Agriculture

Kentucky Mesonet

Kentucky’s statewide weather and climate monitoring network now has an app that’s especially useful for farmers. 

Kentucky Mesonet has 70 locations across the state that provide data including temperature, rainfall, humidity, dew point and solar radiation. Those details have been on the Mesonet website, but now they’re on an app for smartphones or other mobile devices that use iOS or Android operating systems.

Megan Schargorodski is manager of Kentucky Mesonet and said farmers are the main reason the app was developed. She said many tractors are equipped with tablets, so the Mesonet app makes the data readily available to farmers.

“They also look at the wind speed, probably most of all because they either spray or they irrigate and you can only do those under certain conditions," said Schargorodski. "It can’t be too windy and it can’t be too calm.”

Comer Votes ‘Yes’ With House Majority, Narrowly Passing Farm Bill

Jun 22, 2018
Lisa Autry

Kentucky’s 1st District U.S Congressman James Comer helped to pass the house’s version of the  federal farm bill Thursday.



Rep. Comer was one of 213 votes in favor of the Farm Bill. 211 other representatives voted ‘no’. The former Kentucky Commissioner of Agriculture and current member of the House ag committee says much of the controversy in garnering support for the bill involved changes to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. “So the only people that would  lose their food stamps or face cuts to their food stamps would be people that are deemed able bodied and who refused to work 20 hours a week,” said Rep. Comer.

Owensboro Regional Farmers Market/facebook

The new permanent structure for the Owensboro Regional Farmers Market this season is drawing more vendors and more shoppers than last year.

The market has a permanent fabric roof and a rustic-style entrance building with restrooms and a small service kitchen.

Vice president of the farmers market Bruce Kunze said there are 40 vendors this year, up from 32 last year.

Carl Bradley, University of Kentucky

As farmers are combining their grain crops an increase in some diseases could impact their bottom line. University of Kentucky Extension Plant Pathologist Carl Bradley said a number of diseases that affect the heads of crops like wheat, barley and rye, have been observed in Kentucky the last few weeks.

Fusarium head blight, Glume Blotch and Loose Smut have all either been called into Bradley by other farmers in the state, or have been identified in his research plots at the Princeton based Grain Center of Excellence. 
“Of those three I think the most important is fusarium head blight, sometimes called head scab.” Bradley said. “It is easiest to observe this disease before heads completely mature.”

According to Bradley, symptoms of Fusarium Head Blight can appear to partially affect the heads of grains, with both healthy green and affected bleached areas present in the same head. 

Nicole Erwin

The U.S. Senate Agriculture Committee has passed it’s version of the Farm Bill with Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s provisions to remove hemp from a list of Schedule 1 controlled substances.

McConnell’s Hemp Farming Act of 2018 legalizes the growing of hemp and also allows hemp cultivators to receive federal crop insurance. Lawmakers made amendments during Wednesday's Agriculture Committee meeting and passed the revised version of the bill with only one dissenting vote from  Republican Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa.

Ryan Quarles Facebook page

Kentucky Commissioner of Agriculture Ryan Quarles announced on Facebook new business prospects with Israel on Monday, following the controversial opening of the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem.

Quarles posted that he was proud to discuss ‘agriculture partnerships with ISRAEL.’ He wrote that Kentucky already has significant Israeli investments in greenhouses and precision irrigation. The department hopes to expand business with industrial hemp and bourbon. Quarles is a member of President Donald Trump's Agricultural Advisory Committee.

Nicole Erwin

LaRue County, Kentucky, dairy farmer Gary Rock sits in his milking parlor, overlooking what is left of his 95 cow operation.

“Three hundred years of history is something that a lot of people in our country cannot even talk about,” Rock said.

That’s how long the farm has been in his family. While the land has turned out tobacco, soybeans and other crops over the years, since 1980 dairy has nourished the family in and out of tragedy.

“In 2013, we had an F2 tornado that totally destroyed all the facilities here except the one we are sitting in, which is the milk parlor itself,” Rock said. If that had been lost, he said, he would not have rebuilt.


Nicole Erwin

China buys more than half of the soybeans grown in the Ohio Valley. So China’s threat this week to place a 25 percent tariff on U.S. soy means farmers would be caught in the crosshairs of a trade war.

Even though tariffs haven’t taken effect, markets are already showing signs that commodities traders are growing nervous. The tariff anxiety comes as U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue visits the region this week. 


Owensboro Regional Farmers Market

The Owensboro Regional Farmers Market opens for the season April 14.  The 34-year-old marketplace will soon feature a new look as it puts down permanent roots in the community.

The vendors’ tents at the Owensboro Farmers Market will soon be replaced by a permanent structure with a fabric roof. Construction is expected to be done by the end of this month on a rustic-style entrance building with cedar siding and a metal roof that will house rest rooms and a small service kitchen.

Creative Commons

An indoor farming company plans to invest $44 million to grow produce on the site of a reclaimed mine in eastern Kentucky.

Hydroponic Farms USA says it will bring 121 jobs to the region, which has seen rising unemployment with the decline of eastern Kentucky’s coal industry.

Hydroponic Farms USA spokesman Trevor Terry said investors chose to build on the site of a former mine in Breathitt County for two reasons. First, the large, flat space the former mine provided was the perfect for a large indoor growing operation.

Ryland Barton

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he wants to revive hemp as a major agricultural product in the U.S. and plans to file a bill to remove hemp from the federal list of controlled substances.

It’s currently illegal to grow hemp without a permit because it’s a member of the same species as cannabis. But, hemp has a negligible amount of the high-inducing compound THC.

McConnell told a room full of hemp promoters in Frankfort on Monday that he thinks the country is ready to legalize the plant.

Nicole Erwin

Jeff McGrew stood in line with about 30 other west Kentucky farmers awaiting certification that they’ve been trained to apply the herbicide Dicamba. The two hour session explained the Environmental Protection Agency’s new restrictions on use of the controversial herbicide. The session left Mcgrew uncertain about whether to use the spray.

“I'm undecided right now but I'm leaning towards not spraying it,” he said. “I don't think in our area we're going to have much of any place that there will be enough area that we won't have buffer zones or other sensitive crops and I'm not sure that it's going to work out for us.”


USDA/Bob Nichols

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has denied a petition by the National Chicken Council to remove the speed limit on work at some slaughterhouses, a move that food safety advocates are calling a victory for workers and consumers.

As the Ohio Valley ReSource reported in October, the National Chicken Council proposal could have increased the line speed for some workers in processing plants where accidents and injuries are already a concern.

Since then the USDA received more than 100,000 public comments and this week the department’s Food Safety Inspection Service turned the petition down. 


White House video

When President Trump spoke to the American Farm Bureau annual convention this month he focused on the regulatory rollbacks and tax cuts that motivated many farmers to help vote him into office.

“We are doing a job for you,” Trump told an auditorium filled with farmers. “You’re seeing it like nobody else: regulation, death tax, so much.”

Dale Moore said farmers look to Trump for a better deal. Moore directs public policy for the Farm Bureau. He said net income for farmers hasn’t been this low since the Great Depression.


Cold Spells Pose Health Risk To Livestock

Jan 4, 2018
Aimee Nielson, UK Agricultural Communications Specialist

Livestock experts are warning producers that sub-zero temperatures and prolonged extreme cold will harm their animals.

University of Kentucky agriculture educators say the cold stress index will hover in the ‘dangerous’ and ‘emergency’ categories for much of the commonwealth between now and possibly early February. As arctic air builds, livestock become vulnerable to the deteriorating outside conditions.

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