Since the beginning of this century there has been a modest resurgence in the number of organizations whose mission is to encourage the preservation of farms and farmland and assist new farmers in acquiring land and gaining the knowledge to manage it successfully. Many young people are finding a career in farming satisfying in ways that cannot be achieved in other career fields. The pitfalls and obstacles this group faces are many and varied but help is available for those who know where to look. Land for Good will assist those who are searching for new resources to explore. [Read more…]
by George Looby, DVM
As the designated shopper makes his/her way through the aisles of the supermarket with the square wheel of the shopping cart not quite in sync with the other three one cannot help but be somewhat confused by the array of designations given to even the the most basic of foodstuffs. Not that long ago eggs were Grade A Jumbo, Extra Large, Large etc. Now one of the more basic of our dietary needs has been given additional designations and making sense of it all becomes a bit confusing. Free range, natural, organic, GMO free … just what do all of these designations mean or do they mean anything at all? [Read more…]
Recently NRCS hosted a webinar regarding the importance of the carbon cycle in maintaining soils and agricultural systems, with a special emphasis on understanding the importance of nutrient cycling to better manage hayland. “Hayland is one of those land uses that many of us just often overlook,” said NRCS’s National Soil Health and Sustainability Team Leader David Lamm. “We think that just because something green is growing out there that means everything is fine in the soil ecosystem and all functions are go.” That’s not necessarily always the case, though. “We have actually a fairly degraded situation on our hayland acres because of our standard production” method of removing hay, said the webinar’s featured presenter, Jay Fuhrer. Removing all that vegetative matter removes carbon from the system and ultimately deleteriously impacts soils, and succeeding years’ hay crops. [Read more…]
The Pennsylvania Cattlemen’s Association held their 2015 annual Cattlemen’s Banquet at the PA Farm Show Complex VIP Banquet Center the evening of March 27. As part of the association’s daylong events, the banquet followed the 42nd annual Pennsylvania Performance Tested Bull Sale at the Pennsylvania Livestock Evaluation Center in Pennsylvania Furnace, Centre County earlier that day. [Read more…]
TOWANDA, PA — When North Dakota’s soil health evangelist Gabe Brown speaks: Farmers listen. They also fill fire halls and fields to visit with him about the finer points of regenerating soil, improving profit and actually having fun on the farm again.
The candid rancher spoke in front of over 150 farmers from three states at the Wysox Volunteer Fire Company as part of a 3-day soil health roadshow in Pennsylvania with Dr. Bernard Sweeney, Director of the Stroud Water Research Center and Norm Conrad from the Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT). [Read more…]
Central New York’s 2015 Dairy Day focused on breeding stronger and healthier dairy herds through genetic improvement, reproductive results and calf management.
Dr. Curt Van Tassell, Research Geneticist, ARS, USDA, from Beltsville, MD, spoke to attendees about using genomics for testing and predicting future traits in dairy herds. [Read more…]
by George Looby
One of the most important of the USDA’s many departments, units or sections is the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) where wide ranges of agriculturally related research programs are conducted. If it pertains in any way to agriculture there is very likely some sort of research going on in that particular area. One of the many components within the ARS is the U.S. Meat Animal Research Center (MARC) located in Clay Center, NE.
The mission statement of this program is to develop scientific information and new technology to solve high priority problems for the U.S. beef, sheep and swine industries. The research is directed toward problems of national concern and to meeting USDA’s Action Agencies research needs. Research approaches involve multidisciplinary teams with emphasis on both short-term and long-term solutions to improving animal production and product quality. [Read more…]
Farmers have understood for centuries that animal manure helps return vital nutrients to crop fields. Many farmers pull mechanical spreaders behind fossil fuel-burning tractors to move manure into fields, but at Polyface farm, livestock spread their own manure. Joel Salatin of Polyface Farm in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley advocates rotational grazing; they blend livestock and pasture species to puzzle pests.
Well managed grazing concentrates livestock in one area for a short period and then move them on. At Polyface farm, portable electric fences contain grazing beef herds. Farmers move the fences and livestock daily. Salatin said his animals look forward to their fresh “salad bar” each morning. The cattle graze forage at a sustainable level. They trample their manure patties ensuring good soil contact and starting the decomposition process. [Read more…]