The first Bertrand Watershed Conference attracted more than 70 participants to historic Berthusen Park in June to hear an impressive group of experts dispense information and ideas for work being done in the Bertrand Watershed – an important source of water to the Nooksack River and beyond. Carol Smith, Director of the Washington State Department of Ecology’s Environmental Assessment Program, set the tone with a quote from Henry Ford: “Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success.”
Organized by the Whatcom Conservation District and Washington State Department of Ecology, the conference was geared toward sharing information, forging meaningful partnerships, coordinating activity and enhancing efforts to protect water quality in the Bertrand Watershed.
Summer is a busy time for Whatcom dairy farmers; but Larry DeHaan who owns/manages Storm Haaven Farm on the Canadian border near Lynden says the Conference was productive. “There is a lot of expertise among these local/state agencies and when they work together we get some interesting facts and scenarios about the watershed,” he said. “It validated a lot of the work dairy farmers and ag-producers have done from tree planting to how we keep our Dairy Nutrient Management Plans up to speed.”
Storm Haaven Farm shares the watershed and water with neighboring farms in Canada. “Environment Canada is doing their part to enhance the watershed,” he said, “by keeping the water flowing during a critical time when runs of salmon come up.”
Expert presenters from organizations that are currently conducting work in the Bertrand gave informational presentations focused on the practical nature of projects, highlighting what results mean and how they can be applied by landowners in the watershed.
Presenters described the importance of the Bertrand Watershed; its agricultural heritage; the science that allows it to work; actions that have been taken to ensure its water quality; and landowner’s engagement for its best, most responsible use.
Dairy farmers in Washington have been maintaining Dairy Nutrient Management Plans for more than 17 years, with recordkeeping that requires attention to detail and regular updates. At a recent Whatcom Conservation District (WCD) workshop, more than 70 Whatcom dairy producers learned about new requirements, how technology is delivering better actionable data, and the importance of weather in applying manure nutrients on crops.
WCD Livestock Engineer and Dairy Planner Chris Clark; and Derek Hunt, Crop Specialist with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, outlined elements dairy farms must meet for proper nutrient management. They explained how recordkeeping requirements can be met with available tools and how that data can be used to improve reporting for their Dairy Nutrient Management Plans.
The Washington State Department of Agriculture conducts on-farm inspections or visits to visually review the farm operations and, perhaps most importantly, review records from the farm’s Dairy Nutrient Management Plan.
Manure nutrient management records are required to report what the farmer has done to prevent runoff from crop production. The records must show that manure nutrients are applied properly; that an evaluation of application results was prepared; and report how the data will be used to plan future applications.
“Dairymen are required to conduct a Post Harvest Nitrate Test (PHNT) in the fall of each year,” Chris Clark said, “and to make adjustments as you go to reduce over-application of manure nutrients as well as to measure the right amount of nutrient to get the yield that you are trying to get.”
Records are kept to report manure lab samples, soil mineralization, manure transfers, irrigation and additional records such as weather conditions 24 hours prior to, and during, nutrient applications.
Lynden-based DariTech has grown quite a bit over the past 25 years – but that has simply added bandwidth to the company’s ability to produce effective and efficient solutions for their Whatcom dairy farm base. DariTech’s full service dealership in Lynden maintains a high level of customer service throughout Whatcom County, while listening intently to problems that are often unique.
“We have been providing solutions to help local dairymen be successful for more than 25 years,” says Ryan DeWaard with DariTech. “We work with every dairy farm operation differently depending on location, but manure management – from moving it to how and when it is applied as fertilizer – requires different strategies and tools for diverse local farm land.”
DariTech has deep roots in Whatcom County where the wet climate coupled with a high water table has
resulted in unacceptable nitrate levels that are caused by septic systems, livestock, dairy farms and erosion, among other contributing factors. “We work closely with local dairy farmers by providing equipment that allows them to monitor the amount of manure nutrients spread on the ground following precise applications,” he said. “The majority of our work is separation equipment for the production of by-products and to clean up the water, so it is more useful for flushing the milking parlor and irrigating the land.”
DariTech’s Whatcom County dealership has been providing one-on-one customer service since 1990. “Our focus is on Whatcom County dairymen – not just to talk with them about products, but to listen and learn from them about problems that we have helped solve efficiently and together.”
Dairyland News is distributed to dairy farm families, business leaders/dairy farm suppliers, government staff, elected officials, and news media to show how dairy farmers contribute to the community, with safe operations, best farm management practices and effective stewardship of land and animals. Dairyland News is produced by the Washington Dairy Products Commission in cooperation with the Washington State Dairy Federation.