Tips

Spring 2005

Pre-Sowing Carrot Seed on Toilet Paper
Quenching Plants’ Thirst – Below Ground
Farmers Need Incentives to Conserve Water
Once-a-Day, CSA Cows?
New England Field Representative Joins AFT Staff
Less Natural Immunity in Cloned Pigs
Meat Goat Market Grows and Improves
Apples Protect Against Digestive Cancers
Nutrition.gov – Information on Healthy Eating, Nutrition, Obesity Prevention
 

Pre-Sowing Carrot Seed on Toilet Paper

A reader asked for details about sowing carrot seeds on toilet paper, mentioned in Effie Elfer’s feature, “Agricultural Systems in an Old Believers’ Village in Siberia” (The MOF&G, Sept.-Nov. 2004). Here they are:

In the winter Larissa [Elfer’s host] makes seed mats for her carrots by wetting toilet paper with a light coat of flour and water – like making a paper maché paste. She then spaces individual seeds on the paper and allows the “glue” to dry. In the spring, she just wets the paper and lays it in the soil, covered slightly. This method of seeding saves labor and time. The carrot seeds are not wasted by planting too many and later thinning. Labor is saved by not having to thin, and the carrots grow larger because they don’t have to compete for space from the start. – Effie Elfer

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Quenching Plants’ Thirst – Below Ground

About a decade ago, scientists with the Agricultural Research Service showed that subsurface drip irrigation of tomatoes, cotton and corn can provide higher yields while using less water than other systems. This environmentally friendly technology employs an underground network of sturdy, flexible, black tubing to carry water to plant roots, where they need it most. Buried irrigation systems enable growers to send precise amounts of water and fertilizers to roots, reducing the chance of overfertilizing, runoff, and wasting water. Also, water applied underground is protected from direct exposure to sun and wind, so less is lost to evaporation; and by keeping the soil surface dry, plant pathogens that thrive in moist soil are less common. Source: Agricultural Research Service News Service, USDA; (301) 504-1662; Marcia [email protected]; December 14, 2004.

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Farmers Need Incentives to Conserve Water

In a world plagued by water shortages, three facts stand out in an analysis by Cornell University ecologists: Less than 1% of water on the planet is fresh water; agriculture in the United States consumes 80% of available fresh water each year; and 60% of U.S. water intended for crop irrigation never reaches the crops. “Water Resources: Agricultural and Environmental Issues” (BioScience, Vol. 54, No. 10, Oct. 2004) names farmers as “the prime target for incentives to conserve water.” The report particularly criticizes of irrigation practices in the United States, where subsidized “cheap water” offers scant incentive for conservation. “Part of the problem is the decision by farmers on what to grow where,” says David Pimentel, a Cornell professor who led nine student ecologists through an exhaustive analysis of research conducted at other institutions and government agencies. “We learned, for example, that to produce wheat using irrigation requires three times more fossil energy than producing the same quantity of rain-fed wheat. The next time you make a sandwich, think about this: One pound of bread requires 250 gallons of water to produce the grains that go into the bread.” Source: ATTRA Weekly Harvest Newsletter, Oct. 27, 2004, https://attra.ncat.org/newsletter/archives.html; www.news.cornell.edu/releases/Oct04/water_resources.hrs.html.

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Once-a-Day, CSA Cows?

A story by the Kitchen Sisters, Davia Nelson and Nikki Silva, on NPR’s Morning Edition (Dec. 17, 2004) told of the Apple family and their neighbors outside Indianapolis. Mark and Debbie Apple were selling raw milk when they found out – through a cease-and-desist order – that they were violating state law, but drinking raw milk from your own cow is legal in Indiana. So … 53 families now own shares in 11 cows who board at the Apples’ farm. The cows are raised without synthetic chemicals, hormones or unnecessary antibiotics. The idea of CSA cows is delicious in itself, but also worth noting is that, for the comfort of the family and their cows, the Apples milk only once a day. If thoughts of 5 a.m. and 5 p.m. milking have kept you from keeping a cow or a small herd, maybe once-a-day milking and a CSA herd are ideas to consider. For more, see www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId= 4230005.

