To water or not water? This a question many farmers grapple with every year. Row cropping itself can be a tedious and complex art form, but when it comes to irrigation it’s all about strategy.
According to the 2012 U.S. Census of Agriculture there are approximately 26,000 acres of corn irrigated for grain in Alabama. Most farmers choose to irrigate for two reasons: increased yield and reduced risk during a drought.
There are several different types of irrigation systems available but the most commonly used system among Alabama farmers is a Center Pivot System. By using this system, water is dispersed through a long, segmented arm while covering a quarter mile radius.
Like most standard farm equipment, most systems do not come cheap. The main expenses farmers face include well installation, pumping stations, in-ground pipe for water transport, water application equipment such as a center pivot system. Pumping and applying water requires a large amount of energy resulting in electric or diesel expenses. Other expenses include land rent/purchase, labor and capitol costs.
Since the water being distributed is coming from underground springs, the farmer must be aware of the quality of water given to the corn.
Greg Pate, Director at EV Smith Research Center, had his own comments on the quality of water and its effect on corn production.
“Most of the water in Alabama is well suited for irrigation,” Pate stated. “However, there are pockets within the Black Belt region that can have water with high levels of dissolved salts. Also, water from stagnant swamps can have issues with pH.”
According to the 2012 US census of Agriculture, irrigated corn will average approximately twice the yield compared to dry land acreage. Farmers of the previous generation will often use the method of “letting the corn tell me” when it is time to irrigate but today that’s not the case. Most farmers have gone to a scheduling system to encourage optimal bushel production each year.
If a farmer makes the choice to irrigate their corn, the next question is how much water and how often.
“Maximum water usage occurs at tasseling and silking (R1 stage),” Pate said. “However, adequate water must be available from the mid vegetative stages (V6-V8) and continue throughout the kernel filling process (R5.5).”
After the kernel filling process, irrigation should continue until the plant reaches physiological maturity. This stage is known as Rb or Black Layer. It is signified by the formation of a black layer of cells at the base of the kernel.
For more information on corn irrigation, contact your county’s Extension agent.
Recently featured in Auburn Family.
The Ag Council at the College of Agriculture held their 11th annual “Ag Week” this week. Various organizations within the college came together to host a variety of events for families and students to attend while learning about the agricultural industry.
The festivities kicked off on Monday morning when the AU Young Farmers and Block & Bridle pulled up to the Student Center Greenspace with trucks and trailers full of farm animals. The two clubs joined forces to hold a “Petting Zoo” for students, faculty and staff. The animals included an Alpaca, Llama, dairy calf, beef heifers, a sheep, and a goat.
Block & Bridle president, Ellen Rankins, was eager to educate students about the different animals.
“Most of these people have never seen any of these animals, let alone touched them. This event is our chance to show the public what we do in animal agriculture and start meaningful conversations with them.
Over 800 people stopped by the Petting Zoo, giving both clubs countless opportunities to spread their knowledge of agriculture.
On Tuesday afternoon, clubs and organizations set up carnival games at the ALFA Pavilion at Ag Heritage Park for the “Ag Carnival”. Families from the university and community came out for a night of food, fun and games along with a mechanical bull and bouncy house and slide.
Over 200 children went through the carnival by the end of the night making the event a huge success for the Ag Council.
Sigma Alpha professional agricultural sorority took over on Wednesday when they hosted the “Ag Hill Picnic” on Comer Lawn. The young ladies served plates of catfish or chicken with fries, coleslaw, hushpuppies, brownie and a drink to almost 300 people in a two-hour timespan.
Ashley Stegall, a freshman in Poultry Science and public relations chairwoman for Sigma Alpha, coordinated with the Ag Council to put on the event. Stegall boasted about the success of the picnic.
“The Ag Week Picnic was a huge success this year!” Stegall stated. “On behalf of the Sigma Alpha sisters, I would like to thank everyone who came out and bought a plate, and thank you to the college of ag and Ag Council for putting your trust in us to host the event. I am really proud of the hard work the Sigma Alpha girls put in to make this happen. We enjoyed seeing everyone there and we can’t wait for next year!”
