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Permalink Is there a low-toxicity herbicide that kills thistle as well as thistle roots?

Answer: Research has suggested that application rates of 20 to 160 gallons per acre of 20% acetic acid solution applied in combination with additives such as orange oil, non-ionic surfactant, and crop oil concentrate can be effective for controlling weeds. However, the addition of the additives were effective only in the low application rate. Higher application rates did not show improved control than lower application rates. Broadleaf weeds are controlled more easily with acetic acid than are grassy weeds.

Low-toxicity herbicides are available from several suppliers. Scythe, produced by Dow AgroSciences, is made from fatty acids. Scythe acts fast as a broad-spectrum herbicide, and results can often be seen in as little as five minutes. It is used as a post-emergent herbicide, sprayed directly on the foliage. It is primarily a burn-down herbicide, has no residual activity, and is not effective on non-green, woody portions of plants.

Vinegar is an ingredient in several new herbicides on the market today. Burnout and Bioganic are two available brands. Both of these are post-emergent burndown herbicides. They are sprayed onto the plant to burn off top growth—hence the concept "burndown." As for any root-killing activity with these two herbicides, I cannot say. The label on Burnout states that perennials like thistle may regenerate after a single application and require additional treatment.

Researchers in Maryland tested 5% and 10% acidity vinegar for effectiveness in weed control. They found that older plants required a higher concentration of vinegar to kill them. At the higher concentration, they got an 85 to 100% kill rate. A 5% solution burned off the top growth with 100% success. Household vinegar is about 5% acetic acid. Burnout is 23% acetic acid. Bioganic contains 10% acetic acid plus clove oil, thyme oil, and sodium lauryl sulfate. AllDown contains acetic acid, citric acid, garlic, and yucca extract. Matran 2 contains 50% clove oil. Vinegar is corrosive to metal sprayer parts—the higher the acidity, the more corrosive. Plastic equipment is recommended for applying vinegar.

According to a study conducted in California by the UC Statewide IPM Program comparing several non-synthetic herbicides with Roundup Pro, the following herbicides might prove effective in controlling broadleaf weeds like thistle.

Eco-Exempt is a contact, non-selective, broad spectrum, foliar-applied herbicide that will only control actively growing green vegetation. The active ingredients are 2-phenethyl propionate and eugenol (clove oil). 2-phenethyl propionate is considered a minimum risk pesticide by the EPA, is exempt from EPA pesticide registration (as are the following products, with the exception of Roundup Pro), and is in the same risk classification as cinnamon oil, citric acid, clove oil, and corn gluten meal. In a California study, Eco-Exempt was reported to have minimal effect on broadleaf weeds (including thistle).

Matran 2, like Eco-Exempt, is a contact, non-selective, broad spectrum, foliar-applied herbicide that will only control actively growing green vegetation. The active ingredients are clove leaf oil and wintergreen oil.

For more information on reducing weeds, consult the ATTRA publication Sustainable Weed Management for Small and Medium-Scale Farms. This publication discusses several strategies, both proactive and reactive, as alternatives to conventional tillage systems. Options include mulching, competition, crop rotations, and low-toxicity control alternatives.

Note: The mention of specific brand names is for educational purposes only and does not constitute endorsement by NCAT, ATTRA, or USDA.

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Permalink What can you tell me about contract grazing?

Answer: Contract grazing is a livestock-production system that decouples land ownership, livestock ownership, and land (and livestock) management. The arrangement may involve as many as three separate entities carrying out distinct roles: a landowner, a livestock owner, and a grazier (the grazing manager). There are three scenarios that contract grazing falls into. The first is when a grazier who owns pasture contracts to manage another farmer’s livestock. The second is a livestock owner leasing pasture from a landowner and managing his or her own livestock on that land. The third is a farmer contracting with a grazier to manage the farmer’s livestock on the farmer’s own land or on another party’s land.

Contract grazing can be a profitable agricultural enterprise for the custom grazier. If the grazier doesn’t own cattle, he or she does not have to pay livestock ownership expenses and manages cattle only during the grazing season. If the grazier leases land, he or she doesn’t have to pay taxes and has the flexibility to enter or leave the business more readily. Contract grazing can be a sought-after opportunity by dairy producersn especially if they do not have the ability to raise their own replacement heifers, and for beef producers who do not have the pasture for backgrounding calves.

Check out the ATTRA publication Grazing Contracts for Livestock as you research this enterprise. This publication discusses some of the issues involved with contract grazing, including various classes of livestock, equipment, sample contracts, some of the economics to consider and other resources available on the subject.

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Permalink When should I supplement my pasture-grazed livestock?

Answer: The nutritional concern for ruminants centers around energy (i.e., carbohydrates), protein, minerals, vitamins, and water. Energy is responsible for maintenance and growth functions of the animal, and for the generation of heat. Protein grows tissue and performs other vital functions. Other nutrients and minerals such as vitamins A and E, calcium, phosphorus, and selenium can be fed "free choice" as a mineral supplement.

Cattle, sheep, and goats--by nature, grazing and browsing animals--grow and reproduce well on pasture alone. However, an intensive and industrial agricultural production philosophy has dictated that crops and animals should be raised faster, larger, and more consistently than a pasture system can deliver. Thus, confinement systems with delivered forages and concentrated feeds have been the norm since the 1950s. Raising animals on grass is slower than raising animals on grain. However, a pasture-based livestock producer will, with careful planning, realize cost savings and subsequent profitability through the efficiency of relying on the natural systems of nutrient cycling, biological pest controls, and perennial pasture productivity.

The major operational expense confronting the livestock industry in most parts of the United States is for supplemental feed. In temperate regions of the country that experience adequate rainfall and a lengthy grazing season, supplementation on green, growing, vegetative, well-managed pastures should not be necessary. However, young and lactating stock require more energy and protein than mature, non-lactating animals.

Supplementing energy is helpful on vegetative, well-managed pastures for more efficient utilization of forage protein (for high-producing animals). Supplementing with protein is necessary on low-quality pasture and rangeland or when continuously grazing temperate warm-season pastures.

For more information, see the ATTRA publication Ruminant Nutrition for Graziers. This publication provides managers with tools and references to consider biological and climatological variables and make decisions that ensure the ecological and economic viability of a grass-based ruminant livestock operation.

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Permalink How should horizontal airflow fans in high tunnels be set up to help prevent foliage diseases on tomato, pepper, and eggplant crops?

