Wednesday, November 27, 2013

On-Farm Crop Storage: Planning, Design and Management

The Missouri Beginning Farmers Program’s monthly webinars continue December 2 with another round of informative and exciting topics for beginning (as well as experienced) farmers.

The December monthly webinar will be on On-Farm Crop Storage: Planning, Design and Management with Scott Sanford from the University of Wisconsin.  Scott has been working with farmers on on-farm storage for years.  He just recently completed a grant about on-farm cold storage.  He will be sharing his findings with us. So join us on Monday, December 2nd from 7-8:30 pm.

To join the below webinars go to and sign in under “guest” with your name.  All webinars begin at 7 pm and end by 8:30 pm.  Each webinar will be recorded and added to the Online Learning Community.


Tuesday, November 26, 2013

USDA Announces Notice of Funding Availability for Value-Added Producer Grants

(Note:  This Value Added Grant is the USDA grant.  The post from last month was on the Value Added Grant from the MO Dept of Ag grant.  To read the MO Dept of Ag Value Added grant go to the Oct 28th post.)

Grants extend production season and income opportunities for America's Farmers

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced the availability of nearly $10.5 million in U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) grants to help agricultural producers enter into value-added activities designed to give them a competitive business edge.

"U.S. agriculture is connected to one in 12 American jobs, and value-added products from homegrown sources are one important way that agriculture generates economic growth," Vilsack said. "Supporting producers and businesses to create value-added products strengthens rural economies, helps fuel innovation, and strengthens marketing opportunities for producers – especially at the local and regional level."

The funding is being made available through the Value-Added Producer Grant program. Grants are available to help agricultural producers create new products, expand marketing opportunities, support further processing of existing products or goods, or to develop specialty and niche products. They may be used for working capital and planning activities. The maximum working capital grant is $200,000; the maximum planning grant is $75,000.

Eligible applicants include independent producers, farmer and rancher cooperatives, and agricultural producer groups. Funding priority is given to socially disadvantaged and beginning farmers or ranchers, and to small- to medium-size family farms, or farmer/rancher cooperatives.

The Value-Added Producer Grant program is one of many USDA programs that support the development of strong local and regional food systems as part of the Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food initiative. Launched in 2009, the initiative strengthens ties between agricultural producers and their local communities, helping meet growing consumer demand and creating opportunities for small business development. Initiatives like this create new income opportunities for farmers, generate wealth that will stay in rural communities, and increase access to healthy, local foods in underserved communities. All of these actions boost local economies.

Rural Development is encouraging applications from Tribal organizations as well as applications that support regional food hubs. Applications supporting value-added activities related to bio-based products are also encouraged.

In Fiscal year 2012, for example, the Mississippi Delta Southern Rural Black Women in Agriculture Association received a $44,000 working capital grant to provide a variety of services in the Delta region. The cooperative delivered oven-bakeable sweet potato fries to local Head Start programs and schools; cut, washed and bagged greens for local restaurants; and delivered sustainably grown and heirloom sweet potatoes to local and specialty grocers regionally and nationwide. The sweet potatoes are processed at the vegetable facility at Alcorn State University, in Lorman, Miss.

The project is supplying emerging markets with locally grown produce to enhance production, marketing and distribution infrastructure among women and minority landowners in persistently poor rural communities.

Additional examples of how VAPGs assist local and regional food producers are available on the USDA Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food Compass, which is searchable by zip code and key word.

Grant applications are due by Feb. 24, 2014. More information about how to apply is available on page 70260 of the November 25 Federal Register, or by contacting any USDA Rural Development state office.

Monday, November 25, 2013

What Makes a Good Pasture Lease Agreement?

Creating a good pasture lease is not easy and requires some careful thought by both parties. In general, a good lease is one in which both parties agree it is fair and both completely understand each other’s expectations. Most problems with a pasture lease occur when one or more parties do not fully understand what the other one expected. Whether a lease is verbal or in writing, taking the time to discuss these issues ahead of time will prevent 99 percent of the problems that will arise later. Writing out a lease forces you to consider what may seem like minor details now, but can become explosive issues later. Things such as who is responsible for fence repair, will the pastures be mowed, who has the right to enter the property, or can the tenant sublease the property.

Verbal Lease
Verbal lease for more than one year are usually considered invalid and unenforceable. Although verbal leases are binding on heirs, enforcing them can create many other problems. Having the lease written out is probably the best thing to do in most all cases. If after one year the landlord and tenant agree to extend a verbal lease for a second year, then the lease becomes what is known as a year–to-year tenancy. The lease will now automatically be extended for another year at the anniversary date of the lease, unless one of the parties provides a termination notice ahead of time. The notice must be in writing and provided 60 days prior to the anniversary date of the lease, which is when a landlord and tenant actually took possession. The termination notice must be in writing, even though the lease may be verbal.

