Thursday, July 31, 2014

Limit your Risk. Choose the Right Equipment!

Purchasing equipment in the beginning years of a business is a daunting task! There are so many options, and so many ways to farm. Equipment is a huge time saver, however, it can be hugely expensive, and sometimes extremely frustrating. How do you negotiate what to buy in the first years of a business? Have a researched plan. Try it out. Stick to a budget. Stay flexible.

Have a researched plan!
§  Practical experience with the on-the-ground and day-to-day operations of a farm similar in size to what you‘d like to run is invaluable. No amount of reading or speculation can take the place of experience. If you think you’d like to operate a 5- acre farm and haven’t ever worked on one before: go do it first. Every farm will grow and change with time, but knowing the scale at which you plan to start from personal experience helps enormously.
§  Farmers are your best resource! Talk to other farmers operating at a similar scale or in a similar way to what you’d like to have about what their experience has been with different systems. Ask about different places they like to source equipment, the limitations and benefits of systems you might like to purchase. Talking with other growers about their systems and methods is often the most helpful and practical resource. 
§  It’s important to plan systems where all parts work together. There’s nothing more frustrating than having many pieces of equipment that do not function well together. Carefully consider everything you need your tractors and implements to accomplish before buying things. Sometimes a good deal on an incompatible tractor seems like a better idea than it actually is.

Try it out!
§  Having experience operating machines and equipment for the scale on which you plan to operate prior to starting up is key!  Is there any way for you to get experience operating the equipment you are curious about? Are there workshops that demonstrate equipment you are interested in buying? Are there farmers in the area whose equipment you can try, or watch them operate?
§  How easy is it to find replacement parts for the systems you are considering? How quickly can you obtain them, when necessary, and do you need the assistance of a mechanic to maintain or fix things? It isn’t always easy to get a tractor into a mechanic’s shop, and being able to troubleshoot problems and replace parts yourself can be a big time saver. Being able to access parts and information quickly is a big plus to any equipment you are considering buying. Do you have mechanic and welder friends, or possess those skills yourself? If not, you may want to purchase newer equipment that will not require the same degree of maintenance.

 Stick to a budget!
§  Can you buy it used? Check listings for farm auctions, publications like Lancaster Farming, post on local farming list-serves. Most equipment dealers sell used equipment and even list their inventory on-line. 
§  Buy once. Invest in equipment that you don’t intend to upgrade.  Invest in equipment that has replaceable parts. 
§  Purchase durable equipment. Make sure equipment can be re-sold if you eventually change your farm system. Always treat your equipment well, because someday you may outgrow it and want to re-sell.
§  You don’t need to buy it all at once.  In fact, you shouldn’t because you’ll want to adjust things over time. Make a plan to purchase equipment over several years. Investing in basic systems that save you time is important to do right out of the gate. Specialized equipment can be purchased in subsequent years when you’ve established your business and better understand what you need, and what crops are most profitable for your farm. There may very well be farmers/businesses in your area who will loan or rent you equipment that you only need at certain times of the year (i.e., grain drills, seeders etc.).

Stay Flexible!
§  As you gain growing experience, your systems and experiences will change! It’s inevitable. It’s okay to modify things as you learn more.
(by Rebecca Munro, Education Director & Farm Manager The Seed Farm, Penn State University)

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

What You Should Know About Buying Livestock

What a bargain! The price looks great, but are you really getting a bargain? When buying livestock, there are a number of things you should consider before you make the commitment to purchase. Here are a few things to take a closer look at.

Disease Risks
Even though a herd or flock looks healthy, they could potentially be carrying organisms that cause disease. If your current herd or flock has not been exposed to these diseases, you could very quickly have a disease outbreak that could make animals sick or even cause them to die. When animals are trucked to a new location, the traveling and new environment causes these animals to become stressed. This stress can then show up in the form of disease in the new animals or they may be more likely to shed the organisms that cause the disease at their new location.
Vaccination is a great way to prevent disease not only in the new animals, but also in your current herd or flock. Animals should be vaccinated when they are healthy and at least several weeks prior to moving to a new location. Be sure to follow the same vaccination protocol for the existing herd or flock and for the new animals.

