Short Course Overview
The Equine Environmental Stewardship Short Course provides information and “hands on” learning experiences designed to provide you with the knowledge and skills necessary to develop sustainable and environmentally sound farm management practices. The short course includes a minimum of 12 hours of instruction and activities and will be offered at several locations throughout the state.
The curriculum focuses on pasture management for the horse and includes the following topics: Pasture Grazing Basics, Pasture Plants & Pasture Renovation, Soil Fertility Management, Weed Management and Nutrient Management. The series has been developed by educators and specialists at the university. Contact your local Pennsylvania Extension Office to find a program in your area.
Since managers of equine operations frequently do not have agricultural backgrounds and often need assistance in developing farm management plans, the Equine Team is offering an Environmental Stewardship short course, a four part educational series that provides practical hands-on experiences that will help farm owners develop the knowledge and skills necessary to adopt environmentally sound farm management practices. Equine research is providing exciting new information that is generating many changes in recommendations in the management practices that have been in place for many years. The short course provides workshops that are designed to help horse owners and others involved in the industry:
- Understand the role that pastures play in providing nutrition and enhancing physical development and overall health
- Learn to manage the potential health risks that may be associated with pasture forages and toxic plants
- Evaluate pasture productivity and quality
- Understand the importance of maintaining adequate plant canopy cover in absorbing soil nutrients and reducing soil erosion
- Properly collect soil samples, interpret the soil test results, and implement an environmentally sound fertility program based on the soil test report
- Learn to identify the major forage species
- Identify and develop a plan to manage weeds and toxic plants associated with equine pastures
- Develop sustainable pasture management plans by incorporating rotation, dry lots, and limited turnout into the grazing plan
- Understand the link between erosion, sediments, and excess nutrients and water quality
- Properly store and apply manure to reduce potential ground and surface water contamination
- Understand and comply with current nutrient management regulations in the state.
Over 135 horse owners and farm managers attended the first short course which was piloted in Northampton County. Since then, over 285 farm managers have completed short courses offered in Chester, Montgomery, York, Union, Columbia, Westmoreland and Clinton Counties in Pennsylvania and Orange and Ulster County, NY. Over 3,000 additional farm/horse owners have attended individual workshops dealing with environmental stewardship and farm management issues.
As a result of completing the short course:
90% to 100% of the participants indicated that they had a large increase in knowledge about: forage biology and growth; how to renovate pastures; how to identify forage species; how to properly store and utilize manure; how nutrients effect plant growth; how to apply nutrients based on a soil test report; the importance of identifying weeds in pastures; who to contact for assistance with pasture and nutrient management planning.
Participants planned to adopt the following strategies:
- 74% planned to add additional paddocks and / or stress lots to reduce grazing pressure
- 72% planned to generate a forage, weed and toxic plant inventory for their farm
- 72% planned to renovate the pastures to introduce new varieties and thicken the stand
- 66% planned to have a nutrient management plan developed for their farm
- 86% planned to apply nutrients based on soil test results
- 66% planned to develop a proper manure storage facility
- 80% already contact or planned to contact Cooperative Extension for assistance