Sunday, June 26, 2016

June is Dairy Month -- Milk Comes from More Than Just Cows

As Dairy Month is winding down, here is an oldie but goodie post from Empire State Farming from three years ago.

While 90 percent of all milk consumed by humans comes from cows, there are other animals that provide milk to us.

Here is a list from the Dairy Farmers of Washington website. Some might be a little surprising, I think:

Goats:  This is probably a no-brainer for most people. Who hasn't heard of that great creamy cheese made from goat's milk? Some people also drink goat's milk because they find it easier to digest because fat globules in the milk are smaller than those in cow's milk.

Sheep: Not as popular as goat's milk, but still something that can be found in the United States. Sheep's milk has twice the fat of cow's milk. It is used to make French Roquefort and chevre cheeses. 

Horse: Not popular in the United States. The Washington website said Mongolian warriors back 700 years ago used horse milk to produce a concentrated paste. Later, during their long marches, they would add water to the paste and make a liquid to drink. Also, in southeastern Russia, people use horse milk to make an alcoholic drink.

Camel: In the desert, camel milk will keep for seven days at temperatures above 80 degrees. If refrigerated, it can stay good for nearly three months.

Water buffalo: Half of all the milk that people drink in India comes from water buffaloes.

Yak: In Tibet, yak butter tea is made from yak milk.

Reindeer: The only source of milk for Laplanders in Northern Scandinavia is reindeer milk. The fat content of this milk is 22 percent, six times as much as cow's milk.

Photos from National Public Radio, University of Wyoming

Friday, June 24, 2016

Cornell's Climate Smart Farming Extension Team Helps Farmers Deal with Weather Woes




Cornell’s Climate Smart Farming Extension Team was established to help farmers increase their resiliency to climate impacts and reduce risks and costs on their farms.

The team provides New York farmers with access to top extension specialists with the expertise needed to help manage the risks posed by increasing extreme weather, climate variability and long-term change.

The team works in partnership with the Cornell Climate Smart Farming program and faculty at Cornell, and draws on the latest science to answer producers’ questions about changes they can make on their farm to help increase future sustainability.

The six-member team of Luke Haggerty, Laura McDermott, Kimberley Morrill, Kitty O’Neil, Jesse Strzok and Darcy Telenko provides a wealth of expertise in fields such as: dairy management, agricultural economics, field crops and soil health, vegetables and integrated pest management, viticulture and enology and small fruit production.

Cornell’s Climate Smart Farming Extension Team was created in partnership with the Cornell Climate Smart Farming program to help farmers increase their resiliency, reduce risks and reduce costs on their farms.

The team gives New York farmers access to top extension specialists with the particular expertise to help manage the risks posed by increasing extreme weather, climate variability and long-term change.

Climate change can impact New York agriculture in many ways, and the Climate Smart Farming team is adept in helping farmers identify practices that can be implemented to mitigate these impacts. 

Here is a brief overview of some of these impacts and tactics:

Precipitation events: The trend of an increase in the intensity and unpredictability of precipitation events (both rain and snow) in the Northeastern U.S., which can lead to flooding and storm damage, is expected to continue.

Precipitation will likely continue to fall in fewer, more intense events, which can lead to periods of short-term drought during the growing season when rain is needed the most, causing reduction and variation in crop yields. Intense rainfall events can also cause soil erosion, planting and harvesting interference and nutrient runoff. 

Adaptation options: Farmers can adapt to both of these issues in tandem by focusing on the health of their soils – by increasing soil organic matter and allowing water infiltration through reduced tillage, cover cropping, and infrastructure investments (e.g. irrigation or drainage systems).

Heat Stress: The growing season across New York has increased by an average of eight days, however the number of heat stress days (exceeding 90 degrees) is also expected to increase, with winters continuing to grow milder. 

Heat stress, induced by an increasing number of days above 90 degrees, and longer growing seasons with more sporadic rainfall also pose challenges to farmers.

These challenges include lower crop yield and quality for some varieties, and conditions that reduce productivity and reproductive capacity for livestock.

Adaptation options: To combat this, producers can explore new varieties and diversification of crops to reduce reliance on heat-sensitive crops. For livestock in particular, farmers can strive to minimize heat exposure, increase water availability, adjust cows’ diets, and prevent over-crowding, thus improving barn-cooling capacity.

Disease, Insects and Weeds: Interactions between the climate, crops, insects, weeds and diseases are complex. However, evidence suggests climate change will increase disease, pest, and weed pressure, as more pests and weeds survive mild winters and warmer summers allow for new species to invade and native ones to develop faster.

