All posts by mtesznar

Hoober Inc. Field Trip

On October 20th, the AGRI130 class took a trip slightly down the state to Middletown, Delaware. There they visited a tractor and farm equipment dealership known as Hoober, Inc. Upon arriving the class was met by two employees who started out by relaying the history of the company and how it became what is it today. While the company does sell many Kubota products and landscape equipment, Hoober is also a Case IH dealer. The class was able to take a tour through the shop and most of the property. There the class learned that a new combine with new heads can easily cost over half a million dollars! The class was able to view combines, sprayers, and planters to name a few.  Near the end of the tour the class was split into groups to learn about drone use in agriculture and to drive a sprayer and a tractor. When it was time to leave the entire class was given Hoober hats. The tractor rides seemed to be the highlight for multiple students. It was a fantastic field trip and the two guides were extremely friendly and knowledgable.

Delaware’s Green Industry

On October 17th Tracy Wootten and Valann Budischak spoke to the AGRI130 class about the Green Industry and what jobs could be attained within the industry. Such jobs could be producers, landscapers, retailers, land managers, golf courses and suppliers. There is also different types of crop groups. Floriculture includes bedding and garden plants while Nursery crops refer to broadleaf evergreens, flowering trees, and deciduous shrubs to name a few. Overall the industry as a whole composed of $21,774,000 in 2014. I never realized how big the green industry was. Matter of fact I never really thought about the industry much outside of the landscaping aspect. One of the things that I thought was interesting in the presentation was that many states are trying to raise awareness and enhance the natural landscape within their respective state. I never really noticed before but now driving home down Route 1 or heading to New Jersey for the day I see all the flowers growing along the highways. It really is great what the states are trying to do. I would like to thank Tracy Wootten and Valann Budischak for coming out to speak to our class and teaching us about the amazing opportunities within the green industry.

Mark Lynas and GMO’s

In the beginning of the video Mark Lynas went before the Oxford Farming Conference in January, 2013 to apologize for his association with anti-GMO movements. He originally believed that GMO’s were harmful and only helped companies make more money. Therefore he started a campaign, that later became very successful, to ban GMO’s in Europe, India, Africa and in Asia. However, once Mr. Lynas took the time to actually learn the science behind GMO’s he realized that they were beneficial and as he mentioned not harmful, as there are no documented cases. He learned that with the growing rate of today’s society there would never be enough land to use for agricultural purposes to feed everyone. This is where GMO’s come in by allowing the farmer to use them, it increases the yield of products on the same amount of land previously used. I support the use of GMO’s in agriculture today.

Gene Editing (CRISPR/Cas9)

Gene editing is the technology that allows scientists to change DNA in an organism. Changes can include material being added, removed and altered at any point within the genome. Over time new methods have come out, one being the CRISPR-Cas9 system. This system is faster, cheaper, more accurate and more efficient than previous existing editing methods. The way this works is, say in a lab, researchers will take a piece of RNA and have it bind to the Cas9 enzyme. Next the enzyme will cut out DNA at a previously targeted location. Once cut, scientists will then add in and make any necessary changes to the genetic material in the segment. 

The concept of gene editing is a very important practice because it could help to prevent and treat countless diseases. Some even hope it could help to cure more complex diseases such as cancer and mental illnesses. Currently, genome editing is not used in humans but there are plans later on if current testing goes well.

On the agricultural side, gene editing allows yields to be higher by making the crops more resistant to certain aspects. This is beneficial because it allows producers to keep up with the increasing consumer demand.

Behind the Scenes of Fifer’s Orchards

Growing up I used to go to Fifer’s all the time. My dad and I would stop by the orchard to get apples for our horses, or to ruin our dinner by getting Fifer’s incredible apple cider doughnuts. Once August rolled around my family and I would all go up to Fifer’s for the peach festival and snag ourselves some peach ice cream and have fun in the corn mazes. Before touring the orchard with the AGRI130 class I had assumed that they only grew peaches, apples and pumpkins, as that is what I mainly saw every time I went. However, Fifer’s grows far more than that. Some of their most profitable crops as a whole include sweet corn, pumpkins, peaches and asparagus. If you go by most profitable crops per acre, however, it would be tomatoes and strawberries. This is all grown on about 3000 acres of land. Most of the products grown by Fifer’s orchard goes to grocery stores within the Mid Atlantic region. While most products stay in that area, they actually ship to almost everywhere east of the Mississippi from Maine on down to Florida. While it is not uncommon for them to ship west of the Mississippi, it is more expensive to do so. 

Overall I was amazed at the size of the operation because growing up I was always under the impression that Fifer’s was not as big as it actually is. I feel privileged that I was able to take a tour of the farm and want to thank Mr. Fifer for allowing me to see behind the scenes of an operation that is such a staple of my childhood.

The Wonders of Irrigation

On Wednesday, October 3rd James Adkins spoke to the AGRI130 class about irrigation systems used in agriculture. The process of irrigating crops vastly increases the yield in a growing season. As Mr. Adkins explained, 20% of the world’s farmland is irrigated. This 20% supplies 40% of the world’s food supply! In the 1950s the center pivot irrigation was created. This became more efficient than previous methods of irrigation because it was less labor intensive. Today the pivot system is still in use, and mostly preferred. If you ever fly and look down and see the fields in the shape of circles, this is an indication that pivot irrigation is in use. Each span of this system runs about $11,000 dollars each. The average size of pivot irrigation seen in Delaware is usually about 5 spans. As technology continues to advance there might be a more effective irrigation system invented. However people are currently discovering the best way to use drones in agriculture and how to use the pivot irrigation systems to spread fertilizer. Overall, the lecture was so informative and extremely interesting. I really enjoyed listening to Mr. Adkins. 

