Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Insect, Disease, and Weed Management Workshop

Karbaumer Farm
The workshop will be held at the Platte County Resource Center, 11724 N.W. Plaza Circle, Kansas City, MO 64153 on Monday, August 20, 2012 from 9:00 am to 2:30 pm.

This pest management workshop will explore various tactics of Integrated Pest Management (IPM) for sustainable fruit and vegetable production. Join us for a morning of learning in the classroom and an afternoon of seeing the real-world application of IPM. The workshop will be taught by State and Regional Extension Specialists, and Farmers.


9:00 am - Introductions/Opening remarks

9:15 am - Organic Insect Pest Management, Including Key Aspects of Biological and Cultural Controls – Dr. Jaime C. PiƱero, State IPM Specialist, Lincoln University Cooperative Extension

10:15 am - Break

10:30 am - Organic Disease Management – Dr. Cary Rivard, State Fruit & Vegetable Extension Specialist, K-State Research and Extension

11:30 am - Organic Weed Management – Marlin Bates, Regional Horticulture Specialist, University of Missouri Extension

12:15 pm - Lunch

1:00 pm - Travel to Farm Tour – Karbaumer Farm, A Sustainable CSA Farm near Platte City, MO

This workshop is being brought to you by University of Missouri Extension, a partner of the Growing Growers program. Cost to attend this workshop is $30. To register, fill out the form below and mail with payment by August 15, 2012. If you have questions, or for further information, contact Marlin Bates at (816) 270-2141.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Dairy Grazing: Pasture Establishment

Interseeding into pasture.
Once the decision has been made to establish permanent pastures in the dairy grazing system and desirable species have been selected, field preparation can begin. Pastures can be seeded either on a prepared seedbed or by no-till drilling, depending on site conditions and crop requirements. With either establishment method, ensure adequate soil fertility is present for rapid crop establishment and growth. A new publication discusses soil fertility, site preparation, seeding and time of seeding. Refer to MU Extension publication M181, Dairy Grazing: Selecting the Right Forage, for specific seeding rates and recommended dates. 

Friday, July 27, 2012

Free Workshops Teach Hunters, Landowners About Deer Management

A series of free workshops around the state in August and September will help landowners, hunters and others manage private land for deer.

“The white-tailed deer is one of Missouri’s most valuable natural resources,” said Bob Pierce, University of Missouri Extension wildlife specialist. Deer hunting contributes about $1.1 billion annually to the state and local economies and supports more than 12,000 jobs in Missouri.

A new series of MU Extension publications developed with the Missouri Department of Conservation will serve as part of the workshop’s curriculum, Pierce said. The publications are available for free download.

Deer management is an important topic because private landowners and hunters are the primary stewards of Missouri’s 1.4 million deer, he said.

“Missouri is a great place to hunt and private landowners are the key,” said Emily Flinn, resource scientist and deer biologist with the Missouri Department of Conservation, which is sponsoring the five workshops. “More than 90 percent of land in Missouri is privately owned, so we work with and for private landowners to help them create and manage their land for deer. Managing private land for deer also benefits a variety of other wildlife.”

Workshop topics will include white-tailed deer ecology; quality deer management opportunities; improving habitat for deer and other wildlife; developing a deer-management plan; estimating deer numbers and aging deer; using camera surveys and other data; and antler growth and breeding behavior. There also will be sessions on cost-share opportunities that are available.

Workshops will be held at the following locations:

Springfield: Saturday, Aug. 11, 8 a.m.-noon, MDC Springfield Conservation Nature Center, 4601 S. Nature Center Way. To register, call 417-895-6880.

Columbia: Saturday, Aug. 18, 8 a.m.-noon, University of Missouri Bradford Research and Extension Center, 4968 Rangeline Road. To register, call 573-875-5540, ext. 3.

St. Joseph: Saturday, Sept. 8, noon-4 p.m., Missouri Western State University Kemper Recital Hall in Spratt Hall, 4525 Downs Drive. To register, call 816-271-3100.

Cape Girardeau: Wednesday, Sept. 12, 6-9:30 p.m., MDC Cape Girardeau Conservation Nature Center, 2289 County Park Drive. To register, call 573-290-5218.

St. Louis: Saturday, Sept. 22, 9 a.m.-2 p.m. (lunch provided), MDC Powder Valley Nature Center, 11715 Cragwold Road in Kirkwood. To register, call 636-528-4877, ext. 3.

