Animal agriculture, climate change and sustainability

by Tamara Scully

There isn’t one set definition of sustainable practices for livestock production. Even among producers, sustainable production is based on a variety of perspectives, and takes multiple forms. While debates on grass-fed production, confined animal feeding operations, synthetic inputs and other practices often divide those in the agricultural sector, non-farmers are also weighing in with their own definitions of sustainable livestock production.

“We definitely have issues with miscommunication,” when 98 percent of eaters are non-farmers, Sarah Place, Ph.D, assistant professor, Sustainable Beef Cattle Systems, Oklahoma State University said.

Environmental impact, social issue, and economic viability are all components of sustainable farming systems, according to Place. Sustainability, from the producer’s perspective, has to encompass long-term business viability, stewardship of natural resources, animal welfare, and responsibility to the community and to the family. [Read more…]

Time-saving dairy technology

CW-MR-1-Dairy technologyby Sally Colby

Homestead Dairy’s vision statement fits nearly any dairy farm in the northeast: “To supply the highest-quality agricultural products in a sustainable way, creating a positive impact for the business and community.”

Their mission statement follows closely: “We will grow our operation sustainably and efficiently by leveraging technology, but we will not sacrifice the well-being of our employees or animals.” [Read more…]

Managing bad stink bugs with good stink bugs

CN-MR-2-Stink bugs71by Katie Navarra

It’s easy to classify stink bugs as “bad” bugs because of the severe crop damage they cause. But, not all stink bugs are “bad” stink bugs. In Indonesia specific species of stink bugs are used to draw astringent out of tea leaves before harvesting. In other parts of the world, stink bugs are even edible.

However, Brown Marmorated Stink Bugs (BMSB) have caused significant damage to crops in the Mid-Atlantic. Brown Marmorated Stink Bugs originated in Asia and were first identified in apple orchards in Allentown, PA.

“They were first recorded as household or ornamental pests because they go into the house to overwinter,” said Dr. Yong-Lak Park Ph.D., an associate professor in the entomology department at West Virginia University. By 2000 BMSB invaded Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, West Virginia and Virginia. “It is the most severe agricultural problem in the Mid-Atlantic,” he added. [Read more…]

Ag literacy for growers

Lori Connelly considers a question being asked. Photos by Steve Wagnerby Steve Wagner

“Sometimes when I’m sitting in an airplane or waiting at the dentist’s office, having a conversation with somebody sitting next to me, I feel like I am lost in translation when I am trying to speak agriculture to the folks who are buying our products.” The speaker was Lori Connelly, formerly Communications Director for Penn-Ag Industries, and who has also worked for Land O’ Lakes. She is currently the Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Ag Resource Centers, which is a partnership between the Penn State College of Ag Sciences and the Pennsylvania Legislature.

Connelly acknowledges that the term ‘ag literacy’ is a phrase that is thrown around liberally, and that consumers are in a very interesting place right now. “Their interest in food and where it comes from is very high,” she said, “but their proximity to agricultural production is often pretty low. Most folks are fairly well removed from the farm now. Less than one percent are involved in production agriculture, and yet there is this ever-growing interest in food.” [Read more…]

2015 CNY Small Grain Workshop addresses drying, storage and variety selection (Part 1)

CEW-MR-1-Small Grains pt 1by Elizabeth A. Tomlin

Nearly 100 grain producers and crop advisers braved the weather to attend the 2015 CNY Small Grain Workshop hosted by CCE Oneida County and the CNY Dairy and Field Crops Team of Chenango, Fulton, Herkimer, Montgomery, Otsego, Saratoga and Schoharie Counties.

Speakers at the event included Dr. Kenneth Hellevang of the Agricultural & Biosystems Engineering Dept at the North Dakota State University; Margaret Smith, Cornell University College of Agriculture and Life Sciences School of Integrative Plant Science Plant Breeding and Genetics; Weed Scientist, Dr. Russ Hahn, School of Integrative Plant Science, Soil and Crop Sciences at Cornell University; Dr. Gary Bergstrom, Professor of Plant Pathology, Cornell University Department of Plant Pathology and Plant-Microbe Biology and producer Donn Branton of Le Roy, NY, who told of his farming experience. [Read more…]