Adaptation options: To prepare for increased pest pressure, growers need to develop rapid response plans and monitor management options that allow for targeted control of weeds, diseases, and insects.  Wide adoption of integrated pest management (IPM) will also help farmers manage new pests with minimal economic, environmental, and health risks.

Freeze Risk: In the past few years, late season freeze events have struck orchards and vineyards after plants had already bloomed, causing serious crop losses.

Adaptation options: Producers can implement several strategies to guard against these freezes. These include: using heaters and wind machines to circulate warmer air in vineyards or orchards, irrigating before or during potential freezes, and paying close attention to detailed weather forecasts.

The Climate Smart Farming Extension Team is equipped with the knowledge and information to provide constructive advice for farmers to combat these stresses. The goal of the Cornell Climate Smart Farming Program is to provide research-based information, training and tools to help famers make the most informed decisions they can. 

Cornell has developed several new decision support tools based on long term climate data, weather forecasts and agronomic models – the tools include a new Growing Degree Day calculator, Freeze Risk Tools and Irrigation Scheduler – and can be found on the CSF website (, along with the contact information for the CSF Extension Team members in New York.

Series of 7 On-Farm Field Days Scheduled Throughout NY


Seven varied organic on-farm field days are being presented by the Northeast Organic Farming Association of New York (NOFA-NY).

They will be held in July and hosted by farms in six New York state counties.

Topics include women farmers, horsepower, soil health, organic transition and edible forest gardens. Another field day will feature a farm open house.

These are invaluable opportunities for farmers to learn about new methods, see what farms are doing, and network with others around the state.

The event schedule is as follows:

Women in Agriculture: Lady Farmers of Long Island
July 6, 6:30-8:30 p.m.

Amanda and Katie from Amber Waves Farm in Amagansett, Suffolk County, host this event in which they share how they founded a CSA, pioneered the Amagansett Wheat Project, and continue to provide outstanding education, bread shares, and a 
Food-to-Pantry project.

Registration fees are $15/person or $25 for two or more people/farm.

Developing a Diversified Horse-Powered Farm
July 9, 1-4 p.m.

Participants will join Matt Volz from Greyrock Farm, Madison County, for a tour of his horse-powered farm, which features a raw milk dairy, and meat and vegetable production. 

Discussion topics are how to grow a farm with multiple complementary enterprises, including how to handle the management, production and business challenges on a diversified farm.

Registration fees are $15/person or $25 for two or more people/farm.

Long-Term High Tunnel Soil Health and Nutrient Management for Tomato Production
July 14, 6-8 p.m.

Host Obercreek Farm, Dutchess County, shares its success in managing tomato production in a high tunnel by maintaining and improving soil health and fertility, controlling pests and disease, and ensuring profitable yield and excellent quality.
Registration fees are $15/person or $25 for two or more people/farm.

Moving into Wholesale Markets for Small and Mid-Sized Farms
July 20, 4-6 p.m.

Mainstreet Farms in Cortland County brings healthy, local food to the community, utilizing education and community partners to create a strong local food system. Cornell’s Crystal Stewart will demonstrate the fundamentals for crossing over into wholesale markets, from record keeping to timing crops.

Organic Transition—Certification and Growing Practices: It’s More than Input Substitution
July 20, 4-7 p.m.

Fishkill Farms of Dutchess County produces eggs and grows crops that include tree fruit, berries, vegetables.

Josh Morgenthau will share the challenges in transitioning to organic, including changes in growing practices, creation of buffer zones, and management.

Caitlyn Reilly of NOFA-NY Certified Organic LLC will discuss the nuts and bolts of organic certification and be available to answer any questions. Risk management and crop/whole farm insurance programs also will be discussed.

Kingbird Open House
July 24, 1-4 p.m.

Kingbird Farm in Tioga County this year is celebrating 20 years of success.

Michael, Karma and Rosemary Glos will share their story of how they organically manage pork, chicken, eggs, culinary herbs, and produce while utilizing horses for field work.

The farm will be open for exploration, shopping, and enjoyment, with a guided farm tour at 2 p.m. The event is free and open to the public.

Creating an Edible Forest Garden
July 30, 12:45-4 p.m.

Dani Baker, co-owner of Cross Island Farms in Jefferson County, has developed one acre of her certified organic farm as a multi-functional edible forest garden, incorporating numerous permaculture principles and practices.

