Ron Graber – Evaluating Feeding Sites

(Kate) With K-State Research and Extension, I’m Kate Higgins. And we’re here at the 2014 K-State Beef Stockers Field Day with Ron Graber who gave an overview of environmental impact on small beef growing facilities. And Ron what were producers able to learn about today? (Ron) Well, we talked about a lot of things today, but primarily we talked about site evaluation and some of the things that make a good site and a not so good site. Some of the more management related kinds of things is where are their pens physically located? Are the close to a stream or are they maybe quite a ways away? What is the slope within the pens? Maybe we can relocate some of those pens. Is there a buffer, a grass buffer area by their pens that would help filter out some of those solids as they come out of pens? So, we can look at maybe planting some grass buffers, possibly doing some diversions some of those kinds of things. So there’s a number of those management related things that we can take a look at and certainly can make a lot of difference in whether a particular operation has what we call a significant pollution potential or whether they’re fairly environmentally sound. (Kate) Now as a producer looks to do this what would be may be the number one consideration you advise for them to do when setting this up? (Ron) If it’s a new operation the thing that we would ask that they would do and it really will pay dividends is that they take a close look at that site before they ever start building any pens because if they’ve got one of those sites that maybe isn’t very good environmentally then that’s the time to maybe look for another site that might be better. (Kate) Now producers looking to make upgrades to an old site, what do you have to tell them? (Ron) In some cases, there are some of those management things that we can help ’em do. Maybe relocating part of those pens, changing some of the layout and doing the grass buffers and some of those things we talked about. So, we would start out there and hopefully they can make some of those changes and make that site work. There are some places where there’s some monies available to help do some of these things. Most of those are through the Equip Program at NRCS. There also are some State Water Plan funds that are available there through the Department of Conservation. In addition to the typical farm program funds through Equip and our local NRCS offices, we do have what’s known as WRAPS funds, Watershed Restoration and Protection Strategies. There are a number of watersheds in the state that have these plans in place and there are cost share funds available if you are in one of those high priority watersheds as listed in those plans. There’s several of us that work throughout the state to help put these funds into place to be utilized to do water quality things. So, that would be something to check with and most often the local extension office or conservation districts will know if that’s an option for a producer.

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