All posts by mattneme

UD Farm Tour

On Saturday November 10th 2018 the AGRI130 class attended a tour of the UD farms. We started the tour by getting on a bus and drove around various sections of the UD farm. We were fortunate to have Scott Hopkins with us and briefly describe and explain the different areas of the farm as we passed them. We toured the UD dairy section of the farm. We got of the bus and went into the building were they held the cows. Scott explained how they usually milk the diary cows two to three times a day. He also explained how the herd of cows was happy and calm. He said he was able to determine this because most of the cows were eating. Scott said that if they were nervous mot of them would not be eating. After we saw the dairy cows we went to the Webb farm section and saw a variety of different holding areas. We saw were they would hold horses and sheep. While we were there we saw different groups of sheep. They were separated based on their age and future use. Overall This was a very interesting field trip and I learned a lot about the Farming at UD.

Building a Sustainable Agriculture

On Tuesday November 13th 2018 I attended the “Building a Sustainable Agriculture” speaker series. This speaker series was held on south campus in the Star Health Sciences complex. the guest speakers that spoke at this session included Bill Northey and Bill Couser. Bill Northey has a long history with agriculture, Bill was the secretary of Agriculture for the state of Iowa. He was also the president of the National Corn Growers Association. Today he is the Department of Agriculture Undersecretary for farm production and conservation. Bill Couser an Iowa farmer who tills thousands and thousands acres of land, raises beef cattle, and is a leader in adopting conservation practices that mitigate nutrient loading in streams and other waterways in Iowa. I thoroughly enjoyed this speaker session. I learned many interesting things about current agriculture methods used by farmers today. I also learned how far the agriculture industry has come in the United States. I also enjoyed the free Ice cream that was given out after the session.

The Horse Racing Industry of Delaware

On Wednesday October 24 2018, The AGRI130 class had guest speaker Mark Davis come in and speak to the class about horse racing and the industry within Delaware. Mark began by talking about the history of horse racing. According to mark horse racing is one of the oldest sport, however modern horse racing did not begin until the 12th century when the english knights brought back fast Arabian horses from the crusades that were taking place around that time. In the late 17th century and early 18th century the first race track in the United States was established on Long Island, New York. He went on to explain that today there are roughly 9 million horses in the U.S. with 2 million people owning horses. He also brought up how much money the horse industry brings in to the economy. He said this industry brings in $39 billion every year. I was amazed at how much money was incorporated in this industry. Before this guest lecture I had very little knowledge on this subject. However, now I know so many interesting things about the amazing horse racing industry in Delaware.

Hoober Field Trip

On Saturday October 20th October 2018 we toured a Hoober shop. When we first arrived I was blown away by the variety of equipment they sold. I thought they only sold what I imagined were tractors. However, that was only a small part of what they sold. We began the tour by looking around what they had on display in the shop. While we did this we were being given a brief history of the company. Shortly after this we went outside to see the much bigger tractors that they had but could not fit inside. This is when my mind was blown for a second time. The size of these tractors was extremely massive. At first I found the size to be intimidating, but then they said they would be able to drive these massive vehicles. The controls were somewhat counterintuitive to driving a car because you do not use your feet for the most part. Once I got the hang of it I had a blast. This turned out to be a very fascinating trip.

Genetically Modified Crops

There are 10 genetically modified crops commercially sold in The United States. These crops include alfalfa, apples, canola, corn, cotton, papaya, potatoes, soybeans, squash, and sugar beets. The reason that these crops are genetically modified are varied.  These reasons include to prevent crops from browning, herbicide tolerance, blight resistance, drought tolerance, disease resistance, insect resistance, and low acrylamide. What really surprised me was that fact that most of these crops were genetically modified in the 90s and early 2000s. I did not realize that we had the technology to genetically modify crops at that time. Although there are only 10 crops genetically modified sold commercially in the Untied States these crops are used in order to make many other foods. I am very glad that I looked closer in to genetically modified crops and what specific crops are genetically modified. To be honest I thought there were than 10 crops that were genetically modified. None the less, I am very interested in furthering my knowledge on this topic.

