Tag Archive: Agriculture

Engineering and Agriculture = Fun, Learning and Teambuilding

Youth had only 2 hours to design a bridge that would support a semi load of vegetables.

When you hear the word agriculture, it probably evokes words like “farming, livestock or dirt” and maybe even the smell of manure.  For people who work in the agriculture industry, it reminds them of words like “hard work, long days, sweat” and the smell of money.  But did you know that science and technology- especially engineering- play an ever increasing role in supplying our nation (and world) with a safe and affordable food supply?

Thanks to generous support from HughesNet, 4-Hers across Florida have been learning just how much the agriculture industry needs technology.  This week, 4-Hers from Jackson, Liberty, Gadsden and Leon counties participated in an engineering day camp.  Each day, they learned how civil engineers design the infrastructure needed for farmers to get their food from the farm to tables across the state and nation.  The program concluded with an engineering challenge at the North Florida Fairgrounds in Tallahassee.

Youth were judged on their innovation, creativity and teamwork- all essential skills for engineers who solve today’s problems!

Youth had two hours to design, build and test a bridge that would hold a large semi-truck of produce.  The results were inspiring!  Teams were judged on their creative use of materials, innovative design, teamwork and communication skills.  They also completed a skill-a-thon to showcase their knowledge of bridge design.  This challenge was practice for the contest that will be held in November during 4-H Day at the North Florida Fair.  To find out more information about other 4-H programs like this, contact your local UF IFAS County Extension Office or visit http://florida4h.org.

North Florida Fair STEM Contest info

4-H Science and Technology Projects

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Author: Heather Kent – hckent@ufl.edu

Heather Kent is the Regional Specialized 4-H Agent in the Northwest Extension District.

Heather Kent

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2017/07/28/engineering-and-agriculture-fun-learning-and-teambuilding/

Friday Feature: As Goes Agriculture, so Goes our Society

Friday Feature:  As Goes Agriculture, so Goes our Society

This week’s featured video was produced by Growing America.  In this video David Bridges, President of Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College summarizes the value of American Agriculture and the need to share this information with young people to encourage them to focus on careers in the agricultural industries.  He provides a great nugget of wisdom for perspective students, “Be a small part of something big, don’t focus on a big part of something small.”  His point is that jobs related to food production, processing, and distribution are in high demand.  With a degree in an agricultural science, graduates can play a role in the future of an industry essential to this country.  Dr. Bridges says it so well when he said, “Not only is agriculture a great way of life, but also a great career opportunity.”  This is a message that needs to be shared through social media, in agriculture education programs, and with the young people that we have the opportunity to influence.  The future of American Agriculture will be decided by the people we can recruit to invest their lives in careers that will play a small part in agriculture.

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If you enjoyed this video, you might want to check out the featured videos from previous weeks:  Friday Features

If you come across a humorous video or interesting story related to agriculture, please send in a link, so we can share it with our readers. Send video links to:  Doug Mayo

 

 

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Author: Doug Mayo – demayo@ufl.edu

Lead Editor for Panhandle Ag e-news – Jackson County Extension Director – Livestock & Forages Agent. My true expertise is with beef cattle and pasture management, but I can assist with information on other livestock species, as well as recreational fish ponds.
http://jackson.ifas.ufl.edu

Doug Mayo

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2017/07/15/friday-feature-as-goes-agriculture-so-goes-our-society/

Agriculture: A Minor Miracle Going on in Florida

Agriculture:  A Minor Miracle Going on in Florida

Florida’s 47,000 farms are already vital economic engines that boost the economy in ways that go beyond putting food on consumer’s plates. Agriculture’s resiliency makes it a mainstay of Florida’s economy. When money gets tight, fewer people book hotel rooms or buy theme park tickets, but they don’t stop eating.  Photo credit: Doug Mayo

Jack Payne, UF/IFAS Senior Vice President

These past few weeks I have spent much time traveling around Florida attending the annual meetings of some of our important agricultural commodity groups, such as Citrus Mutual, the Florida Cattlemen’s Association and the Florida Nursery, Growers and Landscape Association.  Participating in these meetings is a great reminder of the value of production agriculture to our state, especially to our quality of life.  More than 1,000 people a day are moving here, and we pave over many farms to make way for their subdivisions. Yet the new supermarkets that pop up to feed these newcomers all contain aisle upon aisle of Florida-produced food.