Answer: First, the purpose of using high-airflow fans in your tunnels is to keep the air moving mostly at night to even out the temperatures throughout the tunnel. This decreases the chance that the tomato foliage temperature will drop below the temperature of the air around it, and hit dew point temperatures, which causes condensation to form on the foliage. Moisture on the foliage is a vector for fungal and bacterial diseases.

To work well, the fans need to move the air along at between 50 and 100 feet per minute.For example, in a 30x96-foot high tunnel, four 20-inch fans rated at 1600 cfm would be more than adequate. The fans cost about $100 to $150 each.

Place two fans on one side of the tunnel and two on the other side about a quarter of the distance from the sides of the tunnel. You are trying to get the air to move down one side of the tunnel and back up the other side so the fans on the opposite sides of the tunnel should point in the opposite direction of one another.

Place the first fan about 10 to 15 feet from the end wall and the next one about 50 feet from the first fan. Do the same with the other two fans on the opposite side.

These fans should be run when the whole-tunnel ventilation fans are not running. This will usually mean from the evening, when the sun starts to go down, until the morning.

For more information, check out the ATTRA publication Organic Greenhouse Tomato Production. This publication covers some management practices to reduce foliar diseases in a tomato crop.

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Permalink How can I treat peach leaf curl organically?

Answer: Peach leaf curl, caused by the fungal organism Taphrina deformans, is a common disorder in peach and nectarine orchards, especially during wet springs. Infected leaves become misshapen, deformed, and necrotic, resulting in premature defoliation with subsequent re-sprouting of new leaves. This kind of stress reduces fruit yield and predisposes the tree to pest attack.

The infection period for leaf curl is when new leaves start emerging from buds in the spring. Spraying after the buds have opened is ineffective because infection takes place as the young leaves emerge, and the fungus develops inside the leaf. Accordingly, sprays must be applied during the trees' dormant period—after the leaves have fallen and before the first budswell in the spring. Many orchardists spray just prior to budswell during February and March. Orchards with a history of severe peach leaf curl benefit from a double application: in the autumn at leaf fall and again in late winter or early spring just before budswell.

Fortunately for the organic grower, lime sulfur—one of the most effective fungicides for control of peach leaf curl—is allowed in certified organic production. Bordeaux and copper fungicides—also approved for certified organic programs—are effective as well, but not as effective as lime-sulfur.

University trials comparing Kocide™ (copper hydroxide), lime-sulfur, several synthetic fungicides, and Maxi-Crop™ seaweed for leaf curl control indicated that lime-sulfur and one of the synthetics (ziram) were best, roughly twice as effective as Kocide. Seaweed sprays, despite positive anecdotal reports, were completely ineffective.

Severe leaf curl infection can cause the tree to shed many of its leaves and to replace them with a second flush of growth. At this time, the tree will benefit from a soil application of a quickly-available soluble fertilizer such as compost tea or fish emulsion to help it recover.

There are various levels of resistance to leaf curl among varieties; however, because of the relative ease of controlling the disease, breeding for resistance has not been a priority. Redhaven, Candor, Clayton, and Frost are some of the cultivars with resistance to leaf curl, though none is immune.

For more information, see the ATTRA publication Peaches: Organic and Low-Spray Production. This publication describes the major diseases and insect pests of peaches and discusses organic or least-toxic control options for each. It emphasizes the considerable climatic differences between the arid West, which is relatively amenable to organic peach production, and the humid East, where it is more difficult to grow peaches without synthetic fungicides and insecticides.

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Permalink From a business standpoint, how can I get started in market gardening?

Answer: The amount of land that is put in to production should relate to your markets and, overall, to your targeted revenue. These components are configured in a business plan in which developing a business plan is the first big step in starting a farm operation. The plan will not only serve as a road map for managing towards your goals, but it will also guide you in making decisions. And while the business plan will help in getting you started (and possibly helping with funding from lenders and/or cost-share programs for any start-up costs), it is important to keep in mind that a business plan is something that should be monitored and evolve alongside your business.

While you may have enterprises in mind that you would like to start with, starting a farm should be market driven. This includes the need to address the following:

• What are the problems you want to address?
• For whom do the problems exist?
• How will you target those who are affected by the problems?
• Can you effectively solve the problem economically?
• How much will it cost and will the market pay that cost?

Researching the market(s) and creating a market plan can assist you in tackling these questions. The research that you do to create a market plan will help in identifying the dynamic factors that influence markets. This includes:

• Where am I going to sell/who is customer?
• Size of customer base?
• Location of customer base and influence?
• Sell directly to consumers or wholesale to commodity markets?
• Who is my competition?
• Seasonal price fluctuations to expect?
• Quality standards to meet?
• Time and fuel to reach markets?
• Legal or food safety considerations?

And while selecting which crops to grow should be market-driven, it is important to evaluate your skill level and other personal and farmland criteria, as well as your understanding of costs of production. While you may find which specific crops in your area/markets are best for you to grow, the profits won’t necessarily correlate unless the costs of production and expenses are low enough for you to achieve your targeted revenue. Understanding the true costs of production for each crop and/or enterprise can be achieved through the completion of a crop enterprise budget.

Finally, it is important to be realistic about your operation, especially in the beginning years. It is all too easy to plant more than what is needed for your identified markets; however, issues tend to arise in trying to stay on top of the weeds. In other words, your scale of production needs to relate to your management skills. So it is advised to start small, learn your markets, and gradually expand over time.

For more information, consult the following ATTRA publications:

Tips About Farm Business Structures
Market Gardening: A Start-Up Guide
Basic Accounting: Guidance for Beginning Farmers
Understanding Organic Pricing and Costs of Production

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Permalink What information can you give me on fruit and nut trees suited to central Arkansas?

Answer: A really good place to start would be the ATTRA publication Fruit Trees, Bushes, and Vines for Natural Growing in the Ozarks. Though the title refers to growing in the Ozarks, most of the publication’s information is also true for central Arkansas.

Apples, for instance, are even a little more difficult to grow organically in central Arkansas than they are in the Ozarks. Same goes for pears, peaches, plums, and seedless table grapes. The greater heat and humidity of central Arkansas is the reason. In fact, I'd say that all these are near impossible to grow organically commercially for profit. You might be able to get enough of these fruits for home use, but even that could be difficult because of devastating diseases that are difficult to control organically. If you read through the sections in Fruit Trees, Bushes, and Vines for Natural Growing in the Ozarks on these fruits, you'll understand how to best deal organically with their respective problems.