There are a few other very simple things that livestock producers can do to prevent spreading diseases to their farm. Anytime a producer visits another barn he or she should be careful not to carry diseases home. Change footwear and clothing prior to entering your own barn. Be sure to disinfect any footwear that was worn in another barn prior to wearing in your own barn.
New animals should be isolated from their new herd or flock mates for three to four weeks after they arrive at their new location. Also, once new animals have arrived on your farm, be sure to feed them last so that diseases aren’t spread to the existing herd or flock by care takers.

Clean Truck or Trailer
Always haul new animals in a clean truck or trailer. Disease organisms can live in the bedding of dirty trucks or trailers and can possibly infect new animals. For further insurance, disinfect the tuck or trailer prior to hauling any other animals.

Pre-purchase Testing
Where possible, test newly purchased animals two to four weeks prior to transporting them to their new home. Known disease carriers can then be removed before transporting the animals and their disease to your farm.

Once the new animals arrive, a very important task is to spend 5 to 10 minutes each time you feed just observing the animals. This will help identify any disease problems very quickly and before the disease spreads through the rest of the new acquired animals. Following these few simple tips can make purchasing new animals a good experience rather than a lasting nightmare.
(By Melanie Barkley, Penn State University Extension Educator)

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Livestock Grant

The Animal Welfare Approved program is making available grants to improve animal welfare for Animal Welfare Approved farms, farms that have completed an application to join the program, or slaughter plants that are working with an AWA farm and/or have consented to be reviewed by AWA. The deadline to apply is October 1, 2014.

Funding priorities for this cycle include: improved genetics, increased outdoor access, welfare improvements in the slaughter process and non-lethal predator control. Previous on-farm projects include: new mobile housing and incorporation of new genetics to better facilitate pasture-based management. Previous slaughter plant projects include: new knock boxes and handling facility improvements, stunners for on-farm poultry slaughter, mobile processing units, and visual barriers to reduce handling stress. Feel free to browse AWA’s grant profiles to learn more about previously funded projects.

Guidelines and applications for farmers and slaughter plants can be found below. Contact Grants Coordinator Emily Lancaster Moose by email or by phone at (202) 618-4497 with questions.

2014-2015 Good Husbandry Grant Guidelines (PDF)
2014-2015 Good Husbandry Grant Application – Farmer (Word) (PDF)
2014-2015 Good Husbandry Grant Application – Slaughter Plant (Word) (PDF)

Monday, July 28, 2014

Vegetable and IPM Festival

Lincoln University Cooperative Extension will be hosting a Vegetable and Integrated Pest Management Festival on Thursday, August 14, 2014 from 4-7 pm at the Lincoln University George Washington Carver Farm, 3804 Bald Hill Road, Jefferson City, MO, 65101

This free event will showcase various aspects of crop production including vegetables, cover crops, and pest management tools that are effective and help conserve beneficial arthropods. 
Small- and mid-scale farmers and gardeners will receive research-based information / demonstrations on various aspects of sustainable agriculture.

Demonstrations and Presentations
~ Cover Crops for Vegetables
~ Sweet / Chili Pepper Production
~ Integrated Disease Management of Watermelon
~ Research Update on Trap Cropping
~ Weed and Insect Pest Management in Jack-o'-Lantern Pumpkin Production
~ Native Plants as Specialty Crops
~ Native Plants for Native Pollinators
~ Aquaculture: friends and pests
~ Missouri aquaculture eats
~ Cover Crop Grazing by Goats /Sheep
~ Edamame / Soybean variety trial
~ Living Mulch with Sweet Corn / Green Beans
~ Monitoring and Management of Invasive Insects including Spotted Wing Drosophila (SWD) – free bait and traps.

Watermelon and Tomato Tasting!
This is a FREE event, registration is not required but encouraged. To register, contact Vonna Kesel at (573) 681-5312. Please let us know if you require special accommodations.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Squash Bugs

Squash bug infestations typically begin in late June and July in Illinois.  The squash bug, Anasa tristis (De Geer) (Hemiptera: Coreidae), is a perennial and severe pest of pumpkins and squash; it rarely injures cucumbers and melons in the Midwestern United States.

