All posts by MDW

My 4th tour of UD’s farm

One of the big bonuses of helping Mark Isaacs with Understanding Today’s Agriculture is accompanying the class on the tours.  I always absorb something new, and on this cold and blustery Saturday, learned that Farm Superintendent Scott Hopkins is responsible for planting all the trees that line the gravel road approaching the livestock portion of the farm. Scott incorporates beauty and function Into everything he does—a terrific example of establishing balance on a working, teaching farm.

This fourth trip ended with a special treat — the musical talents of first year student Max Huhn, who has been playing for 12 years. As an aspiring guitarist and mandolinist myself, I appreciated his command of the fiddle, and his passion for traditional Irish and Bluegrass music. After a morning of encroaching winter weather and a delicious dose of UDairy Creamery (thank you Mark) our hearts and bodies were warmed! Dr. Limin Kung was on hand to open up the Commons where Max took center stage! He treated the class to a half hour concert, and a segment of that performance provides the soundtrack to this short recap of our tour.   I could have listened to Max all day! Max opens with his own original composition, “Ghost Cow” and transitions into a traditional Irish tune entitled “Tam Lin.”  Enjoy!

Class tour highlights on CANR blog

AGRI 130 visits Fifer Orchards

Fifer Orchards in Camden-Wyoming, Kent County served as destination for Understanding Today’s Agriculture AGRI 130’s second class tour. A fourth-generation family farm with approximately 3,000 acres in production, Fifer’s diverse operation offered students a close-up examination of how one family’s strategy in management of a multi-tiered agriculture operation has evolved and grown into one of Delaware’s most successful agriculture businesses.  Continue reading.

The GMO controversy

In January, 2013, environmentalist and author Mark Lynas, a self-proclaimed founder and activist for Europe’s anti-GMO (he uses the term GM) movement, spoke before the annual Oxford (UK) Farming Conference and announced a 180 degree change in his opinion about GMOs, and disassociated himself with the anti GMO movement (whom he calls “antis”) that he helped grow into a successful protest movement. His remarks, recorded and presented below,  explain his reasons for his change in attitude.  Read the >>>Transcript Mark Lynas 2013 Oxford Farming Conference.

Mark Lynas
Click the image above to play the video


The use of genetically modified organisms, commonly referred to as GMOs, is highly controversial topic. Lynas’s  speech, the transcription of which can be found on his website (if you’d like to read along), sent shock waves across the agricultural sector and has received world-wide attention.

What do you think of his position? Does he make a case for his change of heart and the way he now views GMOs?

Fifer Orchards

Posted on behalf of Bradley Evans

The field trip to Fifer Orchards was another really great experience. It was cool to see such a huge farm produce such a multitude of crops for profit. They really have a great system in place for crop rotation and experimentation. It is a family run enterprise which manages to use each others strengths to lead different departments of the business. The farm had been handed down through multiple generations with each trying to advance the production and technology. It was good to see their implementation of technology to make things easier for them in the harvesting and shipping areas. They kept track of what was selling and adjusted there planting schemes to maximize their earning potential on a yearly basis. They had an attitude of always evolving which was prevalent in their onsite country store and the development of festivals to draw their customer base into the farm. This is how you run a successful farm. They did have some concerns for the future and unfortunately they are the same concerns that most people we met on our field trips had. The concerns where in government regulation and standards that are always evolving and resulting in extra expenses to the business. There other concern was in the cost of energy. Something that I learned which was interesting was how heavily they relied on migrant workers to harvest their crops. They said Americans didn’t want to do the job.

Welcome to Understanding Delaware Agriculture

Dear University of Delaware Students enrolled in PLSC 167,

Welcome to the Fall 2014 Semester and the inaugural offering of PLSC 167, Understanding Delaware Agriculture, taught by Dr. Mark Isaacs.

We encourage you to use this platform to share your discoveries of Delaware agriculture as you progress through this course.

Your are invited to share photographs with captions, reflections, thoughtful comments, questions and topics of interest.

You are encouraged to share video of your discoveries about Delaware agriculture, to comment on your classmate or professor’s posts and share anything you think might be of interest to others.

You may wish to reproduce your composition book journal entries into a blog post. Whatever you contribute, please select a category for your post – choices will appear on the right side of the post editor when you sign in.  If you don’t see a category, suggest one and we will add it! Feel free to add keyword tags (optional).

We hope you share your posts and those of your classmates on social media! Please use hashtags #FarmDE and #UDel if possible!

Express yourself and have fun!

If you are not familiar with WordPress, please direct any “How do I…? ” questions to Michele Walfred.

A sample post might look something like this:

As I was driving to class this morning it was very foggy and I thought this was an interesting shot of watermelons in the field as the fog began to lift. Delaware and Indiana are the two highest producing states for watermelon crops in the northern U.S.

Photo by Lori Ockels
Photo by Lori Ockels