Guest speaker Mark Davis presented the class with a lecture on the horse racing industry in Delaware. To me the most surprising and interesting fact was that horse racing has been around for centuries with little change overtime. This is interesting because when you compare it to a sport like baseball, which has been around over a hundred years, it shows how much longer horse racing has existed. There are a considerable amount of people involved in the horse industry, with about four and a half million people in the industry. The industry has a thirty nine billion dollar direct impact annually, which shows how lucrative it can be. It was also surprising how much regulation goes into horse racing with different involved parties having to be licensed. The horses also must undergo go urine tests and blood tests for their protection and to ensure that no one is cheating. A lot of this regulation is because of the money that the industry generates, with statistics showing that the horse racing industry contributes about 182 million to the Delaware economy.
The Hoober’s Equipment field trip was definitely the most interesting field trip for me so far. Being able to see how a lot of the farm equipment operates and some of the technology behind the equipment was remarkable. The most surprising part was how much the equipment costs, with a new Case IH combine coming in around half a million dollars. It was also cool to see the drone technology and how it is used. The small drone that was demonstrated had the ability to track and follow the farm equipment and to actually get close enough to the ground to be able to count plants for the farmer. Driving the sprayer was fun as well. With all of the technology, like the auto steer technology that uses GPS, it was surprisingly easy. The gentlemen that showed us around Hoober’s both stated that their favorite part of the job was being able to get out and assist farmers, specifically during planting season, which I can relate to because it gets them out and hands on instead of answering phone calls.
Dan Severson presented the class with a guest lecture on the livestock industry and how it fits into the agricultural world. An interesting background statistic he gave was that the United States had the most affordable food cost, with about seven percent of peoples annual salaries going to food. We also have arguably the safest and most abundant food. Another background statistic he gave was that a farm is considered a farm if they have a thousand dollars in agricultural sales per year. Mr. Severson provided us with information on the beef industry, hog industry, sheep industry, goat industry, and dairy industry, with insight on how each operates. There were also other smaller livestock industries he touched on such as bison and rabbits. I think the most surprising thing to me was that there are very few dairy farms in Delaware. He also gave us some advice on if we were to pursue a job in the livestock industry, which was basically telling us that it would be wise to follow the trends. It is smart to find a niche market to operate in and to know your consumer.
Tracy Wooten and Valann Budischak presented the class with a guest lecture on Delaware’s Green Industry. The Green Industry is basically the people who are involved in producing, selling, managing, and controlling Delaware’s plant life, including the plant life that people have at their own homes. This also includes landscapers, golf courses, and the suppliers of equipment and other products. The green industry was responsible for almost twenty-two million in horticultural product sales in 2014. This statistic was surprising to me, as it shows that the green industry can be a lucrative industry to work in. There is profit in starting many of the businesses associated with the Green Industry, such as the greenhouse and nursery producers, the retailers that sell their products to the consumer, and for the landscapers that maintain the product. Many of their business profits rely on the consumer and what they desire at the time. Business branding, marketing, and advertising are all important to sustain the Green Industry. All the different types of jobs associated with the Green Industry once again show how the agricultural community is very diverse and is in need of people with different backgrounds.
There are about ten main crops that are genetically modified, that are grown and available in the United States, according to Time Magazine. These crops are corn, soybeans, potatoes, papaya, cotton, squash, canola, alfalfa, apples, and sugar beets. All of these crops have been deregulated and approved for production by the USDA, FDA, and in conjunction with the Environmental Protection Agency. Corn and soybeans are the most highly produced GMO crops, with thirty three different species of genetically modified corn and twenty different species of genetically modified soybeans. GMO corn is used for many different applications. Mostly the corn is used to feed livestock, however it is also used in processed foods in the form of cornstarch and high fructose corn syrup. A smaller amount of this corn is used for bio-fuel production. The soybeans are also used mostly for feed, but a large percentage is used for vegetable oil. About sixty percent of vegetable oil is soybean oil. Soybeans are also used in processed foods such as candy.
