Category Archives: Feature

UD researchers look at programs to incentivize cover crop adoption among growers

Studying programs to provide economic incentives for cover crop adoption are (from left) Joshua Duke, Amy Shober and Emerson Paradee.
Studying programs to provide economic incentives for cover crop adoption are (from left) Joshua Duke, Amy Shober and Emerson Paradee.

Federal and state agencies have been offering farmers economic incentives to adopt best management practices (BMPs) to help deliver environmental services from agriculture, and yet adoption — though increasing — lags behind government targets.

A new interdisciplinary study led by the University of Delaware is going to investigate what aspects of BMP programs — specifically those related to cover crops — that farmers in Maryland and Ohio prefer.

The study is designed to find out what farmers take into consideration when entering BMP incentive programs with the hopes of one day being able to offer a larger number of contract options tailored to meet the particular needs of a given farming operation.

“The hope is that by making the contracts more amenable to farmers, we can end up getting far more adoption at a lower cost,” said Joshua Duke, professor of applied economics.

The $498,434 study is being led by Duke with Amy Shober, an associate professor and nutrient management and environmental quality extension specialist in the Department of Plant and Soil Sciences; Robert Johnston, director of the George Perkins Marsh Institute and professor of economics at Clark University; and Emerson Paradee, a master’s degree student in UD’s College of Agriculture and Natural Resources.

The study is funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) Foundational program, and administered by USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA).

Cover crops

For this particular study the research team will conduct a large-scale survey of farmers in Maryland and Ohio about their adoption of cover crops as a BMP using a “choice experiment” — a specially engineered survey that allows farmers to tradeoff many different options in cover crop contracts.

The statistical analysis will reveal what contracts would best fit the preferences of individual farmers. The researchers will also compare the survey results to observational data of what farmers actually planted.

Shober said that cover crops are important for a number of different reasons, such as improving the organic matter in soil and scavenging nitrogen — planting deep rooted crops to pump the nitrogen back to the surface — and also in weed suppression, disease suppression and fighting erosion.

Farmers have different reasons for planting different cover crops. An organic farmer, for instance, might plant them as a way to manage weeds. In Ohio, Shober said, a farmer would likely utilize cover crops for the soil health benefits, while in the Mid-Atlantic the main focus of cover crops is for nitrogen scavenging during the non-growing season.

“In this region, the focus has been primarily on nitrogen scavenging and so you’re going to see a lot of people that are planting small grains, mainly wheat,” Shober said. “State agencies prefer early planted cereal rye because research has shown that it is a particularly good nitrogen scavenger.”

Duke said the researchers selected Maryland and Ohio because both have water quality issues and while Maryland probably has the nation’s leading cover crop program, Ohio has a contrasting pattern of less cover crop programming and fewer adoptees.

Cover crop adoption

Duke said one reason farmers might hesitate to adopt cover crops is that the times they are planted could conflict with the planting of the cash crop.

“What we’re wondering is, how many more farmers would adopt if we could allow them to plant in November instead of October? Maybe the cover crop wouldn’t be the best cover crop you could have, but it might get a lot more farmers interested and they might be willing to accept a lower payment if you give them a little more flexibility on the planting date,” said Duke. “We’re going to figure out what farmers think about cover crops and what kinds of things they value, and then we’re going to estimate models that show the best contracts to offer — a whole suite of them, and the farmers can pick the ones they want.”

Duke said that policy makers will be able to take the results of the study and look at how they can get better adoption rates by being a little bit more flexible in their guidelines.

Shober said flexibility is key, as farming is tough work and subject to many uncontrollable factors.

“Farming is difficult. There are so many decisions you have to make, especially if you’re participating in cost share type programs,” she said. “They give you planting windows and if you fall outside of those planting windows, they don’t give you a payment if you plant cover crops late in the season — we’re a little worried about that this year because of how late everybody planted corn — and once you get past November, you’re probably not going to establish a very good cover crop. When cash crops come off the field late, farmers may choose not to plant cover crops since it costs money to buy and plant the seed. There are lots of factors that drive decisions to plant cover crops, just like any other decision farmers make during the season.”

