All posts by danimik

David Mayonado Guest Lecture

I really enjoyed Mr. Mayonado’s lecture he gave on 11-12-18. He talked about Monsanto being bought by Bayer and how it was weird for him after working for Monsanto for 30 years but that it ultimately needed to happen. I learned that mergers happen to make the world more efficient meaning that more product can be produced while also saving money. It reminded me of my agricultural economic classes; if country A can make something for cheaper than  country B and country B can make a different product for cheaper than country A, the two countries will trade those products and won’t spend extra money trying to produce it themselves. Monsanto is a huge seed breeding company that uses genetic technology to get the traits they want. I always thought that after I got my PhD that I would want to work for a company like Monsanto and after this guest lecture I definitely want to.

UD Farm Tour

Today on the UD farm was cold and windy but also a lot of fun! Scott Hopkins was so knowledgeable as the farm superintendent and very informative. The farm consists of an organic garden, 7 horses, 25 beef cattle, 85 dairy cattle, sheep and horses. Mr. Hopkins thinks that the dairy cattle are the most challenging to care for because the dairy cattle get milked twice a day which requires a lot of labor and the dairy cattle require a lot of different equipment. The farm provides food products to restaurants and to UD students through ice cream, produce stands, and star campus.

It was cool to see parts of the farm that I usually don’t get to see as a plant science major. I always love seeing the dairy cows, though sadly the babies were warded off by all of the rain that we have had. The angus cows did not want us around and mooed very loudly. The sheep were also not happy that we were barging in on the cud chewing. There are so many careers on a research farm such as managers and superintendents and other workers that participate on the farm but also professors and graduate students who are conducting most of the research done on the farm. Overall, I had a great time today and I am sad that this was our last field trip.

As mentioned, the sheep were not happy to see us and crammed themselves as far as they could into the corner of their pen.

Mark Davis Horse Racing Industry Lecture

Mark Davis was very passionate about the horse racing industry. It was really interesting to hear him talk about how important the industry is. I, personally, am not a big fan of horses (for some reason hey scare the bejesus out of me) so to hear that the industry in 2014 totaled $182 million to Delaware’s economy along with providing 1500 jobs was just amazing to me. I never realized how many people went to horse races, bet on them, raised horses, trained them, and rode them. It all started back in the era of the Crusades when they brought back Arabian Stallions which were built unlike any other horse we had known up until that time. By 1530 we had had our first horse race in England. Today, horse racing is a big part of Delaware but sadly it is decreasing around the rest of the country. Delaware Horse Racing Redevelopment passed to revive the horse racing industry back in 1994 which is why horse racing has been growing in Delaware once again. We need to realize the importance of horse racing and bring it back into the lime-light.

Homework, GMO crops

If you are ever in a store and you think that you need to buy non-go  think first before you buy. There is only a select few GMO crops in the world. So the next time you buy, think, “Is this actually a crop that could be GMO?” If not, you are paying too much money.

  • Corn (field & sweet)
  • Soybeans
  • Cotton
  • Canola
  • Alfalfa
  • Sugar Beets
  • Papaya
  • Squash
  • Arctic Apple
  • Innate Potato
  • Aquabounty Salmon

Also remember, GMO’S ARE NOT BAD FOR YOU. Go to the website below to learn why these crops are GMO to begin with.

Guest Lecture Dan Severson

Dan Severson tells it like it is and made his lecture on the livestock industry very interesting. He started off by defining a farm as someone who makes $1000 a year in agricultural product sales. There are 10,000 farms in DE contributing $8 billion to the industry. In DE there are 500,000 acres in farm land with 200 acres/farm. He repeated what we have learned that 98% of farms are family owned and he informed us that if farmers join corporate companies its because it is in there best interest; if the farm got into trouble, the government could only come after the farmers farm assets and not everything that the farmer owned. Beef, lamb, and veal have all gone down in terms of consumption, pork and goat have stayed the same, and poultry has increased which all mirrors what we are seeing in markets today. Mr. Severson then went on to talk about the different markets for beef, pork, sheep, goats, and dairy. All have uses for genetics and showing but others have specialties. For instance, cows can be directly sold to market for freezing, hogs can be grown in pasture, sheep are grown for their wool/hair, goat milk is used for lotions and soaps, and dairy is made into milk, ice cream, lotions, and soaps. In general, dairy farmers are decreasing while farm sizes are increasing. It was a very interesting lecture and I learned that I can make some big money by becoming an agronomist.

Hoober Field trip

Sadly, I was unable to make the Hoober’s field trip because I was working the Bands of America Regional championship however here is what Christian Riggin has told me about the trip. Christian learned a lot about precision agriculture. Some of the emerging technology includes drones, automated equipment, computer systems, and advancements in old technology. Some of the challenges with precision agriculture include educating the public about precision agriculture, tech support, and impatient people who don’t want to take the time to learn about the technology. You need to have a license in order to fly a drone and you have to register your drone so the government knows that you aren’t a spy.

