PennState Extension Soil Health Workshop
Posted 4 days ago

Attention Berks County Farmers and Agricultural Community
The Berks County PennState Extension is hosting a workshop that will focus on the science and art of soil health – what is it,…

PennState Extension Soil Health Workshop
Invasive Insect Found in Berks
Posted 2 weeks ago

On Sept. 22, 2014, the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, in cooperation with the Pennsylvania Game Commission, confirmed the presence the Spotted Lanternfly (Lycorma delicatula, (WHITE)) in Berks County, as part…

Invasive Insect Found in Berks County
Recent policy change for the Act 38 Nutrient Management Program
Posted 3 weeks ago

Some background information:

For nutrient management planning and implementation purposes, the crop year runs from October 1 to September 30.
In the past, NMP submission and approval was recommended before the crop…

Recent policy change for the Act 38 Nutrient …
What Cover Crop Should I Plant?
Posted 3 months ago

                     What Cover Crop Should I Plant?
Re-posted from Penn State Extension's Field Crops Newsletter, August 26, 2014.  Click here for original…

What Cover Crop Should I Plant?
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PennState Extension Soil Health Workshop

Attention Berks County Farmers and Agricultural CommunityClose-up mid section of woman holding soil

The Berks County PennState Extension is hosting a workshop that will focus on the science and art of soil health – what is it, how is it measured, and finally, how can it be improved.

 Learn how healthy soils promote sustainable high yields!

  • Date: Friday, December 19, 2014
  • Time: 9:00 a.m. to Noon
  • Location: Berks County Ag Center – 1238 County Welfare Road Leesport, PA 19533
  • There is no cost for this workshop. Registrations needed by Dec. 17th.
    Walk-ins accepted.
  • Refreshments will be provided.
  • Questions and Registration: Contact the Berks Extension Office at 610-378-1327

For more information, please view the brochure

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Invasive Insect Found in Berks County

On Sept. 22, 2014, the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, in cooperation with the Pennsylvania Game Commission, confirmed the presence the Spotted Lanternfly (Lycorma delicatula, (WHITE)) in Berks County, as part of its responsibility to identify plants/weeds, insects and mites, nematodes, fungi, bacteria and viruses that impact Pennsylvania’s natural resources, flora and economy. . On Nov. 1, 2014, the Commonwealth announced a quarantine with the intent to restrict the movement of this pest. This is the first detection of Spotted Lanternfly in the United States.

For more information about the Spotted Lanternfly, its origin, identification, and habitat please visit the PA Department of Agriculture’s Website, by clicking here.

pdaslflypic

Photo of an adult spotted lanternfly. Photograph by Lawrence Barringer, Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture

Who will be affected by the Spotted Lanternfly quarantine?
The quarantine is currently in place around District Township and Pike Township in Berks County. The quarantine may be expanded to new areas as further detections of the Spotted Lanternfly are detected and confirmed.
Intentional movement of the Spotted Lanternfly is expressly prohibited and is a serious offense. Violations could result in criminal or civil penalties and/or fines.
The quarantine restricts the movement of certain articles. If you are seeking to enter into a compliance agreement to be able to move these materials you can request a permit by contacting Dana Rhodes. Industries and regulated articles under the quarantine that are not to be removed/moved to a new area are:

  • Any living stage of the Spotted Lanternfly, Lycorma delicatula. This includes egg masses, nymphs, and adults.
  • Brush, debris, bark, or yard waste
  • Landscaping, remodeling or construction waste
  • Logs, stumps, or any tree parts
  • Firewood of any species
  • Grapevines for decorative purposes or as nursery stock
  • Nursery stock
  • Crated materials
  • Outdoor household articles including recreational vehicles, lawn tractors and mowers, mower decks, grills, grill and furniture covers, tarps, mobile homes, tile, stone, deck boards, mobile fire pits, any associated equipment and trucks or vehicles not stored indoors.

