Berwick area dairy farmers up for a provincial award
James Kinsman, along with his wife, Amanda, and children, Alexis and Brooke, stand in front of some of the milking equipment at their dairy farm just outside of Berwick. James, along with his father, Lindsay, have been named as finalists for the Environmental Farm Steward of the Year award. – Submitted.
Two local farmers are being honoured for their efforts in preserving the environment while operating a dairy farm.
James and his father, Lindsay Kinsman, own and operate Windcrest Farm, just outside of Berwick. Partly located in the Thomas Brook Watershed, Windcrest Farm spans several ecosystems, including mature maritime forest escarpment; sloped, mixed cropland and pastures; and the lower Valley bottom of cropped land.
It was the Kinsman’s dedication to being good stewards of the land and their willingness to work with the research community to develop farming practices that protect the environment that have made them one of three finalists for this year’s Farm Environmental Stewardship Award.
Over the last few years, Windcrest Farm has been part of a national evaluation of the effects of Beneficial Management Practices (BMP) on surface water quality. This research expanded to also include a cost and benefits analysis of BMP implementation scenarios for national policy development.
The Kinsmans also assisted researchers from Dalhousie University investigate the effects of manure and fertilizer application on greenhouse gas emissions, which involved intensive sampling as part of the daily operations on the farm.
Windcrest Farm has 150 dairy cows and 100 replacement heifers and a cropping land base of 1,000 acres, in addition to pasture acres. James now manages the day-to-day operations at Windcrest Farm and has been gradually expanding the dairy herd since taking over from his father.
To house the larger herd, they built a new coverall barn with energy efficient lighting that runs on timers and is fuelled by photocells installed on its roof. Other energy efficient technologies have also been installed to reduce the amount of energy used during milking, including a heat reclaimer, which uses heat from the milk to heat water, and a plate cooler, which reduces the energy needed to cool the milk.
A new, larger manure storage lagoon was built when the new barn was constructed.
“I wanted to be able to spread manure when I could get the best use out of it, not because the lagoon was full,” explained James.
The Kinsmans only spread manure during the growing season when the nutrients can be used by the crops. They also try to follow their nutrient management plan as much as possible to reduce fertilizer use and minimize nutrients leaching into water sources.
The Kinsmans also use crop rotation, no-till technology and cover cropping to grow their crops while maintaining a healthy soil. By sowing fields to grass mixtures while fields are not in corn or soybean, the organic matter and soil biology are able to rejuvenate.
Using a no-till planter to seed crops allows new crops to be established into existing sod. This prevents soil erosion because the plant material and roots from the previous grass crop continues to cover and hold the soil in place. By not having to plow and till the soil, the soil’s natural structure is maintained as well.
The Environmental Farm Stewardship Award winner will be announced Nov. 29 in Truro.