Friday, September 28, 2012

Field Day at the Busby Farm

Field Day at the Busby Farm
Friday October 12, 2012 

Visit the Allen T. Busby Farm for an opportunity to see the progress made with goats controlling invasive species in unmanaged woodlands and other innovative research.  Busby Farm is intended to be the demonstration farm for integrated agriculture and extension.  The farm will feature Organic Blueberry production, Integrated Pest Management, Rotational Multispecies Grazing and Biological Brush Control using goats.

Guest Speakers include: 
Fencing options for small ruminants - Mark Kennedy, State Grasslands Specialist USDA-NRCS

Calculating amount of available forage - Mark Kennedy, State Grasslands Specialist USDA-NRCS

Using Goats as a biological control for unwanted vegetation - Dr. An Peischel, Assistant Professor, Small Ruminant Extension Specialist at Tennessee State University

Guided tours of ongoing research will be given in the afternoon: 
·         Organic Blueberry Research
·         IPM
·         Multispecies Grazing
·         Chicory                                                                                  
·         Aquaculture
·         Composting Facility
·         Goats in Woodlands

A light lunch will be available.  Please let us know if you have specific dietary needs. Registration fee is $25.  To register please call or e-mail Vonna Kesel at 573-681-5312 or  Registration deadline is October 1, 2012.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

2012 Missouri Blueberry Fall Conference

The 2012 Missouri Blueberry Fall Conference will be held on October 19-20, 2012 in Springfield, MO.

Blueberries offer huge potential for Missouri farmers. Though a challenging crop to produce, blueberries are in high demand for many markets. The 2012 Missouri Blueberry Conference will offer a variety of educational experiences, for both established blueberry growers and those considering blueberry production. Join local and nationally known blueberry specialists to gain expertise on:

* Selecting adapted blueberry cultivars
* Establishing blueberry plantings
* The economics of blueberry production
* Constructing and maintaining blueberry irrigation systems
* Blueberry fertility management
* Blueberry pruning
* Blueberry pest management
* Blueberry marketing

Keynote Speakers include:
Dr. Dave Creech, Regent’s Professor, Stephen F. Austin State University
Dr. Annemiek Schilder, Associate Professor, Michigan State University

For more information on the 2012 Missouri Blueberry School or to join the contact list for upcoming events, please contact:

Patrick Byers, Regional Horticulture Specialist
MU Extension, Greene County
2400 S. Scenic, Springfield, MO 65807

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Grant Writing Workshop

Have you ever thought about applying for a grant to assist you with moving your on-farm production forward?  or how about the funding to try something new?  and funding to share that knowledge with others in the farming community?

SARE (Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education) Farmer/Rancher grants can provide this opportunity.

However, writing grants can be an intimidating process, but it doesn't have to be.  Join us next week (Oct. 3rd) for a workshop on writing SARE Farmer/Rancher Grants.  Here are the details:

What: SARE Farmer/Rancher Grant-writing class
When: October 3rd (Wednesday) from 6-9 pm.
Where: KC Urban Impact Center 1028 Paseo Kansas City, MO (parking behind building off 11th St)
Cost: $5 per person (includes light snacks)

To register or for more information please contact:
Katie Nixon, Small Farm Specialist, Innovative Small Farmer's Outreach Program Lincoln University Cooperative Extension Kansas City, 816-809-5074.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Grow Your Farm Course to be offered in Kansas City Area

This fall and winter the University of Missouri Extension will again be hosting a Grow Your Farm workshop series. This 8 course series builds upon participants' knowledge and skills in business planning and marketing for new and existing farm businesses-urban and rural.

What: a 12-week workshop series focusing on the business side of agriculture and value-added agribusinesses

Who: 2 participants per farm or agribusiness. Mother/Daughter, Father/Son, Grandpa/Grandson, Partners, 2 Neighbors working on an agribusiness idea. Urban farmers, rural farmers, those involved in value-added processing or those seeking to start a new agri-business are encouraged to attend.

Where: Classes will be held and the Clay County Extension office and the Platte County Extension office. Both, conveniently located just off I-29 in Kansas City, N.

