How Do Organic Farms Keep Production Efficient?

Organic farming is becoming all the rage nowadays. You can’t go into any supermarket without finding information and products specifically made using organic methods. Organic farming is far different from any other type of production available. If the farm is certified USDA organic, they must follow strict regulations and guidelines in order to achieve and maintain that seal of approval. This means that the farm cannot use any type of chemical pesticide that is harmful to the environment and consumers’ health.

 

The problem with organic farming is that production can be slow and the yield of crops can be small because chemicals are not being used. The farm cannot use growth hormones or chemical growing agents because they will lose their USDA organic seal. Because of this, many farmers are using natural methods to grow their crops and keep the plants in good shape. There are many natural methods to get crops to grow stronger and for longer periods of time. Greenhouses are often used in organic farming because they use the natural sun to encourage growth and vitality. Because the plants are protected in a greenhouse, pests are often not an issue for these particular farmers.

 

Organic farming is more expensive to those working on the plants and this price is reflected in the product you’ll find in your local supermarket. It’s not uncommon to pay two or three times the price for organic produce than you’d pay for the chemical-riddled crop next to it. However, you can save money by visiting farmer’s markets and looking for supermarket sales and discounts specific to organic produce. Once you get in the habit of buying only GMO-free and organic products, you’ll find that going back to your old way of shopping seems “off”. You just won’t feel right buying chemical-produced items that you know are not healthy for your loved ones. While buying organic is more expensive and can be frustrating because crops are generally much smaller in size, it is well worth the price of admission when you look at all the health benefits of going on an all-organic diet.

 

Research Shows That Kid Gardeners Become Healthier Adults

There are numerous benefits to getting outside and planting a garden. First of all, not only will you be able to reap the benefits of your herbs, veggies and fruits in your own kitchen, but you’ll also be able to spend time in the great outdoors and away from screens and technology, which have worked their ways into almost every part of our lives. Gardening can even save you money on foods that would otherwise be expensive or hard to get at the supermarket.

 

These may appear to be the main reasons why people enjoy gardening and find it to be a worthwhile activity, but there may be one more reason too. It’s related to teaching children to garden.

 

New research from the University of Florida suggests that teaching children to garden and cultivate their own vegetables and fruits can help them to be healthier as they grow into young adults and adults.

 

The study specifically looked at college students who were taught to garden at a young age. Researchers examined how likely these students were to have healthy eating habits in college versus those college students who did not take part in gardening when they were young.

 

Overall, the study surveyed 1351 students at the University of Florida. In the end, it was found that those students who had been taught to garden as children ate approximately 15 percent more vegetables and fruits than those students who had never gardened when they were younger. This was true even when students were only eating at the dining hall and not preparing their own foods.

 

It seems that getting your hands dirty early on can be great for your health later in life. If you have children, consider cultivating their preference for homegrown vegetables and fruits, and you’ll see the benefits right now as well as down the line.

 

How does your Garden Grow? Does it Matter?

With recent advances in agriculture, you may find yourself scratching your head in the produce aisle. What’s the real scoop on GMOs, and is organic really better for you? Let’s explore the different choices you have when it comes to growing and purchasing fruits and vegetables.

 

Hydroponic

 

Hydroponic vegetables are grown in a liquid solution of water and nutrients. Of course, they’re nutritive value depends on the levels of nutrients they receive, but hydroponic vegetables have been found to have nutrient levels equal to or higher traditionally grown vegetables.

 

Organic

 

Organic vegetables are free from pesticides and artificial fertilizers. However, they are still exposed to environmental toxins if grown outdoors, and guidelines are relatively loose. You may be doing just as well to thoroughly rinse conventional produce.

 

Genetically Modified

 

GMOs are finally waning from the spotlight. After a large uproar and fears that changing a crops genetics could cause health problems and reduce taste, studies have shown the opposite. In fact, GMO crops are hardier and may be the answer to world hunger.

 

Your Garden, Your Choice

 

Absolutely continue researching healthy options, but don’t panic if you ingest produce of unknown origins. There’s no significant reason to scrutinize the fruit salad at the next barbecue you attend, or to spend extra money on your grocery bill. If you’re eating any sort of produce, you’re doing just fine.

