Thursday, March 31, 2011

Making the Most with a Small Vegetable Garden

(Even though the topic is on small vegetable gardens, the concept can be used for small vegetable farms as well.  debi kelly)

The purpose of intensive gardening is to harvest the most produce possible from a given space. More traditional gardens usually consist of long, single rows of vegetables that are often widely spaced. Much of the garden area consists of the space between rows that is not occupied by plants. An intensive garden minimizes wasted space.

However, the practice is not just for those with limited garden space; other reasons that gardeners plan an intensive garden include creating an ideal plant environment and obtaining better yields with less labor and other inputs.

A good intensive garden requires early, careful planning to make the best use of space. Interrelationships of plants must be considered before planting, including nutrient needs, shade tolerance, above- and below-ground growth patterns and preferred growing season. The following techniques are common to most high-yielding intensive gardens:

Raised growing beds
Raised beds are the basic unit of an intensive garden. A system of beds allows the gardener to concentrate soil preparation on small areas, which results in effective use of soil amendments and creates an ideal growing environment.

This practice of growing two or more types of vegetables in the same place at the same time can help reduce weed and pest problems. Proper planning is essential to use interplanting effectively.

Close spacing
Individual plants are usually more closely spaced than in a conventional garden. An equidistant spacing pattern is often used that calls for plants to be planted so that the center of one plant is the same distance from plants on all sides. In beds of more than two rows, this means that the rows are staggered so that plants in every other row are between the plants in adjacent rows.

Succession planting
Successional plantings involve replacing the spent plants of one crop with something new. Again, planning is key to raising a series of crops that will produce from spring through late fall, such as spring peas followed by summer corn succeeded by a fall lettuce crop.

Relay planting
Relaying consists of overlapping plantings of one type of crop. The new planting is made before the old one is removed. For example, this might be done by seeding three different plantings of green beans two weeks apart.

Despite the benefits, the intensive garden may not be for everyone. Some people enjoy the sight of long, straight rows in their gardens. Others prefer machine cultivation to hand weeding. Though there is often less weeding to do in intensive plantings because of fewer pathways and closely spaced plants, the weeding that is needed must be done by hand or with hand tools. Some gardeners like to get their gardens planted in a very short period of time and harvest all at once, later in the growing season. The intensive garden focuses on growing something in every part of the garden during an extended growing season.

This article came from the MU Guide Vegetable Gardening, MG5. Contact your local MU Extension office for the guide.   (Submitted: James Quinn, MU Extension Horticulture Specialist)

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Getting Started in Organic Farming Webinar

The Missouri Beginning Farmers Program will continue its monthly webinars in April with a presentation by Liz Graznak of Happy Hollow Farm titled, “Getting Started in Organic Farming.” The webinar will be Monday April 4th from 7:00 to 8:30 pm with a PowerPoint presentation. There will be two additional opportunities to learn from Liz, April 11th and April 18th, both from 7:00 to 8:30 pm. These will be live chats in a Question/Answer format where Liz will answer questions brought forth by participants in the webinar. Liz is well known in the Columbia, MO area for her organic vegetables and CSA operation.

Meeting Name: Getting Started in Organic Agriculture
When: Monday April 4, 7:00 - 8:30 pm Central Time
To join the meeting go to

Meeting Name: Getting Started in Organic Agriculture Qs & As Part 1
When: Monday April 11, 7:00 - 8:30 pm Central Time
To join the meeting go to

Meeting Name: Beginning Organic Agriculture Qs & As Part 2
When: Monday April 18, 7:00 - 8:30 pm Central Time
To join the meeting go to

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Strategies for Success

Every farm and every farmer's situation is different - a unique sest of advantages and disadvantages.  The following are strategies that can be used to help.

1.  Work on vegetable farms of difference scales, crops, soil types and marketing outlets.
2.  Seek and vultivate relationships with mrntor farm(s)/farmers(s).
3.  Start small and grow as your business grows.
4.  Rent land and borrow equipment before making a long-term commitment to farming.
5.  Support yourselves off-farm for the first 4-5 years in order to reinvest all farming profits back into the business, save for future capital purchases, and avoid all debt other than a farm mortgage if possible.
6.  Join farmer-based agricultural organizations and engage in farmer-to-farmer learning opportunities: tours, field days, conferneces, workshops, webinars, etc.
7.  Enroll in farm financial planning courses (Grow Your Farm is an excellent one) and also get a great accountant.
8.  Explore and take advantage of traditional farm programs, loans, and small buiness resources through the NRCS, FSA, MO Dept of Ag and MU Extension.
(taken from Farmers' Market Today, March/April 2009 with adaptation for Missouri beginning farmers)