When: Tuesday evenings beginning November 6, 2012. Classes start at 6 PM. Light dinners will be served for all paid registrants.

Costs: $80 per farm business (2 people) and $25 each additional participant. This 12-week series typically costs $330 per farm family but the North Central Risk Management Education Center has generously underwritten $250 of participants' fees! Includes all workshop presentations, workbooks & materials and a meal and refreshments!

Why: We recognize that businesses are often a family or community effort and sharing the knowledge with those that you work with is important for the long-term success of your agri-business, urban farm, rural farm or food venture.

Past Grow Your Farm participants are involved in the following agri-businesses: market gardening, cow-calf operations, certified organic grain production, horse boarding, urban farming, community-supported agriculture farms, nursery operations and more.

November 6 - Identifying Values & Creating Goals, Debi Kelly, Missouri USDA SARE Coordinator

November 13 - Walking the Farm - Farm Tour, Dan Switzner, Natural Resource Conservation Service

November 18 - Walking the Farm-Tour at Fair Share Farm, Kearney, MO

November 17 - Assessing Opportunities, Speaker to be announced

December 4 - Planning for the Farm Business, Kelly Dyer, Small Business Technology Development Centers

December 11 - Marketing Your Farm Products, Lane McConnell, Marketing Consultant

December 18 - Keeping Track of Finances, Whitney Wiegel, University of Missouri Extension

January 8 - Legal Issues for Agri-Businesses, Crystal Weber, University of Missouri Extension

January 22 - Business Plan Presentations

To Register: call 816-407-3490 or email. Register by October 29, 2012

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Grazing Multiple Species on Your Farm

Grazing more than one livestock species on your farm will help you use more of the forages, improve the health and growth of your animals, and keep weeds (most of them, anyway) from taking over your farm.

Each species of livestock can improve the bottom line as you spread out cash flow. Poultry offers a fast return on investment and a steady income from batches of broilers or dozens of eggs. Larger livestock will convert low-cost forages into meat and can be raised and marketed with less daily labor.

Fencing Is Key

There are many benefits from grazing multiple species, but almost an equal number of challenges. The first is fencing. Keeping pastured poultry in pens means there is not (much) need for a good fence around the entire pasture. The pens serve as the fence. You will need a good fence if you are raising larger livestock. Sheep and goats need a hot electric fence, with at least three well-spaced strands. More is better.

Cattle are easier to fence but do not offer the weed control benefits of small ruminants unless they are taught (see Woven wire works well for sheep and goats; barbed wire does not. Existing fences can be modified to work for any animal, and if the existing fence is good, no modifications may be needed. It is helpful to show your fence to someone who raises the livestock you want to raise and get their assessment of any changes needed.

Cattle and sheep and goats may all “play” with poultry pens. Having livestock in the pasture with the pens may add difficulty to chore time since the larger livestock are curious and will often get in the way as you service the pens. Some producers like to keep bulk feed handy in the pasture with the poultry pens. That would be risky if larger livestock is present because they may break in to the feed and overeat, with fatal consequences.

For all these reasons, it may be best to graze the ruminants in the pasture ahead of the poultry and follow with the poultry. The ruminants will graze the pasture down, removing tall forage so the pens are easier to move and poultry can graze the shorter, more tender forage.

Poultry will also scratch through manure pats, exposing internal parasite larvae to the drying effects of sunlight and heat and consuming some of them. Poultry will fertilize the pasture so that regrowth will be more nutritious for the ruminants when they return to graze. In this way, the ruminants prepare the pasture for the poultry and the poultry improve the pasture for the ruminants. Free-range chickens are even easier to manage. Remember to protect their feed from the ruminants. Chickens will clean up any spilled feed and scratch through old hay piles, lessening waste on the farm.

Grazing multiple species of animals on your farm will help you control weed and grass growth, increase fertility on your pastures, and offer more products to improve your income.
(By Linda Coffey, NCAT Livestock Specialist)

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

'Life after Drought' is theme of grazing school at MU FSRC

There is grass and there will be grazing at the Management-intensive Grazing School, Oct 2-4, at the University of Missouri Forage Systems Research Center (FSRC) in Linn County.