On the other hand, figs, pomegranates, muscadines, Asian persimmons, and pecans are easier to grow in central Arkansas than in the Ozarks, and all of those except the pecans, are generally quite easy to grow organically.

Species that are equally easy to grow organically in the Ozarks and central Arkansas include elderberries, tart cherries, blueberries (but rabbiteye types would be better down there), some of the Munson-type grapes, strawberries, American persimmons, mulberries, and pawpaws.

Pecans have two serious problems for organic growers. First, pecan scab can largely be avoided by only planting scab-resistant varieties like Elliot, Curtis, Gloria Grande, and Barton. The second problem is the pecan weevil, an insect pest that feeds within the shell and is pretty difficult to control organically.

For more information on organic fruit production, see the Horticultural Crops section of the ATTRA website.

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Permalink What can I do to control root knot nematode in my hoop house that grows lisianthus for a cut-flower market?

Answer: You're probably farming on sandy soil, which nematodes very much enjoy. I'm guessing that you grow lisianthus flowers pretty much year after year in your hoop house. That is also something which the nematodes would very much enjoy.

I try to stress to growers that I work with that it’s important to think about the soil as a complex ecosystem, which has certain requirements. That means rotating your crops, and it also means you should consider adding organic matter back into the soil every year.

Crop rotation diversifies the soil environment through the different chemicals that the plants exude through their roots. It also avoids growing a plant every year that is a host to a particular pest. If you’ve grown lisianthus several seasons in the hoop house, then you’ll likely have a pretty healthy population of root knot nematodes, even though lisianthus is relatively resistant to them. So, one thing I would suggest is to plant something that is not a host to root knot nematodes.

A healthy soil hosts a very diverse soil ecology. Regular additions of organic matter, through the use of compost, cover crops, and plant residues, supports a healthy soil ecology where there are many checks and balances to keep pest populations from getting out of hand. Good-quality compost is likely the most practical method of adding organic matter to your hoop house soil (I’m assuming the lisianthus are "in-ground" and not on benches). The compost will also help your sandy soil retain nutrients and water much better than sandy soil without compost.

To learn more about cut flower production, consult the ATTRA publication Specialty Cut Flower Production and Marketing. You’ll also find additional useful resources on our Soils & Compost page.

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Permalink What advice do you have for planting and growing alliums without tillage?

Answer: While it is possible to establish a no-till system for your land, it is advisable to first establish a cover crop and get the weeds under control, particularly if you are trying to establish no-till in an organic system. According to the book Building Soils for Better Crops, "Once you are committed to no-till, you’ve lost the opportunity to easily and rapidly change the soil’s fertility and physical properties. The recommendation is really the same as for someone establishing a perennial crop, such as an apple orchard. Build the soil and remedy compaction before converting to no-till." While your goal may be to use no-till as a response to your weed situation, keep in mind that organic no-till works best if you have a good handle on your weeds.This probably isn’t new to you, but alliums are particularly vulnerable to weed pressure and I would discourage a no-till system, at least initially.

The Nordells of Beech Grove Farm in Pennsylvania have a great system for managing weeds on their farm, particularly in alliums. I recommend reading their article titled "Weed the Soil, not the Crop." They have what I would call a modified tillage system. They combine fallow-season long-cover cropping, along with using winter-killed cover crops as a mulch for the following season’s vegetables.

If you have enough land, dedicate some of your production area to fallow with cover crops each year. If you have space to spare, I would suggest plowing or tilling followed by a vigorous summer cover crop, followed by a fall planted winter killed cover (if that is available in your region) to manage your current annual weed population. Establish a warm-season cover crop that will give you lots of organic matter and compete with weeds and prepare you for a perennial or annual cover crop that you can incorporate into a no-till system. Legumes such as cowpeas, soybeans, annual sweet clover, sesbania, guar, crotalaria, or velvet beans may be grown as summer green manure crops in your region to add nitrogen along with organic matter. Non-legumes such as sorghum-sudangrass, millet, forage sorghum, or buckwheat are grown to provide biomass, smother weeds, and improve soil tilth. Sorghum-sudan grass is very effective at smothering weeds and producing a lot of organic matter in a short period of time and might be a good selection for your particular situation. It is important that sorghum-sudangrass has regular water to establish a good stand and fill in enough to compete with weeds.

In the fall, this cover crop should be mowed with a rotary mower (or "brush hog") and incorporated with a tillage implement, or if you have access to some type of reduced tillage implement, you can direct seed into the sudangrass residue. At this point, it would be possible to plant a perennial cover crop mix. This could include a legume to help provide some nitrogen, such as white clover planted with a grass, such as a fescue mix. Another option would be to plant another cool-season annual that will over-winter such as a rye/ vetch combination. This will establish in the fall and go dormant through the winter. In the spring the crops will begin growing again. When they begin to establish a seed head, rotary mow or flail chop the cover crop and either plant directly into the dead standing plants or till in and plant your desired cash crop. If you have livestock, this would be the time for grazing at a high stock density. Small livestock such as sheep or goats are great for terminating cover crops and managing weeds.

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Permalink What herbicide residues should be avoided in commercial-scale composting?

Answer: Most agricultural herbicides and pesticides break down quickly in the environment. There are a few exceptions, however, particularly Clopyralid and Picloram. Picloram has shown up in compost residues throughout the country for as much as two years with concentrations as low as 2 parts per billion in compost and straw. Clopyralid is a long-lasting herbicide that is commonly used on turf and has surfaced in municipal composting facilities that compost lawn and leaf residues and Picloram is used to control broad-leafed weeds such as Canadian Thistle. It is currently banned for use on lawns in some states, and agricultural producers are required to have a pesticide applicators license to spray it.

An indication of herbicide damage on your plants is curled and burned leaves. Certain plants are particularly susceptible to herbicide damage, however, including peppers, peas, tomatoes, red clover, and cucumbers. If only these plants are damaged, then most likely herbicide residue is the culprit.

When you source compost and straw for mulch in the future, be sure to ask if the source of your material had Cloropyralid applied.

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Permalink What are the best organic methods for dealing with a blister beetle infestation?