Agriculture Giants with Ed Kee

Wednesday, September 26th, Ed Kee spoke to AGRI130 students about agriculture in Iowa and California and why they are considered agricultural giants. In Iowa, 85% of the land mass is used for agricultural purposes.  To put in perspective how much land that is, Iowa tills about 30.5 million acres while Delaware tills about 490,000 acres. That amount of land specifically used for agricultural purposes in Iowa is crazy! In addition Iowa is the number one producer in corn, soybean, hog and egg production. Therefore it makes sense that 92% of Iowa’s cash flow comes from the above products plus beef production. A big reason why Iowa is able to produce so much is because of how fertile the land is and how plentiful the rainfall is. On the other side there is California that receives less rainfall than average. However, due to the insufficient rainfall (only 10 inches a year, except on the coast) there is a lack of humidity that makes growing vegetables an easy task and helps decrease disease in crops. This state is a agricultural giant because they rank number one in numerous vegetables (i.e tomatoes), nuts and fruits. The new technology farmers now use to better irrigate their fields is amazing in regards to how much more efficient the process is and the resulting increase in crops per acre. 

Overall, Ed Kee’s lecture was extremely informative about how much the U.S. relies on the agriculture industry in both Iowa and California. If one were to fall there would be major ripple effects throughout the industry nationwide and possibly worldwide. 

Cartanza Poultry Farm Field Trip

On September 22nd, the AGRI130 class visited Georgie Cartanza’s broiler farm located in Dover, Delaware. Upon arrival everyone was sat down outside and listened to Georgie give a presentation on how and why she got started in the industry and what she actually does on the farm. The farm is an organic farm that grows for Coleman, an organic integer. Next the students were outfitted in PPE, which consisted of plastic coveralls, a hair net, and plastic booties. This precaution is to help prevent any diseases the class could have brought in from spreading to the chickens. 

It was very interesting when the students had the chance to enter into two of Cartanza’s chicken houses. One was fully occupied while the other was empty. The differences in the two houses was really intriguing. Without the chickens inside it became glaringly obvious how vast the houses are. Each house on her farm is 600 feet long by 65 feet wide. To put that in perspective, each house is almost two football fields long! The houses themselves were surprisingly super cool inside. Each one has a ventilation system and fans to help circulate the air through the houses. Air is sent through about every 60 seconds. The chickens seemed very comfortable inside and had no desire to step outside when given the opportunity to do so.

Big thank you to Georgie Cartanza for allowing the AGRI130 students to come out and visit her farm.

Ed Kee and Delaware Agriculture

Monday, September 17th Ed Kee joined the AGRI130 class to discuss the various aspects that make up Delaware agriculture. One thing important to note is that Delaware, and the rest of Delmarva, is able to transport any goods/products to one third of the US population in eight hours or less. 

In the 1950s the number of farms and acres of farmland in Delaware came to about 70-80%. Unfortunately with the constant development of land and influx of people living the cities, the number of farms and farmland has decreased. Something done to combat this declining rate of farmland is that a farmer can sell their developmental rights to the state therefore insuring that the land can never be developed and can only be used for farming purposes.

Ed Kee helped to put forth and start a program that allows individuals interested in beginning to farm an opportunity to do so. This program is called the Young Farmers Program and it is strictly for use in Delaware only (other states may have their own programs). The way this program works is that once an individual finds a farm they would like to purchase, the program will lend out $500,000.00 to be paid back in thirty years with zero interest! Furthermore, since the costs to purchase a farm are more than that, any loans taken from a bank will become primary and the loan from the program can be paid back after the bank loans. This is such an amazing program that I never knew existed. It is definitely something to look into if you are interested in starting your very own farm.

Social Media And How It Can Affect You

In today’s society social media is imbedded into everything that is done. From someone taking a selfie to businesses posting about new products, almost everyone is using some type of social media. With businesses shifting to having a bigger, more defined media presence, you yourself need to also be aware of the content you are posting. Michele Walfred spoke to the AGRI130 class on Wednesday, September 12th to talk all about this issue. 

Take a look on your social media page(s). What do your postings say about you? This is your brand. One in five applicants disqualify themselves from a job because of irresponsible posting. What you post shows the employer who you are. It is important to keep anything that uses your real name appropriate. Something I found interesting was when Michele talked about having two accounts. One would be for personal use and not linked to your name, while the one with your name acts as a professional account that prospective employers will look at. 

Overall, it is critical in today’s society that you watch what you are posting. One post could be the difference in you getting your dream job and you being passed over for it.

Delmarva Poultry Industry with Georgie Cartanza

 On Monday September 10th, 2018 Georgie Cartanza spoke as a guest lecturer to the AGRI130 class. She touched on many issues and changes within the poultry industry, the focus being on the poultry industry in Delmarva. What was very surprising was how many birds are produced annually in Delmarva. The number being 605 billion birds produced annually. This is equivalent to 9.6% of the national production. Ms. Cartanza also touched upon misconceptions regarding the use of GMOs, steroids and chemicals. I was not surprised to hear that many people think this way. The truth to this is that the poultry industry does not use any of the previously mentioned items. Instead the change in the chickens is due to improvements in genetics and nutrition.

Another topic that was covered is the evolution of the chicken houses. More specifically, how the use of technology has greatly increased the welfare of the chickens. In addition, the current version of the chicken houses allow for the farmers to handle and monitor the feeding and cooling systems more efficiently. 

Georgie Cartanza was extremely informative and is a great advocate for both the poultry industry and agriculture.