A panel will discuss "Life after Drought," says Craig Roberts, MU Extension forage specialist.  "As always, we cover the basics, as this is the grazing school for first-timers."

A new addition will be demonstrations of making ammoniated forage. This technique, used in times of short feed supplies, converts low-quality forage into feed with higher protein content. Davis says he will probably ammoniate drought-damaged cornstalks.

Usually the process involves wrapping stacked baled hay with a plastic tarp, sealing the edges and injecting anhydrous ammonia. The gas, a form of nitrogen, turns high-fiber forage into a tasty treat for cattle.

The school teaches how to improve pastures and boost grazing efficiency.

Historically, the school has taught thousands of producers to use moveable electric fences to control grazing. Moving cows through smaller paddocks boosts feeding efficiency.

Most of the available grass and legumes are eaten instead of trampled.

“During a drought it is more important than ever to not waste feed,” says Dave Davis, superintendent of MU FSRC.

The school involves more than classroom talks, Davis says. Participants build fences and turn in cattle to graze. First, they calculate how much area to fence off in the pasture to supply feed for a day.

“That exercise is an eye-opener for beginners,” Davis says.

Participants will learn to measure dry matter content per acre available in a paddock. Then they will learn to “eyeball” a paddock to estimate available forage.

The basics cover everything from soil nutrients to forage varieties and water systems to fence building.

Other specialists will talk about a cow’s nutrient needs and applied economics of grazing.

The MiG school is taught by MU specialists and USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service staff.

Highly rated by participants are talks by former grazing school graduates who come back to share their stories.

Some NRCS payments for grazing practices, such as fence and water, require attendance at a grazing school, says Mark Kennedy, NRCS state grassland conservationist.

Fee for the three-day school is $250 per person or $375 per couple. The fee includes a Missouri Grazing Manual, teaching materials, three lunches and two dinners. Applications are accepted first-come, with a limit of 50.

Apply to Joetta Roberts, Box 225, Missouri Forage and Grassland Council, 2000 E. Broadway, Columbia, MO 65201. Call mornings at 573-499-0886 or email.

A downloable brochure is available at

FSRC is located 10 miles northwest of Brookfield, Mo. Go west on Highway 135 to Highway FF and north seven miles. Turn east and follow the signs to 21262 Genoa Road. The center is part of the MU College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources.
(by Duane Daily, Senior Writer, University of Missouri)

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Establishing and Managing Early Successional Habitats for Wildlife on Agricultural Lands

Well over 100 wildlife species, including bobwhite quail, cottontail rabbits, and many species of song birds,  benefit from early successional plant communities in Missouri, however, this type of habitat is often in short supply.  A new publication, "Establishing and Managing Early Successional Habitats for Wildlife on Agricultural Lands" has been designed to feature the planning process that has been used to address wildlife considerations and implement habitat management practices and educational demonstrations that also complement agronomic objectives at the MU Bradford Research Center.  The information also serves as a case study  that can be used for planning and implementing habitat management practices that benefit a variety of wildlife species that require early successional plant communities, which private landowners and clientele may find useful.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Stretching Feed Supplies and Improving Nutrition

MU researcher and partners will share techniques to improve digestibility of corn stover and other feed alternatives at Sept. 20 evening program.

Mid-Missouri cattle producers can learn techniques to improve feed alternatives and strategies to stretch their hay supplies on Sept. 20 at the Beef Forage Field Day at MU’s Beef Research and Teaching Farm, just south of Columbia off Highway 63.

Sign-in begins at 5:30 p.m. and the outdoor program begins at 6 p.m. The Missouri Corn Growers Association is sponsoring a free meal following the workshop. Call the Beef Research Center at 573-882-2829 to register and reserve a meal.

Justin Sexten, University of Missouri beef nutritionist, the Missouri Corn Merchandising Council and the Missouri Cattlemen’s Association are working together to explore alternative forages and to demonstrate how to improve digestibility of corn stover and lower-quality CRP hay by 15 percent while doubling the feeds’ protein content. “We’ll show what we have for getting cows through the winter,” Sexten said.

Incorporating a specific treatment process called ammoniation, producers can treat corn stover at a cost of approximately $25 per ton of forage. The added nutritional value makes it an economical choice in a season filled with climatic and economic challenges.