Identification.  The squash bug is a "true bug" in the order Hemiptera.  Like all adult Hemiptera, adult squash bugs have two pairs of wings, with the front wings hardened at the base and membranous at the tips.  Its mouthparts form a needle-like beak that arises from the tip of the head.  Adults are brownish black, with yellowish to red-orange markings; they appear oval shaped when viewed from above, and somewhat flattened when viewed from the side.  Females lay yellowish-white eggs in small clusters or masses on the upper and lower surfaces of leaves; the eggs quickly darken to a reddish brown color.  Eggs hatch to produce grayish-white, wingless nymphs with black legs.  The nymphs darken in color as they grow older, and wing pads (the beginnings of adult wings) begin to develop. 

Life Cycle.  The squash bug overwinters as an adult, and survival is greatest in plant debris, mulch, and field borders or woods.  Adults become active in the spring, mate, and females begin feeding and laying eggs in June and July.  Nymphs grow to the adult stage in 5 to 6 weeks, and new females mate and begin laying eggs immediately.  Populations are greatest during hot, dry summers.  Females that reach the adult stage after late July or early August do not mate or lay eggs but instead enter an inactive stage and seek overwintering sites.  Squash bugs may be present as nymphs or adults in pumpkins and squash from June through October.

Plant Injury.  Squash bugs use piercing mouthparts to penetrate stems, leaves, and fruit and suck sap from plants.  This direct damage may cause wilting or even kill plants if populations are great enough.  Recent research has found that squash bugs transmit squash yellow vine disease; controlling squash bugs limits the spread of this disease within fields.

Management.  Early in the season when adults move into fields and feed on young plants, watch for wilting of seedlings and apply an insecticide if wilting is observed.  Scout for eggs of the squash bug on upper and lower surfaces of leaves.  If densities exceed one egg mass per plant, use insecticides for control as nymphs begin to hatch.  Insecticides labeled for use against squash bug are most effective against young nymphs, and for commercial growers who possess a Pesticide Applicator's License, the pyrethroid insecticides (particularly Brigade, Mustang Max, and Warrior) are most effective against squash bug.  Organic growers may choose to use floating row covers to exclude squash bugs from young plants, but when row covers have to come off to allow pollination, none of the insecticides approved for use in Certified Organic production systems are truly effective against squash bugs.  See the 2014 Midwest Vegetable Production Guide for Commercial Growers for listings of registered insecticides.
(from Illinois Fruit and Vegetable News, Vol 20 No 7)

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Squash Vine Borer

The squash vine borer tunnels in the vines of pumpkins and summer and winter squash; it rarely is found in cucumbers or melons and cannot complete its development except in squash or pumpkins.

Identification.  The squash vine borer adult is a black and reddish moth called a clearwing moth because large portions of its hind wings lack scales.  These moths are ¾- to 1-inch long, with a 1- to 1 ½-inch wing span.  They are active during the daytime and superficially resemble wasps as they fly about.  Larvae are yellowish-white with a brown head, 3 pairs of thoracic legs, and 5 pairs of fleshy abdominal prolegs that bear tiny hooks called crochets.  Fully-grown larvae are about 1 inch long.  Brownish pupae are slightly less than 1 inch long, and they are found in the soil inside a dark, silken cocoon.

Life Cycle.   Squash vine borers overwinter as mature larvae or pupae within cocoons 1 ½ to 3 inches below the soil surface.  Moths emerge and begin to mate and lay eggs in June and July in much of the Midwest (earlier, beginning in May, in southern Illinois and similar latitudes).  Moths lay eggs singly at the base of plants or on stems and petioles, beginning when plants start to bloom or "run".  Larvae feed within stems or petioles for 2 to 4 weeks, leaving brown, sawdust-like frass (droppings) at holes where they entered the stem. In southern Illinois these pupate and produce a second flight of moths in late summer; in the north, larvae or pupae of the first (and only) generation remain in the soil through the winter.

