Robbing the soil bank

by Paris Reidhead

Recently, I ran into a farmer named Pat at a farm supply dealership I work with. Pat was going over soil test results with the co-owner. He wanted a fertilizer and weed control recommendation for a 3-acre field of pumpkins. Upon examining the soil test results, Buddy wanted to avoid custom blending (which they don’t do themselves), and proposed a standard formulation. Thus he recommended 300 pounds per acre of 19-19-19. I asked Pat if I could look at the soil test results. He said yes. I saw the 1.9 percent organic matter and asked him what had caused this problem.

Pat said the previous cropman had rented the field, planting only corn the last five years, with no manure or cover crop — just commercial fertilizer and herbicide. [Read more…]

Fresh air swine

CM-MR-1-Fresh-Air-Swi1neby Tamara Scully

Hog operations aren’t normally associated with fresh, outdoor air. The industrial swine industry has had its share of critics, due to air quality and water pollution issues, as well as welfare issues concerning the raising of livestock in enclosed, close quarters, the use of farrowing pens and more. [Read more…]

The things you learn on a farm tour

CDM-50-3-Things-you-learn10498by Steve Wagner

Friday, April 8, was supposed to be sunny, albeit on the chilly side. Perfect for a farm tour and it was, except for a brief gate-crashing blizzard that lasted for roughly half an hour. To be fair, a reminder sent the day before cautioned Please Dress Warm. No one was caught short. That’s the first thing you learn on a farm tour — be prepared. [Read more…]

Food Justice: wages, safety and more

by Tamara Scully

Farmers in New York and other states are protesting laws aimed at raising the minimum wage. They cannot make a profit and keep farming while paying these “living wages,” or so the popular argument goes. But farm workers shouldn’t have to live on wages that don’t make it feasible for them to afford housing, food, health care, and other living expenses. It’s a quandary, and only by altering the way in which we view food and farms can farm workers, farmers and the farms themselves thrive. [Read more…]

Limiting pathogens in irrigated manure

CF4-MR-38-3-Limiting-patho1gens6180by Sally Colby

When farms have an irrigation system in place for crops, they can often use the same system for distributing liquid manure. Manure application via an irrigation system result in less time on the road, rapid uptake of nutrients by crops, and less risk of runoff and groundwater contamination. Manure distribution through irrigation also helps reduce volume in storage facilities when levels are close to the top. [Read more…]