Promoting native bee pollinators in organic farming systems

by Katie Navarra

Honey bees are the most widely known pollinator species. However, recent research shows there are numerous pollinator species and that the more diverse the species the increased pollination benefits. “There are thousands of bee species, some are solitary, some nest in the ground, others in twigs and trees,” explained David Crowder, Assistant Professor of Entomology at Washington State University.

During an eOrganic webinar, Crowder and Elias Bloom, a Ph.D. student in Entomology working in Crowder’s lab, discussed the diversity of native bees in farming systems and the roles they may play in supplement or replacing honey bees for pollination services.

“The decline of bees is a major issue globally,” Crowder added. Protecting all pollinators, including wild bees, is like providing insurance against the loss of honey bees. “If anything happens to honey bees or another species, when a rich, diverse population is present, it offsets the decrease in population,” he added.

Though findings from experimental tests are limited, the available studies suggest that as the number of pollinator species increases, seed production is also greater. “Only when there were up to 9 or 10 bee species is the efficiency similar to that of manual pollinating,” he said. [Read more…]

Public Notice by The Maine Pork Producers Association And the National Pork Board

The election of pork producer delegate candidates for the 2016 National Pork Producers {Pork Act} Delegate Body will take place at 1:30 P.M. Sunday, April 26, 2015. In
conjunction with a regular meeting of The Maine Pork Producers Association at the Witter farm classroom off College Ave at the University of Maine, Orono, 04473. All Maine Pork Producers are invited to attend. [Read more…]

Air blast sprayers: useful but difficult to calibrate

CN-MR-2-AIR BLAST2by Bill and Mary Weaver

Now New Hampshire and PA Extensions have a grant-funded calibration unit that can quickly and accurately measure the output of each nozzle on the sprayer. In Pennsylvania, the cost to the grower is $50 for the first sprayer and $35 for a second one. The rest of the expenses, estimated at $200, are paid for by grant funds supplied by the PA Department of Agriculture and the State Horticulture Association of PA. The calibration unit has eight cylinders, each with a quick-connect hose that connects to the nozzles on your air blast sprayer. “The unit does the job with precision,” says Dr. Kerry Richards, Director of the Pesticide Education Program for Penn State Extension. According to Richards, the grower can see on the unit which of his nozzles are ‘off’ and not working properly. “What’s at stake is your bottom line,” [Read more…]

New restrictions on the use of antibiotics in livestock feeding

by George Looby, DVM

For almost 60 years the use of antibiotics as additives in livestock and poultry feeds has been an accepted and recommended practice. It was found that such use increased feed efficiency and was thought to reduce the incidence of low grade infections. This practice did not go unnoticed by consumer groups who became concerned about the likelihood that such drugs would find their way into the human food chain with unknown consequences. For years this very active group made their concerns known to their legislators requesting that some sort of regulations be instituted that would control such activity. In time the medical community began to observe an increase in the number of antibiotic resistant strains they were observing in their practices. This was particularly evident in hospital settings where compromised patients were failing to to respond to conventional antibiotic therapy. This trend led to very real concern among physicians and hospital staff when the MRSA (Methacillin resistant Staph aureus) problem began to surface. [Read more…]