Farm Fresh Answers

Cultivating conversations about food & farming

Farm Fresh Podcast: Farm Hats

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“Farm Hats” creator Kent Blunier is one of many farmers who share ‘felfies’ (farmer selfies) on the group’s Facebook page.

Farmers can literally and figuratively wear a lot of different hats in a day. About a year ago, the thought inspired Livingston County farmer, Kent Blunier, to create Facebook group called “Farm Hats.

The idea took root and quickly grew to include farmers from around the world who post “felfies” or farmer-selfies about their day to day activities and what ‘hat’ they might be wearing.

Get the story from the farmer who got the ball rolling in this week’s Farm Fresh Podcast. Plus listen every Wednesday at 12:45 for the Farm to Table segment on WJBC Radio. Plus make sure you check out the Farm Hats group on Facebook!

 

Farm Fresh Podcast: STEM-ing the Next Generation

All aboard! A group of 21 McLean County teachers toured One Earth Energy ethanol plant in Gibson City as part of the 2016 Ag in the Classroom educator workshop.

All aboard! A group of 21 McLean County Teachers toured One Earth Energy ethanol plant in Gibson City as part of an Ag in the Classroom educator workshop.

A group of 21 teachers got up close to agriculture on farm tours as part of an educational workshop. The Agriculture STEM-ing the Next Generation workshop focused on ways for teachers to incorporate agriculture into their classrooms.

Hear more about the experience from elementary teacher, Deb Rettig in this week’s Farm Fresh Podcast.

Tune in every Wednesday at 12:45 to hear the Farm to Table segment on

 

 

Farm Fresh Podcast: Weed & Pest Control

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Weed free fields are more than just for looks. Unwanted plants compete with the crop for sunlight, soil and water.

Check out some of the tools and strategies farmers use to control weeds in this week’s Farm Fresh Podcast with farmer Gerald Thompson.

Tune in every Wednesday at 12:45 p.m. for Farm to Table on WJBC Radio.

 

Farm Fresh Podcast: Mackinson Dairy Farm

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Did you know it only takes about 48 hours for milk to go from the farm to the grocery store? Now that’s Farm Fresh!

Find out more from Mary Mackinson Faber, a fifth generation family dairy farmer. Listen to our Farm Fresh Podcast to hear about cow care and how Mackinson Dairy Farm is using social media to share their story.

Hear the Farm to Table segment every Wednesday at 12:45 p.m. on WJBC Radio.

Slowing the Flow: Wetlands Work As Filters

Nestled along farm fields on the banks of Money Creek, a series of wetland projects aims to improve water quality in McLean County.

“One of the big goals for this wetland is to reduce the amount of nitrates flowing into Lake Bloomington,” says McLean County farmland owner Tim Kraft, who installed a wetland on his land in 2014.

Money Creek is the main tributary to Lake Bloomington, one of the reservoirs used as a water supply for the city of Bloomington. The constructed wetlands act as filters, removing excess nutrients that can have a negative impact on water quality if they reach a high enough level.

Nitrates are a water soluble form of Nitrogen, an essential nutrient for plant growth. When heavy rains saturate the soil, nitrates can be washed away.

Nitrates occur naturally in the absence of agriculture, but fertilizer use can contribute to increased levels. Nutrient loss can be an unintended side effect of fertilizer needed for crop production and field tile drainage that make much of Illinois’ soggy soils farmable.

“Everyone has the same goal to keep the nitrogen in the field and out of the water,” says Rick Twait, Superintendent of Water Purification for the city of Bloomington. “The export of nitrates in tile drainage water doesn’t do anybody any good.”

In looking for solutions to keep nitrates out of the water, the city partnered with McLean County Soil & Water Conservation District, Nature Conservancy and the Environmental Defense Fund to explore wetlands. To learn more, check out this video on a similar project along the Mackinaw River:

As part of the ‘Drinking Watersheds’ project, monitoring equipment at the inlets and outlets of each wetland collect data for researchers to analyze how well the process is working.

“We’re seeing reductions of about 50 to 60 percent,” says University of Illinois Ecological Specialist, Mike Wallace, who visits each wetland about once a week to collect data and water samples. “No matter how much nitrate is in the water, the wetlands remove about half.”

In addition to reducing nutrients in water, wetlands serve can also serve a secondary purpose.

“The big emphasis is water quality, but a great side benefit is wildlife habitat,” Kirkham says.

To learn more, read the full article here.

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