Puerto Rican Farmers Look To Rebuild After Hurricanes

Puerto Rico’s farmers were devastated by the impacts of both Hurricane Irma and then Hurricane Marie. The aftermath of the two hurricanes wiped out almost 80% of the total crop value on the island. Experts forecast that restoring Puerto Rico’s agriculture sector could take anywhere from 10 months to a year or more.

Farmers in Puerto Rico have clearly taken a heavy loss from this year’s hurricane season. One such farmer is Rene Cruz. Before the hurricanes struck the island, Cruz said that he had 68 acres of land under cultivation. Now, he has nothing left. What is devastating for farmers like Rene Cruz is that his family’s livelihood depends on what he can grow and then sell to customers. The only thing that Rene Cruz has left to sell now is a few crops that he managed to salvage such as bruised plantains and some oranges.

A bright side to this story of loss is that the United States Federal Government is stepping up to help farmers such as Mr. Cruz whose farms and livelihood were devastated by the hurricanes. They will be providing disaster assistance money to help pay for the cost of cleanup and to help him purchase new seeds for next year’s crop. Another plus to Rene Cruz was that he managed to have his farm insured. Unfortunately, the cost of damage was so high that the insurance company has refused to pay for all the damages incurred.

A downside to the story is that despite promises of help from the federal government to farmers, many of them have not received any aid. One of the reasons why this has happened is because many of Puerto Rico’s rural and agrarian areas are still without functioning communications network. These farmers have been unable to be in contact with disaster relief officials which has hampered them from receiving aid. As Puerto Rico regains electricity and telecommunications, more and more people should get aid.

How Agricultural Technology Is Improving Efficiency in Farming

The agricultural technology industry is growing at a very fast pace. Drones are now being used to collect data from farms, and this is proving to be very efficient as drones are fast and not expensive to use. This is also one of the reasons why the number of farmers who are using drone technology is growing by the day. Many companies are gaining interest in the agricultural technology field because of the potential in the industry. Besides drones and robotics, companies are also specializing in smart irrigation and sensors among other categories of agricultural technology.

The developments in the industry are bound to have a huge impact on farming and agriculture all over the world. This is because it will be easier for farmers to collect information about soil conditions, climate, and so much more, which will enable them to make more informed decisions and ultimately result in better produce, both in terms of quality and quantity. Tasks that previously needed several workers and so much time to complete can now be done in less time and without the need for so many workers.

Farmers will, therefore, be able to make huge savings on labor costs thanks to the advancements in agricultural technology. This is especially so for very big farms which can be difficult to manage if everything is done manually. All farm activities will be streamlined and everything will be done much more efficiently with agricultural technology. Some of the equipment that is already being used by farmers all over the world includes automatic planters and automatic harvesters.

Conclusion

Farmers are already enjoying the immense benefits of advancements in agricultural technology. With more companies joining the field, things are only bound to get better. And everyone will benefit from this because the quality of produce will improve and the cost savings will definitely be passed on to consumers.

Pesticides vs Farmers

Deciding if you want to eat foods grown on farms and pastures, some may recommend doing a fair share of research. In that case, according to recent research, an article from New York Times stated there is a pair of lists organizing the cleanest and dirtiest fruits and vegetables based on their levels of pesticides. Along with this, they mention the natural differences between them based on the outer layer of the food itself. How does this affect agriculture? The use of pesticides helps aid in the upkeep and growing of those crops on the farmlands.
When buyers hear the term, “Pesticide” they usually run for the hills due to the controversial reputation surrounding it. The main purposes for these chemicals are to maintain the fruits and vegetables grown on the fields and ensure they are grown to their ripest states. With many insects thriving on farmlands, it is difficult to keep the number of crops high enough to make a profit. Therefore, pesticides are used to fight off those bugs that feed off the fruits being grown, keeping the total number of crops high enough to profit. Caterpillars, for instance, maintain life by consuming these fruits, without those insecticides, there would not be enough foods to send off to the buyers. Meaning, the less they sell to consumers, the less money these farmers make.
Continuing, with the facts and opinions swirling around the use of pesticides, do they actually get into our fruits and vegetables? According to the article titled, “Do Pesticides Get Into the Flesh of Fruits and Vegetables?” from New York Times, they could! On the contrary, the thicker the fruit may be, the less likely it will be more contaminated than other fruits, such as a cantaloupe (cleaner fruits list)! Thin skinned fruits (strawberries and apples) tend to be on the dirtier fruits due to the amount of pesticide entering the flesh of the fruits. While these farmers grow and maintain the life of your foods, smart buying and thorough washing of the fruits begin your own journey!

Farming With No Insurance

Agriculture is a very important part of our society. It is what helps to create crops and many other things that we use every single day. Farming takes a lot of hard labor and a lot of time, and farmers expend a lot of their time and energy to conserve their farms. People who own farms use that as their source of income. They have an abundant amount of animals in which they take care of on the farm, and use in order to get food resources.

