Dig Deeper


Organic Management of Brown Marmorated Stink Bug (BMSB)

By Gladis M. Zinati, Ph.D., Associate Research Scientist

The brown marmorated stink bug, Halyomorpha halys (Stål) (Hemiptera: Pentatomidae), native to Japan, South Korea, and China, has emerged as one of the most devastating pests of northeastern United States agriculture. Since its introduction in the mid-1990’s to Allentown, PA, BMSB has spread across North America and is now present in 41 states and eastern Canada, causing the greatest crop damage in the mid-Atlantic region and a homeowner nuisance. In 2006, BMSB caused severe damage in fruit trees in NJ and PA and high numbers were found in soybeans and ornamentals. In 2010, high populations of BMSB severely damaged tree fruit orchards, with up to 90% of the peach crop at some mid-Atlantic farms damaged and an estimated $37 million loss to other mid-Atlantic tree fruit. Due to diverse host plants, BMSB has established itself as a primary pest in tree fruit crops and population pressure currently remains high.

Identifying BMSB

BMSB adults are relatively large compared to other stink bugs, measuring 1/2 - 2/3” long and 5/16” wide (Photo 1). Their name “marmorated” means banded or streaked, as in their appearance. The two white bands on their antennae, the black and white banding on the abdomen, the smooth shoulder, and the mottled brown legs are distinguishing characteristics of BMSB that can help differentiate them from native stink bugs.

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BMSB adults and nymphs use their straw like mouthparts to feed on the internal plant tissues. The action of sucking out the juices from fruits, vegetables, and seeds creates cork-like pockmarks and deformations that make fruits (such as apples, peaches, and pear) and vegetables (tomato, pepper, sweet corn) unmarketable.

BMSB Biology

In the spring, BMSB adults emerge from overwintering sites (houses, barns, storage buildings, and dead trees) and become active on nearby crops such as peach, hardwood trees, and shrubs during warm sunny days. Adult BMSB have the capacity to fly more than a mile and some have been shown to have the ability to fly over 31 miles. In the spring and throughout the summer, BMSB adults feed, mate, and lay eggs. The adult female BMSB lays barrel-shaped, white to pale-green eggs in clusters of 28 eggs on the underside of plant leaves. The BMSB female can lay 4-10 egg masses in her lifetime. BMSB have five nymphal growth stages, known as instars.

The first instar BMSB nymphs have an orange abdomen with brown rectangular markings. As the nymphs get older, they show banded antennae and legs with rust-colored abdomen and broad brown markings. Development from egg to adult takes approximately 32-35 days, and as adults and all nymphal instars can feed and cause injury to their hosts. Nymphs and adults can be found on a wide range of plant species that bear buds, pods, and fruiting bodies. Their wide range of hosts include soybean, sunflower, cayenne pepper, tree of heaven, eggplant, tomato, Swiss chard, corn, cherry, moth orchid, mimosa, mulberry, and crabapple.

Monitoring and Management Tactics

The large host plant range, its high mobility, and lack of natural enemies make monitoring this pest in both conventional and organic agricultural systems a critical, yet challenging task. In October 2012, Dr. Anne Nielsen, an Extension Entomologist at Rutgers University, and collaborating institutions including Rodale Institute were awarded a grant funded by USDA – NIFA OREI program # 2012-51300-20097, entitled, Whole-farm Organic Management of BMSB and Endemic Pentatomids through Behavior-based Habitat Manipulation.

As part of a multi-state project, Rodale Institute participated in the investigation of the temporal and spatial movement of BMSB and native pentatomids and their aggregation in order to identify potential organic pest management strategies.

In 2012 and 2013, we investigated overwintering structures and fabrics, cone traps on wooden pyramids, trap crops, and overwintering bug houses to better understand stink bug dispersal and aggregation. Below are the details and results of these tactics:

Overwintering structures and fabrics

In November of 2012, we surveyed structures such as buildings, offices, attics, sheds, greenhouses, barns, and garages at Rodale Institute for overwintering BMSB and recorded the number of dead and live adults per structure. We found living overwintering BMSB adults in the book store, the Siegfriedale House, and the pavilion. Within these structures we also identified fabrics in which BMSB preferred to hide and overwinter. Overwintering BMSB were generally found hiding in dark-colored and water proof rain coats and black fabric “Grow Bags” (Photo 4).

Cone traps on wooden pyramid

After an overwintering period, in the early spring BMSB adults emerge from wooded areas and human-made structures and begin feeding (sucking) on green plants to nourish themselves and mate in spring. They then moved to crops such as peaches, followed by berries, tomatoes, and peppers, and finally to apples and field crops.

