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crops

Cover Crops

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August 6  |  crops, Farm, Farmers, Research, water conservation  |   Webmaster

Cover crops are tools to keep the soil in place, bolster soil health, improve water quality and reduce pollution from agricultural activities. 

  • They include cereals, brassicas, legumes and other broadleaf species, and can be annual or perennial plants. Cover crops can be adapted to fit almost any production system.
  • Popular cover crops include cereal rye, crimson clover and oilseed radish. Familiar small grain crops, like winter wheat and barley, can also be adapted for use as cover crops.

cover crops

What is a Cover Crop?

A cover crop is a plant that is used primarily to slow erosion, improve soil health, enhance water availability, smother weeds, help control pests and diseases, increase biodiversity and bring a host of other benefits to your farm.

Cover crops have also been shown to increase crop yields, break through a plow pan, add organic matter to the soil, improve crop diversity on farms and attract pollinators. There is an increasing body of evidence that growing cover crops increases resilience in the face of erratic and increasingly intensive rainfall, as well as under drought conditions. Cover crops help when it doesn’t rain, they help when it rains, and they help when it pours!

 

Cover Crops at Work

Please see the attached informative pdf documents and visit their website.

Increasing Soil Organic Matter

Prevent Erosion

Improve Soil Conditions and Prevent Pollution

Sustainable Crop Rotations

Keeping Nutrients Out of_Waterways

Discover the Cover (case study)

 

Learn more at www.sare.org/cover-crops

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Climate Change | Water Shortage | Agriculture

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December 29  |  climate change, crops, Editorial, Farm, global warming, Nutrition, Opinion, Research, safe drinking water, water conservation, water preservation, water stewardship  |   Webmaster

While the pundits and partisan experts continue to argue over the validity of global warming, there is little doubt that climate change is a reality.  The rapidly increasing changes in our climate are impacting our water supply.

Scientists at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) have calculated how much of this essential resource the world risks losing to the effects of climate change.  Droughts will become more widespread and wildfires are expected to get bigger, longer and smokier by 2050. The growing world population and its increase in water consumption are also straining fresh water resources.  Water sources are melting and drying out.   

37 nations already make do with the bare minimum in water resources, according to experts at the World Resources Institute (WRI), a co-author of the Aqueduct Water Risk Atlas.  Massive investments in efficient water management are necessary to counter the effects of water scarcity.

 Agriculture is the world’s largest consumer of water

In times of rising food prices, the agricultural sector has become more interesting for investors. Asian companies, particularly in China, as well as their European counterparts are buying up large swaths of land in Africa to grow food products. They, too, have a vested interest in good harvests and are keen on investment in any aspect of agriculture that offers a significant opportunity to reduce its demand for water. However, technical solutions to save water in agriculture will play only a small role due to the high costs.

Changes in the world’s agriculture and eating habits need to be re-examined

Hunger follows on the heels of water scarcity

Agriculture must change in order to counter dwindling water resources. Climate researchers warn of an increased risk of hunger, in particular in poorer countries, with farmers trying to adapt to cycles of recurring drought and extreme, torrential rains.  One way to counter these extremes is through organic farming, which strengthens the capacity of the soil to absorb water, to enrich it and later deliver it again to the plants.

Organic farming could also limit the spread of diseases and pests without farmers having to resort to pesticides.  Crop rotation and diversity would make it more difficult for diseases and crop destroyers to infest cultivated areas.  This was common practice for many generations before industrial farming began.

In addition, consumers will have to alter their habits in ways that include eating less meat and seeking out crops more attuned to local conditions.  In dry regions of the world, farmers could plant the cereal crop millet, which needs significantly less water than corn.

Another climate-friendly measure: growers and consumers should be located closer to one another to decrease theamount of shipments and transports.

Such changes would help feed a constantly growing global population.  Even today, the world produces enough food for 14 billion people.

We don’t need to produce more foodwhat we need is better quality and more diversity.

 

Source:  http://www.dw.de/climate-change-fuels-water-scarcity-and-hunger/a-17325128

 

 

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Drought Lingers on as Crops Wither

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August 30  |  crops, Farm, Latest News  |   Webmaster

Following is an interesting graphic from the NY Times, showing the latest info on the drought and resulting crop production.

http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2012/08/24/us/drought-crops.html?smid=tw-share

 

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It’s all about the Drought!

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August 26  |  crops, Dairy, Editorial, Farm, Latest News, Livestock, Newsletters, Opinion  |   Webmaster

Unless we’ve been in a cave or in outer space for the past few weeks, we are all aware of the severe drought that has been plaguing the Midwest.  Actually, you can see its effects from space:

 http://www.treehugger.com/sustainable-agriculture/us-drought-so-bad-nasa-can-see-it-space.html

This is the worst drought since 1988 and may go on record for causing the worst economic and social effects since the infamous 1930s “Dustbowl”.  It may take years to recover as a nation, but many small & medium size farms may not survive it.

The USDA is issuing weekly updates …

http://blogs.usda.gov/2012/08/24/agricultural-weather-and-drought-update-%e2%80%93-82412/

http://www.usda.gov/wps/portal/usda/usdahome?navid=DISASTER_ASSISTANCE

http://droughtmonitor.unl.edu/

It’s estimated that this current drought is affecting over 68% of farmland and over 80% of essential crops in those areas, especially corn, hay, soya beans, etc.  And the effects will be felt across the nation with rising food prices and a strained federal budget to try and offset some of the losses.  Thank God for crop insurance!  Payouts from this year’s drought are expected to set record levels.  Unfortunately, livestock producers and dairy farmers have no such safety net.  Various government levels have tried to open up reserve land for grazing, water-sharing programs, meat buying programs, etc. but it is a drop in the bucket.  Clean water and grazing lands are becoming scarce and feed corn and hay have doubled in price since 2010.