Plant Injury. Tunneling within vines destroys water- and food-conducting tissues, reducing plant vigor and yield and sometimes killing vines.

Management.  Disking or plowing to destroy vines soon after harvest and bury or destroy overwintering cocoons reduces moth populations within a field in the spring.  Staggering plantings over several dates also allows some plantings to escape heaviest periods of egg-laying.  Early detection of moths and initial damage is essential for timing insecticide applications.  For insecticides to be effective, they must be applied before larvae enter stems or petioles.  Scout for moths (pheromone lures and traps are available for monitoring flight periods but are not consistently effective for detecting moth flight) and look for entrance holes and frass as soon as plants begin to bloom or vine.  Apply insecticides beginning 5 to7 days after moths are first detected and at weekly intervals for 3 to 5 weeks, or begin when injury is first noted and make a second application a week later.  See the 2014 Midwest Vegetable Production Guide for Commercial Growers for listings of registered insecticides.
(from Illinois Fruit and Vegetable News, Vol 20 No 7)

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Organic Certification Cost-Share Now Available

The Missouri Department of Agriculture signed a cooperative agreement with USDA-National Organic Program (NOP) on June 13, 2014 to implement the certification cost-share program. Under the cooperative agreement, the state Department of Agriculture has agreed to review applications from certified Missouri organic producers (crop, wild crop or livestock), processor and handlers of agricultural products who obtained certification under the National Organic Program (NOP). MDA then disperses the available funds to qualified applicants. Applications for cost share funds are reimbursed in the order they are received, until funds are exhausted or the eligibility period ends, whichever comes first.

All of the organic cost share information is now online. MDA has about twice the funds available than in the past.   The window for 2013-14 funds is short.

Frequently Asked Questions
The following questions and answers should be helpful in your application process.
1.      To qualify, does my farm or company have to be located in Missouri? Yes.
2.      What kind of costs will the program reimburse? Application, inspection and certification costs - but not late fees.
3.      How does MDA determine my eligibility? You must have a copy of your current organic certificate.
4.      How much am I eligible for? Payments to eligible producers, processors and handlers will be limited to 75% of each certification, class of certification and renewal cost up to a maximum of $750.
5.      How do I apply? You must submit four items:
6.      Does certification from any certifying agency count? You must have received organic certification from a USDA-NOP accredited certifying agency. If you have questions about the accreditation status of your certifier, call your certifier or check the NOP website for more information.
7.      What if I am certified as a producer and a handler? If you have different kinds of certification (producer - crop, wild crop and livestock, processor or handler), you qualify for more than one cost-share payment. You must submit separate and complete applications for individual certifications. However, some agencies will list them as classifications on the same certification. These do not have to be broken out as individual applications.
8.      When is the application due? Since funds are limited, we will process applications in the order they are received and payments will be issued on a first come, first served basis. The program will continue until all funds are exhausted or the eligibility period ends.
9.      What about privacy? Under state law, if requested, we must provide demographic information including your name and address. We do not release social security numbers or payment amounts.
10.  Where do I send the application? Mail to: MDA Organic Certification Cost-Share Program, PO Box 630, Jefferson City, Mo. 65102-0630 or fax to (573) 751-2868.
11.  Will this program continue in the future? Missouri expects to exhaust the federal and state cost-share funds each year. Whether the program continues or not will depend on the actions of the U.S. Congress and the state legislators.
12.  What if I have questions? Contact a Missouri organics marketing specialist at (573) 522-4170 or

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Soils Workshop Set for Columbia, Aug. 13-14

“Rebuilding Soils for a Changing Climate” is the theme of the Aug. 13-14 Soil Health Exposition at the University of Missouri Bradford Research Center.

MU’s College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources and the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) are sponsors for free the event. The expo runs 9 a.m.-5 p.m. both days.

“Climatic changes are bringing about increased drought events and harder rains, both of which can have long-lasting effects on soil productivity,” says MU research specialist Kerry Clark. “If we are going to save our soil resource and increase our agricultural productivity, changes in farming practices are going to be necessary.” Many of those practices will be discussed at this expo.

