Category Archives: Agriculture

Virginia Cooperative Extension’s 2019 Pest Management and Production Guides are Now Available

The 2019 Virginia Cooperative Extension pest management and production guides, which provide current information on spraying, pest management, and field crop and vegetable production are now available for purchase and free download. The guides can be accessed at www.pubs.ext.vt.edu by selecting the “Publications for Sale” link.

2019 Spray Bulletin for Commercial Tree Fruit Growers
Spray Bulletin for Commercial Tree Fruit Growers has been completely updated and provides resources for safe spraying practices, such as application, storage, appropriate clothing choices, laws and regulations, and other specific guidelines.

 

Mid-Atlantic Commercial Vegetable Production Recommendations
The latest version of the Mid-Atlantic Commercial Vegetable Production Recommendations replaces all of the previous editions from Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia. This guide is designed for the commercial vegetable grower and provides recommended selections for variety, pesticides, irrigation, fertilizer, and cultural practices.

 

The Virginia Cooperative Extension Pest Management Guides are divided into three different volumes: Home Grounds and Animals, Field Crops, and Horticultural Forest Crops.

Home Grounds and Animals Pest Management Guide
The Home Grounds and Animals Pest Management Guide provides gardeners with the latest recommendations for controlling diseases, insects, and weeds with non-chemical control alternatives, while also integrating in the appropriate integrated pest management guidelines (IPM).

 

Field Crops Pest Management Guide
The Field Crops Pest Management Guide provides farmers and crop-protection professionals with new information on management tactics for major pest problems, while also referencing chemicals registered by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

 

Horticultural and Forest Crops Pest Management Guide
The Horticultural and Forest Crops Pest Management Guide gives growers current information on the controlling of diseases, insects, nematodes, and weeds; this is not an all-inclusive control plan for the pests in Virginia, yet it does provide a wide range of recommendations for growers.

 

These handbooks are intended only to be used as guides. Pesticide labels should be consulted for application methods, instructions, and precautions. Most of these guidelines will be updated yearly with new, relevant regulatory information.

For more information about these guides or other Virginia Cooperative Extension publications, contact Lori Greiner, VCE publications manager, at lgreiner@vt.edu or 540-231-5863.

— Written by Gabrielle Sanderson

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Daniel Austin receives conservation award for stewardship and innovation

Left to right: Chris Lawrence, state cropland agronomist for USDA-NRCS; Franklin County farmer Daniel Austin of Green Sprig Ag; and, Dan Luebben, son of Carl.

Left to right: Chris Lawrence, state cropland agronomist for USDA-NRCS; Franklin County farmer Daniel Austin of Green Sprig Ag; and, Dan Luebben, son of Carl.

Franklin County farmer Daniel Austin recently received the fifth annual Carl G. Luebben Soil Health and Water Quality Award for his contributions to conservation in the commonwealth.

Sponsored by Houff Corp., the award is named for Luebben, a former Houff salesman known for his passion for agronomy, sustainable systems, soil health research, and mentorship of conservation professionals.

Daniel Austin is a fifth-generation farmer who was raised on a dairy and began overseeing forage production on two family-run, confined dairy operations by the age of 18. He has farmed more than 500 acres of forages and grain crops annually.

Today, Austin owns and operates Green Sprig Ag, where he specializes in forage and cover-crop seed, as well as custom no-till planting and forage harvesting. The producer doesn’t just custom-blend forage and cover-crop seed mixes, he is a regional guru, advising farmers, industry, and agency experts on what to plant and when.

Austin is a true innovator, always willing to host test plots and try new approaches. He is also a passionate advocate for soil-health-building no-till systems, leading by example with his adoption of continuous no-till and aggressive cover cropping. He founded the Franklin County chapter of the Virginia No-till Alliance and has been a major agent for change in land management practices.

Since the first planter clinic in 2011, Austin has organized, promoted, hosted, sponsored, and spoken at dozens of educational events for growers and conservation partners. In the past decade, his efforts have led to a dramatic reduction in tillage and bare fields across Franklin County.

