"Water quality is front and center. The more we know about these issues, the more we do," said Marie Audet of Blue Spruce Farm, Inc.
Audet attended the conference on behalf of her family farm in Bridport. Blue Spruce Farm has been around since the early 1950s, but this third-generation farm knows the times are changing.
"We have evolved, all of us, including the dairy community," Audet said. "It's really scientific. A lot of people think we are just throwing the manure out to get rid of it. That's not what it is."
It's about better managing manure. Manure runoff in Lake Champlain has been an ongoing issue for decades, contributing to problems like blue-green algae blooms.
"The challenge is figuring out how to reduce the phosphorus going into Lake Champlain," said Julie Moore of Stone Environmental. "By some estimates, right now there is about twice as much phosphorus going into Lake Champlain as it should."
Farmers learned Tuesday how to get those phosphorus levels down.
"We are talking about things like cover crops, things like buffers, potentially reduced tillage; reducing the way the farmer interacts with the land. That still allows them to make a living, but also has real water quality benefits for Lake Champlain," Moore said.
Apart from the aftermath of Tropical Storm Irene, the phosphorus levels in Lake Champlain have remained relatively level over the last decade. But Moore says that level is still too high. The target level of phosphorus in the lake is 427 metric tons. The levels in the lake are currently around 700-800 metric tons.
"Historically, the ideas about stormwater management really focused on getting it away as fast as possible. And that has led to a lot of the issues we have, both in the ag sector and the developed land sector. And so the more we can do to keep our stormwater on sight and manage it locally, the better off we'll be and Lake Champlain will be," Moore said.
Audet says many farmers across the state have been working on localizing stormwater.
"What we used to think of as a waste stream, a pollutant, has now become a value-added product, let's say, to the farm, because we found ways to make sure we capitalize on those nutrients," Audet said.
Audet says after years of pointing fingers, most of the state is finally moving in the right direction together. Hopefully, a path that yields better crops and cleaner water.
In addition to reducing stormwater, Vermont farmers are cutting down on pollution with improved manure storage and cropping techniques.
Saturday, May 25 2013 10:30 PM EDT2013-05-26 02:30:05 GMT
A burglary at the Dorset Union Store. Police say the Church Street business, in Dorset, was broken into sometime late Friday night or early Saturday morning. At this time, we do not know what was stolen.More >>
Police search for a suspect that left his blood at the crime scene.More >>
Saturday, May 25 2013 8:13 PM EDT2013-05-26 00:13:06 GMT
Governor Peter Shumlin is urging Vermonters to be vigilant as the rain continues to come down. Especially, he says, with the possibility of wet snow that could bring down trees and damage property. ShumlinMore >>
Governor Peter Shumlin is urging Vermonters to stay safe as the rain continues to come down.More >>
Saturday, May 25 2013 8:09 PM EDT2013-05-26 00:09:12 GMT
First responders scrambled to drain a private dam Saturday afternoon to avert major damage. Officials say the dam on Poker Hill road in Underhill nearly burst Saturday afternoon. Members of the localMore >>
First responders scrambled to drain a private dam Saturday afternoon to avert major damage.More >>
Saturday, May 25 2013 7:58 PM EDT2013-05-25 23:58:16 GMT
Rain-battered state roads in the hardest hit areas of Underhill and Jericho are re-open to traffic, but that doesn't mean the work is done for crews. "It's been a very challenging two-day event here soMore >>
As the rain continues to pour down, response crews are not getting a break.More >>
Saturday, May 25 2013 7:51 PM EDT2013-05-25 23:51:37 GMT
Driving along Route 15, you may notice some roads have reopened as crews guide drivers cautiously around the cracked gravel. But driving down roads like North Underhill Station, you won't get very far. ConnerMore >>
While needed repairs are being made, more work is ahead.More >>
Friday, May 24 2013 11:30 PM EDT2013-05-25 03:30:10 GMT
A hole in the road closed one of the routes into Canada Friday.State Police say Route 5 in Derby Line is closed near Caswell Avenue because of a hole in the pavement just a couple of feet over the lineMore >>
A hole in the road closed one of the routes into Canada Friday.More >>
Friday, May 24 2013 7:17 PM EDT2013-05-24 23:17:06 GMT
It was a storm that left residents with more damage than they could have ever imagined. "The basement has about 13 inches of water," said Bob Genter of Underhill. And preparing for the aftermath of theMore >>
Flash floods left destruction across the region. And the rain is not over. Heavy downpours left some people trapped in their neighborhoods as emergency crews work to try to clear the roads.More >>
Friday, May 24 2013 7:20 PM EDT2013-05-24 23:20:50 GMT
As the cleanup gets underway from Thursday night's flash flooding, the focus shifts now to the broader impacts of rising rivers from around the region. All the rain so far and more to come is running intoMore >>
All the rain is running into larger streams and rivers that are moving rapidly toward flood stage.More >>