DEEP: Segment 3, 2009 Equine & Organic Farm Photos

Field Workshop at Equine Facility and Organic Farm

November, 2009

{town of Redding community center}  
 This Segment 3 training was focused on agricultural practices as they relate to equine operations and small organic farms.  The town of Redding hosted the morning classroom training at their community center. The afternoon field visits in Redding, CT included a trip to Whimsy Brook Farm, an equine facility, and Warrup's Farm, an organic vegetable producer.
  {engineered stormwater channel}
Shown here is the entrance to Whimsy Brook Farm.  It is a relatively small agricultural operation that conducts riding lessons, boards horses, and has a breeding operation. The six-acre property is located on the bottom half of a long hill. Despite having only 20 animals, they share similar management issues with larger animal-oriented agricultural operations concerning the management of feed, manure and water. Like other small agricultural producers, they need to manage land-use changes that impact the Farm.
  {up-slope land-use change}
 Conflicts between different land-use types are an ongoing concern as the number of small farms increaseand residential development in rural areas continues.  Low-density residential development has occurred locally within the past decade which has altered the surface hydrology and runoff patterns around and in their property. Uphill of this property, agricultural land-use and woodland areas were converted to impervious cover and turf grass with the construction of large-lot residential homes. Drainage infrastructure was installed to remove stormwater from newly built areas impacting the Whimsy Brook Farm. While the total water quantity may not have significantly changed in the local watershed, the peak runoff rate has gone up considerably causing far more "flashy flows."
{engineered stormwater channel }  
 Excessive flood scouring and erosion damage occurred around their front entrance requiring extensive site engineering to repair and control catastrophic runoff events. The farm's buildings were being threatened in large storms and they needed an armored drainage swale to handle the runoff from the upslope properties.  Engineered swales can be expensive to design and build.  The NRCS provides some opportunities to partner with equine producers to manage water resource issues.
  {french drain}
 Differentiating between clean water and water contaminated by manure is an important consideration in equine facilities.  Here a French Drain system captures dirty runoff from a service road and pipes it to an infiltration tank while gutters on the barn capture clean water and direct water into a surface swale system.  Reducing the amount of surface water on the hillside reduces the risk of erosion.
  Rip-rap, an engineered best management practive (BMP) consisting of sized stones, is used to protect areas that have water flowing at high velocities.  It is a cost-effective method for controlling gully formation in areas with steep slopes or erosive soil types.
 With 20 horses on the six -acre site, manure management is a time consuming and environmentally important process for even this relatively small facility. 
The Farm was the first facility of its kind to have an uncovered manure system permitted by the DEEP.  The four compartment system turns manure into a benign mulch which is used to fertilize plants and improve the soil in the pasture.  Manure is placed in the first compartment in the foreground and then shifted one bin over as each bin gets full.  Biological activity heats up the material, breaks it down, and removes the problematic aspects of manure, such as the smell. 
  {open compost}
A manure system of this sort is extensively engineered with impermeable containment layers made of compacted materials and plastic. Surrounding the edge of the pad on which it sits is a curtain drain to capture any ground water contamination that might have occurred.  As we will see later in this section, simpler systems can still be used.  The key is a sensible approach given the size and limitation of the producer's property and management of manure to reduce contamination of ground and surface water resources. 
{warrups sign}  
 The last site visit was to Warrup's Farm in Redding, CT.  It is a certified organic farm operation run by the Hill family.  They have owned and operated a farm in this location since the mid-19th century.  The land was put into a trust for agricultural production despite the potential value of using it for other land uses such as residential property.  They sell their produce directly to the consumer while providing a unique experience for consumers when they visit.
One of the hallmarks of Warrup's Farm is the agricultural diversity of their production.  In addition to Christmas Tree production, vegetable farming, cut flowers, and pumpkins, they run a maple syrup operation.  The sap is tapped from the Sugar Maple trees in the late winter with either buckets or hoses and then refined. Water is boiled off from the sap in these wood heated evaporators. 
  {vegetable field}
The philosophy of the Farm is to utilize what the land gives them.  For instance, the land near the front of the farm is used for cut flowers and vegetables because of its fertility and the relatively high amount of moisture that allows this field to require little irrigation.  Christmas trees are grown on drier soils and adjacent to this location is a hay field which is unplowed because of hillside seeps.  Other areas are left fallow to rehabilitate the soil or prevent erosion.
  {compost open}
This picture shows a simple method for manure management which is far cheaper than the engineered method found at the Whimsy Brook Farm.  The location while appearing informal was selected because it is sited on dry, well-drained soils, far from wetlands, and has buffering vegetation around it.  The manure is piled based on its age. When the manure has been converted into a dark, soil-like material that lacks a poor odor it is spread on the fields early in the growing season to improve soils fertility. Even in small-scale manure processing efforts manure management should be based on minimizing the impact to surrounding water resources.
Content last updated on March 22, 2012