Friday, March 25, 2011

Pastured Poultry Webinar - March 28

Join us on Monday, March 28th from 7-8:30 pm for the 3rd in a series of Pastured Poultry with Curtis Millsap of Millsap Farm.  To join in on the webinar go to

The Millsap Farm is a small 20 acre family run farm located minutes from Springfield MO. Millsap Farm is a diverse blend of pasture, gardens, ponds, forest, and greenhouses. We raise chickens, turkeys, cows, goats, ducks, geese, garlic, flowers, vegetables, bedding plants and vegetable starts. We are in the process of adding an orchard, which will include peaches, apples, pears, plums, blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries.  We have naturally raised pastured poultry, chicken, turkey, ducks, geese, eggs, beef by the cut, whole or half all for sale from our farmstand.

Millsap Farm raises chickens, turkeys, ducks and geese on pasture. As you may already know, pastured poultry is healthier because it is constantly consuming grass, clover, and bugs. These healthier chickens make healthier meat, lower in fat, higher in protein, with more nutrients, and higher proportions of Omega3 fatty acids ( the good fats). Perhaps more importantly, they taste incredible, with a texture, flavor, and juiciness that can’t be found in store-bought chicken. This summer we are raising 100 chickens every 3 weeks with the last butcher date the first week of November. We have been butchering on Friday and you can pick up fresh (unfrozen) chickens, or giblets from our farm stand Fridays after 3:30 pm. We then bring any extra with us to Greater Springfield Farmers Market and Willard Market on Saturday. Preorder your chickens to ensure availability. Remember to put a few in the freezer as we do not raise them all winter long. We may have some in our freezer so give us a call If we’re out, we’ll be glad to put your order into the next batch of chickens. A chicken usually weighs about 3-4 lbs, and the cost is $2.45 lb at the farm and $2.60 lb at the farmers markets.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Growing More Dollars for Your Farm

Farming today encompasses more than growing and harvesting crops. For an increasing number of farm owners, it's also about cultivating urban visitors, schools and other groups wanting to experience the rural lifestyle. And often, they're willing to pay for these experiences.

Agritourism represents a growing trend, and an increasing number of farm owners are jumping on board. From pig races to corn mazes to hayrides, farmers are offering a myriad of opportunities for customers who come with cash or credit card in hand.

If you want to capitalize on the agritourism trend, consider some initial key steps:

-- Determine family commitment. Each family member needs to be part of a discussion about where you want to go with the business, which members want to work in the business, how to attain the necessary skills, and how much privacy you are willing to give up to make the business work.

-- Thoroughly evaluate your farm property and think through essential questions. What can be done with non-tillable land? Where would you locate the key elements of the agritourism business? What can be offered to urban visitors and groups to make them want to come and return?

-- Think about sales tools. First impressions go a long way in attracting customers. Property layout, scenic vistas and a rural farming ambiance add to visitors' experience. It doesn't require lot of money. You can use an attention-grabbing website with maps, list of activities offered and engaging photos.

-- Generate promotional ideas. Functional farm signs with the same look and theme should direct visitors to activities, buildings, food and fields. Signage on pickups and other vehicles promote your business wherever they're driven.

-- Join groups to facilitate your business. Successful agritourism operators get involved in local civic groups and state tourism organizations and develop partnerships with other local businesses and events.
(This Tip of the Week was brought to you by Delta Farm Press.) 

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Urban Homesteading: Returning to the Lost Art of Sustainable Living

What is the first thing that comes to mind when you think about home-steading? Do you think about canning tomatoes with your grandmother? Often times, sustainable living comes to mind. Sustainable living is not just for rural people: Even with limited or no space, you can take steps to become more self-reliant! In light of turbulent economic times, many Americans are turning to the lost art of self-sufficiency.

The mission of University of Missouri’s Urban Homesteading Program is simple: To empower urban and rural individuals to take steps to become more self-sufficient by providing tools and education on basic home-steading practices. Class topics include container gardening, food preser-vation information, stretching your food dollars, and tips to help you live on less. No, we’re not going to ask you what kind of vehicle you drive or whether you use paper, plastic or reusable bags. This program will help you determine what’s important to YOU, and provide tools and information to help you incorporate those sustainable behaviors into your everyday life.