This work is supported by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, Agricultural and Food Research Initiative Competitive Program, Agriculture Economics and Rural Communities, grant number: 2015-07637.

Article by Adam Thomas

Photo by Christy Mannering

This article can also be viewed on UDaily.

Topping a tree is NOT proper protocol

Dot Abbot is our Extension Agent for Renewable Resources which is a statewide position providing educational and outreach programs to diverse audiences on forestry-related topics in urban & rural communities.

Dot Abbott
Extension Agent – Renewable Resources

Contact Information:
Phone Number:(302) 730-4000
Email Me: dotad@udel.edu

Area(s) of Expertise:
Renewable Natural Resources, Forestry, Environmental Education

Website for the Delaware State Forest Service is: http://www.dda.delaware.gov/forestry/

Family & Consumer Science Brings Fun to the Fair

The University of Delaware Cooperative Extension staff will put on fun and useful food and nutrition demonstrations during the Delaware State Fair.  The demonstrations will be held in the air-conditioned Ag Commodities building (directly across from the Kent Bldg)on the fairgrounds.

fcsimagesa

Veggie Bingo                                                                                      July 22nd & 30th 12-1 pm

Stumped by what to do with fresh vegetables?  Learn tips on vegetable selection and storage, buying in season, food safety practices, and pairing with herbs and spices.  As the name suggests, participants will also have the opportunity to partake in an interactive Vegetable Bingo Game.  A tasty recipe, Crunchy Vegetable Burrito Banditos, will be prepared and sampled.

Blubber Burger: Healthier Fast Food                                                                       July 24th 2-4 pm

Fast food doesn’t have to mean unhealthy food!  Discover the amount of fat in some fast food favorites and learn how to make healthier choices at fast food restaurants.  This demonstration will also include the preparation and sampling of the recipe, Broccoli & Bean Quesadilla, which is great when your low on time, but still want a healthy meal.

Canning 101                                                                                                   July 26th 2-3 pm

Do you have more fruits and vegetables than you know what to do with?  Learn the basics of the tools and the process necessary to preserve foods using the water bath and canning method.  Some resources that can be used to get safer recipes and appropriate techniques will be shared as well.

Is it Spaghetti or is it Squash?                                                                      July 27th 2-3 pm

Learn how to prepare delicious spaghetti squash!  Spaghetti squash is a great substitute for pasta containing only 10 grams of carbohydrate per cup. This is helpful for people with diabetes who need to be conscious of their carbohydrate intake. It also a good source of vitamins C and B6.

And from our colleagues at Agriculture & Natural Resources…

Innovative Lima Bean Recipies
July 22, 2-3 pm

Did you know that Lima Beans are a major crop in Delaware? And no one knows more about them then our “Lima Bean Lady” and expert Emmalea Ernest! Learn how to prepare delicious recipies featuring our little green powerhouse bean!

#StateFairUD

 

 

Summer Food Safety

grillSummer holidays give us a break from school and work but providing safe food for your family should never take a vacation.  A combination of warmer temperatures and more foods prepared and served outdoors can lead to an increase in foodborne illness. Remembering four simple principles can help ensure you and your family do not fall victim to illness associated with the food you prepare; clean, separate, cook, and chill.

CLEAN-Preparing food on a clean surface is essential to food safety.  Thoroughly washing those nutritious fresh fruits and vegetables before chopping is very important. Just because you don’t eat the skin of a melon it still needs to be washed.  Cutting through the outside brings all the bacteria from everything the melon came in contact with-even the hands of the person at the market who picks up every melon to get the perfect specimen. For more information check out the “Washing Produce Factsheet”.

SEPARATE-The slow pace of summer may make it easy for us to forget or become lax in keeping raw and ready to eat foods separate. Cross contamination can occur if you pack raw burgers in the same cooler as the lettuce and tomato without sealing foods in separate containers.

COOK-This is an area where guessing can be dangerous.  Using a calibrated meat thermometer is the only way to accurately measure the temperature of cooked meats-even if they are being cooked on a very hot grill. If foods are not cooked to the recommended temperature, naturally occurring pathogens can thrive and make you or your family sick. For more information on cooking temperatures read about Thermometer Placement & Temperatures on the USDA’s website.

