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In the news: Janaury-February 2011



Alberta Beef environmental award announced
Alberta Beef Producers (ABP) recently presented the 2011 Environmental Stewardship Award at the group’s annual general meeting.

The Kidd Bros., a beef producer near Mayerthorpe, was the selected recipient.

The brothers, Bob and Larry Kidd, work closely with their uncle, Ron Kidd, one of the original partners, to run a viable mixed operation that focuses on cattle and crop production. The family recognizes the importance of the environment but is first to admit the majority of their environmental practices were brought forth by production and profitability concerns.

The Kidd brothers have worked closely with groups like the West Central Forage Association, Cows and Fish, and were instrumental in the development of the Paddle River Stewardship Group. Through these groups, the brothers have hosted countless tours and demonstrations on their property spreading the message of environmental sustainability.

“Bob and Larry have put a lot of effort into working with a number of environmental groups so others can benefit from their actions,” said Greg Bowie, ESA chair. “Protecting the river and the land and plant life around it is a very obvious priority to the brothers.”

It is the Kidds’ constant efforts to improve their management practices while minimizing the impact of the environment that make them worthy recipients of the 2011 Environmental Stewardship Award.
“It’s nice to be recognized for moving agriculture in a positive direction. The environment is constantly playing a larger role in the decision-making of the initiatives we take on,” said Larry.


Catnip oil repels bloodsucking flies
Catnip, the plant that attracts domestic cats like an irresistible force, has proven 99 per cent effective in repelling the bloodsucking flies that attack horses and cows, causing $2 billion in annual losses to the cattle industry.

That’s the word from a report published in American Chemical Society’s Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

Junwei Zhu and colleagues note that stable flies not only inflict painful bites, but also transmit multiple diseases. Cattle harried by these bloodsuckers may produce less meat and milk, have trouble reproducing and develop diseases that can be fatal. All traditional methods for controlling stable flies – even heavy applications of powerful insecticides – have proven less than effective. The scientists thus turned to catnip oil, already known to repel more than a dozen families of insects, including houseflies, mosquitoes and cockroaches.

They made pellets of catnip oil, soy, and paraffin wax, and spread them in a cattle feedlot. Within minutes, the pellets shooed the flies away, with the repellent action lasting for about three hours.

Pellets without catnip oil, in contrast, had no effect. The scientists now are working on making the repellent action last longer, which they say is the key to putting catnip to use in protecting livestock both in feedlots and pastures.


New Holland launches YouTube channel
There’s a new YouTube channel devoted to all things farming www.youtube.com/NewHollandNA.

New Holland’s new YouTube channel has been launched as a resource for a wide variety of farm equipment-related information. The channel currently has 36 videos covering topics ranging from making great hay and equipment at work in the fields, to how-to tips and animated videos that reveal the inner workings of farm equipment.

The New Holland YouTube channel showcases videos on

  • six playlists:
  • Featured video
  • Product overviews
  • Products in action
  • How-to’s
  • How it works
  • Testimonials

 


Researchers to study livestock burial sites
The Manitoba Livestock Manure Management Initiative recently approved a project to study the chemistry and biology of ground water below a mass burial site.

Dr. Terrance Fonstad, a researcher and associate professor with the College of Agriculture and Bioresource Engineering at the University of Saskatchewan, will lead the project, entitled Groundwater Chemistry and Biology Below Mortalities Disposal Sites.

The objective of the study is to determine the fate of contaminants from an existing burial site. This will help to assess the transport potential of those contaminants into groundwater supplies over time.

Groundwater models will then be developed to assist federal and provincial regulators in determining the risks associated with burial site use. The models will also assist in preparing protocols to govern future establishment of burial sites.

For this project, Dr. Fonstad and his colleagues will study a Saskatchewan-based site that was used to bury elk euthanized during a chronic wasting disease control measure in 2000.

To stay updated on the progress of this project, please visit the Manure Initiative’s website at www.manure.mb.ca/projects .


USDA announces online tool for GHG emissions
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) chief Dave White recently announced the release of an enhanced and expanded online tool developed in collaboration with Colorado State University (CSU).

The tool helps producers estimate carbon sequestration and greenhouse gas emissions associated with a variety of on-farm management practices.

The tool, officially known as COMET-VR 2.0, is housed on the CSU website at www.comet2.colostate.edu/ . Similar to the first version, COMET-VR, Version 2.0 is easy-to-use and connected to state-of-the-art models that help farmers and ranchers evaluate on-farm greenhouse gas emissions and sequestration options. The online tool estimates carbon sequestration and greenhouse gas emission reductions associated with the implementation of conservation practices for cropland, pasture, rangeland, orchards and agroforestry. In addition, the user-friendly evaluation tool includes estimates for biomass and soil carbon stock changes, and carbon dioxide emissions from on-farm energy use.

The latest version of the tool also expands the evaluation of greenhouse gases beyond carbon dioxide by estimating reductions in nitrous oxide emissions from agricultural practices that improve the efficiency of fertilizer and manure applications. In addition, COMET-VR 2.0 is compatible with national and international standards, including the Environmental Protection Agency’s U.S. greenhouse gas annual inventory that documents greenhouse gas emissions nationwide.

COMET-VR 2.0 is applicable to all agricultural lands in the conterminous 48 states. Information necessary to evaluate land use and energy changes includes state, county, parcel size, surface soil texture, approximate historic land use changes, tillage and fertilization practices, future land management and carbon storage practices, and current fossil fuel electricity consumption.


Wisconsin ‘cow power’ facility operational

Dane County’s first “cow power” facility officially started operating late last year as county executive Kathleen Falk, representatives of Clear Horizons and the three farm families partnering on the project pushed a button to start filling the first manure digester tank.

The facility is expected to begin producing electricity for sale to Alliant Energy in February.

The Dane County “cow power” facility is expected to generate about $2-million worth of electricity each year – enough to run 2,500 Dane County homes. It also includes first-of-its-kind equipment slated to remove much of the algae producing phosphorus from the manure.

Dane County and Clear Horizons are partnering on this project along with three family farms in the towns of Vienna and Dane – the Ripps, the Endres and the Maiers. The digester is the first in the state to be shared by a cluster of several farmers.

“All our manure will now go to the digester and most of the phosphorus will be exported out of the watershed to help clean up our lakes and streams,” said Richard Maier, of White Gold Dairy, a multi-generational, family-owned and operated dairy.

In addition to this first digester, Dane County recently announced that four farm families in the near Springfield, Wis., have expressed interest in partnering with the county on construction of a second “cow power” facility. Under the proposal, electricity from that digester would be sold to Madison Gas and Electric. It’s hoped construction of that digester will begin northwest of Middleton late next summer.


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