Four Montgomery County farms will share $798,739 in state grants to improve their soil and water conservation practices, and help keep runoff from their farms out of nearby streams.
The four farms are among 200 across the state that received grants.
One of the farms has been operated by the Subik family since 1945 in the town of Mohawk.
The Subik farm is a dairy operation with 380 cows and calves, and 160 to 170 cows are milked each day.
The farm has nowhere to put the manure that all those bovines produce, so the workers have to promptly spread it in the fields as fertilizer, even when rain is forecast.
Heavy rain could cause the manure to run into a nearby stream that is a tributary to the Cayadutta Creek.
Similarly, the silos where feed is stored can get packed in at times, which can lead to some of the juices from the feed seeping out, and those are also not good for the stream.
Corey Nellis is the district manager of the Montgomery County Soil and Water Conservation District, which works with farms trying to help them meet the standards for preserving soil and waterways in the area. According to Nellis, farms close to streams and wetlands, or whose runoff could affect public drinking water supplies, were given highest priority in receiving the $13.8 million in funding announced Wednesday by Gov. Cuomo.
Owen Potter is the farm manager for the Subik farm, which is owned by his wife’s family. The money coming from the state will help them pay for construction of a concrete manure pit, a covered barnyard where cows can wait their turn to get milked, and pumps and tanks for the runoff from the feed.
Without the funding, Potter explained, there was the potential of the farm going out of business.
“Ultimately, this will make our life that much easier,” he said.
The manure pit will be 12 feet deep, big enough to hold six to eight months’ worth of manure as well as juices from the feed.
Harold Potter’s family (no relation to Owen Potter) has been operating a farm in the town of Minden since 1971, after his parents moved here from Rhode Island. Harold has worked on it since he was 9 years old and inherited it after his father passed away in 2010.
Similarly to the Subik farm, the manure from the cows would run off into the stream that ran through the farm and that emptied into the Otsquago Creek.
“We want to be good stewards of the environment, and I can’t afford to do it without the funding,” he explained.
The state money will help them construct a larger manure pit of concrete. It would also help in rebuilding the bunker storage to prevent runoff from the feed as well.
Owen explained that he along with others like to hunt and fish and that they appreciate the place that they live in and want to be part of the solution in making sure it stays that way.
“We don’t want to screw it up for everybody else,” he said.