When planting new asparagus fields, the advantages of choosing the newest Rutgers hybrid male varieties far outweigh the disadvantage of increased cost. We asked Steve Garrison, Rutgers Professor Emeritus, to discuss the benefits of these new, expensive varieties that will be increasingly offered by seed companies worldwide since Rutgers NJAES recently both licensed and sold its asparagus-breeding program. Finally, we test your memory of high school biology describing how 45 years of genetics and technologies research made hybrid all-male asparagus production fields possible.
The itinerant teacher will be expected to give as much thought to the economic side of agriculture as he gives to the matter of larger acreage yields.
Congressman A.F. Lever of South Carolina,
US House of Representatives Report No. 110
creating Cooperative Extension Work, 1914
There’s a lot to chew on in Congressman Lever’s statement. With the creation of Cooperative Extension, Congress intended for educators to be mobile, traveling to farmers for the purpose of teaching the most economical methods of distribution as well as the best methods of production. There was an expectation that thought be given to what amounts to a curriculum for farmers. Following from that is the expectation that thought be given to how to motivate farmers to engage in programs that provide value to their lives and livelihood.
You might think that there is an easy, single answer to what motivates farmers to engage in worthwhile Extension programs: Profit. However, there’s more to it than that. In fact, we may be inadvertently presenting programming in ways that actually lead to disengagement.
Ag census data shows our state ranks first nationally in the percentage of farm revenue earned from agritourism.
When you think about the agricultural challenges in NJ, such as market competition, rising land and input costs, encroachment from sprawl, and a complex regulatory environment, this statistic becomes less surprising. In order to stay in business, farmers operating small and mid sized farms have had to look for ways to add value to their products. Farm life, as fewer people are engaged in it, turns out to be a product. It is something people are drawn to, even as urban & suburban lifestyles pull them further and further away from a tangible relationship with land and food. [Read more…]