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Family Dairy Farm Awarded “Conservation Farm of the Year”

Dennis Family Farm in Manlius, NY was presented with the “Conservation Farm of the Year” award from the Onondaga County Soil & Water Conservation District.

group of people on the side of a road

Family and friends gather at the award presentation. Courtesy of Roland Ivers.

Craig Dennis and his father Carl own and operate a 100-cow dairy and cash crop farm in the outer eastern hills of Onondaga County. The farm is situated in the Limestone Creek watershed that empties into Oneida Lake.

Craig and Carl have initiated many of their own conservation practices, along with working with the District to protect water quality. The farm also participates in the Onondaga County Soil and Water Conservation District and the NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets “Agricultural Environmental Management” program.

The farm works with the District to implement Best Management Practices that meet the requirements for water quality in their watershed. Their plan had a number of different facets to support the farm’s conservation efforts.

This included soil and manure samples are taken to help with nutrient analysis and fertilizer recommendations. A milkhouse waste water treatment system was installed with a settling tank, grease trap, and grass filter treatment area. A concrete barnyard with manure collection and screen was constructed to collect polluted runoff and direct the runoff to a grass filter treatment area. Clean water exclusion using driplines safely collect clean storm water and directs it underground to water courses. A rotational grazing system across 33 acres with an alternative water supply was developed, along with 4,400 linear feet of exclusion fence to create a 25 ft buffer from the top of the bank to keep the cows from drinking in or defecating in the tributary that runs to Limestone Creek.

Local funds through the Onondaga County Agricultural Council and NYS funds through the Environmental Protection Fund, along with substantial farmer cash and in-kind contributions, have made these conservation projects possible. The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service offers its Environmental Quality Incentives Program, which the Dennis farm qualified for, along with the USDA Farm Service Agency’s Commodity and crop protection programs.

The Dennis family’s commitment to help the environment, their community and their neighbors led to the Dennis Family Farm’s award for “Conservation Farm of the Year” from the Onondaga County Soil & Water Conservation District.

Soil & Water Conservation Districts are special purpose districts created to develop and carry out a program of soil, water, and related natural resource conservation, by providing technical assistance and programs to residents, landowners with a focus on agriculture. Visit the Onondaga County’s SWCD website for more information: www.ocswcd.org.


Mark Burger

Mark Burger is the Executive Director of the Onondaga County Soil & Water Conservation District.

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