To monitor the temporal and spatial dispersal of BMSB adults from the overwintering structures to nearby outdoor areas, in the Spring 2013 we set up four cones traps each attached to black wooden pyramids.

A combination of vapor tape (to kill bugs) and pheromone “Dead-Inn” traps from AgBio were placed within the cones. The traps were deployed on each side the Siegfriedale House (four cardinal directions). The house is surrounded by wooded area from the north and small herb and vegetable garden from the west .

Between April 18 and June 10, we collected and recorded bugs trapped in the cones twice a week. Our first BMSB adults (four females) were collected in the west trap on May 20. Four and 10 days later, two male adults were also caught in the west side cone trap. By June, more males and females were seen in the east and south cones.

Trap Crops

Early June of 2013, we tested five different plant species (admiral pea, sorghum, sunflowers, okra, and millet) as potential trap crops. We assessed the relative attractiveness of these different potential trap crops to BMSB by monitoring and recording BMSB abundance and life stages per crop. There were five rows of each plant species per 20 ft x 10 ft plot and five replicate plots for a total of 25 plots planted in Latin square design.

 Monitoring BMSB: by crop and direction

Admiral pea flowered and died quickly before BMSB monitoring started. During weekly monitoring, we did not see any BMSB egg masses, nymphs or adults until August 21, 2013. On September 4th the first BMSB adult and nymphs were seen on fruit heads of sunflower, millet, and sorghum. Adult spined-soldier stink bugs (a natural enemy) were observed on millet, sunflower (Photo 9), okra, and sorghum towards the south of plots, near the woods. The last BMSB adult was observed October 2nd on the east side of sorghum (which was senescing) in a plot close to the wooded area.

It is important to note that beneficial insects (natural enemies of BMSB) (Photo 11) such as katydid, spiders, lady bugs, praying mantid, and wasps were also found on the plants where BMSB adults and nymphs were feeding.

Overwintering shelter trap

We participated in a multi-state project to monitor BMSB adult preference for overwintering location and cardinal direction of overwintering structures. The idea was to use materials that are commonly found on farms to create a shelter to “trap out” overwintering BMSB. Based on our scouting record from fall 2012, we identified two structures to setup and deploy overwintering BMSB shelter traps: the pavilion and the Siegfriedale House. These two structures are bordered with wooded area and organic crops. The shelter traps were made of wood, coated with white weatherproof paint and stuffed with 1m2 of used row cover.

We deployed the shelter traps on September 16, 2013. Four traps were placed outside and four inside on each side of the two selected structures.
On November 8, 2013, we checked and counted BMSBs in trap houses. At the garden pavilion, in outdoor houses, overwintering female adults were concentrated in the east side, followed by the south and west side. Interestingly, only one male adult was found in the trap house located on the northern side. Indoor, however, female adults were in the north and west houses and the male adults were on the south and east side. At the Siegfriedale House, BMSB adults were not seen in either the outdoor or indoor trap houses.

Conclusions and Recommendations

The brown marmorated stink bug (BMSB) feeds on a diverse array of crops, damaging a variety of fruits and vegetables, and significantly impacting farmer profits, particularly in the mid-Atlantic region. Populations of this pest may increase with food availability, warm climate, sunny days, absence of natural enemies, and lack of management.

Organic farmers should scout their homes and farm structures during the fall/winter season to discover overwintering sites for BMSB adults. In the spring, growers can monitor for BMSB using observational sampling. Additionally, growers can set up pheromone traps, such as the “Dead-Inn” trap from AgBio or the stink bug trap from Rescue.

After testing multiple plant species as potential trap crops for BMSB, we have identified sunflower and red sorghum to be two crops that are highly attractive to BMSB. These two crops are tall, brightly colored, and have seeds that are good protein sources. Thus, planting these two plants as trap crops around the perimeter of a cash crop may reduce BMSB movement into and percent injury on the cash crops. Additionally, these trap crops attract and provide resources for natural enemies (i.e. katydid, lady beetle, and wasps), which may help enhance their populations and naturally reduce BMSB abundance. The integration of these management strategies have wide appeal for reducing crop losses for both organic and conventional farmers.
We are currently testing the effectiveness of using sunflower and sorghum as trap crops to manage BMSB population in organic cropping system and increase marketability of pepper cash crop. Stay tuned for future information on this topic.

For information related to this article contact Dr. Gladis Zinati at gladis.zinati@rodaleinstitute.org

This project was supported by Agriculture and Food Research Initiative Competitive Grant no. 2012-51300-20097, titled:  Whole-Farm Organic Management of Brown Marmorated Stink Bug (BMSB) and Endemic Pentatomids through Behavior-Based Habitat Manipulation, from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. This article was approved of by Dr. Anne Nielsen, Rutgers University prior to publishing.

