Today on the UD farm was cold and windy but also a lot of fun! Scott Hopkins was so knowledgeable as the farm superintendent and very informative. The farm consists of an organic garden, 7 horses, 25 beef cattle, 85 dairy cattle, sheep and horses. Mr. Hopkins thinks that the dairy cattle are the most challenging to care for because the dairy cattle get milked twice a day which requires a lot of labor and the dairy cattle require a lot of different equipment. The farm provides food products to restaurants and to UD students through ice cream, produce stands, and star campus.
It was cool to see parts of the farm that I usually don’t get to see as a plant science major. I always love seeing the dairy cows, though sadly the babies were warded off by all of the rain that we have had. The angus cows did not want us around and mooed very loudly. The sheep were also not happy that we were barging in on the cud chewing. There are so many careers on a research farm such as managers and superintendents and other workers that participate on the farm but also professors and graduate students who are conducting most of the research done on the farm. Overall, I had a great time today and I am sad that this was our last field trip.
James Adkins was a guest speaker informing UD students on the irrigation systems and why and how they’re used in agriculture.
So what is an irrigation system?
Irrigation is the application of controlled amounts of water to plants at needed intervals. Irrigation helps to grow agricultural crops, maintain landscapes, and revegetate disturbed soils in dry areas and during periods of less than average rainfall.
Types of irrigation systems
-The oldest and most inefficient way of irrigation is flood irrigation. This process channels water into the field that is being irrigated.
-Pivot irrigation was invented after WWII using aluminum pipes. The pivot system allows for a customizable accurate application of water. This type of irrigation is expensive, with each span costing about $11,000.
-Drip irrigation is the most efficient way of irrigation. Drip irrigation puts water right into the soils, minimizing water contact with the plants thus reducing disease risks.
Irrigation is important and without it, we would be unable to sustain and grow the population we currently have. Only 20% of farmland is irrigated which produces over 40% of the worlds food supply comes from irrigated land. Delaware has 30% of its farmland irrigated, about 150,000 acres. Particularly Sussex County has 50% of its farmland irrigated because of the sandy soils. Advancements in technology have allowed irrigation systems to become efficient and better for the environment.
On September 17th 2018 Ed Kee came to the University of Delaware to discuss The Agriculture industry in Delaware. Ed began his talk by giving a brief history of the agriculture industry in Delaware. For example, In 1950 there were around 8,300 farms that accumulated about 904,000 acres of land. In the late 1970s there were 3,398 farms that took up just under 669,650 acres of land. The most recent results taken in 2007 showed that there are a little bit more than 2,500 farms and 510,253 acres of farm lands. I was amazed that the number of farms and number and acres has decreased over time. That being said, farmland still makes up 41% of the land mass in Delaware. After Ed discussed the past of the agriculture industry he talked about the future. He said that by 2050 the global agriculture would have to grow by 70% to feed the estimated 9.3 billion people on the planet. It was very interesting to think about all the possible ways this industry could change and must change in order to provide food for the increasing population size.
On September 10th 2018 Georgie Cartanza came to the University of Delaware as a guest speaker for AGRI 130. Before hearing all the facts about the Delmarva Poultry industry form Georgie, I had no idea how important and interesting the Poultry industry was. To start, I didn’t realize that the Delmarva Poultry industry included three counties in the state of Delaware, 6 counties in the state of Maryland, and 1 county in the state of Virginia. Delmarva has ten processing plants, thirteen hatcheries, and ten feed mills. Next I learned that the Delmarva poultry industry produces around to 605 million birds in a single year. That is about 10% of the national production. This industry is worth in the billions and provides roughly 14500 poultry employees with a job. I was also happy to learn that the industry was constantly changing to improve the welfare of the birds. They have been incorporating automatic pan feeders, nipple waterer, tunnel ventilation, and proper heating to increase the welfare of the birds. Overall I was very happy with what Georgie had to say and can’t wait learn more on our field trip.
Dan Severson, a New Castle County Extension Agent, presented to our class an overview of the livestock industry in Delaware. When I signed up for this class I thought it would be heavily livestock based and to my surprise this was only the second-time animals were the main focus. Mr. Severson started out talking about Delaware farms. Did you know Delaware ranks first in the U.S. in value of agriculture production per acre? Me either! He then concentrated on the beef, pork, sheep, goats and dairy industries and went into depth about each one. Mr. Severson was extremely interactive and had an abundance of pictures to balance out the graphs and numerical data. The information I found the most interesting about this presentation was how much our livestock industry is going to change in the future. The average age of a farmer is becoming younger and younger so my generation will soon have control over what happens to the livestock industry. With advancements in technology and robotics hopefully we’ll be able to make it more efficient. As always we will need to continue to educate others about the livestock industry since the media and activists make it difficult for the industry to be seen in a positive light.