3/2/2013 7:00 AM
By Lorraine Merrill New Hampshire Agriculture Commissioner
George Hamilton, a University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension food and agriculture field specialist based in Hillsborough County, recently returned from the Pesticide Stewardship Alliance meeting in Mobile, Ala., where he presented his boom sprayer calibration project, which has been gaining national recognition.
Hamilton has also presented training workshops for Pennsylvania State University, and Pennsylvania has adopted his method statewide.
Preventing drift during application of pesticides is a high priority. Hamilton said it starts with accurate calibration of equipment, followed by accurate targeting or placement.
To develop a practical and precise method of on-farm calibration of boom sprayers used in tree fruits, small fruits and vegetables, Hamilton received grants from EPA Region 1 to purchase special equipment from Belgium, and from the New Hampshire Department of Agriculture, Markets & Food integrated pest management program to develop procedures and training aids, conduct workshops for agricultural professionals, and perform calibrations of boom sprayers on farms and orchards across the state.
The IPM grant included funding to hire a part-time technician and IPM scout, Steve Gatcombe of Peterborough.
Integrated pest management or IPM combines the use of biological, cultural, physical and chemical tactics in ways that minimize health and environmental risks and economic loss when controlling pests.
Pesticide products today are used in much smaller quantities than those from decades ago, Hamilton said. It is typical for a product to be applied at a rate of two fluid ounces per acre — making precision of delivery equipment even more important.
“The amounts of material used today are so small,” he said, “they can more easily be under- or over-applied.”
Boom sprayer calibrations have been completed on 20 farms — two in each county — to ensure proper application of pesticides. Participating growers or farmers received one private recertification credit if they participated in the calibration and had a New Hampshire private restricted-use license.
Each farm participant received information fact sheets describing the sprayer calibration, and a record of their calibration information. Farmers interested in calibrating their sprayers can contact Hamilton for more information at George.Hamilton<\@>unh.edu or 603-641-6060.
Access to Land
Last Tuesday’s topic on New Hampshire Public Radio’s “The Exchange” was the Farm Bill and how it affects New Hampshire.
A caller from Piermont told how grateful she was to learn from her county USDA service center in Orford of a program that could assist her with her goal of selling her small farm property to a younger or beginning farmer. USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) state director Jay Phinizy says it is his agency that offers the program, known as the Land Contract Guarantee Program.
This loan guarantee program is designed to help transition a farm to a new generation. To qualify for the Land Contract Guarantee Program, the purchase price of the farm cannot exceed the lesser of $500,000 or the current market value of the property. Certain other restrictions on the terms of the loan apply.
The real estate must be sold through a land contract to an eligible beginning or socially disadvantaged farmer. A land contract is an installment contract between a buyer and a seller for the sale of real property, in which complete ownership of the property is not transferred until all payments under the contract have been made.
FSA guarantees the seller’s loan. Contact your county FSA office for more information, or call the State FSA office at 603-224-7941 for county office locations and telephone numbers.
The New England Land Link, hosted by the New England Small Farm Institute, provides a website and other services to help connect owners and seekers of farm properties. Currently 15 or so New Hampshire properties or opportunities are listed on the website, from all regions of the state. For information, visit http://www.smallfarm.org/main/for_new_farmers/new_england_landlink/.
Lorraine Merrill is commissioner of the New Hampshire Department of Agriculture, Markets & Food.