Turning the Brown Gold to Yellow Gold

By Gladis Zinati, Ph.D., Associate Research Scientist at Rodale Institute

Hand harvesting and combining rest of the corn.

Hand harvesting and combining rest of the corn.

Compost is a typical nutrient amendment used in small-scale agriculture, while large scale, mono-crop agriculture often is dependent on synthetic N-P-K fertilizers.  Dan Hunsicker, a non-organic corn grower in Berks County, Pennsylvania, grows continuous corn in a no-till system without organic amendments or cover crops.

While attending Rodale Institute’s annual on-farm field day in Kutztown, Pennsylvania, Dan learned about the benefits of amending soil with high-quality compost produced aerobically throughout the composting process, and how well it could improve soil health and plant yield. In the past few years, Dan realized that his corn yield is not as high as he anticipated. Therefore, he wanted to investigate whether the use of compost or “brown gold” produced at Rodale Institute, would re-energize his soil to increase corn yield.

In 2013, Rodale Institute scientists and Dan received a Northeast SARE Partnership grant to demonstrate the impact of using high-quality compost with and without compost extract on soil physical and chemical properties as well as corn grain yield.  As a farmer collaborator on the project, Dan allowed Rodale’s research team to use his land for the research study, and provided his equipment and time.

Dan prepared the land and three weeks before planting, researchers applied high-quality compost, prepared at Rodale Institute, at the rate of 1 ton per acre on plots designated for compost treatment. For treatments with compost extract, Dan retro-fitted his planter for compost extract application at planting. These plots also received two applications of compost extract (one- and two-months after planting) using backpack sprayer.

Dan was personally involved in the entire project and eagerly awaited the results from the soil and plant samples collected by the research team as well as yield data. Soil was sampled throughout the season and analyzed for physical and chemical properties. At harvest, plant and grain samples were obtained by sampling the whole plants and corn ears from 20-foot long strips in two adjacent middle corn rows. Dan harvested the remaining plants for grain.

After only one cropping season, soil bulk density in the combined compost and compost extract treatment was 87 lb/ft3 (1.39 g/m3) compared to 90.5 lb/ft3 (1.45 g/m3) in the treatment without organic amendments (Dan’s standard practice). In addition, the percentage of soil organic matter in the combined organic treatment was 3.41% while in Dan’s standard practice, it was 3.41%. Lowering soil bulk density reduces compaction and increasing soil organic matter potentially enhances soil biological activity, chemical reactions, and soil physical structure which are all indicators of soil health.HarvestingCorn

While there was no significant increase in plant biomass between treatments, the compost treatment increased corn grain yield by 10 bu per acre. Dan refers to corn as the “yellow gold”. He sells his corn to the pet industry which requires higher quality corn for a premium price ($5.50 a bushel on average). This equates to an additional $45.00 per acre in revenue or $165,000 annually for Dan’s 3,000 acre operation.

Dan was very pleased with the results of the field trial, and predicted that if he continued to use high-quality compost with extract year after year in his no-till corn system, he can enrich his soil with organic matter, improve soil structure and increase his corn yields without a doubt. With time, he potentially could reduce using petroleum-derived fertilizers and turn to organic amendments for feeding his soil microorganisms and plants. Dan is also interested in modifying his sprayer to apply frequent applications of compost extract during the growing season to boost corn production. Dan is now on the path of turning “brown gold” into “yellow gold” for more “green” by adding organic amendments to his no-till system.

NE SARE

This material is based upon work supported by Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (NE SARE), under Grant Agreement Number: ONE13-186,  Project Title:  Impact of Using High Quality Biological Compost and Compost Extract on Corn Production, Plant Nutrient Content and Soil Quality.

To download a pdf of this article, please click here.

Farm Photo Friday: December 19, 2014

Every Friday we share some snaps from our 333-acres in Kutztown, PA. Our photographers? The staff members who keep this farm chugging along. Enjoy a sneak peek at what’s going on here at Rodale Institute!

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This week we are very excited to announce that Maggie Saska has joined the Institute as our new Plant Production Specialist, which means that she will spend her time producing very, very special plants! Molly Sweitzer, Marketing and Sales Specialist, helps Maggie plan out some projects so she can get right into the nitty gritty.

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Remember those tiny piglets from a few weeks back? They grow so fast! Here is a group who are very interested in all the noise and activity happening just outside of the frame... So what's going on over there?

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Of course, they should be interested! The new Hog Facility is under construction. The frames have been set and concrete will be poured soon for the foundation. Our pastured pigs will be out rooting in the day time and sleeping in state-of-the-art digs!

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They are all pleased and excited by the upgrade!

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Elsewhere on the farm, we're busy moving mountains. Hot, steaming mountains of leaves, that is!