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New England Field Representative Joins AFT Staff

To enhance its farmland conservation work in New England, American Farmland Trust (AFT) has hired Jesse Robertson-DuBois as its New England Field Representative. Robertson-DuBois will work with local officials, agricultural landowners and conservation organizations in New England on projects that support farmland conservation, environmental stewardship, farm viability and planning related to agriculture. Robertson-DuBois has worked for AFT’s national Farmland Information Center since 1999, monitoring state and local farmland protection activities, conducting farmland protection policy research, and educating local officials, landowners and citizens about farmland protection techniques. He earned his degree from Hampshire College in Amherst, Mass., where he studied agricultural and environmental history with additional coursework in regional planning. Robertson-DuBois also operates a diversified family farm with his wife and brother, raising certified organic vegetables and grass-fed livestock products for local customers. Their farm is permanently protected from development by an agricultural preservation restriction held by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Robertson-DuBois can be reached at 413-586-4593 ext. 21 or [email protected].

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Less Natural Immunity in Cloned Pigs

Studies by scientists with the USDA and the University of Missouri indicate that the natural immune system of young cloned pigs does not appear to fight diseases as effectively as the immune system of non-cloned pigs. Scientists gave a naturally occurring toxin called lipopolysaccharide to seven young, cloned pigs and 11 genetically similar, non-cloned pigs. Although the non-cloned pigs’ immune response was adequate, the cloned pigs’ did not produce sufficient quantities of natural proteins called cytokines, which fight infections. Animals must have an adequate cytokine response to survive infections. Cloned pigs and cows have had more deaths than normal around the time of birth. Many die from bacterial infections. The cloned pigs were used only for research and are not part of the food supply. Source: ARS News Service, Agricultural Research Service, USDA; David Elstein, (301) 504-1654, [email protected]; October 26, 2004.

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Meat Goat Market Grows and Improves

Meat goats are among the fastest-growing sectors of the livestock industry, with demand fueled by Muslims and other ethnic populations, according to a Chicago Tribune article posted by The Billings Gazette. No taboos exist against eating goats, and the animals do well in many conditions. Several states are encouraging producers to tap into the growing market. The Boer goat species has been introduced specifically as a meat breed. In Texas, the state that produces the most meat goats in the country, researchers are improving genetics of Boer goats, says The North Texas E-News. The Boer Goat Improvement Network (BGIN) was initiated by the American Boer Goat Association and the Texas Agricultural Experiment Station to help breeders evaluate a goat’s genetic potential as a parent. The program aims to improve the genetics of the breed industry-wide by selecting for seven desirable traits. Source: ATTRA Weekly Harvest Newsletter, Dec. 22, 2004, https://attra.ncat.org; See also ATTRA Publication: “Sustainable Goat Production: Meat Goats.”

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Apples Protect Against Digestive Cancers

Eating more fiber- and phytonutrient-rich fruits and vegetables – including flavonoids found most abundantly in apples – may significantly reduce the risk of developing digestive cancers. Digestive cancers are those of the pharynx, esophagus, stomach, colon and rectum and account for 23% of new cancer cases worldwide. They don’t develop from exposure to carcinogens but primarily from cell damage. Professor Ian Johnson of the United Kingdom’s Institute for Food Research reviewed epidemiological literature regarding digestive cancers and concluded that better diet – especially diets rich in micronutrients, fiber and plant-based phytonutrients, including flavonoids – can significantly help reduce the human toll caused by these cancers. His analysis was recently published in the peer-reviewed journal Mutation Research. Apples are one of the richest fruit sources of dietary fiber, and one of the leading sources of phytonutrients among all plant foods. One medium apple contains five grams of fiber, 20% of the recommended daily value. Source: Agriculture Today, Maine Dept. of Ag., Jan. 10, 2005; www.maine.gov/agriculture/newsletter.

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Nutrition.gov – Information on Healthy Eating, Nutrition, Obesity Prevention

A Web site launched in December helps people answer nutrition- and food-related questions. The site, www.nutrition.gov, is a comprehensive source of information on nutrition and dietary guidance from multiple government agencies. It includes databases, recipes, interactive tools and special information for infants and children, adult women and men and seniors. Source: Agricultural Research Service News Service, USDA; Len Carey, 301-504-5564, [email protected]; December 22, 2004

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