Sexten will also demonstrate treatment of processed corn stover with calcium hydroxide. Similar to ammoniation, stover digestibility is improved with this process and the protein content remains unchanged. The process is relatively unknown and has generated lots of questions. “We will be learning, but we do know it increases digestibility in the rumen.”

Different hay feeders will also be on hand and Sexten will discuss the different designs as they relate to minimizing hay waste.

Several people are trying strategies for the first time this year, such as bailing corn stover. Sexten said in addition to the demonstrations, he wants to answer producers’ questions.

“The livestock industry is our No. 1 customer,” said Gary Wheeler, vice president of operations and grower services for Missouri Corn. “Through free forage demonstrations, we are working to help connect corn growers with cattlemen for the good of all parties involved.”

Farmers interested in purchasing or selling corn stover, cornstalks or hay as a feedstock are encouraged to visit the following online forage directories:

(by Mike Burden, MU Senior Information Specialist)

Thursday, September 13, 2012

A Five-Part Plan to Bring to Life a More Sustainable School Garden

SARE Youth Educator Grant

YENC10-037 Kansas City, MO – Sarah Holmes

Objective: The goals are to expose first-grade students to hands-on environmental education through a school garden, to enhance the curriculum by connecting it to the natural world, to provide students with the opportunity to grow and eat fresh produce, to diversify campus ecology, and to make school grounds look more attractive and inviting.

Results: This project revolves around five concepts: composting, beneficial insects, extending the season, cover crops, and irrigation/water. Significant progress has been made on several of the concepts.
Teaching first graders about
worms and gardening.

Composting was implemented after we researched several different types of worm bins, choosing one from Gardeners Supply.  We’ve been feeding our worms for several months now; they consume apple cores and banana peels from a collection bin.  Several times a week students mist the bin and check for worm activity. At first, many students thought the worms were gross, but now that they understand their usefulness, that attitude has changed.

Our outdoor compost bin is a wooden frame bin that assembles in a Lincoln Log fashion. It was very easy for the students to put the bin together. We emptied our first load of compost this spring and started filling it for next year. Students participated in watering the compost, aerating it, and turning it. s for beneficial insects, students are investigating native plants that have the qualities of attracting beneficial insects. We have prepared a bed along the side of our garden and amended the soil.  We will plant the natives that the students chose and count the insects on the plants.
(Photo by Sarah Holmes)

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Fiber Daze in Southwest Missouri set for Sept. 21-22

The second “Fiber Daze” event in southwest Missouri is scheduled for Sept. 21-22 at Crowder College in Neosho, Mo.

According to Dr. Jodie Pennington, small ruminant educator with Lincoln University Extension, the event will feature wonderful teachers in all areas of the fiber arts.

“Folks who attend will learn to spin their own yarn, improve their knitting skills, dye different types of fibers, and take their weaving to the next level,” said Pennington.

This is a joint venture with University of Missouri Extension, Lincoln University Cooperative Extension, Crowder College Department of Agriculture, and the Fiber Folks of Southwest Missouri, a local fiber guild.

“Essentially this will be a festival exhibiting uses of fiber, primarily wool, and a craft show for fiber products. Educational programs will teach fiber art topics from spinning to crocheting,” said Pennington.

Schedule Overview
Friday, September 21, 2012
9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. – Classes and workshops
12:00 – 1:00 p.m. – Lunch on your own
12:00 – 6:00 p.m. – Open Market
1:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.  – Classes and workshops
6:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. – Dinner available in cafeteria
5:00 – 5:30 p.m. – “Cafwalk” Fashion Show
Saturday, September 22, 2012
8:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. – Classes and workshops
8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. – Open Market
12:00 – 1:00 p.m. – Lunch on your own
1:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.  – Classes and workshops

Additional information about Fiber Daze can be found here.

For more information, contact Dr. Pennington at the Newton County Extension Center, (417) 455-9500, or Joi Chupp at (417-592-1378).

