Drainage affects manure management

CM-MN-MR-2-Drainage-affects50921by Sally Colby

No one has to tell a farmer that poorly drained soils are a problem throughout many regions of the United States, and can have significant negative impact on crop production.

“Poorly drained soils mean poor crops,” said Dr. Jeff Strock, University of Minnesota. “If we can get good drainage it can help remove excess water from the root zone of growing plants.” [Read more…]

Rotational grazing for maximum fertility and soil health

CEW-MR-2-ROTATIONAL-GRAZING_18312by Sanne Kure-Jensen

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…]

Animal aeration

CEW-MR-1-Animal-aeration12by Troy Bishopp

Have you ever had a dream so vivid it woke you from a sound sleep? Two weeks ago, it seems I fell prey to dreaming of green pastures, fence moves and frolicking cows. This joyful trance was rudely interrupted by a loud “MOO”. It was the kind of sound that suggests it’s a bit too real. This was not a dream, but what we affectionately call, “A class one farm emergency.”

As I bolted from the confines of a comfortable bed in unison with the “The cows are out” declaration, I saw several heifers munching on my wife’s shrubs under our window. Confusion, panic and anger swept over my demeanor as my wife, daughter and I tried to find some appropriate cow-catching attire at 4 a.m. My mind and heart raced as I propelled my sock-less feet into the cold rubber boots not thinking I was about to commit a fatal mistake. [Read more…]

Veterans: Beginning farmer education

CW-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…]

Make a difference says Farm Fusion speaker

CEW-MR-1-Farm-Fusion3by Pat Malin

EAST SYRACUSE, NY — As a sought-after professional speaker and radio commentator, Steve Gilliland logs thousands of miles on the road each day. It would be easy for him to lose direction and a sense of purpose.

It doesn’t happen, however, because he remembers the dark days that forced him to examine his life and take control.

Gilliland was the keynote speaker at the New York Farm Bureau’s Fusion Forum: “Fusing Purpose, Passion & Pride to Ignite Your Potential” at the DoubleTree hotel in East Syracuse in March. It was the first of two days of lectures and workshops aimed primarily at young farmers and ranchers. [Read more…]