She will take participants for a walk-through and introduction to 300+ perennial cultivars of fruits, nuts, berries, and other edibles. 

Attendees will taste fruits, flowers, greens, and herbs in season, and go home with a potted plant to add to their own edible garden.

Registration fees are $20/person or $30 for two or more attendees from the same farm/family. Private farm tours are available that morning; email or call 315-482-3663.

Pre-registration is available online at or by calling Jill at the NOFA-NY office (585- 271-1979, ext. 512). 

Source: NOFA-NY

Forestry is Big Business in New York State


New York Land Area: 30.2 million acres. State Population: 19 million
New York Forest Area: 18.95 million acres, 63 percent of land area, about one acre per resident
Publicly-owned Forest Land: at least 3.7 million acres
Privately-owned Forest Land Area: 14.4 million acres; 76 percent of forest land; owned by 687,000 land owners
Northern hardwood forests, dominated by beech, birch and maple, make up over 53 percent of the forest cover.
Forest ownership – New York’s forests continue to be largely privately owned by individuals/families and business who together own over 76 percent of the forest
Number of tree species: more than 100 commercial and non-commercial
Most common forest type: maple/beech/birch (53 percent of forest land area)
Economic Importance of New York’s Forests and Harvest Information
$300 million in annual payments to private landowners
488 million board feet of logs
2.1 million green tons pulpwood and wood chips
25 percent of New York timber harvest is exported for processing
Economic contribution of forest products-related manufacturing and services: $14 billion (US Census)
Forest-related tourism: $1.9 billion products made from wood: bowling pins, snowshoe and baseball bat
With proper planning and management, forests provide renewable natural resources



About 63 percent of New York state is covered with forests.

That’s a lot of trees. And students who graduate with forestry degrees from SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry, Morrisville State College and Paul Smith’s College help keep these forests vital, sustainable and thriving for everyone in the state to enjoy.

That goes for the intrepid outdoorsman who likes to hike through the forests. The same for the farmer or private landowner who wants to sell some timber for a little extra income. Ditto the paper companies like Finch in Glens Falls, Warren County, or International Paper in Ticonderoga, Essex County. 

“Foresters work on management issues, purchasing timber to feed a mill or working with regulatory issues,” said SUNY ESF Professor David Newman, who also chairs the forest and natural resources management program. “They have to help plan the timber harvest in such a way that you get value now, but also get good value in the future.”

A SUNY ESF student learns to measure trees
HackCollege’s school directory states that each year in New York, about 85 students graduate with credentials in forestry. SUNY ESF is the state’s largest forestry school. Newman said about 15 to 20 students graduate with forestry degrees each year.

In addition to forestry, there are many other forest, tree and environmental programs offered at SUNY ESF. 

Some of these are:

** Forest technician program
** Natural resources management
** Environmental natural resources technicians, who work primarily with wildlife
** Aquatics and fisheries, which deals with invasive species, ecosystems management and marine studies
** Conservation biology, which focuses on conserving the earth’s imperiled species and ecosystems
** Environmental health, which deals with analysis, prevention and mitigation of potential environmental hazards, and
** Landscape architecture, dealing with urban and regional planning and community and environmental design

Morrisville State College offers an associate degree in natural resources conservation. Within this degree, students who want to specialize in forestry and silviculture may complete the forest technology concentration minor, said spokeswoman Franci Valenzano.

The Society of American Foresters Accredited Forest Technology concentration minor is how it is listed in the college catalog. Along with this minor, students must complete an internship in natural resources at an approved forest industry internship site.

Paul Smith’s College in Franklin County offers bachelor’s degrees in forestry, ecological restoration, environmental science, fisheries and wildlife sciences, natural resource conservation and management and sustainable communities and working landscapes. Associate degrees are offered in forestry and arboriculture and landscape management. There also is a minor in forestry.

What do foresters do?

New York State Forester Mike Giocondo
Newman said foresters are important for people like farmers who may have large acreage in forests on their land. He said some people think they can simply go into a woodlot and chop down some trees to manage the forest. Others want to do the management themselves to save money.

But it doesn’t work that way.

He said if there is no planning in how a forest is harvested, then “what you get back is not very healthy. With species like maple and other desirable species, you have to plan to get out what you want.”

He said some SUNY ESF students with forestry degrees go to work for consulting companies who “work with landowners to help manage their forest land.”

“Helping landowners is a big part of what a forester does,” Newman said. “And farmers often have forest land to help with erosion, wind damage and for alternative income.”

