All posts by johnsch

Newark’s Farm Tour

It was very surprising to see the size and scope of the farm at UD.  Much of the food goes to the STAR building, donations, and to local restaurants. There are a variety of animals that they care for such as dairy cows, beef cows, sheep, chickens, and horses but there are also crops on the farm as well such as tomatoes and rice. Much of the farm is dedicated to research as they can test how different crops perform in green houses or using different irrigation techniques but they also do other forms of research such as formations of wetlands.  Dairy cows are one of the primary focuses and challenges of the farm. They have to be trained to be milked and fed in the correct areas efficiently. It was very interesting to learn that dairy cows are very difficult to retrain to go to a new feeding area once they have been trained to go to a specific one. Horses are very wild and it was fascinating to learn how they can stop contractions on command if they are threatened during the birthing process. Scott Hopkins heavily promotes that the best way to help animals is sometimes to do nothing and let nature take its course without interruption.

Hoober’s Field Trip

Precision Agriculture is a vital part of modern farming as it is far more efficient than conventional methods and can increase yields for crops. It also makes the jobs of farmers much easier and quicker. The tractors and various equipment that we test drove at Hoober’s were equipped with precision Ag technology that allows for the tractor to create paths based on GPS so it can drive itself and maintain the path with extreme accuracy. This is very helpful for when visibility is low such as at night or if a lot of dust gets kicked up as the tractor will still maintain its assigned path. This allows for a more uniform distribution of seeds, herbicide, and insecticide to ensure the best possible yield for the crops. We were also shown a drone that had a program that would allow it to fly automatically and would monitor fields so that you have a more clear view. An important part of Hoober’s  is the customer service that they provide. They are able to assist customers with technical problems and many of the problems can be solved over texts or a phone call which saves time for both Hoober’s and for farmers.

Genetically Modified Crops

Genetically Modified Crops have been controversial among some people and groups who are unaware of the science involved and how it will affect them when they eat the crops. In 2014, 181.5 million hectares are planted with GMO crops in 28 countries. Half of the hectares are genetically modified soybeans, 30% is maize, 14% is cotton, and 5% is canola. The crops that are modified to be herbicide tolerant are alfalfa, canola, cotton, maize, soybean and sugar beet. Crops that are insect resistant are cotton, eggplants, maize, and poplar. Other crops are modified to be more nutritious, different colors, longer lasting, or drought resistant are canola, carnation, maize, papaya, petunia, potato, rose, soybean, squash, sugar cane, and tobacco. Crops can have several traits that are modified together to make the crop more resistant against a wider variety of herbicides and insecticides. The majority of GMO crops are only four crops which are soybeans, maize, cotton, and canola while the other crops are only grown in very small numbers comparatively and only encompass 1% of the GMO crops planted.

Delaware’s Green Industry

The horticultural industry is a sizeable business within Delaware. The total horticultural product sales in Delaware in 2014 was $21,774,000. They produce two different products that are floriculture crops, such as bedding and garden plants, and nursery crops, such as trees, plants for home use, and evergreens. The total grower sales nationwide was $8.0 billion for Nursery crops and Floricultural crop sales was $4.8 billion. The major crops are split up into nursery stock, bedding/garden plants, sod, potted flowering plants, and mushrooms. Christmas trees are one of the most popular horticultural products sold in Delaware and the Delaware Christmas Tree Growers Association a big part of the horticultural industry. It was really interesting to learn about how important marketing and design is when selling plants. Designing displays for the plants that the customer will see is a major factor in selling plants as it educates them about what their house will look like if they purchase the plants. Retailers have specialized and made their customer service better to attract new customers who are not as knowledgeable about plants.

Mark Lynas

Mark Lynas is known for change from a strong stance against GMOs to actively promoting them and educating the public about the benefits of GMOs. Lynas and his anti-GMO campaign was one of the major factors that lead many nations in Europe, Africa, and the rest of the world to ban GMOs in the crops that they grew and imported. He admitted that this was a major mistake that he made due to the success of the movement. He was concerned with what he thought scientists were doing when they were working on GMOs despite his fears being false. He did not understand the science behind creating GMOs and its effects on crops so he rose in opposition to science to ban them.

Mark Lynas began to support GMOs as it was much more precise and accurate than conventional methods of breeding. The population of the world will rise to over 9.5 billion people in 2050 and they will have to fed with the same amount of land that we use today. This means that we have to produce far more crops and food without gaining more land to grow them on. Mark Lynas believes the answer to feed the growing population is to embrace GMOs as it will help to produce more food with the same amount of land.

GMOs are one of the most effective methods for producing more food with the same amount of land as it increases crop yields. It can eliminate risks to crops such as disease and pests by building resistance to them so we lose less crop before it is harvested. Crops can also be modified to be higher quality and to produce higher yields which will produce more food for more people.

