On Monday, November 18th Mr. Mark Davis was a guest lecturer in my Understanding Today’s Agriculture class. Mr. Davis is a representative of Delaware’s Horse Racing Industry. He briefly discussed the history of horse racing and the difference between the two styles of horse racing. Harness racing is the style of racing were a driver is pulled in a small cart by the horse. Thoroughbred racing is your high-class racing, with a greater opportunity for winning large cash prizes. We also learned about the extremely strict regulations and how the horses and jockeys are given drug test to ensure there is no form of cheating. Many people must be involved in a horse to be profitable, this includes drivers, trainers, owners, vets, groomers, etc. Mr. Davis further explained the importance of purses in the equine racing industry. A purse is essentially the price for winning a race. The purse is then split in specific percentage and given to all the people involved in the success of the horse. I personally have never been involved with the equine racing industry, I’m glad that I had the opportunity to hear about it from an industry professional.
On November 18th, Mark Davis came to class to talk about the equine industry in the state of Delaware. The majority of this industry it seems is focused on horse racing and the like. He stated that racing has likely been around ever since humans first tamed horses, and that the industry has survived around the world ever since. Delaware traces it’s horse racing heritage back to colonial times, and it get’s most of its traditions from English racing.
For a long time this was the predominant way to gamble, with slot machines being added to casinos in order to generate money for the racing. The industry makes a lot of money, and generates jobs for a good amount of Delaware residents.
Thoroughbred horse racing is where most of the money is, but standard breed and quarter horse racing is very common too. Another common type of racing is harness racing.
Mark Davis visited the class to talk about the impact and history of horse racing in Delaware. Horse Racing in Delaware Dates as far back to 1760s but it wasn’t until 1934 the Delaware Racing Commission was established, with the creation of Delaware Park following shortly after in 1937. Ten years later, “the Harrington Raceway was established and stands today as the oldest continuously operating harness racing track in the country” in 1946. Only 20 years later the horse racing industry took an impact and the Delaware Horse Racing Redevelopment Act was passed to help support the racing industry. The act allowed slot machines present at racetracks with part of the Casinos revenue going toward to purses for horse racing. When it comes to Harness and thoroughbred racing, Delaware regulates around 2,000 licenses a year for harness racing. Harness racing has 145 days with 2,000 races. Delaware also regulates around 5,000 licenses for thoroughbred racing. Thoroughbred has only 80 race days a year with 600 races. One fact which stuck with me was the economic impact the horse racing had to the Delaware economy. The horse racing industry contributed $182 million and supported 1,540 jobs. For every $100 spent in the industry, resulted in $182 of total spending in Delaware.
David Mayonado, a Technology Development Representative for Bayer (formally Monsanto) came to class to talk about the partnership between the industry and academia of agriculture. A few Acts came about in the late 1800’s early 1900’s to make this partnership possible. Some kay Acts include the Morrill Act, raising funds to establish land grant colleges and the Smith-Lever Act, creating Cooperative Extension services. These Acts are what allow the University of Delaware’s very own Cooperative Extension program. This partnership sparked the start of a revolution for agriculture. By “applying rigorous scientific principles to the development of agricultural technologies and techniques has allowed farmers to produce larger crops all while improving soil quality”, David said the industry is helping farmers not only save money but help improve environmental impact. Finally, David talked about his time with the company. He talked about Monsanto history, including when Roundup Original was created (1976) and when they started Genetically modifying plant cells (1982). David ended on a very positive message to the audience and made it very clear Roundups’ main ingredient, glyphosate, should not be considered harmful by the consumer and is backed by multiple government agencies.
On Monday, November 11th, we were given a lecture on the pest management industry by Dave Mayonato. He provided the class with insight on how important it is that American agriculture incorporates pest management to prevent disease and increase crop or livestock yield for consumers. Dave gave us a brief description of the history of pest control, which began at agricultural experiment stations that were built due to the Hatch Act of 1887. This act authorized the establishment of said agricultural experiment stations to research different crops. Today, intensive research on these plants and the adoption of technology is improving this production with every year. The adoption of various mechanical, chemical, and biological tools is the cause of this. At the beginning of agricultural processes, the land was labored by man and animal. As time progressed and steel was created, machine-powered agricultural kicked off. Then came chemical agriculture, where different chemical compounds were formulated to control pests. Lastly is the new era of agriculture. By manipulating the proteins/RNA in a cell, scientists have been able to produce the biotechnology for higher and healthier crop yields on farms. He then showed us a bar graph of the number of white-tailed deer harvests in Maryland, spanning from the years of 1927 to 2012. The white-tail deer populations have increased according to this graph because of the application of these agricultural technologies and techniques that allow these Mid-Atlantic farmers to produce larger crops, improve soil quality, and promote a healthy ecosystem. Commercial products of biotechnology such as “RoundUp” and “DroughtGard” corn have allowed for more effective control of weeds and drought resistance among plants to let farmers take a break and decrease their labor fatigue. Many of these companies today use biotechnology to provide for consumers, which are the farmers in this instance. Without pest management and different uses of technology today, farming would not be as effective or cost-friendly to those who cultivate that land.