For more information on managing private land for deer and other wildlife, contact your MU Extension Center or www.extension.missouri.edu. Also contact your local MDC office in your area, and visit www.mdc.mo.gov and search “deer management.”
(by Curt Wohleber, Senior Information Specialist, University of Missouri Cooperative Media Group)

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Swine Barn Conversion for Fish Culture

Unused swine barns can be converted into facilities for rearing other profitable agricultural products, such as fish. The key to success is to identify markets for the products and spend as little as possible on the conversion.

Tank culture offers an alternative to traditional pond aquaculture and can be used in indoor facilities such as unused barns. Tank culture systems are examples of recirculating aquaculture systems (RASs). In many cases, equipment or structures already in place in a former hog operation can be converted for use in a RAS. By retrofitting equipment and reusing water, you can develop a RAS to produce fish in a cost-effective manner. The conversion can require a significant investment, however, so before beginning, gather as much research-based information as possible and learn about fish culture, water quality, marketing and other aspects of aquaculture. Then, develop plans for the enterprise and identify potential markets for your product. Many factors affect the ability to produce fish cost-effectively, including component capital costs, operating costs and efficient management of the fish culture system, so the research you do will help you make an informed decision.

To read more about this go to extension publication guide titled "Converting Unused Agriculture Facilities for Aquaculture Use: Swine Barn Conversion for Fish Culture".

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Seasonal and Simple App is Now Available

I read this article in the University of Missouri Extension Northwest region newsletter, News You Can Use, and thought it might be worth passing along to you as a marketing idea.  If you've got fruits and vegetables for sale and customers may not be familiar with them, open up this new app on your smart phone and show them a number of recipes!  I've already downloaded it on my Ipad. (debi)

The smart phone application for Seasonal and Simple is now available in both IOS and Android versions. The application is FREE to download! It is also available at the following website: http://seasonalandsimple.info

The application is based on the hard copy Seasonal and Simple that is a guide for selecting and using Missouri produce. It describes a variety of vegetables and fruits that are grown locally in Missouri. It includes those that are familiar to all such as apples and broccoli, as well as others like okra and kohlrabi that not everyone knows how to handle. The guide has a chart showing when to expect each item to be in season locally. It also gives nutritional information and explains how to know when the produce is ripe and other things to look for to make a good selection. This MU Extension guide describes how to prepare the fruit or vegetable, including what part(s) are edible and how to store each part.

Like the hard copy and the online version, the app has a variety of serving suggestions and recipes for each vegetable or fruit. They include hot and cold options and a mix of cooking methods. Most recipes are pretty simple to make. You can watch Chef Brook Harlan demonstrate four of the recipes by going to http://extension.missouri.edu/healthylife/demovideos.htm.  He also shows the basics of preparing and cooking the foods and talks about how to expand your skills and experiment with recipes and techniques with other vegetables and fruits.

A feature that was added to the application version is a “Find it” option that enables consumers to find farmers’ markets in or near each Missouri county.

To download the app for Android devices, go to play.google.com and search for “seasonalandsimpe” (all one word). For an iPhone or similar devices, go to the iTunes store and search for “seasonalandsimple” (again, all one word). Paper copies are also available at your local county extension office.

Download Seasonal and Simple for free and take it with you on your phone or other device to your local farmers’ market, produce stand or grocery store and know for sure what the perfect fruit or vegetable look, feel and/or smell should like before you purchase it. Check out the recipes while you are right there and get the other ingredients you will need while you are at it. Then go home and have your fresh produce in a seasonal and simple meal or snack.
(by Janet Hackert, MU Extension Nutrition Specialist)

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Smart Water Use on Your Farm

With drought conditions gripping more than half the United States this summer, water-saving strategies are more critical than ever for America's farmers and ranchers. That is why SARE's 16-page bulletin, Smart Water Use on Your Farm or Ranch, is an excellent primer on conservation-oriented approaches to water use.

Smart Water Use on Your Farm or Ranch spotlights innovative, SARE-funded research into a range of conservation options including soil management, such as using compost, conservation tillage and cover crops; plant management, featuring crop rotation, water-conserving plants and rangeland drought mitigation; and water management strategies such as low-volume irrigation and water recycling.

