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Clemson Technology can Lead to Higher-yielding Fields


Agricultural engineers at Clemson University have developed technology to tell farmers exactly where to apply fertilizers to their hay fields and how much to use to maximize profits. One technology installs on a round hay baler’s hydraulic kicker and weighs round bales as they are ejected from the machine. The other uses ultrasonic sensors that mount on the tongue of any baler and continuously measure height of the windrow – a row of cut hay – as the harvester rolls through the field.

Windrow height can be correlated to hay yield. Most growers blanket fertilizers over fields, not accounting for high-yielding spots that pull more nutrients from the soil, as a result, the best spots in a field may underperform the following year because they are nutrient-deficient. Conversely, these blanket fertilizer treatments lead to over-application in parts of the field that, for varying reasons, do not produce strong yields. Yield monitors can improve that by allowing for variable rate applications throughout a field.

Farm-to-School Program Awards Students in Calendar Contest

Thirteen elementary school students’ art pieces have been chosen for the North Carolina Farm to School 2016-2017 calendar. This marks the sixth year for the popular contest.

The Farm to School program began in 1997 as a collaborative effort of the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Food Distribution and Marketing divisions. The two divisions work together to secure orders from child nutrition directors and then source and deliver locally grown fruits and vegetables for school lunch programs. During the 2015-2016 school year, the program generated nearly $1.3 million with participation by 87 school districts statewide.

National Farmers Union Defends Farmers at Hearing

The Senate Agriculture Committee held a hearing this week to discuss challenges and opportunities in the poultry and livestock sectors. The National Farmers Union defended much-needed market relief efforts because of the current low prices and a consolidated market facing farm families. Producers faced a drop in beef prices last year despite forecasts of higher than average prices. USDA forecasts show lower prices and higher beef production into 2017, and NFU President Roger Johnson said that will make it tough for producers to recover financial losses from the recent decline. The situation is more troubling because of a sharp decline in the number of fami ly farmers and ranchers over the last decade due to a heavily concentrated cattle market. That makes it tougher for independent producers competing against packers.

Some Reasons Why Meat and Poultry Retail Prices are Down

Annemarie Kuhns, USDA food price economist, gives some reasons why supplies of meat and poultry are higher than a year ago and retail prices are lower.

“The pork industry has been recovering from the porcine epidemic diarrhea virus, the cattle industry has been recovering from the droughts, they’ve been expanding their herd sizes.  But, we’ve also been impacted by other factors, such as the strength of the US dollar, which has decreased the price of the beef that we import, but also decreased the demand of our exports.  So, it’s putting more of these meats on the US market, which has put downward pressure on prices.  And then, also, we’ve seen much lower fuel costs, that’s been affecting transportation costs, again putting downward pressure on the prices we pay at the grocery store.”

Study Finds Gap on GMO Food Knowledge

A new study from the University of Florida finds that consumers are aware of genetically modified crops and food, but their knowledge level is limited and often doesn’t match up with the facts. Brandon McFadden published the study showing that scientific fact often does not change consumer impressions on GMO foods. The study came about because consumer polls are often cited in the GMO debate, especially as it relates to labeling.  The questions were on consumers’ knowledge of genetically modified organisms as well as what they believe about GMO’s. The results led McFadden to find that consumers don’t know as much about genetically modified crops and foods as they may think they do.'

A native of the Texas Panhandle, Rhonda was born and raised on a cotton farm where she saw cotton farming evolve from ditch irrigation to center pivot irrigation and harvest trailers to modules. After graduating from Texas Tech University, she got her start in radio with KGNC News Talk 710 in Amarillo, Texas.