Urban Homesteading is a six-week program and will be held on Monday evenings beginning April 11th through May 16th at the Jefferson County Extension Center in Hillsboro from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Registration is $50 and includes an 18 hour workshop, the Urban Homesteading Resource Workbook, Resource CD and refreshments. Class size is limited, so enroll today by calling the Jefferson County Extension Office at (636) 797-5391 or emailing. Please make checks payable to the Jefferson County Extension and mail to PO Box 497, Hillsboro, MO 63050.
(By Lynn Heins, Agriculture Business Specialist, Washington County Extension)

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Beginning Farmer Training Program Accepting Applications

We are now accepting applications to the Summer/Fall 2011 entrepreneurship training program for new and beginning Missouri farmers. The Entrepreneurship Project is designed to help beginning farmers develop an entrepreneurial approach to their farming operation. The intensive program includes 4 sessions with site visits to innovative farm businesses in St. Louis, Kansas City, Columbia and the State of Vermont. It also includes classroom sessions on identifying business opportunities, developing your business plan, marketing and financing creative farm ventures.

Participants need to be beginning farmers (farming for less than 10 years) or interested in getting started farming. Young people who grew up on farms and are looking for ways to return to farming are welcome to apply—working on their family’s farm when growing up does not exclude them from the program. Couples and farm partners are also welcome to apply, but each person who wishes to participate must complete the application materials. The application process is simple, and includes responding to the questions below.

You can find additional information on the project’s blog. Questions should be directed to Jill Lucht at or 573-884-3185. Applications are due May 31.

Application Information:

1. Name, address, phone, email address:

2. Are you available for all of the dates required*?

    July 26-30, 2011 St Louis
    August 28-Sept 2, 2011 Vermont
    October 4-8, 2011 Kansas City
    Nov 29-Dec 2, 2011 Columbia

When we meet in Missouri, our program convenes on Tuesday evening and runs through Saturday morning. The Vermont dates are inclusive of travel time.

3. Why are you interested in participating in The Entrepreneurship Project? (Please describe your interest in approximately 100 words.)

4. What are you hoping to learn in The Entrepreneurship Project (approximately 100 words)?

5. Are you currently involved in farming? If YES, tell us about it.

6. Are you currently employed in a non-farm career? If yes, tell us about your current field.

7. Are there any particular small farm entrepreneurship opportunities (type of production, marketing, etc.) that you are interested in?

*The Entrepreneurship Project is pleased to underwrite the majority of costs associated with the four instructional modules, including hotel rooms, airfare to the Vermont-based module, and the majority of meals during the modules. If a participant is unable to attend a module, the Entrepreneurship Project may still be billed for plane tickets, lodging, and other expenses. Therefore, we ask all persons accepted into the program to keep a credit card authorization form on file in the fiscal office of Department of Agricultural Economics at The University of Missouri. Your credit card information will be stored in a locked, secure location until you complete The Entrepreneurship Project. After your graduation from the program, your form will be shredded. Your credit card will only be charged if you fail to participate in the four modules.

This project is supported by the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, USDA, Grant # MO-SSCG1163.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Online Advertising Now a Strong Choice

According to information just released this week through the Associated Press, the local, network and cable television news, newspapers, radio and magazines all lost audience share last year. The number of people who now get their news online at least three times a week surpassed newspapers for the first time. It's no surprise, then, that newspaper circulation continues to decline.

So what does that mean for farm marketers? How do we get the word out about our businesses in a cost effective manner.

Well, it just so happens that I had already written an article last week about what I see to be the next big farm marketing media strategy that you need to consider - Online Advertising. Click here for full article.

Based on my 2010 fall farm survey, I tallied an interesting trend that 26% of our survey responders are now using online Internet advertising - a 10% increase over 2009. The comments from the users were generally very positive and indicated that they plan to increase their marketing budget this year with online advertising.

The most accessible Internet advertising programs can be found on Google, Yahoo, and other search engines, as well as on the popular social network, Facebook.

I certainly can appreciate that this will take time to learn and just another thing to add to your "to do" list. However, as our traditional media sources decline in viewers and listeners, we must make new decisions as to where to spend our limited advertising dollars.

While Online Advertising might not necessarily be for everyone - it is time that you consider this marketing strategy as another tool to add to your marketing plan for 2011
(taken from Eckert AgriMarketing e-updates, 3.17.11)

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Farms' Renewable Energy Production Shows Big (?) Growth

The number of solar panels, wind turbines, and methane digesters on America's farms and ranches has increased significantly over the past decade, according to survey results released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) on February 23. There are now 8,569 operations producing their own renewable energy, according to the 2009 On-Farm Renewable Energy Production Survey. Conducted by the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service as a follow-up to the most recent Census of Agriculture, this was the first nationwide survey to look at renewable energy practices on America's farms and ranches.