What to do if you:  
See eggs:  Scrape them off the tree or smooth surface, double bag them and throw them in the garbage, or place the eggs in alcohol or hand sanitizer to kill them.
Collect a specimen:  Turn the adult specimen or egg mass in to the department’s Entomology Lab for verification. First, place the sample in alcohol or hand sanitizer in a leak proof container. A Sample Submission Form can be found in the Publications section below.
Take a picture:  Submit photographs to Badbug@pa.gov.
Report a site:   Call the Bad Bug hotline at 1-866-253-7189 with details of the siting and your contact information.

For more information or to report possible populations of Spotted Lanternfly:

PA Department of Agriculture Contact information: 

Dana Rhodes
Plant Inspection Program Specialist
(717) 772-5205
Sven Spichiger
Entomology Program Manager
Insect Identification
Beetles, Flies, Moths, Household Pests
Insect Survey
(717) 772-5229
 Information and graphics on this post was taken from a PA Department of Agriculture Program Detail found here.
 PDA image of Spotted Lanternfly
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Recent policy change for the Act 38 Nutrient Management Program

SCC logo

Some background information:

  1. For nutrient management planning and implementation purposes, the crop year runs from October 1 to September 30.
  2. In the past, NMP submission and approval was recommended before the crop year was to begin but a 3 month “grace period” was allowed.
  3. The review and approval process for a NMP can be up to 90 days and in certain situations be extended up to 180 days.

The understanding and application of crop years, along with numerous NMP approvals happening after the crop year was half over (due to grace period and review timeframes pushing some plan approvals as far back as late spring), prompted a change in the NMP submission deadline.

The new NMP Submission guidance reads:

“The plan must be submitted and approved prior to the crop year it is to cover. If the plan is not approved before the crop year begins, no manure applications are allowed to occur before plan approval. Any manure applications made during a crop year, when there is not an approved plan, are not in compliance with the law.”

For example, your NMP is being written for crop years 2016, 2017 and 2018. The actual calendar plan dates are October 1, 2015 – September 30, 2018. In order for any manure to be planned for application after October 1, 2015, the NMP must be submitted to the conservation district in sufficient time (at least 90 days prior to October 1, e.g. May 30 or earlier).

This should allow enough time for the plan to be approved by October 1, 2015 so that you can spread manure according to your plan after that October 1 date.

This policy change regarding NMP submissions will become effective for the 2016 crop year (starting October 1, 2015). Therefore, NMPs for crop year 2016 and beyond must be submitted for review and approval earlier than in the past.  

The question that is being asked by many is “how does this affect me?”  As the responsible party under Act 38 (Pennsylvania’s Nutrient and Odor Management program) and the one that is required to hold a NMP, you need to make sure that your NMPs are submitted and approved prior to the beginning of the crop year.  This will require that NMPs be submitted for review earlier than in the past, probably in April or May (if not earlier) to guarantee that the plan is approved prior to the first planned manure application in the new crop year.

In addition, please note that the PA DEP emergency response number has changed and the new number should be updated on your current emergency response plan (ERP):  1-866-825-0208.

If you have any questions, feel free to contact your Agricultural Resource Conservationist:

Christine Esterline : 610-372-4657 Ext. 210 or Christine.Esterline@berkscd.com

Jeff Overstreet: 610-372-4657 Ext. 206 or Jeff.Overstreet@berkscd.com

Olivia Carlson: 610-372-4657 Ext. 208 or Olivia.Carlson@berkscd.com

Ag Territories Nov 2014

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What Cover Crop Should I Plant?

                     What Cover Crop Should I Plant?

Re-posted from Penn State Extension’s Field Crops Newsletter, August 26, 2014.  Click here for original post. 

Keep your goals in mind when selecting cover crops and cover crop mixtures.

Dwarf BMR Forage Sorghum, Annual ryegrass, Crimson Clover and Radishes seeded late July 2013 after Sweet corn. Mixture was green chopped for cattle feed in September. Remaining annual ryegrass and crimson clover over wintered and was burned down in April.

