The Horse Racing Industry in Delaware – Mark Davis

Horse Racing is one of the oldest of all sports and still has a major presence in the modern world and more specifically in Delaware. Currently in the United States there are 9.2 million horses, the uses of these horses vary from showing, racing, or recreation. This industry overall has a $102 billion impact on the United States economy, and, the horse racing industry more specifically has a direct impact of $39 billion annually.

There are two different types of racing including thoroughbred racing and harness racing, which in total result in almost 300 races per year. The industry is heavily regulated and includes drug testing for personnel and horses in and out of the racing season.

One of the most interesting aspects of the horse racing industry is how the money is divided based off of who wins. On a $100,000 purse to owner, the 1st place winner receives $50,000, 2nd place receives $25,000

David Mayonado Guest Lecture

Growing up hearing the positive and the negative sides of GMO I never knew what to really believe. Dr. David Mayonado came in and really showed me how GM crops show no risk than those that have been developed by breeding techniques. Dr. Mayonado also discussed CRISPR and he showed had gene editing is done and the process it goes through. He followed that with discussing the GWS (Genome Wide Selection) and he went through and talked about how over the years scientists have identified a large number of genes in crops that were/ are linked to higher yields.

Dr. Mayonado had some really good take home messages that had brought my attention to many things. For instance how science-based agronomic research and development has led to huge increases in crop production efficiency and yield. This opened my eyes because it really is jumping out and saying where would we be without all the science behind agriculture? This lecture really makes me want to go out and research more about GM crops.

University of Delaware farm tour

At the UD farm tour farm superintendent, Scott Hopkins showed us all the ins and outs of the UD farm. The UD garden provides to the university and local restaurants, this is good for students and faculty to see that the vegetables are very local. This trip showed me that the university has a lot of agricultural input for students to get a first hand look on how ag works. It was also interesting to learn about dairy cattle to which I know very little about and learning their nutritional values and other such routines.Touring the farm makes me so excited to go up to UD next fall. My favorite part of the trip was going to the UD creamery and seeing Max perform for the class.

Delaware’s Green Industry – Tracy Wooten & Valann Budischak

On October 17th 2018, me and my class were lucky enough to receive a guest lecture presented by Tracy Wooten and Valann Budischak on the greens industry in Delaware. Being a landscape architecture major I was very interested in all the information that they had to share with us. Before this lecture I was unaware of how extensive the greens industry is and all that it encompasses. The greens industry had a total product sale of $21,774,000 in 2014, which is a pretty substantial source of income for those in the field. I was also unaware of the differences in crop groups, those two crop groups being floriculture crops and nursery crops. The greens industry is also expanding as a whole after going from $16,615,000 to the total product sale in 2014.

One of the largest sections of the greens industry is landscape design and maintenance. Many people are unaware of all the tasks that landscapers perform on a daily basis, which include mowing, invasive control, fertilization, hardscaping, stormwater management, lighting, irrigation, water features, and tree health to name a few.

Some of the important greens industry associations are The Delaware Nursery and Landscape Association, as well as the Delaware Livable Lawns, which are two companies that lookout for the well-being those involved professionally in the greens industry as well as the consumers that are directly affected by changes to the green industry.

After this guest lecture our class is now much more informed on how integral the greens industry is to the economy and the well-bent of those that live in Delaware.


Final Field Trip – UD Farm

On our last field trip for our class, AGRI 130, we toured University of Delawares own campus farm. This field trip allowed many students, including myself, to open our eyes to the possibilities and opportunities we have as students, right here on University of Delaware’s land.

Our tour started at the school of agriculture and ventured throughout UD’s farm. We first got a glimpse at organic farming through the use of the greenhouses that are available for our use. Then we proceeded to the dairy section of UD’s farm. We were shown where the cows are milked, where they are fed, and where they spend their time as a herd. I was so amazed at the technology and training that goes along with the University of Delawares cattle and allowed me to see this aspect of the farm in a different light.

After we took a look at the dairy operation we moved to where the rest of the University of Delawares livestock is held. We passed by chicken coops where different breeds of chicken were being held. The next structure that we went in was the equine holding facility. This building had some very cool technology and a lot of really amazing educational resources for those who are interested in equine studies. After we left the equine building, we proceeded to where the sheep are held. Before this field trip, I had no idea that the University of Delaware even had sheep as a part of its livestock inventory. Lastly we visited the beef cattle portion of UD’s farm, which isn’t. always recognized because it isn’t as large as UD’s dairy production, but still plays a vital role in the education of the students of University of Delaware.