Written Lease
The minimum requirements of a written lease are the names of both parties, a legal description of the property, the duration of the lease, the rental rate and payment arrangements, and signatures of both parties. However, there are several other items that should be considered. The first is landowner entry rights. Unless agreed upon in the lease, the landowner does not have the right to enter the property. Another item that should be addressed in the lease is subleasing. If the lease does not state that the tenant is not allowed to sublease the property, then the tenant can sublease with the landlord’s permission as long as it is for the same original purpose. Other special agreements include fence repair and soil fertility. Agreeing on who is responsible for fences and who pays for materials ahead of time will ensure that fences are maintained and kept in working order.

Soil fertility and lime is one of the most critical agreements in the lease. If pastures are not maintained, the productivity will decrease which hurts both the landlord and tenant. This may be a reason to establish a multi-year lease because it provides more incentive for the tenant to invest in the soil fertility. It is in both the landlord and tenants best interest to carefully consider all details of a lease ahead of time to prevent future disagreements. A written lease is a good way to force everyone to consider the details. Plus it creates an incentive for both parties to structure the lease so it is beneficial to both. A comprehensive fill-in-the-blank pasture lease that can be a guide for developing a lease can be obtained from the nearest University of Missouri Extension office or by going online.

(by Wesley Tucker, agriculture business specialist, Polk County Extension)


Friday, November 22, 2013

Organic and Integrated Research at Lincoln University’s Busby Research Farm

The Alan T. Busby Research Farm is one of three farms owned by Lincoln University and is located 8 miles from campus, off Highway 54. Our mission is to demonstrate and research integrated farming methods that are sustainable and environmentally friendly. Busby Research Farm was certified as an organic producer of crops in November 2012. Those crops include blueberries, forages and vegetables, with future plans to include brambles and apples. At this time, the livestock are not certified organic as there were concerns that could limit the scope of the livestock research projects.

The 280-acres farm is a diverse mixture of rolling pasture land, oak and hickory woodlands and river bottom. Facilities include the beef handling barn, composting building, former swine research building and a youth camp which has four bunkhouse cabins, community buildings and a kitchen. The cabin area is surrounded by native plants and a recovering prairie area flanks the gates leading to the cabins. The composting facility uses locally generated food waste to produce compost for use as a soil amendment and in making compost tea. Other unique features are the solar-powered pump and reservoir which provide water for irrigation and livestock water, two acres of blueberries, four acres of switchgrass and miscanthus for biomass energy research, as well as a newly established finca garden featuring native plants.

Dr. Jaime PiƱero conducts integrated pest management (IPM) studies using organic methods which incorporate trap crops and lures to minimize pest damage from Japanese beetles, squash bugs and stink bugs. He is also research the effectiveness of various cover crop combinations with weed suppression and soil fertility.

Busby Research Farm maintains a herd of 20 to 25 head of Angus cattle and flocks of goats and hair sheep. They are used in grazing demonstrations and research projects. Dr. James Caldwell is conducting research utilizing multispecies grazing of sheep and cattle to determine the effects on forage utilization and reproduction. Dr. Charlotte Clifford-Rathert is entering the third year of a silvopasture project utilizing goats to reclaim unmanaged woodlands and eliminate invasive species. All livestock are maintained using a forage-based system and managed intensive grazing, with minimum use of hay and supplemental feed.

The most challenging endeavor has been establishing and maintaining organic blueberries. This summer, some of the plants tested positive for phytophthora root rot and several researchers and specialists collaborated to develop a treatment plan that included applications of compost tea, gypsum, raw milk, either separately or in combination. Hopefully, the data collected prior to treatment and again next spring will provide results that can be of use to other producers.

In the spring, Busby Research Farm will host their annual Alternative Agricultural Field Day. Information will be available on the Lincoln University website and flyers will be available.

Tours of the facility are also available. For questions or additional information, please call Chris Boeckmann (573-619-2914) or Cindy DeOrnellis (573-291-0591).

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Small Farms Winter Webinar Series

The University of Illinois Extension presents a weekly educational series for the small farm community, providing practical knowledge on emerging topics which advance local food production in Illinois.  This series of online events is aimed at providing small farm producers with a look at how leading practices in production, management, and marketing enable operations to improve profitability and sustainability.  This year's series include the addition of two tracts on small orchard management and organic pest control.  Webinars will be held from 1:00 - 2:30 pm on Thursdays and are free.

Choose any number of the following webinars to attend when you register.    