While the debate rages on about whether global warming is the cause or whether this is just one of earth’s cycles of change and the while the policy makers on Capitol Hill bicker about their partisan lobby interests, farmers and ranchers struggle to survive, waiting for the much anticipated Farm Bill to finally become law.  It may be too late or not enough for some.   These dedicated, hearty individuals are used to struggle and adversity and being dependent on Mother Nature.   But they don’t like to depend on any level government.  Emergency drought legislation would surely help right now.

Meanwhile, more and more farmers and ranchers are taking to the internet and social media to stay connected, updated, and to network with others, sharing stories, ideas, and recommendations.  In fact, they have their own hashtag on Twitter: #drought12.

http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2012/08/24/159999270/farmers-waiting-out-the-drought-tune-into-twitter

Yes, this has been and will continue to be a very tough year for those dear folks.  Next to oxygen and water, they are responsible for the most important ingredient for our life – FOOD!  We are grateful for their dedication, hard work and pioneer spirit and are proud to be a part of their operations.

Let’s all offer them whatever support we can and pray for them.

 

Following are some links of interest to this ongoing story.  There are many more.

 

http://cropwatch.unl.edu/croprss/-/journal_content/56/1841/4969212?

http://www.cnn.com/2012/08/24/us/drought-missouri-dairy-farmers/index.html

http://www.agprofessional.com/news/Farmers-persevering-through-drought-167350075.html

http://farmprogress.com/customPage.aspx?p=382

http://science.time.com/2012/07/18/how-the-drought-of-2012-will-make-your-food-more-expensive/

http://www.businessinsider.com/photos-of-drought-devastating-american-farmland-2012-7?op=1

http://topics.nytimes.com/top/news/science/topics/drought/index.html

http://www.cbc.ca/news/technology/story/2012/08/23/f-drought-climate-change.html

http://www.fb.org/

 

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Dairy Farmers left out in the heat with no assistance from govt.

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August 26  |  crops, Dairy, Editorial, Farm, Latest News, Livestock, Opinion  |   Webmaster

“Where’s the Beef?”

Dairy Farmers left to fend for themselves while partisan politics delay the Farm Bill.

No emergency drought assistance forthcoming.

 

The drought pushed fifth-generation dairy farmer Mark Argall out of the business    photo by Brandon Ancil/CNN

 

Small and medium sized dairy farms are barely hanging on, while some are selling off parts of their herd and others unwillingly going out of business, while Capitol Hill drags it feet in passing the omnibus Farm Bill.

The Obama administration earlier this month announced emergency drought assistance that included low-interest emergency loans; a federal buy-up of meat from livestock producers; and the opening up of some protected lands for livestock grazing.

None of those efforts are targeted at dairy farmers, however, dairy advocates say.

Farmers in southern Missouri are selling of dairy cows because their fields have dried up. photo by Brandon Ancil / CNN

 

Missouri’s governor, meanwhile, created a cost-share program to help farmers get access to water for their cattle, but McCallister said that’s more of a Band-Aid than a real solution.

Michael Scuse, under-secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, said dairy farmers have not been offered enough of a safety net because Congress has not finalized an omnibus piece of legislation called the Farm Bill.

“Had we had a Farm Bill passed by now, there’s a very good chance we could offer some additional assistance” to dairy farmers who are struggling because of the drought, he said.

Several programs that deal with emergency assistance for livestock owners expired in September 2011; and an insurance program for livestock producers, which he said “never had adequate funding,” will be cut further in September and eliminated by October 1 unless new legislation is passed, he said.

 

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Pray for Farmers

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August 26  |  crops, Editorial, Farm, Latest News, Livestock  |   Webmaster

It might be a little late to pray for rain to save this year’s harvest, but not too late to pray for farmers and ranchers who are hurt by the lack of it. 

The American Farm Bureau Federation asked Americans to join them in a National Day of Prayer on Thursday, Aug. 23, for all those being affected by the drought. 

 

Let’s all continue to pray for those dedicated, hard-working people that grow our food and please spread the word.

“The farmer’s is a sacred calling because he is a collaborator with God in the work of His creation. … The farmer’s calling is one that must command great respect. Much knowledge and skill are required to manage well the farmstead with its land and fences, barns and granaries, tools, and machinery. Farming is among the greatest of human arts. The farmer must be an artisan and a craftsman, a capitalist, financier, manager, worker; a producer and a seller. He must know soil and seed, poultry and cattle; he must know when to till the soil, cultivate his fields, and harvest his crops. In the presence of his Lord the farmer should recall all this, not in a spirit of vainglory or pride, but in grateful appreciation of the calling that God gave him as a tiller of the soil. Praise and thanksgiving should rise in his heart as he reflects on the high regard the Lord has showered upon him and his work.”

(From Partnership with God, by the Most Reverend Aloisius J. Muench.)

 

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Drought in U.S.

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June 30  |  crops, Farm, Latest News, Livestock, Research  |   Webmaster

Extreme temperatures and lack of adequate rainfall are causing the drought situation to worsen throughout the the western states. 

Here is an overview of the past 6 weeks:

U.S. Drought Monitor

http://www.oxyblast.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/Drough-monitor-6_week.gif

You can also read more about this here:   http://www.agweb.com/article/14_states_that_need_a_drink/

 

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