This was actually my favorite field trip that we have gone on, because it showed us so many opportunities that are available to us, right on University of Delaware’s campus. Now that we know about the resources that we have and we have a better understanding of the inner workings of the UD farm we can use these resources to better ourselves through education as well as outreach to influence others who are not interested or involved in the agriculture field.

Food Safety

Food safety is a growing concern in the American community as well as on a worldwide scale.  The top six pathogens that contribute to domestically acquired food borne illnesses include, norovirus, salmonella, escheichia coli, clostridium perfringens, campylobacter species, and staphylococcus aureus. Every year one in six Americans get sick, 128,000 are hospitalized, and 3,000 people die from food-borne illnesses every year. Although these numbers can be scary, no vegetable or fruit outbreaks of food borne illnesses in Delaware since 1968.

The food categories that are most commonly implicated with food borne illnesses are fish, mollusks, dairy(unpasteurized), pork, chicken, and vegetables.  Some of the most recent national incidents of food borne illnesses are spinach in California in 2006, cantaloupes in Colorado in 2011, and lettuce/other greens in 2014.

Everyone wants safe food, and because of that the The Food Safety Modernization Act(FSMA) was made, and made food go from minimum regulation to super regulated. Good Handling Practices(GHP) and Good Agricultural Practices(GAP) are very important to ensuring the safety of food that is presented to consumers. The Food and Drug Administration are in charge of developing science-based standards and regulations for growing, harvesting, packing, holding, and transport. There are five major routes of contamination which include agricultural water, farm worker hygiene, manure and other bio-additions, animals in the growing area, and equipment.

The goals of the FSMA are to improve public health by strengthening food safety, prevent food safety problems vs. reacting to problems after they occur, law provides FDA with new enforcement designed to achieve higher rates of compliance with prevention, it gives FDA tools to hold imported foods to the same standards of domestic foods, and builds an integrated national food safety system working with federal, state, and local authorities.

Food safety is incredibly important as a consumer and producer of agricultural products in regards to the wellbeing of people and the reputation of the agricultural industry.

Agricultural Irrigation – James Adkins

“While only 20% of the world’s farmland is irrigated, it produces 40% of our food supply.” Irrigation is a major part in any major agricultural production here in the United States and around the world.

Asia has the largest percent of irrigated land, making up 68% , and America makes up 17%. The amount of irrigated land has increased dramatically, going from 250 million acres in 1950 to about 700 million acres in 2000, this is a 280% increase which is astounding.

There are many different forms of irrigation that are used throughout the world and throughout the United States. For example, in California 43% of irrigation is gravity irrigation, compared to more efficient methods like drip irrigation.

There are many factors that influence type of irrigation that should be used and how effective that type of irrigation is. One of the most important aspects is the soil type. Sand cannot hold onto much liquid because of the size of the particles, while on the other hand loam can hold a lot of liquid because of how dense the particles are packed together.

I was not aware of how important and complex irrigation is in regards to agriculture. In Delaware we are lucky enough to have a decent amount of rainfall that allows us to water our crops without the use of irrigation all the time. However we are even more fortunate to live in a place that has easily accessible water sources that make irrigating farmland much more convenient and cost efficient. While I do not specifically want to go into the agriculture industry, it is important to have an understanding of where our food is coming from and how much effort and thought goes into the process of growing our food, and one of those aspects is irrigation.


The Livestock Industry in Delaware – Dan Severson

The livestock industry in Delaware is much larger than I had previously viewed it, and I now understand the scale of the livestock industry thanks to Dan Severson’s guest lecture.

Many people, when they think of livestock they only think of the generic animals like cows, pigs, and poultry, but there are so many more animals that are utilized in to feed and nourish the masses. Some of the forgotten animals that makeup the livestock industry are goats, sheep, bees, bison, alpacas, rabbits, water buffalo, deer, and turkeys.

The dairy industry takes up a massive portion of the livestock industry. There are multiple aspects of the dairy industry which include fluid milk, ice cream, amish, conventional, and pasture. It is interesting to look at the dairy industry because there is a large dairy cow operation close to my house in Sussex County.