CHILL-With temperatures soaring into the 90’s it doesn’t take long for food to get into the temperature danger zone.  40°-140°F is the temperature that pathogens love.  They multiply to unsafe levels if food is left in that range for 2 hours or more.  Keeping all meats, dairy products, eggs and cut fruits and vegetables below 40° should be the goal.  Of course a cooler full of ice, frozen water bottles or juice boxes will keep those perishable foods safe.  When serving cold items set the bowl of cold food in a bowl of ice to keep it chilled.

Using these guidelines will ensure a safe food summer with many fun healthy gatherings.

For more information on food safety topics, visit the Family and Consumer Sciences portion of our website.

Irrigation Basics Workshop

James Adkins
James Adkins, University of Delaware

As part of the University of Delaware Beginning Farmer Workshop series a workshop on irrigation basics will be held on Monday, June 27 from 6-8:30 p.m. and the Carvel Research and Education Center, 16483 County Seat Highway,  Georgetown. The Carvel Center is one quarter mile west of Sussex Tech H.S. Participants will meet in the picnic grove.

James Adkins, agricultural engineer with the University of Delaware Cooperative Extension will lead the workshop.

Topics and activities will include:

  •   Types of Irrigation – Drip, Hand move Pipe, Travelling Gun, Pivot
  •   Tour the farm to see various types demonstrated
  •   Flow and pressure requirements for each.
  •   Setup Labor and economics discussion
  •   Well/Pumps – pros and cons of centrifugal vs submersibles for use with each type of Irrigation.
  •   Crop water demands vs application demands
  •   Water needs, timing, application method versus evaporation and disease.
  •   Drip system design
  •   Pressure regulators, filters
  •   Tape emitter sizes and spacing, flowrate, length of run
  •   Trunk line design and layout, valving
  •   Connection and hookup
  •   Management, run times, pulsing, automatic controls
  •   Fertigation
  •   Injectors – pumps, siphons etc.,
  •   Calibration
  •   Products and timing

To register email Tracy Wootten or leave a message (302) 236-0298

irrigated farmland

 

UD Ornamentals Short Course Series, June and July of 2016

DSU Pest Walk 2012 CroppedPest and Beneficial Insect Walk 2016
Wednesday, June 22, 2016, 4 – 6 PM Credits: 2 Pest., 1 CNP. UD Botanic Gardens, University of Delaware Campus, Townsend Hall, 531 S. College Ave, Newark, DE. Learn to identify insect and disease pests, as well as beneficial insects in the landscape. Instructors: Nancy Gregory, Brian Kunkel, and Carrie Murphy. Meet by the Fischer Greenhouse.

Disease and Insect Workshop_2015Disease and Insect Identification Workshop 2016
July 13, 2016, 4-6 PM Credits: 2 Pest., 1 CNP. Townsend Hall, 531 S. College Avenue, Newark, DE.
Learn about signs and symptoms the Cooperative Extension staff look for to identify pests and diseases! Tips and techniques will be shared for fresh and preserved plant samples, and use of hand lenses and microscopes will be taught. Bring your own samples to look at! Instructors: Nancy Gregory, Brian Kunkel, and Carrie Murphy

2016 Legislative Day

Over 100 youth gathered on Wednesday, May 4, to attend 4-H Legislative Day in Dover. The participants met with legislators, participated in workshops, and attended a 4-H Rally on Legislative Mall. Participants were split into groups and participated in various seminars throughout the day. Workshops included visiting the State Auditor’s office, meeting with a Kent County Court Judge, visiting Public Archives, touring the John Bell House and touring the Biggs museum. Staff and youth had an excellent day learning about legislation in Delaware and understanding the history of our state. State Teen Council president,
Paige Vincent, closed out the day by delivering a briefing on the floor of the House of Representatives.