According to the survey findings, solar panels were the most prominent way to produce on-farm energy. In 2009, farmers on 7,968 operations nationwide reported using photovoltaic and thermal solar panels. The use of wind turbines was reported by farmers on 1,420 operations across 48 states. The use of methane digesters was reported by 121 operations in 29 states. California leads the nation with 1,956 operations producing renewable energy, accounting for nearly a quarter of all participants in the United States. Colorado, Hawaii, and Texas were the other major states where farmers on at least 500 or more operations were producing their own renewable energy. See the USDA press release, a USDA fact sheet , and the survey results.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Webinar Tonight

Don't forget to join in on our webinar this evening with Curtis Millsap on "Pastured Poultry Questions and Answers - Part 1" from 7:00 to 8:30 pm. To join in go to


Sustainable Management of Soil-borne Plant Diseases

Soil-borne diseases result from a reduction of biodiversity of soil organisms. Restoring beneficial organisms that attack, repel, or otherwise antagonize disease-causing pathogens will render a soil disease-suppressive. Plants growing in disease-suppressive soil resist diseases much better than in soils low in biological diversity. Beneficial organisms can be added directly, or the soil environment can be made more favorable for them through use of compost and other organic amendments. Compost quality determines its effectiveness at suppressing soil-borne plant diseases. Compost quality can be determined through laboratory testing.

• Why Disease?
• Strategies for Control: Specific vs. General
• General Suppression: Disease Suppressive Soils
   o Mycorrhizal Fungi and Disease Suppression
• Crop Rotation and Disease Suppression
• Plant Nutrients and Disease Control
• Compost and Disease Suppression
   o Why Compost Works
   o Determining and Monitoring Compost Quality
   o Direct Inoculation with Beneficial Organisms

Click here to read the entire document.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Plant Doctors Are In

The weather is warming up, people are thinking about getting plants into the ground, and the University of Missouri Plant Diagnostic Clinic is open for business.

“If you have spots on your tomatoes, your petunias are wilting or have any other plant-related issue, send your sick plant to the clinic,” said Adam Leonberger, the new director of the Plant Diagnostic Clinic. “The clinic draws on a network of experts to diagnose your plant-related problems and provide accurate, timely answers and recommendations.”
When submitting plant samples, send entire plants, roots and all, when possible. “For larger specimens, sample from the transition zone between healthy and symptomatic tissue,” Leonberger said. For suspected tree wilts such as Dutch elm disease, oak wilt or pine wilt nematode, submit live branches 1-2 inches in diameter, cut from branches that are beginning to show symptoms. For oak wilt detection, submit branches exhibiting streaking in the sapwood and keep samples cool during shipment by packing with ice packs.

For plant/weed identification, place the sample flat between layers of dry paper. Try to prevent excessive folding of the leaves and place flowers so that you are looking into the center of the flower. Pack the wrapped bundle in plastic, preferably with a piece of cardboard to keep the sample flat. To make packaging easier, fold tall plants once or twice or cut into shorter lengths. For trees and shrubs, collect a terminal or end portion of a leafy branch with at least five leaves or buds.

For insect and spider identification, place a leakproof bottle or box in a sturdy shipping container with plenty of packaging material to prevent shipping damage.

Preserve soft-bodied insects such as caterpillars, aphids or mites in a leakproof bottle with 70 percent alcohol, rubbing alcohol or hand sanitizer gel. Do not submit insects in water, formaldehyde or without alcohol as they will readily ferment and decompose. Hard-bodied insects such as butterflies, beetles or bees should be killed by freezing. Cushion specimens in layers of tissue.

“It is important to remember that a good diagnosis depends on a good sample, so don’t let it go bad in the mail,” he said.

Wrap samples with a few layers of paper towels, newspaper or other dry, absorbent material. Excess moisture will cause the sample to spoil during shipping. Use a sturdy box to send your plant. Include a completed sample submission form with your sample. Forms are available online.

Leonberger recommends mailing samples early in the week to ensure they arrive by Friday and won’t languish over the weekend. Mail samples to the Plant Diagnostic Clinic, 23 Mumford Hall, University of Missouri, Columbia, MO 65211. “If you’re in town, feel free to stop by the clinic in person,” he said.

There is a $15 fee for general diagnosis, insect/arachnid identification and plant/weed identification. There is an additional $10 fee when virus testing or bacterial or fungal isolation are necessary for a diagnosis. Commercial turf and putting green fees are $25 and $50, respectively.

“It’s a small fee for a lot of information,” Leonberger said. Go online for more information.
(by Curt Wohleber, MU Cooperative Media Group)

Monday, March 14, 2011

MU workshops look at conserving, preserving biodiversity in rural, suburban developments

Development in urban, suburban and even rural areas can often limit the variety of plant and animal life in these environments. In some cases, development also means an increase in exotic plants, which can ultimately displace native plant communities, which in turn can disrupt local populations of birds, bugs and other native wildlife.

But this doesn’t have to be the case. Developers, planners, landscape architects, policymakers, landowners and others involved with the management of growth and development can learn about techniques for conserving and restoring biodiversity at upcoming workshops sponsored by University of Missouri Extension and the MU College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources.

