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…]

NAFDMA 2015 “Setting the Stage”

CM-CN-MR-3-NAFDMA_IMG_7673 copyby Branden Jaquays

This year’s get-together for the North American Farmers’ Direct Marketing Association took place in Nashville and Knoxville, TN. The week-long event was part trade show, part tour and also featured two days of in-depth marketing specific demonstrations and discussions by experts and peers on how members can best grow their business. With several hundred in attendance, extra transportation was need to bus groups to various tour stops around the areas of both cities. [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…]

Preparing for peeps

CN-MR-1-PREPARING FOR PEEPS2522by Sally Colby

Open the door to the local hardware or feed store at this time of year and you’re likely to be greeted by the peeping of newly hatched chicks. Whether you’ve raised poultry in the past or are thinking about it for the first time, there are some considerations for successful, small-scale poultry production.

“Raising chickens can be fun,” said Chicken Whisperer® Andy Schneider, USDA/APHIS national spokesperson for biosecurity for birds. “But it’s a major commitment not to be entered into without careful research and a clear understanding of the downside. Like other animals, chickens can create an odor if not properly taken care of. Chickens and their coops must be kept clean, and chickens must be kept safe from predators. Daily attention includes providing fresh food and water and regular egg collection. Coops must be cleaned regularly, including basic cleaning several times a month and a good overall cleaning with disinfectant once or twice a year. Nesting and bedding materials must be provided and changed. And chickens can be noisy.” [Read more…]