Yes, that’s more food from less land. That productivity boost relies on a thriving innovation economy and a network of field-to-fork industries that make the Sunshine State one of the world’s leading agricultural hubs. This success story is led by a strong commissioner of agriculture, with science and innovation provided by the University of Florida, the state’s land-grant university, and a supportive collection of commodity and stakeholder groups.  In addition to keeping you well fed, it’s an economic boon. We can start with the 2.2 million jobs linked to Florida agriculture, nearly a fifth of all the jobs in the state.

Unless we stop eating, Florida agriculture has no choice but to grow. The state’s population is expected to increase by nearly 14 million by 2070.  At the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, we’ve seen challenges to food production such as the disease that threatens our citrus industry. We also see tremendous opportunity to meet those challenges through teaching, research and outreach.

Two graduate students bleed cows at the Beef Teaching Unit. Photo credit: Amy Stuart

Young people are beginning to see it too, as a new generation of idealists fills our colleges and universities. They aspire to feed the world through careers in science and technology. They see careers in biology, genetics, engineering, computer science and many other scientific and technological fields as the way to contribute to solutions.  We have an all-time high enrollment at the UF/IFAS College of Agricultural and Life Sciences this year. Food security is a global issue. Thousands of students see the challenge of feeding a projected 10 billion people in 2050 as an opportunity to do good while doing well.

That challenge offers the potential for an even greater economic future for Florida. Why shouldn’t we have the agricultural equivalent of Silicon Valley? Who better than us to create a concentration of start-ups, laboratories and research centers to innovate better ways to produce food?  Florida agriculture, natural resources and food industries already drive $ 59 billion in exports. They have a total state economic impact of $ 127 billion, more than 14 percent of our state economic output.

These numbers consider the ag and food system as a whole. A tomato in the field is nothing without a distributor and grocer. A plant in the greenhouse will languish without a landscaper or garden center. The meat from a healthy cow is wasted without a burger joint.  Field and greenhouse agriculture is a small proportion of the whole, but it is the base of the ag and food system pyramid. The entire food system collapses without agriculture.

There are lots of ways to harvest statistics, of course, but there’s no denying that our state’s 47,000 farms are already vital economic engines that help you in ways that go beyond putting food on your plate.  They keep your tractor sales force in business. They keep a whole array of juicing, canning and other processing plants running. They fill trucks to ship produce but they also fill them before a seed is even in the ground, bringing in the supplies and equipment necessary to grow thousands of acres of food at a time.

There are some communities where agriculture is such a large part of the tax base that failed farms could very well translate into the layoffs of librarians, teachers and police.  Agriculture’s resiliency makes it a mainstay of our economy. When money gets tight, fewer people book hotel rooms or buy theme park tickets. They don’t stop eating.

The latest challenges do not spell doom for the Florida farmer. They’re calls for us to lead the way in sustainable agriculture.  Money may not grow on trees, but it grows in the forests that our tree farmers harvest. It grows on the bottom of the sea, where our clam farmers produce some of the most delicious seafood you’ll ever taste.  Our fields of green — tomatoes, watermelon, peanuts and yes, oranges — put green in the wallets of millions of Floridians.

There are indeed serious challenges to food production here. I just don’t believe the naysayers who say Florida agriculture is in decline.  I see the story on your supermarket shelves, on your restaurant menus, and in your farmers’ markets. I see it in farmers using technology to produce more food than ever. I see it in students preparing to dedicate the next 40 years to food production.

That story is that growing food in Florida means growing prosperity!

 

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Author: Dr. Pete Vergot – pvergot@ufl.edu

District Extension Director for University of Florida IFAS Extension, Northwest District. His major assignments include County Operations of Extension programs for the 16 counties of the Florida Panhandle. He has statewide assignments of internationalizing extension and information technologies.