Austin and his wife are deeply committed to their agricultural heritage with an overriding goal of building an enterprise that will allow their son to carry on the family farming tradition. He also hopes to influence other farmers to adapt to the new realities of agriculture. Committed to finding ways to stay profitable in the face of decreasing milk and commodity crop prices, Austin has shifted his focus to value-added production and marketing. He grows food-grade small grains for specialty markets and runs the Little Red Hen feed mill to process his non-GMO corn, soybeans, and small grains into feed for local small-scale poultry and swine growers.

The producer received his award at the Virginia Farm to Table Conference at Blue Ridge Community College last month. The conference is hosted annually by Virginia Cooperative Extension, USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service, and community partners.

Carl Luebben’s son Dan was on hand to participate in the presentation. Carl Luebben, who passed away in October 2015, previously served on the Virginia Farm Bureau Board, the Shenandoah Resource Conservation and Development Council, and the Shenandoah Valley Soil and Water Conservation District.

— Written by Zeke Barlow

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2018 Virginia Farm to Table Conference to be held Dec. 5 and 6

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If you’re interested in local and regional food and agriculture, dealing with farming stressors in healthy ways, practical applications of soil health, value-added products, farm profitability, and other food and agricultural system topics, plan to attend the 2018 Virginia Farm to Table Conference on Dec. 5 and 6 at Blue Ridge Community College’s Plecker Workforce Development Center, Weyers Cave, Virginia.

Virginia Cooperative Extension is partnering with USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service, Agua Fund, Virginia Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE), and many other community partners to bring in engaging and inspirational speakers with broad experience and knowledge of food, farming, and the environment.

This year, speakers will offer their perspectives on the theme “Nourishing Farming, Community, and Hope” and will include Mike Rosmann, a clinical psychologist/farmer from Iowa, who helps farmers deal with stress and anxiety related to the unpredictability of farming; Rev. Heber Brown III of the Black Church Food Security Network, who will provide lively discussion on nourishing local communities; Penn State specialists who will take High Tunnels to the next level and discuss managing soil and pests; Rachel Armistead of Sweet Farm, who will discuss how fermentation may add value to your agricultural products and demonstrate how it’s done; and Dave Montgomery and Anne Biklé, renowned authors who will share the importance of microbial soil health and its relationship to human health.

PLEASE NOTE: There is a free community event open to the public on Dec. 5 at 6:30 p.m. at the BRCC Plecker Workforce Center. Enjoy an evening talk and conversation with authors David Montgomery and Anne Biklé on the important role that soil ecology plays in restoring land and health. Books will be available for sale and signing.

“We invite everyone interested in food and agriculture to the Virginia Farm to Table Conference,” said Kathy Holm, USDA-NRCS assistant state conservationist for field operations. “People leave this conference feeling inspired by thought-provoking speakers, stimulating panel discussions, networking opportunities, and wonderful locally sourced food from A Bowl of Good.”

Visit the conference website at conference.virginiafarmtotable.org to review the detailed agenda of conference offerings

Participants can select from concurrent session tracks in which producers and practitioners share their local and regional expertise: agroforestry and livestock management, justice and equity in the farming and food system, growing your niche, voices from the field, value-added food production, and practical applications of soil and water health.

Early bird registration pricing is available until Nov. 30, and rates will increase significantly after this date. More details regarding the conference registration are available at: https://tinyurl.com/VAFT2018. For questions, or if you need assistive devices to attend, call (540) 232-6006 or 6010 at least five days prior to the event.

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Extension offers new stormwater management publication series

Flexible fittings and extension pipes are attached to the end of a downspout to direct the runoff away from the house and impervious areas to pervious areas in the landscape, like flowerbeds, vegetable gardens, and lawns. Stormwater can also be directed into other practices, like grass swales, rain gardens, and buffers. (Photo by Mary Ann Kincaid, Virginia Beach Master Gardener Water Steward)

Residents in Virginia and the Carolinas have experienced their fair share of rainfall over the past few months, most recently with the arrival of hurricanes Florence and Michael. In many cases, the ground was already saturated, leaving no place for the rain to go causing home and property damage.

In a new publication series, “Stormwater Management for Homeowners,” Virginia Cooperative Extension provides information on how homeowners can use different practices in their landscapes to manage stormwater and protect their property from damage in the future.

“The main goal of this six-part series is to motivate homeowners and help them manage stormwater more effectively whenever rainstorms occur,” said Laurie Fox, a horticulture research associate at Virginia Tech. Fox and her colleagues address various practices commonly used in residential landscapes such as rooftop redirection, rain barrels, permeable pavement, grass swales, rain gardens, and buffers.

