Animal care in USDA Research Program

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…]

Rotational grazing for maximum fertility and soil health

CN-MR-2-ROTATIONAL-GRAZING-4101by Sanne Kure-Jensen

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…]

Fighting Fire Blight

CN-MR-2-FIRE-BLIGHT4940by Kristen M. Castrataro

The 2014 growing season was surprisingly difficult for many apple and pear growers in Southern New England. The warm, wet spring resulted in widespread fire blight, a bacterial disease whose symptoms include blossom blight, shoot blight, cankers, fruit lesions, and in extreme cases tree death. To help farmers combat this emerging disease, the Rhode Island Fruit Growers’ Association invited Jon Clements from University of Massachusetts Extension to address fire blight at their annual meeting held on March 18, 2015 at the RI Farm Bureau offices in West Greenwich, RI. [Read more…]

New England Farmers Union

CN-MR-1-NE FARM UNION(2)by George Looby, DVM

The New England Farmers Union (NEFU) was founded in 2006 as a chapter member of the National Farmers Union, an agricultural advocacy organization founded in 1906. With headquarters in Turners Falls, MA, it is a membership organization committed to enhancing the quality of life for family farmers, fishermen, nurserymen and their customers through educational opportunities, co-operative endeavors and civic engagement. The members engage New England elected officials and public agencies to implement and enforce laws and regulations that will strengthen and support New England agriculture and fisheries. Regional legislators look to NEFU for advice and counsel when deciding on how to vote on issues pertaining to the Union’s mission. [Read more…]