In addition to the picnic, the Agricultural Communicators of Tomorrow (ACT) passed out this semester’s edition of the “Agazine” – a magazine produced and edited by Agricultural Communications students. The production features articles on several different topics in agriculture written by the students and a farewell address from retiring Ag Council president Chandler Mulvaney.
Wednesday morning, long before the picnic began, two LifeSouth Blood Drive buses made their way up Ag Hill. Block & Bridle hosted a blood drive in memory of David Bufkin – father of agricultural communications senior, Michelle Bufkin. Students, faculty and staff were encouraged to donate blood and raise awareness for Leukemia while supporting a fellow CoA student and her love for her father.
In the College of Agriculture, family is the most important thing. So when Bufkin’s father was diagnosed with acute myelogenous leukemia in November 2014, the college rallied behind the Bufkin family and held a blood drive in honor of her father. Since then, the Block and Bridle hosts a blood drive each year.
For Thursday morning, clubs lined the Haley Concourse for Ag Week’s first “Ag Awareness Day”. Students stood as ambassadors for agriculture and handed out informational cards on several different controversial topics in the industry.
“Ag Awareness Day is really important to those of us that are in agriculture because it gives us a chance to personally address the concerns that people may have about where their food is coming from and how it is produced. For me, the morning was about teaching people what GMO’s are, how they work, and the benefits that come along with using them,” Wendland explained.
“If there is one thing that I hope students took away from Ag awareness day, it is that they can come to us as producers with their questions and fears at any time. Our number one goal is to produce safe, healthy food in a way that is environmentally friendly, and will continue to sustain life on earth for thousands of years to come. People need to know that. To do this, we have to embrace the technology that we have available. Every other industry in the world has evolved with technology, it shouldn’t be scary if agriculture does too.”
Later that afternoon at 4 p.m., Robert Bertram, chief scientist in the U.S. Agency for International Development’s Bureau for Food Security, spoke on The End of Hunger – From Vision to Reality as part of the E.T. York lecture series. The lecture took place in The Hotel at Auburn University auditorium.
The week was rounded out on Friday morning when the Ag Ambassadors hosted “Get Ag-tive” for over 100 kindergarteners from the area. Clubs and organizations put on different “field day” activities involving agriculture.
Ag Ambassador president, John Allen Nichols, was extremely satisfied with the lives touched from “Get Ag-tive.
“It was such an exhausting day, but it was great to see all clubs coming together to make a difference. We may not have taught them much, but we did our best and that’s all that matters.”
Founded in 2011, the Ag Council functions as the voice for the college of agriculture’s student body to the college faculty and administration as well as the SGA.
Administrators, faculty and numerous student leaders put in countless hours to ensure the success of Ag Week.
Megan Ross, Student Development and Programs Coordinator at the college of agriculture, serves as the advisor for the Ag Council and aided in the coordination and planning of the weeks events and activities.
“Ag Week has been a huge success,” Ross boasted. “Our students have interacted with over 1800 fellow students, faculty, and community members. I am so proud of our students and the work they have put into this week. They have given so much of their time and talents to make the events of this week really impact the Auburn University Campus and Community.”
Agricultural Communications junior, Abby Himburg, was highly satisfied with the outcome of the week.
‘”My favorite was most definitely the carnival on Tuesday. I enjoyed seeing all the clubs come together to host such a successful event for not only students but families as well,” stated Himburg. “The college of ag students always look forward to Ag week and the many fun activities that come along with it. It is because of events like Ag week that our college is such a success and allows students to form new friendships. I am so proud to be a student in the college of ag where we are always promoting agriculture and informing the public about the importance of it.”
Recently featured in Auburn Family.
Among the many opportunities to gain professional experience that Auburn University supplies students, the most sought out in the College of Agriculture is the Alumni Mentoring Program. Students in various majors within the college are selected through an application process and paired with a mentor that will best suit their job interests, internship interests, and career goals.
Students participate in the 12-month program by getting meaningful first-hand experience in their prospective fields.
