ST BRIGIDS FARM-in Kennedyville MD

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Despite being a dairy farm which has the potential to be a significant source of Chesapeake Bay nutrient pollution and despite that it is located smack in the middle of the deepest red nutrient pollution area of Delmarva, St Brigids Jersey dairy and veal farm is not polluting the waters of Chesapeake Bay. How can we be so sure? Owners Bob Frey and Judy Gifford have gone to extreme lengths to find out. They participated in a North East Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education grant to determine thr nutrient balance on their farm. The following is the calculation.

Total for farm Total per ac
Tons N /yr Lbs N per ac
Nitrogen Inputs 14.5 525.5
Imported Feed 9.2 334.6
Imported Bedding 0.2 6.7
Imported Animals 0.0 0.0
Imported Fertilizer 3.8 137.2
Legume Fixation 1.3 47.0
Nitrogen Outputs 5.7 209.1
Animal Products 3.4 125.4
Cash Crops 0.0 0.0
Manure/Compost 2.3 83.7
Balance (Potential Loss) 8.7 316.4
Other N Flows
Manure N Produced (animal intake – prod) 13.9 503.9
Manure N after Storage (measured) 4.8 176.4
Manure N Applied (Stored + Import – Export) 2.5 92.7
Manure N Avail to Crop (Applied -Field loss) 0.9 32.4
Total N Avail to Crop 6.0 216.7
Total Crop N 7.9 288.0
Non-Legume crop N 5.9 216.0
Total Feed N Consumed 17.1 622.6

The report indicated that they had a positive balance for nitrogen  because they had to import grains to satisfy the high nutrient need of lactating cows and their acreage was insufficient to provide sufficient forage hay year-round. They now haul away the collectable manure. While they were confident that their pastures were not leaching nitrogen into aquifers because the grass is capable of scavenging sufficient excess nitrogen from the manure. They also checked their aquifers for nitrate which is the only way to be sure.

It would be wonderful if every farmer showed sufficient concern about the potential for nutrient pollution to do a nutrient balance study and take appropriate action. If that happened voluntarily all the money being spent by the government and others would be saved. If that happened the Nations topsoil would not be destroyed and the waters would not be polluted and species destroyed. Congratulations to St Brigids for their leadership.

We have asked another expert with USDA to check the probability of nutrient balance in the pastures of St Bridgids. His opinion will be posted under comments.

Last time I checked the pricing of St. Brigids products they were reasonable compared to supermarket products. We will do a later pricing post.

St Bridgids veal and beef is available at the farm and several area restaurants including Brookes Tavern in Chestertown MD.

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One Response to “ST BRIGIDS FARM-in Kennedyville MD”

  1. kerstis Says:

    Don-
    I’d say 5 tons of rye at 4.16% N is a very good rye crop, but not completely unrealistic. Percent N in the grass varies with fertility- we’ve been seeing contents of 2-3% during early vegetative growth. I’m not an expert n forage N content at time of chopping, although it makes sense that a well managed pasture with high protein could hit 4% during flowering.
    Dean
    This comment was submitted by e-mail by Dean Hively who is with USDA-ARS currently assigned to the USGS remote sensing lab. Over the last several years his work has been in developing remote sensing systems to determine the effectiveness of various cover crops and their ability to scavenge nutrients

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