Dr. Pete Vergot

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2017/07/03/agriculture-a-minor-miracle-going-on-in-florida/

Local Farmers Inspire the Next Generation about Agriculture

Fred and Bobby teaching a group of 4-Hers about goats.

Fred and Bobbie Golden relocated to Jefferson County from Lakeland, Florida in 2000 to establish Golden Acres Ranch LLC.  The sixty-three-acre ranch is home to one of the largest mayhaw ponds in the region, grass fed goat & sheep, free-range chickens, guineas, pet boarding, and a country store.

Bobbie and Fred have genuine love for Jefferson County 4-Hers. Can you tell the difference between a sheep and a goat?  Jefferson County 4-H campers can!  For the past six years, 5-8 year old youth visited their ranch during 4-H day camps for some hands-on learning about agriculture. The campers have opportunities to feed, pet and learn important facts about Tennessee Fainting Goats, sheep, Pyrenees and Maremma, chicken, guineas and other animals reared on the farm.

 

Abagail Loveless, day camp participant said, “the reasons I like to visit Golden Acers Ranch, you get to feed, pet, learn things about the farm animals and swing on the tire/rope. “London Skipworth indicated that she was afraid of chickens, but with help and support from teen counselors and 4-H Staff, she was able to overcome her fears. London now plans to participate in the 4-H Chick Chain Project this year.

After a day of farming, Abigail enjoys a tire swing

Bobbie Golden, said “I like inviting the campers to the ranch because I like teaching them interesting facts about our farm animals, but most importantly bringing the youth back in touch with agriculture.”

Bobbie is a member of the Jefferson County Extension Ag Advisory and Vice President of the Overall Extension Advisory Committee.  Bobbie also chaired the Extension Office open house committee.  Bobbie and Fred support Jefferson County Extension in every capacity.

Annually, Jefferson County Extension participates in the Millstone Farm Tour and the Mayhaw Festival; both held events at Golden Acers Ranch. Each Extension program area provides interactive displays and hands activities for the youth and adults. For more information about Golden Acres Ranch, please go to https://goldenacresranchflorida.com/.

Campers leading songs on a hay ride around the farm.

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Author: jgl1 – jgl@ufl.edu

jgl1

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2017/03/03/local-farmers-inspire-the-next-generation-about-agriculture/

UF/IFAS Experts to Celebrate Animal Agriculture at the Sunbelt Ag Expo October 18-20

UF/IFAS Experts to Celebrate Animal Agriculture at the Sunbelt Ag Expo October 18-20

Panhandle Ag Team members Matt Hersom, Doug Mayo and Mark Mauldin provided information on forages at the UF/IFAS barn at the 2015 Sunbelt Expo.

Panhandle Ag Team members Matt Hersom, Doug Mayo, and Mark Mauldin provided information on forages at the UF/IFAS Barn at the 2015 Sunbelt Expo.

Samantha Grenrock, UF/IFAS Communications Service

University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences faculty will be sharing their expertise on the theme of Florida’s Animal Agriculture at the 39th annual Sunbelt Ag Expo — the largest agricultural expo in the southeast.

About 80,000 people are expected to attend the expo, held October 18 through 20 in Moultrie, Georgia.

“Our experts in UF/IFAS Extension are thrilled to represent our programs, and we are proud to participate in such an important event. It is a great opportunity to meet others who are as passionate about agriculture as we are,” said Nick Place, dean of UF/IFAS Extension.

Visitors come to the expo to learn about the latest agricultural research, technology and marketing tools, according to the expo web site.

At the permanent UF/IFAS building, displays and exhibits will tell the story of Florida’s animal industries, starting with the resources that go into raising animals and ending with the safe preparation of animal proteins. In addition, attendees can hear presentations on livestock forages and poisonous plants by UF/IFAS researchers in the expo’s Beef Barn, or head over to the pond section to learn more about Florida’s fisheries.

Visitors to the UF/IFAS building will also get a chance to sample some “Gator Giveaways,” such as peanuts from the Florida Peanut Growers Association and Florida Orange Juice from Natalie’s Orchid Island Juice Company.

Representatives from the UF College of Agricultural and Life Sciences (CALS) will host a booth where high school students and their families can learn about the wide range of degrees and educational opportunities in the college.