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

The Effects of Isaac on the Drought

In my last column, I mentioned the possibility of tropical weather systems affecting Missouri’s weather, and bringing some relief to the drought. That happened, of course, when Isaac came through and dumped a good amount of rain over many parts of Missouri. A few places in Missouri did not get any rains from Isaac, but most of Missouri saw excellent rains, usually an inch or more. Some areas received over six inches.

But was it enough to end the drought? The Drought Monitor is a good place to find an answer. The Drought Monitor gives drought ratings on a scale from D0 (abnormally dry) to D4 (exceptional drought). Before Isaac, all of Missouri was in drought, ranging from D2 to D4. Over 35% of Missouri was in the worst stage, D4, and 97% of the state was in D3 or greater.  Less than 3% of our state was in the D2 stage.

After Isaac, we have seen some real improvements.  But to answer the question, yes, we are still in drought.  The D4 area has been reduced to 3% of the state. Some areas remain at D3 levels (parts of northwest and central Missouri), and most of the rest of our state is rated at D2 levels.  There is even an area in northeast Missouri rated at D1.  But officially, the entire state is still under drought.

There are also a few other ways to look at drought. The U.S. Seasonal Drought Outlook from NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center for the period September 6 to November 30 shows “Improvement” for most of Missouri.  I sure hope they are right.

Another interesting guide is the Crop Moisture Index.  This map looks at short-term need vs. available water in a shallow soil profile. While this is not intended to assess long-term droughts, it does give interesting information for the short term. The Index released on September 1, actually shows northwest Missouri in a neutral range, while most of the rest of Missouri (except the Bootheel) is in the -1.0 to -1.9 inch range.

Perhaps a better assessment of the long-term severity of the drought is the Palmer Drought Severity Index. An interesting graphic, which shows the amount of additional precipitation needed to bring the Palmer Index to -0.5 inches, is available on the web.  The map released on September 1, shows northwest Missouri as needing 6 to 9 inches of precipitation to bring us closer to normal. Southern Missouri ranges from 9 to 15 )inches of needed precipitation.

So yes, we are still under drought.  Isaac helped, but we still need rain. Precipitation deficits are a good way to look at our needs, and I will take a look at how far we are behind for precipitation in northwest Missouri in a future column.
(By Tim Baker, Northwest Region Horticulture Specialist, University of Missouri Extension)

Monday, September 10, 2012

Webinar Tonight - SARE Farmer/Rancher Grants

Join in this evening for the Missouri Beginning Farmers monthly webinar.  The topic will be the SARE Farmer/ Rancher Grants.

Missouri leads the North Central SARE Region with the most awarded farmer/rancher grants since the inception of this grant.  Last  year Missouri received 16 of the 50 total grants.  Debi Kelly, SARE Co-coordinator will present on the ins and outs of writing a successful farmer/rancher grant.

Deirdre Birmingham, Grant Advisor with the Michael Fields Agricultural Institute, will join Debi to talk about their organization's efforts in assisting socially disadvantaged farmers in writing successful grants.

The webinar is from 7-8:30 pm.  To join the webinar go to and sign in as a guest.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Healthy Farms, Healthy Kids

SARE Youth Educator Grant

YENC09-019 Ceresco, NE – William Powers

Objective: To inform the next generation of farmers in Nebraska about sustainable agriculture.

Krista and Doug Dittman enjoy
showing visitors their Jersey cattle
and how they farmstead cheeses.
The city kids posing, ready to taste
the butter they made on the farm.
Results: I am the director of the Nebraska Sustainable Agriculture Society (NSAS).  Founded in 1976 by a group of organic farmers, its mission is to promote agriculture and food systems that build healthy land, people, communities, and quality of life for present and future generations.  Through my SARE project, I wanted to encourage kids in Nebraska to become interested in farming sustainably by offering a series of programs geared toward getting kids back to the farm.

A Youth Scholarship Essay Contest was held. All who submitted a one-page essay on what sustainable agriculture means to them received a full youth scholarship to the NSAS annual conference.

We organized several activities that brought urban kids and kids from farms together. We took pasture walks, milked cows, made butter, and learned about making cheese.

The final phase of my project was taking kids to a farmers market. The kids asked each farmer three questions: where, why, and how they farmed.