Topics include:

Jan 9     Managing Layers on Pastures - Kyle Cecil, University of Illinois Extension Small Farms/Local Foods Educator

Jan 16    An Overview of the Philosophy and History of Organic Agriculture - Deborah Cavanaugh-Grant, University of Illinois Extension Small Farms/Local Foods Educator

Jan 23    Pumpkins and Gourdes - Nathan Johanning, University of Illinois Extension Small Farms/Local Foods Educator

Jan 30    Approaches to Small Scale Farm Composting - Ellen Phillips, University of Illinois Extension Small Farms/Local Foods Educator

Feb 6      Organic Pest Management:  Insects -   Rick Weinzierl, University of Illinois Extension Specialist, Entomology, Dept. of Crop Sciences

Feb 13    Organic Pest Management:  Disease -   Darin Eastburn, University of Illnois Associate Professor of the Dept. of Crop Sciences, Plant Pathology

Feb. 20   Organic Pest Management:  Weeds  -   Adam Davis, University of Illinois Associate Professor of the Dept. of Crop Sciences, Weed Science and Crop Management

Feb. 27   Asparagus Production - Mike Roegge, University of Illinois Extension Small Farms/Local Foods Educator

Mar. 6     Small Orchard:  Insects -   Rick Weinzierl, University of Illinois Extension Specialist, Entomology, Dept. of Crop Sciences

Mar. 13    Small Orchard:  Orchard Management - Elizabeth Wahle, University of Illinois Extension Horticulture Educator

Mar. 20    Small Orchard:  Disease - Mohammad Babadoost, University of Illinois Extension Specialist, Plant Pathology, Dept. of Crop Sciences

Mar. 27    Growing for Ethnic Markets - James Theuri, University of Illinois Extension Local Foods/Small Farms Extension Educator

The webinars can be accessed on-line from your personal computer.  In case you cannot attend these dates, register anyway!  An archived version of the webinars will be provided via email (the Monday after airing) for viewing at your convenience.

To register for the webinars, click here.
For more information, contact:  Miki White, University of Illinois Extension Small Farms Program Coordinator at 309-342-5108 or

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Livestock Lease Agreements a New Option

Older farmers and young farmers strapped for capital are teaming up in increasing numbers to form livestock lease alliances.

“Leasing land is common. Why not cattle?” said University of Missouri Extension agribusiness specialist Mary Sobba.

Young producers who may not have adequate finances are working with ready-to-retire producers to share income and profits on cattle by sharing land, machinery, breeding stock, labor, seed, fertilizer and other costs.

Sobba suggests that producers and would-be producers test the fairness of a lease by using a two-column worksheet, one for the landowner and one for the tenant.

Owners can cash lease beef cows, or the owner could furnish a set of bred cows or heifers for a predetermined lease price. The operator receives the livestock, cares for and manages the animals, keeps a percent of the calf crop, and returns the cows to the owner at the end of the lease.

Ways to determine cash rental rates are livestock ownership costs, livestock owner net share, rent and operator’s net return to livestock.

Some considerations include fence repair, bull expense, how and when cows are culled and sold, how and when calves are sold, and replacement females.

Owners and tenants also should decide the length of the lease, incentives for lower death loss and higher calving percentages, and provisions for drought and disaster.

To find an extension agribusiness specialist in your area, contact your local MU Extension center.
(by Linda Geist, MU Writer)


Monday, November 18, 2013

Goat, Sheep Experts Speak at Livestock Symposium, Dec. 6-7 in Kirksville

Experts on sheep and goats top the Saturday lineup at the Missouri Livestock Symposium, Dec. 6-7 at Kirksville Middle School. University of Missouri Extension coordinates the event.

The Saturday program offers workshops on making lambing easier, the future of the U.S. sheep industry, parasite resistance and research on grazing sheep on annual forages.

Saturday’s lineup also includes talks from some of the country’s leading meat goat experts. Charlotte Clifford-Rathert of Lincoln University in Jefferson City will present on marketing goats, vegetation management and “Look before you leap into goats.” There will be sessions on feeding goats and incorporating goats into a farm plan. There will be a question-and-answer period with all speakers.

The symposium also includes information on working stock dogs that may interest goat and sheep producers.

The two-day event features a large trade show, classic tractor contest and governor’s-style luncheon. All events are free, including meals.

Nationally known speakers on horses, beef cattle, stock dogs and other topics are part of the symposium. Garry Mathes, 660-341-6625, is chairman of the symposium planning committee.

For more information, contact MU Extension livestock specialist Zac Erwin and put “symposium” in the subject line. A complete list of events is available here.
(by Linda Geist, MU Writer)


Friday, November 15, 2013

Soil Health Laboratory at University of Missouri

The University of Missouri Soil Health Laboratory is responding to growing interest in evaluating soil health. The new laboratory grew out of the long-running Soil Characterization Laboratory. Its goal is to measure key indicators of soil health just as physicians measure body temperature and blood pressure to evaluate human health.

The laboratory is conducting physical analyses of soil health including wet aggregate stability and bulk density. These analyses evaluate how well water will infiltrate a soil, how well a soil will hold the water, and how well roots will be able to penetrate the soil to take in water and nutrients.

