Field Notes is the Kerr Center’s newsletter. 2014 marked its 40th year of publication.
In 2015, Field Notes went electronic!
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Season’s greetings from the Kerr Center!
David Redhage gets this issue rolling with reflections on an article about breeding crops for particular nutritional needs.
The rest of this month’s newsletter is given over, as usual, to a look back at the year gone by to register progress made in each of our main program areas. It’s a chance to check in and see what’s been happening with our conservation, livestock, and horticulture projects – as well as what directions they’ll be taking in 2018.
Happy Thanksgiving from the Kerr Center!
This month, David Redhage reviews a book that looks at techniques for restoring soil life in different regions and climates the world over.
We share some of the livestock team’s results from a comparison of cost and nutrition in grazing wheat pastures versus feeding hay.
We also offer an update on the latest uses and design improvements for the Kerr Center’s portable hoop house.
With many of us turning to seed and nursery catalogs to plan next spring’s gardens, it’s a good time for a look at one of our most popular guidebooks to get some ideas for including pollinators in the mix.
The nights are noticeably longer than the days by now, and many farm and ranch activities are being put to rest for the season. With that thought, we’re focusing this issue on tasks for the so-called slack months in the agricultural calendar. (After all, it’s October – and is there anything spookier than the thought of being caught unprepared?)
David Redhage shares an article on something few would’ve even thought to plan for: a long-term decline in the nutritional value of pollinators’ pollen food source.
We report on our latest hoophouse workshop, held earlier this month, and point to a brand new (and free) set of plans for building your own hoop house.
We’ve made updates to our series of pollinator resource guides, and offer a reminder of some valuable resources for helping to decide how to keep cattle fed through the cooler months.
Fall has arrived, and school bells are ringing – so for this issue, we’re taking a back-to-school slant.
David Redhage has been out teaching about increasing and conserving pollinator habitat. We share a presentation on establishing native pollinator plants organically that he gave on a recent NRCS webinar.
Our Beginning Farmer & Rancher training program brought many farmers back into the classroom. Though it wrapped up four years ago, it was so popular that we still regularly field inquiries about it. Though the trainings themselves are no longer offered, the resources are all still available free online – books, reports, fact sheets, presentations, videos, and more, from both horticulture and livestock tracks.
But first, revisit the native prairie site of this past spring’s controlled burn, and take in some fresh photos of how the wildflowers fared on it.
It’s August, and we’re as keen as anyone else to keep out of the sun.
In this issue, we focus on how to do the same thing for crops and livestock, with features on:
– portable shade structures for cattle,
– “sunscreen” to avert sunscald in tomatoes, and
– interesting results from a study of shade’s effects on animal performance in silvopasture.
This month, David Redhage also shares his impressions of a new book about creatures that are most noticeable in the dark.
This time of summer, we can look with satisfaction out over the horticulture plots’ “green fallow” of warm-season cover crops, keeping the soil shaded and sheltered, as well as weeded and nourished, despite the hot, dry weather.
We’ve just published former Kerr Center Horticulture Manager George Kuepper’s updated account of his nine-year effort developing that bio-extensive rotational system on the Cannon Horticulture plots. (Kuepper was also recently recognized for his work as an OMRI panel reviewer.)
Two new labeling programs reward farmers and ranchers for just such conservation-friendly practices. Perhaps one would be a good fit for your operation?
Continuing last month’s summer focus on water issues, we explain how the Kerr Ranch uses gravity to carry water from ponds to pastures.
As summer looms, many thoughts turn to water. For this month’s issue, we focus on some farm- and ranch-related aspects of that life-giving liquid.
We highlight a report full of advice on how to protect the ecological benefits of streamside vegetation from thirsty livestock.
Next, we focus in on one way to achieve that, by putting watering points in more pastures.
Finally, we point to the results of an heirloom sorghum variety trial – which included assessing the crop’s resistance to a tropical storm!
But first of all, check out David Redhage’s advice on trying new crops.
Tired of the same old, same old? Try it a different way in May!
This month’s president’s note reports on how researchers at the University of Arkansas are moving table grapes into high tunnels to escape pests – with promising results so far.
Why sit around the sale barn when you can sell your cattle on TV? We explain what the Kerr Center livestock program gains from that approach.
Similarly, why make compost the old-fashioned way when worms can do it faster and more effectively? The Kerr Center has videos to show you the ropes.
Lastly, why limit pollinator plantings to wildflowers, when there are plenty of trees and shrubs that can play a valuable part? Our guide can help you select the best species for your location.
If April showers bring May flowers, now’s the time to learn what to watch for – or plant – in your pollinator gardens. Several recent Kerr Center publications can help – download them all as an Earth Day treat! Then, pass that treat along to pollinators by putting the information to work, giving them a hand by preserving habitat and planting pollinator-friendly plants, trees and shrubs.