Though retired, Penn State Extension Specialist Tom McCarty is still the go-to guy for solving water problems involving pesticides and other potentially dangerous potables. A case in point, chronicled by a Penn State magazine, showed how McCarty successfully solved the plight of a woman who was being plagued by an unknown malady. This Harrisburg, PA, woman had been experiencing nausea, diarrhea and skin rashes for three years. No one could determine what was causing her ailment; best guesses indicated some sort of possible allergy. Consequently the remedy, in light of that non-professional diagnosis, was to try to purge the house of possible toxins by getting rid of plastics, clothing made with synthetic fabrics, chemical cleaners, and furniture with formaldehyde. Air filters had even been added to the house but none of those steps were of any avail. Continue reading
by Karl H. Kazaks
OLD HICKORY, VA — In the sandy soils of eastern Dinwiddie and western Sussex Counties, at the upper reaches of the Coastal Plain, Robert Spiers practices conservation tilling.
His motivation? To build up his soils and improve their water holding capacity as well as reduce equipment hours. Spiers was one of the first farmers in the area to practice strip till with cotton, and has been using strip till with corn for decades.
At the time, the sharp increase in fuel and fertilizer prices led Mark to talk with local ag extension agent Michael Parrish about ways to save on production costs. Parrish, drawing on the efforts of Virginia Tech’s Dr. David Reed (based at the extension center in Blackstone) suggested conservation tillage. Continue reading
by Stephen Wagner
“Making silage is like making wine. An excellent winemaker cannot make fine wine from bad grapes. And a bad winemaker will certainly make bad wine from good grapes.” That was the opening gambit and theme setter from presenter Robert Fry, DVM, at a breakout session at Pennsylvania’s 2013 Dairy Summit. After graduating from the University of Georgia, College of Veterinary Medicine in 1977, Fry began a bovine veterinary practice on the Delmarva Peninsula. His career interest has always centered on production and health issues of dairy cows. In 1994, after years of working in traditional dairy operations, he was convinced that a healthy alternative was to manage and feed cows with the principles of Managed Intensive Grazing. To that extent Fry has become a partner in a grazing, seasonal breeding Jersey herd in Kennedyville, MD. He continues to practice Continue reading
by Tamara Scully
Silvopasture is the managed integration of trees and livestock, utilizing the land both to produce a tree crop and to graze livestock. This multi-tasking can result in diverse income streams, with money from timber, nuts, syrup or other tree by-product, plus income from livestock production. Silvopasturing enhances both systems: the forest and the animals. It is one of five recognized agroforestry practices in the United States.
Unmanaged woodland grazing can be extremely detrimental to the ecosystem, and may not add any value to a livestock production system. A few scattered trees in a pasture can cause more harm than good. But neither of these scenarios represent a silvopasturing practice.