All posts by austind

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.


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.


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.

Mark Lynas

In Mark Lynas’s Video we are shown two different sides of the battle, over whether GMOs are good or bad. Mark’s opinion originally was through the eyes of someone who was not educated on GMOs and the role that they play in our growing society. After realizing the benefits of GMOs Mark made a full turn-around after he began to understand the work that scientists do to enhance the plants, and is now fully on board with the use of GMOs.

Mark believes that GMOs are potentially the best solution to combat the need for resources as the population of the earth grows. In the year 2050, the population of the earth is expected to be 9.5 billion or more, and all of the food for those people are going to have to be grown on land that is already being used for food products. With the help of GMOs, feeding this number of people is now a possibility.

I personally think that GMOs are a great way to enhance what is already given to us. Crops, after being genetically modified, can yield more, become disease and drought resistant, among many other things. It seems silly for people not to be on board with GMO’s when they not only benefit th producer but also the consumer.

Delaware as a “FoodShed” by Ed Kee

In Agri 130 on September 19th, Ed Kee gave a guest lecture on the profitability of agriculture and how Delaware can play a major role in providing food for American citizens. One reason why Delaware is such a powerhouse, when it comes to supplying agriculture to the eastern United States, is because 1/3 of the of the entire population is within 8 hours of Delaware. This number is essential in understanding why Delaware has been so successful in the agricultural industry, because of the easy access to buyers and markets. In Delaware the total agricultural economic activity is 7.9 billion dollars, all of that money goes back to the farmers and back into the community. Another thing that Ed Kee informed our class about is the abundance of tomatoes in the agricultural community in the 1920’s. Additionally, Ed talked about vegetable processors, and how in 1919 there were 103 in Delaware and currently there are only two, J.G. Townsends in Georgetown, and PictSweet in Bridgeville.

Agriculture has developed rapidly since the early 1900’s when it began to be an industry in Delaware. Some of those things include improvements in irrigation, changes in the genetic makeup of crops, and a better understanding of soil fertility, weed control, and pest management. All of these things have led to Delawares ability to be a leading producer of many products including but not limited to poultry, sweet corn, and lima beans. Ed Kee’s lecture brought insight into many of the reasons why Delaware should be looked at as a FoodShed for the American people.

Making Social Media Work for your Career Brand and Agriculture

In our class AGRI 130, Michele Walfred gave us a guest lecture on how to brand ourselves and how to impact agriculture through our social media use. Social media is very useful as a tool to create your personal image, as not only your friends and family see what you post, so do employers and other possible future employers. Some things that people shouldn’t do is lie about any accomplishments, only post professional content, or have many inconsistencies throughout multiple social media platforms.  Michele also elaborated on things that should be done with social media accounts and those include using consistent language and style as well as being appropriate with language and attire.  An appropriate headshot should be present on all social media accounts, instead of an unflattering picture or a selfie. Additionally, she raised the concern about the amount of followers that people have and whether they know all of the people who follow them.

Anything that can be tied to your real name should be moderated as if you know that all of your employers are watching all the time, because chances are, that they will, if they aren’t already.  This thought should lead to an urge to modify or enhance your social media presence. There are tons of easy ways to improve your presence in the online world. Creating  a youtube channel, posting thoughtful and well organized posts or comments, and making a twitter if one already isn’t in place are a few of the ways that your social media life can be made more appealing not only to your friends and family, but also to your employers.  Having a well put together social media presence can create a beneficial professional and personal image, that will benefit you in the long run through having an easy access look into all aspects of your life.

Guest Speaker Georgie Cartanza on the Evolution of the Poultry Industry of Delmarva

Being from Sussex County Delaware, I went into this guest lecture thinking that I knew all there was to know about the the poultry industry, little did I know that Georgies insights would enhance my knowledge and understanding of such a vital part of our states agriculture and economy.  One of the most interesting things that Georgie taught us was the evolution of the modern day chicken house, and how the structure and design of the coop has drastically changed over to benefit the birds that reside in them.  The majority of people believe that chickens and their anatomical structure have changed over time due to hormones and steroids, but Georgie taught the class that chickens have changed over time due to selective breeding which combats one of the worse stereotypes about poultry farmers and their animals. The new technologies in modern chicken coops have aided farmers in their attempt at keeping chickens maintained with less manual effort and creates a more effective and efficient way of keeping the chickens in a comfortable environment. These technologies include automatic pan feeders, nipple waterers, changes in heating, and tunnel ventilation.

The most important thing that could’ve been gained from this lecture is the skill of being able to make your own opinions on something. Every opinion that you have should be a well informed one, and that applies to all aspects of life. Although, it does specifically apply to this guest lecture. Many people are under the assumption that farmers are not advocates of animal welfare but in reality they do so much to make the animals standard of living as excellent as possible. Being open minded even when you think you know what is right or wrong is essential when gaining new information on any subject matter, regardless of your present stance on said subject matter. Thank you Georgie Cartanza for taking the time to come further the knowledge of the students in the AGRI 130 class at UD, we all look forward to visiting your farm in the near future.