Mark Davis came in to talk about the horse racing industry. Horse racing is one of the oldest of sports out there. The origins of modern racing began in this century when English knights returned from the Crusades with swift Arabian horses. In 1750, American horse breeders and racers establish the Jockey Club. Today, the club still defines standards and regulations for thoroughbred racing, race courses and breeding. Horse racing in Delaware goes back as far as the colonial period. There are about 775 thoroughbreds in DE. There are many parts to the horse racing industry like horses, suppliers, land, betting public, commissions, and government. When I think of horse racing, I think of it as a more wealthy sport. Since it takes a lot of money to fund horse racing, like getting a horse, taking care of it, and making sure you have all the proper equipment and horse training, people with more money tend to partake in the sport. I have never watched a horse race in real life, but I have seen a lot in movies, so coming into the lecture, I didn’t know a lot about it.
Dr. Dave Mayondo came to class to talk about technology in agriculture and the industry. In the past, farming was very hands on with lots of people working on the farm and a few animals. Instead of going to school, kids worked on the farm. A lot of this is not the case anymore, kids now go to school and with the application of more technological resources, farming isn’t as hands on and you don’t need as many people to take care of farm as back then. The Morrill Acts of 1862 and 1890 established the raising of funds for land-grant colleges. It gave land to colleges to teach students how to farm, it makes sure that the farming industry stayed secure and allowed for new farmers, who didn’t have previous knowledge in farming, to learn and become farmers.
Tools for managing pests also changed throughout the years too. With the addition of gene editing, it’s easier to have crops that can handle pests and don’t require as many pesticides. I honestly think that there are pros and cons to gene editing. It is good for a change and keeping better plant health, but it still has a bad wrap. If we can educate the public in a kind and nice manner, they will take our points and maybe change their own views.
This was the second time that I’ve taken a tour of the UD south campus farms, so I was pretty familiar with everything there. First we went to see the organic farm, which is used for classes and the produce is sold. We then saw the dairy cows and their milking facility. Dairy cows are my favorite farm animal because they are like large dogs, they just want to be loved. They seemed pretty relaxed and chill, and I appreciated that. We then saw a bit more of where they keep the dairy cows and saw the machines where they keep them in place when working on their feet or giving them any sort of treatments.
Next we went past the chickens, though we didn’t go in, because we could track in viruses or diseases that could be harmful to the chickens. After that, we went past the bees and their hive as well has some other small farms used for classes and research.
Once we crossed the road, we got to the sheep and horses stable. Sadly, they didn’t have any horses at the time, but our guide showed us some of the reasons why the stables were built in the specific way. For example, the sides of each enclosed stable is see through so that the horses can see each other. I also found out that horses are one of two mammals that can actually stop their labor and continue at another time.
Next we saw the sheep and some lambs. I got to pet a lamb for the first time. There were also some older cows next to the sheep, who were also chilling much like the dairy cows. The sheep have access to the outside to roam around when they feel like it, but the one sheep and the two lambs did not have a very open space, because one had a medical problem, and it’s easier to get them for treatment in a smaller enclosement. I enjoyed our more in depth tour of the farm, but I wish it wasn’t so cold!
Why do food products come mislabeled? For the longest time, I’ve wanted to know why a bag of popcorn said Gluten Free, when popcorn is simply made of corn and could not contain gluten. When I was in high school, I had a friend who couldn’t eat gluten. We were in the same advisory group and our group would get together once a week. We would always bring a snack, but because he was in our group, there would always be some sort of gluten free snack in the bunch. There was the occasional pretzel, which was always marked gluten free, but there was also the potato chips. They were also marketed as gluten free. I didn’t know why, because if you made them correctly, there should only be potatoes, salt, and some sort of oil in the chip. Maybe it was a sort of branding to get the gluten free people to buy it, but I always found it odd. I find that with many corn-based food products, they typically will say gluten free on the packaging. I don’t know if it’s unnecessary in this case, because if you are allergic, you’d want to know. I am allergic to certain food colors and I always like to know if it is dye free. So when something says dye free, I know I’m okay.
On October 21st, Dan Severson came into our class to talk about an overview of livestock. I found Dan’s humour to be really great and I think it helped drive his lecture. I found that a lot of what Dan talked about I had already known about, mainly from studying for the first exam. Dan has a lot of small ruminant animals such as goats and he also has pigs.