Delaware 4-H Equine Art Contest Winners

Delaware 4-H members of all ages recently participated in a statewide Equine Art Contest sponsored by the Delaware 4-H Horse Advisory Committee, a group of volunteer 4-H Equine Project Leaders.   Entries from budding artists from across the state were submitted for the contest in the following categories:

  • Drawing- Pastels/Charcoal/Graphite/Colored Pencil (Abstract or Realistic)
  • Drawing- Pen/Ink/Markers/Crayon (Abstract or Realistic)
  • Painting
  • Photography- Color digital or 35 mm film
  • Photography- Black and White digital or 35 mm film

Entries were divided into age groups for judging.  Awards were given to the top six entries in each category and age group as determined by a group of volunteer judges.  A Best in Show Champion and Best in Show Reserve Champion overall were also chosen from all of the entries.  The artwork was on display at the Chick’s Saddlery retail store in Harrington, Delaware during the month of May.  Delaware 4-H gives a special thanks to Chick’s for hosting the art display and their support of young people involved in the Delaware 4-H Youth Development Program.

Painting- Cloverbud Participants Ages 5-7

  • Joseph Casey, Heavenly Hooves 4-H Club, New Castle County

Painting- Ages 8-11

  1. Leah Wiley, Heavenly Hooves 4-H Club, New Castle County
  2. Regan Wheatley, Heavenly Hooves 4-H Club, New Castle County
  3. Elizabeth Evans, The Mane Squad 4-H Club, Kent County
  4. Leah Wiley, Heavenly Hooves 4-H Club, Kent County
  5. Ava Casey, Heavenly Hooves 4-H Club, New Castle County

Drawing- Pastels, Charcoal, Graphite, Colored Pencil Ages 8-11

  1. Sydni Brown, Holler-N Hooves 4-H Club, Kent County
  2. Elizabeth Evans, The Mane Squad 4-H Club, Kent County
  3. Sydni Brown, Holler-N-Hooves 4-H Club, Kent County
  4. Sydni Brown, Holler-N-Hooves 4-H Club, Kent County
  5. Lauren Russell, Holler-N-Hooves 4-H Club, Kent County
  6. Leah Wiley, Heavenly Hooves 4-H Club, New Castle County

Drawing- Pastels, Charcoal, Graphite, Colored Pencil Ages 12-14

  1. Parker Boots, The Mane Squad 4-H Club, Kent County
  2. Ashley Tilghman, The Mane Squad 4-H Club, Kent County
  3. Taylor Heverin, Heavenly Hooves 4-H Club, New Castle County

 Drawing- Pen, Ink, Crayon, Markers- Cloverbud Participants Ages 5-7

  • Aubree Duke, Harrington Sunshine 4-H Club, Kent County
  • Amaya Fleming, Harrington Sunshine 4-H Club, Kent County

Drawing- Pen, Ink, Crayon, Markers Ages 8-11

  1. Haley Deiter, Holler-N-Hooves 4-H Club, Kent County
  2. Kassidy Hearn, Holler- N-Hooves 4-H Club, Kent County

Drawing- Pen, Ink, Crayon, Markers Ages 15-19

  1. Autumn Wallace, Happy Harvesters 4-H Club, Kent County
  2. Sandra Todd, 4 Hoof Beats 4-H Club, Sussex County
  3. Sarah Brown, Heavenly Hooves 4-H Club, New Castle County
  4. Hailey Boots, The Mane Squad 4-H Club, Kent County
  5. Christina Chelen, 4-Hoof Beats 4-H Club, Sussex County

 Color Photography- Digital or 35 MM – Ages 8-11

  1. Weston Williams, Harrington Sunshine 4-H Club, Kent County
  2. Weston Williams, Harrington Sunshine 4-H Club, Kent County
  3. Weston Williams, Harrington Sunshine 4-H Club, Kent County
  4. Stephanie Strachar, Hearts 4 Horses 4-H Club, Kent County
  5. Weston Williams, Harrington Sunshine 4-H Club, Kent County
  6. Weston Williams, Harrington Sunshine 4-H Club, Kent County

