St. Albans farm testing reduced tillage

$750,000 invested over 10 years to improve water quality

By Elaine Ezerins

Staff Writer

The Facts

Owned by

SWANTON — Ignoring early-afternoon showers, farmers explored the cornfields at the Bess View Farm Thursday, discussing and seeing first hand the variety of spring tillage methods used by the Bessette family.


The show and tell at Bess View was part of a conservation field day hosted by University of Vermont Extension Northwest Crops and Soils (NWCS) Program and USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), highlighting the farm’s agronomic practices.


The Bessette family has worked with these organizations as well as Friends of Northern Lake Champlain and Green Mountain Power (GMP) to invest more than $750,000 over a ten-year period into practices that improve the water quality of the Bay.


In 2016, the Bessettes cover cropped 180 acres of their cornfields, reducing the risk of erosion and surface runoff. The farm is also working with GMP to install a community bio digester, which generates electricity from the methane gas.


During the field day, David Bessette led the farmers to a section of the corn fields where the seed beds were prepared four different ways in the spring: single harrow, double harrow, aerate and no-till.


Jeff Sanders of UVM Extension said this year, it didn’t seem to make a huge difference what tillage method was used on the ground. Comparing an ear of corn from each section, there was little physical difference.


See the complete story in the Monday edition of the St. Albans Messenger, or subscribe to the digital edition to read it online.