The workshop is being offered in two locations: April 26 at the St. Charles County Extension Center, 260 Brown Road, St. Peters; and April 27 at the Boone County Extension Center, 1012 N. Highway UU, Columbia. Workshops run 12:30-4:30 p.m. at both sites. Cost is $35.

“Rural, urban and suburban environments provide habitats that sustain native plant and wildlife communities and are integral to providing a quality of life for all Missourians,” says Bob Pierce, MU Extension wildlife specialist. “However, management is the key and it requires planning to be most successful.”

Topics will include tools and strategies to promote biodiversity and water conservation as properties are developed; evaluating the impacts of proposed policies or development designs; how to retrofit old neighborhoods; and assessing your land’s potential for providing wildlife habitat.

Pierce said the workshop is geared toward private landowners, county and city planners, landscape architects, architects, civil engineers, environmental consultants, developers and interested citizens. It will begin with a discussion of key concepts, then look at “how to do it” through the design, construction and post-construction phases of development.

In addition to Pierce, instructors will be Charles Nilon, MU professor of fisheries and wildlife; and Mark Hostetler, associate professor of wildlife ecology and conservation at the University of Florida. Hostetler developed the workshop curriculum, which has been field-tested in Florida and New Zealand. The program and the 125-page resource manual that participants will receive have been adapted for use in Missouri.

For information and registration details, contact either Scott Killpack at the St. Charles County Extension Center at 636-970-3000 or Kent Shannon at the Boone County Extension Center at 573-445-9792.

A printable registration form available for download at or workshop - v26.pdf.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Qs & As Webinar on Pastured Poultry I

Please join me on Wednesday, March 16th from 7:00 to 8:30 pm on a Questions and Answers on Pastured Poultry webinar with Curtis Millsap of Millsap Farm.  Curtis presented a webinar on Monday, March 7th about Pastured Poultry for the Beginning Farmer.  Next Wednesday's webinar is a follow up webinar for those who have questions about pastured poultry and want to hear the answer directly from a successful producer of pastured poultry.  Directions to join the webinar are below.

If you missed the March 7th webinar of Curtis' presentation, take heart, you can now view the archive at the MO Beginning Farmers Program moodle page.  See Monday, February 28th blog for the directions on how to get signed up for the Missouri Beginning Farmers Program’s Archived and Future Monthly Webinars (

Webinar Meeting Name: Qs & As on Pastured Poultry I
Summary: MO BFP
Invited By: Debi Kelly (
When: Wednesday 16 March, 7:00 PM - 8:30 PM
Time Zone: Central Time (US and Canada)

To join the meeting go to


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Thursday, March 10, 2011

Missouri Soil Testing Association Approved Labs

The Missouri Soil Testing Association (MSTA) Approval Program is designed to assure that results provided by participating public and private labs serving the citizens of Missouri agree with allowable statistical limits. This is accomplished by evaluating the soil testing laboratories in their performance through inter-laboratory sample exchanges and a statistical evaluation of the analytical data. Based on this premise, soil test results from MSTA approved labs will be accepted by the US Dept of Ag, Farm Service Agency (FSA) and Dept of Natural Resources and Conservation Services (NRCS) in federally assisted cost share programs and nutrient management plans in the state of Missouri.

Beginning in 1999, MSTA combined its efforts with the North American Proficiency Testing Program (NAPT).  In order to be approved by the Missouri State program, the participating labs should participate in all four quarter exchanges of the NAPT program and submit the MO State data release form each year to the NAPT coordinator. The NAPT coordinator in return sends soil test data from quarterly sample exchanges of the labs participating in MSTA program to the Missouri state coordinator. The MU Soil Testing Lab director serves as the state program coordinator and performs statistical analysis of the data as specified in the MSTA program. If a lab’s results fall within the allowable limits, the lab will be placed on the Farm Service Agency’s (FSA) list of approved labs. A lab that is not approved may re-apply after six months. An updated listing of Missouri State Approved Soil Testing lab list can be found here.