Chemical analyses used to evaluate soil health include soil pH and effective cation exchange capacity to assess nutrient availability plus total and active fractions of soil carbon and nitrogen are measured to assess soil organic matter quantity and quality. Potential mineralizable nitrogen analysis estimates the amount of nitrogen released through the growing seasons and made available to plants. Active carbon measurements estimate the portion of soil organic carbon that is actively being broken down and transformed by microorganisms releasing nutrients.

While measurements of aggregate stability, active carbon and potentially mineralizable nitrogen are related to the activity and numbers of microorganisms, the Soil Health Laboratory also measures soil biology using Phospholipid Fatty Acid analysis. This procedure estimates the mass of soil microorganisms, the proportions of bacterial and fungal types, and can be used to evaluate relative microbial stress among soils.

The Soil Health Laboratory looks forward to working with land managers to help maintain healthy soils function to produce food and fiber, infiltrate and store water, accumulate organic matter and store and release nutrients for plants and other soil organisms.

For more information contact: Soil Characterization, Soil Health, & Geotechnical Engineering Laboratories, E2509 Lafferre Hall, University of Missouri, Columbia, MO 65211, 573-882-0941 or Email.


Thursday, November 14, 2013

Finding Accurate Information on the Internet

The Internet is a valuable source of information, however caution must be taken to assure the information is correct.

We’ve all heard the joke “If it’s on the Internet it must be true!” In reality, anyone can create a website and put information on the Internet whether it’s true or not. Often, entities that are selling a product will only list information that supports their products. It is important as consumers that we seek out balanced, factual information. As an Extension Educator, I have worked with many farmers who use the Internet as a valuable resource to increase their knowledge on a wide array of subjects. But how do we sort through all of the correct and incorrect information available to us? Fortunately, there are some clues that can indicate whether the information is credible.

The author should be clearly identified and their credentials should be relevant to the topic. An author writing an informational piece will have their related credentials listed. Don’t be fooled by titles. A person with a PhD can be listed as Dr., but it does not mean he or she is an expert in all subjects. The PhD should be in a field related to the topic and the author’s current position should be clearly identified.

Fact checking
In general, websites with more citations and links will provide you with better information. On a website you are unsure of, it is a good idea to spot check facts with more reputable websites or research papers. Even in articles written by reputable sources, the author may show bias, so it’s still a good idea to look at multiple sources.

Website sponsor
A website sponsor with a vested interest in making a profit is not likely to provide balanced information. Often website sponsors appear on the sidebars of a website or across the top. The “About Us” section of a website will often indicate who the website is sponsored by.

Web address
The ending of a web address can give you clues as to the reliability of the information.

The website ending .gov means that the website is owned and operated by the government. No one but the government can use .gov so you can feel safe about the content of the website.

The website ending .edu is always affiliated with universities, colleges and educational sites. Usually you can feel safe about the trustworthiness of the content, however, many universities let students host websites using .edu, so not every website is authored by an educator.

The website ending .org was originally set up for non-profit organizations, but the designation no longer exists today. This domain extension is often used for non-profits such as schools and communities, but is also used by for-profit entities.

The website endings .com or .net are open to the public to use. Keep in mind that some websites ending in .com or .net that offer scholarly advice are trying to sell you their product.

Be alert if ...
  1. The website sponsor is for-profit
  2. The authors’ credentials are not related to the topic
  3. The website address ending has .com, .net or .org
Be assured if ...
  1. The author is qualified to discuss the subject
  2. The information was reviewed by a qualified person
  3. The web address ending has .gov or .edu
(by Faith Cullens, Michigan State University Extension)

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Timed Grazing Boosts Beef Per Acre

Growing perennial
legumes with perennial
grasses offers numerous
 benefits including often
 extending the grazing

With more pasture acreage converted to crops, livestock producers heard ways to improve grazing gains at the Missouri Forage and Grassland Conference, Nov. 4-5 at Port Arrowhead at Lake of the Ozarks.

Management-intensive grazing takes on new value, making more pounds of meat and milk per acre from remaining pastures.

Topics ranged from replacing toxic tall fescue grass with high-performance novel-endophyte varieties to how ranchers can improve performance of land, cattle and people.

Burke Teichert, general ranch manager who supervises grazing on thousands of acres in western states, marveled at Missouri’s advantage of 40 inches of rain a year instead of 18 inches. On his ranches, he plans to increase grazing to two rotations a year. In Missouri, producers return to grazed paddocks as quickly as 21 days in good weather.

Management covers more than grass and cows, Teichert said. Ranching includes finance, marketing and people. “If you change one, you affect all.”

It’s difficult to be expert in all, he said. “Call on others in areas of inadequacies. Ask for help.” Invest in attending meetings, he said. He learns a lot from other ranchers.

The best way to boost profits is to cut overhead. “It’s hard to do, because we like our stuff.” That includes horses, trailers, four-wheelers and pickups.