The keynote speaker on Aug. 13 is Terry Taylor, a longtime no-till farmer in Illinois. Taylor has used cover crops on claypan soils. Other speakers will discuss soil biology, planting cover crops and economics of soil health practices.

Farmer Keith Berns of Bladen, Nebraska, speaks on cover crops on Aug. 14. Berns developed the SmartMix Calculator, an online spreadsheet for planning cover crop mixes. Linus Rothermich and Luke Linnenbringer discuss efforts to improve soil health on their mid-Missouri farms on Aug. 14 as well.

Representatives of MU, NRCS and the USDA Agricultural Research Service will be available to discuss soil health practices.

“Farmers can attend one day or both,” says Clark. “Each day will have unique presentations and will be packed with information for producers.”

Vendors include equipment and seed dealers. Lunch is available for purchase at the center. For more information, contact Clark at  573-884-7945, or click here.

Bradford Research Center, part of the MU College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources, is east of Columbia. Part of Highway WW, so directions have changed:

From I-70, turn south at Exit 133, Highway Z. Go to the first stop sign, jog left to the next stop sign and turn right on Rangeline Road. The farm is 4 miles ahead.

From Columbia, go east from Highway 63 South at the AC exit onto New Haven Road. Go about 5.5 miles to Rangeline Road and turn right 1 mile.

Bridge construction will keep Highway WW closed for about 45 days, affecting field days at the MU research center.
(by Linda Geist, Writer, MU Extension)

Monday, July 21, 2014

IPM Survey for Missouri Producer Needs

If you produce commercially produced fruits and/or vegetables in the field / high tunnel / greenhouse, the Lincoln University IPM program needs your help. We are trying to address important needs for extension in Missouri through an online survey funded by an Extension IPM grant. You can access the survey at

Please help us understand your fruit and vegetable production by answering the following questions. Your responses are confidential. Survey responses will not be reported or identified individually but will be combined with all responses and reported in aggregate. The survey will be available for only 2 weeks, so your input is greatly appreciated.

The purposes of the survey are to: 

(1) learn about the diverse farming practices used in the state to produce fruits and vegetables
(2) determine what are the biggest challenges faced by farmers in their production systems
(3) identify the most significant pests that can cause economic damage in the various production systems
(4) learn about farmer’s use of IPM, IPM needs, and ways in which farmers prefer to receive IPM information from extension and research personnel.

If you have questions about the survey, please direct them to Jaime Pinero at 573-681-5522.

Friday, July 18, 2014

2nd Organic Field Day at MU Bradford Farm

The University of Missouri will be hosting it’s 2nd Annual Organic Field Day on Friday, August 1st from 11 am to 5 pm.  Topics and tours will include organic fruit production, organic pest and weed management, vermicomposting, mycorrhizal fungi, beekeeping, no-till challenges, benefits of organic certification, soil nutrients, permaculture and cover crops.  There will also be an opportunity for you to test your own soil for active carbon.  Bring a plastic ziplock bag with DRY soil from your field for testing and learn why active carbon is important.

There is no charge for attendance however pre-registration is needed so enough snacks made with local organic ingredients can be provided.  Lunch will be available for purchase.

RSVP to Kerry Clark at 573-884-7945.

Organic Field Day Agenda (20 mins per speaker) each tour starts on the hour listed

Tour 1- Wagon - start at 1 pm, 2 pm, 3pm
Organic no-till - Dara Boardman
Organic Grains - Margot McMillan
Permaculture - TBA

Tour 2- Wagon or walk - start at 1 pm, 2 pm, 3pm
Trap cropping - Terry Woods
Pest Management - Wayne Bailey
Mycorrhizae - Carrie Hargrove

Tour 3- Conference Bldg - start at 11 am, 12 am, 1 pm
Why get certified - Beth Rota
Soil Nutrients - Manjula Nathan
Being an organic Grower - Liz Graznak