 

Remember to wash your vegetables and fruit well, especially those that grow underground, as E.Coli can live in soil. You should also inspect produce for possible contamination by insects or mold prior to purchase.

 

While homegrown and wild produce may taste superior, don’t fret. You’ll still get the nutrients you need if you buy rather than grow.

 

Statistics Showing Increase In Crop And Pasture Land In Northwest And California

According to a recent survey and report by the United States Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service, agriculture land values have appreciated this year in the Northwest and California area. Evidence shows that there is an extremely tight regional supply of available land despite the fact that low commodity prices are bringing down the value of land in other areas.

The average value of land has decreased by $40 from last year. According to the report, the value of cropland this year is $4,090. In Idaho, the average cropland value increased by $100. It was a 3.1 percent increase to $3,300. In California, the average cropland price rose to $10,910 per acre. The new figure represented a 2.1 percent increase. Other regions that recorded a higher percentage increase in farmland value are Oregon and Washington. Oregon was up by 5 percent, while Washington rose by 4.9 percent. Their cropland value was $2,730 and $2,760 respectively.

The increase in cropland value was also consistent with the pasture values. Nationally, the average pasture value is $1,330 per acre. In Idaho, the pasture value is up by 4 percent, at $1,300 per acre. California recorded an increase by 3 percent as the pasture value was $2,700 per acre. The price per acre in Oregon and Washington increased by 3 percent and 2.4 percent in the two regions.

Ben Eborn, an economist at the University of Idaho Extension, said that the high commodity prices that inflated the market caused the first dip in national land values. The buyers were paying higher prices than they could generate from their land. Eborn predicted that the land values would probably go down in the coming years. Idaho farms did not inflate values at the rate that Midwestern farms did. Eborn said that many investors were leasing the land back to the growers who owned them before.

The Senior Vice President for Western Idaho, Doug Robson, stated that the employer’s internal data proved that the land values in the region have strengthened over the years. He attributed this to the state’s ability to attract investors, who could not find better alternatives to farm land. Doug anticipates that Idaho’s core growing areas will remain stable in the coming years.

 

 

Buyers Snap Up Farm Land With Prices Low

Prices for farms have continued to decline year after year but the land, when it goes to market, is quickly purchased by buyers. Most of the buyers of this farm land are local residents as opposed to speculators or those who buy and rent out farms to smaller tenants. Many feel that this is an overall more positive trend for a community and is helping to positively develop areas better than it might otherwise do so with more large scale commercial farms. In some cases these small farmers are even outbidding investors and hedge fund managers.

 

Many people are instead holding onto their farms and not putting it on the market in anticipation of improving future prices.

 

This trend is particularly true in the Midwest where low prices for the three products primarily grown here, wheat, corn, and soybeans, are only a third of their prior value and farmers are experiencing real challenges in making ends meet. Many are hoping for a rebound from these low prices which are mainly the result of production improvements in farming due to the heavy use of nitrogen to improve soil quality.

 

In Iowa, the Mecca of American farmland, prices are approximating $8,000 per acre of land. These prices represent a nine percent drop from earlier years and specifically from 2014. This is down from a peak of about $8,700 per acre in 2013. Iowa is the largest producer of corn and soybeans in the country.

 

Many owners of farmland will try to hold onto their land through thick and thin and pass it on to their heirs. Some do so for tax reasons and try to avoid the estate and gift tax. Others simply want to keep the farmland in their family line and pass down the property and way of life on to the next generation.

 

However, more so than anything else it is the unattractive nature of farmland to investors that is keeping the land out of the hands of speculators and in farmers hands. It would take a significant uptick in the cost of the underlying foods before speculators start to trade in farmland again. Tears of decline in prices have left them uninterested in investing in farmland though everyone realizes that farmland prices are cyclical.

 

Strict Regulations on Genetic Engineering

Genetic engineering is a topic that is constantly talked about in the farming and agricultural industry, based on the fact that there is so much controversy surrounding genetically modified crops. Like many issues that are heavily debated, there are two sides to the fence when it comes to GMOs. Opponents of the use of GMOs in our food believe that there are inherent risks to ingesting food that has been genetically modified. On the other hand, there are a lot of benefits that come with producing genetically modified food, primarily on the side of those that are producing the crops, as it is much easier and more predictable to tend to crops that have been genetically engineered. A great deal of guess factor is removed from the process when genetic factors have been modified, which is why it is so attractive to producers of various crops.

