My Field Trip to the Poultry Farm in Dover went fantastic, as I got a real life hands on experience! Interestingly before we could even get into one of the indoor houses we had to wear a suit, this is a must so there’s no chance of contaminating one of the chickens with a virus or various type of disease. This showed me how difficult the industry is; as you have to make sure that everything goes accordingly (No room for errors)! The three species of birds that Georgie grows are Cornish, Broilers, and Roasters. There are four Chicken houses each house holding approximately 37,000 birds per house, this makes up to approximately 148,000 birds on the farm! Georgie makes sure that almost all the birds survive as she has been in this Business for 11 years! I learned that for every 1 job in the Poultry Industry it creates 7 jobs in the community! I also learned that although the industry has a lot of positive attributes, like anything else there are always negatives that come with the positives. The downsides are the maintenance, cost/budgeting, and the marketing, although it is possible for this not be a factor if you work to the hardest of your ability! Finally I’ve come to the conclusion that the Poultry Industry is like most industries where you get what you put into it, work hard and anything is attainable!
The trip to Hoober’s was probably my favorite field trip I have ever been on. I have many friends who have gotten the chance to use the precision ag technology for work so It was an amazing experience to not only be able to drive a tractor but also use the auto steer. My second favorite thing about this field trip was learning about the use of drones in the field of agriculture. It may not be the most common piece of precision ag technology like the yield monitor but it is one that saves farmers money and time. They allow farms to find a problem without personally going out and checking acre. The drones advance technology makes them very accurate and the changes in regulations has made them more accessible to many. I found it amazing that something that can be used so many things outside the ag industry can be so useful to farmers.
Getting a behind the scenes tour of Fifer’s Orchard was a great experience. Growing up in southern Delaware I have been to the farm for many events in years past and my family has frequently bought produce and other goods from the store. One of the things that shocked me the most was that sweet corn was one of their biggest money makers. When I think fifers I think pumpkins and fruits, I wasn’t really aware they grew corn let alone that it brought in a lot of money for the company. I was also unaware of their CSA program. This was probably the most exciting part of the field trip for me because I really enjoy using fresh produce to cook meals but with being at school sometimes it’s hard to get ahold of. I plan on being part of the Delmarva box program this coming year, and I’m looking forward to trying new recipes with new ingredients.
The Cartanzas Farm field trip was an eye opening field trip to the truths about the poultry industry. I was unaware of the level of biosecurity that goes on at each poultry farm and how each visitor must wear proper PPE to insure that no disease or contaminants are brought on to the farm. Since this field trip I have also noticed many poultry farms in the area having no visitors or no entrance signs outside their drive ways; which no makes sense due to us having to wear proper PPE and to keep the farm safe. I found it very interesting to see the changes that had to be made for the chicken house to meet organic standards. When we first arrived I would not have known those were key components to growing organic chickens until we learned that windows and doors to grass fields were all required to grow organic chickens. My biggest take away from the poultry farm field trip was the misconceptions that many associate with the poultry industry. I found it sad that pictures couldn’t be taken inside the chicken house because people would edit or perceive them in the wrong way due to lack of knowledge.
The third field trip of the fall semester for Understanding Delaware Agriculture was to Hoober Inc. in Middletown Delaware. Hoobers is a Case IH Agricultural Equipment Dealer that is invested in new technology. On the tour, we were taken through the shop and saw the complexity of tractors and how difficult they are to work on. We then toured the equipment yard and saw the comparison between 1980’s combine and tractor technology and brand new technology. We were then demonstrated on and allowed to drive a tractor equipped with GPS and auto-steer. The technician explained how to map a path for the tractor and then match it to the GPS and let the system take over. Along with the GPS guided tractor, a drone with GPS was also demonstrated. The drone is being marketed to farmers for scouting fields using high powered cameras. Drones can also be used to observe irrigation patterns and where crops are being starved of nutrients. There has been testing on using drones to scout for animals in heat that are kept in large herds. These drones are also being marketed to construction companies to map out sites, and take videos of resorts for the tourism industry.
The final field trip for Plant Science 167 was to the University of Delaware’s research farm in Newark where we met with Farm Superintendent Scott Hopkins who gave us a tour of all the different factions of the research farm. First, we boarded the bus at Townsend hall and got an introduction on Scott and what it means to be a farm superintendent. We then drove past Fisher Greenhouse and Allen lab which is a bio-security level 3 and is where researchers perform experiments on poultry diseases and other viruses. After the lab was the wetlands that weave through the entire farm and provide a study area for students in the wildlife ecology and resource management programs. Mr. Hopkins explained that maintaining the wetlands is a constant battle because the stream drains all the runoff from Newark and brings invasive species of weeds into the marsh. After the wetlands is the apiary containing anywhere from 800,000 to 1.2 million bees that raise honey to be sold in the creamery and help study colony collapse and pollination. There’s also a study on rice patties located near the apiary and the chicken houses. At the beef, sheep, and equine farm we were educated on the buildings used to study the horses, how compost is managed on the farm, how the sheep are used to educate students, and forages used to feed the animals. We then got back on the bus and went to the dairy farm where Scott showed us the milking parlor, forage study barn, and explained the different genetics of dairy cows and answered any questions we had.
On our third trip we took a slightly less distanced trip to the precision agriculture store known as Hoobers. Hoober’s employees being well versed in the installation of yield monitors as they stated them to be their most popular piece of precision agricultural equipment. After being given a brief tour of their facility and discussing the different types of equipment and machinery used, we were split into two separate groups. One group would briefly learn about the many uses of drones in agriculture today while the other group would get the opportunity to steer a tractor themselves. To my discovery upon driving a tractor for the first time, i was amazed at how great of a turn radius tractors have. Driving one of those vehicles of machinery for the first time will be an experience i will never forget. learning about the many uses of drones today was also very interesting as drones give a new aerial perspective for the agricultural world today like no other.