The Sunbelt Ag Expo is held at Spence Field, 4 miles southeast of U.S. 319 (Veteran’s Parkway) on Georgia Highway 133 near Moultrie. Expo hours are 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Tuesday and Wednesday, and 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Thursday. Admission is $ 10 a person per day, or $ 20 for a three-day pass. Children 10 and under, accompanied by a parent get in free.

For more information, visit www.sunbeltexpo.com or download the free 2016 Sunbelt Ag Expo app on your Smartphone.

 

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Author: admin – webmaster@ifas.ufl.edu

admin

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2016/10/15/ufifas-experts-to-celebrate-animal-agriculture-at-the-sunbelt-ag-expo-october-18-20/

Teaching Agriculture from the Ground Up

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Youth learn about pollination and nutrition at the pumpkin station. The center grows several varieties to demonstrate the diversity of the plant family.

What has 1600 eyes, 1600 legs, can be male or female, and has enough energy collectively to send a rocket to the moon? The 3rd – 5th graders that participate in the multi-county 4-H Ag Adventures Program! This educational adventure is held annually during September at the UF/IFAS North Florida Research and Education Center in Quincy, Florida.  This event helps youth understand where their food comes from, the importance of agricultural industry in Florida, and career opportunities in agriculture related fields. Students are introduced to field crops as they rotate through stations that cover peanuts, corn, cotton, pollination, pumpkins, and soils.  At each station county extension agents and IFAS research faculty provide “hands on” presentations that are prepared to enhance the students learning experience.

In addition, this event is a platform for youth to learn the current trends, issues and challenges farmers face as they continue to try to feed our increasing population. Some of these trends and challenges include food safety and bio-security, farm labor, bio-security, land use, pest and disease control, and the use of technology in agriculture. This issues encompass all four of the “H’s” in 4-H: Head, Heart, Hands, and Health.

While some youth still associate “agriculture” with increasing negativity (thinking of the hot sun, extreme fatigue, very hard work, minimal income), a recent poll shared on the website Worldbank.org/youthink/ states the top three reasons youth should consider a career in agriculture are the following:

1. Agriculture matters to the future of development,

2. Agriculture can be a gold mine for young entrepreneurs,

3. Agriculture research needs young brain power.

Regional 4-H Agent Heather Kent shares:

“Although this event is geared towards teaching youth about agriculture, the parents and teachers that attend learn just as much and often have more questions that the youth!  The adults are just as curious and amazed at how much agriculture affects their daily lives- especially if they do not have an agricultural background. Most of them have no idea how many careers are related to agriculture or how much today’s farmers utilize technology.  It’s a real eye-opener for them.”

Ag Agent Jed Dillard teaching youth about cotton. Do you know how many pairs of jeans you can make out of a bale of cotton?

Ag Agent Jed Dillard teaching youth about cotton. Do you know how many pairs of jeans you can make out of a bale of cotton?

This program is sponsored by UF/IFAS, it is also supported by both Florida Farm Bureau and Farm Credit of Northwest Florida.  These organizations not only provide funding to help pay for the transportation for students to attend, but they also provide corporate volunteers to help make the event happen.  If your child’s classroom missed out on this opportunity, it’s not too late.  The North Florida Research and Education Center in Quincy is hosting “Art in the Garden” festival Saturday, October 1st from 9AM -2PM.  The event is FREE and open to the public.  This event is a great way to learn about agriculture in a fun and family friendly way.  There will be trolley tours, demonstrations, games, arts and crafts and food.

In the near future the students that pass through our stations will grow into the adults that will be making important decisions about our food systems. It is in that spirit that we must continue to teach them ….from the ground up. Visit http://faitc.org/kids  for more information on careers in agriculture.

If you have a passion or agriculture, consider serving as a 4-H volunteer or advocate to help inspire the next generation.  Contact your local UF IFAS County Extension Office or visit http://florida4h.org.

 

  

 

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Author: Marcus Boston Jr. – marcusb@ufl.edu

Marcus serves as a 4-H Extension Agent for Leon County and places empahasis in programs in the areas of science, leadership development, and civic engagement..