Answer: For many market farmers, blister beetles can wreak havoc on crops in a very short time. The beetles seem to prefer tomatoes, potatoes, and chard, but easily move on to peppers and eggplants. More importantly, they infest hay and are poisonous to animals feeding on the hay, even if the beetles are no longer alive, due to the presence of a toxic chemical in their bodies called cantharidin. Handling the adults should be avoided, as cantharidin can irritate or blister skin on contact. If handled gently, this may not be a problem.

Populations tend to appear suddenly in June and July and usually will feed together in groups. Blister beetles usually overwinter as last-stage larvae and prey on either grasshopper eggs or bee eggs, so keeping grasshopper populations low is necessary to effectively reduce blister beetle populations. If grasshopper populations are high one year, there is increased likelihood that the following year will see higher than normal blister beetle populations.

Some effective options to control the adults are pyrethrum, a broad-spectrum botanical insecticide, and a kaolin clay product sold under the brand-name Surround. Surround is not directly toxic to the beetles but acts in two ways: it changes the color of the plant, thereby confusing the insect, and it also causes most insects that land on a kaolin clay-coated plant to spend much time grooming themselves to remove the clay particles. This reduces the time they spend feeding. Keep in mind that many plants can withstand considerable defoliation before there is a decrease in yield. Neem-based products (containing Azadirachtin) have also reportedly been effective against blister beetles, though if you have a large infestation of blister beetles, you might consider using a formulation of spinosad.

Other management strategies include early planting and harvest of crops to avoid the June/July peak blister beetle season. Row covers are also an option, but you must be sure that no beetles will emerge beneath (inside) the row covers. If your plot is relatively small, then the beetles, which tend to congregate in one area, can be knocked into a bucket of soapy water, which will kill them. Using a preferred crop or even a preferred wild host like passion vine as a trap crop is also an option; the trap crop can then be treated for the beetles. Lastly, creating environments attractive to blister beetle predators, including robber flies and birds such as meadowlark, bluebird, and scissor-tailed flycatcher, can help reduce the population.

See ATTRA's ecological pest management database and sourcing information for the above-mentioned biorationals.

For more information, see the following ATTRA publications:

Biointensive Integrated Pest Management

Farmscaping to Enhance Biological Control

Grasshopper Management

The mention of specific brand names does not constitute an endorsement by ATTRA, NCAT, or USDA.

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Permalink Are there organic options for managing "sticker bur" grass on a 10-acre field?

Answer: Depending on how extensive this weed is on your land, here are some possibilities:

1) Mow, vacuum, mow. This is to pick up the burs and get them off the pasture. The source I found suggested that a wood chipper is equipped with a vacuum to suction up leaves. You will still have seeds in the soil, but if you get the burs off, you are preventing a lot of next year's seedlings. Ten acres is a lot of land to do this on, but if you have scouted and found particular patches, this may help. I think there is a tractor-mounted implement meant to do this; someone in my reading hinted that they had invented a tool and it would be available soon, too.

2) Burn. This will actually encourage germination, but if you burn and then later treat with a pre-emergent herbicide, then perhaps that will help.

3) Mow at a tall height and fertilize to encourage competing plants.

4) Dig/pull/burn plants. Several experts have suggested that staying vigilant and removing the plants by hand is the best way to control them. Wear thick, sturdy gloves and be careful. Take the plants off the pasture and destroy them later; don't let them lay in the field if there are burs on them, or the seed will be there for next chance.

5) Graze. If you have animals, grazing is a good option. The plant is palatable when small. But once the burs are out, the animals won't graze them.

Note that all of these control methods should be integrated and repeated.Nothing is going to work if you just do it once. The seeds are just waiting for their opportunity. You have to see this as an ongoing battle that will be won with patience and persistence.

For more information on weed management, consult the ATTRA publication Sustainable Weed Management for Small and Medium-Scale Farms

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Permalink What are some of the highest-value crops we might raise and sell to get a positive cash flow?

Answer: Unfortunately, there is no simple way to answer your question, as crop selection is market-driven as well as related to your short- and long-term goals. A farm can’t be a farm without being able to cover its costs. Often we see that the highest-value crops are associated with greens; however, this is very market-specific.

As an aside, I like to point out that there tends to be a disconnect between high-value greens and calories. While high-value greens usually offer the highest price, they do not contain the calories and nutrients of other crops, like root crops. In other words, the more caloric crops have less profit value. This is why it is important to have clear goals, understand costs of production, and most importantly, do market research to see what your interested markets can bear.

It is important to know what you are up against so that you can fill a need in that marketplace. In order to do that, you need to know what needs are already being met and then think of ways to do it differently or better. The research that you do to create a market plan will help in identifying the dynamic factors that influence markets. This includes:

• Where am I going to sell/who is my customer?
• Size of customer base?
• Location of customer base and influence?
• Sell directly to consumers or wholesale to commodity markets?
• Who is my competition?
• Seasonal price fluctuations to expect?
• Quality standards to meet?
• Time and fuel to reach markets?
• Legal or food safety considerations?

And while selecting which crops to grow should be market-driven, it is important to evaluate your skill level and other personal criteria, as well as your understanding of costs of production. While you may find which specific crops in your area/markets will bring in the highest value, the profits won’t necessarily correlate unless the costs of production and expenses are low enough for you to achieve your targeted revenue. Understanding the true costs of production for each crop and/or enterprise can be achieved through the completion of a crop enterprise budget.

Check out these ATTRA publications to further assist you in understanding crop selection as related to planning for profitability.

Evaluating a Farming Enterprise
Planning for Profit in Sustainable Farming

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Permalink What can you tell me about holistic management?

Answer:

Holistic Management™ is a decision-making framework designed to assist you in establishing your goals, creating a financial plan, as well as developing a plan for managing social and environmental sustainability. In short, it is a tool designed to be used in the whole-farm planning process and in monitoring progress as you manage toward the goal. Holistic Management is operated by Holistic Management International (HMI), which provides education and resources on its tool for whole-farm planning that was designed by founder, Allan Savory.

One of the key aspects of whole-farm planning and Holistic Management involves:

• Creating a "Quality of Life Statement" that represents your individual, as well as any shared values with family and/or business partners
• Defining what processes and systems will allow you to achieve and sustain the quality of life you desire
• What future resources must be in place for your production and quality of life goals to become possible or sustained after they are implemented.

