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Alfree Cooperator of Year in New Castle County
NEWARK, Del. (June 14, 2016) — Bill Alfree was recently recognized as the 2015 Cooperator of the Year in New Castle County for conservation practices used in farm operations.
Alfree has been farming his entire life and conservation has a long history on his family’s land. Alfree’s father worked with Dr. Bill Mitchell, a professor at the University of Delaware, and his father’s farm was used for research by the University in the 1950’s and early 1960’s.
Accepting the award May 19, Alfree said being a good steward of the land means protecting the soil and protecting water quality by keeping water run-off out of local rivers and ponds.
Alfree farms 1,700 acres, 200 that he owns and 1,500 acres that he rents, many of them around St. Andrews School, St. Anne’s School and the Appoquinimink School District are considered highly erodible.
Alfree practices no-till farming and turbo tilling. Most of his ground is farmed with a rotation of corn, wheat and soybeans.
Much of it is not irrigated. He also grows 100 acres of an alfalfa/orchard grass mixture for hay, which he markets to area horse owners.
Alfree rented the New Castle Conservation District’s no-till drill to seed in the orchard grass. This spring he planted Teff in some fields. Teff is a warm-season annual grass that makes high protein soft textured hay for horses.
Over the years, Alfree has installed several conservation practices such as grassed waterways and filter strips to control soil erosion and protect water quality and grassed waterways, berms, and drop structures to repair several gullies.
He uses poultry litter as a fertilizer and soil additive.
Alfree said he believes the best management practices on the land he farms over the past several years has made a difference in the quality of the soil, preventing soil erosion and protecting Noxontown Pond.