James Brown part of effort to test chickpea production in Virginia

CM-MR-3-James Brown 1by Karl H. Kazaks
CLOVER, VA — James Brown has long been a diversified farmer, growing corn, wheat, beans, and tobacco as well as raising cattle. This year, though, he planted an entirely new crop: chickpeas.
Brown is one of four farmers in Virginia participating in a test project organized by Virginia State University, to determine if chickpeas could be a viable (high-value) commercial crop in the commonwealth. Brown is one of two participants from Halifax County. The other two are from Surry and Greensville Counties. The project is funded in part by Sabra Dipping Company, the country’s largest maker of hummus. (Chickpeas are the main ingredient in hummus.)
Farmers were selected based on two criteria. They had to be interested in growing a new crop and have available land and equipment to grow the crop (what you would need for growing soybeans, using a different planter plate).
Brown met those criteria and then some, said Cliff Somerville, small farm outreach agent at VSU and one of the main organizers of the chickpea demonstration.
“Mr. Brown has been very successful in the other crops he’s grown,” Somerville said.
Each of the farmers planted four varieties of chickpeas to, Somerville said, “get an idea of which variety responds best to this general area.” [Read more…]

Shoot ‘em up!

CM-HR-MR-3-Shoot em up7183by Sally Colby
It’s the fastest growing equestrian sport in the nation. Contestants in western garb race the clock as they use two .45 caliber single action revolvers with five rounds of specially loaded blanks to shoot at balloons from the back of a horse.
It’s called cowboy mounted shooting, and nearly every horse and rider has the potential to train and compete.
The process of starting a horse in mounted shooting should be slow and steady. Bobby Knight, who trains horses and riders for mounted shooting, says that the first step is evaluating the horse. As Knight worked with a first-time shooter and her mare, he described the process he uses to see how a horse might react to the sudden sound of gunfire.
“I clap my hands — with just that noise alone you can see how a horse is going to react,” said Knight, who was in Pennsylvania recently for a training clinic. “I could see that the horse was pretty comfortable with noise. We worked the mare, then when she was resting, I made a lot of noise so that she’d accept the noise as part of the resting time.” [Read more…]

CNY 2013 Farm Progress Show ~ old friends and new technology

CEW-MR-4-Farm Progress4by Elizabeth A. Tomlin
Folks attending Central New York’s Farm Progress Show have viewed farm improvements and technology updates over nearly 40 years — and this year was no different!
“I believe I have attended the CNY Farm Progress Show for 16 years,” remarked CCE CNY Dairy Specialist Dave Balbian. “Computerization and advances in technology are probably the biggest changes I’ve seen. Nobody was selling Robotic Milkers 16 years ago!”
Balbian is only one of many people who noticed new technology exhibited.
Bigger tractors with better safety features, computerized TMR mixers, waste recycling equipment and more products available for all aspects of agricultural needs were displayed at this year’s event. [Read more…]

Implementing forested buffers in a rotational grazing system

by Tamara Scully
The Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture recently hosted a field day, designed to introduce area farmers to the use of forested riparian buffers and other conservation practices. The event was held at Forks Farm Market in Orangeville, PA, an 85 acre diverse livestock farm, located in the Chesapeake Bay watershed. Susan Beal, DVM, ag science advisor and interim farm based education coordinator for PASA, moderated the event, which featured pasture walks, slideshow presentations and group discussions.
Farmers John and Todd Hopkins have been grazing cows on their farm since 1985. After initially running as a cow/calf operation and selling to a sales barn, they realized that making a profit was going to require a change in business planning. [Read more…]