The bulletin also features farmers like Kupers, Hines and Upton who are managing soil to improve infiltration, selecting drought-tolerant crops and native forages, and designing innovative systems for tillage, irrigation and runoff collection.

At the end of the bulletin is a list of resources where readers can get more in-depth information.

Because there is a wide range of soil management practices that can have a significant impact on water use and availability, these other SARE titles offer important guidance to farmers and ranchers concerned with water issues:

Building Soils for Better Crops, 3rd Edition
Managing Cover Crops Profitably, 3rd Edition
Crop Rotation on Organic Farms

Other resources available through SARE include:
Irrigation Energy Webinar Series - These three videos, produced with a SARE grant by University of Wisconsin Extension Specialist Scott Sanford, describe how to ensure your irrigation system is operating at maximum efficiency.

Rainwater Catchment from a High Tunnel for Irrigation Use - This Iowa State University Extension video, produced with SARE funding, describes how to build a system to catch, store and reuse the rainwater for irrigation in a high tunnel.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Sample Food Safety Plan

I read this on one of the listserves I'm on and thought I'd pas sit along to you. (debi)

I've actually done the free Food Safety Manual with FamilyFarmed.org and it is pretty good. I ended up with a 17 page document without including the "Best Management Practices" (optional in the program) and 31 pages WITH the Best Management Practices. There is quite a bit of detail and as you go through it a lot of drop-down choices. It's a pretty impressive document, and it does personalize it for your farm so that if you do want to get certified, you know what's in it. It has a very good section on which irrigation water tests to choose from.  It did take me about 3-4 hours to finish all of the various sections up to and including harvest, 2nd time using it.  Then you have to decide which of the many forms you will need to include - there is quite a bit of record keeping, especially if you want to be certified.

If you don't have to be certified by an independent certifier, I would say use the Oregon State food safety template and add a little to it like the water tests and traceback. It is a fairly simple one......
"Sample Farm Safety Plan".  If you want more GAP (good agricultural practices) then click here.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Sheep and Goats are a Great Fit for New, Small Suburban Farms

Small farms are becoming more popular as residents migrate to the suburbs or close-by farms.  This movement is further accelerated by the aging population, many of whom had a rural up-bringing and desire to supplement their income with small farming operations involving sheep and goats or simply have hobby farms to occupy the time. 

However, many owners of small farms have limited agricultural backgrounds and desire to get back to the “good” life.  Others have no agriculture background and need training on basic agricultural practices for livestock production.

That is where small ruminant animals like sheep and goats have an advantage according to Dr. Jodie Pennington, small ruminant educator with Lincoln University Extension,


“Small ruminants such as sheep and goats work well on both large and small farms but are especially adapted to small farms as they require limited facilities and are safer to handle than larger animals—which is important for young children and older adults,” said Pennington.

Sheep and goats can also use forage and other vegetation on the farm that is otherwise a negative resource that has to be mowed and maintained, a time consuming and costly endeavor with high equipment and gas prices.

“I have had several calls recently from individuals considering getting primarily goats but also sheep.  In most cases, the individuals wanted to minimize the costs in the potential operation, make a profit, and use the animals and facilities as a tax deduction.  Some were looking for ways to decrease their tax liability. But some had also been reading about the record high prices for sheep and goats and about potential high profits with them compared to cattle,” said Pennington.

Pennington says a person can make a good return on their investment with small ruminants if they have good management and plan their production and marketing activities in a sound manner.  Facilities, equipment, and the animals can be depreciated or deducted with a Section 179 deduction if appropriate.

“You are not going to get rich with sheep and goats on a few acres unless an airport or Wal-Mart moves in next door.  But, sheep or goats can be used to supplement your income, whether in retirement or a full-time job,” said Pennington. “However, it is important to do a good job of managing the animals or they will be used to decrease taxes, especially if you do a poor job with them as they can lose a lot of money quickly if management is less than adequate.”


One word of warning: small ruminants require greater management than beef cattle but do have more potential for profits with good management.

Pennington says anyone thinking about raising sheep and goats should like animals. If they don’t, then they should look for another enterprise.

“You also need to have enough time to take care of the animals.  I see people who love sheep or goats, have good facilities and have knowledge of animals, but their job does not allow them time to care for the animals. As a result, the sheep or goats do not perform well.  Those producers probably would have been better served by investing in a less intensive type of livestock or another enterprise,” said Pennington.

