The little engine that could: Barstow’s Longview Farm

CN-MR-3-LittleEngine041by Laura Rodley

Cows have always been considered unusual due to their unique style of digestion: their stomach has four chambers. Now Barstow’s Longview Farm in Hadley, MA will be known for having a unique stomach of its own — a BGreen Energy’s Anaerobic Digester that converts manure and food scraps into fertilizer and enough electricity to power the entire farm, plus surrounding houses. The key word is sustainable.

Septimus Barstow started the farm in 1806. It is now managed by 6th generation David Barstow and his brother Steven, with 7th generation Steven Barstow II poised to take over. They raise 450 Holsteins, farm 400 acres and employ six people. Fifteen more people work at Barstow’s Dairy Store and Bakery. [Read more…]

Cheesemaker food safety workshop

CN-MR-1-Cheesemaker
by George Looby, DVM

On June 6 the University of Connecticut (UConn) was the site of an all-day workshop on food safety in the cheesemaking industry. This intensive overview of the subject was conducted by Dr. Dennis D’Amico of the Department of Animal Science in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources. Dr. D’Amico is an assistant professor of dairy foods. His primary activities focus on improving the safety and quality of milk and value-added dairy products. Before coming to UConn, he was a founding member of the Vermont Institute for Artisan Cheese. [Read more…]

Houcks looking to upgrade their Culpeper dairy with automatic milkers

CM-MR-2-Houckby Karl H. Kazaks

CULPEPER, VA — “We need to upgrade,” said Joe Houck, explaining his family’s plan to build a new dairy parlor with robotic milkers. “Our current parlor was modern decades ago.”

Construction hasn’t begun yet, but within a year Houck and his son Craig, who farms full-time with his father, expect work to be underway on a new parlor and tank room, and an extension of the freestall barn.

At present, the dairy milks 140 Holsteins 2x. The Houcks intend to internally build their herd to 180 cows by the time they move to the new parlor, to be better sized for three automatic milkers. [Read more…]

Guardian plants: the ultimate Trojan Horses of pest management

Cew-GR-MR-2-Guardianby Sanne Kure-Jensen

Guardian plants offer simple, non-chemical pest management in field crop and greenhouse settings. Guardian plants include indicator plants, trap crops and banker plants. Their use can dramatically reduce the need for pesticides. Jack Manix, of Walker Farm in Vermont, said the key is to know your likely pests and plan ahead. Keep and consult last year’s records of pest outbreaks to anticipate when to expect repeat outbreaks of pests such as aphids, thrips, whitefly or spider mites. Establish your guardian plants before you are likely to have a pest problem. [Read more…]

Getting in touch with your pasture soil

CEW-MR-4-Pasture soil1by Troy Bishopp, Madison Co. SWCD/Upper Susquehanna Coalition Grazing Specialist

WHITESVILLE, NY — While many farmers in Allegany and Steuben counties were out mowing hay after a week of severe thunderstorms, dairyman Chris Reinbold was hosting a workshop focused on learning more about soil health practices, biology and monitoring tools to improve his rotationally grazed pastures.

According to Steuben County’s Soil and Water Conservation District grazing specialist and co-organizer, Jonathan Barter, “Soil is a vibrant, living organism and not just a sterile medium for growing things. The way we have treated this life-giving resource is tragic.” Inspired by the way longtime graziers had sequestered the deluges of rain from Hurricane Sandy, he and Scott Alsworth from the Allegany County Soil and Water Conservation District set out to change the conversation about soil after taking a soil health training regime at USDA-NRCS Big Flats Plant Material Center in Corning, NY. [Read more…]