Tour 4- Wagon - start at 11 am, 12 pm, 2 pm
Composting - Dr. Johnson
Biochar - Tim Reinbott
Fruit Production - Jim Quinn

Tour 5- Walk - start at 11 am, 12 pm, 1 pm
Cover crops - Leslie Touzeau
Weeds - Reid Smeda
Beekeeping - Bob Brammer

Tour 6- Walk - start at 2 pm, 3pm, 4 pm
Soil Pit - Kerry Clark
Rain infiltration - Kerry
Crimper - Kerry

11 am - tours 3, 4, 5, 2
12 pm - tours 3, 5, 4
1 pm - tours 1, 2, 3, 5
2 pm - tours 1, 2, 4, 6
3 pm - tours 1, 2, 6

4 pm - tours 6, people could also see organic no-till, Biochar, cover crops

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Sheep and Goats Need Special Care During Summer Heat and Humidity

Management of sheep and goats in summer heat can be a challenging task for some producers, especially those producers with wool sheep, according to Dr. Jodie Pennington, small ruminant educator with Lincoln University Extension.

“The two most critical factors are to provide access to shade and water at all times for the animals,” said Pennington. “The extreme heat is compounded by the relatively high humidity that we experience here in southwest Missouri.”

Signs of Heat Stress
Signs of heat stress in goats and sheep include bunching in the shade (if it’s available), slobbering, high respiratory rates (panting), high body temperature, and open mouth breathing.  In severe cases of heat stress, lack of coordination, trembling, and down animals may be seen.

“If you see many or severe signs of heat stress, minimize the stress immediately, but handle the animals gently to avoid increasing their stress even more,” said Pennington.

Some animals may be affected more than others. Animals with other stresses such as heavy lactation and past health problems may be more affected by heat stress. These animals will often be the first and the most severely affected in the herd.

Dark animals are more susceptible to heat stress than light colored sheep and goats.

If an animal’s health problems are on-going, administer treatment with extra care and consider culling,” said Pennington.

What to Do
One of the best things to do for goats and sheep is to offer shade and water.  Shade will reduce heat loads, and water will help dissipate heat.

According to Pennington, water consumption is driven by environmental temperature. At 90 degrees Fahrenheit, water consumption may be almost twice that at 70 degrees and 50 percent greater than at 80 degrees.

“Always keep good quality fresh water in front of the sheep and goats,” said Pennington.

Heat stress can be lessened by providing water via sprinklers and using fans to aid in evaporating the water.  Use care with a sprinkler as misting can add to the humidity.  With sheep, water can make the wool less able to dissipate heat.

“Mature trees provide excellent shade (and shelter) and are usually the least-cost alternative. If natural shelter is not available, many sheep and goat producers use wooden or metal huts, plastic calf hutches or movable structures to provide shelter for grazing animals,” said Pennington.

Simple shade structures can be constructed from shade cloth, mesh fabric, tarps, canvas, or sheet metal. Movable shade structures are suitable for intensive rotational grazing systems.

“All livestock should be able to lie down in the shade structure or area at the same time. Lying down in a cool spot provides additional relief from the heat,” said Pennington.

Avoid Overwork
Avoid overworking the animals if they are heat-stressed.   Body temperatures of sheep and goats tend to peak in the early evening, then decline in the night to reach a low point in the hours after sunrise, and then slowly building throughout the day.

Pennington says to work the animals in the early morning, and avoid afternoon/evening work when body temperatures are already high. If possible, under prolonged heat stress conditions, avoid working the animals at all.

“If at all possible, avoid transporting sheep and goats during periods of heat stress. If transportation can’t be delayed, do it during the cooler evening or early morning hours to avoid any additional stress,” said Pennington.

Goats tend to tolerate heat better than sheep.  Goats with loose skin and floppy ears may be more heat tolerant than other goats. Angora goats have a decreased ability to respond to heat stress as compared to sheep and other breeds of goats. The heat is especially hard on fat animals.