But if the farmers or landowners want to manage the forested land and ensure the forest continues to be sustainable in the future, they need the help of a forester, he said. 

Employment for foresters in New York state does not look to be strong, according to statistics from the Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics. But Newman said every one of the SUNY ESF grads finds a job in forestry upon graduation.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics says the mean salary for a forester in New York state is $62,800 to $79,400.

Using marginal farmland

Willow growing in Canastota, Madison County
Timothy Volk, a senior research associate at SUNY ESF, works with farmers who have land they can’t use for crops. It might have poor soil quality or it might not drain well.

So instead of just letting that land sit barren, he teaches them how to use it to make some money.

Volk said land that won’t sustain vegetables or fruits often will grow crops such as shrub willow or other woody biomass plants that can be harvested, burned and used to create energy.

“The wood ships products are sold for heating and to power markets,” he said. “The woody biomass also can be used for making other biofuels or other products.”

The first thing farmers should think about, though, if they are considering growing shrub willow is whether they have a market. Right now, 1,200 acres of willow is grown on private land in Northern New York and is used at ReEnergy Holdings power plants at Fort Drum, Jefferson County and in Lyonsdale, Lewis County.

“Any time we get calls from farmers we ask if they have an outlet for sales,” Volk said. “You plant it once and harvest it every three years or so and it can be harvested seven times. It’s a long-term perennial crop. 

And there is a costly upfront investment — $800 to $1,000 an acre to get started. So they should be sure to have a place to sell the willow.”

The U.S. Department of Agriculture in June kicked off a sign-up period for the Biomass Crop Assistance Program. Through this program, the USDA will provide half of the estimated cost of annual land rental payment in the years where there is no harvest for farmers and landowners who plant woody biomass.

The sign-up period is from June 15 through the end of August.

State foresters help farmers

There are many ways in which state foresters help farmers and other private landowners.

The state Department of Environmental Conservation Forest Stewardship Program provides free planning and technical assistance to all private forestland owners in the state, including farm owners, according to DEC forestry staffers.

They said it is estimated that about 10 percent of all privately owned forests in New York are associated with farm ownership, and 20 percent of total farm land area is forest, therefore many farmers take advantage of our assistance programs. 

Farmers, like all forestland owners, face many of the same forest related issues, such as invasive species and overabundant deer. However, the state forestry staff say proper planning can go a long way to improving the health and resiliency of private forest land to meet both the goals of a landowner and the needs of the forest habitat. 

DEC foresters help landowners plan for the future of their forest land by creating a customized forest management plan that provides information on the current status of the forest and what forestry practices will be useful in meeting a landowners short and long-term goals and objectives. 

A key part of the plan’s development is to walk the forest with the landowner to describe the current forest conditions and develop specific recommendations of improvements. 

Foresters also help farmers with wildlife problems they encounter. In fact, the forestry staffers say wildlife issues are one of the most common reasons forestland owners contact a DEC forester. They can help with issues such as the overabundance of deer or even invasive species that can harm crops. 

DEC foresters work with forest owners to identify the presence or absence of a pest and recommend forest management strategies to offset the impacts and to prepare the forest to be healthier and more resilient to combat future pest attacks.  

An overabundance of white-tailed deer browsing activity can affect both a farmer’s forest and food crops. In this case a farmer can apply for either a Deer Management Assistance Program Permit or Deer Damage Permit issued by the DEC’s Division of Fish and Wildlife.

Many forestland owners, including farmers, are interested in improving forest habitat for certain game and non-game wildlife species. DEC foresters work directly with landowners to develop recommended methods of forest cutting to modify the structure and composition of the forest while at the same time allowing the forest to continue to grow for timber production and other benefits. 

Forest owners wishing to undertake timber harvesting activities without necessarily considering planning for specific long-term goals and objectives can contact a DEC forester who can provide objective information and other assistance to assure that the best interest of the forest and the owner are met during and after harvest.

Go to  for more information.

There are 25 DEC forestry staff available to provide services to private forest owners, including eligible farmers. Nearly all DEC offices around the state have a professional forester on staff that can provide private forestry assistance. 

If a farmer needs help from a forester, he or she can call the area DEC office. Numbers can be found at

SUNY Cobleskill Begins Fermentation Program

From EMPIRE FARM & DAIRY magazine

SUNY Cobleskill has launched a new bachelor of technology in applied fermentation program to educate and train students in the field of harnessing microbes to help produce a vast array of products, from beer, wine, and cheese to plastics and pharmaceuticals.