Delaware’s Green Industry

On October 17th 2018 the AGRI130 class had the pleasure of guest speakers Tracy Wooten and Valaan Budischak. These women first spoke about what exactly the “Green Industry of Delaware” was. The Green Industry of Delaware includes horticulture among other types of agriculture. Horticulture is the art or practice of garden cultivation and management. This entails a large variety of planting methods from greenhouses, farming, and even growing plants in your home garden. At first I was not aware of how big the green Industry was in the state of Delaware. However, I learned quickly that this is a very important part of Delaware’s Economy. For example, in 2014 Delaware’s Green Industry from $21,744,000 from sales. The shear amount of money was mind-boggling to me. This was a very interesting and thought provoking guest lecture discussion. Before this guest lecture I thought that this was a very basic and not that interesting of a topic. However, now that I have heard exactly what the Green Industry of Delaware is I am really interested in this topic.

Mark Lynas at 2013 Oxford Farming Conference

During a 2013 conference on farming Mark Lynas spoke about GMOs. Mark Lynas originally was against GMOs and was publicly speaking against them. He thought they were run by large corporations and only benefited the rich. Mark said that this was not the case and that many small and local farmers benefited from GMOs. Mark also said that one of the reasons he did not support GMOs was because he thought they used more pesticides. He later found out that this was also not the case and genetically modified agriculture used less pesticides than non-modified types of agriculture. He has now switched his view points on this matter. He has done his research and truly believes that GMOs will play a crucial role in feeding a rapidly increasing  human population. Mark stated that by 2050 there would be around 9.5 billion people on the earth and that we would have to increase our current agriculture production by over 100%. He also said that one of common myths people believe for why the human population is growing is because developing and poor nations are having a lot of babies. He went on to say that this not entirely true. The main reason the human population is rapidly growing is due to the increase in medical care. Today more and more kids are making past childhood and reproducing. Mark said that there are a around 2 billion children around the world who will be responsible for the 9.5 billion human population. Overall I found this video insightful and shining light on some myths that I thought were true.

CRISPR/Cas9 System and Gene Editing

To begin this discussion let me first explain what CRISPR stands for and how it works. CRISPR stands for Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats. CRISPR is a type of DNA sequences found with bacteria and archaea and plays a key role in the antiviral defense systems of the organism it is in. The reason it protects the organism from viruses is because the CRISPR DNA is made up of similar DNA to that of viruses that have infected the organism. The CRISPR DNA recognizes when a virus with similar DNA is near and Destroys it. Essential this is a way to edit genes within an organism. One trait of CRISPR that makes it extremely effective is that it has blank segments of DNA that are used to copy the DNA of new viruses that the organism may come across in the future.

Currently there are three commonly used alternatives to gene editing beside CRISPR/Cas9. They include Zinc Finger Nucleases (ZFN), Transcription activator-like effector nucleases (TALEN), and Engineered meganucleases derived from mobile genetic elements of microbial origin. The main reason why these types of gene editing are as popular today is because these types of gene editing are very slow and not as effective when compared to the CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing system. In the agricultural business CRISPR can be used to increase the yield of important crops by essentially copy the same DNA. This could have extremely positive outcomes if properly executed.

Agricultural Irrigation with Guest Speaker James Adkins

On Wednesday October 3rd the AGRI130 Class had guest speaker James Adkins come in and talk about Agriculture Irrigation. Mr. Adkins opened his lecture by telling the class that 20% of the of the world’s farmland is irrigated and that this produces 40% of the worlds food supply. One reason why irrigated farmlands play such a big role in today’s food supply is due to the fact that the world’s irrigated area almost tripled from 250m in 1950 to 700m acres in 2000. Furthermore, Mr. Adkins went on to say that the state of Delaware alone has around 150,000 acres of irrigation. This accounts for 30% of farmland. James also stated that about half of all the irrigated land in the United States use flood irrigation. Mr. Adkins explained that flood irrigation is a less effective method of irrigation than drip irrigation. Mr. Adkins then explained that a high-yielding corn crop requires anywhere from 20 to 25 inches of water, but do best with 22 inches of water. Overall this was a very interesting topic that I earned a lot of fascinating things about.

