Virginia farms are just as diverse as its topography stretching from the coastal plain to the western mountain highlands with an abundant diversity of animals. From the 1,000 cow dairy to the equine estate to the tenant operated farm, all are similar in their goal to build equity, manage expenses, track assets and protect the environment which requires varied levels of technical assistance. Services can be tailored to an individual farm's needs and goals relating to the following seven services:
On initial contact, we conduct a comprehensive farm visit with the landowners in order to determine farm business strategies, goals and desired outcomes. In collecting information about the land base, production goals, nutrient levels and enterprise budgeting, we'll be able to target areas for improvement. Using agronomic experience and training, Equity Ag employs diverse resource management strategies to achieve optimal yields, offset costs, and increase (ROI) Return on Investment. In addition, assistance will be provided to enhance awareness of applicable governmental cost-share programs.
NUTRIENT MANAGEMENT PLANNING
A nutrient management plan begins with collecting current soil samples reflecting residual levels of nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium and micro-nutrients. Equity Ag, implements sustainable practices to manage high or low levels of fertility using cost-effective, environmentally-friendly strategies and will develop a plan for you. By consulting with Equity Ag, you'll have access to innovative field techniques that maximize and promote nutrient efficiency like: manure applications, split fertilizer application, grid and zone sampling, and the practice of applying banded nutrients. For farms that house confined animals, an environmental farm assessment will be completed to align with the Department of Environmental Equality's small Animal Feeding Operation (AFO) guidelines.
CROP MONITORING & PRODUCTION
Through the course of the growing season, periodic farm visits will be made to monitor crop development, measure farm manager performance, integrate crop production and ROI goals to ensure implementation of the established farm plan. Given Richard Fitzgerald's thirty-year's of work with state and federal environmental agencies, assistance will be provided to gauge eligibility for participation in United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and State Conservation Programs, maintaining crop bases and land owner control agreements where applicable. Consulting with Equity Ag ensures that your field maps are up-to-date with USDA and correlate with the Farm Service Agency's (FSA) field numbers and tracts. Using GPS technology and satelite imaging, in-season soil and plant testing will be conducted in order to make more precise recommendations.
SOIL CONSERVATION PLANNING
United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has established requirements for erosion and conservation goals to maintain and improve soil productivity. Using computer analytic tools in addition to experience and training, the Phosphorus Index, RUSULE-2, and C-graze determinations will be collected or conducted where required. Each of these computerized programs speak to a series of management changes and their effects pertaining to loss of phosphorus or soil conservation for either crop or grazing lands. Overall, cropping-system information will be updated and matched to nutrient management goals.
RECORD KEEPING & REPORTING
Data and documentation are key to providing certainty and assurances that planning is being implemented effectively and following the standard for best practice in land, soil and resources management. By consulting with Equtiy Ag, you'll keep your farm activities on track with yearly summary reports that will help your operation schedule seed, fertilizer, manure and pesticide purchases. Previews of actual application records will be continually compared to the management plan to ensure adherence to profit goals. With eligibility of governmental programs in mind, record keeping will align with agency policies at the state and federal level. Clients will have access to a Financial Asset Balance Spreadsheet in order to track changes in asset values and quantities.
OTHER SUPPORT SERVICES
Crop, soil and manure testing requirements vary by farm type and animal intensity. Permitting requirements can be detailed, cumbersome and difficult to navigate. With 24 years of permitting experience, Equity Ag can represent your farm in negotiating approval letters, Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) inspection reports or Ag Stewardship determinations. With Equity Ag, testing, monitoring or farm representation will be provided on a case-by-case basis under separate contracts. If desired, technical assistance also can be provided for On-farm Yield Plots, Adaptive Nutrient Management, and grant-supported projects.