Johnson, David, and Siobhan O’Connor. “Genetically Modified Foods: What Is Grown and Eaten in the U.S.” Time, Time, 30 Apr. 2015, time.com/3840073/gmo-food-charts/.
Mark Lynas was a leader in getting GMOs banned in Europe because he had originally felt that GMO crops were unnatural and harmful. However, he has sinced changed his opinion, and realized the problem was not the crops but his viewpoint towards them. He had fallen victim to false perceptions regarding GMOs, such as that they increase the use of harmful chemicals, and only benefit big companies and not farmers. He also realized that in order to feed the 9.5 billion people expected to be on Earth in 2050, on about the same amount of land we have for farming today, we are going to have to use GMO technology. GMO technology will also help with limiting nitrogen use, which will help the environment. Basically, his perception was changed when he did his due diligence and started looking at the science regarding GMOs and then realized the problems that we are trying to solve with GMO technology. A lot of the negatives regarding GMOs that groups claim are backed by science are not. This is an example of the negative media and stereotypes that are presented about agriculture. By doing our due diligence and standing up for agriculture, we can begin to correct some of the false allegations and assumptions regarding GMOs. It is my opinion that GMOs are most likely necessary in order to produce enough food for the growing population.
CRISPR/Cas9 is a technology that allows scientists to edit and change an organism’s genome or DNA. CRISPR is associated with many different scientific fields and has made genome editing quicker, less expensive, highly accurate, and highly efficient, more so than any other DNA editing technology before it.(What Are Genome Editing and CRISPR-Cas9?) The value of this in agriculture is the ability to edit a crop’s DNA to ensure that the farmer who plants it can get higher yields. This has a lot of implications for agriculture especially with the global population rising, and farmers not being able to produce enough food for everyone. For example, if a crops DNA could be edited to be drought resistant and use less water, or thrive on nutrients in a different type of soil, it leads to plants that can survive and be planted in a variety of geographic locations. If farmers can get higher yields out of their crops or grow different crops it is a win for them because they have the possibility of generating more revenue, and a win for society, so the need for food can be met.
“What Are Genome Editing and CRISPR-Cas9?.” U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health, ghr.nlm.nih.gov/primer/genomicresearch/genomeediting.
On our trip to Fifer’s Orchard, we got to see inside of the operation, which produces crops such as asparagus, apples, pumpkins, kale, cauliflower, strawberries, and peaches. Their biggest money maker is sweet corn, but tomatoes produce the most revenue per acre. I was surprised by the diversity of the crops that they produce, but this shows that they are smart and efficient in producing crops that are desired and the most economically profitable, depending on the season. They give new crops a chance and see what works and what doesn’t, which again demonstrates their ability to diversify and see what is economically viable. Fifer’s is a much bigger operation than what I had expected, with about three thousand acres of land. They employ fifteen to twenty full time laborers, which doesn’t seem like a lot, but they have ninety part time workers. They seem like they operate relatively smoothly, with each of the family members doing their part to ensure that the business stays functional and profitable. There was a lot more than just planting crops going on which shows the diversity of jobs that are associated with agriculture. Retail and marketing is just as important as the actual farming, as well as making sure the right paperwork is filled out. Overall, it was nice to see a behind the scenes look at the operation and learn about Fifer’s Orchard.
James Adkins presented us with a guest lecture on agricultural irrigation. He talked about the different types of irrigation such as drip and center pivot irrigation, and how twenty percent of farmland is irrigated, but that twenty percent produces forty percent of our food supply. I think that I was most surprised that Asia has the greatest percentage of irrigated land in the world with 68 percent while America only has 17 percent. It is interesting to note that thirty percent of the farmland in Delaware is irrigated, which is 150,000 acres, but fifty percent of Sussex County is irrigated because of it’s sandy soil. Mr. Adkins also spoke about the technology that goes into irrigation, and how it has expanded in the past few years. The technology associated with irrigation is expected to continue expanded in the future, with the use of things like drones. There are many jobs that are associated with irrigation technology and as the technology expands, the jobs will as well.