The program is scheduled to begin in the fall of 2017.

With this program, SUNY Cobleskill is responding to the growing demand for skilled technicians in food science, agriculture and pharmaceuticals, among other fields. The Fermentation Science program will be the first dedicated and comprehensive fermentation program in the Northeast.

Following SUNY Cobleskill’s philosophy of applied learning, students will gain hands-on experience working with local co-ops, through internships, and by conducting or assisting research projects on campus. Graduates will be prepared to enter the field immediately, or pursue a master brewing license, graduate studies in microbiological sciences, environmental studies, or medical school.

Industries that require fermentation specialists are vital and growing economic drivers both in New York state and nationwide. Many common products involve fermentation in their production, from bread, wine, cheese, tea, and yogurt to biodegradable food packaging, nylon, and penicillin.

Even hydrogen gas as an alternative fuel might be prepared in a fermentation process. According to the state Department of Labor, food science and related occupations are projected to grow by up to 40 percent by 2022. Nationally, they’re projected to grow by 16 to 20 percent.

Many fermented products are already contributing to New York’s economy. To celebrate its role as the nation’s top yogurt producer, New York named yogurt the official state snack in 2014.
Learn more about the program at

Source: SUNY Cobleskill

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Solar Farm Supplies Power To Ag Experiment Station

From Cornell University:

Cornell University’s Sutton Road Solar Farm is now operational and supplying power to the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station in Geneva.

A 2-megawatt energy facility that will offset nearly 40 percent of the annual electricity demand at the experiment station, the solar farm in Seneca was built beginning last spring and is Cornell's second megawatt-scale solar project.

In September 2014, the university opened the Cornell Snyder Road Solar Farm with 6,778 photovoltaic panels on an 11-acre plot that adjoins the Tompkins County Regional Airport in Lansing, Tompkins County.  Adding the new Geneva array to the Lansing facility’s output, the university will produce about 5,700 megawatt-hours of electricity annually. 

“Our researchers are conducting basic and applied research to improve crops and make them more resilient to disease, drought and the worst effects of an uncertain climate as we chart a more sustainable agricultural future,” said Susan Brown, the Goichman Family Director of the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station. 

"Within our fruit and vegetable programs we’re studying the best way to harvest the sun, so it is only fitting that the energy powering our labs and greenhouses will do the same,” she said.

In September 2014, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced NY-Sun awards for large solar electric projects that will increase the solar energy capacity in the state by more than 214 megawatts, a 68 percent increase over the amount of solar installed. The NY-Sun Initiative strove to expand the state’s renewable energy market to bring down the costs of the technology.

The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority administers the NY-Sun awards, and it contributed about one-third of the project’s capital cost, while private developer Distributed Sun and Building Energy Asset Management LLC will own and operate the Geneva array. 

Jeff Weiss ’79 is co-chairman and managing director at Distributed Sun. Cornell will purchase the solar farm’s electricity through an agreement with the company.

It's National Onion Rings Day!!

OK, I'm including this special day for all those onion farmers in Oswego and Madison counties.

According to the National Day Calendar website, today is National Onion Rings Day.

Here is what the website says about the day: 

"Dipped in a batter or in bread crumbs and deep fried, tasty onion rings are a popular hors d’oeuvre or side dish all across the United States and are celebrated each year on June 22 for National Onion Rings Day.

Also found in Canada, United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia and some parts of Asia, onion rings exact origin is unknown.
  • A recipe called “Fried Onions with Parmesan Cheese” is included in John Mollard’s 1802 cookbook “The Art of Cookery Made Easy and Refined.” Within the recipe, it suggests cutting onions into 1/2 inch rings, dipping them into a batter made of flour, cream, salt, pepper and Parmesan cheese then deep frying them in “boiling” lard. It is suggested that they are served with a sauce made of  melted butter and mustard.
  • Some believe that a recipe  for French Fried Onions (not claiming to be the originator of the recipe) appeared in the Middletown, NY Daily Times on January 13, 1910.
  • The Pig Stand restaurant chain, founded in Oak Cliff, Texas in the early 1920′s is one of the claimants to the onion rings invention.
  • A recipe for deep-fried onion rings that are dipped in milk then dredged in flour appeared in a 1933 Crisco advertisement in The New York Times Magazine.  
  • In the 1960′s, the A&W restaurant is credited with popularizing the onion rings in fast food restaurants.
To celebrate National Onion Rings Day, head to your favorite “onion ring” serving restaurant and place your order."