Archive for the ‘Agriculture’ Category

Booze in my backyard

So this is pretty neat: an article in The Atlantic about the Finger Lakes wine growing region.

I’m not particularly partial to Finger Lakes wine, being a California native and working in Napa and Sonoma for a couple field seasons. But the Reislings are notable, and I do try to support local wineries and businesses.  So maybe I need to take another look, or drink, around the region.

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Agroforestry

Photo Courtesy of the NY Times

 

An interesting project in Montana and a great display as a demonstration garden. Agricultural sustainability seems to be more than just a buzz word lately. Find more on Gloria Flora’s work here.

Revival

What’s the opposite of over-wintering?  I’m not entirely sure, but I’ve been on hiatus and it is finally time to emerge post-field season.  Wahoo!

A short and sweet update today before I rush off to do graduate student things like take exams (wait, I thought those weren’t applicable anymore?).  The beauty of subscribing to a daily email about Good things happening in the world: keeping up on bee trends!  If you’re into beekeeping or an aspiring beekeeper like me, check out this article about modifying urban hives.

Leek Moth

The best part about an online magazine, is that they send you emails only if you want them.  And in the case of Saveur, I get tasty recipes to try on a regular basis.  Last week, a number of recipes for a Summer Vegetarian Feast filled my email inbox.  One was a delicious leek and zucchini galette, combining great flavor and seasonality.

There are leeks growing alongside my onions in some fields.  Some of the growers I work with have a few different Allium species growing including garlic and leek.  These crops could be subject to leek moth infestation, but leek moth is currently only known in certain areas of New York and Canada (in North America).  An invasive species from Europe, leek moth,  Acrolepiopsis assectella, is a small, brown to black moth with yellow-green caterpillars.  The pupae are small cocoons with a distinct lacy casing.

Adult Leek Moth courtesy of AgroAtlas

Leek moth pupal casing

Leek moth damage include mining and perforations in the leaf, with window-paning damage where the caterpillar has not eaten all the way through all layers of the leaf tissue.

Leek moth damage

While there are no chemical treatments yet in New York, cultural treatments such as crop rotation, row covers, and removing vegetative debris at the end of the season are recommended.  In Canada, a parasitoid wasp  Diadromus pulchellus was released as a biological control agent as part of an integrated pest management approach to control leek moth.  Perhaps that may be an option for leek moth control here as well.

 

Thrips counting

This past week I’ve been out in the field a lot, looking at a lot of onions.  And good news for the growers, I haven’t found very many thrips.  In integrative pest management, counting and sampling has quite an important role.  Courses of action are based on thresholds established for certain pests and certain crops.  These are economic thresholds and economic injury levels.

The economic injury level (EIL) is defined as the lowest pest population density that will cause economic damage.  If a pest populations reaches the EIL, economic damage will be sustained.  To prevent such damage, action can be taken at the determined economic threshold (ET).  The ET is the point at which action should be taken to prevent further damage, and prevent pest densities from reaching the EIL.  The ET is also called the action threshold, which is more descriptive.  More information about EILs and ETs can be found here.

In New York State, the ET for onion thrips is 3 thrips per green leaf.  When sampling, it is important to examine multiple plants in different areas of the field.  Some growers sample up to 50 plants to evaluate thrips populations  The calculation to determine whether or not the ET has been reached is:

(# of thrips counted)/(# of leaves counted)

Of course, it is also important to assess damage, for thrips as well as other pest species.  For onion thrips on onion, this is the characteristic damage:

Different growers have differing levels of acceptable damage, depending on whether it is direct or indirect damage, or may have different thresholds at different points in the season.  To spray or not to spray, that may still be the question.

Who’s Who #3

Germany’s got it, Sweden’s got it, Belgium’s got it.  And no one is admitting responsibility for the Escherichia coli outbreak, not surprising.  Fingers point quickly to Spain, but the original source is still to be determined.  E. coli, the mystery organism from Wednesday, has a new strain that is sweeping Europe and wrecking havoc.  So far, it has only been cucumbers, lettuce, and tomatoes that have been reported as potential sources of contamination.  But many are shying away from any raw fruits or vegetables just to be cautious.

Such outbreaks are a major concern for the agricultural industry.  Produce contamination is a serious health concern and often results in a recall of particular meat products or certain kinds of produce.  In such cases, traceability is key to finding the source of contamination, which can occur at any point from farm to table.  Once identified, steps are taken to minimize further distribution and spread.

More benign sources of E. coli are found in the intestine of warm blooded animals, like humans, and can be beneficial to its host by producing vitamin K.  With all the bad rap, it’s important to note that this bacteria is naturally occurring in a non-virulent form.

Guess Who Wednesday #3

It’s mid-week and my second consecutive full day in the field.  I’m not complaining.  I enjoy it immensely, but it is a tiring 8-6 day.  And that’s not counting my commute.  So it seems this Guess Who Wednesday is a good option when you’re a busy graduate student.

Today I ask, what is this a picture of?  Hint: it has been in the news recently.