Agricultural Environmental Management Award
2014 Winners – Tre-G Farm and the Onondaga Soil & Water Conservation District
Tre-G Farms in Onondaga County was awarded the 2014 New York State Agricultural Environmental Management (AEM) Award along with the Onondaga Soil and Water Conservation District who were pertinent to their environmental achievements through the AEM framework. The State Department of Agriculture and Markets, Empire State Potato Growers, and American Agriculturalist Magazine honored Tre-G Farms during an event at Empire Farm Days in Seneca Falls.
“Sound soil and water conservation practices are important facets of any farm operation, including my own,” said Commissioner Ball. “My sincere congratulations go to the Smith Family and the Onondaga County Soil and Water Conservation District for being honored in 2014. Every year, more and more farmers are tapping into the knowledge and expertise of their local district, with winning results from both an economic and environmental standpoint.”
Conservation Districts like the one in Onondaga County utilize the state’s AEM framework to help farmers meet these environmental challenges head on. Administered through the County Soil and Water Conservation Districts, AEM helps farms make common sense, cost-effective and science-based decisions to help meet business objectives while protecting and conserving the State’s natural resources. Currently, more than 13,000 farms participate in AEM.
The 160 cow dairy farm produces milk, hay, and corn on more than 650 acres of land. The farm has diversified to also grow asparagus as well as pick-your-own strawberries, raspberries, and peas utilizing a direct marketing approach that invites the public to the farm.
The Smiths have had long-term commitment to conservation and the protection of water quality. With the help of the Onondaga Soil and Water Conservation District the Smith’s developed and follow an AEM comprehensive nutrient management plan which helps the farm make wise use of livestock manure as a main nutrient source for growing forages and crops.
The farm has been working to reduce and prevent soil erosion and runoff since the 1970s protecting a nearby tributary for Oneida Lake. These practices also require less fuel and capture organic carbon in the soil helping mitigate climate change. After developing the AEM plan, the farm installed a milkhouse wastewater treatment system, a barnyard runoff management system, and a rotational grazing system that fully excludes livestock from watercourses protecting NY’s valuable water resources. Always striving to do more the Smiths are planning to install solar panels to reduce the farms energy needs.
In his nomination of the Smith family, Onondaga County Soil and Water Conservation District Executive Director Mark Burger said, “When we started the AEM plan for this farm, we could not have predicted the level of involvement that Jim and Sue would have with implementing all the conservation Best Management Practices or the support they have given back to the District. Jim has made himself available to promote the District and AEM, which is a testament to the value he sees in the District’s services, and in the appreciation and investment he shows for the District’s recommendations. We are proud to call this family farm a friend of the District.”