All posts by mhagg

The Equine Industry with Mark Davis

Horse racing has been around for centuries, since the 1100’s. Harness racing and thoroughbred racing are the most common types of racing and continue to be the most common, with quarter horse racing and other kinds still happening. Regulations in the horse racing are very strict, in order to keep the sport fair and prevents doping and cheating in the industry. Licenses are presented to Drivers, Trainers, Owners, and employees to make sure regulations are being met and everyone is following the rules. Money is also a big part of the industry. Horses race for a purse, or a certain amount of money, that is the main driver of this sport. When a horse wins, that money won from the race goes back into the horse and everyone apart of that horse, like the driver and trainer. Overall, the industry makes around 182 million for the Delaware economy and creates about 1,500 for Delawareans.

Dr. Dave Mayonado on Industry and Academia in Agriculture

Dr. Mayonado works for Bayer, a company that focuses on producing herbicides for agriculture. He started off by talking about the start of agriculture and how labor intensive and hands on it was. As technology has enhanced, yields have increased and the impact on the environment has gone way down, thanks to strategies like no till farming to help soil quality. Technology has also brought on chemicals that increase efficiency. These chemicals can kill a weed and not kill the crop with Glyphosate. He also talked about GMOs and the different modifications to plants that help them produce more. He moved into how these modifications happen and how they help the plant and what it protects against. Bayer, who used to be Monsanto, creates and does research on these technologies. They developed chemicals at first, but moved to seeds as the technology took them down that route. He finished his lecture by clearing up the RoundUp litigation’s around the world.

Field Trip: Newark Farm

On November 2nd, our agriculture class took a trip to the University of Delaware Research Farm in Newark. Scott Hopkins, the farm superintendent, gave us a tour of the farm and showed us the daily routines. We were able to see multiple kinds of livestock, including sheep and cows and the vegetables being grown like kale and cabbage. He showed us where the cows were milked everyday and the technology behind it. Cows aren’t milked by hand anymore, in order to control food safety, they are hooked up to a milker that does the work automatically¬† and is able to test the milk before putting it in the joint tank to be shipped off. He also showed how the research on what cows eat is controlled. A chip in there neck allows the animal to reach into a specific bin to eat. This allows them to track exactly how much and what the cow is eating and how it might affect the cow. I thought it was pretty cool how the cow is trained and know exactly where to go to eat when all of the bins look exactly the same. This field trip was probably my favorite because it was really hands on and i was able to learn alot.

Livestock Lecture by Dan Severson

Dan Severson is the New Castle County Cooperative Extension agent and on 10/21 he came and lectured about the Livestock industry in Delaware. He started off by talking about Delaware farms, number of farms, and how much they produce. He spoke about Delaware’s Agriculture Land Preservation Districts and how the farmers sell their land rights to the government so that they don’t build on that land. He discussed how WWII affected livestock production and why spikes in livestock production happened. Beef and pork consumption is down since 1985 but chicken and poultry are up since then. Pigs, Cattle, Goat and Sheep numbers in Delaware have gone down. The number of livestock is being shipped out to other countries and other states to be produced. Lastly, he talked about trends and marketing. Niche markets, like lotion from goats or ice cream from the milk of cows work for small markets in order to be successful and make money. For our homework, we had to find something in the grocery store that is labeled as “Non-GMO”. I found a caramel dipping sauce that was labeled as “Non-GMO” even though caramel is essentially butter and sugar condensed down.

Tracy Wootten and Valann Budischak Greens Lecture

Tracy Wootten and Valann Budischak talked about Delawares green’s industry and how fast it is growing. Firstly, Mrs. Budischak talked about production, greenhouses, and what is being produced. The greenhouses allow us to grow any kind of plant or flowers all year round to maximize retail production. She also touched on a program that she was apart of that planted meadows in medians and on the side highways, throughout Delaware. The meadows are filled with beautiful flowers and are visually pleasing, clean the water, and provide a home for wildlife and insects. Mrs. Wootten spoke to us about the retail side of horticulture and local business around Delaware and how important these places are to communities. She also lectured about grasses, the roots, and how soil effects how a grass will grow.

Mark Lynas Reflection

Mark Lynas was a British environmentalists who in the 90’s launched a successful anti-GMO movement to essentially teach the public that what he calls “GM” are a danger to the public. He was completely against GM’s and wanted nothing to do with them, in fear that they are harmful to the human body. But he was wrong, and in this lecture he apologizes for being so harsh, and ignoring the science. Although he did most of his research on climate, where he did use science and facts to back up his book, he wasn’t translating the science aspect to the process behind GM’s and how they worked. After doing some research, he was faced with scientific facts that went completely against what he believed before. He explains about E coli. outbreaks in Germany that was caused by animal manure, that could have been stopped if the plant had been modified to resist the animal or it not be edible to that pest by way of modifications. He also explains increase yield of crops, and how enhancements to genomes are allowing us to grow substantially more then in the 1960’s. This technology is what will allow us to feed our future generations to come, and that is why Mr. Lynas changed his views.