First, he talked about Delaware’s farms. Delaware has 2,500 farms, 500,000 acres of farmland, and $8 million of product. The biggest expense for farms, specifically animal related farms, spend most of their money on feed for the animals. Delaware is the largest producer in lima beans but 29% of the farmland in Delaware is for corn and soybeans.
Next, he talked about US history and how it relates to US agriculture both back then and today. After World War 1, the number of farms went down because a lot of children who worked on farms went to war instead. Yet after World War 2, the number of farms went up, but many of those children, now young adults, returned to work in the assembly line. Although we have fewer farms, we still grow a lot. With newer innovations, we can now grow more with less.
I found that the lecture given by Tracy Wootten and Valann Budischak about horticulture was my favorite of all the lectures so far. I have a large interest in plants. I have about 20 houseplants that I enjoy taking care of, and 13 of them are in my dorm room. Let’s just say that I have a mini jungle in my room, with plenty of oxygen. They talked about Delaware’s green industry and the specific aspects of it, the producers, retailers, landscapers, land managers, and golf courses. In the nursery industry, there are different parts that are very profitable, such as the Christmas tree industry and point seta industry. The retailers range from big box stores like Lowes and Home Depot and smaller more local garden centers. There are different kinds of land management like railroads and golf courses. Turf grasses also have a strict industry. There are also different kinds of plants such as annual and biannual. The kinds of plants I own would be annual as they last all year.
Mark Lynas is an environmentalist, who, over the course of almost 20 years, has changed his mind. Not only has he changed his mind, but he is also willing to admit it in the conference. He used to be someone who despised GM, but now that he has done a bit of research and gone deeper into the subject, he learned that they can be quite helpful in agriculture. He had so many opinions about GMs that he even wrote books about it. He believed that it created a need for more harmful pesticides, but he was wrong, some modification actually benefited the plants by decreasing the need for pesticides. Almost everything he believed in was not the whole truth. He wrote many books, all discussing environmental changes and how GMs effect it. He didn’t look at the whole truth, and went on his beliefs and didn’t see the other side. He finished his message by saying, let science rule the truth. That saying is why I know climate change is real, the earth is round, or other things that tend to be non believed when the scientific data is there. It’s important to look at both sides, and dig deeper into the subject.
Although I wasn’t able to go on the field trip due to prior arrangements, I was still able to learn a bit about Hoober from friends in the class. Hoobers has multiple branches, but the one I will be focusing on is the one in Middletown, DE. From their website they say, “Since 1941, the focus at Hoober has been on maximizing our customers’ productivity. From new and used equipment from proven leaders like Case IH, Kubota, JCB and more, to delivering exceptional service and parts support to keep your equipment running at peak performance, Hoober is there for agricultural, light construction, excavation and rural homeowner customers throughout the mid-Atlantic region”.
At Hoober, you can buy equipment, replacement parts, and get help from the people at Hoober. They also focus on precision agriculture, which is a topic that we have been discussing in class. They even provide support for those interested in starting to use precision agriculture. Hoober also sells equipment for construction purposes, but they mostly sell larger pieces of equipment like tractors.
On October 2nd, James Adkins came to our class to discuss irrigation and its importance. Only 20% of the world’s farmland is irrigated and 40% of that provides our food. Asia has the largest percentage of irrigated land at 68%. India uses 90% of its freshwater withdrawals for agriculture while China uses 65% of its freshwater withdrawals for agriculture.
From state to state irrigation and water rights change. For example, the cost of California’s water is likely to be more expensive than the water we have in the east coast. California has more drought than us and so they are more likely to have higher prices for water.
With new technologies, we changed our irrigation systems. We developed aluminum pipes after World War II because we have a lot of aluminum left over from the war. The extra materials were put to good use. Then came the center pivot. The center pivot is easy to use and it provides an even distribution of water across all the crops.
Irrigation is an important part of our agriculture system, so it is best to have the highest quality equipment that provides the most payoff.
On Friday the 27th of September, the class went on a field trip. Although I was not able to go, I learned a few things through my classmates. At Fifer’s orchard, they grow peaches, apples, strawberries, kale, broccoli, tomatoes, and sweet corn. They are inorganic because of challenges like humidity and time it takes to grow the crop. They use plastic beds for growing to distribute the water underground and it allows the plant to absorb sunlight for the roots without the problems of weeds growing.