Unfortunately I wasn’t able to make it to class to see Dr.Mayonado lecture, but being able to watch it after the fact was a huge help. First off I want to say that I think Bayer is a great company. I really like the work they do and the different types of field education classes they offer to the public. The best part of the presentation for me was being able to here about what it is like working in a company. It was very interesting to learn about how there were 30 industries developing new herbicides and products like that and now over the span of a few years that number has dropped to just 4. Which seems weird because you would think that as technology advances and continues to grow that getting your hands on that type of technology would be easier. But, I guess that with all these flare ups of false allegations that it probably helped a lot of these companies fail and discouraged anyone from trying it. It probably has made it just that more difficult to start up a company that creates pesticides and herbicides by means of paper work and regulations. It is crazy to me that people can make a case out of the little information they have that RoundUp causes cancer. Especially, when all of these other trusted organizations are disagreeing with that. It would be like if a organization in Europe said 1+1=3 but all these other organizations were saying no it definitely equals 2. But the public and the court are saying well they said it equals 3 so it must equal 3. It just doesn’t make sense to me how our judicial system just seems like there are suspending logic on these cases.
Taking the tour around the UD farm was great. Driving over the bridge every day you see the small plot of crops but I had never realized how big the farm was and how many different things they were working on. Getting to visit a research farm was really interesting and it was such a great opportunity to great such an in-depth tour. I felt like this tour really opened my eyes to a new field in Ag and seeing how meticulous they were on the farm was amazing.
One thing we learned about was the milking process and the care they take for their cows. I think anyone who thinks it’s wrong to use cows for milk probably has a different idea of what they are actually doing than reality. They talked about the measurements they take to ensure not to much milk is collected and how they are constantly assessing the health of each cow. This is not the picture painted by negative media but this first-hand learning can really clear things up for a lot of people.
Dave’s speech on Agricultural industries and businesses was a lecture I think anyone studying in Ag in college and anyone interested in the field should listen to. He talked about a lot of the different job opportunities that are available in this field and also went into the facts behind a lot of media misconceptions. Myself wanting to work in agricultural research really appreciated the discussion about the different scientific jobs but I also really liked how he dove into the facts about a lot of current issues. When you hear someone from the industry explain the reality behind so many viral social media subjects, it’s amazing how far things can get blown out of proportion. I think if more people looked even one level deeper than a facebook post or talked to real people like dave, there would be way fewer misconceptions about the industry.
On November 11th, Dave Mayonado talked to our class about the industry and academia in agriculture. He talks about the technology in agriculture, working in industry, and safety and litigation. Farming used to be very hands on, people were involved, and animals. Agriculture use to be very labor intensive. He talked about the Morrill Act of 1862 and 1890 which established the raising of funds and allowed land grant to universities. UD happened to be one. The Hatch Act of 1887 established an agricultural experiment station, this was affiliated with the grant. Technology allows farmers to be innovated. Farmers can produce larger crops while improving soil and fostering environment with technology. Farming used to be hands on work (muscle), then it became mechanical (steel), then it became chemical (small molecules) and has no-till, then it was biological (proteins, RNA/ information). When it became biological, they got CRISPR, RNAi, GMO, and, GWS. Agriculture is all about genes and proteins. Proteins are not generally stable outside the confines of living cells. Genes are information packets for making proteins. Is it safe to modify a crop? If they do the right regulations to make sure all their crops are safe, then yes. USDA has a job to make sure the crops are safe to grow, EPA must approve if it’s safe for the environment, and FDA makes sure it is safe to eat. When working in industry, to survive, you must know your products. Industries must keep relationships with colleagues in academia and keep them abreast with their products. I learned some cool things by listening to today’s guest speaker Dave.