(by David Burton, MU Extension)

Monday, July 14, 2014

Herbicide Carryover in Garden Mulch and Manure

During the summer, MU Extension offices get phone calls from homeowners as well as farmers asking what is wrong with their vegetables.  Not always but at times, vegetables show herbicide damage even on vegetables that have not had any sprayed herbicide nearby.

Herbicide carryover has become an increasing problem in gardens and greenhouses. Depending on the active ingredient in the herbicide and weather conditions, herbicide effects can linger in the soil for years.

Tomatoes and other garden plants are especially sensitive to herbicides. Typical signs of herbicide damage include: distorted leaves, plants and fruits, and cupped leaves.

“These are the same signs one would see in a case of spray drift from herbicides, however if there is no possibility of spray drift, herbicide carryover in mulches and manure compost introduced from another location should be considered,” said Jill Scheidt, agronomy specialist with University of Missouri Extension.

According to Tim Baker, horticulture specialist with University of Missouri Extension in Daviess County, there are two instances where he has observed irregular herbicide carryover in mulches and manure compost.

The first situation is that of herbicides surviving the intestinal tract of an animal, in a high enough concentration to cause crop damage.  In this case, a broadleaf herbicide is sprayed on a pasture, creating lush grasses for the animal to feed on.  When the manure is collected, the herbicide is still there. The second situation is the possibility of herbicide being applied to a field, and then manure collected for composting.

In order for most chemicals to speed the process of breaking down, sunlight, air and water must be in the equation. Wet, warm weather promotes the process of chemical breakdown. If there is contamination in a covered greenhouse, consider opening the greenhouse to the outside elements.

If that is not an option, Baker suggests using activated charcoal to absorb the herbicide. In some instances, herbicide can take a number of years to leave the soil, plants may improve, but slight signs of injury can still be seen.
(by David Burton, MU Extension)

Friday, July 11, 2014

Tune-Up Your Farm Market Booth to Boost Sales

A webinar to assist farmers who direct market at farmers’ markets will be held July 22nd from 11-11:30 am.  The "Tune-Up Your Farm Market Booth to Boost Sales" webinar will b, presented by the eXtension and the Women in Agriculture Learning Network.  The mid-summer is a great time to change up your vending display to draw in more customers.

Join University of Vermont’s Extension Community Economic Development Specialist Mary Peabody for practical tips on low-cost ways to create eye-catching displays that encourage sales.

This 30-minute webinar starts at 11 am Central Time. To join the webinar, go to about 10 minutes prior to the start time. Click on "Enter as a Guest" and type your name in the space provided, then click on "Enter Room."

For best results, we suggest you use Firefox or Internet Explorer as your web browser. Prior to participating in this Adobe Connect event, please go to the following URL to confirm ability to log on to the Connect server:

Here are a few more resources from U of VT

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

FDA to Re-open Comment Period on Food Safety Modernization Act Rules

After initial review of over 17,000 comments submitted to the docket, the FDA plans to re-open key provisions of the proposed Produce Rule for comment this summer including:

  • Water quality standards
  • Raw manure and compost
  • Mixed use facilities
  • Procedures for withdrawing the qualified exemption for certain farms

This means you will have another opportunity to make your voice heard! We highly encourage your participation in this process. The FDA greatly values your insight in drafting a document that better suits the needs of produce farmers across the country.  You will see announcements on this blog when the proposed rule has been re-released for comments, including information about where and how to comment.  However you can also sign up to receive notifications directly from the FDA E-mail Updates site.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Virtual Toolbox Empowers Sheep and Goat Farmers with Information

With demand for their meat, milk and fiber growing, sheep and goats offer an appealingly solid return on investment, particularly for beginning, small-scale and limited-resource farmers. But there is a lot to learn, so success can be a challenge. "Information is power. You can make a lot of mistakes if you don't under­stand small ruminants," says Linda Coffey, a National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT) specialist.

Now, farmers and Extension educators have an expansive new resource available to them in the Small Ruminant Toolbox. The toolbox is a collection of practical, proven materials covering a wide variety of topics, including pasture and herd management, marketing, pest management, qual­ity of life and whole-farm sustainability. 