List of Missouri State Approved Soil Testing (updated on February 7, 2011)

• Custom Lab, 204 C St, Golden City, MO 64748, 417-537-8337
• Delta Soil Testing Lab, U of MO, PO Box 160, Portageville, MO 63873, 573-379-5431
• MU Soil and Plant Testing Lab, U of MO, 23 Mumford Hall, Columbia, MO 65211, 573-882-3250
• Perry Agricultural Lab, PO Box 418, State Hwy 54 East, Bowling Green, MO 63334, 573-324-2931
• Ag Source Belmond Labs, 1245 Highway 69 N, Belmond, IA 50421, Telephone: 641-444-3384
• Ag Source Cooperative Services, 106 N Cecil St, PO Box 7, Bonduel, WI 54107, 715-758-2178
• Source Harris Labs, 300 Speedway Circle #2, Lincoln NE 68502, 402-476-0300
• A&L Analytical Labs, Inc, 2790 Whitten Rd, Memphis, TN 38133, 901-213-2400
• A&L Great Lakes Lab, Inc., 3505 Conestoga Dr, Fort Wayne, IN 46808, 260-483-4759
• A&L Heartland Lab, Inc., 111 Linn St, PO Box 455, Atlantic, IA 50022, 901-213-2400
• Brookside Lab Inc, 308 S. Main St, New Knoxville, OH 45871, 419-753-2448
• Ingrams Soil Testing Center, 13343 Fitschen Road, Athens, IL 62613, 217-636-7500
• Midwest Labs, Inc, 13611 B St, Omaha, NE 68144-3693, 402-334-7770
• Mowers Soil Testing Plus Inc, 117 East Main St, Toulon, IL 61483-0518, 309-286-2761
• Servi-Tech Labs, 1816 East Wyatt Earp Blvd, Dodge City, KS 67801, 620-227-7123
• SGS Belleville- Alvey Labs, 1511 E Main, Belleville, IL 62222, 618-233-0445
• Spectrum Analytical, 1087 Jamison Rd, PO Box 639, Washington Court House, OH 43160, 740-335-1562
• Ward Laboratories, 4007 Cherry Ave., PO Box 788, Kearney, NE 68848, 308-234-2418
• Waters Agricultural Labs, Inc, 257 Newton Hwy, PO Box 382, Camilla, GA 31730, 229-336-7216
• Waters Agricultural Labs, Inc, 2101 Old Calhoun Rd, Owensboro, KY 42301, 270-685-4039

Note: Approval of soil analysis does not imply approval of fertilizer and limestone recommendations by the individual labs. The approval allows the clients to use the University of Missouri soil fertility recommendations as required by the federal and state agencies for cost share and nutrient management planning programs. In order to use the University of Missouri soil fertility recommendations and get meaningful results, it is recommended that the labs use the soil test procedures required by the MSTA program.

(Manjula Nathan, 573-882-3250)

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Taking Soil Test Samples

One of the most important steps in soil testing is collecting the soil sample. The soil sample is the first part of the soil testing process and the foundation for information derived from laboratory analyses, soil test interpretations, and recommendations. Also, soil sampling is the largest source of errors in the soil testing process.

Soil samples can be collected through much of the year, although fall (September to December) or spring (February to April) are the best times. Fall sampling will often result in a faster return of results and recommendations. Fall sampling will also allow the grower time to have the fertilizer applied well before planting the next crop. However, fall sampling results in lower pH and soil test K levels when conditions are dry. In either case, a field should always be sampled the same time of the year in order to make historical comparisons.  Most fields should be sampled every three to four years.

A soil probe, auger, garden trowel, or a spade and knife are all the tools you need to take the individual cores that will make up the “field” sample. You will also need a clean, dry, plastic bucket to collect and mix the sample cores. Be sure not to use galvanized or rubber buckets because they will contaminate the sample with zinc. Soil sample boxes or bags and information forms for submitting samples are available at all county Extension offices.

Collect at least 10 soil cores for small areas and up to 30 cores for larger fields. Take the soil cores randomly throughout the sampling area and place them in the bucket. Do not sample:
• back furrows or dead furrows,
• old fencerows,
• areas used for manure or hay storage and livestock feeding,
• areas where lime has been piled in the past.

One commonly overlooked component of soil sampling is the depth of soil to be tested. Most plant nutrients accumulate at the soil surface. This nutrient stratification is a result of past broadcast fertilizer applications and decomposition of plant residue on the soil surface. Because there is a higher concentration of nutrients on the soil surface, soil test values usually go down as the sample depth is increased. To obtain accurate and consistent (between different years) results, samples must be taken to the following depths for these areas:
• Tilled Areas—Take soil cores to the depth of the tillage operation (usually 6 to 8 inches).
• Non- or Reduced-Tilled Areas—Take soil cores to a depth of 3 to 4 inches for pastures, no-till planting (where fertilizer or lime remains on the soil surface), and minimum-till planting (where fertilizer is incorporated only in the surface 1 to 2 inches).
• Lawns and Turfgrasses—Collect soil cores to a depth of 3 to 4 inches.

After all cores for an individual sample are collected and placed in the bucket, crush the soil material and mix the sample thoroughly. Allow the sample to air dry in an open space free from contamination. Do not dry the sample in an oven or at an abnormally high temperature. When dry, fill the sample container with the soil.

