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Save Gas Money
Driving at 50 miles per hour will use approximately 85% of the amount of gas required to drive at 65 miles per hour.
Source: Extension Perspectives, Waldo County Cooperative Extension, January 2004.
The Energy Efficiency of HorsesThe energy input required by a diesel tractor running on farmstead soybean oil equals that of a team of horses, according to the Land Institute in Kansas. However, the horses can replace themselves, while the tractor cannot; and the horses consume more types of feed, so are less susceptible to drought. The big energy consumer on the farm, however, is the farm pickup truck.
Source: New Connections, Winter 2003, Regional Farm & Food Project, Troy, N.Y.; www.capital.net/farmfood/; extracted from Stockman Grassfarmer, Jan. 2003.
Geese and Sheep Weed Blueberry Fields
You may have noticed unusual, rather short (12- to 18-inch), "blonde" grasses in blueberry fields in the fall. In many cases the grasses are out-competing and suffocating
the blueberry plants, and fields may appear to be unsalvageable. But at least one clean alternative to spraying herbicides exists: Use sheep and geese. Before Velpar and other "miracle" poisons entered our ecosystems, people ran sheep and geese on their blueberry fields. These two species are the best: Not only are they extremely hardy, but grasses are their preferred food. Sheep will also eat hardhack and hardwood sprouts, as well as cedar and St. John's wort (a useful herb but considered a weed by the industrial growers), but they do prefer grasses. Geese will eat mostly grasses, especially new grasses. So, run the sheep and/or geese on the fields to eat grasses and other plants until the blueberries are nearly ripe, then rotate the animals to other pastures. The free feed from the blueberry fields will grow wool, lambs, baby geese and down, which means food for us and wool and down, so that we can re-create the farm-based livelihoods that were here not long ago.
--Nancy Oden, Jonesboro, Maine
Promoting Farmersí Markets
Here are a few ideas for promoting farmersí markets from New Connections (late summer 2003) from the Regional Farm & Food Project in Troy, N.Y. (www.capital.net/~farmfood/):
--Free theater performances for children--while parents shop;
--Cooking demonstrations by chefs;
--Animal day, with chickens, calves, etc.;
--Childrenís art activities;
--Singing and street performances;
--A weekly newspaper column featuring a farmer or performer and promoting the importance of buying from local growers.
Why Start a School Garden?
A 25-page School Garden Subcommittee report from Slow Food U.S.A. is available at www.slowfoodusa.org.
Brix to the Rescue?
Brix, named for the 19th-century chemist Adolf Brix, measures the density of plant juices and is affected by sugars and other soluble solids in plants. It is measured with a refractometer. Brix--and flavor--may increase as soil organic matter, plant spacing, watering and photosynthesis are optimized. Foliar feeding with dilute nutrient solutions, such as a liquid seaweed/fish mixture or compost tea, may increase Brix as well as resistance to pests and to low temperatures (including frost). Foliar feeding should be done in the morning or evening, should include a surfactant and should target both sides of leaves. One grower noted that Colorado potato beetles stopped eating his plants when leaf sap reached 15 Brix.
Source: Growing for Market, July 2003; www.growingformarket.com; 1-800-307-8949.
Capture Cow Urine
Cow urine can be a problematic waste on dairy farms--or it can be a resource, if enough straw or sawdust bedding is used to capture it. A little rock phosphate in the gutter or ally will help by combining with the nitrogen in urine. Straw, with its tube-like nature, helps conduct air into manure piles, and its alkalinity is preferable to the acid nature of wood products.
Source: "How are Farms Treating the Soil and What is True Conservation?" by Jack Lazor, New Connections, Late Summer 2003, Regional Farm & Food Project, Troy, N.Y.; www.capital.net/farmfood/; adapted from Lazorís article in the Aug. 2003 NODPA News from the Northeast Organic Dairy Producers Assoc., www.nodpa.org.
Weed Info on the Web
Thanks to Cornell researcher Chuck Mohler, the life cycles of some weeds, their ecology, control and more can be found at www.css.cornell.edu/weedeco.
Sustainable Agriculture Network
From designing profitable rotations and building healthy soil to controlling weeds and pests, this 32-page color bulletin lays out many promising strategies to convert successfully, including special sections on livestock production and profiles of four diverse organic producers. Typical organic farming production practices, innovative marketing ideas, new federal standards for certified organic crop production, and specific considerations for transition are also addressed. Preview or download the entire publication at www.sare.org/bulletin/organic/organic2003.pdf. Order free print copies by calling the Sustainable Agriculture Network at 301/504-5236 or email firstname.lastname@example.org>. Agricultural educators may place orders for print copies in quantity for upcoming winter conferences, workshops, or other events.
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