Toolbox materials are free to access online or can be purchased on a USB flash drive at

Coffey and a team of sheep and goat specialists created the toolbox through a 2008 Southern SARE grant, with limited distribution of the USB. Due to the toolbox's popularity, NCAT and SARE have now partnered to reissue the USB and post the materials online.

The toolbox includes guidance on how to structure a workshop, dozens of PowerPoint presentations, and other materials. Well-received courses such as the Tennessee Master Meat Goat Producer Program, a 978-page Small Ruminant Resource Manual and the Small Ruminant Sustainability Checksheet are also included.

The 60-page Small Ruminant Sustainability Checksheet helps farmers adjust their practices to the changing realities of the marketplace and their farm. It is the center­piece of the toolbox, and was a critical missing piece before the project started, Coffey says. "Although whole-farm planning is important for success, the topic is not typically covered in sheep and goat production workshops." 

The toolbox can save farmers money. Guided by the toolbox, two on-farm demonstrations in Arkansas showed how to use forage brassicas as an alternative to feeding hay and supplements to cut down on costs. "We estimate that farmers saved $2 a head on average as a result of the on-farm demos.  One farm in particular so far has saved over $3,000, and the potential is there to save up to $15,000," says University of Arkansas Extension Specialist Steve Jones, a project coordinator.

(photo by Susan Jaster, Lincoln University)

Monday, July 7, 2014

Climate Change Webinars

Have you noticed how the weather has been strange this year?  And how it is affecting your crops and livestock. Do you know that weather and climate are not the same thing?  They're not you say.  Well, weather is what is happening today and tomorrow and the next couple of days.  Climate is an accumulation of weather over a period of time.  Debates have been and probably will continue over what is causing this climate change or even if there is a change at all in our climate.  I don't know about you but I am tired of the argument of what is causing climate change.  I just know that it is changing.  And I'm concerned for farmers and how any climate change will affect their growing and raising our food and fiber.

With this said, the Western Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education created a series of three webinars that provide tools to help growers cope with a changing climate and extreme weather events. Webinars highlight the importance of growers building healthy soils, increasing biodiversity, and employing water stewardship strategies. Take a look at the webinar recordings here.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

MU Extension Offers Educational Grain Marketing Game Starting July 14

As a beginning farmer many people don't understand how traditional crops, especially grain crops, are marketed.  Well, here's your chance to learn.

Marketing commodities ahead of harvest carries some big financial risks, but not for participants in an online grain marketing game.

University of Missouri Extension is coordinating the Show-Me Market Showdown, an educational online grain marketing simulation, reports Whitney Wiegel, an MU Extension agricultural business specialist based in Lafayette County. The overall goal of the program is to improve farmers’ knowledge of grain marketing strategies and encourage them to develop sound marketing plans. 

The game employs a website called to link real-time market information with players’ ability to execute virtual marketing transactions. The website monitors players’ market positions, executes their trades, and summarizes players’ virtual marketing account balances.

The Show-Me Market Showdown will run from July 14 to Sept. 19, according to Wiegel.
Although the game is competitive, the main focus of the game is for players to learn the risks and rewards of alternative marketing strategies and to learn the mechanics of various marketing tools. While all trades in the game utilize real market quotes and life-like brokerage execution, players have no risk of financial loss by participating in the game.

“The game gives an opportunity to the players to experiment with different types of grain marketing tools and strategies,” says Wiegel. “The whole idea is to learn about grain marketing through a “hands on” experience by executing lifelike trades in a risk-free environment.”
MU Extension agricultural business specialists will offer players guidance and instruction through weekly educational emails and a game blog. Those instructional tools will provide a valuable means of discussion and learning among the game coordinators and participants.

“Players can participate on their own time wherever they have an Internet connection,” Wiegel says. “So they can put as much or as little into the game as they want, but the more participants put into the game the more they are likely to learn from it. “

An additional program objective is to educate non-farmer participants about the complexities of grain marketing and to increase their awareness of the challenges farmers face concerning marketing decisions.

More information and instructions to register for the Show-Me Market Showdown can be found at or by contacting Wiegel at 660-584-3658.