Landowners that decide to invest in sheep or goats need to decide if they are doing it for a hobby, or a paying enterprise. The next step is to formulate a budget, even if the animals are going to be a hobby. It is also important to invest some time in deciding if sheep or goats are more appropriate and which breed is best.

Pennington says it is also important to give thought to a marketing plan. Are you going to sell to the local livestock sale barn, show animals, sell meat or milk or fiber?  Value-added products can take a lot of time and the local sale barn is the easiest and most popular method of marketing.

Consideration should also be given to the facilities. Is there adequate fencing, do you need a guard dog, is there enough feed, do you have a place to buy good animals, and do you understand practices like vaccinations and deworming?

“If you have satisfactorily answered the above questions, then you may be ready to buy your animals,” said Pennington.

For more information, contact Pennington at the Newton County Extension Center, (417) 455-9500, or by e-mail Jodie.
(by David Burton, MU Information Specialist)

Thursday, July 19, 2012

EarthDance Apprenticeships

The EarthDance Organic Farming Apprenticeship is an opportunity to learn how to grow food on a productive farm, close to home. The program was designed to serve the needs of urban and suburban dwellers that are interested in learning to grow their own food or exploring careers in sustainable agriculture, but are not yet able to devote themselves to full-time farming. Through the apprenticeship program, aspiring farmers and garden leaders become part of a supportive community of engaged food citizens. EarthDance graduates have gone on to start their own farms, found community gardens, and to develop youth gardening programs.

Here’s what some members of last year's apprenticeship said about the program:

• “I wanted a great learning experience and this is exceeding my expectations. Each shift I learn something.”
• “The apprenticeship is a commitment, but well worth it!
• “What I’ve appreciated most is meeting so many amazing people. Truly enlivens what community farming is about.”

The 2013 apprenticeship is a commitment of 9.5 hours per week over the course of the growing season. EarthDance apprentices ("Freshman Farmies") engage in hands-on learning through farm and market work, weekly enrichment sessions, and field trips to other local farms. The program begins in mid-February, with seeding in the greenhouse. Over the course of the season, apprentices learn techniques for building soil fertility, organic pest and disease control, marketing via farmers markets, and much more. Also, as members of EarthDance's Community Supported Agriculture program, apprentices take home a share of the harvest each week!

Tuition for the program is $750 for the year, and several full and partial scholarships are available. For more information, or to apply for the program, visit the EarthDance website.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Pricing Resources

Have you been looking for resources on how to price your vegetable and fruit products?  Look no further.  The University of Vermont has put together a nice website with factsheets, webinar recordings and wholesale prices.  They also have created a direct to consumer local foods sale prices from farmers across the state called the Online Direct to Market Pricing Project.  Their goal is to help farmers share information about what they charge at direct markets (farmstands, farmers' markets, etc) for these products, in order to set prices that are fair to consumers while supporting farm profitability.  Each month the pricing report is updated.  Note that prices in that part of the country will be different than those found in Missouri.  For example, a dozen ears of sweet corn in VT as of July 9, 2012 was selling for $9 while at the Columbia Farmers' Market two weeks ago I paid $6 for a dozen.  The average price of beets in VT was selling for an average of $3.15 for one bunch while I paid $3.  At least this information gives you a guideline.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Ear Tags

Numbered ear tags appear in the ears of a high percentage of cows and calves in southwest Missouri.  They are obviously put there for a reason but some producers may not be using the full potential of those tags for herd management according to Eldon Cole, a livestock specialist with University of Missouri Extension.

“I don’t know of many farmers who take the tags as far as they could to effectively evaluate the individual performance of the cattle in their herd,” said Cole.

Getting individual weights at weaning is the next important step after tagging.

“Not only do a lot of herd owners tag cows and calves, they write down birth dates of calves in pocket-sized books such as the popular Red Book.  From there the data may be entered in a computer,” said Cole.

For a producer to get more information to make breeding and culling decisions, the calf, and maybe even the cow, should be run over a scale

According to Cole, the popular time to do that is at weaning which normally is between 160 and 250 days of age.  Years ago the beef industry adopted the standard weaning age of 205 days to adjust weights to.

“If you know the age of the calf in days and the weaning weight taken between 160 and 250 days, you can more accurately compare the growth of the calves and performance of their dams,” said Cole.

