MT. ULLA, NC — “Of everything I do, this is my favorite,” says Ryan Sloop as he walks down a stock lane, leading a group of Brown Swiss from his family’s dairy to one of the farm’s many grazing pastures. The herd follows behind him, eager to get to a fresh stand of grass. Zealous though they are, all of them are trained to follow Sloop’s lead. When he reached the entry to that morning’s paddock, Sloop steps aside and let the cows stream into the pasture. When they settle down to graze, Sloop appraises the action. “That’s a good sound,” he says, “Heads down – grass going in, milk coming out.” [Read more…]
The name of nearly any weed is a dirty word to both crop and vegetable farmers, and one weed group will be particularly challenging in the coming years.
Pigweeds have been around for a while, and have been fairly manageable until they started to exhibit signs of resistance to available herbicides. Herbicide resistance is a serious problem, defined as ‘when a labeled rate of a herbicide, which previously killed target species, will no longer control the target species.’ [Read more…]
Recently NRCS hosted a webinar regarding the importance of the carbon cycle in maintaining soils and agricultural systems, with a special emphasis on understanding the importance of nutrient cycling to better manage hayland. “Hayland is one of those land uses that many of us just often overlook,” said NRCS’s National Soil Health and Sustainability Team Leader David Lamm. “We think that just because something green is growing out there that means everything is fine in the soil ecosystem and all functions are go.” That’s not necessarily always the case, though. “We have actually a fairly degraded situation on our hayland acres because of our standard production” method of removing hay, said the webinar’s featured presenter, Jay Fuhrer. Removing all that vegetative matter removes carbon from the system and ultimately deleteriously impacts soils, and succeeding years’ hay crops. [Read more…]
The Pennsylvania Cattlemen’s Association held their 2015 annual Cattlemen’s Banquet at the PA Farm Show Complex VIP Banquet Center the evening of March 27. As part of the association’s daylong events, the banquet followed the 42nd annual Pennsylvania Performance Tested Bull Sale at the Pennsylvania Livestock Evaluation Center in Pennsylvania Furnace, Centre County earlier that day. [Read more…]
Farmers have understood for centuries that animal manure helps return vital nutrients to crop fields. Many farmers pull mechanical spreaders behind fossil fuel-burning tractors to move manure into fields, but at Polyface farm, livestock spread their own manure. Joel Salatin of Polyface Farm in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley advocates rotational grazing; they blend livestock and pasture species to puzzle pests.
Well managed grazing concentrates livestock in one area for a short period and then move them on. At Polyface farm, portable electric fences contain grazing beef herds. Farmers move the fences and livestock daily. Salatin said his animals look forward to their fresh “salad bar” each morning. The cattle graze forage at a sustainable level. They trample their manure patties ensuring good soil contact and starting the decomposition process. [Read more…]