Fifer’s Orchard Field Trip

Fifer’s Orchard is a sizeable farm operation that employs many people and grows a variety of crops. Fifer’s Orchard operates its own stores and ships crops all over the east coast. They grow a variety of crops and their best crops for making money were sweetcorn, pumpkins, peaches, and asparagus. It was surprising to learn that they grow about 1100 acres of sweetcorn but they also grow many crops in small trial amounts to diversify their products and to test them in fields of around 10 or 20 acres. They use different kinds of irrigation such as sprinkle lines, drip irrigation, hard hoses, and pivots. They also use technology such as GPS and trackers to be more efficient. There are many different challenges that they have faced this year with pests and disease. Many leaves were yellowed and diseased in their kale field which was the result of a much wetter year. It was interesting to hear about some of the challenges that Fifer’s Orchard will have to tackle in the next couple of years such as weather, climate change, government regulations, transportation of crops, and labor.

Agricultural Irrigation with James Adkins

It was surprising to learn about how only 20% of the total farmland in the world is irrigated but that land provides for 40% of the total food supply. In Delaware we see many center pivot systems on farms but only 30% of the farmland in Delaware is irrigated. Much of the irrigated land in Delaware is in Sussex County due to its sandier soils. There are many different methods of irrigation that are used in the United States but around 30 million acres of irrigated land uses flood irrigation. California is one of the biggest users of agricultural irrigation and 43% of its farmland used flood irrigation or other forms of gravity irrigation. Center pivot systems are used in abundance out in the Mid West but they don’t give a perfect uniform distribution of water to all the crops and they leave corners that do not receive any water. Many new technologies are constantly being developed to better map the areas that need to irrigated so that we can grow more food with the same amount of land to feed a rapidly expanding population.

Organic Poultry Farm Tour

Visiting Georgie Cartanza’s poultry farm was very interesting and eye opening. We learned how she is able to manage four chicken houses that grow up to 148,000 chickens total. They are grown organically and are the broiler type of chicken. Her farm produces over 5,000,000 pounds of poultry per year and that can feed up to almost 60,000 people for a full year. Technology has allowed farmers to have much more control of the environment to ensure that the chickens are as comfortable as possible. They can control the temperature, the water supply, and the feed supply through a central computer system and they can also monitor the houses for any changes and shortages. This allows farmers to raise more chickens that are more comfortable and reduce costs. Georgie Cartanza’s chickens are organically grown so they are antibiotic free by the time they are sent to the processing plant and they are also hormone and steroid free. It was interesting to see how all the doors of the chicken houses were open but it was rare to see any more than two chickens outside at a time. They also would not stay outside very long and would go back inside only after several minutes at the most.

Delaware Agriculture Industry by Ed Kee

Delaware is in a prime location for the agriculture industry to thrive as its location is central in the Eastern United States and can reach 1/3 of the population within an 8 hour drive. 510,000 acres of Delaware are in agriculture which is 41% of the total land mass. 24% of the land is permanently preserved which allows agriculture to remain as Delaware’s number one industry. The amount of land and farms has decreased which is due to development but the amount of food produced has increased due to vastly improved technology. The canning industry in Delaware began in 1855 in Dover when the first canning factory was made. It allowed for food to be preserved and prevented microorganisms from getting inside which increased the lifespan of the food. The number of vegetable processors has decreased from 103 in 1919 to only 3 processors being in Delaware today. This is due to consolidation of companies into larger companies and a higher cost of business. The most surprising fact I learned was how tomatoes used to be grown in Delaware in large numbers but now no tomatoes are grown. Agriculture has to remain profitable for farmers but there also has to be a balance of regulations to keep consumers safe. The majority of farms are family owned and the best way to keep their land as farm land is to ensure they are profitable.

Using Social Media for Branding and Agriculture

It was fascinating hearing Michele’s story of how she became a Communications Specialist for UD. It is very important to prepare a brand for yourself on social media that is professional and can inform employers about what makes you unique and worth investing in. One in five applicants disqualify themselves from obtaining a job position by using social media in an irresponsible way that warned job seekers to look elsewhere. It is a good idea to show how good your networking skills are by using social media. You should also stay professional and avoid sharing controversial opinions on accounts that are linked to your real name as you want to appeal to the widest audience possible. Avoid drama and have a separate account that is a serious one and is linked to your real name that employers can see and assess how good you are for their company. You should focus your brand on one characteristic or field to focus and maximize your traffic.

The Delaware Poultry Industry

It’s a common assumption that Delaware’s number one industry is tourism but it is actually the poultry industry. It has a huge and wide ranging impact on Delaware as every 1 job in the Poultry Industry it can create up to 7 jobs in the community. Delaware is also very unique in the opportunities it provides to poultry farmers. In most other states, farmers only have one or two companies that they can contract with but Delaware has six different possible integrators that they can choose. The massive amount of birds has given rise to a booming corn and soybean industry to supply the poultry industry with feed. These industries have benefited from increased technology such as improved chicken houses. Chicken houses are now of the broiler growout model with tunnel fans, cooling pads, with computer systems that allow for total control of the environment to ensure that the birds are more comfortable. The most surprising fact that I learned was how chickens have increased in size about four fold from 1957 to 2005 from an average of 905 g to 4202 g.