Older calves always look more impressive than the last calf born during a 75 to 90 day calving season.  It is possible though that a bull, heifer or steer born in late October could be a better performer than a herd mate born in mid-August.

“Recently, I adjusted weaning weights on a set of fall-born calves.  The average 205-day weight on the steers was 678 lbs. and the heifers averaged 574 lbs.  I did not adjust for age or dam as they were all mature cows,” said Cole.

The 205-day steer weights varied from 802 lbs. down to 575 lbs.  On the heifer side, the range was 667 down to 470 lbs. Cole says that over the years he has found a 200 lb. spread from best to worst in a sex contemporary group is fairly common.

“I realize cow herd owners do a lot of visual appraisal of their calves and cows when they cull and save replacements.  It’s better to use the ear tag, record the birth date, individually weigh the calves and adjust the weights to a common age along with the visual evaluation.”

Individual weights are the basis for expected progeny differences (EPD) values after they are processed through a breed association’s record program.  Seedstock producers have adopted the EPD technology because they realize it has merit in their breeding programs.

“However, commercial cow-calf producers should consider using a scale and adjusted weights to monitor within herd production.  You will be surprised at the variance in cow productivity,” said Cole.

Monday, July 16, 2012

What soil types are on my property? Yeah, there’s an app for that...

The foundation of making sound decisions on how to best manage your land is to know what type of soil is underfoot. With the free SoilWeb app from the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) on your GPS-equipped Android or Apple smartphone, you can find out in a manner of seconds.

SoilWeb was developed by NRCS soil scientist Dylan Beaudette while he was a graduate student at the University of California-Davis. The university’s California Soil Resource Lab offers web-based access to NRCS Soil Survey Geographic data. The app, however, offers the advantage of obtaining the data in the field, based on your location.

After downloading and installing the app on a friend’s Android smartphone, we visited several sites around Boone County. In each case, once the phone’s GPS had acquired enough satellites, SoilWeb reported the soil type and showed a graphic depicting the soil horizons. Tapping on the graphic led me to a detailed description of its physical and chemical properties. Tapping on the soil name led me soil taxonomy, land classification, hydraulic and erosion ratings, geomorphology, plant associations, and other information.

As with many other apps, SoilWeb depends on having an Internet or cell phone connection. The app also depends on the accuracy of your phone’s GPS. A slider bar labeled “Precision” at the top of the main SoilWeb screen lets you set accuracy anywhere from 1 to 1,150 meters. Most smartphone GPS receivers are not capable of 1-meter accuracy; my friend’s certainly wasn’t. When I set the slider at 500 meters, SoilWeb usually returned a result.  At less than 100 meters, it often did not. Geographically associated soils are listed in the series descriptions; most of which have links to their descriptions. You can search for any US soil series by name.

So, the next time you are walking about on your land and want to know something about what lies beneath your feet, the answer may be at your fingertips!
(from Green Horizons, Vol 16 No 3)

Friday, July 13, 2012

Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Workshop - CHANGE IN DATE

Change of Date for Southwest Research Center workshop location.  New dates area Aug 22-23.  All other location dates remain the same.  

These hands-on IPM workshop is designed to help beginning farmers learn about IMP and to see IPM as a sustainable approach to pest control that provides a variety of tactics to prevent, avoid or suppress weeds, insects and crop diseases while protecting human health, the environment, and the profitability of agriculture.  For this workshop, emphasis will be on management of insect pests but some common diseases that will be discussed.

Specific objectives: As a result of this workshop participants will:
1.   Understand the importance of pest identification, action thresholds, and pest monitoring tools and techniques
2.   Identify the components of an IPM program including preventive practices, biological control, behavioral control, physical, and cultural controls

There will be four locations across the state:

July 25-26—Lincoln University’s Carver Farm, 3804 Bald Hill Road, Jefferson City, MO

July 30-31—Warren County Extension Center, 107 W. Walton, Warrenton, MO

August 1-2—Lincoln University’s Urban Impact Center, 1028 Paseo, Kansas City, MO

August 22-23—Southwest Research Center, 14548 Highway H, Mt. Vernon, MO (NOTE: Change of dates.)

