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MOF&G Cover Spring 2012


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Japanese beetles
English photo.

Fish Oil vs. Japanese Beetles
Fish Bones Bind Lead in Soils
Late Blight Resistant Tomatoes
Cows Trained to Eat Thistle

Fish Oil vs. Japanese Beetles

Last year I used Crocker's Fish Oil as a spreader-sticker in a pyrethrin-based spray to control Japanese beetles. Wondering whether the oil alone might have controlled the beetle, I sprayed my pole beans in 2011 with only a Crocker's-based spray. The results were not completely conclusive, but I did notice a marked decrease in the damage caused by the beetles. In prior years certain areas of plants would be covered with clusters of beetles as if they were having a party at those particular sites. This year I purposely did not spray certain areas with Crocker's, and those unsprayed areas had clusters of beetles, while sprayed parts of the bean plants had only small, isolated infestations. The mode of action is unclear, but I suggest that the beetles give off a sex pheromone when they congregate, which in turn attracts more beetles to the "party.” The Crocker's may well mask that pheromone to prevent this clustering.

– Adam Tomash, West Gardiner, Maine


Fish Bones Bind Lead in Soils

An Oakland, California, community, with EPA help, is mixing fishbone meal with soil to control lead contamination. As the bones degrade, phosphates released from them bind with lead to form a reportedly harmless mineral, even if consumed. (“To Nullify Lead, Add a Bunch of Fish Bones,” by Felicity Barringer, The New York Times, July 20, 2011;


Late Blight Resistant Tomatoes

Trouble with late blight? Try growing ‘Defiant’ and ‘Legend’ tomatoes. MOFGA members Mike and Margie Shannon said ‘Legend’ did well for them last summer.

Cows Trained to Eat Thistle

A Montana Farmers Union pilot program trained cattle to eat Canada thistle by giving them a variety of feed grain pellets or flakes, in a trough or feeder (not on the ground), and providing the chopped weed once the cattle were accustomed to new tastes and textures.

The five-day training schedule follows:

Day 1, a.m. – alfalfa pellets
Day 1, p.m. – half alfalfa pellets, half COB (corn, oats and barley)

Day 2, a.m. – COB with molasses flavor
Day 2, p.m. – rolled barley

Day 3, a.m. – sugar beet pellets
Day 3, p.m. – soybean flake

Day 4, a.m. – range cubes
Day 4, p.m. – hay cubes about 3 inches square

Day 5, a.m. – hay mixed with thistle, sprayed with molasses water
Day 5, p.m. – thistle

After day 5, the cattle began eating thistle in the fields. Ten days later, all Canada thistle tops had been chewed or eaten, and some non-trained cattle began eating thistles as well.

Using similar training, the Natural Resources Conservation Service trained cattle in Montana to eat leafy spurge. Both spurge and thistle are high in protein.

Target weeds must be correctly identified to be sure they’re not toxic to cattle.

This system of training livestock to eat particular weeds was developed by Kathy Voth of Livestock for Landscapes, LLC. Her website, www.livestockforlandscapes.com, has more information and a link to her book, Cows Eat Weeds, How to Turn Your Cows into Weed Managers.

(“Cattle can be trained to eat weeds, control noxious growth,” by Terri Adams, Ag Weekly, Dec. 29, 2011;



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