January 29th, 2013
If it’s winter where you are at, then you’re probably looking for a good book to read. I have one suggestion that you might consider – Crop Ecology: Productivity and Management in Agricultural Systems by David J. Connor, Robert S. Loomis, and Kenneth G. Cassman. This is the 2nd edition of this very good book published by the Cambridge University Press.
You can read my review of this book that was published last month in the Quarterly Review of Biology at this link:
Review of Crop Ecology
December 14th, 2012
Thomas G. Chastain
The Willamette Valley is the USA’s only significant sugarbeet seed production area for this important crop. Annual acreage in the region for sugarbeet seed production ranges from 2000 to 6000 acres, but has declined since the 1990s (Fig. 1). Technological advancements in production of sugarbeets has resulted in reduced but stable seed production acreages in the Willamette Valley.
Figure 1. Sugarbeet seed production acreage trends in the Willamette Valley.
Read the rest of this entry »
November 12th, 2012
According to this story that appeared in a recent edition (November 9th) of the Oregonian newspaper, they do. The streaked horned lark, a bird that is indigenous in the Pacific Northwest, has been proposed for listing as a threatened species under the protections of the Endangered Species Act.
Here’s a link to the article:
Streaked horned lark
But an interesting passage in the article caught my attention:
The Willamette Valley’s contingent, perhaps 900 to 1,300 birds, appears relatively stable, largely due to farms, says Hannah Anderson, with the Center for Natural Lands Management in Olympia, Wash. Farming can destroy nesting grounds. But it keeps out shopping malls and subdivisions and gives the birds a place to winter.
“If there were not grass seed and Christmas tree farms in the Willamette Valley,” Anderson says, “there may not be (streaked horned) larks.”
This news follows a story in the recent past that suggested that grass seed fields in the valley are also good fish habitat.
November 7th, 2012
The American Association for the Advancement of Science has recently released a policy statement on mandatory labeling of foods that are produced with GMO crops. Here’s the policy statement from the AAAS, one of the world’s largest scientific organizations:
Statement by the AAAS Board of Directors On Labeling of Genetically Modified Foods
The position that has been adopted by the AAAS is that GMO crops are not a major risk and that the foods produced from them are safe for human consumption, hence there is no need for labeling of GMO foods. I agree with the first part of the statement – the vast majority of the research done to date does indeed suggest that both GMO crops and the foods produced from them are safe. However, I must disagree with the organization’s stance on the labeling of GMO foods. Read the rest of this entry »
October 4th, 2012
Thomas G. Chastain
The Willamette Valley has experienced very dry late summer and early fall conditions to date and long-range projections are for more of the same coming in the middle and late parts of fall. How dry has it been? Rainfall for the July through September period has been 0.87 inches at Hyslop Farm or 37% of the normal 2.35 inches for the period. Only 10 years in the past 123 years have been this dry or drier in the Willamette Valley. In these dry years, rainfall in October has averaged 2.11 inches or 66% of normal. When it gets this dry in July through September, dry Octobers typically follow. Thus, no relief from the dry conditions in the near term can be expected given either the forecasts or the historical records observed in past drought periods. Read the rest of this entry »
September 18th, 2012
A new publication on residue management has just been released by OSU’s grass seed production research and extension team. The publication is titled Postharvest Residue Management for Grass Seed Production in Western Oregon (EM 9051) and is a product of many years of field work in grass seed crops by the members of the research and extension team.
Residue management equipment used in OSU field studies. The equipment was transported to on-farm research plot sites throughout the state. (click to enlarge)
The publication summarizes the results of these field studies and adds new insights on how grass seed crop residue management influences nutrients and nutrient management decisions. The photo above shows the rakes, flail mowers, vacuum-sweepers, propane flamer, weigh wagons (for determining seed yield), and the vehicles used to move the team’s equipment.
The publication can be obtained by following the link below:
Postharvest Residue Management for Grass Seed Production in Western Oregon EM 9051
Here’s a link to a story by Mitch Lies of the Capital Press on the research and extension team as well as their approach to the problem:
Burning decrease changed valley farming