As you work on establishing your goals, it is also important to understand the financial aspects of operating your proposed business. This includes having a clear grasp of your expenses, determining what markets are available for you and your products, and addressing if the market can bare the quantity and price you have identified in order to be profitable. Holistic Management teaches that at the core of profitability is figuring out ways to lower expenses. The expenses can be used in figuring out an enterprise budget, which will show whether or not the enterprise is operating in the red or in the black. In other words, you may have a interest in a particular aspect of farming, such as crop production, raising livestock, or aquaponics, but by going through the whole-farm process, including completing an enterprise budget, you may determine that your expenses for operating that enterprise are not low enough to be met by the market price, and therefore, your business is not profitable.

For more information, check out the ATTRA publication titled Holistic Management: A Whole-Farm Decision Making Framework. This publication provides an introduction to the decision-making framework associated with Holistic Management.

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Permalink How can I calculate the break-even point on my products to help with pricing?

Answer: To find your break-even point and set prices for your products it is crucial to know your costs of production. Check out the ATTRA publication Understanding Organic Pricing and Costs of Production. This publication covers techniques for determining your costs of production as well as systems used to set prices in organic production.

Also, see the ATTRA publication Planning for Profit in Sustainable Farming. This publication covers cost of production but also introduces enterprise budgets for individual crops. You can use enterprise budgets to determine what crops are making you money and what crops are not.

The following list identifies some available farm financial software tool resources that can help with determining break-even points, as well as other farm business planning and recordkeeping.

Software Tools

B Systems Inc. has offered software for production agriculture operations for more than 30 years.
www.fbssystems.com

Center for Farm Management at the University of Minnesota provides educational programs and software tools for real-world farming situations.
www.cffm.umn.edu

Farm Books Accounting Software covers such tasks as payroll, invoicing, bill tracking, check writing and inventory management.
www.farmbooksaccounting.com

Farm Works Software offers software for farmers and agribusinesses, including accounting, mapping, field and livestock records, and many other options.
www.farmworks.com

Iowa Farm Business Association has farming software called PC Mars, which is available at no cost to association members.
www.pcmars.com

QuickBooks is a standard accounting program that some agriculture experts recommend for making the transition to computerized record keeping.
www.agecon.okstate.edu/quicken

Red Wing Software offers CenterPoint Accounting for Agriculture software, which covers taxes, production, inventory, payroll, and financing, as well as "what if" growth scenarios and other topics.
www.redwingsoftware.com

Specialized Data Systems develops agriculture software for farms and ranches.
www.farmbiz.com

Vertical Solutions offers EasyFarm record-keeping software for farms and ranches.
www.easyfarm.com

A free spreadsheet tool called Veggie Compass can track financial and production aspects of your farm.
www.veggiecompass.com/tools/

Note: Mention of specific company names or products does not constitute endorsement by NCAT, ATTRA, or USDA.

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Permalink What are the costs and income potential of greenhouse vegetable production per square foot?

Answer: Besides the initial investment of greenhouse construction, labor and energy are usually the two greatest ongoing greenhouse expenses. If you can find a way to decrease costs of either, or both, of these, your chances of making a profit will be strengthened.

Greenhouses are expensive to build and operate. A commercial greenhouse (30’ x 100’) with complete heating, cooling, and ventilation systems will cost between $15,000 to $30,000 to erect and equip. The annual costs of this size greenhouse would be in the range of $6,000 to $10,000.

Prior to sinking lots of money into a greenhouse venture, it is wise to examine produce prices in your region and estimate your cost of production. Historically, the break-even price for most greenhouse tomatoes has been around 75 cents per pound, with selling prices ranging from 75 cents to $1.60 per pound. The break-even price for cucumbers is similar—around 75 cents per pound.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture offers a free virtual greenhouse calculator, called Virtual Grower, that will give you annual costs of heating, cooling, and lighting for specific locations. It allows for inputs such as greenhouse materials, location, type of plants grown, amount of lighting, and size of greenhouse. This can give you a pretty accurate idea of your costs going into an operation.

For more information, consult the ATTRA publication Organic Greenhouse Vegetable Production.

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Permalink What are the different types of vertical farming systems?

Answer: Vertical farms come in different shapes and sizes, from simple two-level or wall-mounted systems to large warehouses several stories tall. But all vertical farms use one of three soil-free systems for providing nutrients to plants—hydroponic, aeroponic, or aquaponic.

1. Hydroponics. The predominant growing system used in vertical farms, hydroponics involves growing plants in nutrient solutions that are free of soil. The plant roots are submerged in the nutrient solution, which is frequently monitored and circulated to ensure that the correct chemical composition is maintained.

2. Aeroponics. The National Aeronautical and Space Administration (NASA) is responsible for developing this innovative indoor growing technique. In the 1990s, NASA was interested in finding efficient ways to grow plants in space and coined the term aeroponics, defined as "growing plants in an air/mist environment with no soil and very little water." Aeroponics systems are still an anomaly in the vertical farming world, but they are attracting significant interest. An aeroponic system is by far the most efficient plant-growing system for vertical farms, using up to 90% less water than even the most efficient hydroponic systems. Plants grown in these aeroponic systems have also been shown to uptake more minerals and vitamins, making the plants healthier and potentially more nutritious.

3. Aquaponics. An aquaponic system takes the hydroponic system one step further, combining plants and fish in the same ecosystem. Fish are grown in indoor ponds, producing nutrient-rich waste that is used as a feed source for the plants in the vertical farm. The plants, in turn, filter and purify the wastewater, which is recycled to the fish ponds. Although aquaponics is used in smaller-scale vertical farming systems, most commercial vertical farm systems focus on producing only a few fast-growing vegetable crops and don’t include an aquaponics component. This simplifies the economics and production issues and maximizes efficiency. However, new standardized aquaponic systems may help make this closed-cycle system more popular.

You can learn more about vertical farming, including the types of systems and structures, pros and cons, and organic certification in the ATTRA publication Vertical Farming. The publication also features several case studies.

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Permalink I’m about to till in sorghum-sudangrass cover crop. Will they have allelopathic effects on subsequent crops?