Due to the nature of the hands-on activities, registration will be limited to the first 15 people to register and pay.  The cost of the workshop is $30/person which includes one lunch, breaks, handout materials, Identifying Diseases of Vegetables book and IPM sample materials.  To register, you need to call 573-882-3776 to reserve your spot and then mail your check made out to University of Missouri to Sharon Naylor, University of Missouri, 205 Gentry Hall, Columbia MO 65211.  For questions about the workshop, mail kellyd@missouri.edu

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Teff Shows Promise as New Summer Forage Alternative

Livestock producers often need a summer forage alternative that will fill the gap during the hot summer months. Traditionally the summer forage options include sorghum, sudangrass and millet according to Tim Schnakenberg, agronomy specialist with University of Missouri Extension.

“An emerging warm season annual forage called teff has gained interest lately,” said Schnakenberg.

Known as a Summer Lovegrass (Eragrostic tef), teff originates in Ethiopia where it has been grown as a grain crop.  Recent research in Oregon, South Dakota and Kentucky has shown that it can be a viable option for American farmers as a forage crop.

“Teff will not compete with sudan or millet for tonnage produced but has potential to be a higher quality forage.  Some have compared its quality to timothy, making it a forage that can be appealing to horse owners,” said Schnakenberg.

In 2009, the University of Kentucky evaluated nine varieties of teff at two locations. Yields in Lexington averaged 1.6 tons per acre and 3.1 tons in Princeton.

From these trials, the yield potential may not be high, though Oregon yields have ranged between 4 and 6 tons per acre. More testing will give a better picture of its yield potential in Missouri according to Schnakenberg.

“Its use may be more suited for hay or silage production over grazing,” said Schnakenberg.  “There have been some reports of cattle pulling up the plants during the initial grazing.  The roots appear to be better anchored for grazing later in the summer.”

Teff is not tolerant of frost so it will only last one growing season. 

The seed is very small and can be planted at a rate of four to six pounds of raw seed per acre.  If coated seed is used it can be planted at eight to 10 pounds per acre.

It should be planted on a firm prepared seedbed from late May through June.  No-tilling is an option but may be a challenge controlling the depth.

“This forage needs further testing before it is adopted on a large scale.  However it has potential to give producers another tool for a summer annual forage crop that has some appealing traits over sudangrass and millet,” said Schnakenberg.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Grass-Based Dairy: High Value, Low Input Webinar

Attend this free webinar from Natural Good Food Network on Thursday, July 19 - 2:30 - 3:45pm (Central Time).

Livestock production has become a source of intense controversy in the United States. As our food system evolves toward sustainability, management intensive grazing offers a triple bottom line approach to meat and dairy production.

Pasture based dairy offers a low input, environmentally friendly means of producing milk. Moreover, it can provide a sustainable income for family scale farms, economic development opportunities for rural communities, and even yield a product with some uniquely desirable characteristics.

We will begin the webinar with some information about the basics of dairy grazing, its environmental performance, and the growing market for pasture based dairy. Then a replicable case study of a successful grass-based dairy business, will get into some of the practical considerations of transitioning to a managed grazing operation. Finally we will introduce you to the first in the nation Dairy Grazing Apprenticeship program* designed to train beginning and transitioning dairy farmers and help them get established on their own farms.

*The Apprenticeship is an initiative of GrassWorks, Inc. and was developed with grant funding from USDA-NIFA's Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program.

Reserve your spot - click here

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Explore New Marketing Channels for Your Farm Products

Trying to decide which markets are right for you, and reluctant to try them all by trial and error? Then this course is for you. It will give you key factors to consider in marketing direct to consumers through farmers markets, CSAs, on-farm markets and internet marketing, as well as sales to local restaurants and grocers. It will also provide questions for you to consider about your farm and yourself as you try to find marketing channels that are right for you.

The course is intended especially for small- and mid-scale farmers who are striving to become more sustainable in their practices. It is most applicable for those who produce horticulture or livestock products.

What You Will Learn
• Some of the key benefits, challenges, and required resources needed for marketing through farmers markets, CSAs, on-farm markets, Internet marketing, and direct sales to restaurants and grocers
• Key farm and personal factors that need to be considered as you decide which marketing channels are right for your farm
• How to analyze this information and apply it to your particular farm
• Other tips for direct marketing

Navigating the Course
There are 7 units in this course, all available by clicking on the left-hand menu. They include:
• Getting Started
• Farmers Markets
• Community Supported Agriculture (CSAs)
• On-Farm Markets
• Internet Marketing
• Restaurants & Grocers
• Marketing Tips

It is recommended that you review the information in Getting Started first. This will help you identify key factors about your farm and yourself that you should consider in your marketing decisions. Be sure to look at the downloadable farm worksheet to help you keep notes.