One dollar invested should return two dollars instead of 50 cents, he said. “Cut spending on things that rust, rot or depreciate.”

Dollars invested in land and cattle can boost ranch profits. Increasing volume boosts income, if costs are held in check.

Grazing instead of haying reduces need for equipment. “Forage management profit comes from grazing, not in haying,” he said. If you need hay, buy it or hire it harvested.

In starting his talk about the people part of business, Teichert asked: “How many of you supervise people?” After only a couple of hands went up, he asked: “How many have a wife and kids?” That brought a chuckle from the group.

When he talked of acres of grass per cow, those who had been to the Missouri grazing schools knew the benefits. With rotational grazing, grass quality goes up, gains improve and land carries more cows.

“Profits improve when acres per cow are cut and cows per person increase,” he said. “It takes less labor per cow to manage 500 head in one herd than 500 cows in five herds.”

As grazing improves, it’s easier to add that one more cow. She needs little more labor.

When asked how many people for a cow herd, Teichert said he aims for three people per 2,000 cows. But, he added, that requires contracting out haying and fence building.

Teichert returned the second day for more talk on ranching. “Use a systems approach,” he said. “But realize that a system can’t be rigid. A ranch contains dynamic biological, economic and social systems. It requires a lifelong approach.”

One of his big advances was adopting planned, time-controlled grazing. Timing is biological, not calendar time, he added. With weather in the mix, no two seasons are alike.

Grazing requires an astute observer, Teichert said. “You must learn quickly if a pasture is overstocked or understocked. Grass must be kept in vegetative growth.

“Rigidity assures more failures than successes,” he added.

“Cows must fit where they are going to live.” He noted that making too much genetic progress, adding size, can lead to declining production. “Cows must live on what is there, with a little help from you.” When grass runs short, know when to feed supplements.

You can’t full-feed cows, he said. “A little supplement, energy and protein, can take rough edges off of Mother Nature. Look for times when a dollar spent returns five dollars.”

Teichert kept coming back to a previous theme. The best way to better profits is through lower costs.

It takes a while to learn that cows can graze through a foot of snow, Teichert said. But when snow piles up waist deep, you must have a blizzard plan in place.

Know what you are going to do, in advance.

The same applies to a drought plan. Starting to depopulate early in a dry time can lead to less sell-off. Be ahead in your thinking, he said.

MFGC holds an annual conference, but sponsors grazing schools across the state each summer. The group also supports youth events in pasture judging and management.

The group’s latest work includes the Alliance for Grassland Renewal. It teaches how to replace toxic tall fescue with novel-endophyte varieties.

Click for more information about MFGC.
(by Duane Daily, MU Writer)


Tuesday, November 12, 2013

South Central Sheep and Goat Conference Planned for Nov. 16 in Ava

The “South Central Sheep and Goat Conference” is planned for 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 16 at Ava Victory Academy, 1005 NW 12th Street in Ave. Lunch will be served and afternoon sessions will be held at the Douglas County Fairgrounds, Highway 5, Ava.

"If you want to raise sheep or goats for meat or milk, you can learn how to raise them successfully at this conference," said Dr. Jodie Pennington, a small ruminant educator with Lincoln University Extension headquartered in Neosho.  “The conference will provide the basic information participants would need to work with sheep and goats, including hands-on training in the afternoon.”

Topics for the conference include herd health management including foot rot, internal parasite control, sheep and goat nutrition including pasture and forage management, and co-grazing of small ruminants and cattle.

After lunch, the conference will include an information-exchange panel after lunch of sheep and goat producers who will answer questions from the audience.  Hands-on practices will include deworming, FAMACHA, vaccinations, foot trimming, body condition scoring, and selection of breeding stock.

The other speakers for the day are Mark Kennedy, Natural Resource Conservation Service and Dr. Charlotte Clifford-Rathert from Lincoln University Extension in Jefferson City.  Clifford-Rathert is a small ruminant veterinarian who routinely works with goat diseases and internal parasites.

For those who pre-register before Nov. 15 at noon, the cost is $15 person. Simply mail your registration information to the Douglas County Extension Center, PO Box 668, Ava, MO 65608. Registration is $20 at the door the day of the event.

You also may contact the Douglas County Extension Center at 417-683-4409 to register or for more information.
(by David Burton, MU Writer)

Monday, November 11, 2013

Update on Organic Research at the University of Missouri Bradford Research Center

The Bradford Research Center employs two research specialists in organic production. Kerry Clark ( works with row crops and Leslie Touzeau ( works with vegetable crops.  Two organizations fund this research, the Ceres Trust and the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture. USDA funded research is examining the role of tillage and cover crops in the generation of greenhouse gases in organic systems.  Carbon dioxide is released when soil is tilled and nitrous oxide is released during the breakdown of organic matter. The USDA funds projects that are exploring whether greenhouse gas emissions are affected by organic practices to determine if greenhouse gas sequestration payments might eventually be earned by organic growers. Because we have had two years of drought and nitrous oxide is only released when there is enough soil moisture to support microbial activity, we have so far learned little about nitrous oxide release under organic practices. Carbon dioxide has been found to be released in larger quantities where soil is tilled compared to no-till.