Answer: Sorghum-sudangrass is often grown as a cover crop to reduce erosion, increase soil organic matter, and suppress weeds, but you’re right to be concerned about its allelopathic effects on subsequent crops. These effects can include death or stunting due to the presence of a number of inhibitory compounds including sorgoleone, phenolic acids, and dhurrin, which converts to cyanide. However, the presence of these chemicals is not permanent (or else nobody would use this cover crop), and according to the University of California Davis, waiting at least six to eight weeks for these compounds to leach and degrade before transplanting into the residue is usually sufficient to avoid the allelopathic effects. Appropriate irrigation or rainfall is necessary to facilitate leaching. The 2009 UC study states:

“We studied the effects of sudex, a sorghum hybrid used as a cover crop, on subsequent crops of tomato, broccoli and lettuce started from transplants. Within 3 to 5 days of being transplanted into recently killed sudex, all three crops showed symptoms of phytotoxicity including leaf necrosis, stunting and color changes. There was 50% to 75% transplant mortality in all three species. Plant growth and development, as determined by biomass measurements, were also significantly affected. Yields of mature green tomato fruit and marketable broccoli and lettuce heads were reduced significantly. Tomato, broccoli and lettuce should not be transplanted into sudex residue for at least 6 to 8 weeks, or until the residue has been thoroughly leached.”

For more information on the issue of allelopathy in sorghum-sudangrass, read the full UC study.

For more information on cover crops, see the ATTRA publication Overview of Cover Crops and Green Manures.

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Permalink When should I supplement my pasture-grazed livestock?

Answer: The nutritional concern for ruminants centers around energy (i.e., carbohydrates), protein, minerals, vitamins, and water. Energy (carbohydrates) is responsible for maintenance and growth functions of the animal, and for the generation of heat. Protein grows tissue and performs other vital functions. Other nutrients and minerals such as vitamins A and E, calcium, phosphorus, and selenium can be fed “free choice” as a mineral supplement.

Cattle, sheep, and goats--by nature, grazing and browsing animals--grow and reproduce well on pasture alone. However, an intensive and industrial agricultural production philosophy has dictated that crops and animals should be raised faster, larger, and more consistently than a pasture system can deliver. Thus, confinement systems with delivered forages and concentrated feeds have been the norm since the 1950s. Raising animals on grass is slower than raising animals on grain. However, a pasture-based livestock producer will, with careful planning, realize cost savings and subsequent profitability through the efficiency of relying on the natural systems of nutrient cycling, biological pest controls, and perennial pasture productivity.

The major operational expense confronting the livestock industry in most parts of the United States is for supplemental feed. In temperate regions of the country that experience adequate rainfall and a lengthy grazing season, supplementation on green, growing, vegetative, well-managed pastures should not be necessary. However, young and lactating stock require more energy and protein than mature, non-lactating animals.

Supplementing energy is helpful on vegetative, well-managed pastures for more efficient utilization of forage protein (for high-producing animals). Supplementing with protein is necessary on low-quality pasture and rangeland or when continuously grazing temperate warm-season pastures.

For more information, see the ATTRA publication Ruminant Nutrition for Graziers. This publication provides managers with tools and references to consider biological and climatological variables and make decisions that ensure the ecological and economic viability of a grass-based ruminant livestock operation.

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Permalink What are the best organic methods for dealing with a blister beetle infestation?

Answer: For many market farmers, blister beetles can wreak havoc on crops in a very short time. The beetles seem to prefer tomatoes, potatoes, and chard, but easily move on to peppers and eggplants. More importantly, they infest hay and are poisonous to animals feeding on the hay, even if the beetles are no longer alive, due to the presence of a toxic chemical in their bodies called cantharidin. Handling the adults should be avoided, as cantharidin can irritate or blister skin on contact. If handled gently, this may not be a problem.

Populations tend to appear suddenly in June and July and usually will feed together in groups. Blister beetles usually overwinter as last-stage larvae and prey on either grasshopper eggs or bee eggs, so keeping grasshopper populations low is necessary to effectively reduce blister beetle populations. If grasshopper populations are high one year, there is increased likelihood that the following year will see higher than normal blister beetle populations.

Some effective options to control the adults are pyrethrum, a broad-spectrum botanical insecticide, and a kaolin clay product sold under the brand-name Surround. Surround is not directly toxic to the beetles but acts in two ways: it changes the color of the plant, thereby confusing the insect, and it also causes most insects that land on a kaolin clay-coated plant to spend much time grooming themselves to remove the clay particles. This reduces the time they spend feeding. Keep in mind that many plants can withstand considerable defoliation before there is a decrease in yield. Neem-based products (containing Azadirachtin) have also reportedly been effective against blister beetles, though if you have a large infestation of blister beetles, you might consider using a formulation of spinosad.

Other management strategies include early planting and harvest of crops to avoid the June/July peak blister beetle season. Row covers are also an option, but you must be sure that no beetles will emerge beneath (inside) the row covers. If your plot is relatively small, then the beetles, which tend to congregate in one area, can be knocked into a bucket of soapy water, which will kill them. Using a preferred crop or even a preferred wild host like passion vine as a trap crop is also an option; the trap crop can then be treated for the beetles. Lastly, creating environments attractive to blister beetle predators, including robber flies and birds such as meadowlark, bluebird, and scissor-tailed flycatcher, can help reduce the population.

See https://attra.ncat.org/attra-pub/biorationals/ for ATTRA’s ecological pest management database and sourcing information for the above-mentioned biorationals.

For more information, consult the following ATTRA publications:

Biointensive Integrated Pest Management

Farmscaping to Enhance Biological Control

Grasshopper Management

The mention of specific brand names does not constitute an endorsement by ATTRA, NCAT, or USDA.

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Permalink How can I keep a livestock watering system from freezing in the winter?

Answer: If you plan to use a watering system when pipes and water troughs can freeze, you will need to plan ahead. If you use a solar-powered system, keep in mind the solar panels stop generating power at night, when temperatures are lowest. Also, solar electric technology is good for pumping water but not very good for electric resistance heating.

You have several options to prevent freeze-up, including using heat from the earth or sun, insulating system components, or continuously circulating water. When you install the system, you will need to reduce the chances of freeze-up of components that may be in contact with water. You will need to bury piping below the frost line. If the system includes a well, install a pitless adapter. Any above-ground sections of piping should be insulated and arranged to drain at night or when it’s cloudy and water is not being pumped. Frost-free hydrants may not work in this situation. If the handle is left up and the solar-pumped water stops running, because of lack of sunlight at night or because it’s cloudy, the hydrant will freeze.

There are several ways to keep watering tanks open and storage tanks from freezing. Each livestock watering situation is different, so you will need to create a solution for your site, weather, and terrain. The ATTRA publication Freeze Protection for Livestock Watering Systems offers a number of suggestions for keeping water open, which should be useful.

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Permalink What can you tell me about crown gall control, especially resistant varieties?