There are a lot of growing trends in the livestock industry including the urge for more “natural” farming, such as farm to table, buy local eat local, grass fed, and organic.

Technology has advanced so much in recent years in the realm of livestock. New tech such as robotics, GMO’s, and investment in the livestock department have led to major improvements in the environmental impacts of farms, as well as an increase in the well-being of the animals.

While I personally don’t consume any livestock or products from livestock, I have no problem with those who choose to have it in their life. People have been consuming meat since humans began their existence here on earth, and can be a part of a healthy lifestyle.


Dave Mayonado: Ag industry and chemicals

You’ve probably heard about Monsanto or one of its products called “Round Up” also known as glyphosate. Dave Mayonado came and talked to our class about the ag chemical industry and some of its misconceptions. Dave works for Monsanto which was recently purchased by Bayer, a German chemical company which has products such as Aleve and Claritin. Like most chemical companies they make ag products too. Monsanto was a small company that was a leader in the industry with products such as Round Up. Round Up also known as Glyphosate is one of the most used herbicides. It is a non-selective post emergence herbicide that the media likes to bash and accuse non-organic farmers of using to poison the food supply which couldn’t be further from the truth. All ag chemicals are thoroughly tested before getting approved to be used. For the example of round up it disrupts a process that is only found in plants that kills the plants. Chemical ag products allow for higher yields in less space, grown more efficiently.

University of Delaware Farm Tour

Our last trip of the year was at home on the UD farms in Newark Delaware. We all loaded on to the brand-new UD shuttle bus with the farm superintendent, Scott Hopkins. The first stop was the milking parlor where we learned a little about the dairy industry, how cows are milked and even a little bit about how the NAFTA trade agreement could help the dairy industry. Next to the milking parlor was a feed area used for research. It was equipped with feed boxes that could identify different cows and feed mixer to make a balanced ration. The cows were bedded the next building. We saw them laying down and chewing their cud. Next, we headed on over to the Webb farm. Scott Hopkins pointed out the chicken huts and their silage rows and explained what some of the other building were used for. We toured the sheep barn, looked at the black angus cattle and the sand arena for the horses. There’s a lot that UD packs in to its 350-acre Newark farm. After getting some ice cream from the creamery I played my fiddle for my class mates. This was good last field trip and I’ve had a lot of fun on all of them.

Building a Sustainable Agriculture

I was able to attend a seminar held by the College of Agriculture at UD where Bill Couser and Bill Northey spoke about creating sustainable agriculture.

Sustainable agriculture can be defined as sustaining, resources, and communities by promoting farming practices and methods that are profitable, environmentally sound and good for communities.

Bill Couser is a 4th generation Iowa farmer. Bill Cowser produces corn, beef, soybeans, and ethanol in Nevada Iowa. He is the owner of Couser Cattle Company. The farm has grown from accommodating 50 beef cattle in the early 1900s to accommodating a couple thousand beef cattle.  Couser, just like many farmers, stated he tries to farm in a renewable, sustainable, environmentally friendly, but yet profitable way. He promotes sustainable farming because he wants to give the generations to follow nutrient rich, well managed, profitable land. To be sustainable Bill Couser has implemented various systems to control runoff and nutrient leaching from his feedlot, uses more cover crop coverage, practices no-till methods, and produces multiple commodities from a single crop. Bill Couser stated that the biggest challenges he is facing as a farmer are social media/ the media attacking agriculture without the truth behind the actual practices being used to grow and produce crops and animals. Overall it was great listening to Couser speak about sustainable agriculture.

University of Delaware Newark Research Farm

Dairy Cattle – Newark DE

Farm Superintendent, Scott Hopkins gave a tour of the UD farm as our last field trip. The farm consists of a portion of land dedicated to organic farming, horses, sheep, 25 beef cattle, and 85 dairy cattle.

The UD organic farm where the Fresh 2 You gardens and high tunnels are.  This garden provides produce to restaurants and the University. We then moved to see the milking parlor. This was an interesting time because I know very little about dairy operations, I was amazed at how much technology goes into the process. The machines are capable of testing different qualities of the milk to ensure that the product is of good quality. In the dairy barn, we learned about how UD professors can conduct research on dairy nutrition and how diets can impact milk production. At the Webb farm, we learned of the equine production, sheep barn, and beef cattle.  He explained some research projects going on at the farm. To me, the most interesting was the rice plots – arsenic trials.