In order to work in precision ag, one should have background in problem solving, patience, understanding the us and function of the technology and mechanical and technician knowledge. According to Hoober’s, precision ag has allowed farmers to be faster in what they do and also be more efficient. This is most because they can place fertilizer and other needed materials exactly where it is needed with the use of technology telling them where it is needed (drones, NDVI, GPS). Christian was really good at driving the tractor and wasn’t scared one bit until he put it into auto steering. Over all, I’m very sad that I missed this field trip; it sounds like everyone had a really good time, and, on the plus side, there was a working bus!

Tracy Wootten and Valann Budischak Lecture

I loved this lecture! Those two women were fun and knowledgeable about the plant industry in Delaware. The industry in Delaware alone is worth $21,774,000! That’s more money than I could ever dream of. The industry consists of producers of plants, retailers who sell the plants, landscapers and land managers, golf course, and suppliers of not only the plants but also equipment. You can grow plants in the field, in green houses and in nurseries. There is also a lot of science that goes into growing plants, not only knowing how much nutrients you have in the soil and how much you need but also breeding plants. There are so many jobs within this industry. You have breeders, growers, researchers, retailers but also accountants, lawyers, communications (extension), and advertising. There is so much that went into this industry that I never considered and it opened my eyes up to some job opportunities after I finish graduate school.

Mark Lyans Video

Mark Lyans help found the anti-GMO champaign back in 1995. He believed that GMOS would increase the use of chemicals, that they only benefited the big companies, that they robbed farmers of their seed, and that it was dangerous. However, as he wrote his books, he changed his mind. As he travelled around the world writing about climate change, he wanted scientific data to back up his research. So he learned how to read scientific journals and informed the world about climate change. However, he had some back lash from people who didn’t believe him to which he said “I have science to back this up”. A couple books later, someone finally called Mark out on his hypo-criticism saying something along the lines of “You call yourself an environmentalist as you lecture about climate change but you don’t agree with the use of GMOs.”

So, Mark did some research and found out that everything he believed before was untrue. It turns out that GMOs actually decrease the use of pesticides because they are modified to be able to fend for themselves, GMOs are beneficial to the companies and to farmers, that GMOs may or may not rob seed but the seed farmers are already getting does that anyway so it doesn’t make a difference, and that GMOs are actually safer than mutagenesis. Mark also found that there has never been an incident where GMOs hurt someone, however many people have gotten sick from organic foods.

Mark realized that without GMOs, there would be no way to feed our growing population without wasting all of our resources and, being an environmentalist, that is against his morals. GMOs help conserve land and water while still producing high yields and without have to cut down more trees. They also reduce runoff of chemicals because less have to be applied.

For all of the reasons that Mark mentioned in his video about why he changed his mind about GMOs are the same reasons why I have been a fan of GMOs since I was a kid. We cannot feed the world by 2050 on just organic. Organic is a niche that has greta benefits but it is not sustainable. We need to be able to have GMOs and organics live together peacefully or else, quite frankly, a lot of people will die whether it be from malnutrition and disease or from depleting our resources. I try to talk to nonbelievers about GMOs in the hopes that they will see that we need GMOs around. You can eat whatever you want, but you need to realize that your way of living can’t be for everyone.

CRISPR/Cas9 System

CRISPR-Cas9 allows geneticists and medical researchers to edit parts of the genome by removing, adding or altering sections of a DNA sequence. Cas9 is an enzyme that cuts the DNA strand where the scientist wants it cut. There is a also guide RNA that guides Cas9 to the part of the DNA being cut. The DNA realizes that is damaged and tries to repair it but this is where the scientist comes in and adds in or removes the gene in question. CRISPR/Cas9 was discovered in bacteria that use it to fend off viruses.

This technology is easier than some other biotechnology and more accurate. For example, one way to change a genome is by radiation causing mutations. Radiation is not controlled so many genes could be mutated and it could be genes you didn’t want mutated. With CRISPR/Cas9, you can pinpoint exactly which gene you want mutated and CRISPR/Cas9 will directly mutate that gene without disturbing the rest of the genome. Another method is gene targeting but that is much more expensive than CRISPR/Cas9. As of right now, it is considered the fastest, cheapest, and most reliable way to gene edit.