Answer: Here is an interesting item from Canada about crown gall, which includes some information on crown gall resistant rootstocks: www.agf.gov.bc.ca/cropprot/grapeipm/crowngall.htm. This will be helpful if you know how to graft or if you could get them custom grafted for you. Note that towards the end of the article, the authors state that not much could be done once crown gall is established, but they do give some advice. One of the things they mention is the biological control Agrobacterium tumefaciens radiobacter.

Cornell researchers say Agrobacterium tumefaciens radiobacter is effective on most plants but not grapes. An alternative biological control bacterium, A. vitis strain F2/5 shows promising disease control and is under further investigation. Strain F2/5 is nontumorigenic and is effective in experiments when applied to grape wounds before they are inoculated with tumor-causing bacteria. F2/5 is not yet commercially available, and research is being done to determine its efficacy in field trials.

An excellent article from Oklahoma State http://pods.dasnr.okstate.edu/docushare/dsweb/Get/Document-4926/EPP-7669web.pdf includes a list of varieties with varying levels of susceptibility. The least susceptible are Cynthiana (Vitis aestivalis, pure American), Marechal Foch (French X American hybrid), and Concord (Vitis labrusca, pure American). All pure European wine grapes, Vitis vinifera, are very susceptible.

So, while there is not a simple answer, I hope this information provides you with some guidelines and some hope. At the very least, it looks best to stick with pure American species and to avoid European wine grapes.

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Permalink What can you tell me about growing no-till vegetables?

Answer: No-till systems are a practical way to raise vegetables and improve soil quality at the same time. No-till production involves growing and managing cover crops to provide living and killed mulches, which along with the reduction/elimination of tillage, provides numerous benefits to soil biology, soil structure, and soil health. Some benefits of no-till organic mulch include moisture conservation, weed suppression, erosion control, increased soil organic matter, food and habitat for soil organisms, and, in the case of a legume, biologically fixed nitrogen.

In conventional no-till vegetable production, herbicides are commonly used to kill cover crops in order to create mulch and for follow-up, post-emergent weed control. Herbicides do a good job of controlling vegetation and they are a major reason no-till agriculture has been so successful. However, sustainable and organic agriculture has a goal of reducing chemical inputs and instead relies on cultural practices, biological processes, and naturally-derived products. The health of the soil, location, the scale of production (i.e., tools available to manage systems), and the crop(s) being planted all play a vital role in organic no-till vegetable production.

The non-chemical management and suppression of cover crops that can be integrated with no-till vegetable production most often include mowing or rolling and crimping. With each management system and their affiliated tools, timing is a critical factor. Vegetable growers like to plant as soon as possible in the spring with an aim to harvest early. In addition, farmers that live in hot, dry regions plant early to take advantage of spring rains and cooler temperatures. However, no-till production relies on cover crop maturation to occur prior to mechanical disturbance by mowing or roller crimping. Therefore, matching a cover crop to the growing cycle of the vegetable crop is very important.

For more information about no-till, consult these ATTRA publications:

No-Till Case Study, Brown’s Ranch: Improving Soil Health Improves the Bottom Line

No-Till Case Study, Bauer Farm: Cover Crop Cocktails on Former CRP Land

No-Till Case Study, Richter Farm: Cover Crop Cocktails in a Forage-Based System

No-Till Case Study, Miller Farm: Restoring Grazing Land with Cover Crops

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Permalink Are there specific plants that can draw arsenic from chicken litter out of soil?

Answer: I would definitely recommend a soil test to determine what kind of level of arsenic is in your soils. I would suspect that most of the litter would be hauled off, but a good deal could have been used on site as well, maybe too much. Arsenic buildup would lead to a higher content in some produce. However, phytoremediation (using plants to extract heavy metals) is a way to help. Here is a link to an EPA document that outlines arsenic in the environment. On page 124 it talks about phytoremediation and the plants that may work best.

I've seen sunflowers being recommended in the past, but others include cottonwood, Indian mustard, and corn. The one consideration for this method is to make sure that the contamination is well within the root zone of the plants you are using. Other than that, it would be a viable option for your farm.

For more information, see ATTRA’s publication Arsenic in Poultry Litter: Organic Regulations. This publication looks at the amount of arsenic in poultry litter and the potential for it building up in soil and contaminating water. Poultry litter applied at agronomic levels, using good soil conservation practices, generally will not raise arsenic concentrations sufficiently over background levels to pose environmental or human heath risks. However, recent studies show that more than 70% of the arsenic in uncovered piles of poultry litter can be dissolved by rainfall and potentially leach into lakes or streams. Thus, organic producers must take care when they handle and apply poultry litter.

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Permalink What can I do to start selling my produce to restaurants and grocery stores?

Answer: A lot of the same principles that go into selling your food at farmers markets are the same for selling to grocery stores and restaurants.

Key questions to ask yourself before beginning to sell at grocery stores or restaurants include: What products do local grocery stores and restaurants want that I could supply, including specialty ethnic foods? Does a particular chain have an interest in purchasing locally? What is my plan to ensure a consistent supply of a few key products over a period of several weeks? Do I have a Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs) plan? Does this buyer require it?

If you are selling at a farmers market, you may already have met chefs or grocery store owners who want to use local produce. If not, you will have to do a little research to learn which places feature specialty salads, homemade soups, or unique cuisine. Your local phone book is a quick and easy place to start. Stop by the restaurant or grocery store to see what kind of establishment it is. If you like what you see, contact the head chef or manager in person or by phone. Bring samples of your products, recipes, or ideas of how they can be used, and a brochure that lists your products and when they are available. As with all types of marketing, building a relationship with the customer is critical.

You can also check out the following ATTRA publications, which will provide more detailed information on selling to these different venues.

Selling to Restaurants

Tips for Selling to Grocery Stores

Tips for Selling to Restaurants

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Permalink How can I halter-break a calf?

Answer: First, constrain the animal and then put the halter on. Initially, you can tie the calf low to a post to begin the halter-training process. Leave her tied up for about five minutes every day and then gradually increase the time, so that she will stand there for 30 minutes. Always have her in sight, so that if she struggles, and looks like she may hurt herself, you can let her loose. Tie the rope halter so that it will always come loose with a tug. Here is a video explaining the process:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JyMqnngaoDg

The only thing I disagree with in this video is that they tie the calf high. I would not do that because the calf can break her neck in a freak accident.

