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.
The controversy over Genetically Modified Organisms has become a common discussion among just about everyone in the world today. With this wide discussion there has been many false accusations toward this technology, especially around human consumption. One reason these accusations have become widespread is because people believe that every crop farmers produce are genetically modified, which is again false. According to bestfoodfacts.org (approved by Dr. Kevin Folta) there is currently only 10 crops that are approved for production in the United States. These 10 crops include: corn, soybeans, cotton, canola, alfalfa, sugar beets, papaya, squash, arctic apples, and innate potatoes. The three most used in the United States are corn, soybeans, and cotton because of the great demand for these commodities.
The demand for these commodities is one of the biggest reasons that GMOs were invented and with the demand ever growing they will continue to emerge. However people must understand the science behind these products and all the research that is done before a crop is approved because farmers really are trying to produce what’s best for the consumer because in fact farmers are consuming these products as well. This is what brings up the topic of agvocacy because in order for the misconceptions of GMOs to clear up there has to be a push to clarify them with scientific facts, which is something I believe is going to become bigger in bigger in everyday life.
Dave Mayonado works for a company that has come under quite a bit of heat lately through the use og genectic modified organism. Monsanto uses GMO’S to improve field yields by either being able to add or shut off genes in a crop. After a scientific study of GMO’s by scientist, GMO’s were deemed to be just as safe as conventional breeding techniques. Some top products of biotechnology are Roundup Ready, YieldGard, DroughtGard, and Vistive Gold/Plenish. A very interesting topic that Dave covered was gene silencing to control corn root worm. The corn is genetically modified containing a certain type of double stranded RNA in it. Once the root worm ingests the corn the double stranded RNA enters the cells. The cells then defend itself by targeting the gene SNF7, causing the worm to die. Dave mentioned s a take home message that you can never be to educated on your job, staying on top of everything.
The University of Delawares’ Carvel Center first began when in 1941 the John A. Tyndall Farm was purchased for $7,555 and was the beginning of the agricultural experiment station in Sussex County, Delaware. Over time the center had additions and name changes done to it to keep up changing times and technology. In 2006 the center was named the Elbert N. and Ann V. Carvel Research & Education Center. Over time the center has gotten many research and extension programs such as Agronomic, vegetable and fruit, Horticulture- commercial and ornamental along with Master Gardeners, Irrigation Management, Nutrient Management, 4-H youth development and so much more. For their research programs, they have variety and breeding trials for crops, pest management, fertility, organic production, irrigation management and precision agriculture. We also have chemigation studies and greenhouse studies that focus on our crops. For poultry research programs the center looks at disease and diagnostics, poultry house emissions and technology, litter management and composting. The Carvel center is serving such a great purpose for Sussex County to keep our crops safe and our poultry
As a pre-veterinary student I felt as though I knew all there was to know about the amazing research farm we have here on campus. Every semester so far I have had a few classes down on South campus and if I wasn’t directly on the farm for class, I got to smell it! Even though I had seen the dairy farm, Webb farm and the poultry houses prior to this field trip I learned so much about what goes on at each of these facilities. Scott Hopkins, University of Delaware’s farm superintendent, took us around and went in depth about experiments both successes and failures, different classes that are offered on the farm to target non-agriculture students, new technology that’s been included in each facility to help advance research, management practices and so much more! Even though it’s a close runner-up playing with the calves wasn’t my favorite part of this field trip. Scott Hopkins shared a ton of information with us about the research farm and I took a lot away from it that I can’t wait to share with others but if there was one thing overall that I took away from this trip is, there is always more to learn! I went into this field trip thinking I was going to know everything he talked about and I was pleasantly surprised. I found myself amazed with all of the new things I learned about the farm after the field trip was over!
Just like every other industry, research allows scientists to learn new discoveries. In the past decade think of everything that has improved; your phone, car, house, medicine, the list goes on and on. One things that has improved tremendously in the past decade is agriculture. From our seeds, pesticides, animal genetics and even equipment. At the University of Delaware Newark Research Farm, I was able to learn and understand some current research to benefit our future.
In the dairy industry, different cows are receiving different feeds. They record how much they eat each day and how much milk they produce. By this study we are able to learn what to feed our cows to keep them healthy, to continue to produce milk. This milk is used for consumption, ice cream, cheese and much more. This was Mr. Hopkins most exciting research because he is able to see a direct effect, whereas other research projects take time.
In the poultry industry, research of vaccines is being done non-stop. This is because chicken reproduce so quickly, they can become immune to the vaccines. Therefore, we have to stay ahead of the game. Poultry receives vaccines just like humans do, to stay healthy and stay away from harsh sickness.
Now, there was a lot of other research being done; from crops, to bees, to greenhouses and everywhere in between. But, these two projects stood out to me. As a consumer, I know it sounds scary to hear that they are doing research, but keep in mind the amount of research being done for ourselves. Research on medications to everyday needs that we have, research is required to understand how and why things work before they affect us because research allows for new discoveries.
Not only was this past Saturdays weather very cool, so was our field trip around the Newark farm. Scott Hopkins, the University of Delaware farm superintendent gave us a fascinating tour of the Webb Farm.
We were fortunate enough to see the milking parlor and learn that dairy cows are the most challenging animal to care for on the farm. Growing up on my families dairy operation I was able to see and experience first hand how labor extensive taking care of dairy cows can be and understood greatly what Scott Hopkins was explaining.
Not only did we see the dairy operation but we saw the beef, sheep and equine facilities. The equine facility was rather new with a large classroom that was very versatile and could also be used a spot for more hands on learning such as artificial insemination, collecting semen or even having the option to do some horse therapy and therapeutic riding. We also learned about the extensive research projects being conducted, Mr. Hopkins favorite being forage research.
We ended our trip with a stop at UDairy creamery. This was for sure one of my favorite field trips because of all the research being done in such close proximity.