Fox, who works at the Hampton Roads Agricultural Research and Extension Center in Virginia Beach, encourages home and property owners to remember what they do makes a difference. “It doesn’t have to be expensive or labor or maintenance intensive,” she said.

For most properties, the biggest sources of rainfall hit roofs and driveways, said Fox. If stormwater stays in the landscape, it can soak into the ground, be used by plants, or evaporate into the atmosphere. If rainwater is collected in a rain barrel, the water can be used later for activities like watering plants, washing cars, and filling fish ponds. If the stormwater is not funneled into the storm drain with all the other stormwater running off streets, parking lots, and other properties, the total volume will be reduced, which helps reduce flooding and pollution in the Chesapeake Bay.

Fox hopes that people can learn from this useful series. “No matter what you do, how big or small, to manage stormwater in your landscape, collectively it makes a positive impact on the community.”

The goal is to slow stormwater down and spread it out into the landscape or collect it for later use as close to the source as possible.

The publication series is free and may be downloaded from the Virginia Cooperative Extension Publications and Resources website.

For additional information on numerous other topics, visit Virginia Cooperative Extension or contact your local VCE office. Virginia Cooperative Extension is an educational outreach program of Virginia’s land-grant universities: Virginia Tech and Virginia State University, and a part of the National Institute for Food and Agriculture, an agency of the United States Department of Agriculture.

— Written by Michael Craddock, a senior in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences.

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Four industry leaders inducted into the Virginia Livestock Hall of Fame

The 2018 Livestock Hall of Fame inductees were (from left) Eileen Beckman, Gary Hornbaker, Charles Moyer, and Lynda Schmidt Stuart.

The 2018 Livestock Hall of Fame inductees were (from left) Eileen Beckman, Gary Hornbaker, Charles Moyer, and Lynda Schmidt Stuart.

Four people were recently inducted into the Virginia Livestock Hall of Fame for their outstanding and uncommon contributions to the state’s livestock industry.

The ceremony was held at the College of Agriculture and Life Science’s Alphin-Stuart Livestock Arena on Virginia Tech’s campus during an unveiling of portraits of the 2018 honorees.

Established in 2009, the Virginia Livestock Hall of Fame bestows honor and recognition on outstanding Virginians who have made significant contributions to the state’s livestock industry and its people. The Virginia Cattlemen’s Association, Virginia Pork Industry Association, Virginia Sheep Producers Association, Virginia State Dairymen’s Association, and Virginia Horse Council can nominate living or deceased individuals to the Virginia Livestock Hall of Fame. This year’s honorees are listed below.

Eileen Beckmam founded and operated Otteridge Farm in Bedford County, where she bred and developed superior hunter ponies. Her ponies were exhibited and shown very successfully, but her greatest contribution was her teaching children and adults to ride with proper horsemanship and sportsmanlike conduct. She was also a well-respected judge. Recognitions include being inducted into the Virginia Horse Shows and the National Show Hunters halls of Fame. Beckman passed away in 2010.

Gary Hornbaker is a recognized agricultural innovator and leader in Loudoun County and the greater Northern Virginia area. His career in Virginia Cooperative Extension and county services is dedicated to the livestock industry and economic development. He is a cattle and sheep producer specializing in producing animals for research. Recognitions include citations from the Virginia Cattlemen’s and the Virginia Sheep Producers associations and national and state agricultural Extension groups.

Charles Moyer, of Amelia County, has been a lifelong dairyman and breeder of Oakmulgee registered Holsteins. He is a distinguished and respected agricultural and civic leader and promoter of agricultural cooperatives. He has served on numerous state and national industry boards and committees. Recognitions include FFA’s American Farmer Degree, Virginia Holstein Association’s Distinguished Service Award, and Virginia’s Outstanding Farm Family.

Lynda Schmidt Stuart is an accomplished farm manager and leader with a background in both the beef and dairy industries. She grew up on a registered Holstein farm in California and with her father developed Genetics Inc., an artificial insemination firm. She came to Virginia in 1975 and has served as president, CEO and manager of Stuart Land and Cattle Co. since 2008.

— Written by Zeke Barlow

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