Sampling and preparing the soil for submission is only half of the process. The other equally important part is filling out a sample information sheet so that the desired crop, tillage, and other information can be considered when making the fertilizer recommendation. The sample information sheet contains all the important information required to provide accurate lime and fertilizer recommendations. Sample information sheets for the University of Missouri Soil Testing Laboratory can be found on the web here.  Tests and costs associated with each test is found here.

For additional information, contact your local county extension office.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

High Tunnel Installation Workshop

Friday, April 1—Sat, April 2


Hosted by Fassnight Creek Farm, 1366 S. Fort Avenue, Springfield, MO 65807

Gain the knowledge and experience you need to install your own high tunnel! You are invited to participate in an upcoming High Tunnel Installation Workshop lead by :

• Norman Kilmer of Morgan County Seeds

• Patrick Byers, University of Missouri Extension Horticulturist

• Dan Bigbee, Fassnight Creek Farm

for a hands-on practical experience of what it takes to build or install a high tunnel. High tunnels are gaining in momentum as more and more producers understand their unmatched value in season extension.

The workshop will be held at Fassnight Creek Farm, 1366 S. Fort Avenue, Springfield, MO and all are welcome to participate. Please come prepared for the weather (don’t forget your hats and gloves!).

Please direct questions to Patrick Byers or by calling 417-881-8909.
A $25 registration fee will be charged to help cover the cost of speakers, beverages, snacks, lunches and educational materials.

Fassnight Creek Farm, at 1366 S. Fort Avenue, is located on Fort Street, north of Sunshine Avenue and south of Grand Avenue.

Pre-registration is required with registration fee of $25. Class size will be restricted to 25 participants. Make checks payable to University of Missouri Extension and return with registration form to:

Sabrina Brown
MU Extension-Greene County
2400 S. Scenic
Springfield, MO 65807

Monday, March 7, 2011

Nutrition Labeling for Raw Meat, Poultry Products Begins January 1, 2012

(I read this article and felt it important to repost it here for those of you who are thinking about direct marketing meat.  As a producer you will need to add these items to your meat label beginning in 2012.  debi kelly)

In December 2010, you may have heard that nutrition labels were going to be required for meat products. Well I have sorted through the rules and regulations to bring you the facts and details.

As many of you may know, the Nutrition Labeling and Education Act (NLEA) of 1990 required nutrition labeling of most foods regulated by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration). Now the FSIS (Food Safety and Inspection Service) has amended the federal meat and poultry products inspection regulations to require labeling of major meat cuts and ground meat products (with and without seasoning). The current regulations require nutrition labels on the packages of all multi-ingredient and heat processed meat and poultry products.

The USDA (U.S. Department of Agriculture) feels that as part of the continuing efforts to educate consumers about diets and nutrition, the labeling of meat is a step forward to helping them make healthy diet choices. The nutrition facts will either be made available at the Point of Purchase (POP) or they will be included on the label for major meat cuts. For ground meat products, the label has to be affixed to the product package. Product packages that do not bear a label will be considered “misbranded”. FSIS also stated that products without nutrition labeling information of these products, they will be considered misleading and false because it does not provide consumers with sufficient information.

On the label for the major meat cuts, consumers are given a rough indication of the fat content; but due to the fact there is so much variability within a product, the specific nutrient information and the serving size per container will not be available. Manufacturers will instead use data from the USDA’s National Nutrient Data Bank or the USDA’s National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference. Meaning all skinless chicken breasts will have similar nutrition information, all chuck roasts will have similar nutritional data, it will not be specific to each individual piece of meat – it will be an average. On the other hand, FSIS recognizes that it is easier to obtain the nutrition information for ground products; all ground or chopped product will indicate the precise fat content.

Small businesses are exempt from the ground meat rules if the products are produced at a facility that employees less than 500 persons and produces no more than 100,000 pounds of a particular product per year. Small businesses will still be expected to provide nutrient information for major cuts of meat at the POP (note: FSIS is making POP materials available on the internet free of charge).

Start looking for the nutrient information on major meat cuts and ground meat products – they will be coming to stores near you!
(by Lindsay Chichester, University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension Educator)

Friday, March 4, 2011

Round Bale Feeders Worth the Investment

Feeding losses from 15 round bales fed without a hay ring or some means of limiting access would pay for a commercially available round bale feeder. 

