Mark Davis guest lectured to our class about the livestock industry. From his presentation I learned a lot about the horse racing industry and horse racing in Delaware. Horse Racing is one of the oldest sports, beginning in the 12th century. Currently, there are 9.2 million horses in the United States and 2 million people own horses. Some horses are for showing, racing, recreation, and other. Most horses are for recreation. Harrington Raceway is the oldest continuously operating harness racing track in the country. Harness Racing has about 145 days per year yielding about 2,000 races.
Dan Severson guest lectured to our class about the Livestock Industry in Delaware. I learned that there are 14,000 cows and 6,000 hogs in Delaware. Cows and hogs can both be sold for direct market or used as show animals at the Delaware State Fair. I also learned that most sheep in Delaware are back yard animals, most farms do not choose to raise sheep because the profit just is not there like it is for cows and hogs. Sheep can be sold for wool, dairy and also show animals. I learned that most of the goats in Delaware are for meat and only a few are for milk. Lastly, Dan talked about the different marketing trends like farm to table and buy local, eat local.
Tracy Wootten and Valann Budischak guest lectured in our class about the Delaware Green Industry. In 2014, the horticultural production sales were $21,774,000. The green industry is comprised of many different people ranging from producers, retailers, landscapers, land mangers, and more. We learned the difference between Floriculture crops and Nursery crops. Floriculture crops are more like bedding/garden plants while Nursery crops are more like shade and Christmas trees.Nursery crops make almost double the revenue of Floriculture crops coming in at about $8 billion in 2014. In the past decade the cash receipts have only been increasing.
Our field trip to Hoober Inc. in Middletown, Delaware was an amazing experience. Growing up, I have been to Hoober many times to get parts and I have witnessed their mechanics come to my farm to help us fix our equipment. We have lots of Case IH equipment so I felt as if I already knew a lot about Hoober, but boy was I wrong. This field trip gave me a better perspective of Hoober as a company and allowed me to learn about the various roles employees partake in. I really enjoyed going through their shop and getting an inside look on the jobs they perform. I always knew Hoober mechanics fixed tractors, but what I did not know was how much time and effort they take to just simply diagnose a problem and how sometimes it takes more than just a few screws and bolts to fix. With the new technology in the equipment, it takes a person that is very skilled with technology and troubleshooting to fix technological issues. Farmers call Hoober when they are having trouble with their equipment. If it is a simple fix, they will fix it right in the farmers shop. If it is a more difficult and strenuous process, they will take the tractor back to Middletown and have their team of highly skilled mechanics work together to solve the problem. Along with learning what they do, we also got to drive a tractor, sprayer, and steiger around. This was not anything new to me, but to my fellow classmates it was a really exciting experience.
It was very interesting to learn about the different types of irrigation. Growing up in Delaware, we mainly see center pivot irrigation. I had no idea there were so many other types of irrigations. I found it astonishing that Asia has the highest percentage of irrigated land, ranking in at about 68% of the land irrigated. That is a huge amount of irrigated land compared to America’s 17%. We also learned that about 15-35% of irrigation withdraws are considered unsustainable. Knowing from previous lectures that about 40% of Delaware is farm land, it was interesting to see that about 30% of that farm land is irrigated. Sussex County is irrigated more due to the more sandy soils.
Mark Lynas gave a captivating speech on how his point of view on GMOs has dramatically changed since 1995. Back in 1995, when Mark first heard about Monsanto’s, Mark immediately made his conclusion. He believed it was just another large American company putting something experimental into our food supply without warning. He thought GMOs were the most unnatural thing you could make and that something was bound to go wrong with humans gaining too much technological power. These claims spread rapidly and soon made GMOs banned from Europe, even though there was no science backing up these claims. After digging into the claims he made many years ago and the consequences of these claims, Mark began to explain why his claims were wrong. Mark began by stating what he thought and following it with the science that counters his claims. Mark explained how dangerous he thought GMOs were, he followed that by explaining how GMOs are safer and more precise than conventional breeding. He also told us he thought GMOs would increase the use of chemicals but it turned out they needed less insecticide. Mark thought GMOs were only benefitting big companies, and turns out they were generating billions of dollars that were benefitting farmers. Mark goes on to talk about the benefits of GMOs and how they are effecting our world today.
Bobby and Curt Fifer are fourth generation family farmers that are part owners of Fifer Orchards. On Saturday, September 28th 2019, Bobby and Curt gave us a tour of their amazing family operation. When I first arrived I was very excited to see that the annual fall fest was going on. Ever since I can remember, my family and I would go to the fall fest together and we always a great time. They have activities from picking and painting pumpkins to a giant corn maze. At the country store they sell the best donuts and ice cream which is a must anytime you are at Fifers. Along with this event, Fifer Orchards does a lot more than what the public can see. As we took a tour around their farm we got to see all the different kinds of crops they grow. One of the crops that really stood out to me was the strawberries. These stood out to me because they are planted under a black plastic cover which helps prevent diseases. Bobby Fifer is testing a new theory this year with the strawberries. Bobby covered every other row with white plastic and the others with the normal black plastic. The purpose of this is to try and spread out the harvesting dates so they are able to harvest all the strawberries and not lose the crop. The black plastic which is typically used attracts the sunlight which will make the strawberries under the black plastic peak before the strawberries under the white plastic. We will not know if this theory was successful until harvest season but I am very anxious to see the results. Along with that theory, I also learned that most of their crops are hand picked which means they use no machinery. With not using machinery, you need lots of good labor to be able to keep up with the crops and Bobby has some great workers there.
