Veterans: Beginning farmer education

CN-MR-1-VETERANS_1849by Sanne Kure-Jensen

Agricultural training programs designed for veterans should include plenty of hands-on experiences for this high-energy group. Norm Conrad, Northeast Director of the National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT) strongly suggests having extra materials on-hand as well as an extra group exercise or activity in the curriculum. Veterans are often more focused, productive and efficient than other workshop attendees. [Read more…]

Permaculture: strategies for diversification

by Katie Navarra

A lot of people are talking about permaculture, a system that relies on designing planting configurations to work more like an ecosystem. Until recently, the practice has largely been associated with the landscape industry. However, farms nationwide ranging from less than five acres in production to more than 100 acres in production are beginning to incorporate the principles of permaculture on their farms.

During the e-Organic webinar, Permaculture on Organic Farms, Rafter Ferguson along with Ron Revord and Kevin Wolz, all graduate students at the University of Illinois, Urban-Champaign campus, explained the basics of permaculture, offered information on how to incorporate the concept on farms and discussed opportunities and challenges associated with a permaculture design system. [Read more…]

2015 CNY Small Grain Workshop ~ Part 2

CEW-MR-1-Small grainpt2by Elizabeth A. Tomlin

Professor Margaret Smith, Cornell University College of Agriculture and Life Sciences School of Integrative Plant Science Plant Breeding and Genetics, informed attendees at the 2015 CNY Small Grain Workshop about small grain variety trial results and performance in New York State.

Smith reported that regional testing sites are scattered across the state, providing a wide range of results, while adding to the multi-year data base. [Read more…]

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…]