I hope to expand this project in 2012 to include a day-long sustainable agriculture day camp, youth-led sessions for kids at the annual conference, and a sustainable agriculture club at universities and colleges in Nebraska.  Learn more here.
(Photo by William Powers)

Thursday, September 6, 2012

SARE Youth Educator Grants Now Available

The 2013 North Central Region - Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program (NCR-SARE) Youth Educator Grant Call for Proposals is now available.

Youth Educator Grant projects provide opportunities for youth in the North Central Region to learn more about sustainable agriculture (farming and ranching that is ecologically sound, profitable, and socially responsible).

Educators use the grants to encourage young people and their parents to try sustainable practices and see sustainable agriculture as a viable career option. Projects should help youth discover that sustainable farming and ranching is profitable; good for families, communities, and their quality of life; and good for the environment long term. Grants are awarded at a $2,000 maximum, and a total of approximately $20,000 is available for this program.  Grant recipients have 25 months to complete projects.

Interested applicants can find the call for proposals online as well as useful information for completing a proposal.  Note that NCR-SARE’s Youth Grant Program was discontinued in March 2012.

Proposals are due by 4:30 pm, Thursday, November 15, 2012 at the NCR-SARE office in Saint Paul, MN.

Potential applicants with questions can contact JoanBenjamin, Associate Regional Coordinator and Farmer Rancher Grant Program Coordinator, at 573-681-5545 or 800-529-1342. A hard copy or an emailed copy of the call for proposals is also available by contacting Joan Benjamin. We make revisions to our calls for proposals each year, which means it is crucial to use the most recent call for proposals.

Each state in SARE's North Central Region has one or more State Sustainable Agriculture Coordinators who can provide information and assistance to potential grant applicants. Interested applicants can email the  Missouri State Sustainable Agriculture Coordinators at KB Paul, Lincoln University or Debi Kelly, University of Missouri.

Monday, September 3, 2012

SARE Farmer/Rancher Grants Call for Proposals

The 2013 North Central Region - Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program (NCR-SARE) Farmer Rancher Grant Call for Proposals is now available.

A SARE Farmer/Rancher Grant Writing webinar will be held Monday, Sept 10th from 7-8:30 pm.  The webinar is free and no registration is required.  To attend the webinar go to and sign in as a guest.  A grant writing workshop for the SARE Farmer/Rancher Grant will be held Wednesday, Oct 3rd from 6-8:30 pm at the Lincoln University Urban Impact Center in Kansas City.  For more information about the workshop contact Katie Nixon.

Farmers and ranchers in the North Central Region are invited to submit grant proposals to explore sustainable agriculture solutions to problems on the farm or ranch.  Proposals should show how farmers and ranchers plan to use their own innovative ideas to explore sustainable agriculture options and how they will share project results. Sustainable agriculture is good for the environment, profitable, and socially responsible.

Projects should emphasize research or education/demonstration. There are three types of competitive grants: individual grants ($7,500 maximum), partner grants for two farmers/ranchers from separate operations who are working together ($15,000 maximum), and group grants for three or more farmers/ranchers from separate operations who are working together ($22,500 maximum). NCR-SARE expects to fund about 45 projects in the twelve-state North Central Region with this call. A total of approximately $400,000 is available for this program. Grant recipients have 25 months to complete their projects.

Interested applicants can find the call for proposals online as well as useful information for completing a proposal.  You can find more information about sustainable agriculture at the SARE's website or take a free National Continuing Education Program online course about the basic concepts.

Proposals are due on Thursday, November 29th at 4:30 p.m. at the NCR-SARE office in Saint Paul, MN.

Potential applicants with questions can contact JoanBenjamin, Associate Regional Coordinator and Farmer Rancher Grant Program Coordinator, at  573-681-5545 or 800-529-1342. A hard copy or an emailed copy of the call for proposals is also available by contacting Joan Benjamin. We make revisions to our calls for proposals each year, which means it is crucial to use the most recent call for proposals.

Each state in SARE's North Central Region has one or more State Sustainable Agriculture Coordinators who can provide information and assistance to potential grant applicants. Interested applicants can email their Missouri State Sustainable Agriculture Coordinator - KB Paul, Lincoln University or Debi Kelly, University of Missouri.