Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Foreign Invasion threat to farming

In honor of #NationalInvasiveSpeciesAwarenessWeek

A Plant Doctor's House Calls

Creeping MenaceForeign terrorists have been invading our farms and environment for a long time. These terrorists are called Invasive species. An invasive species is a plant or animal that is not native to a specific location (an introduced species); and has a tendency to spread, which is believed to cause damage to the environment, human economy and/or human health. Species that are moved or migrate to an area where they have not been to before can disrupt the ecology of an area because the native species have not evolved to interact with the newcomer. There may be no natural predators to keep the new species in check or the new species may find a food source that has no defense against the newcomer. There are invasive pests that have invaded our forests, waterways, homes and fields.

The following are just a few I’ve chosen to highlight from the USDA APHIS…

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Thankful for our food

As we prepare our Thanksgiving day feast it may be a good time to reflect on what it takes to get that food to your table. There are many people in many industries that work hard to bring us the abundance of food we have come to take for granted when we go to our local grocery store. As a plant doctor, I will use this post to summarize what my part of the “food chain” contributes to your Thanksgiving feast.

What is on your table?

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As you can see, without the benefits of crop protection products, organic or conventional, yields would suffer and the abundance of food we rely on would decrease making our Thanksgiving feast much more expensive.

Do you like pie?

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Plant bugs of all types are very hard to control. Even organic farmers have problems with these pests. Organic pesticides only deter these bugs for a short time making multiple applications necessary to protect the crop. Nasty little buggers!

Modern technology is doing more to increase yields and decrease the amount of pesticides needed to bring food to your table. Not so long ago many of our crop protection chemicals were broad spectrum and applied in pounds per acre. Now they are more targeted to the pest, safer for beneficial insects, safer for workers and applied in oz per acre. Better application techniques make spraying these low rates effective with less impact on the surrounding environment.

Agriculture has many challenges ahead of it to be able to bring more food to a growing population with less land and other resources.

There are still many challenges ahead. Environmental issues to solve. Promises of new technology such and Genetically Modified crops and other new technologies like CRISPer are just a few things science is looking into to make sure everyone on this planet has enough to eat. GMO technology has already  reduced chemical pesticide use by 37%, increased crop yields by 22%, and increased farmer profits by 68% (from an articled penned by Klumper and Qaim in 2014; a meta study that summarizes his findings of 147 original studies on the impact of GMOs). 
With the help of modern agriculture techniques, hunger is disappearing but we still have a long way to go before the problems of food insecurity disappears as well.
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As our technology continues to improve, better solutions arise and agriculture continues to tackle the challenges of producing more food with less resources and keeping our environment, workers and families safe and healthy. The more we know the better we do. It is a challenge we take on with pride.

Careers in Ag, they are a plenty!

A recent post on the Yahoo Education site claimed that the number 1 useless college major was Agriculture. This caused quite a stir on my Facebook wall from all my friends involved in agriculture. The statistics that were used to make such a claim were very narrow and misleading to say the least. There are certainly plenty of people out there with degrees in the Ag Sciences and other Ag related majors that have jobs. One post in rebuttal even pointed out that the website AgCareers.com posts plenty of new jobs every month. From my point of view, just focusing on Ag related majors when looking to jobs in Ag isn’t even looking at the full picture.

I work in Ag and I don’t have an Ag degree. My B.S. degree is in Zoology. You can get qualified to get a State Pest Control Adviser license in California with a degree in Biological Sciences. To see what education requirements are needed there is a great summary at http://capca.com/educationalrequirements. Sure there are plenty of careers and jobs in Ag that don’t need an Ag degree but many are easier to get with one. The article seemed to focus on farm management jobs and noted that the number of these jobs were falling. That is a reasonable assumption since the number of farms in this country is falling but that doesn’t take into account all the support related jobs that goes to making sure all those farms run smoothly. Soil and plant sciences, animal nutritionists, Ag engineers to help manage soil and water resources, irrigation specialists, mechanics, chemists, veterinarians, etc, etc. Many of these are specialized Ag Degrees which are indeed, not useless.

I know for a fact that agriculture related fields are looking to hire well qualified people. Education and training is a must. If you are thinking you would like a career working with nature and the great outdoors, consider ag. Great things are happening throughout the industry.