Because the farmers use this as their main source of income, it is hard for them to get and maintain health insurance. Most families obtain health insurance by working for a corporation full time, and because farmers are self-employed they carry the burden of purchasing health insurance on their own. This is the reason that most farmers operate without health insurance. They make sure to at least carry insurance on their farms, tools, and livestock.

With the life of a farmer being such a risk, the insurance is more expensive as well. Farmers have to work with very dangerous equipment every day. If a farmer gets severely injured or ill, it is very possible and likely that he and his family will lose the farm. Because this is a known issue among the farming community, the government created something to try and help called the Affordable Care Act. This act provided different and new options of insurance for the farmers to choose from, while being more affordable than it was in the past. However, the Affordable Care Act is still not as affordable as most farmers would like. This act is an excellent advancement towards what farmers need, and shows promise for the future that farmers will be able to obtain the coverage they need, and keep their farms.

Going Towards Ecological Farming

A majority of the food today is created through the means of industrialized farming. Industrialized farming fundamentally shapes our farms into factories. The farms are run like factories due to the requirement of artificial composts, biochemical insecticides, hefty quantities of irrigation H2O, and vestige fuels that help create innately altered harvests and cattle. As a result industrial farming is diminishing the country’s topsoil at a dangerous rate. Due to the dangerous rate experts are declaring that the nation has less than 60 harvests remaining if there is not a change towards more ecological agriculture practices. The constant use of insecticides on pastures is killing our soils, water structures, and our air we inhale daily. A study has been done that indicates about 93% of Americans are glyphosate positive. Glyphosate is a prominently squirted herbicide. There are some basic ways to maintain ecological agriculture rather than agriculture that is factory based.

Organic Farming

Making farms more prolific by increasing more sustenance per acre is a beneficial step towards organic farming. A change towards more organic techniques for farming can help a farm to increase in profitability. Organic farming is also beneficial because it can generate greater nutrient condensed harvest that is not innately altered. Generating greater nutrient condensed harvest is a fantastic benefit for our atmosphere.

Usage

Using lunar power-driven wireless devices can provide harvests with great exactitude when being watered. This enables huge savings on water usage. Dry farming is also a technique being practiced. Dry farming enables plants to be nourished without using water.

Soil

Organic farming helps to stimulate vigorous soil. Healthy soil promotes several functions to occur such as cycling, water purification, and water preservation. For more information regarding farming and soil follow this link.

In conclusion, organic farming provides an ecological prospect for the environment.

Tennessee Banning Common Pesticide

Human exposure to certain pesticides can worsen health, and cause a number of diseases. A Reuters article, posted on Reddit explains how Tennessee has enforced new regulations on the use of a Monsanto pesticide, Dicamba. This pesticide is a weed killer, and also used for pest control systems, but unfortunately, should only be used on genetically modified crops.

Four states have now banned Dicamba, including Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri, and now Tennessee. Many farmers today plant genetically modified crops that can withstand pesticides, but one of the problems with spraying pesticides is the drifting to nearby communities. This drifting causes damages to neighbor crops that are not genetically modified, and farmers are now embroiled in lawsuits. And it’s not just farming communities, but residential neighbors are sustaining damages on their small vegetable gardens and lush landscapes. The results are that these small vegetable gardens are no longer viable, and create additional costs.

A Missouri farmer, Hunter Raffety says “We’ve sustained acres of damage across the soybeans we farm.” Monsanto’s spokesman and chief technology officer, Robb Fraley blames the problem on user error, explaining that farmers are not handling the dicamba pesticide correctly, or not following application instructions. He also commented that farmers could also be purchasing cheaper and older formulas of dicamba that are more likely to drift. According to Chris Chinn, the Missouri Director of Agriculture, the companies producing these weed killers with dicamba pesticide have agreed to new safeguards.

In the United States, there are approximately 80,000 registered chemicals utilized, but most of us have no idea about the amount of pesticides used. And in the real world,however, most of these pesticides are used in combination with other chemical compounds. Unfortunately, we don’t have a clue about the synergies between these chemicals, and how they can affect us in our homes.

Haitian Graduates Enroll in United States Universities to Better their Agriculture Skills

U.S. Feed the Future is committed to ensuring that there is sufficient food across the globe and it has an initiative in Hawaii that is called Appui à la Recherche et au Développement Agricole. The foundation recently offered to support the training of more Haitian extension and research professionals by paying the tuition fees of 20 Haitian graduates to attend the University of Illinois, University of Florida (UF), and Louisiana State University for their master’s degrees in agriculture.

 

The Haitian students need to learn English before they enroll in the universities. Twelve of them left the country on May 20th to better their English skills before August 2017 when they will be joining the Louisiana State University and the University of Florida. Two Haitian students were sponsored by the organization to join the University of Florida. The units that the masters’ students will be studying include nutrient management, post-harvest technology for essential food crops, control of pests and diseases in sorghum and rice, increasing water use efficiency, and bettering crop productivity by utilizing climate-smart production methods. The remaining six graduates will be enrolling in universities by the end of the coming fall.

