From tobacco to cattle

CM-MR-2-Ridgecrest2by Sally Colby

When Mark Bray was growing up in North Carolina, he and his grandmother made a deal: they saved some discarded flue-cured tobacco, sold it, and split the profit.

“That got me a little bit of money,” said Mark, who also had a small plot of tobacco of his own. “When you’re in the seventh grade, that’s the most money you can ever imagine having. But I wanted a calf so bad that I saved my money and bought a heifer.” [Read more…]

Mob grazing

CM-MR-2-Mobgrazing2by Karl H. Kazaks

Recently the NRCS hosted a seminar on the soil health and production benefits of mob grazing. Over 400 people from around the country joined to listen to Doug Peterson, Missouri’s State Soil Health Specialist (and past State Grazing Specialist), speak about the practice.

Peterson, who farms in northern Missouri said in many parts of the country soils have been degraded. [Read more…]

On-farm safety concerns for biomass production

CEWM-CN-MR-1-BiomassProd14by Tamara Scully

The United States has reduced its greenhouse gas emissions and has almost reached its 2020 goal. There is still a long way to go to meet the goals set for 2050. The use of biomass products will play a large role in reaching this goal, and today’s farmers are gearing up production of alternative fuel sources such as switchgrass, willow and other plant-based crops to be harvested for fuel use. [Read more…]

The poster child for marginal ground

CEW-MR-3-Switchgrass1015by Sally Colby

Most farmers in the northeast aren’t doing much baling in April, but because of the early winter and persistent snow cover in the winter of 2013/2014, it was impossible for Andy Bater to harvest his crop until just a month ago. Bater’s crop is switchgrass, a native, warm-season grass that is gaining recognition as a crop suitable for marginal ground. Switchgrass can be used as a ground cover for erodible soil, as cover for game or for mine reclamation, and is often harvested green for hay or after frost kill for livestock bedding. There is also considerable research into using switchgrass as a renewable energy source, or biofuel. [Read more…]