For the greenhouse gas project we are utilizing organic no-till, a practice that was pioneered by the Rodale Institute. After two years of growing corn and soybeans using organic no-till we have determined that it is a system that requires a very high level of management. A grower must be amenable to switching to a tillage system if they do not get adequate cover crop growth in any given year. In 2012 we had good cover crop growth and were able to hold back weeds fairly well using the cover crop mat produced in this system. In 2013 we did not get good cover crop seed germination and did not end up with stands adequate for weed control. We also have not been able to get season-long weed control from a rolled/crimped cover crop mat. We believe that for organic no-till to become widely adopted, researchers need to develop methods and equipment to deal with mid to late season weeds that emerge through the cover crop mat.

After two years of research we have determined that when using organic no-till, improved seed-soil contact may be achieved by planting into the cover crop while it is still standing, then rolling/crimping it after. When planting into the cover crop after it has been rolled/crimped, we discovered that we got better seed-soil contact and improved germination when we removed the front cutting coulters from our no-till planter. For organic no-till, we use a mix of winter annual cover crop species. These include cereal rye, hairy vetch, crimson clover and Austrian winter pea. Cereal rye and hairy vetch have a potential to become weeds in an organic system so care should be taken to prevent them from going to seed.

We have also been looking at summer cover crops that can be grown after wheat instead of double crop beans. The advantage of this is improved weed control and improved soil health and soil carbon levels. We have found that the best summer cover crops at providing weed control are sorghum-sudangrass, sunn hemp and cowpea. The latter two are legumes, so they fix their own nitrogen. Currently we are growing sorghum-sudangrass between our vegetable rows and mowing it on a regular basis. This has done an excellent job of keeping down weeds and adding soil organic matter. The following year we rotate the area of the crop row with the cover crop area and get added nutrient availability from planting into an area with increased organic matter. When sorghum-sudangrass is mowed, it puts on extra root mass to aid in its regrowth. This below-ground organic matter is very important for improving soil health. In crops that vine, we use cowpea or buckwheat between the crop rows because it does not need to be mowed, which would destroy the vining crops.

In our projects funded by the Ceres Trust we are looking at ways to transition from conventional to organic production while reducing weeds and improving soil health. We have also just begun a project that examines soil health in vegetable plots when different weed barriers are used such as fabric, plastic, straw, and crimped cover crops. As we began the switch from conventional to organic in corn, soybean and wheat we found that we had a very high weed flush in year one.

In ground that had been recently in pasture and would be comparable to transitioning CRP to organic, we discovered that perennial weeds rapidly became a problem. In transitioning crop ground, annual weeds are dominant. In plots that are planted to sorghum-sudangrass during the three years of the transition, weed levels are decreasing while all other treatments have increased weed levels. From this experience, we believe that during the three year transition it might be best to plant forage crops or something that benefits from mowing to prevent initial increases in weed pressure when herbicide usage is stopped.

On August 1, 2013 we held the first ever University of Missouri organic field day, which was attended by about 150 growers. We will have a second field day in August 2014 and welcome suggestions for topics and speakers.


Friday, November 8, 2013

2014 Annual Missouri Organic Association Conference to be Held in Springfield MO

The Missouri Organic Association will be hosting the 2014 Annual Conference from Feb 6-8, 2014 at the University Plaza Hotel in Springfield MO.  This conference will provide the best education needed to impart successful farming procedures – whether your focus is on grain and row crop production, livestock production, horticultural production vegetables, fruits & berries; on sustainable production and living techniques, or perhaps looking to add skills in tractor mechanics or Welding 101 to reduce maintenance costs. Maybe you need some tips on successful marketing with training provided by some of the nation’s experts on marketing; or perhaps you are looking for new ideas for adding value to hands-on workshops.

For the first time, MOA will be hosting a 3-day Advanced Year-Round Vegetable Production Workshop with such nationally known experts as Greg Garbos & Mike Bollinger, Four Seasons Tools; Adam Montri, Michigan State University; Edwin Marty, Eat South; Joel Dufour, Earth Tools; Ben Flanner, Brooklyn Grange Farms, & Michael Kilpatrick, Kilpatrick Family Farms. Learn their tried and true methods for year round vegetable production.

Grain farmers will increase their knowledge on soil fertility, cover crops and crop rotation systems with international experts Gary Zimmer and Joel Gruver. Friday & Saturday will be focused on Alternative Crops with brokers coming to present their contracts for the upcoming year. Come network with the brokers and plan your crops and talk grain contracts for the upcoming year.

