Energy Audit for Southside Farms

Southside and Southwest Virginia farmers interested in energy efficiency improvements are invited to apply to the Agricultural Energy Efficiency Initiative (AEEI).  At least 60 farmers in the Tobacco Region who are accepted into the AEEI will be allocated a $5,000 energy account that will provide 1)access to and funding for energy audits and renewable feasibility studies and 2) a cost-share program for retrofit and/or renewable systems.  In addition, participants will have opportunities to participate in educational programs on energy efficiency practices and technologies.  Contact Dr. Martha Walker, Community Viability Specialist at walker53@vt.edu or 434.766.6761 or John Ignosh jignosh@vt.edu to discuss your specific needs and complete the program application.

Local Envirothon

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Three teams competed at the Piedmont District’s Local Envirothon Tuesday, March 11.  Congratulations Fuqua and Nottoway High School participants!

Enviroscape Demonstration

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District Manager Deanna Fehrer demonstrated the Enviroscape for 22 participates at Landscape for Life, a program designed to teach sustainability.  The Enviroscape is a model of a watershed that illustrates that what happens on the land affects the quality of our water.  The District’s Enviroscape is available for teachers and other educators to borrow for presentations.

Youth Conservation Camp Applications

Students in grades 9-12 that reside in Amelia, Nottoway or Prince Edward County are encouraged to apply to Youth Conservation Camp ans spend a week at Virginia Tech learning about natural resources from conservation specialists.  Highlights include hiking the Cascades, visiting Va Tech Ag Farm, canoeing the New River, shock fish and more.  We will sponsor two students, covering all expenses.  Click here for Camp-Highlights-2014, and here for 2014 Camper Application_VASWCD.  Application deadline is April 14, 2014

Education Scholarship Applications Here

The Piedmont SWCD has three $1000 scholarships available to students enrolled in or who have applied to a college level curriculum in natural resource conservation and who reside in Amelia, Nottoway or Prince Edward County.   Click here for PSWCD scholarship 2014 guidelines and here for ScholarshipApplication2014.  One of the winning award applications will be forwarded to compete for an additional $1,000 scholarship through the Virginia Association of Conservation Districts.  Application deadline is March 1, 2014.  Good luck!

Dunn receives Five Year Pin

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Piedmont SWCD Best Management Practice Conservation Technician Kevin Dunn was honored at the Virginia Association of Conservation District’s annual meeting for 5 years of service.  He is pictured above center, at the Graves Mountain Training.with Charlie Wootton, right.

Landscape for Life Class

“Landscape for Life” is a 5 week course designed to help new and experienced gardeners learn how to create and maintain healthy and attractive landscapes that benefit the environment.  Instructors from the Piedmont SWCD, HoV Master Gardeners, Cooperative Extension, USDA NRCS, and Longwood University will present materials focused on four foundations of gardening – soil, water, plants and other materials, and ways to use them to create a sustainable landscape design for your land.  For a preview of the course, visit www.landscapeforlife.org.  The class is scheduled to meet on the following Wednesday evenings: Feb. 12, Feb. 26, March 12, March 26, and April 9 from 6 pm until 9 pm in the Prince Edward Agriculture and Natural Resources Building in Farmville, located on 100 Dominion Drive across from Lowe’s.

The cost of the class s=is $25.00.  Pre-registration is required.  Class size is limited so register early.  Registration deadline is February 5, 2014.  For more information call Cooperative Extension at 434.392-4246, email Deanna Fehrer at dfehrer@piedmontswcd.org, or visit the Master Gardener website at www.hovmg.org

Winter Forage Conferences

Announcing the Virginia Forage and Grassland Council 2014 Winter Forage Conferences! This year’s conference theme is “Soil Health: The Foundation of Profitable Ruminant Livestock Production.”

Mark your calendars now, the daily conference schedule is January 27th (Blackstone), 28th (Wytheville), 29th (Weyers Cave) and 30th (Brandy Station).