 Color Photography- Digital or 35 MM – Ages 12-14

  1. RJ Shepard, Holler-N-Hooves 4-H Club, Kent County
  2. RJ Shepard, Holler-N-Hooves 4-H Club, Kent County
  3. Kassidy Kohland, Holler-N-Hooves 4-H Club, Kent County
  4. Kassidy Kohland, Holler-N-Hooves 4-H Club, Kent County
  5. Parker Boots, The Mane Squad 4-H Club, Kent County
  6. Ashley Tilghman, The Mane Squad 4-H Club, Kent County

 Color Photography- Digital or 35 MM – Ages 15-19

  1. Ashlyn North, Holler-N-Hooves 4-H Club, Kent County
  2. Ashlyn North, Holler-N-Hooves 4-H Club, Kent County
  3. Hailey Boots, The Mane Squad 4-H Club, Kent County
  4. Cassandra Cordie, The Mane Squad 4-H Club, Kent County
  5. Nicole Cannavo. Holler-N-Hooves 4-H Club, Kent County

 Black and White Photography- Digital or 35 MM- Ages 8-11

  1. Weston Williams, Harrington Sunshine 4-H Club, Kent County
  2. Weston Williams, Harrington Sunshine 4-H Club, Kent County
  3. Weston Williams, Harrington Sunshine 4-H Club, Kent County
  4. Stephanie Strachar, Hearts 4 Horses 4-H Club, Kent County
  5. Weston Williams, Harrington Sunshine 4-H Club, Kent County
  6. Weston Williams, Harrington Sunshine 4-H Club, Kent County

Black and White Photography- Digital or 35 MM- Ages 12-14

  1. Parker Boots, The Mane Squad 4-H Club, Kent County

Best In Show Champion AwardRJ Shepard- Age 14- Holler-N-Hooves 4-H Club, Kent County

Color Photography

 Best In Show Reserve Champion AwardRJ Shepard- Age 14- Holler-N-Hooves 4-H Club, Kent County

Color Photography

4-H is a community of young people across Delaware learning leadership, citizenship and lifeskills.  We grow true leaders!  For more information on becoming a 4-H member or volunteer in Delaware please contact your county extension office:

New Castle County: (302)831-8965
Kent County: (302)730-4000
Sussex County: (302)856-7303

Cooperative Extension Education in Agriculture and Home Economics, University of Delaware, Delaware State University and the United States Department of Agriculture cooperating.  Distributed in furtherance of Acts of Congress of May 8 and June 30, 1914.  It is the policy of the Delaware Cooperative Extension System that no person shall be subjected to discrimination on the grounds of race, color, sex, disability, age, or national origin.

The Puzzle, or Diagnosis of Plant Health Problems

puzzle-305529_960_720Working together, Delaware Cooperative Extension professionals help with trouble-shooting plant health questions through a variety of newsletters, fact sheets, workshops, eXtension Ask an Expert, and one on one conversation. Some samples may not need to be sent to the UD Plant Diagnostic Clinic, but may be diagnosed by Master Gardeners, County Agents, or Extension Specialists in the County Extension offices.  A sample submission form may be downloaded from the Clinic website, and must accompany all samples, with as much information filled in as possible. Diagnostics are like a puzzle; we need all of the pieces. Deliver specimens to Delaware Cooperative Extension Offices in Georgetown (856-7303), Dover (730-4000), or Newark (831-2506).  Please try to send samples early in the week so they don’t sit in a mailbox over the weekend. Some helpful hints are listed below, more info can be found on the following fact sheet: http://extension.udel.edu/factsheets/selecting-plant-disease-specimens/

  • A good sample shows a range of symptoms or a margin between healthy and affected. A sample with only one or two leaves or a dead branch probably cannot be diagnosed.
  • Place samples in a closeable plastic bag or tall kitchen trash bag.  Samples in open plastic bags from grocery stores or paper are usually too dry by the time they get examined.
  • Wet, soft fruits or vegetables should be placed in dry paper towels and then double bagged in case they leak.
  • Turfgrass samples should show a margin between healthy and diseased, for a section of turf with a bit of soil underneath (a 3 x 4 section is good). Disposable plastic containers with lids work well.
  • Anything sprayed with a pesticide should not be collected and sent for at least 24 hours.
  • Insect identifications can be made from plants, household, or foundation habitats only.

Nancy Gregory, June 2016