Marcus Boston Jr.

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2016/09/29/teaching-agriculture-from-the-ground-up/

Federal Reserve Bank’s April Agriculture Report

Harrison Federal Reserve 5-50-16The Federal Reserve Banks’ Beige Book indicates agricultural conditions were mixed across the country in its April 13, 2016 release.  Chicago, St. Louis, Minneapolis, Kansas City, and Dallas Federal Reserve Banks reported poor prospects for agricultural profitability because product prices remained low and input costs remained relatively high.

Contacts across Districts noted that compared with a year ago, prices were lower for cotton, corn, soybeans, wheat, hay, rice, cattle, chickens, eggs, hogs, and milk.  Costs for chemicals went up and seed costs remained elevated, too.  However, some input costs have been reported lower since the previous period.  Diesel, fertilizer, and farmland rent expenses are trending downward.

Earlier flooding made fieldwork more difficult in parts of the Atlanta District, which includes Florida. Due to excessive rain and flooding earlier in the year, the USDA designated several counties in central and southern Florida as primary natural disaster areas.  Agricultural conditions were mixed in the Atlanta district, reflecting the national trends. While most of the District remained drought free, there were some areas in Florida, Georgia, and Louisiana categorized as abnormally dry.

Florida’s orange crop forecast increased from the previous month, but continued to be lower than last season.

On a year-over-year basis, monthly prices paid to farmers for corn, cotton, rice, soybeans, beef, broilers, and eggs have declined. Compounding conditions, the elevated value of the U.S. dollar, when compared to foreign currencies, held back agricultural exports.

The Beige Book reports are compiled from Bank and Branch directors, and interviews with key business contacts, economists, market experts, and other sources. The Beige Book summarizes this information by District and sector.  This report is published eight times per year. Each Federal Reserve Bank gathers anecdotal information on current economic conditions in its District.

For more information, see the complete report summary:

Beige Book – April 13, 2016

 

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Author: Les Harrison – harrisog@ufl.edu

Les Harrison is the UF/IFAS Wakulla County Extension Director, Agriculture and Natural Resources. He works with small and medium sized producers in the Big Bend region of north Florida on a wide range of topics. He has a Master’s of Science Degree in Agricultural Economics from Auburn University and a Bachelor of Science Degree in Journalism from the University of Florida.

Les Harrison

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2016/05/21/federal-reserve-banks-april-agriculture-report/

Florida’s Rangeland Agriculture and the Environment: A Natural Partnership

Woodlands and rangelands are important to both our economy and environment.  Photo by Judy Ludlow

Woodlands and rangelands are important to both our economy and environment. Photo by Judy Ludlow

Most of us living in panhandle Florida recognize that our farmers and ranchers are committed to sustainable production of food, fiber, and fuel for generations to come, but how will farmers continue to be productive while sharing natural resources with an ever growing population and an intricate environment? How will Florida’s agricultural lands, rangelands, and woodlands continue to contribute to the quality of our environment and to our economy?

Florida Rangelands:
According to the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service “Range and pasture lands are diverse types of land where the primary vegetation produced is herbaceous plants and shrubs. These lands provide forage for beef cattle….and other types of domestic livestock. Also many species of wildlife…depend on these lands for food and cover.”  Florida’s rangelands and woodlands are a significant component of Florida’s agricultural industry.

According to the 2012 Census of Agriculture there were:

  • 3,749,647 acres of permanent pasture and rangeland in Florida
  • 1,368,171 acres of pastured woodland in Florida

Benefits of Rangelands:
Florida’s 5.1 million acres of agricultural rangelands and woodlands not only support the economy, but abundant wildlife too. These well managed lands are living systems sustaining livestock, wildlife, and healthy soils. Benefits of these lands include important economic and ecological services like reducing our carbon footprint, increasing water conservation, providing forage for livestock, habitat for wildlife and game, preservation of cultural heritage, and sustainable timber. Additionally, hunting, fishing, and wildlife viewing is a multi-billion dollar industry within which Florida’s rangelands play a significant role. Florida’s rangelands are also important for the continued survival of many threatened species like the Crested Caracara, Snail Kite, Gopher Tortoise, Florida Scrub-Jay, Eastern Indigo Snake, Roseate Spoonbill, Wood Stork, and Sandhill Cranes.

gopher tort by chuck bargeron uga bugwood.org

Gopher Tortoise. Photo by Chuck Bargeron, University of Georgia, Bugwood.org

Sandhill Cranes in a North Florida pasture. UF/IFAS Photo: Josh Wickham.