Iowa and California: Agricultural Giants with Guest Speaker Ed kee

On September 26th 2018 Ed Kee joined the AGRI130 class to discuss agriculture in Iowa and California. According to Ed “Iowa is an agricultural force in the United States and the World.” He then proceeded to tell us some very interesting facts about Iowa to support his statement. For example, 85% of Iowa’s land mass is for Agriculture. Compare this to the state of Delaware which only has 41% of land mass used for farming. Iowa is only ranked behind California in cash farm receipts and agricultural exports. Almost all (92%) of Iowa’s cash farm income comes from beef, corn, and soybeans. Although Iowa is behind California in cash farm receipts and agricultural exports, Iowa is number one in corn and soybean production. Iowa harvests an average of 13.1 million acres of corn a year and 553.7 bushels of soybeans a year. California is also first in milk and cheese, grapes, tomatoes, and hay, to name a few. Ed went on to describe how the natural environment and climate/weather plays a big role in the success of each of these agricultural giants. Ed gave a fascinating discussion on agricultural industries that may not be as well known to the students at the University of Delaware.

Poultry Farm Tour Field Trip

On September 22nd 2018 the entire AGRI 130 class was very fortunate to go on their first field trip of the 2018 fall semester. The field trip took place at a poultry farm in the Dover area of Delaware. The tour was given by former guest speaker Georgie Cartanza.  She started the tour by giving us an ample amount of mind blowing facts. For example the buildings that held all the chickens were 600 feet long by 65 feet wide each and she had four buildings on this particular poultry farm. She then shared with us that each building contained 37,000 chickens per house for a total of 148,000 chickens. The average age of the chickens was 7 weeks old with an average weight of 6.5 pounds. Thankfully she did the math for us and told us that it comes out to around 913,900 pounds per flock or 5,000,000 pounds of chicken a year. This sounded like an insanely large number at first, but then Georgie put it into perspective by telling us that the average person eats 83.6 pounds a year. The we walked through the buildings and see the chickens. Overall this was a good field trip and I am glad I was able to experience it.

Delaware Food Shed with Guest Speaker Ed

On September 17th 2018 Ed Kee came to the University of Delaware to discuss The Agriculture industry in Delaware. Ed began his talk by giving a brief history of the agriculture industry in Delaware. For example, In 1950 there were around 8,300 farms that accumulated about 904,000 acres of land. In the late 1970s there were 3,398 farms that took up just under 669,650 acres of land. The most recent results taken in 2007 showed that there are a little bit more than 2,500 farms and 510,253 acres of farm lands.  I was amazed that the number of farms and number and acres has decreased over time. That being said, farmland still makes up 41% of the land mass in Delaware. After Ed discussed the past of the agriculture industry he talked about the future. He said that by 2050 the global agriculture would have to grow by 70% to feed the estimated 9.3 billion people on the planet. It was very interesting to think about all the possible ways this industry could change and must change in order to provide food for the increasing population size.

Making Social Media Work for your Career Brand and Agriculture with Guest Speaker Michele Walfred

On September 12th Michele Walfred  came the University of Delaware as a guest speaker for the  AGRI130 class. She discussed the importance of media and it can control what career you end up having. Michele started off by giving a brief background of her career. She has a BA in Journalism and a MA in Digital Humanities. Michele is the administrator on multiple platforms for UDCANR, MidAtlantic Women in Agriculture, and Delaware Press Association to name a few. After she gave her background she described our social media as our brand. Most of the individuals she was talking to were young adults about to apply for the first professional job and/or career. She explained that we should all being trying to brand ourselves with something we are passionate about and want to make a career out of. She also told us that we should should be consistent in the language we use as well as the types of photos, messages, and anything we put out on social media. I was really fascinated with all the different aspects of creating a social media brand that Michele provided. I cant wait to make my own brand in the near future.

The Evolution of the Poultry Industry of Delmarva with Guest Speaker Georgie Cartanza

On September 10th 2018 Georgie Cartanza came to the University of Delaware as a guest speaker for AGRI 130. Before hearing all the facts about the Delmarva Poultry industry form Georgie, I had no idea how important and interesting the Poultry industry was. To start, I didn’t realize that the Delmarva Poultry industry included three counties in the state of Delaware, 6 counties in the state of Maryland, and 1 county in the state of Virginia. Delmarva has ten processing plants, thirteen hatcheries, and ten feed mills. Next I learned that the Delmarva poultry industry produces around to 605 million birds in a single year. That is about 10% of the national production. This industry is worth in the billions and provides roughly 14500 poultry employees with a job. I was also happy to learn that the industry was constantly changing to improve the welfare of the birds. They have been incorporating automatic pan feeders, nipple waterer, tunnel ventilation, and proper heating to increase the welfare of the birds. Overall I was very happy with what Georgie had to say and can’t wait learn more on our field trip.