This program has made lasting impacts on several students in the College of Agriculture. Karri Fievet, a senior in Poultry Science production said, “Programs like this absolutely played a huge role in my time here in Auburn. Upon transferring in, I was extremely quiet and shy. I have participated in the program three times, attaining three different mentors. Each of which has given me the chance to come out of my shell, meet tons of new people, and network with industry representatives that I never would have been connected with otherwise.”
During the fall and spring semesters, mentors and mentees are encouraged to participate in monthly activities planned by Student Services Coordinators, Megan Ross, and Amanda Martin. Meet and Greets, resume building, Etiquette workshops, job shadowing, networking, and interview training are some of the various tools a mentee will have access to.
Mentors are encouraged to attend each monthly function to share experiences and give tips to the students about the professional world outside of college. During the face-to-face meetings, mentees are encouraged to introduce themselves to other mentors to further develop their professional network.
Ashley Culpepper Grant is an alumna working at Ranch House Designs in Wharton, Texas. “I was a mentee my senior year during the fledgling year of the program,” said Grant. “As both a previous student participant and now an alumni participant, I am so grateful to be a part of this program.”
Grant realized many benefits from the program after graduation, “I wish I had put more effort into the program,” said Grant. “Participating in a program like this may not be a priority to you freshman year… I know that I was too worried about what fraternity the Velcro Pygmies were playing at when I was 19, but looking back, I realized I should have focused more on professional development opportunities during my undergraduate years.”
The mentees have several responsibilities in order to gain a full experience from the program. Students must keep regular contact with their mentor via phone, email, and/or meetings. He or she must be proactive and willing to meet their mentor at least once a month and continue the relationship through to the official end of the program. Besides networking, students are taught how to act in a professional setting. They are expected to respond to phone calls and emails from their mentors in a timely fashion and act professionally at all times. These types of skills are expected in the workforce and having these skills instilled in students now will only help them in the future.
This is Bradley Cox’s first year as a mentor in the program. Cox serves six counties in Northwest Alabama as Area Director for the Alabama Farmers Federation. Cox graduated with a bachelor of science in agriculture education in 2012 and a master’s degree in the same field in 2013.
When asked about the professional experience he was able to provide his mentee, Cox said, “I have escorted my mentee around our home office and I have made all of the events scheduled by Amanda. I have made it a point to introduce her to as many people within the agriculture industry as I possibly could. These connections and networking opportunities will pay huge dividends in the future.”
One of the most common misconceptions about being an agriculture student is everyone automatically assumes every student has some form of an agricultural background. That is not always the case. Cox had the opportunity to educate his mentee about a whole new aspect of the agriculture industry.
“Being a part of the mentor program has been so rewarding for me. My mentee does not come from an agriculture background so I have enjoyed getting to inform her about production agriculture. ”
Bradley is just one of over 50 mentors participating in the program. Each mentor is a volunteer and has every intention of assisting the mentee in every way they can.
Luke Knight, a junior in agricultural communications, has benefited from the program immensely. While job shadowing, Knight was able to open many doors and gain exposure in the industry that would have never been possible otherwise.
“This past year I was shadowing my mentor, and I was able to operate a cotton module. For a kid that didn’t grow up on a farm, that was pretty cool!”
The key importance of the program is to aid students in deciding whether their field of choice is right for them. For Knight and Feivet, the program has been a great help in deciding their future in the agriculture industry.
After having two mentors, Knight was fortunate enough to see two different sectors of the industry that has led him to focus in on his ultimate career goals. “The two mentors of mine had totally different work days and I appealed to both of them. So, I would like to work in sales for an agribusiness company upon graduation, ultimately leading to an organization that represents America’s farmers. “
Feivet shared the same views, “This program helps to open your eyes to things that Auburn graduates end up doing after they graduate and begin their lifelong career journey!
For incoming freshman and transfer students to the College of Agriculture, the Alumni Mentoring program is something each student should make an effort to join.