In his second guest lecture Mr. Ed Kee spoke about Iowa and California, the two states that are the leaders of agriculture production and value. Each of these states have different challenges that they must meet in order to be able to produce their products. California has great difficulty getting the water that they need in order to be able to sustain their crops. Iowa has an easier time as the soil and climate is perfect for the crops that they produce. Iowa is the leader in the production of pork, eggs, corn, and soybeans. California is the leading producer of many products, such as milk, tomatoes, and grapes. It was very surprising to me that California is a leading agricultural producer, especially with their water problems. I did not know that they were such a big portion of crop production, especially with the tomato industry, where they produce 95 percent of our tomatoes. People usually do not think about a leader in agricultural production when they think of California.
Even though I was unable to attend the field trip to Georgie’s Poultry farm, I still learned some interesting statistics and information after discussion about the field trip. Most important to remember is that all of the chickens were a hundred percent steroid and hormone free. She had about 37,000 organic broiler chickens per house, which is a surprising number, because I would not expect that many chickens would be able to live in one house. Georgie recommended that someone who wanted to enter the poultry industry should take a business class so they are better prepared for that part of the industry. I think the most surprising thing for me, without actually having been to the farm, is the level of technology associated with her farm. The amount of money she has invested into technological advancements shows how expensive, but also how profitable farming can be. It also highlights the fact that there is a wide array of jobs associated with the agriculture community.
Re-posting to the Correct Blog Site: Guest Lecturer Mr. Ed Kee gave us a lecture on the Delaware agriculture industry and how it is an important producer of agricultural products for the United States. This is large in part due to the fact that ⅓ of the US population is located within eight hours of Delaware. Delaware has 2,500 farms and 41 percent of its land mass is farms. It surprised me that the Delmarva Poultry industry is a 2 billion dollar industry, but it is not surprising that including corn and soybeans that it is 75 percent of our agricultural sales. I was unaware that tomatoes at one point were a large portion of our agricultural crop production. Mr. Ed Kee also spoke on some of the challenges that face the agriculture industry as the global population rises, such as the challenge to keep agriculture business profitable, and how by 2050 global agricultural production needs to be increased by 70 percent.
Ms. Michele Walfred’s lecture was very interesting and enlightening to me. Personally I have never used social media very much so I came in with the mindset that social media is not something that I need to bother with or that has any positives associated with it. With employers using social media more and more it does seem to be almost a necessary and universal skill that will be required. The fact that one in five applicants are disqualified by their social media accounts is very surprising to me, because that is a lot of people who are not considered right off the bat. I learned that creating a personal brand that is consistent and realistic, but does not leave out the personal aspect can be extremely helpful, especially when applying for a job. Once you develop a social imprint it is very hard to erase, which is yet another reason to be careful what you post. It is also important to do your research on fake news, and to be an Agvocate who helps eliminate some of the false notions about the agriculture community.
Guest speaker Georgie Cartanza gave us a lecture on the the Poultry Industry in Delmarva. This industry is large in Delmarva as we produce almost ten percent of national production. The poultry industry is interconnected to many other industries and our everyday life, and for every 1 job in the industry it creates 7 in the community. Georgie also spoke on the vertical integration of the poultry industry as well as the evolution in technology that is involved in poultry production, and how this technology has made production much more efficient. All of this information was new to me, but the most surprising thing to me was what she wanted us to remember from her lecture most of all. Chickens are not grown with added hormones or steroids, but selective breeding overtime has caused our chickens to get bigger and produce more meet. Another surprise to me was the size of the bird was mainly based off of how old the bird was and not that it was of a different breed.