 

One of the U.S. Feed the Future sponsored students will work under the supervision of two Tropical Research and Education Center-based researchers. His primary field of study will be on the main factors that influence banana farming in Montrouis, Arcahaie, and Cabaret. The researchers had a meeting with the chair of MARNDR’s department of plant production and FAMV’s assistant dean for research when they visited Haiti in April 2017. They had extensive discussions about their research undertakings.

 

The students will interact a lot with the Haitian public and private agriculture sectors during their time in the United States. Their research work will be essential in the ensuring agriculture modernization and offering guidance that can assist farmers in ensuring that there is food security in the country. All the Haitian students will work under the supervision of an agriculture professional from their county until they complete their research.

 

Agribusiness Industry Welcomes Trump’s Focus on American Waterways

President Trump’s initiative to highlight America’s crumbling infrastructure this week has reminded the agribusiness sector on the importance of water for farmers. Not the water to grow the produce, but the water used to move crops to the world’s export market.

 

  1. S. farmers and agribusiness sector depend heavily on an aging river system to move grains and produce to the global export market. The nation’s river ways have not seen structural changes or updates to their lock and dam systems in over 50 years.

 

Agribusiness grain exports such as Cargill, Inc. and Archer Daniel Midland have experienced frequent breakdowns and idled boat crews which add to the transportations cost, reports the Wall Street Journal.

 

The Trump Administration is proposing to help finance $1 trillion in infrastructure projects for the nation’s airports, seaports, and bridges. American farmers are hoping some of this proposed spending will fix the 242 locks and dams along America’s rivers.

 

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is the federal agency charged with maintaining American riverways. The agency released its proposed 2018 fiscal year budget which includes $2.098 billion for “the study, design, construction, operation, and maintenance of inland and coastal navigation projects. Small ports and riverways with the most active commercial traffic are a priority in the proposed budget.

 

The Waterways Council, Inc., which has been advocating for infrastructure spending on inland waterways, has estimated that $8.7 billion is needed immediately to begin to address the poorly maintained lock and dam system.

 

“Our majestic waterways deliver grain, construction material, and energy products,” states the WCI. “They power commerce, provide jobs, and are a farmer’s lifeline.”

 

Terracing Techniques Retaught on Italy’s Cinque Terre Coast

Lying on the northern coast of Italy, the region of Cinque Terre has become one of the most famous tourist sites in the country. Recently, this area has been attracting more than just tourists. A UNESCO-funded program to help teach the art of terracing has been developed in the region. Led by Margherita Ermirio, the goal is to not only teach the traditional method of farming to the next generation, but also to secure the future of the Cinque Terre region. Because of its unique placement on the side of mountains set against the sea, the terracing in Cinque Terre not only yields crops but helps to maintain soil structure and prevent erosion.

 

Mrs. Ermirio spent several years abroad before returning to her hometown in order reteach the process of terracing. Essentially, terracing is the method of planting crops on step-like platforms that have been carved into the mountainside. This form of agriculture helps to prevent heavy erosion associated with falling rainwater. In a sense, reteaching this method of farming not only helps to carry on a sense of cultural historical significance but also to secure the future of the Cinque Terre landscape itself.

 

Starting in the 1960’s farmers began to leave their plots of land in order to search for better work in the cities. This abandonment has left many of these terrace steps in need of repair and reuse. Through the UNESCO-sponsored program, Mrs. Ermirio has been working with several local landlords to help rebuild the terracing structures and continue this old practice of agriculture in order to secure a future for Cinque Terre. The work conducted by Mrs. Ermirio has received support and attention at both a global and an international level.

 

Farmers Leading Conservation Efforts

Many farmers in the United States are leading conservation efforts, according to a recent Huffington Post article. They are using different farming techniques than generations before them used to get better crops while protecting the ground that they love.

One common technique that is used is no-till farming. With this technique farmers do not plow the ground in the spring before putting their crops in the ground. This allows farmers to save about half of the fuel that they burn annually which has an immediate impact on the environment. Numerous studies show that not plowing decreases the number of weeds. Therefore, farmers do not have to apply as much fertilizer.

Farmers are also choosing to plant different crops than they have historically. For example, they may plant a low ground cover crop that grows quickly amidst a crop that grows taller to help control weeds naturally. They may also plant a crop that has deep roots among a shallower rooted crop so that the deep roots help to keep the ground open to capture rain.

Farmers are also planting more acreage than ever before. The corners of fields are left as buffer strips that are not harvested. These areas then attract natural pollinators like monarch butterflies and honey bees. The buffer strips are also great at attracting beneficial insects that help control bugs that harm a farmer’s crops.

The largest change, however, comes in the fall when leftovers from the harvest are left on the field. The leftovers from the crop depends on what is grown, but it may include corn cobs, husks, and stalks. Following this technique helps to prevent wind and rain erosion. It may also help to stop damage from the searing heat of summer if the residue does not disintegrate. Leaving residue on fields also helps to promote better soil because worms and organisms have a place to live. In exchange, they create holes in the ground that helps the ground retain water. Finally, leaving residue on the field helps microbial communities to thrive which increases oxygen and phosphorous levels needed by growing plants.