Knight made a point to highly recommend the program to incoming freshman and transfer students to the College of Agriculture, “This program opens your eyes to how diverse and small the agricultural industry really is. I can say that through this program the two mentors that I have had have been extremely great to me and I want a career path much like the jobs that they have. If anything, this program provides clarity to my future and really narrows in on what I want to do. These mentors are going to be your future employers one day so it is extremely beneficial for incoming students to start networking early, and finding a path they want to pursue.”
Bradley Cox couldn’t say enough about being a part of the Auburn Family. “My time at Auburn University was hands down the most rewarding experience of my life. Auburn will prepare you for your career, but more importantly, it will allow you to meet some of the best friends you will ever make. The “Auburn Family” is one of the most rewarding aspects of being an alumnus of Auburn University. You will meet people from all over the country that will have the same love for Auburn that you do. I would encourage you to get involved, to meet as many people within the industry as possible, and to have a great time…you will be a senior before you know it!”
For more information about applying to the program or becoming a mentor visit Alumni Mentoring Program.
All photos via the Alumni Mentoring Program.
Recently featured in Auburn Family
Housing is one of the most stressful parts of a student’s college career aside from classes. Trailer or mobile home living is often seen as “redneck” or trashy, but not all trailers should be judged by their flamingos. There many different advantages to living in a trailer. Once you get past the stereotypes, you will find living in a trailer can be a great experience.
When you break it down, the average cost of renting an apartment/condo/townhouse is about $700 a month (not including power, cable and other essentials). The average cost of living in a trailer, or “mobile home”, is about $500 a month including power, cable and gas – sometimes less.
Buying a trailer is more of an investment rather than throwing away four years of rent. Once you are ready to move out, you just sell it and get your most of your money back.
Flexibility with pets
If you own the trailer there is no “pet fee” if you want to bring you furry friend to college with you! You are allowed to have a fenced play area for them and most lots have a good amount of yard space. Most students that live in a trailer have a pet of some sort so your furry companion will have lots of friends!
Sharing is nonexistent (sort of)
You have your own house. You’re not sharing walls with someone above, below or beside you. Sure the walls are thin and you can probably hear someone walking across the floor but it’s better than listening to your neighbor and his flavor of the month argue and scream at each other at four in the morning. You also get your own bathroom! Yay! No sharing with a suite-mate or that roommate you were “matched” with.
Wide Open Spaces
You can do what you want when you want (providing you don’t break any major laws or commit a crime). You want to have a fish fry with the entire trailer park? Go for it! You’ve got the space. If you come from a rural part of the world, you know the importance of having breathing room. You don’t have to stress your friends over parking in the “visitor” parking lot or getting towed because you don’t have a parking pass. “Gatherings” often frequent the residents of the trailer parks and that’s ok because you can have regular events every fourth Saturday; whereas in an apartment, your neighbors would have a heart attack from all the people.
It’s your home away from home
Unlike an apartment or condo, you don’t feel like your living in a hotel room for four years. You have a yard, a fully functioning kitchen and laundry room and you have room for friends or family to visit and stay awhile. In a way, trailer living feels more permanent. The space is your own and you can tailor is to your specific style. You don’t have to worry about getting permission to paint the walls or redo the floors.
Most importantly, if you choose to live in a trailer park in college you are choosing to live in a community that’s unique from any other group of people you will encounter in your four years at Auburn. We enjoy getting new neighbors and we’ll be sad to see the old ones leave. You will live among some of the most down-to-earth, kindhearted people out there and maybe get initiated into a “secret organization” for trailer park people but you’ll have to find that out for yourself.
When asked about trailer living, agronomy and soils senior at Auburn University, Noel Welch, had a few things to say about his experience over the past four years.
“It’s been an experience for sure. My best memories of college are from sitting in Ridgewood on a Friday night with my best friends just hanging out,” said Welch, “If anyone is thinking about where to live when they come to Auburn, tell them to try living in a trailer. They won’t regret it.”
College is about experiencing new things and meeting new people. So live life on the rural side and get yourself a trailer. It’ll be the best decision you and your parents ever make.
“Hey if all else fails, haul that bad boy home and you can live on the back 40.” – Noel Welch
Recently featured on Extension Daily.