Then, explore the units on each marketing channel that you are interested in. A list of basic benefits, challenges, required resources and tips for each channel is provided. In the Learn More section in each unit, there are questions for assessing if the market is right for you and further tips from trusted resources. Some units also have audio tips from long-time farmers and marketers.

The last unit has marketing tips on diversification, telling your story, market research, and record keeping.

As you go through the course, reflect on your farm and farming situation. It may be helpful to write some notes and capture those “Aha!” moments.

To access the course, click here.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Protect Livestock in Hot Weather

When high temperatures and heat indexes are forecast, farmers need to take precautions to protect livestock.

Easy access to clean, cool water:
Your animals will need more water in the heat. so be sure tanks are clean and full.  Make sure your piping system is working and able to keep up with the increased use.  If you fill by hand, double your normal check/fill times.

Hogs are especially sensitive
to heat. Keep them cool with a
misting/sprinkler system.
Animals often will congregate around the tank-make sure all of them cann access it. If necessary, break up larger groups into separate smaller groups with their own tanks.  This allows easier access to water and reduces heat load.

Animals should have access sto shade or shelter during the hottest part of the day.  Dark animals, large animlas, pregnant animals, those with heavy coats, older/younger animals and sick animals have a lower tolerance to the heat.  Watch them for signs of stress and remove them to shelter/shade if needed.

Hogs are especially sensitive to heat and sun.  If you have pastured hogs, make sure they have a place to wallow and shelter to get out of the sun.

Air Movement:
In the barn, you should be using fans to keep the air moving. Open barn doors and windows to take advantage of the prevailing wind. Heat, humidity and no air movement is a deadly combination. Animals in movable pens, like poultry, should be oriented so the wind flows through the open sides.

Evaporating water is a great way to reduce heat stress. Sprinklers can help or simply spray the legs/bodies of the animals periodically. Hogs cannot sweat, so spraying them will help immensely. There are now commercially available fan/misting systems that can greatly reduce temperatures in a small area. These can be highly effective in barns and holding areas.

Other Considerations:
Avoid transporting animals in extreme heat. If you absolutely must, travel during the cooler hours, transport fewer animals than the trailer’s capacity and stop frequently to check the animals for signs of stress and to offer fresh water.

Signs of heat stress in animals:
• panting
• increased respiration rate
• increased water intake
• loss of appetite
• listlessness/lethargy
• increased salivation
(from the Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Service)

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Integrated Pest Management for Beginning Farmers Workshop

This hands-on intensive IPM workshop is designed to help beginning farmers learn about IPM and to see IPM as a sustainable approach to pest control that provides a variety of tactics to prevent, avoid or suppress weeds, insects and crop diseases, while protecting human health, the environment, and the profitability of agriculture. For this workshop, emphasis will be on management of insect pests but some common diseases will be discussed.

Specific objectives: As a result of this workshop participants will:
1.      Understand the importance of pest identification,  action thresholds, and pest monitoring tools and techniques
2.      Identify the components of an IPM program including preventive practices, biological control, behavioral control, physical, and cultural controls

There will be four locations across the state:

July 25-26—Lincoln University’s Carver Farm, 3804 Bald Hill Road, Jefferson City, MO

July 30-31—Warren County Extension Center, 107 W. Walton, Warrenton, MO

August 1-2—Lincoln University’s Urban Impact Center, Kansas City, MO

August 21-22—Southwest Research Center, 14548 Highway H, Mt. Vernon, MO

Due to the nature of the hands-on activities, registration will be limited to the first 15 people to register and pay.  The cost of the workshop is $30/person which includes one lunch, breaks, handout materials, Identifying Diseases of Vegetables book and IPM sample materials.  To register, you need to call 573-882-3776 to reserve your spot and then mail your check made out to University of Missouri to Sharon Naylor, University of Missouri, 205 Gentry Hall, Columbia MO 65211.  For questions about the workshop, email kellyd@missouri.edu

Below is a draft agenda for the workshops.  Please note that each workshop location will be slightly different to cater to that specific location.


