Should Grass-Fed Beef MOOOOOOOve onto your plate?

Photo: Scott Bauer, USDA ARS

Photo: Scott Bauer, USDA ARS

by Daisy Christophel, Communication major

Walking into the grocery store we have two general choices, organic or not. With beef, we have options: grass-fed, grain-fed, (regular) grass-finished, or corn finished. Grass finished means the steer is fed on grain for the first half of his life then his final year before slaughter is finished on grass, corn finished means the opposite.

It’s important to understand what grass-fed beef entails since it can be confused with “organic” or “free-range” labeling. By USDA standards, grass-fed beef means that for the entirety of the animals life it must always be fed grass, forage, and “cereal grains in the vegetative state.”  Checks are done on farms to ensure this process.

Grass-fed beef can still be given hormones, and antibiotics. There is also controversy over the USDA label because grass-fed beef can be imported and it’s a blurry line to decide at what point grains stop being in the vegetative state. Explain this a bit further

What are the good things about grass-fed compared to grain? In short, it’s better for the environment, us, and the cow. It’s better for the cow because it’s more natural., When cows are fed grain it causes a more acidic environment in their stomachs, making them more disease susceptible, which in turn can lead to diseases. It’s also better for us because it contains more vitamins and fatty acids like Omega 3s and CLA .It also contains fewer  calories than the same portion of grain fed meat.

Sound like a win-win? Not altogether, in multiple blind taste tests grass-fed fell short. It’s also not reasonable to completely shift to grass-fed as a society, it take land we don’t have and twice the amount of time for a finished product for our growing population. There’s the facts, the choice is yours!

More info can be found here:
http://www.americangrassfed.org/
http://www.csuchico.edu/grassfedbeef/

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This blog post was an assignment for  Societal Issues: Pesticides, Alternatives and the Environment (PLNTPTH 4597). The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the class, Department of Plant Pathology or the instructor.

Drones in Agriculture

by Isaac Santel, Sustainable Plant Systems – Turfgrass Science major

The way that we do basic things is becoming more and more dependent on technology to keep things simple for us. In an article on agweb.com, called “Enter the Drone Zone,” author Ben Potter talks about using drones to help out with agriculture.

The article first tells us about a Donovan Taves of Lousiana that uses drones or UAV’s (unmanned aerial vehicles) to help monitor the black bears that have been devastating his irrigation system.

The article then goes on to tells us that drones are becoming more popular in agriculture due to their ease of use and how effective they can be. They can be used for plant health scouting, water usage, and also to help with pesticide applications.

Technology, such as drones, are the future of farming. With a camera being mounted on the small, man controlled aircraft, it allows the farmer to scout his fields with minimal effort and is much quicker than conventional methods.

Drones are capable of doing more than just helping around the farm though. A few months ago, Amazon revealed that they were in the process of using drones to help deliver packages to customers. hello This would cut down on transportation and Labor costs.

I am pretty much for anything that saves time and money. Even though the technology will be expensive at first, the pay off will be great. Using drones for disease scouting and using water more efficiently should be able to cut down costs for the farmers (through reduced pesticide/water usage) and in turn cut down costs for the consumer.

Read more
> Enter the Drone Zone, AgWeb

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This blog post was an assignment for  Societal Issues: Pesticides, Alternatives and the Environment (PLNTPTH 4597). The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the class, Department of Plant Pathology or the instructor.

 

Craft breweries have taken off. Can local hops production take off too?

Hop Plant. Photo: OSU South Centers

Hop plants – Photo: OSU South Centers

by Katie Speicher, Sustainable Plant Systems major

Hops are an ingredient used in beer production that gives beer a bitter flavor and hoppy aroma. Think about the taste of an Indian Pale Ale, also known as an IPA.

Production of hops mainly takes place in Washington, Oregon, and Idaho. Production was forced out west due to problems with the diseases powdery mildew and downy mildew. However, several universities are conducting research, looking to bring production of this specialty crop back to the Northeast. These universities include The Ohio State University and the University of Vermont.

Due to the growth in the number of craft breweries coupled with the trend of buying local, hops could be a potentially profitable crop. In Ohio, it is estimated that breweries spend $4 million importing hops from the Northwest. To bring this crop back to Ohio, Ohio State is conducting research to develop specific production protocols and pest management strategies for Ohio.

For More Info:

To keep up to date on what is happening with the hops research check out:
Ohio Hops on Facebook

Read more:  Good sources for more information; nice summary
South Center Horticulture
University of Vermont
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This blog post was an assignment for  Societal Issues: Pesticides, Alternatives and the Environment (PLNTPTH 4597). The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the class, Department of Plant Pathology or the instructor.

 

Just Needed: 32,000 Years of Dust Blown Off and Some Elbow Grease

by Anthony Carelly, Sustainable Plant Systems major

A radiocarbon confirmed 32,000 year old plant was grown setting a new record. Hidden by a squirrel during the Ice Age in Siberia, a Russian team has successfully germinated and produced a Silene stenophylla. The seeds were encased in layers of animal bones 124 feet below the ice. This is absolutely fascinating for a multitude of reasons: that it was possible in the first place given our technological advances; the environmental condition that preserved the seed; the illustration of the potential for storing seeds for tens of thousands of years. I for one would love to see a biodome set up that was dedicated to ancient plants such as this one, and maybe a cloned Velociraptor or two. Of the few seeds the scientist planted, each had similar structures but bloomed differently!

Read more
32,000 Year-Old Plant Brought Back To Life – Oldest Yet
(R. Kaufman, National Geographic News, Feb. 21, 2012)

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This blog post was an assignment for  Societal Issues: Pesticides, Alternatives and the Environment (PLNTPTH 4597). The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the class, Department of Plant Pathology or the instructor.