While it may provide a great advantage and be desirable to companies that would like to produce their food more efficiently and effectively, there are also a huge amount of regulations that come with producing genetically engineered crops. Over the last few months there’s been quite a bit of talk of draining the swamp, and this has been directly applicable to the discussion over genetic engineering. Many people are now calling to drain the swamp when it comes to erasing in eliminating laws that prevent genetic engineering, based mostly on the fact that it cost so much money to get over all the hurdles that come with working with genetically modified foods. Proponents for genetically modified food would like to see regulations dropped, which they feel would then put them in a great position to make more money and give a great boost to the agricultural industry. While it has been documented around the globe that genetically modified foods are for the most part completely safe for consumption, there’s no denying the fact that there is likely going to be a rocky road ahead when it comes to altering regulations that currently stand. As is with many industries, many of the bigger producers of crops are able to still get by with such regulations, while smaller producers are finding that the hurdles too great and are closing down their operations.

 

Bacteria Resistant Gene Discovered On Pig Farm

The battle against bacteria continues to falter, as a new bacteria resistant gene is detected on a United States pig farm. According to a published article appearing in the journal Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy, the bacterial gene resists the antibiotic class referred to as carbapenems. Carbapenems thwart germs that are resistant to existing drugs. Scientific research detected the harmful bacteria plasmids, which are segments of DNA. The discovery is the first occurrence of such a bacteria conjoined with transmissible carbapenem resistance, in the agricultural sector of the United States.

 

Despite the bad news associated with the discovery, the good news is that the bacterial germs, known as carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae, isn’t being detected in the fecal matter of the pig inventory scheduled to be slaughtered. For now, authorities don’t believe any pork products to be produced and shipped from the pig farms are contaminated.

 

Research co-author, Thomas Wittum of the Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine, commenting on the discovery, “We found no evidence that was happening at this farm, but we want to figure out how to be sure that doesn’t happen.” “These bacteria can be a reservoir of resistance genes that they can share with pathogens like salmonella, carbapenems are one of our most important life-saving antibiotics, so that bacteria are becoming resistant is extremely concerning,” according to Wittum.

 

The gene was accidentally discovered as Wittum and his associates conducted research about agricultural animals resistance to antibiotics. The research conducted over 150 days employed the consumer household electrostatic product, “Swiffer” and surgical gauze swabs. These items collected fecal matter from the housing structure of the pigs for testing.

 

There are other occurrences of similar bacteria being detected in American livestock. The most recent detection of the threatening bacteria appearing in fecal matter of cattle. To prevent the further outbreak of harmful resistant genes from threatening the United States livestock population, government agencies need to scrutinize swine farm operations, according to Wittum. Wittum believes hat the government and private agricultural livestock operations can implement measures to avoid harmful bacterial strains from spreading.

 

Otter Likely To Win Position at Head of Agriculture Department

The position of Department of Agriculture has not yet been filled in the Donald Trump Administration though there is an obvious candidate who the President Elect appears likely to fill the position with. That nominee is Butch Otter who is the running Governor of Idaho and is in his third term in the position.

 

Otter was outed as a likely candidate after a spokesman of his discussed his potential nomination on a Boise Idaho radio program. This initial report was later confirmed by another spokesman of his, John Hanian. Otter is currently 74 years old and is a long running Republican in a strongly republican state.

 

While Otter does not have strong ties to Trump his career was closely tied to Vice President Mike Pence who were both freshman in the House of Representatives in 2001. Otter also has experience in the potato industry having worked for 30 years for potato farming company Simplot International. He eventually became President of Simplot International, a company that was founded by his father-in-law. Otter later served in the House of Representatives for six years from 2001 to 2007.

 

Otter is still being vetted for the role which is an important position for the country as well as for the Republican party. A strong candidate can help the Republican candidate hold onto certain critical Mid-western swing states during the mid-term and 2020 election cycles like Iowa and Wisconsin. The secretary of Agriculture in the United States is in charge of the Department of Agriculture and is responsible for both the development and execution of laws that are connected with farming and agriculture, food, and the preparation of food.

