St. Albans Messenger – Jacob Bourdeau
Ag—it’s who we are
Vermont has a robust agricultural community that’s engaged in providing healthy food for consumers in our state and across the country. From dairy and maple, to beef and vegetable products, our farmers are the best of the best.
Our family has worked with Vermont farmers for more than 40 years, providing them with safe seed and fertilizer treatments, and doling out healthy portions of advice on best land management practices, soil testing and nutrition, and animal care.
We’ve seen a lot change over the years—new and improved seed, like GMOs that can withstand attack from insects and allow farmers to use less pesticides, less fertilizers and less land while simultaneously achieving higher yields and improving the quality of their forages.
We’ve also witnessed new and improved conservation techniques that allow our farmers to preserve the land, such as cover cropping and no till or reduced till. By using seasonal cover crops such as small grains, farmers are able to protect the soil from eroding and improve the quality of the soil—these crops are high in nitrogen which is a natural fertilizer.
Not tilling the land, or tilling it less, increases the amount of water that soaks through the soil and increases organic matter and the variety of life in the soil. This makes soil more resilient.
Right now, many farmers are starting their late summer seeding planting small grains and certain grasses. At other times of the year they’ll rotate crops on that same land. These are all practices that have developed as needs have evolved. And, along with myriad other agricultural techniques practiced by our farmers, they certainly reduce the carbon footprint.
Every year, Bourdeau Brothers, Inc. has hosted the Addison County Ag Showcase. Before it was that, it was known as our “Corn Day.” Vendors from all parts of the farming system participate and it’s always proven a great environment for the exchange of innovative ideas. We will always need those.
There are more than 800 dairy farms in Vermont. Each one represents a family who has dedicated themselves to a job that’s tough and, often not in their control thanks to the ever-changing climate. Some are organic and others aren’t. Every farm has its challenges.
For example, some have fields that get easily waterlogged and they use tile drainage to siphon off the excess water below the soil’s surface. This allows plant roots to take hold, get strong and produce high yielding, healthy crops.
Some of the state’s dairy farms have methane digesters which convert manure into electricity via a generator. The compressed and dried-out manure also serves as a good bedding alternative to wood chips for animals on the farm.
Farming is the economic backbone of this state providing thousands of jobs and generating millions of dollars in business annually. What makes this state so great, are the variety of farms we have.
Unfortunately, over the years we’ve seen too many that have shut their barn doors, simply unable to make it work. As the U.S., and indeed the world population increases, supporting each other is critical.
At Bourdeau Brothers we’re grateful for the hard work that all Vermont farmers are doing. Farmers face tough odds, and we are lucky that ours are dedicated to preserving the open landscape, water quality and high quality healthy food options. They are shepherds of their land, putting best practices in place so that future generations can work and live on it.
Jacob Bourdeau is a member of the management team at Bourdeau Brothers Inc. His company provides dairy nutrition and crop management services to farmers throughout the northeast. Bourdeau is a member of the Northeast Agribusiness and Feed Alliance.