High-Yield Conservation Project

In 2015, Harborview Farms has agreed to become part of the High-Yield Conservation project, which is funded by the Howard G. Buffett Foundation. The Buffett Foundation's primary mission is to improve the standard of living and quality of life for the world's most impoverished and marginalized populations. The Buffett Foundation has invested nearly $250 million to support sustainable agricultural development and improved nutrition initiatives in 50 countries around the world.  

Harborview's planting of more than 90 percent of its acres to cover crops affects water quality in the Bay. Note the ship passing by in the background. Photo Credit: High-Yield Conservation

Harborview's planting of more than 90 percent of its acres to cover crops affects water quality in the Bay. Note the ship passing by in the background. Photo Credit: High-Yield Conservation

The High-Yield Conservation project was created to help farmers maximize high-yield results by matching conservation-minded farmers with a team of expert advisers. We will be one of four farms that HYC will follow over the course of the next several years. Harborview Farms' goal for this project is first the obvious water quality benefits, but also to learn more about the benefits of cover crops. Details on the project can be found in the full article and by clicking here.

Harborview Farms will implement 6 Cover Crop Trials over the course of 2015. This week, Harborview Farms is collaborating with Dr. Ray Weil of the University of Maryland to begin Trial 5. A 20-acre plot will be put in to compare deep-rooted cover crops versus none in N-scavenging capture and release.  The full article outlines the rest of the cover crop trials in additional detail.

Here are some highlights from the article on this project:

“The focus of our farm is responsible agriculture...I’m pro-environment, and I think being pro-environment is every bit as much of a business plan as it is a philosophy," Trey Hill says. 

"On 90-95 percent of his acres, [Harborview] plants fall cover crops, typically cereals such as cereal rye, barley or wheat."

"The Chesapeake Bay is notorious for having restrictions on nutrient applications, so [Harborview] keeps records of every nutrient management plan, field map and soil test on the farm dating back to 2001. [Its] soil tests reveal that many of [its] fields have gained 0.5 to 1.5 percent organic matter from 2001 to 2014. While that doesn’t tell the whole story, it is definitely a start."

"[Harborview] is also thinking about transitioning some of [its] acres to organic production, as organic grain premiums are large enough to make the idea attractive.
'It could be a good business move for us. There’s a big chicken company in the area that’s committed to organic, and demand continues to build for organic feed,' Hill says."

Excerpts from this post were taken from the following article, which appeared in High-Yield Conservation farm journal, Volume 5, Number 2.
Water Quality Matters to Chesapeake Bay Farmer Trey Hill