MOA will offer a Livestock Track this year with Thursday focused on organic dairy production with such international names as Dr. Hugh Karreman teaching organic holistic health treatments, Dan Giacomini presenting on nutrition and grain rations, Dr. Francis Thicke sharing his knowledge of rotational grazing systems, and Perry Clutts sharing the farmer’s perspective. Friday is particularly exciting with Dr. Fred Provenza coming from Utah to teach his internationally acclaimed methods for training cows, sheep and goats to eat weeds. Saturday is a hands-on workshop for goats and sheep farmers - with such topics as Genetic Selections, AMACHA, Body Conditioning Scoring, Foot Trimming, and Vaccinations followed by a Farmer Panel discussing ways to market goat and sheep products to the consumers.

Sustainable production methods will have its own 3-day track with such diverse subjects as Hugelkulture, Small Scale Aquaponics, Saving Heirloom Seeds, Native Plants and Essences for Health, Permaculture, Straw Bale Gardening, Grape Vine Propagation, and Food Forests.

Perhaps you are an informed consumer who is looking to become more informed about how the food you eat impacts your community’s economic viability and the correlation between the food you consume and the resulting health (or not health) of your body. If so, you won’t want to miss Dr. Don M Huber’s full-day Thursday workshop as he shares his many years of research on the correlation between GMOs and Glysophates and plant, livestock and human health. Follow that with Friday’s all day Food Policy workshop which will teach the correlation of the food we consume to the health of the body and how to be effective advocates for networking local communities with local food sources. This workshop will feature Mark Winne, a 40-year activist for local food systems and author of Closing the Food Gap: Resetting the Table in the Land of Plenty.”

During the days, if your mind is on overload and you need to take a break, there will be consecutively scheduled movie showings of such timely documentaries as: “The Vanishing Bees”; “The Genetic Roulette” with Jeffery Smith; “Living Downstream” by Sandra Steingraber, Ph.D; “What’s Organic About Organic?;”and “The Idiot Cycle.” End each day with the special events - Thursday Night is Meet the Farmer Reception and Ask the Experts night; Friday Night is a Wine Tasting and Book Signing with several well-known authors, followed by our annual Benefit Dinner and Auction - Always a load of fun while helping to support the conference expenses. All the special events and meals are included in the price of the conference registration.

There is an Early Bird Special for registration which will end on December 15. After that the prices will go back to the original prices.

Early Bird Pricing- Ends Dec 15, 2013
Three-Day Registration - $175
Single Day Registration - $65
Buy 1 Registration - full price, 2nd registration - ½ price

After Dec, 15, 2013
Three-Day Registration - $195
Single Day Registration - $75
Children under 12 - Registration free, except for meal costs of $35 for all 3 days.

Register by clicking here or by contacting Renae Wilson, MOA Secretary/Treasurer, 141 North Street, Branson, MO, 417.598.0975.



Thursday, November 7, 2013

29th NAFDMA Convention to be Held in Kansas City.

The 29th Annual NAFDMA Convention (North American Farmers Direct Marketing Association) will be held January 31 - February 5, 2014 right in our own backyard in Kansas City, MO.  The theme of the convention will be “Makin' Hey in the Heartland”.

There will be opportunities galore for you to see, learn, and experience firsthand and I am speaking from experience.  I attended this convention twice and feel it is THE direct marketing and agritourism conference to attend.  This convention moves across the US and Canada and you won’t find it this close again for quite some time.

The convention includes a conference with great nationally known keynote speakers, breakout sessions with producers from all across the country, pre- and post- conference farm tours with chartered busses and a fabulous trade show where you can see and order just about anything you might need to direct market your farm products.

The actual agenda is not posted yet but here is a peak at some information to give you an idea of what this convention will offer.

Educational Breakout Sessions

Educational Sessions are the heart of the NAFDMA Convention. While you wish to enjoy your time away from home and your business, we know you attend the convention to learn, network, and get the inspiration and tools you need to meet the challenges of your business. The Sessions and Workshops will bring a variety of subjects including social media, cutting edge agritourism, and business management. Keep an eye out for the announcement of our Keynote Speaker and additional topics. In the meantime, here are some of the sessions we are working on:

Colleen Newvine Tebeau on Social Media Strategy
Rachelle Wegele on Haunted Rides and Zombie Paintball
Tim Vala on the “Best Little Things”
Erin Pirro on Pricing Profits

Farm Tours

The Bus Tour Farm Visits for the 2014 NAFDMA convention will bring you to the operations of some of NAFDMA’s long time and most giving members. These folks have been attending the convention alongside fellow members for years. They know what you want to learn – and they know how to throw an event on the farm to welcome you with open arms. Their hospitality and willingness to share is sure to delight you. There will also be stops that you may not have heard of yet, but you will certainly learn plenty from them, too!