Sandhill Cranes in a North Florida pasture. UF/IFAS Photo by Josh Wickham.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Challenges to Florida’s Rangelands:
Threats to Florida rangelands include conversion into urban areas and fragmentation of large tracts of lands causing disconnection from other farmlands and natural areas. Contiguous, connected “wildlife corridors,” are important for many species of wildlife. Additionally, the establishment of non-native, invasive animals and plants; and alterations of natural and necessary processes such as fire, floods, and droughts, can disrupt the full economic and environmental potential of these lands.

Agricultural Best Management Practices and Education:
Today’s farmers use best management practices (BMPs) relying on up-to-date technologies and research to protect Florida’s unique natural resources, especially our precious water, while at the same time maximizing their production. BMPs are based on University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) research and are practical, cost-effective actions that agricultural producers can take to conserve water and reduce the amount of pesticides, fertilizers, animal waste, and other pollutants entering our water supply. They are designed to benefit water quality and water conservation while maintaining or even enhancing agricultural production. According to the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, for example, agricultural producers save 11 billion gallons of water each year by their conservation practices.

Many of Florida’s rangeland and woodland owners also take advantage of educational programs available to them such as the UF/IFAS Forest Stewardship Program. The mission of this multi-agency program is to help and encourage private landowners to manage their lands for long-term environmental, economic, and social benefits. According to their annual report: “In 2014 the Program reached 503 landowners and professionals directly with workshops and field tours. These landowners and professionals collectively own and/or manage over 2 million acres across Florida.”

Summary and Additional Resources:
Florida’s agriculture producers are deeply committed to being stewards of their lands and our surrounding environment. Their adoption and support of best management practices as well as continuing education is critical for sustainable production and also for feeding the world of the future.

For more information on this topic please see the following resources:

UF/IFAS Forest Stewardship Program

UF/IFAS Extension – Range Cattle Research and Education Center

UF/IFAS Extension – Best Management Practices

Florida Farm Bureau’s County Alliance for Responsible Environmental Stewardship Program (This Farm CARES)

Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services – Best Management Practices

The Nature Conservancy – Florida Ranchlands

Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations – Grasslands and Rangelands

USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service

 

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Author: Judy Ludlow – judy.ludlow@ufl.edu

Judy Ludlow is the Agriculture and Natural Resource Agent in Calhoun County, Florida

Judy Ludlow

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2015/07/18/floridas-rangeland-agriculture-and-the-environment-a-natural-partnership/

Federal Reserve Report Optimistic About Southeast Agriculture

Ag Blog - FRB noteThe U.S. Federal Reserve Banks are responsible for the currency used domestically.  They also issues a report eight times annually on the current economic conditions in the collective Federal Reserve Districts.

Known as the Beige Book, this publication is based on anecdotal information from Bank and Branch directors and interviews with key business contacts, economists, market experts, and other sources.

Major economic sectors are reported as a national summary by individual Federal Reserve Districts. Florida is included in the Atlanta, Georgia report, the latest of which was released June 3, 2015.

National Summary of the twelve Federal Reserve Districts suggest overall economic activity expanded during the reporting period from early April to late May. Compared to the previous report, the pace of growth held steady in the Atlanta District.

The agricultural sector improved as significant rainfall alleviated the dry spell, and improved growing conditions in several districts. However, drought conditions persisted in the San Francisco District and the outbreak of the avian flu severely impacted poultry producers in the Chicago and Minneapolis Districts.

