Advocating for Organics Program (FAFO). The purpose of the program was to provide unbiased performance comparisons of commercially available organic corn varieties. It is important to remember, however, that the data presented are from replicated research trials from only 3 locations in Vermont. Crop performance data from additional tests in different locations and often over several years should be compared before you make conclusions

    Vermont Relative Maturity Corn Silage Trial

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    In 2010, the University of Vermont Extension conducted an experiment to evaluate yield and quality of corn hybrids with a range of relative maturities. The goal is to document the best range of corn silage maturities to grow in this area to maximize corn yield and quality. It is important to remember that the data presented are from a single test at only one location. Hybrid-performance data from additional tests in different locations and often over several years should be compared before conclusions are drawn

    Sunflower Variety Trial Report

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    Variety selection is one of the most important agronomic decisions that sunflower growers make about their crop each season, especially in Vermont where the relatively short growing season limits available choices. Sticking with a tried and true variety is often difficult because new varieties are released every year while familiar ones are discontinued, and seed companies release new traits that may or may not influence yield. To help area farmers make the best decisions, UVM Extension conducted replicated variety trials at Borderview Reseach Farm in Alburgh, VT during the 2010-growing season. The trial evaluated fourteen varieties with varying maturity dates, seed sizes, and trait information, as listed in table 2. All varieties are non-GMO hybrids. The varieties Croplan 306 and Croplan 3080 were not treated with a seed fungicide or insecticide. All others were treated with the CruiserMaxx treatment package, which contains Thiamethoxam (broad-spectrum insecticide), Azoxystrobin (fungicide), Fludioxonil (fungicide), and Mefenoxam (fungicide)

    Short Season Corn Silage Report

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    In 2010, the University of Vermont Extension Crops and Soils Team conducted an experiment to evaluate yield and quality of short season corn hybrids at the Seward Family Farm in East Wallingford, VT. Several seed companies submitted varieties for evaluation. Companies and contact names are listed in Table 1. Nine corn varieties ranging in relative maturity (RM) from 69 ‚Äď 90 were evaluated at this site. Specific varieties, their traits, and RM are listed in Table 2. It is important to remember that the data presented is from a single test at only one location. Hybrid-performance data from additional tests in different locations and often over several years should be compared before you make a conclusion

    Forage Brassica Performance Trials

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    In 2010, the University of Vermont Extension continued their research evaluating annual forage models that would best compliment cool season grass pasture. The overall goal of this project is to help organic dairy producers reduce their reliance on expensive concentrates through the production of a variety of high quality annul forages. Brassicas, such as forage turnips and rape, are a cool season crop. Hence these crops can thrive in the late fall months and potentially provide late season grazing. Brassica crops are known for their ability to provide a near concentrate type diet late in the season. UVM Extension conducted a trial in 2010 to evaluate the yield and quality of commercially available forage brassica varieties. Additional research was conducted on interseeding brassica crops with spring cereal grains and summer annuals

    Winter Canola Variety Trial

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    In 2009, the University of Vermont Extension Northwest Crops and Soils Team initiated a winter canola variety trial in Alburgh, VT as a part of the 2009-2010 National Winter Canola Variety Trial. Growing winter canola holds many possible advantages for Vermont farms. Sown in early fall, winter canola can fit well into rotations following short-season grain crops, or short-season corn. Additionally, many farms are engaged in on-farm fuel production endeavors, and canola continues to be a high-yielding oilseed crop in areas where the growing season is relatively short. However, in order for on-farm fuel production to be feasible, farmers must be able to reliably produce a high yielding crop, which is dependent on good agronomic practices including variety selection. Replicated canola variety trials were conducted with an experimental design of randomized complete blocks with four replications. Fifteen varieties were evaluated for fall stand density, yield, and oil quantity
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