PA No-Till Alliance Hosts Two Well Attended Soil Health Field Days
The PA No-Till Alliance summer field day events on July 22, 23 and 24 proved once again to be a popular opportunity to see and hear about many aspects of no-till and cover crop focused farming. It all started Wednesday evening as President Jim Hershey led a lively discussion among 50 people attending the “Meeting of the Minds” dinner at Rohrbach Farms in Catawissa, PA.
The following day the farm hosted 125 for a full day of presentations and field breakout sessions, including sessions on inter-seeded wheat and soybeans, corn planted into various cover crop mixtures and a new topic for many, grazing cattle on cover crops.
On Friday Alliance director Ryan Graham welcomed 100 interested individuals to his hay and grain farm in Evans City, PA for a somewhat different agenda, but one still focused on the benefits of no-till and cover crops. Again, a highlight for many were the field demonstrations of planting into green cover, laying drainage tile and field scouting with a drone. Also on display were a variety of farmer owned no-till drills and planters which allowed attendees to examine different types of set-ups being used by other farmers.
Check out the PICTURES page for photos from the event.
Thank you to all who joined us on Monday, February 24 (Clarion, PA) or Tuesday, February 25 (Lancaster, PA) for the Soil Health Meetings. Check out the PICTURES page for photos from the event.
‘Clean Water Benefits Everybody’: Jay Howes, PA No-Till Coordinator, talks with Laura Hayes, Press & Journal, about the display at the PA Farm Show in January.
Increasing Agricultural Conservation
Twelve years ago, REAP was initiated by the Pennsylvania legislature and implemented by the Department of Agriculture and the State Conservation Commission as a tax credit program for farmers who implement BMP’s or purchase equipment that reduce the amount of nutrient and sediment runoff and improve the quality of PA waters.
Many Alliance members have participated in REAP and it certainly has been a valuable tool in greatly increasing the adoption of no-till practices on Pennsylvania farms. You may recall that in 2017 the Alliance was recognized by the State Conservation Commission for their support of REAP on its 10th anniversary.
Since the program began in 2007 over $84 million in tax credits have been awarded and, in an often overlooked aspect, farmers themselves have invested substantially more than that from their own funds.
Recently, when the PA legislature passed and the Governor signed into law, what was known as the “PA Farm Bill” one of the important components was expansion and enhancements to the REAP program. Of particular interest to Alliance members are these changes:
- Total tax credits for the 2019-20 fiscal year were increased from $10 million to $13 million, meaning many more projects can be approved.
- The REAP credit cap was raised from $150K/ ag operation to $250K/ag operation in any 7-year period.
- REAP participants may now file jointly with a spouse when claiming the credit, meaning REAP credits can now be used against the total combined income of those jointly filing.
- Cover Crop Rollers and Roller Attachments qualify for a 50% tax credit.
- Cover Crop costs qualify for a 50% tax credit annually, even if the field was previously cover cropped.
These and other changes to REAP were announced at an event at Messick’s Farm Equipment in Elizabethtown on September 18th where Alliance president Jim Hershey was asked to make remarks on behalf of Alliance members. Coverage of the event from the PA Department of Agriculture can be found here. Full details on REAP are available on the REAP webpage. The State Conservation Commission began accepting applications on September 18, so if you are interested in participating prompt action is recommended.
2019 No-Till Alliance Summer Field Day
July 25, Hershey Farm, Elizabethtown, PA