Commodities

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Youth Hit the Road to Learn about Sustainable Livestock Production in Wisconsin

Jessie Oberlin is no stranger to the 4-H’ers in Jackson County, Wisconsin. Whether she’s providing coaching for the 4-H Livestock Judging Contest, setting up livestock production tours, or prepping youth for the 4-H Quiz Bowl, Oberlin has spent most of her adult life introducing rural young people to new livestock opportunities in a county known for cranberry and strawberry production. Oberlin grew up showing […]

Does Open-Pollinated Corn Have a Place on Today’s Organic Farm?

On 205 acres near the picturesque bluffs of the On 205 acres near the picturesque bluffs of the Mississippi River, Stanley Smith raises beef cows and grows organic corn in southeastern Minnesota. He grew up on this small farm in the rolling hills of Winona County, and worked in partnership with his dad until his dad retired. Smith and his wife, Vickie, […]

Iowa Farmers Seek Sustainability with Cover Crops and No-Till

In 2002, a $6,500 SARE grant funded an idea for a new tool at the Rodale Institute in Kutztown, Pennsylvania. The tool was a roller-crimper, a steel drum with blades that was mounted to a tractor and used to roll down cover crops. The idea was that the mat of dead cover crops would act as mulch, which researchers hoped no-till farmers […]

Peer-to-Peer Food Safety Education Fruitful for Hmong-American Farmers in Minnesota

When the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) was signed into law in 2015, it included new provisions that regulate food safety requirements for some fruit and vegetable farms. This new federal food safety legislation, along with market-based audit programs like Good Agricultural Practices (GAP), can seem daunting to small-scale or diversified farmers. As a statewide Extension Educator for farm food safety at the University of […]

North Coast Lamb Co-op: Using Carcass Scanning for Producer Production Criteria

In 1865, the National Wool Growers Association was formed. This first-ever national livestock association in the U.S. laid the groundwork for the organization we know today as the American Sheep Industry Association (American Sheep Industry Association, 2018). “The American Sheep Industry may be the oldest livestock organization in the county, however, American lamb consumption and […]

Apples for Artisanal Cider: Understanding the Characteristics of Single Varietals

Hard cider is a beverage that is rooted in history, dating back to 55 BC when the Romans discovered it in England. Today, it is emerging as a potentially fruitful business opportunity for modern and future producers. Two of the producers who have contributed to that growth are Wisconsinites Marie and Matt Raboin, who made their […]

The Fruit and Nut Compass: Developing a Tool and Guiding Principles for Diversified Farms

As interest in diversified perennial production grows, farmers across the region have been searching for sustainable ways to battle pests, tap into lucrative markets, and increase yields as they work to develop biodiverse agricultural ecosystems. Building on the concept of their Veggie Compass project, and the desire to develop whole farm profit management tools and […]

Sustainable Pest Management Approaches for Raspberry Growers

Spotted wing Drosophila (SWD) (Drosophila suzukii) is a gnat-sized fly that will damage ripe or ripening fruits such as raspberries, strawberries, and blueberries. Heather Leach, a Michigan State University graduate student in Rufus Isaacs’ Berry Crops Entomology lab says that in 2014, SWD caused estimated economic losses of $159 million in U.S. raspberry production (Burrack […]

Development of a Cooperative Food Distribution Model for Small Farms

Monica Bongue owns Muddy Fork Farm in Wooster Ohio, a certified organic farm for over 15 years, where she produces vegetables, chickens, ducks, sheep, and goats. She wanted to expand her marketing which consisted of direct sales through farmers’ markets and a small, on-farm CSA. Along with a number of other small, local producers, Bongue […]

Optimal Flock Size for Pasture Raised Layers

A number of growers, especially those on small or mid-scale diversified farms, are choosing to raise poultry in alternative ways, many of them reliant upon pasture. Aaron Brower, along with his wife Mary, own and operate Bluestem Farm, a diversified, 4-season farm in Northern lower Michigan. They raise certified organic vegetables on 10 acres. They […]

Feasibility, Planning, and Purchase of Mobile Processing Unit (MPU)

Pasture poultry, with its quick turn-around and minimal equipment needs can be attractive to small farmers looking to diversify their farming operations. Chris Sramek is a pasture poultry producer and a member of the High Plains Food Co-op (HPFC); in 2013, customer interest in their poultry was so high that the producer members were unable […]

Evaluating the Roller-Crimper for Cover Crops in Corn and Soybean Terraced Ground

The beauty of the rolling hills in Northwestern Missouri can be downright dazzling. But these rolling hills, which captivate with their natural grace, also present a unique set of challenges for the producers who live and work there. Many farmers utilize a practice known as terracing to prevent erosion and surface runoff in their fields. […]

Cover Crop-based Reduced Tillage for Fall Production of Cabbage,Cauliflower and Broccoli Using a Roller-Crimper and No-Till Planting Aid

Cover crops can reduce erosion, improve soil health, slow weeds, enhance nutrient and moisture availability, control pests, and offer other benefits to vegetable producers. After vegetable grower, Thomas Ruggieri, planted cover crops on his farm in rural Clay County, Missouri in 2004, he noticed dramatic improvement in soil fertility and plant health. Ruggieri and Rebecca […]

Economics of Grazing and Haying Cover Crops in North Central Kansas

Grown on an estimated 10 million acres across the country, cover crops are becoming an indispensable part of crop rotations. To maintain this momentum, the development of reliable information at the local level—how to craft a diversified rotation that pays—needs to keep pace with growth in farmers’ interest. That is what motivated Josh Roe to […]

Apples for Artisanal Cider: Understanding the Characteristics of Single Varietals

In 55 B.C., when the Romans reached England, they noticed villagers drinking an alcoholic apple drink. Many years and pints later, in the United States alone, hard cider production increased from 0.8 million gallons in 2007 to 5.2 million gallons in 2012 (Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, 2013). A couple of the producers who  […]