AUBURN, Ala. — What is an adequate stand? A grower must maintain healthy and uniform stands to increase the chances of a healthy planting season but how does the grower know what an adequate stand is? For peanuts, cotton and soybeans, the answer to that question is similar in some areas and different in others. Good soil moisture and temperature is a good start to the process to achieving adequate stands in row crop production.
Adequate Peanut Stands
Effective factors include for peanut stands include: perfect germination of seed, soil temperature, soil moisture, seedlings diseases, herbicide damage and seed to soil contact. A farmer must know what is being planted at that particular time.
Kris Balkcom at the Department of Crop, Soil and Environmental Sciences at Auburn University said to make sure seeds are at least 75% germinated.
Soil temperature and soil moisture are important to a peanut stand because if the soil is hot and dry a seed will not germinate properly. Decreased numbers of stand can also occur if the soil is wet and cool.
For maximum germination and adequate stand production, the seed need a good seedbed in the strips of soil with no air pockets.
The two most common types of peanut stands are uniform and erratic. A uniform solid stand has good full rows while an erratic patch of stands are very spread out.
To prevent an erratic group of stands, Balkcom said, “First identify the source of the stand problem so it can be corrected for future planting. Look for a pattern whether it be the soil type, moisture or seed source.”
To ensure maximum yields, it is recommended that farmers plans in single 36 inch rows that are six seeds per foot or in single 30 inch rows that are five seeds per foot.
“The take home message here is that if you are in a high rainfall situation area or in an irrigated scenario the plants have a better chance to overcompensate to over come that skippy stand than in a dry land situation where the plants may not receive the amount of rainfall needed to compensate the skip and make maximum yield potential,” Balkcom said.
Adequate Cotton Stands
When planting and growing cotton, getting an adequate stand is the most crucial component of the cotton season. The soil temperature must be 65 degrees at a depth of four inches for three days with a good forecast.
Along with soil temperature, a grower must maintain good soil moisture – but too much moisture can lead to crusting –, proper seed depth of 0.5 to 1.5 inches, seed placement and seeding rate.
To calculate the final plant stand, pull a tape measure in sections of 10 feet and count viable plants. It is recommended that there be a minimum of 2 plants per foot or as close as possible.
Row Crop Extension Specialist, William Birdsong, is ready for the next planting season.
“I’ve had a lot of calls from different growers and my predictions is that right after this cold front pushes through, we are going to heat up and the planting season is going to be kicked off for South Alabama.”
Adequate Soybean Stands
Soybeans can be resilient to varying plant populations. Some will branch out more or less depending on space. Each soybean plant can take up a 7 to 10 inch radius per plant.
Aside from the yield of the crop, other agronomic considerations can be the cause of low population such as: weed control or harvest ease.
Growers can determine the density of their stands by counting plants in several places down the rows. For 30-inch rows, there should be six plants per foot and for 36-inch rows; there should be seven plants per foot.
To learn more about adequate stands in other row crops, or for other information about row crops in Alabama, visit the Alabama Crops website. For more information on adequate stands of cotton, peanuts or soybeans, contact your county’s Extension agent.
On Saturday, April 23rd, Jordan-Hare stadium will host its first-ever concert series featuring country music superstar Kenny Chesney in conjunction with the inaugural Music and Miracles Superfest, created and presented by the founders of the Chicken Salad Chick Foundation.
Six-time Country Music Association and Academy of Country Music Association Female Vocalist of the Year Miranda Lambert, Grammy-nominated newcomer Sam Hunt and hit-writer driven breakout band Old Dominion will join Chesney for this monumental occasion.
“There is something about college football that inspires me,” Chesney says. “There is so much heart, so much dignity to playing for the honor of your school. There are, obviously, a lot of good times and great memories made at the games, and those guys on the teams play all out in ways most people don’t realize. Every time I get to play somewhere with the kind of history Auburn has, it pushes me a little harder to really raise the bar. And the mission and heart behind Music & Miracles raises that bar higher still.”
