Make decisions regarding labor management and new equipment investment is something that most farmers face during normal business operations. Chris Blanchard of Purple Pitchfork shared his experience gathering accurate farm costs and production data for investment decisions at the 2014 Beginning Farmer Learning Network Conference recently. The lecture covered ways farmers can track, extrapolate and weigh labor costs and capacity against hiring staff or investing in tractors or other equipment; Using accurate data and careful budget analysis, farmers can maximize profits and make fewer poor decisions. [Read more…]
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…]
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…]
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…]
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…]
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…]
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…]
“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…]