Rotational grazing involves moving livestock to different paddocks for periods of grazing. The purpose of this is to prevent overgrazing by allowing adequate time for pastures to regenerate before they are grazed again. This requires the forage to be monitored while livestock is occupying a pasture and once livestock has been removed from the pasture. Different species of livestock are also rotated through pastures since they prefer different types of forage. Often a system of fencing or electric fencing is used to divide paddocks and maintain livestock occupation of a particular pasture. Grazing serves as an alternative to providing feed for livestock and includes benefits such as lower costs, minimized livestock disease and decreased soil erosion.
Sustainable agriculture incorporates multiple management practices to maintain long-term profit on a farm while considering ecological stewardship and improving the quality of life for farmers and consumers. Practices include water and soil conservation, humane livestock care, decreased chemical pesticide and fertilizer use, and community-focused produce programs. Specifically, at the Dickinson College Farm, best management practices include water conservation, organic produce, and a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program that promotes local consumption of produce.
Biodiversity is biological diversity; meaning the presence of varied species and conditions that those species inhabit (ecosystems). Biodiversity is key to ecosystems as varied species perform different tasks within an ecosystem, contributing to the maintenance of that system. Human disturbances such as habitat fragmentation and pollution have greatly decreased biodiversity over time. In agriculture, growing a variety of crops and offering a variety of habitats offers conditions that encourage biodiversity of wild species such as insects and birds at a particular farm. At the Dickinson College Farm, a variety of habitats (such as pasture, woodlot, pond, various crops, and even the grass strips between crops) offer a range of conditions that appeal to various wildlife species.
Ecology involves studying organisms and how they interact with other organisms and their surrounding environment. This includes animal species, insects, plants, water, and soil and how all of these organisms perform interconnected functions with one another. Sustainable woodlot management Sustainable woodlot management aims to maintain a biologically diverse plot of forested land featuring native species and various states of succession. The stages of succession in a forest depict the age of that particular forest area and a biologically diverse forest contains multiple stages of succession, encouraging the presence of various species. The woodlot at the Dickinson College Farm is being restored to its original state as a hardwood forest by recovering native plant species and removing invasive plants. This will allow native species, such as salamanders and birds, to use the forest as habitat.
Watershed conservation integrates the management of all parts of a watershed (the bodies of water and surrounding land) to wholly improve and maintain the water resource. This involves the implementation of education, monitoring, and restoration programs within the boundaries of a watershed to improve and protect the function of the watershed. In Boiling Springs, we are in the Chesapeake Bay watershed, therefore the management of local watersheds such as the Yellow Breeches and Conodoguinet can improve conditions downstream.
Energy sources that can be replenished and restored at a rate similar to the rate which they are used are considered renewable. Renewable energy is considered sustainable in the long term because there is minimal concern that the energy source will be exhausted or depleted from use. Common examples of renewable energy include solar, wind, hydroelectricity, and geothermal. At the Dickinson College Farm, we use both grid-tied and off-grid solar panel systems to generate electricity.
Compost is a nutrient rich soil additive that is comprised of decomposed plant material. Compost includes nitrogen and carbon components, water, heat, and microorganisms to break down food scraps and plant materials into nutrients. At Dickinson College Farm, food waste (nitrogen) is received from the Dickinson College Dining Hall and combined with dead leaves (carbon). These materials are kept covered to generate heat, water, and turned to produce a compost that is applied to the soil where produce is grown.
Biodiesel is a renewable energy source produced when glycerine is separated from vegetable oils or fats, leaving behind methyl esters. Biodiesel is considered a clean-burning fuel source that is often used to power generators or diesel vehicles. At Dickinson, used cooking oil is collected from nearby restaurants and processed at a biodiesel plant on campus for use in diesel vehicles on campus and at the College Farm.
Community Supported Agriculture
Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) programs allow local residents to purchase produce directly from their local farms. At the beginning of the season, residents can purchase a CSA share for the season, and then throughout the season they receive a share of the produce that is currently being grown at that farm. Dickinson Farm’s CSA program offers shares to staff and faculty for local residents to pick up produce throughout the season. Benefits of CSA programs include eating locally and seasonally, getting to know your farmers, and building a community around local foods.
Hoover’s farm management
Triple L Farms, next door to the Dickinson Farm, was established in 2003 and focuses on dairy cattle and crop farming. The farm is managed by family members. They raise and milk dairy cattle and have developed soil management practices for feed crop growth. Currently, they milk about 125 cows and produce over 10,000 pounds of milk per day and provide milk to Land O’Lakes at their milking farm.
The Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources oversees state resources such as state parks, forests, trails, and lakes. The DCNR also publishes information on and holds educational programs about resources and conservation in the state of Pennsylvania. DCNR programs include conservation for homeowners, management of parks, distribution of park and trail maps, and the promotion of outdoor recreation in Pennsylvania. (Info: Katelyn Repash/Gene Wingert Farm Trail Project)