 

Butch was not a Trump supporter during the Republican primary and instead supported John Kaisch, but later supported Trump in his Presidential campaign against Democrat Hillary Clinton. Trump has tended to lean towards party Republicans as part of his nominations for the various departments that he has filled instead of a pure allegiance to those who supported him during his nomination, which has been viewed as a step of maturation by many political observers.

 

Trump is still in the process of vetting him for role and is also considering Idaho Representative Raul Labrador. There was no indication of his other competition for the role.

 

 

Statistics Showing Increase In Crop And Pasture Land In Northwest And California

According to a recent survey and report by the United States Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service, agriculture land values have appreciated this year in the Northwest and California area. Evidence shows that there is an extremely tight regional supply of available land despite the fact that low commodity prices are bringing down the value of land in other areas.

The average value of land has decreased by $40 from last year. According to the report, the value of cropland this year is $4,090. In Idaho, the average cropland value increased by $100. It was a 3.1 percent increase to $3,300. In California, the average cropland price rose to $10,910 per acre. The new figure represented a 2.1 percent increase. Other regions that recorded a higher percentage increase in farmland value are Oregon and Washington. Oregon was up by 5 percent, while Washington rose by 4.9 percent. Their cropland value was $2,730 and $2,760 respectively.

The increase in cropland value was also consistent with the pasture values. Nationally, the average pasture value is $1,330 per acre. In Idaho, the pasture value is up by 4 percent, at $1,300 per acre. California recorded an increase by 3 percent as the pasture value was $2,700 per acre. The price per acre in Oregon and Washington increased by 3 percent and 2.4 percent in the two regions.

Ben Eborn, an economist at the University of Idaho Extension, said that the high commodity prices that inflated the market caused the first dip in national land values. The buyers were paying higher prices than they could generate from their land. Eborn predicted that the land values would probably go down in the coming years. Idaho farms did not inflate values at the rate that Midwestern farms did. Eborn said that many investors were leasing the land back to the growers who owned them before.

The Senior Vice President for Western Idaho, Doug Robson, stated that the employer’s internal data proved that the land values in the region have strengthened over the years. He attributed this to the state’s ability to attract investors, who could not find better alternatives to farm land. Doug anticipates that Idaho’s core growing areas will remain stable in the coming years.

 

 

DEVELOPMENT OF GENETICALLY ADAPTED SWEET POTATOES

According to Charles Choi, humans did not create the genetically modified sweet potatoes. He believes that the bacterial genes found in sweet potatoes are as a result of genes introduced by microbes. These transgenes offer attractive characteristics for domestication.

Initially, a sweet potato was a traditional domesticated crop found on the West side of South America and Mexico http://blog.pnas.org/2015/04/journal-club-cultivated-sweet-potatoes-were-genetically-modified-naturally/. However, it’s still a staple food crop in parts of Africa, Pacific Island, and Asia. These are the places where sweet potatoes circulated widely even before the Europeans could bring back meals to various regions of the continent. Despite the name sweet potato, this crop is different from the yam but closely related to a potato.

After doing an extensive research on sweet potatoes for viral material, Jan Kreuze, an established plant virologist in Lima, Peru school of International Potato Center, and his team discovered a genetic sequence from Agrobacteria. This genus bacterium transfers DNA into genomes of infected plants. Plant biotechnologists used this ability to create a hereditary modified plant.

It is quite difficult to understand or believe that the new found bacterial DNA is merely a bacterial infection by other plant samples. To clear things up, Kreuze, Lieve Gheysen, a potato molecular scientist and his group came up with the aid of study that explored the transfer of DNA sequences into detail. They collected 291 models of refined plants from Africa, Asia, Oceania, and America and analyzed them.

The results indicated the existence of a binary Agrobacterium T-DNA section in the genomes of genetically modified plants. The bacterium was only present in the cultivated crops, but not on the uninhabited ones. After analyzing the plant, the team came up with ten different genes in T-DNAs. These genes produced plant hormones that tamper with the plant cells sensitivity forming Auxins.

Auxins work to stimulate root growth. T-DNA facilitates growth and development resulting in the development of an entirely different sweet potato. A farmer can cultivate sweet potatoes using vegetative propagation method. This method is done by cutting the stem from its vines which develop roots to create new plants. Trying to figure out the role of T-DNA in the plant is not easy. However, there are some copies of these genes in refined sweet potatoes that require a farmer to remove.