Industry and Academia in Agriculture with David Mayonado

Dave Mayonado gave a guest lecture on Industry and Academia in Agriculture. He began with the history of technology in Agriculture. The glory days of technology in agriculture was when farmers used animal labor and relied heavily on family involvement. Most farms were small intimate farms that fed the immediate family tending to the farms. Food production was limited in the late 1800s because the technology was not there. The Morrill Acts of 1862 and 1890 established raising funds by granting federally controlled lands to the states to establish land-grant colleges. The purpose was to focus on the teaching of practical agriculture, science, military science, and engineering. Science-based research and development by government, academia, and private industry over the past 100 years have aided the increase in US crop production via improved agronomic practices and the adoption of new tools. By applying rigorous scientific principles to the development of agricultural technologies and techniques has allowed Mid-Atlantic farmers to grow larger crops while improving soil quality and fostering an environment for wildlife. Some examples of biological tools are CRISPR, GMOs, and GWS. CRISPR is a gene editing tool that allows us to change the genes of a crop plant to be more drought or pest resistant. This allows for the crop to have a higher yield when faced with a drought since it can tolerate less rainfall.

David has an incredible background in the industry as he has worked for Monsanto. Monsanto was founded in 1901. Then cell biology research began in 1972. Monsanto has been a leader in putting out genetically modified plants commercially.

Biotechnology and Agriculture

Biotechnology is defined as “an array of basic sciences that use scientific discovery and new technologies for the manipulation  of the fundamental building blocks of genetic information to create new life forms that ,ay not have occurred in nature.”

This new method of creating species is vital for the agriculture industry because it helps us make superior crops. Farmers today can grow five times as much corn as they did in the 1930’s, while using 20% less land. this fact is astounding considering all was accomplished by genetically modifying foods. There are so many beneficial reasons as to why farmers have adopted genetically engineered crops, including yield increases, energy savings, tillage efficiencies, pesticide stings, better pest control, and to save money or make money.

When modifying crops you can have input or output traits, examples of input traits include disease resistance, drought resistance, insect resistance, and herbicide tolerance. On the other hand some of the output traits include yield, fortified nutritional characteristics, higher oil content or quality, and pharmaceutical qualities.

So many people have irrational fears regarding genetically modified foods, although without them it would be impossible to feed the growing population of the planet.  While there are real concerns regarding the use of GMO’s such as genetic resistance to weeds and pests, the pros outweigh the cons tenfold, by allowing for less pesticide use, less carbon emissions, reduced hunger, and an overall reduced collateral damage to biodiversity and rain forest destruction.


On November 12th, 2018 we had a guest lecture from Dave Mayonado. He gave a guest lecture on Industry and Academia in Agriculture. He started out the lecture by talking about technology in Agriculture. This started out with him talking about in the past when we used animals to pull plows and did things by hand. He also mentioned how the entire family was involved in farming. The first thing to cause a change was Land Grant Universities which established land-grant colleges to focus on the teaching of agriculture, science, military science, and engineering. From this we had more acts created that focuses on research in the agriculture field. This has led to an increase in US crop production via improved agronomic practices and the adoption of new tools. Dave also mentioned some examples of biological tools. This included CRISPR and GMOs. CRISPR is a gene editing tool that allows us to change the genes of a crop plant to be more drought or pest resistant. This allows for the crop to have a higher yield when faced with a drought since it can tolerate less rainfall. After talking some more about biotechnology he talked about Monsanto.

He started out by giving information on Monsanto’s history. He talked about the founding of it back in 1901. Then cell biology research began in 1972. From this he mentioned all the seed brands that they have. He also gave stats about the business. He also mentioned that Monsanto is a company that gets work done fast. He mentioned that they have been adjusting to the way things are now that Bayer has purchased Monsanto. He also mentioned new opportunities that will be available since Monsanto and Bayer cover different parts of the industry. Overall it was a very informative lecture. Thank you Dave Mayonado for being our guest lecturer and talking about the biotechnology industry in Agriculture.

A Class Journal for UDel CANR AGRI 130