Once she is used to the halter and somewhat respects it, you can to teach her to lead. Two people are always better than one, with one in the rear and one in the front. Watch out for kicks if you are on the rear. Watch out that she does not run over you if you are on the front. Always keep a short lead (six to 12 inches). If she tries to run over you, turn her into you sharply, so that her direction is changed by 90 degrees. It is best to do this in a corral where she cannot go far and she knows it. If you lose control, just let her go. Try to always end on a good note. At first, just do it for a few minutes, extending the time as you go along. Remember, "a little, a lot" is always better than "a lot, a little." You will teach the calf to lead in no time.

Of course, it is best to teach a calf to lead when she is just a few months old, as they are much easier to handle. For more information, here is a good video on teaching a calf to lead.
http://www.thejudgingconnection.com/pdfs/How_to_Halter_Break_a_Cow_and_Teach_it_How_to_Lead.pdf

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Permalink What types of poultry housing provide protection from predators and are also compatible with a permaculture system?

Answer: The term chicken tractor is mostly used for housing meat birds; for layers, coop or egg mobile is more commonly used. Egg mobiles are different from chicken tractors in that they are designed to allow the hens to venture beyond their house, to the fence limits.

Different designs and factors to consider when choosing will be:

• Your terrain topography
• Weather (muddy conditions)
• Predators

You can adapt different designs (e.g., add hardware cloth floor) to what works better for you and your farm.

When using hardware cloth as floor for the coop, half-inch hardware cloth works well when the chickens are little but can get harder to clean with bigger droppings from older chickens. If your predator problem is weasels, they shouldn’t be able to fit through a half-inch hardware cloth.

Here are some resources on building an egg mobile:

PolyFace Egg Layers
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pvj6i4QPXZM&list=PLz7m6Pw0K6N83I8XQFNxprnTzf-gki7YQ&index=150

Permaculture Research Institute: How to Make an Egg Mobile
http://permaculturenews.org/2010/09/03/how-to-make-an-egg-mobile/

Abundant Permaculture: Chicken Housing That Works
http://abundantpermaculture.com/chicken-housing-that-works-5-brilliant-ways/

Designing a Mobile Chicken Coop
https://www.wpi.edu/Pubs/E-project/Available/E-project-030614-095822/unrestricted/Chicken_Tractor_IQP.pdf

Also, check out ATTRA's Range Poultry Housing, which discusses housing designs for outdoor production, including daily-move pens, machine-portable housing, fixed housing, and feed shelters. Numerous examples of different types of poultry housing are pictured and described in this publication.

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Permalink I'm confused about the terms organic soil amendments and natural soil amendments. Where can I find more about each, and most importantly, lists of approved substances for each?

Answer: There are two places where you can find information about allowed (and specifically prohibited) organic soil amendments: OMRI (Organic Materials Review Institute) and the USDA National Organic Program (NOP).

OMRI’s searchable database can be accessed at http://www.omri.org/ubersearch. If you search this database with "soil amendments," a long list will be generated that has links to more detailed information.

OMRI maintains general lists of generic allowed substances ("lime," for example), as well as lists of product trade names of allowed soil amendments. A very general rule of thumb (which has many exceptions) is that natural products are generally considered acceptable, and synthesized products are prohibited.

NOP's listing of allowed and prohibited substances can be accessed at http://www.ams.usda.gov/rules-regulations/organic/national-list.

You can also check out the ATTRA publication, Organic Materials Compliance, which may provide some clarification to your confusion about what is allowable in organic production versus what is "natural" (which is a very generic term).

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Permalink Can you identify resources on equipment that can benefit a small vegetable farm?

Answer: The use of appropriate agricultural equipment and tools for small-scale intensive crop production contributes to the viability of the farm by enhancing production efficiency. Factors to consider when choosing appropriate agricultural equipment and tools include the location and growing conditions of the farm, the type of crops being grown, the production practices being used, and how the crops will be marketed.

I would suggest looking at the ATTRA publication, Equipment and Tools for Small-Scale Intensive Crop Production. It details equipment and hand tools for soil preparation, planting, and weed management.

ATTRA also produced a webinar on the subject titled Tools for Small-Scale Crop Production., which you should find useful. In this webinar, NCAT Agriculture Specialist Andy Pressman discusses the importance of investing in good-quality and well-designed tools, their different purposes, and how to use them to properly plant and maintain crops.

Additionally, the ATTRA tutorial Scaling Up for Regional Markets includes a narrated lesson on this topic, titled "Equipment and Infrastructure” (lesson 6). The lesson discusses equipment and infrastructure related to scaling up, planning and investment options, tractor considerations, cooling and storage, and more. As with all of ATTRA's tutorials, this lesson identifies additional resources, such as estimated equipment needs for different sizes of farm, a used tractor assessment, and an ag cost of capitol calculator.

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Permalink What can I do to control flea beetles?

Answer: Flea beetles are one of the most difficult to manage pests of eggplant and cole crops. They are also a problem on seedlings of tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, turnips, radishes, and corn. There are various genera and species of flea beetles, all members of the Chrysomelidae family. The adults are active leaf-feeders that can, in large numbers, rapidly defoliate and kill plants. Symptoms of flea beetle feeding are small, rounded, irregular holes; heavy feeding makes leaves look as if they had been peppered with fine shot. Some species also vector serious diseases such as potato blight and bacterial wilt of corn. Further damage may be done by the larvae, which feed on plant roots. Some flea beetles are considered general feeders, though many species attack only one plant or closely related kinds of plants.

Life history varies somewhat with species, but most appear to pass the winter in the adult stage, sheltering under plant debris in the field, field margins, and adjacent areas. The adults emerge in spring and may feed on weeds and less-desirable vegetation until crop plants become available. As a result, they are frequent pests in seedbeds and on new transplants. They may become especially troublesome when weedy areas begin to "dry up." Flea beetles cause the greatest damage by feeding on cotyledons, stems, and foliage.

In organic systems, the preferred approaches to pest management are those that enhance the diversity of the farm system, such as cover cropping, rotation, and interplanting; those that use special knowledge of pest biology, such as delayed planting; and those that take advantage of existing on-farm resources. These approaches are typified by cultural and biological controls. Alternative pesticides, while frequently necessary for some crop pests and conditions, can be treated as "rescue chemistry" to be used when and if other strategies fall short.

Check out the ATTRA publication Flea Beetle: Organic Control Options for a more detailed look on different cultural and biological control options, as well as alternative pesticidal materials.

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