The mission of the Music & Miracles Superfest is to bring the biggest entertainers in America to one of the most notable venues in the southeast and raise funds for two of the greatest needs of the Auburn community. Proceeds from the concert will be targeted to fighting cancer and feeding the hungry.
Stacy Brown, President and Co-Founder of the Chicken Salad Chick Foundation, who lost her husband Kevin Brown (Co-Founder of Chicken Salad Chick) to cancer last November, noted, “Music & Miracles Superfest was Kevin’s dream. While in the midst of his battle against cancer, Kevin chose not to ask ‘why me?’ but rather ‘why not?!’ Kevin asked boldly, ‘Why not start a Foundation? Why not have a concert at Jordan-Hare Stadium? Why not ask Kenny Chesney to play it? And why not try and raise a million dollars in a single day to give to those who are in need?’ Kevin will have the best seat in the house to watch this dream come true on April 23.”
For more information about Music & Miracles Superfest, visit: www.MusicAndMiracles.com
About the Chicken Salad Chick Foundation:
The Chicken Salad Chick Foundation was established by Kevin and Stacy Brown in June of 2014. As the founders of the Chicken Salad Chick restaurant concept, they knew very early on they would have the opportunity to positively impact many lives. The foundation focuses on two initiatives, fighting cancer and feeding the hungry. Music & Miracles Superfest is all about BIG DREAMS. HIGH HOPES. TREMENDOUS IMPACT.
Click here for more information about the Chicken Salad Chick Foundation.
AUBURN, Ala. – How do your vegetables grow? Increasingly, some are grown hydroponically. Commercial Hydroponic production is a type of production agriculture that is not as common as livestock or row crop production in Alabama, but realistically hydroponically produced leafy greens and tomatoes are extremely popular in several Alabama restaurants and dining facilities. The term “hydroponically produced” means the produce was grown in a media such as rock wool, perlite, or a nutrient solution without soil.
Dr. Joe Kemble, a Professor and Extension Vegetable Specialist said, “When you have soil you can introduce a lot more problems such as harmful pests or diseases. Soil doesn’t work in small containers because it doesn’t drain normally and you can also introduce a lot of soil borne diseases So in this kind of system a grower can control the environment and know what is there and how much water the plants consume or don’t consume.”
Two common methods of hydroponics are Nutrient Film Technique (NFT) and float beds.
NFT is a circulating hydroponic system that utilizes plastic channels to grow plants and works best for producing leafy greens such as lettuce or herbs and is the most desired by commercial growers. Although this option is more expensive, NTF provides clean growing environment.
A nutrient solution flows through the channels providing plant’s roots with proper hydration and nutrients. Any nutrient that is not taken up by the plant is recirculated through the channels ensuring that all the nutrients in solution are ultimately used.
Nutrients are constantly monitored by computer systems in many commercial NFT systems. The computer knows to inject more fertilizer in the solution when the nutrient concentration reaches a certain level or drops suddenly.
Raft systems or float beds are another way to produce greenhouse lettuce hydroponically. In this system, foam rafts are used to float plants on a nutrient solution letting the roots grow into the solution through holes cut in the raft.
Dr. Jeremy Pickens, an Extension Horticulturist, works with both floriculture and greenhouse vegetable growers and is responsible for research in the Alabama greenhouse industry.
Pickens said, “Compared to NFT systems, float beds are the less expensive choice. Even though it is less expensive, raft systems require more maintenance such as cleaning and raft replacement.
There are several misconceptions when it comes to hydroponic vegetable production.
“I feel one of the most common misbeliefs is that hydroponics is for hobbyist and not a ‘real production system.’ The largest operation in the U.S. is over 150 acres of glass greenhouse grown tomatoes. That operation is in Arizona,” Kemble stated.
Another misconception – and possibly the greatest – is the concern of plants that are grown in a solution will negatively influence the flavor or nutrient quality compared to traditional open field production.
Pickens disagreed, “Greenhouse grown vegetables are often of higher quality and have been grown with very soft chemistry pesticides. There are a lot of growers that can get by without applying any pesticides.”
