All posts by landandwater

Protecting the farmstead from environmental hazards: Pointers from MAEAP

Farmstead Protection

The farming scene in Cass County is at the forefront of agriculture in the state of Michigan. Every farm is unique in its operation; from variation in product to the nutrient management strategies, every farm business has developed an effective style of conducting its operation. The farmstead is an extension of this, and each farmstead has its own layout, along with the farm family’s sentimental stories about a particular piece of equipment and other memories from the old days.

But what are the commonalities between local farmsteads? It is safe to say that most local farmsteads are comprised of some basic items: A well, garage, shop, fuel storage, and maybe some fertilizer or pesticide storage. Farmsteads are designed for convenience; easy and quick fueling of equipment for example. While convenience is key, so is safety for the environment, the farmers, and their families. The Michigan Agriculture Environmental Assurance Program (MAEAP), and the Cass County Conservation District provide advice and assistance in keeping the farmstead safe, while at the same time maximizing convenience for the producer.

So, what risks may be present on the farmstead? And what are the easy, quick fixes that can make an operation even more efficient? Currently, a major point of emphasis discussed by MAEAP is fueling facilities. What about a fueling facility could pose as a threat to the environment, and to your health? The answer has everything to do with groundwater, and there are solutions in place to reduce risk, ultimately leading to better long term health for all potentially affected.

As hard as it may be to believe, the smallest leak from fuel or oil can lead to major contamination. The process is simple; as a leak hits the ground, a portion of it works its way down the soil profile. Not all components of fuel are easily mixable with water because of their lighter weight, while other components are water soluble, which means those particles can easily bond to water.  Once fuel remnants enter the water table, they may contaminate wells, and can potentially travel through groundwater and seep into surface water.

Fuel storage on the farm is very common here in Cass County. While it does pose potential risk to groundwater health, proper management is the best tool to minimize potential liability.  Standards and compliance measures are put in place by the Department of Environmental Quality to keep the farmstead safe with the intention of maximizing convenience. By placing a concrete pad below fuel tanks and on the refueling area for equipment, the potential for risk is reduced greatly.

To learn more about the rules for fuel storage and handling, MAEAP verifications, and other best management practices for farmsteads contact the Cass County MAEAP technician, Erez Brandvain at 269-445-8641 ext 5 or stop in our office at 1127 E. State Street, Cassopolis, MI 49031 to discuss in more detail your farm’s situation.


Tree Care Workshop – March 29

Please call our office at 269-445-8641 extension 5 to RSVP for the upcoming Tree Care Workshop with Jeff Steinkraus, District Forester.  We want to make sure there is enough pizza for everyone - we are supplying the pizza in appreciation of our volunteers (past and future).  There will also be educational updates on invasive species and our new MAEAP verification system.  See poster below for details:

Cass County Conservation District Announces Availability of Annual Tree Seedling & Fruiting Plant Catalog

Tree Sale has begun!

Cassopolis— Annual Tree Seedling & Fruiting Plant CatalogThe Cass County Conservation District’s Annual Tree Seedling & Fruiting Plant Catalog is now available and pre- orders must be submitted by April 7.  The Annual Tree Sale (including pre-order pick-ups and sales of additional plants on a first come, first serve basis) is scheduled for April 20-22, 2017.

“This year we have focused on native, wetland, and species that benefit pollinators including a special addition of the Butterfly milkweed to specifically benefit the Monarch butterfly.” said Korie Blyveis, Executive Director.  Due to the many lakes and streams in Cass County and because the desire to restore native shorelines has been expressed to us, we selected and have identified species that will do well in wetland forests and shoreline edges and will help expand the diversity of species that will also benefit wildlife.

Expanded fruit tree selection due to good reviews

Last year the root stock of the fruit trees we offered was excellent and there was good feedback on the quality and transplant success of the trees.  Because of this AND our desire to benefit pollinator species that have recently seen great losses we are offering apple, cherry, plum, peach, and apricot trees.  Plus, from a different supplier we are trying native Paw Paw as well.


As always we are continuing to supply an excellent variety of conifers that are well-suited for use in windbreaks.  Windbreaks are a specific planting of trees that will slow prevailing winds.  This method of planting will help conserve energy used in buildings and reduce damage to crops, plus provide cooling shade.

Annual Tree Seedling & Fruiting Plant Catalog

Pick up your copy of the catalog today at the Cass County Conservation District office located at 1127 E. State Street, Cassopolis, MI 49031, call 269-445-8641 x 5 to request it be mailed or emailed to you.  Check out our website at to learn more about the District and our expanding programs.


Conservation District Meetings

Please feel free to join us at a monthly meeting:

The Cass County Conservation District Board meets every month on the second Wednesday at 8:30am.  Reports from the MAEAP Technician, CISMA Outreach Educator, NRCS District Conservationist, and the Executive Director are followed by the current business of the board.

The meetings are held in our meeting room located at 1127 E. State Street, Cassopolis, MI 49031.

All meetings are open to the public.

Special Budget Workshop scheduled for August 29 at 5:30pm at Nelson's Herb Garden located at 65391 Dailey Rd, Edwardsburg, MI 49112  - feel free to join us.


Special Meeting Location for September 13 Meeting and Budget Hearing - the meeting will be held at Amazing Acres located at 18430 US-12, Edwardsburg, MI 49112 at it's regular time of 8:30am.  Please join us as we discuss the FY 2017/2018 Budget and complete meeting with a tour of the Amazing Acres - a MAEAP verified farm.