App helps farmers ID corn quality

For MAA
MADISON, Wis.  — A new tool developed at the University of Wisconsin–Madison could save farmers time and money during the fall feed-corn harvest and make for more content, productive cows year-round.
The innovation isn’t a physical farm implement, but a smartphone app. With just a handful of harvested corn, the app allows farmers to gauge — without leaving the field — the effectiveness of their harvesting machinery so that they can achieve the highest-quality cracked corn.
The app, which is called SilageSnap, is available for free download on the Apple App Store and Google Play Store. More info is at https://go.wisc.edu/silagesnap.
Cracking corn breaks up the tough outer kernel, exposing the starch inside.

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Dealing with stress on the farm

By Leah Call
MAA
Farming is not for the weak – neither physically nor mentally.
But four straight years of declines in farm income combined with weather extremes and market uncertainty are pushing mental strength to the limit. That stress can lead to depression and contribute to other serious health issues. Fortunately, there are numerous resources throughout the Midwest to help farm families make it through these tough times.
“Farmers are very resilient. They are used to the highs and lows, but this has been too long of a stretch and too severe,” said Rhonda Strebel, executive director of the Rural Health Initiative (RHI).
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Program gives lift to Iowa farmers

Bill and Stacey Borrenpohl launched Woven Strong Farm in Jackson County in 2011, then joined Practical Farmers of Iowa and enrolled in the Savings Incentive Program shortly afterwards.

For MAA
AMES, Iowa — Practical Farmers of Iowa’s Savings Incentive Program aims to help beginning farmers succeed by matching up to $2,400 in start-up cash, providing access to an experienced mentor as well as support network and offering resources to build a solid business plan.
Since the popular two-year program launched in 2010, SIP has helped set 138 beginning farmers on the right path to establishing a healthy farm business.
After 24 months and completion of all program requirements, participants earn a dollar-for-dollar match on money saved up to $2,400, for a possible $4,800, that may be used to help purchase a farm asset.
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Tech giant invests in ginseng

By Jesse Cameron
MAA
A Tawainese tech company is looking to transform Wisconsin’s ginseng industry.
Foxconn Health Technology Business Group signed an agreement earlier this fall with the Ginseng Board of Wisconsin and Hsu’s Ginseng to jointly develop Wisconsin’s ginseng industry and grow Foxconn’s Wisconsin-based ginseng brand, Hong Seng.
Foxconn is building a $10 billion manufacturing campus in southeast Wisconsin and is also investing in other parts of the state, such as opening innovation centers in Eau Claire and Green Bay.
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Initiative confronts animal agriculture challenges

By Michigan State University Extension
With $600,000 from Michigan State University and the backing of the animal agriculture industry, the Michigan Alliance for Animal Agriculture was born in 2015.
Since then, funding has diversified and grown considerably.
In 2017, the state of Michigan budgeted $2.5 million and commodity organizations offered support while MSU contributed $600,000.
Researchers and outreach professionals submit proposals through a competitive grants process and are awarded funding to confront some of animal agriculture’s most pressing challenges – antibiotic resistance, infectious diseases, improving animal welfare and protecting the environment, among others.

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Tech Tilling: FVTC’s combine simulator brings harvest to life

By Jason Fischer
Fox Valley Technical College

Practice makes perfect, at least near perfect, in an industry that assumes uncontrollable factors like weather and related seasonal uncertainties.
A new combine tractor simulator at Fox Valley Technical College, donned in unmistakable John Deere green and yellow, is a virtual ride through any farm field and field condition. The simulation gives agriculture students from five different programs at FVTC another high-tech learning tool. Housed in the Service Motor Company Agriculture Center on the Appleton, Wis., campus, the technology creates an authentic experience of being inside a tractor combine, making this type of practice far from boring.
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Nutrition, warmth vital to healthy lambs

For MAA
As the temperature drops and snow starts falling, it is time to start thinking differently about how we care for lambs. For sheep raisers in cold climates, winter is a time to take special precautions to ensure lambs grow healthy and strong.
“Despite the lamb’s built-in wool blanket, winter can be stressful for young sheep,” said Julian (Skip) Olson, DVM, technical services manager for Milk Products. “Sheep are most comfortable at 45-70 degrees Fahrenheit. When temperatures dip below this level, we need to do everything we can to make sure lambs stay healthy and perform.”

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Feast & Famine in the ag sector

McCormick advertises itself as a GMO-free source fo spices. The problem? There are no GMO spices available. Another example of deceptive advertising.

By MAA
FEAST:
A far-reaching study of agricultural techniques by Cambridge University scientists confirms what our great-grandparents knew generations ago.
“There is mounting evidence that the best way to meet rising food demand while conserving biodiversity is to wring as much food as sustainably possible from the land we do farm, so that more natural habitats can be ‘spared the plough,’” said conservation expert and project co-author Dr. David Edwards from the University of Sheffield.
Researchers focused on organic farming in the European dairy sector and determined that for the same amount of milk produced by conventional dairy farming, organic systems cause at least one third more soil loss.

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Farmer-led groups focus on conservation

“Let us not forget that the cultivation of the earth is the most important labor of man. When tillage begins, other arts will follow. The farmers, therefore, are the founders of civilization.” — Daniel Webster

Farmers gather at a Yahara Pride Farms presentation near Madison, Wis.

By Tim Froberg
MAA
No one knows the struggles, hardships and challenges that crop up daily on the farm better than farmers.
That’s why state farmers are working together on an action plan to improve agricultural and conservation practices. While there are multiple farmer-led conservation groups in Wisconsin, they all share a common goal – to protect the precious soil and water in the Badger State for themselves and future generations.
Among those who have made the most progress are Yahara Pride Farms, Lafayette Ag Stewardship Alliance, the Western Wisconsin Conservation Council and Peninsula Pride Farms.
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Grants boost Michigan ag-based developments

For MAA
LANSING, Mich. — The Michigan Commission of Agriculture and Rural Development voted to approve Food and Agriculture Investment Fund grants for three food and agriculture projects in Michigan.
The projects will help grow companies focused on cheese-making, asparagus packing and production, and grain processing, as well as support the expansion of consumer-demand driven, value-added Michigan products.
“Despite being relatively new, our Food and Agriculture Investment Program is already having a significant and positive impact on businesses in every corner of the state,” said Gordon Wenk, director of the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.

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