The Atlanta report indicated significant rain alleviated drought conditions in much of the District. Florida’s orange forecast was below both the previous month’s reading and last year’s production level, primarily due to citrus greening.  Some Alabama producers reported planting less cotton in favor of crops commanding better prices or crops that cost less to produce (such as soybeans and peanuts). By mid-May, soybean planting was ahead of the five-year average in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Tennessee. Cotton planting in Alabama and Georgia and rice planting in Louisiana and Mississippi were short of their five-year averages.

Read the summary or the full Report: 

Federal Reserve Beige Book – June 3, 2015

 

The next report is due for release July 15, 2015.

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Author: Les Harrison – harrisog@ufl.edu

Les Harrison is the UF/IFAS Wakulla County Extension Director, Agriculture and Natural Resources. He works with small and medium sized producers in the Big Bend region of north Florida on a wide range of topics. He has a Master’s of Science Degree in Agricultural Economics from Auburn University and a Bachelor of Science Degree in Journalism from the University of Florida.

Les Harrison

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2015/06/13/federal-reserve-report-optimistic-about-southeast-agriculture/

Reducing Water Demand for Agriculture

sod-based rotation field under a center pivot at the NFREC-Marianna taken May 28, 2015.  Peanuts are in the upper right, 2 year old bahia grass is in the upper left, and 1 year old bahia grass is in the lower left.  Cotton is in the forefront.  Picture by David Wright.

Sod-based rotation field under a center pivot at the NFREC-Marianna taken May 28, 2015. Peanuts are in the upper right, 2 year old bahia grass is in the upper left, and 1 year old bahia grass is in the lower left. Cotton is in the forefront. Photo credit: David Wright.

Dan Dourte, Ron Bartel, Sheeja George, David Wright, Jim Marois, UF/IFAS NFREC

Cotton and peanuts are grown on nearly 2 million irrigated acres in the Southeastern U.S. The consumptive water use for irrigation has significantly impacted groundwater resources, spring flows and stream flows in many parts of this region, particularly during severe droughts. In the sod-based rotation system, where bahia grass is grown for two years prior to peanuts and cotton in a 4 year rotation, we have shown the potential to reduce irrigation demand by up to 100 percent, without reducing yield through enhanced plant root growth and improved soil properties. Crop yields of non-irrigated crops within the sod-based rotation were compared to irrigated crops in a conventional rotation to evaluate the impacts of the sod-based rotation on water savings. A soil water assessment model developed with the Southeast Climate Consortium was used to simulate irrigation water demands under a range of soil conditions to quantify water savings potential of the sod-based rotation system. When compared to a conventional rotation using irrigation, the sod-based rotation was simulated to have median irrigation demand reductions between 4 and 8 inches per year, using historical weather data from 1980-2013.

The periods of high irrigation demand, during the growing season May through October, come at the same time as reduced stream flows and availability of water resources in the Southeastern U.S., further increasing the significance of reduced irrigation afforded by the sod-based rotation system. The reduced operational costs of irrigation could be computed directly based upon the amount of water that would not be applied or pumped. In the situation where well water is used, these costs will vary depending on the depth to the pumping water level in the supply well, the operating pressure of the irrigation system, and whether it is electric or diesel. Operational cost savings would generally be based on the unit energy costs of the fuel used to operate pumps, labor, and maintenance of the irrigation system. The range of savings could be between $ 30 to $ 160 per acre per year, depending on soil type, severity of drought, and other on-farm production factors.

These findings are still being developed, but the proven long term productivity of the sod-based rotation, combined with the reduced need for irrigation makes the system more valuable to the farmer, and the farm community, as water becomes more scarce. The ability of a sod-based rotation to increase soil organic matter and produce large root systems result in a more productive farm with reduced inputs. If irrigation is available, water may only be required for specific management practices such as after planting or prior to digging peanuts. Irrigation water can be used to manage the crop rather than grow the crop. If irrigation is not available, the sod-based rotation system provides a more viable alternative for profitable farming.

For more information on this subject read:

Sod/Livestock-Based Peanut/Cotton Production System: Why We Recommend It!

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Author: Jim Marois – jmarois@ufl.edu


http://nfrec.ifas.ufl.edu

Jim Marois

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2015/06/12/reducing-water-demand-for-agriculture/

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