Wayne and Sandy Stafford
By Carla Correa
Whig Staff Writer
Generations of hard work and strong family bonds have hoisted Staff-Herds Farms to the top of its field in Cecil County. The resulting mix of soil and water conservation, economics and farm management has also earned Wayne and Sandy Stafford top honors at the Cecil Soil Conservation District’s 56th Annual Cooperator’s Banquet. The husband-and-wife team are the organization’s Cooperator’s of the Year. “It’s more of a family award because it started with Dad,” said Wayne Stafford of his father Carl Stafford. Carl moved his livelihood to Maryland in 1963 after Delaware made way for Interstate 95-right through his land.
Wayne took over the operation in 1995. The farm, which produces dairy products, grain, straw and hay, contains 140 cows and heifers. Charles Hayes, manager of the Cecil Soil conservation District said the Stafford family incorporates conservation as an integral part of their daily farming operation. “As stewards of the land, they do an outstanding job in the management and care of their natural resources, particularly the conservation of top soil, “he said.
The Stafford’s use grassed waterways, diversions, minimum and no-tillage, stream crossings and a spring development with watering trough. Hayes said the dairy operates under a wastewater management plan. The strategy includes roof runoff management to divert clean water from the barnyard and the application of nutrients under a nutrient management plan. The largest physical element in a newly finished wastewater storage tank. The circular concrete structure is about 105 feet wide and 12 feet deep. The receptacle enables the Stafford’s to collect all the manure and nutrient runoff from the farmstead. “They can store it in the tank until it is the optimal time to apply it to the land” Hayes said. A videotape at the banquet will highlight the Staffords’ conservation efforts. And in a time when many dairy productions are disappearing, the family continues to send their milk to places as far away as South Carolina.
“There’s so few dairy farmers,” Wayne said. “We’ve been farming on more ground, but basically right now it’s going to stay about the same”. “Hopefully we’ll still have something going on when our 5 month old grandson, Colton grows up – if he wants to do it.”