Like any production agriculture operation, Hydroponic vegetable production is a seven-day a week job. The greenhouses must be monitored on a daily basis. In a 30×96 ft. greenhouse, sowing seeds, inspecting plants for insects, suckering and harvesting consumes about 20 to 25 hours a week for most vegetable crops, but producing the crop is only a small part of the grower’s work. A grower must be able to market his produce in the most profitable way.
Owner and grower of Extreme Green Hydroponics, Ralf Du Toit, distributes the majority of his crop to several dining facilities at Auburn University such as the Wellness Kitchen, Village Dining, Terrell Dining and Plains to Plate. With his operation being just outside Auburn, he is able to deliver locally every day insuring his buyer’s a freshly harvested crop.
“I do not harvest lettuce and keep it in the refrigerator,” Toit explained, “Everything that is sold locally is harvested and delivered in the same day.”
Du Toit produces various types of leafy greens such as Artisan and Romaine lettuce, several types of tomatoes such as Beef Steak, grape, and cherry, and also offers a selection of European cucumbers, basil and spinach.
Luckily for growers or someone interested in becoming a grower, greenhouse vegetable production is a growing industry in Alabama.
Pickens works as a Research Associate at the Ornamental Horticulture Research Center as a part of the Alabama Agricultural Experiment Stations in Mobile, Ala.
“We have 6 growers between Mobile and Baldwin County. There are even more scattered across the state. We will see more and more greenhouse vegetables grown in Alabama as our planets resources become limited. The water and nutrient use efficiency with greenhouse grown products is incredibly more efficient than open field production. You can also produce a lot more product per area than you can conventionally. I can produce five times as much lettuce per acre in a greenhouse than in a field and I can grow 20 times the amount of cucumbers.
With the droughts out West, greenhouse production is becoming more and more economically viable. The difficult part is marketing the product. That is the case with all produce in our state. Lettuce is a good example. California and Arizona produce about 95% of the lettuce in the U.S. They have the perfect growing environment and when you combine that with economy of scale they can grow lettuce at a much lower cost.
With hydroponics you need a greenhouse and greenhouse are expensive. You also have to use energy. It is a challenge to compete with commodity priced lettuce but some growers have been able to develop markets.”
Initial start up of a greenhouse operation can be pricey. The average cost of a greenhouse is approximately $20,000 but after adding equipment for the house such as heating and cooling systems, computer monitoring systems, alarms and more, a new grower should expect to invest anywhere from $30,000 – $50,000.
Many growers have ventured into hydroponics because of the business opportunities and like any form of agriculture there is an art and science to it.
“In this case the science or the technical side of it is not that complicated. It takes some experience to get a feel for it (the art side). If you can follow a recipe and do middle school math you can grow hydroponic vegetables,” said Pickens.
One cannot simply begin growing vegetables and become an expertise overnight. A grower must learn about each vegetable and its specific nutrient levels, pest management and watering needs.
If you have a question about Hydroponic vegetable greenhouse production, contact your county’s Extension agent.
Social Media Press Release: Ag Week 2016
(This was created as a “proof of concept” for my Style & Design class)
Ag Week 2016
Throughout the week of March 28 – April 1, the Auburn Ag Council will lead the 11th Annual Ag Week in conjunction with organizations within the College of Agriculture at Auburn University. The events of the week feature a petting zoo, carnival, picnic, ag awareness day, and a field day for local kindergarteners.
Founded in 2011, the Ag Council functions as a voice for the College of Agriculture’s student body to College faculty and administration as well as the SGA. The Council also works to develop and retain students by hosting social events, career fairs and philanthropy events. Membership is open to all College of Agriculture students.
• Monday, March 28th, Block & Bridle and AU Young Farmers will host a Petting Zoo on the Student Center Greenspace from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
• Tuesday, March 29th, Ag Council will host the Ag Carnvial from 5 – 7 p.m. at Ag Heritage Park. All ages are welcome.
• Wednesday, March 30th, Sigma Alpha sorority will host the Ag Hill Picnic. Plates of chicken or fish with fries, coleslaw, hushpuppies, brownie and a drink will be available for purchase for $7.