Ed Kee lectured to our class about the “Agricultural Giants”, also known as Iowa and California. Iowa farmers till 30.5 million acres and farmers in California till 25.5 million acres. The top agricultural products grown in both of these states are corn and soybeans. California has a total of $47 billion in Agricultural sales. California ranks first in many different commodities. These commodities range from milk to almonds and grapes. Some farming operations in California have 50,000 acres or more while more average farms have about 330 acres. California alone produces 2/3 of the U.S. fruits and nuts. Tomato processing is also a very big deal in California. Over 95% of our tomato products come from California. Growing a large amount of something comes at a price, which California farmers know. Water in California is a lot more expensive, due to water quality, so some California farmers own water rights which help make their water less expensive. Moving on, Iowa is the largest producer of corn in the world. The economic activity that is generated off of corn in Iowa is $8.8 billion. Iowa harvests 13.1 million acres of corn a year. Iowa also is home of the largest family owned seed company, Stine Seeds. Along with that, pork is also a big deal in Iowa, they raise 20.9 million hogs annually which is the equivalent of 32% of the nations pork production. Just by these statistics we can tell that Iowa and California have tremendous agricultural production. Along with the valuable information on Iowa and California we learned about the Port of Wilmington which is right here in Delaware. This port alone created 5,900 jobs and makes $436 million in annual business revenue. This port made it possible for exports coming out of Iowa and California with products such as cotton, soybeans, horticulture crops, ect. to be delivered right here in Delaware.
Dr. Issacs informed our class on agricultural industries and the statistics of them. Some key points I took away from his guest lecture are that 97.6% of US farms are family owned and operated, 86.1% of the family farms provide the labor used on the farm, and that farmers are only 1% of the population. Along with these enlightening statistics, I also learned about the field crop acreage and the farm bill which acts as a huge safety net for farmers. Growing up owning a farm in Delaware, I have always known the significance of farms in the community but what I never knew was that our location is within 8 hours of 1/3 of the US population. That makes farmers a very important part of the community.
Ed Kee, the former Secretary of Agriculture, came into our class and educated us on Delaware Agriculture. Ed taught us the 40% of Delaware’s land is farmland and around 30% of that land is permanently reserved by the Aglands Preservation Program. This program was established in 1991 and it helps preserve the farmland by making the land only be able to be sold for agriculture purposes. In Delaware alone, there are about 2,500 farmers and about 1/3 of those farmers till 2/3 of the land. Agriculture in Delaware creates 7-8 billion dollars in economic activity every year. Along with these statistics, Ed also taught us how genetics and irrigations have been helping to improve the yields over the years. Genetics have also helped increase the average cow population. Lastly, I learned how technology is changing everyday and is helping farmers in many ways. One change in technology that really stuck out to me was how an app on a phone can control multiple irrigations at once. From the click of a button, the farmer can change how much water is being put out and how fast the irrigation is moving. This technology is incredible and will help farmers a lot when it comes to saving time and putting out the correct amount of water.
Michele Walfred spoke to our class about social media and the effects it has on professionalism, leadership, and agriculture. Social media is all about branding yourself. It is very important to brand yourself in a professional way. Business owners use social media to gauge if they think you would be a good fit at their company. If our brands do not represent us well and professionally, we most likely would not get the job. Michele not only taught us how to brand ourselves, she also gave us tips on how to be a leader on social media. Advocating for agriculture is another really important topic Michele talked about. The story of agriculture needs to be expanded to the general public so they can be educated about agriculture. When the public is not educated, they will make their own conclusions about what goes on in the agriculture industry and try to bash it on the internet. The stories of agriculture need to be spread on social media so people can begin to see what really goes on in our industry. Michele also showed us some great examples of fake news that showed us what to look out for on the internet since not everything we see on there is true.
I have always known how much of an outstanding person Georgie Cartanza was, but in my eyes she was my “Aunt Georgie”, not a Delmarva Poultry Farmer. Throughout her presentation I realized she is not only an amazing aunt, but she is also a hard-working Poultry Farmer. Growing up, watching her raise thousands of chickens every year, I never knew the tremendous impact of her poultry farm. When she came in to speak to my class I learned so much about the evolution of the Poultry Industry. Within the past 6 decades, improvements have been made on technology, ventilation, thermostats, automatic pan feeders, nipple drinkers, and many more. These improvements have enhanced the birds health, welfare, and quality. Organic Poultry Farms, like Georgie’s, have special requirements that they have had to follow in order to raise organic chickens. This is also another example of how the poultry industry is changing due to the demand of organic chickens. Georgie had to incorporate enrichments, outdoor access, windows and many more additions to her poultry houses in order for them to be suitable for growing organic chickens. Along with the evolution of the Poultry Industry I also learned that for every one job in the poultry industry, it creates seven jobs in the community which proves how much of an impact these birds have on the economy.
Saturday, September 7th, 2019, The University of Delaware students took a tour of one of the most well known Poultry Farms in Delmarva. Georgie Cartanza, the owner of the Poultry Farm, gave a captivating presentation about her poultry farm and the Poultry Industry in its entirety. Delmarva is comprised of 12 counties in Delaware, Maryland and Virginia. These 12 counties produce 605 million birds annually which is 9.6% of the national production. This is astonishing considering how small Delmarva is compared to the rest of the Nation. Georgie Cartanza not only gave an informative presentation on the Poultry Industry but she gave us an inside look into the poultry houses where she raises her organic chickens.