Cover crops can help improve soil quality, save manure nitrogen or fix nitrogen for the following crop, supply rescue forage and can lead to improved ground and surface water quality.  Cover crops have a host of benefits, but there isn’t a single species that does it all.  You need to determine what your goal is for your field and select a cover crop species that will do that.  Secondly you need to plant it at the appropriate time so it has sufficient time to do what you intended it to do.  Cover crops are just like cash crops, they respond well to moderate to high fertility and good available moisture; a field that has low fertility will have a marginal cover crop growth as well.  Fields with a history of manure applications or planned applications are excellent locations for cover crops.

What’s your goal?

  • Nitrogen fixation (legumes)
  • Nitrogen scavenging (grasses taking up and storing leftover N from soil)
  • Soil Building (organic matter and soil structure improvement)
  • Erosion Fighting (soil-holding ability of roots and vegetation)
  • Weed Fighting
  • Forage/Grazing
  • Quick Growth
  • Alleviate Compaction
  • Reduce Nematodes
  • Attract Beneficial Insects

What goals cover crops achieve

Nonlegumes/Grasses (Annual ryegrass, Barley, Oats, Rye, Wheat, Buckwheat and Sorghum-sudan)

Roles:  Most scavenge nitrogen, improve soil organic matter and soil structure, prevent erosion and provide forage.  Grasses have relatively quick growth.

Legumes (Berseem clover, Cowpeas, Crimson clover, Field peas, Hairy vetch, Medics, Red clover, Subterranean clover, Sweet clovers, White clover and Woollypod vetch)

Roles:  Fix nitrogen, improve soil organic matter and soil structure, prevent erosion and provide forage.
Legumes typically have slower growth than grasses.

Brassicas (Mustards, Radish and Rapeseed)

Roles:  Prevent erosion, suppress weeds and soilborne pests, alleviate soil compaction and scavenge nutrients

You likely have heard that mixtures of different cover crop species are good, but what is a good mixture and how do you plant it?

Again it comes down to the time of the year and your location.  Generally it is a good idea to plant at least one grass and one legume species and to have one of them survive the winter to provide the soil protection over winter with an actively growing crop come spring time.  Also consider adding a brassica to the grass and legume mixture for more diversity.  There are many premixed cover crop mixtures on the market. Some of them are listed below.

  • Annual ryegrass and crimson clover
  • Radish, crimson clover and annual ryegrass
  • Radish and annual ryegrass
  • Radish and crimson clover
  • Radish and oats; oats
  • Crimson clover and radish
  • Red, ladino, and sweet clover
  • Annual ryegrass, crimson clover, red clover, radish, sweet clover
  • Hairy vetch and oats
  • Cereal rye and hairy vetch
  • Triticale and annual ryegrass
  • Peas, oats and hairy vetch

Cover crop seed mixture

Seed mixture of annual ryegrass, crimson clover, and forage radish.

Most species will have the best chance to germinate and survive if they are drilled into the soil, many smaller seeded species will do okay broadcasted if there is adequate moisture after seeding. Often larger seeded species will be planted in the large grain box on the grain drill and the small seeded species will be planted in the small seed box of the drill, however in a mixture depending on the size of the largest seed you may need to use the small grain box.  As a general rule do not plant the seed deeper more than 2.5 times its diameter.  It is okay to see a few small seeds on the surface of the soil; that means most of them are planted at the correct depth.

Remember that every year is different, what worked last year might not work this year.  By planting multiple species of cover crops you spread out your risk of a crop failure and will likely have at least one of the cover crops growing successfully.  Don’t be afraid to try something new and different on a few acres; just don’t plant the whole farm with one species on the same day if possible.  Plant cover crops as soon as the primary crop is harvested to capture as much growing time as possible before winter arrives.

Contact Information

Andrew Frankenfield
  • Agricultural Educator
Phone: 610-489-4315
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