I’ve been to orchards before near my hometown. I was able to pick my own apples and pumpkins. At Fifer’s most of their crops are handpicked. They have pumpkin picking and all kinds of fall activities. They sell some of their apple cider and produce at the farm directly to consumers. I think places like Fifer’s are really cool to spend a weekend in the fall to have fun and feel festive.
On September 26th, Ed Kee came back to our class to lecture about California and Iowa agriculture. He first talked about Iowa. 85% of iowa’s land is in farms and there are 87,500 farmers and 30.5 million acres. Iowa mainly produces corn, soybeans, pork, and eggs. It divides up into 13% of US corn acreage, 12% of the US soybean acreage, 32% of pork Production, and ranks 2nd in all red meat production. The soils and climate are the perfect conditions for corn and the soil is very fertile. The rainfall 24-36 inches a year, there is less rain as you go west. It is not really hot in the growing season in Iowa.
Next, he talked about California. Irrigation is critical, but water getting expensive. So, you have to grow crops that get the most return so that they actually make a profit. Some farm families pay not as much for water as others because they’ve owned water rights for over 100 years. He also said that tomatoes you find in the grocery store are probably from California because 95% of our tomato products come from California.
Ed Kee, the former Delaware Secretary of Ag, came to talk to our class on September 16th. He talked about agriculture and its history. As I am new to the agriculture industry I was surprised to hear that 30% of the farming land in Delaware is permanently protected, but the actual amount of farms we have has decreased. In 1950, we had 8,300 farms and in 2007, we had 3,546. A unique thing that the Delaware has is the Young Farmers Program. It gives money to young farmers so that they can start their own farm. It allows for more farmers to emerge so that the business isn’t dying.
Ed talked about the history of agriculture. It started with hunters and gatherers and expanded. With new technologies like the railroad system and then the Dupont highway made for easier transport to largely populated areas in the east coast. Ed’s talk was very insightful and helped reinforce some topics that I knew a little bit about previously.
On Wednesday, September 11th, Ms. Michelle gave us a guest lecture about social media and your personal brand. She talked about how we should always be careful about what we post online and that we should start to create a name for ourselves online. Twitter is a very popular site used for branding, especially in the agriculture business.
My parents have always been very cautious of my social media presence. They didn’t let me get a social media account until I was in high school. They were always a little worried that I might abuse social media. I am actually glad that I didn’t have it until high school because it taught me to have more focus elsewhere.
I am always very cautious about having a public online presence. It makes me feel a bit more comfortable by having my accounts private. I can choose who I want to view my content. I am very careful with what I post and how much I post. I make sure to only show the good parts of my life, to create a better online presence. I think everyone should be careful what they post, it could come back to bite them later.
On Monday, September 8th, Georgie Cortanza came to our class to give a guest lecture. The Saturday before, our class had visited her poultry farm to learn a bit more about the organic poultry industry. She came to our class to give a more in depth lecture about the organic poultry industry. She went over the history of the poultry industry. In 1862 the Morrell Act was formed to establish land grant colleges. In the 1850s railroads were built in Delmarva to transport crops and animals around the northern east coast, and in 1916, the Dupont highway was built to make it even easier to transport goods.
In Delmarva, there are 3 states, Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia, made up of 3 counties in Delaware, 8 in Maryland, and 1 in Virginia. There are 9,000,000,000 chickens produced in the US each year, and 825,000,000 of those are produced in Delmarva. That’s a lot of chicken. Georgie also talked about how many processing plants there are in Delmarva and how Perdue was the first family to ever brand their chicken. Now all we see in grocery stores is branded chicken. Georgie emphasized that when you have opinions, you should always look deeper into why you have those opinions and you should keep an open mind to other opinions.
On Saturday, September 7th, our class went on a field trip to a poultry farm run by Georgie Cortanza in Kent County, Delaware. She has 4 chicken houses which hold 37,000 chickens a house and 148,000 chickens in total. They weigh 913,900 pounds a flock. A flock is a certain number of birds in one group. She has 5.5 flocks in one year and makes 5,000,000 pounds a year. In total, she feeds 59,808 people a year. Georgies runs an organic farm, meaning that all the chickens there are free range. This means that they get to go outside for a period of time each day.
Chickens are one of the animals that have a lower carbon footprint. The only one lower is fish! The carbon index for chicken is 6.2 versus cows which is 16.2. A chicken also requires less feed for an outcome, which makes it better economically for the farmer. For every 1 job in the poultry industry, it creates 7 more jobs.
My favorite part of the field trip was seeing the baby chicks of course. They are very soft and fun to hold.