Fifers Orchards Field Trip

On October 2, both classes visited Fifers Orchard in Camden-Wyoming, Delaware. Bobby Fifer, a 4th generation farmer, gave us a tour of the farm and orchards. He talked about the production side of the business, and how weather, market, and time all have to come together in order to have a successful yield. We toured the strawberry fields, where Mr. Fifer was testing a new method of covering strawberries with some white plastic, instead of all black plastic, to have a longer market season from one week to 2 weeks. We then went into the warehouse where they store apples to let them finish ripening, and ship them out to stores and markets all over Delmarva, and the world. We were also introduced to Bobby’s brother Kurt, who talked to us about the business side of the operation and Community Supported Agriculture program, or CSA. This allows Fifer’s to interact with the community and get to know their customers on a personal level.

Organic Chicken Farm Trip

From what i learned from my fellow students who went on the field trip was that Georgie Cartanza’s organic chicken farm in Dover, Delaware displayed new technology and strategies for improving poultry life and conditions. Growing and raising the chickens is the easy part, thanks to new technology such as the environmental controller, that stabilizes temperature in the houses. These chickens produce so much waste that needs to be disposed of. Tunnel composters slowly spin manure, pine shavings and chicken carcasses into a fine mixture of compost. This compost is used on filter grass and other plants around the farm. Once the chickens reach 8 weeks or “market age” groups of men called “loaders” catch the chickens and load them on the trucks. Mostly done at night in order to reduce the stress on chickens and to make the chickens easier to catch, the use red head lamps to find and catch the chickens inside the home. Organic chickens overall seem to be happier then a regular farm grown chickens and are healthier and better taken care of

Ed Kee Guest Lecture

Ed Kee, former Secretary of Agriculture in Delaware, talked about the importance of the Delaware food shed not only to this state but the whole eastern shore. Delaware is 8 hours from a third of the population and can ship out produce at a cheaper transportation cost. Mr. Kee talked about the available land in Delaware that is set aside to grow with the Land Preservation Act. 110,000 acres are permanently set as agriculture land by buying the development rights from the farmer. He also talked canning on Delmarva in the 1900’s. Richardson and Robbins was one of the biggest canning companies that was based in Dover canning beans, corn, and other vegetables. Then these cans were shipped by train to big cities in other states. Ed touched on the challenges that farmers face past and present. Farmers must remain profitable, maintain consistency for the environment, and promoting technologies and safe practices all can cause problems.

Ed Kee Second Guest Lecture

Mr. Kee came and talked to the class about Iowa and California’s agriculture yields and why those areas are so productive in producing. First, Iowa leads the nation in Pork, Eggs, Corn, and many other crops and agriculture production. They are also leading in soybean production, which can be turned into diesel, food, and other useful things besides food. Iowa’s naturally nutrient rich soil also helps with there increased yields and can hold about 3 or 4 inch’s of water, compared to somewhere like Delaware where our top soil can only hold about 1 inch. However, in California, water is scarce and farmers pay for water to irrigate their crops. Despite having to pay for water, they lead in production of dairy, almonds, and grapes among other things. Tomatoes are a huge industry in California, producing 95% of the nations tomatoes. He talked about the different harvesting techniques for almonds and tomatoes that differ from the way we produce here in Delaware.

Georgie Cartanza Guest Lecture

Ms. Cartanza came in on Monday, September 9th and explained the poultry industry on Delmarva. She explained that Delmarva produces 10% of the nations poultry and Delaware alone produces 825 million chickens a year. Sussex county alone yields more chickens per square mile then any other county in the country. Raising and harvesting chickens on Delmarva creates jobs and opportunities for a lot of people. There are 7 poultry jobs for every 1 community job across 10 processing plants, 13 hatcheries, and 10 feed mills throughout Delmarva. Ms. Cartanza also pointed out  the top cost of production for the farmers and the corporations in the poultry industry. Farmers pay more for mortgage and electric, while the corporations feed cost is the major cost of producing chickens. Technology has changed the industry tremendously, moving from a thermostat to the environmental controller. Being able to control 6 large chicken houses instead of 4 small houses with the flick of a button helps farmers develop more chickens.

James Adkins Lecture

Mr. James Adkins lectured to the class about irrigation, and how different parts of the world irrigate their agriculture. First he talked about the different kinds of irrigation like pipe, rolling pipes, gravity irrigation, and what we mainly use today, center-pivot irrigation. He explained how each one worked, the process for using them, and why they might have a problem using them on some crops. Some technology he discussed that improved irrigation was VRI or variable rate irrigation. This technology is able to put what amounts of water need to go where, and conserve water. He then talked about where the water that we irrigate our crops with come from. Depending on location and soil, it either comes from the surface, or under ground in a aquifer. In Asia, they use surface water, while in the United States, we use mainly ground water.

Guest Lecture Mrs. Michele

Mrs. Michele talked about social networking and how social media can be used as a overview of yourself. Social media can expose you and your image to the world. Anyone can look you up and see what you post and how you portray yourself. She talked about making a good first impression on your social media accounts and how you want people to portray your image. She talked about writing a bio that explains yourself and gives your followers, or anyone who wants to look at your profile, a synopsis of you and some of what you might post or what you like to do. Mrs. Michele also touched on the things you post and how it can effect your entire life. What you post will never come off the internet, no matter if you delete it or not. Someone can easily take a screenshot or picture and its on the internet forever. Being careful about what you post is important to keeping your image clean in order to get a good job or career.