Carolyn’s Country Cousin Pumpkin Patch, Liberty, Missouri
Deanna Rose Children’s Farmstead, Overland Park, Kansas
Gieringers Orchard, Edgerton, Kansas
Renyer’s Pumpkin Farm, Wetmore, Kansas
Shatto Milk Company, Osborn, Missouri
Walter’s Pumpkin Patch, Burns, Kansas
Weston Red Barn Farm, Weston, Missouri

Trade Show
This year our host hotel gives us the unique opportunity to transform the Trade Show into a Business Exchange. The vendors and their products and services will be integrated into the meeting space and events that happen at the convention.

Keep an eye out for more information about this fabulous direct marketing and agritourism convention.



Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Agricultural Safety Featured on New Channel

NOTE:  Most beginning farmers seek production and marketing information which is vital to farming success. However farm and farmer safety must also be at the top of the list for farm success.

The best agricultural safety videos are one click away on the new YouTube channel, “U.S. Agricultural Safety and Health Centers”. The channel is a joint project of the 10 Agricultural Centers funded by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).

Extension agents/educators, agricultural science teachers, producers/owner/operators, first responders and agricultural families would all find value in the videos, says project leader Amanda Wickman, Southwest Center for Agricultural Health, Injury Prevention and Education (Texas). Videos can be used during job orientation, safety/health education, 4-H meetings, high school or college classes. One benefit of YouTube is that videos can be accessed from a mobile device to conduct tailgate trainings in the field.

“The channel is an inexpensive way to reach millions of people with safety and health information,” said project administrator Allison DeVries, High Plains Intermountain Center for Agricultural Health and Safety (Colorado).

DeVries said that the Centers also hope to get valuable feedback on their videos through the YouTube comments. “Anyone can quickly establish an account and post a comment,” DeVries said.

“NIOSH established the Centers to protect the safety and health of more than 5.5 million full- and part-time contract and seasonal workers in agriculture, forestry, and fishing, as well as farm family members,” said Wickman. “Many Centers have created videos for this purpose, and we’re trying to enhance dissemination to people who can benefit most from them.”

The channel launched on November 1st with 8 educational videos. Each video has been produced and reviewed by experts in agricultural, forestry and fishing occupational hazards. More videos are being added weekly and it is expected that nearly 60 videos will be on the site by the end of the year. Viewers are encouraged to check the site regularly for new content and fresh ideas about how to stay safe while working in agriculture, forestry and fishing, said project technical administrator Aaron Yoder, Central States Center for Agricultural Health and Safety (Nebraska).

Topics include: respiratory protection, livestock safety, tractor and machinery safety, child development, emergency response, grain safety, pesticide safety, heat illness prevention, ladder safety and hearing protection.

For more information visit the website or contact Project Administrator Allison DeVries.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Food Entrepreneurship: A New Way of Thinking about Local Food and Jobs

A one day workshop on Food Entrepreneurship:  A New Way of Thinking about Local Food and Jobs will be held Thursday, Nov. 14, 2013 from 9:30 a.m. - 3 p.m. in Cape Girardeau, Mo.

This workshop will explore issues and roadblocks with regard to local food systems, beginning with a scope of opportunities and challenges including three key aspects: place, product and promotion. Participants will also learn about the benefits and challenges of shared processing facilities (commercial kitchens, incubators and food hubs) as strategies for regional business development and job creation.

A local food system must also expand relationships between food producers and food consumers, and focus on producing food and developing alternative marketing channels that connect farmers and consumers.

Local food production benefits communities in many ways:
  • Increased relationships with consumers and other regional purchasers build alternative market opportunities that can increase sales and farm profits, creating more diversified income for the farmer.
  • Stronger relationships with consumers help farmers identify crops that will meet consumer demand and diversify their production and market opportunities for more stable farming operations.
  • Supporting local food systems supports local economies by keeping food dollars in the community.
  • Local farms employ family members, neighbors, youth and other local workers, providing jobs for community residents.
  • Local food systems need productive, innovative farmers; community facilities for processing and packaging products; transportation and marketing infrastructure; and consumers, all of which help build stronger local economies.
  • Growing and purchasing food in a local food system increases food security.
  • Supporting new farmers and gardeners increases access to fresh food.
  • Communities with a strong local food supply are better positioned to maintain a stable, safe food supply.
Thursday, Nov. 14, 2013

9:30 a.m. - 3 p.m.
Lunch will be provided.

Advance registration is required by Monday, Nov. 11. There is no cost to attend, but space is limited. So, please register early.
Register online by clicking here.

Southeast Missouri State University
University Center
N. Henderson Ave. and Normal
Cape Girardeau, MO 63701

For more information contact Matthew Ashby, 314-444-8891.  Three more one day workshops will be held across Missouri.  Keep watch here for when and where.