Click here and under Winter Beef Conference find the full conference brochure complete with speaker bios, meeting locations, registration deadlines and costs.  For $35 early registration, you can hear from some of the leading authorities on soil health from across the nation at this program.

Back To Nature in Your Landscape

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Register now for a program sure to answer all of your questions about how to get more life (pollinators and other wildlife)  into your landscape.  Four outstanding natural resource professionals will be  presenting  September 28th from 8:30 am til 3:30 pm at Fuqua School’s Gee Price Center in Farmville, Virginia: Dr. Holly Scoggins, a Professor and Director of the Hahn Horticulture Garden at  Virginia Tech will present ”Plants that Make Honeybees Happy Bees”; Carol Heiser, the Wildlife Habitat Education Coordinator with the VA Department of Game and Inland Fisheries will present “Meadow Habitat for Pollinators and other Wildlife”; Anita Tuddle, Environmental Specialist with the Department of Environmental Quality will present “Wild Natives for Civilized Gardens”, and Bob Glennon, Private Lands Biologist with Natural Resources Conservation Service will present “Wildflower/Grass Meadow Establishment and Native Seed Gathering.” For registration information see Heart of Virginia Master Gardener Website at www.HOVMG.org.

5 Ways to Avoid Unleashing a Plant Menace

5 Ways to Avoid Unleashing an Army of Invasive Plants in Your Area

How would you like to have the next invasive plant menace named after you?  It happened to Alabama plantation owner Colonel William Johnson, who sowed Sorghum halepense seeds on river-bottom farm land circa 1840. The plant was already established in several US states a decade earlier, but Colonel Johnson’s name stuck, hence the name Johnson grass as the plant is commonly known today.

Johnson grass was introduced originally as prospective forage or accidentally as a seedlot contaminant.   Exotic plant species that are introduced into an area by people are considered non-native.  Many non-native plants have great economic value for agriculture, forestry, horticulture and other industries.  Other non-natives have become invasive and pose a serious ecological threat. Biologists consider invasive plants to be one of the two greatest threats to native plants and animals.  About 42 percent of the species on the U.S. List of Endangered and Threatened Species are at risk primarily because of non-native invasive plants.

Non-native invasive plants reproduce rapidly and have few if any natural controls to keep them in check.  Invasives spread so rapidly that they muscle out most other plants, creating “monocultures” or stands of a single species that have little ecological value and greatly reduce natural biological diversity.

North America is divided up into 15 plant provinces.  Virginia is in the Coastal Plain Forests provenance. Plants that originated in our province are native, or naturally occurring in our region without human intervention.  Our native plants are perfectly adapted to the temperature, precipitation, elevation, soil types and other factors of our province.  Plants native to our province have a complex inter-relationship with the animals, micro-organisms, butterflies, birds and other creatures with which they co-evolved.

Avoid unleashing an army of invasive plants and disrupting the intricate web of life by following the five recommendations below:

  1. Become familiar with the invasive and native plant species in our province by attending the  Back to Nature in Your Landscape symposium scheduled for Saturday, September 28th, 2013. Registration information can be found at Heart of Virginia Master Gardeners’ website:  www.hovmg.org or by calling the Piedmont SWCD at 434-392-3782 ext. 131.
  2. When selecting plants for landscaping, avoid using known invasive species.  Ask for native alternatives at your nursery.
  3. Invasive Plants are likely to establish on disturbed lands.  During construction or other land disturbing activities, quickly establish ground cover to stabilize slopes and ditches.
  4. If you already have invasive species on your property, consider removing them and replacing them with native species.
  5. When visiting a natural area, be alert for invasive species.  If you see some, notify the agency or organization responsible for managing the land.  Before you leave, avoid carrying “hitchhiking” plant material by taking time to brush seeds from clothing and shoes and remove plant material from boats trailers and other items.

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