Day 1

 9:30 amRegistration

10:00 am—Introductions of instructors and participants, workshop overview, and survey

10:30 am—What is IPM? Discussion of challenges and examples of successes with IPM

11:00 am—The PAMS Approach: PREVENTION (focus on pest-free seeds and transplants and sanitation)


1:00 pmThe PAMS Approach: AVOIDANCE (emphasis on trap crops to reduce/avoid insecticide use)

2:00 pmThe PAMS Approach: MONITORING (emphasis on insect ID, thresholds, monitoring tools)

3:00 pmBreak

3:15 pmHands-on activity (deployment of monitoring traps and trap crop plants the field)

4:30 pmThe PAMS Approach: SUPPRESION I (focus on cultural practices and physical controls)

5:30 pmAdjourn

Day 2

8:30 amThe PAMS Approach: SUPPRESION II (focus on the pests’ natural enemies - with live demo)

9:30 amThe PAMS Approach: SUPPRESION III (introduction to pesticides and biopesticides)

10:15 amBreak

10:35 amHands-on activity (inspection of traps and evaluation of trap crop plants the field, data recording)

11:15 am—Data summary and group discussion of field results

12:00 pm—Workshop review and evaluations

12:20 pmWorkshop adjourns

Monday, July 2, 2012

More on What to Watch Out for with Nitrates

Drought-damaged crops can be a suitable alternative feed but be careful of nitrates. When soil nitrogen is high and readily available, but the plant isn’t able to further metabolize it because of stress, nitrates can accumulate. Heavy nitrogen fertilization, drought stress, shading, cool and cloudy weather, high plant populations, shortages of soil phosphorus and potassium, hail, and grasshopper infestation can contribute to the problem. If it rains, nitrates will increase immediately, but after about two weeks of normal precipitation the plant will have resumed normal growth and nitrates won’t be a problem. In ruminants (cattle, goats and sheep), nitrates are reduced to highly toxic nitrites, which are reduced to ammonia. Bacteria in the rumen utilize ammonia to make protein. However, when too much nitrate is consumed, nitrite overloads the system and can’t all be converted to ammonia. As a result, nitrites get into the bloodstream, and reduce the ability of the blood to carry oxygen.

Nitrate levels are highest at the bottom of the stalk or stem, with less found up the plant. Grain and fruit will not accumulate nitrate. Examples of crops that can have nitrate problems are corn, oats, rye, flax, wheat, rape, soybean, alfalfa, and sweet clover. Certain weeds can contain high amounts of nitrate, too. You can use drought-stressed crops if you’re careful and if the nitrate level isn’t too high. Ensiling the crop for the proper amount of time (at least 3 weeks) can reduce levels by half or more. Green chop, on the other hand, must be fed the day it is cut because al-lowing it to heat will increase the nitrate toxicity potential. When making silage, chop to 3/8- to ½-inch length. This will help pack the silage more tightly and keep oxygen out as much as possible. High nitrate corn will produce more silo gas. Increase your cutting height to eight or 10 inches to avoid the lower part of the stalk. The ideal moisture content is 60 to 70% moisture.

If conditions persist, be careful when turning cattle out on corn stalks. If nitrates were high in the plant when corn was harvested, nitrates will stay high. When cattle graze corn stalks, they will eat the lower-nitrate and safer parts of the plant, such as the leaves, husks, cobs, and grain. As those parts diminish in the field, the cattle are forced to consume the higher-nitrate portions of the plant. If we have thin corn stalks caused by drought stress, cattle may consume more of the lower portion of these small stalks, making the potential for toxicity higher. If you baled any crops, nitrates will not generally decline in those, either. The situation may actually worsen if the crop is baled when wet, or if it gets excessively soaked at the bottom of large bales and stacks, because bacterial action can convert nitrates to toxic nitrites under those conditions.

Fortunately, ruminants can adapt to increasing amounts of nitrate if given time to adjust. Add suspect feeds into the diet slowly. In the case of corn stalks, cattle are exposed to higher-nitrate portions of the plant as the grazing period progresses and should be able to adapt over time. Feeding some grain will help them utilize ammonia and speed up the conversion of toxic nitrite to ammonia. Even though ruminants can adapt to high-nitrate feeds, there is a limit to the amount they can safely consume. The only way to know for sure if a feed is safe is to have it test-ed. A quantitative analysis, performed by a laboratory, can determine the amount of nitrate in a sample, telling you if the feed is safe for livestock. Call your local extension center for information on labs that can perform the nitrate analysis and for help interpreting the results.