Feeding losses occur primarily from trampling, refusal, and leaf shatter. Some feeding loss is inevitable but can vary from as little as 2% to more than 50%. A study conducted by the Alabama Agricultural Experiment Station, using equal groups of steers, found that feeding round bales enclosed in panels reduced the amount of hay fed by 36% when compared to feeding round bales without panels. If a 1200 pound round bale cost $45, wasting 36% is a loss of $16.20 per bale. Or, in other words, these round bales cost $61.20 if fed without using a feeder to limit the loss. The savings in reduced loss from 15 of these bales would pay for a round bale feeder that cost $243.00. Round bales can be fed without hay rings if unrolled, and limited to the amount the animals can eat in 2 days or less. But, if setting out more than a 2 day supply, which is an advantage of using round bales, then round bale feeders are a wise investment.
(by John Hobbs, MU Ag and Rural Development Specialist, McDonald County)

(Source: Oklahoma State U. Extension)

Thursday, March 3, 2011

SW Missouri Sheep and Goat Conference

The Southwest Missouri Sheep and Goat Conference is planned for 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., Saturday, March 26, at the McDonald County High School Vo-Ag Classrooms at 100 Mustang Drive, Anderson, MO.

Goats have been the fastest-growing livestock enterprise in the United States in recent years.

If you want to raise sheep or goats for meat or milk, you can learn how to raise them successfully at this conference. The conference will provide the basic information participants would need to work with sheep and goats.

Topics for the conference include how to get started with small ruminants, herd health management including foot rot, internal parasite control, goat nutrition including pasture and forage management, and kidding management.

This conference also will include an information-exchange panel of sheep and goat producers who will answer questions from the audience.

Other speakers include Dr. Helen Swartz and Dr. Charlotte Clifford-Rathert from Lincoln University in Jefferson City. Swartz is a sheep and goat specialist who has worked with small ruminants for over 30 years. Clifford-Rathert is a small ruminant veterinarian who routinely works with goat diseases and internal parasites. Pennington will talk about factors in getting started with goats and forages for goats.

Additionally, the University of Missouri and Lincoln University Extension are hosting a “Fecal Egg Count Workshop from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 pm, Friday, March 25 in HS2 (basement) of Smith Hall (Newton County Extension Center) on the campus of Crowder College, Neosho, MO, at the corner of Hwy D and Doniphan Ave.

Worms are the primary internal parasite of small ruminants and remain one of the biggest problems of meat and dairy goats. “They can also be a problem in sheep but not to the same extent as goats,” said Clifford-Rathert. “In order to control worms, you must set up a deworming and sanitation program and stick to it.” Worms not only kill both young and old goats, they contribute to poor growth rates, an unthrifty appearance, coughing, diarrhea, and, in severe cases, bottle jaw.

For those who pre-register before March 22, the cost is $10 person. Simply mail your registration information to the Newton County Extension Center, 601 Laclede, Smith Hall (Crowder College), Neosho, MO 64850. Registration is $15 at the door the day of the event. You also may contact the Newton County Extension Center at 417-455-9500 to register or for more information.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Food Safety Workshop

March 10, 2011
Missouri State University-Mountain Grove Campus
from 1:00pm - 4:00pm
Admission Cost: Free

Event Details: Producing safe food for sale at farmers' markets.

Topics to be covered:
• Importance of Food Safety
• State Regulations for Selling to the public
• Field to Market
• Irrigation Methods and Associated Issues
• Harvest and Post Harvest Safety
• Food Safety Concerns in the Field: Field preparation & planting, manure usage; crop cultural guidelines
• Food Safety- Field to Market
• GAP - Good Agriculture Practices

Participants who complete the workshop will receive a certificate of completion and a laminated sign for display at their market stand.

Speakers at the workshop include:
Russell Lilly, Springfield, Department of Health and Senior Services
John Avery, State Fruit Experiment Station Fruit Grower Advisor and
Patrick Byers, Regional University of Missouri Extension Specialist.

Event Sponsor: Missouri State Fruit Experiment Station

To register email Pam Mayer, Workshop Facilitator or call 417-547-7533.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Pastured Poultry Webinar - March 7th

The Missouri Beginning Farmers Program will continue its monthly webinars in March with a presentation by Curtis Millsap of Millsap Farm titled, “Pastured Poultry for the Beginning Farmer.” The webinar will be March 7th from 7:00 to 8:30 pm with a PowerPoint presentation. There will be two additional opportunities to learn from Curtis, March 16 and March 28, both from 7:00 to 8:30 pm. These will be live chats in a Question/Answer format where Curtis will answer questions brought forth by participants in the webinar. Curtis is well known in the Springfield, MO area for his CSA and pastured poultry operation.

Please join me in an Adobe Connect Pro Meeting.

Meeting Name: MO BFP
Summary: Pastured Poultry for Beginning Farmers
Invited By: Debi Kelly (
When: Monday 7 March, 07:00 PM - 08:30 PM
Time Zone: (GMT-06:00) Central Time (US and Canada)

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