Today, David Mayonado, who worked for Monsanto, came in and gave us a lecture on Industry and Academia in Agriculture. It was very interesting to learn about how the agricultural boom in the mid-20th century contributed to an explosion in the population of wildlife. I do live in Bucks County, PA, which is one of the deer capitals of America, so I thought everyone saw deer as often as I did. We learned about the 4 stages of Agriculture: manual, mechanical, chemical, and biological. With today’s agriculture being in the biological stage with manipulating genes, I didn’t think about the companies’ point of view. They must constantly be coming up with new products to demonstrate value to farmers because of our constantly competing society. As I am sort of interested in law, it was nice to learn a little bit about legislation in agriculture, like the Morrill, Hatch, and Smith-Lever Acts, which apply to land grant colleges.
Dan Stevenson discussed the livestock industry in Delaware, however, one of the most shocking statistics he shared was that only 9.7% of a person’s income is spent on food, I expected that number to be higher because food prices seem to be so high and the rate that people go out to eat is also pretty high. In contrast, though, cheap fast-food restaurants such as McDonald’s or the increase of smart shopping could offset the prices. In the future, I would expect to see that number increase because as we learned from our professor, studies have shown that millennials care more about their values (choosing healthy foods, ethically sourced, etc.) than the bottom dollar when it comes to food choices.
Dan also talked a lot about the differences between family and commercial operations.
Family Labor, Smaller Herd Sizes, Less Profitable
Hired Labor, Larger Herd Sizes, More Profitable (Less input per unit)
On Monday October 21st, 2019 Dan Severson lectured our Understanding Today’s Agriculture class and gave us an overview of the livestock industry. His presentation covered everything ranging from pork production to honeybees. In his presentation he mentioned that beef, pork, and poultry are the top three types of meat consumed by people today. Other products are made from other species like cheese and lotion from goats. Mr. Severson also spoke about the dairy industry. He covered all types of dairies such as commercial, family owned, purebred, and even creameries. Creameries are a huge part of Delaware’s agriculture, making a presence in many farm fresh produce stands.
On Saturday, November 2nd, the class visited the farm owned by the university. It is a research farm which means that it is collecting and analyzing data related to the cultivation of plants and animals. This data helps find new ways to farm more efficiently and with less environmental impacts. Some of the things that they farm there are cows, sheep, and even rice.
The one of the first places that we visited was the dairy farm. This is the place where the UD creamery, UDairy, gets all of their dairy products. An interesting thing is how the cows are organised. They each have their own area from which only they can feed, and the cows quickly learn where this is without much help by the farmers.
My favorite place was the barn with the sheep. I learned that the tails were docked because it helps the sheep avoid infections around the area where the tail and hind legs are.
This past Saturday, the class visited the UD farm here on the Newark campus. I had visited a small portion of it when I initially checked out the school last year, but I was not aware that there are multiple fields and operations that go on here. For example, I had no idea that there were any sheep on campus here, or that there is a whole equine building. A few weeks ago as part of my Organic and Sustainable Farming class I assisted in a round of milking of our campus cows, whose milk goes to Hy-point dairy. It was nice learning a real skill that I can use outside the classroom anywhere in the world. I really take for granted the fact that there is a farm here on campus, where some schools must travel hours for experience in the field, while we just walk outside. Overall, the field trip was nice to reiterate the farm’s layout with myself and learn more about agriculture.
The University of Delaware farm consists of 350 acres and is more diverse than one might think just driving past it. It’s remarkable to note how space can be utilized in an agricultural setting. The common misconception that to have a farm or land in production, you can’t live in a city or you need a lot of land is clearly debunked during this lab. The Universities operation includes research, dairy, beef, sheep, poultry, equine, acreage for tomatoes, cabbage, sweet potatoes, and more. My favorite part of the tour was seeing the beehives miss Delaney works hard on, as the hives play a major role on the farm. I think it’s truly amazing how even the smallest and sometimes immobile lifeforms are perhaps the most intricate of our ecosystem. Understanding the various reproductive parts of a plant is helpful especially in agricultural seed and fruit production, I think it would be interesting to see more integrated crop/ agricultural practices in the future. Bees are the cheapest employees a farmer could have. Crops from nuts to vegetables and as diverse as alfalfa, apple, cantaloupe, cranberry, pumpkin, and sunflower all require pollinating by honey bees.