Trouble-shooting irrigation ponds

Homeowner treating algae in an irrigation pond.by Bill and Mary Weaver

Farm ponds can be both beautiful and functional as irrigation reservoirs. In addition, having a pond can save you about 10 percent on your farm insurance premium, if you install the right type of fire hydrant hookup for your local fire department. “These hook ups cost only a couple hundred dollars to put in,” commented Bryan Swistock, Penn State Water Resources Extension Coordinator. Some regular attention to potential problems can help to keep your pond from causing you headaches. Here are some suggestions from Swistock for irrigation pond owners, starting with ones that could be less obvious until you find yourself clobbered by them. [Read more…]

Making your farm more profitable

CF4-MR-2-DECISION MAKING120by Sanne Kure-Jensen

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…]

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…]

Big news at burley meeting: new fungicide now available for black shank

CM-MR-2-TOBACCO-3aby Karl H. Kazaks

PHENIX, VA — Extension recently hosted a series of tobacco production and GAP certification meetings across Southside Virginia. The three meetings, held in Blackstone (at the Southern Piedmont AREC), South Hill and Scottsburg, focused on flue-cured tobacco. Roughly 100 people were in attendance. A fourth meeting, held at the Midway Baptist Church outside Phenix, addressed dark fire-cured tobacco and burley production and drew over 60 people. The meetings were also opportunities to get pesticide recertification and thus attracted some non-tobacco producers. [Read more…]