• Along with the picnic, Block & Bridle will be having a Blood Drive in memory of David Bufkin, father of Agricultural Communications senior Michelle Bufkin.
• Thursday, March 31st, organizations from the College of Agriculture will host Ag Awareness Day on the Haley Concourse from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.
• Thursday afternoon at 4 p.m., Robert Bertram, chief scientist in the U.S. Agency for International Development’s Bureau for Food Security, will be speaking on The End of Hunger – From Vision to Reality as part of the E.T. York lecture series.
• The lecture will take place in The Hotel at Auburn University auditorium.
• Friday, April 1st, the Ag Ambassadors will host Get Ag-tive for kindergarteners from local elementary schools.
• Ag Week is held each year to raise awareness for the agriculture industry.
“This is our 11th year hosting a week dedicated to all things agriculture at Auburn, Ag Council President, Chandler Mulvaney said. “From the Ag Carnival to our first ever Ag Awareness Day, Ag Week offers a multitude of events and activities for everyone in the Auburn family to be involved in and enjoy.”
“There will be a ton of booths for kids to play carnival-style games and free cotton candy,” Tyler Miller, Ag Council vice president, says. “There will also be free cotton candy and other foods and beverages available for sale.”
“Most of these people have never seen any of these animals, let alone touched them,” Block & Bridle President, Ellen Rankins said. “This event is our chance to show the public what we do in animal agriculture and start meaningful conversations with them.”
“Ag Awareness Day is really important to those of us that are in agriculture because it gives us a chance to personally address the concerns that people may have about where their food is coming from and how it is produced. For me, the morning was about teaching people what GMO’s are, how they work, and the benefits that come along with using them,” Drew Wendland explained. “If there is one thing that I hope students took away from Ag awareness day, it is that they can come to us as producers with their questions and fears at any time. Our number one goal is to produce safe, healthy food in a way that is environmentally friendly, and will continue to sustain life on earth for thousands of years to come. People need to know that. To do this, we have to embrace the technology that we have available. Every other industry in the world has evolved with technology, it shouldn’t be scary if agriculture does too.”
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If southerners are an expert at one thing, it’s knowing good food. So it was no surprise when a local Auburn restaurant was named “13 Places in Alabama You MUST Visit Before You Die” by onlyinyourstate.com.
Matthew Poirer and Jana (Caruthers) Poirer moved back to Auburn several years ago with a dream of opening a restaurant that would stand as a new Auburn tradition. With the help of Jana’s brothers, parents and almost all of their extended family – who are almost all Auburn alum – the Poirer’s opened for business in 2012.
Since, then The Hound – with their slogan “Bourbon and Burgers” – has served up a variety of new and traditional American style food under the direction of culinary chef William Walker in an atmosphere that is far from ordinary.
“I think their slogan, ‘Bourbon and Burgers,’ really fits with the overall atmosphere of the place,” said Charles Tatum – an agricultural communications sophomore. “I’ve never had a bad experience and I’m not surprised they made the list.”
The Hound’s menu offers a variety of choices for customers from gourmet burgers to skirt steak and roasted quail. One of the most enjoyed aspects The Hound offers is their weekend brunch complete with $1 mimosas.
Kristen Keeter, a senior at Auburn University, frequents The Hound’s brunch often.
“Every time someone comes into town to visit, we have to go to brunch before they leave Sunday,” she said. “It’s an absolute must.”
With one step into the lobby, anyone can tell that the finishes and details of the place have been meticulously thought over one by one. Reclaimed cedars from the area are featured throughout the establishment in the form of a custom made bar top and tables.
Auburn alumni, James Thompson, couldn’t disagree.
“I first came to The Hound because of an unique appetizer choice they offered called a ‘scotch egg’. I had read about this history and decided it was a must try,” Thompson stated. “After that first experience, The Hound is the go-to choice when my family and I come into town. It’s like our own part of an Auburn family tradition.”
For more information on the history of The Hound or menu options visit their website at www.thehound-auburn.com.