Fifer’s Orchards Field Trip (featuring the bus)

Did we have a day today at Fifer’s orchards! Not only did we learn a lot of information about the family farm but the bus broke down on the way back before we could even leave! I was surprised to learn that Fifer’s not only sells apples but also sweet corn, which is their 1# income crop, pumpkins, peaches, asparagus, tomatoes and strawberries. They use all different kinds of irrigation systems on the farm and suffer from many different pests mostly being weeds, insects, and fungus. They are not an organic farm but they are family owned going back four generations. Fifer’s ships their products east of the Mississippi river from Maine to Florida. They are actually apart of a program called Community Supported Agriculture where customers can buy produce ahead of time and it will get shipped out once it is ready. However, the biggest thing from this trip was not the  immense amount of labor and passion that goes into the farm, and it was not the gift shop where everyone bought apple cider donuts, but it was the bus not being able to pull away after we were done. Overall, we definitely bonded as a class on this trip more than any other trip that we will go on, and that is something you can’t buy.

James Adkins Guest Lecture

I really enjoyed James’s lecture on irrigation. I knew some of the information he presented but I definitely didn’t know the fun facts that he had up his sleeve. For example, only 20% of the world’s farmland is irrigated and this irrigated farmland produces 40% of the food supply! That’s very efficient for such little irrigated land. We learned about different types of irrigation like drip/trickle which is expensive and efficient so they use it a lot out in California and systems like center/ pivot and furrow irrigation which aren’t as efficient. The most widely used irrigation system is center/pivot, which why when you travel in a plane and look down you will see a bunch of circles on the ground; those circles are the center/ pivot irrigated fields. Asia actually has the largest amount of irrigated land which is cool to me because they also will have the largest population by the year 2050.

Ed Kee talk on Iowa and California

Ed Kee gave a great talk today and knows how to have fun. Talking about movies and picking on Dr. Isaacs was nice distraction from how sick I am! Ed Kee talked about the agriculture in Iowa and California. Surprisingly, I actually knew a lot about Iowa agriculture because I had taken soils and crop science classes before. Knowing that Iowa has a Mollisol soil and knowing that they are in the corn belt with some of the highest records of bushels of corn/ acre allowed me to figure out that Iowa ranks 1st in corn production. They also, however, rank 1st in soybean, hog, and egg production as well. California I didn’t know as much about but wasn’t surprised that their main agricultural products were fruit such as grapes, strawberries, and tomatoes along with other non fruit agricultural products. I would just like to say, though, that Delaware beat California a couple years back for lima a bean production!

Poultry Farm Tour September 22

Touring the poultry farm of Georgie Cartanza was so fun, even if it didn’t smell too good! It was really interesting seeing the chicken houses and learning about how an organic chicken farm was run. The most interesting thing that I learned was that the dead birds are actually composted and then the compost is sold to a local vegetable farm! It makes complete sense, but the thought never crossed me that most of the dead birds get composted; it’s really good though because there isn’t any waste and the bird gets made into something useful for the soil. There is 1 ton/ 1000 chickens/ flock of manure that is made as well that also gets sent to a dairy farm to be used as fertilizer. The biggest cost to an organic poultry farm is actually the feed cost which gets imported from Turkey and Argentina. I love how Georgie isn’t uneducated about organic and nonorganic and understands how to use various methods to sustain her farm while making money and doing what she believes in.

In and out of the protective gear that keeps the chickens safe. The PPE actually isn’t for us, it is so the birds don’t catch anything from us!

Michele Walfred Communication Lecture

I really enjoyed Michele’s talk because I realized how important social media is. I always try to watch what I post on social media but I realize now that much more can be found with just my name. I personally hate social media; I feel like it actually gets in the way of personal human interaction, however, now I realize that it could be the gateway into new possibilities. According to Michele’s lecture, if I want to “better my brand”, I need to rename a couple of my social media accounts, I need to do another sweep and make sure that I don’t have anything inappropriate on my social media, I also should probably even make separate accounts for all of my non-professional interests. I can’t promise that I will do all of those things, but I can promise that I listened and I respect what Michele does. I can also try following social media pages that interest me in what I want to do with my life so that hopefully I can get a foot in the door into the plant pathology research industry.

Ed Kee Delaware Food Shed Lecture

I really enjoyed learning about more of the history and Delaware’s importance in the agriculture industry from Ed Kee. I totally forgot that Nicholas Opair (spelling that wrong) won a contest from Napoleon to make canned foods. I also didn’t know that canned foods back then meant putting food in a jar and then basically roasting it in a fire. I also now realize why people were stilling getting sick because this method wasn’t full proof due to different times, temperatures, and packing materials. I also didn’t realize that the canning industry actually helped with nutrition because now poorer families could buy canned goods of more nutrition and the food wouldn’t go bad. I wish that still worked today because I still refuse to eat my vegetables! I also didn’t realize how far we have come with cleaning up the Delmarva water shed (Chesapeake Bay). Going from dumping legume waste into the canal to a decrease of 40% in the past 20 years is a pretty big improvement and I know with the help of laws and informing farmers the decrease of waste will grow even more.