Our second field trip was held at fifers Orchards. We were given the opportunity of a thorough tore throughout the farm at the orchard, were they grew both fruits and vegetables. It was surprising that pumpkins were among those crops that bring in the greatest income as well as sweet corn. I was very impressed with Fifers’ social media out reaches as they used multiple social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter to try and reach out to more potential customers. We got to see firsthand in the assembly lines of apples, where they were boxed by a certain grading standard and those seen unfit to consumption standards are sent to be used for juice or to be disposed of. What I found most interesting was all the different types of apples that they grew at Fifers throughout the seasons. Honey crisp being my favorite of all others grown.
At the UD research farm I was able to see the diverse studies that take place there . Studies on dairy cattle, bees, and horses are just a few of the animals that are on the farm. Along with livestock research UD also studies in green houses and horticulture and have nice facilities. the Farm also has woodland acreage for wildlife studies which is what I found really interesting. visiting the research farm was really fun and I enjoyed seeing what they do there
The last field trip from our Delaware Agriculture class was the tour of the 350 acre Newark farm. This was by far the most interesting and exciting trip we have been on and I truly enjoyed it. We explored all of the different animals and research experiments on the farm and learned a great deal about them. It was explained to us that the horses are the most challenging animal to take care of on the farm simply because they are very temperamental. Also, a great challenge to keep the farm running smoothly is the constant maintaining of the land and its resources. Resource rich farm lands are rapidly being sold off to developers and it is a constant struggle to keep our farm lands safe and resource rich. As a fight against this increasing loss of farm lands, University of Delaware has recently implemented a variety of research experiments dealing with entomology and wildlife conservation. New and exciting research is being conducted every day at the Newark farm to ensure the growth of many species, such as honey bees. One of the most interesting aspects of the Newark farm trip was when we took a tour of the farms milk pasteurizing center, I had never seen or been in a room set up for milking before and it was quite the experience. I am very happy to have taken a tour of the blue hen farm and I’m very excited to be up there participating in new research experiments next year!
Our second field trip was to Fifer’s Orchards. We had the chance to go on a tour of the farms at Fifer’s and it was very interesting to see how this multi-generation family run farm works. I was surprised to find out that their biggest money maker was sweet corn and pumpkins, not apples. It was amazing to hear about all the diversity in the crops, fruits, and vegetables that they are growing during the year. We also had the chance to see the packaging and sorting area for the apples. The technology that is used is so advanced and allows them to be more efficient. They have a camera that takes pictures of the apples and sorts them by size and color, which reduces the amount of labor that must be done. We also had the chance to learn about CSAs, which are Community Service Agriculture clubs. Fifer’s CSA gives them a chance to promote the events coming up at the Orchards and to introduce Fifer’s to people who do not know about it. Their CSA consists of an 18-week long period where they put together a produce box with the produce grown at Fifer’s and local farms. They include recipes, unusual produce, and fliers in the box to promote their business and teach people how to use their produce. It was amazing to see how successful Fifer’s has become.
September 17th the class took a trip to Camden-Wyoming Delaware to visit Fifer Orchards, which is family farm established in 1919!! During our tour we saw everything from the fields to the sorting and packing areas to their market. At their farm they grow a diverse set of crops, from apples to corn, pumpkins and into trial crops like brussel sprouts! The part I found really cool was the processing area specifically for the apples, they go through a machine that took multiple pictures, and then sorted the apples based on their size and color!
We got to hear just as much about the business and promotion side of things as well as the crop production. Fifer’s has a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) club that they run for 18 weeks of the year and can be picked up at different locations across the state. For those weeks customer’s get a produce box that is filled with different locally grown products that are in season as well as information about Fifer’s events and activities. The trip to Fifer Orchards reinforced the concept we have discussed in class multiple times, about the rising importance of social media in the Ag industry.
The third field trip the class went on was to visit the Hoober store in Middletown Delaware. Brian Lam and Dave Wharry were kind enough to talk with our class and show us around the store! We got to see the selling floor, the garage where repairs are ongoing, and the back and side yards were different tractors and parts sits until needed.
Our class split up into two groups, one group having the opportunity to drive a tractor and another see a drone in action! For the drone presentation we watched Mr. Wharry program the drone right from his phone and send it off to survey part of the property. He talked about how regulations on drones have changed, and how because of the changes, he hopes that they will become more mainstream for farmers to use. He also told a story about doing some scouting with the drone and it accidentally flying over a man’s property, who was not very happy about it. But after discussing what he was doing, why and how, the mans attitude had gone from hostile to interested and even impressed!
Mr. Lam took students in drives in one of the stores tractors to show us the precision Ag equipment. He had each driver go around different puddles or posts, and then after turning the tractor around had them push a button to activate the auto steer and take their hands off the wheel. It was crazy to be sitting in the cab of a tractor that is driving itself, and along the exact route that we took to get there, around the puddles and posts!
This was a super cool trip to see the technological side of Ag and really see hands on how it’s being used!
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.
On Saturday, Nov. 16, 2014 students from Georgetown traveled to Newark and joined their Newark PLSC167 classmates for an in-depth tour of the UD Research Farm and Webb Farm.
Scott Hopkins, farm manager provided an overview of the farm’s research topics and hands-on teaching labs.