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Compost Production Specialist, Rick Carr, loves his work. Look at that smile -  he is so excited... and he just can't hide it!

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He even invited this photographer up into the tractor for a front row seat to the leaf-turning show. See the steam? That means the microbes are busy decomposing the leaves!

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Rick takes a moment to humbly thank the leaf gods for such a bountiful blessing. That, or maybe he is  gloating a little bit that he moved a mountain (we didn't think it would go to your head!).

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Dr. Gladis Zinati., Associate Research Scientist, is working on the CIG Nutrient Management research project. Here, she is grinding biomass from corn so that it can be weighed and analyzed.

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Lewis & Clark, our oxen team, are out for a walk on one of the unseasonably warm days we had this week. Stephanie Zimmermann - Schmitt (left), from our Strategic Solutions Team, and Lauren Cichocki (right), Animal Husbandry Coordinator, will be spending time with Lewis and Clark, so they are bonding now, before the real training starts.

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Ross Duffield, Farm Manager, is climbing mountains of his own today! The grain bin needs some repairs, so Ross is up there checking on it before the service person arrives. Keep it up Ross, No Pain, No Grain!

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With Maggie on board now as our Plant Production Specilatist, we need more growing space! Our Facilities team is assembling a high tunnel which will be just such a spot for the production of very, very special plants! Left to right: Matt Boyer, Michael Schmaeling and Dan Kemper. Thanks guys, looking great!

Don’t forget… Show your organic love!

Organic Farming Program Coordinator Needed

Rodale Institute is seeking a Coordinator for our Organic Farming Program, a collaborative effort between Rodale Institute and Delaware Valley College. This training program is designed to meet the growing demand for organic farm products by training and supporting the next generation of organic farmers. This program is open to all students, but has been particularly attractive to military veterans.

With a mix of practical, experiential on-farm training and classroom-based curriculum, the program aims to achieve the following three goals:

Goal 1: To equip new farmers, including military veterans and participants who are not veterans, with the knowledge, skills and practical experience to be successful in operating their own organic farm enterprises.

 Objective 1: Develop, deliver and refine practical organic farming experience.

Objective 2: Develop, deliver and refine organic agriculture classroom curriculum.

Objective 3: Support students in successful completion of an organic agriculture certificate program.

 Goal 2: To increase the number of successful organic farm enterprises in the mid-Atlantic region and beyond.      

Objective 1: Provide training and support in the business aspects of organic farming.

Objective 2: Introduce students to existing farmer-to-farmer networks.

Objective 3: Support farmers post-graduation through social and web-based media platforms.

Goal 3: To support military veterans and participants who are not veterans in their transition from other fields into the field of organic farming. .

Objective 1: To equip new farmers, including military veterans and participants who are not veterans, with the knowledge, skills and practical experience to be successful in operating their own organic farm enterprises.

Objective 2: Develop, deliver and refine practical organic farming experience.

Objective 3: Develop, deliver and refine organic agriculture classroom curriculum.

Objective 4: Support students in successful completion of an organic agriculture certificate program.

The person who fills this position will be responsible for managing and marketing all aspects of the Organic Farming Program at Rodale Institute.  This position will report directly to the Executive Director.

ESSENTIAL DUTIES AND RESPONSIBILITIES:

  • ♦  Coordinate all aspects of the Delaware Valley College/Rodale Organic Farming Program, which include: recruitment, marketing, and outreach to achieve the three project objectives and goals noted above.
  • ♦  Serve as the liaison between Rodale and Delaware Valley College on the project, working to keep the staff, students and stakeholders informed and engaged.
  • ♦  Coordinate classroom and on-farm curriculum and experiences with Delaware Valley College instructors and manage day-to-day program work at Rodale Institute.  Plan and schedule field days and extracurricular farm experiences as needed.
  • ♦  In coordination with Delaware Valley College, develop recruitment strategies, build and update contact lists and track enrollment in the Organic Certification Program.
  • ♦  In coordination with Delaware Valley College, develop marketing materials to promote the program.
  • ♦  Work with program participants to place them on their own organic farms after graduation from the program.
  • ♦  Attend conferences/events as a representative of the Rodale Institute, with the goal of promoting the program and increasing enrollment.
  • ♦  Identify and connect with veteran-affiliated organizations, local and regional farming organizations, and organic farms which will serve as partners to promote the program and increase enrollment.
  • ♦  Work closely with Rodale Institute Media Relations Specialist to pitch feature news and web articles on the Organic Farming Program.
  • ♦  Work with the Rodale Institute Director of Development and Grants Manager to seek additional funding to support the program.
  • ♦  Other duties as assigned.

QUALIFICATIONS:

  • ♦  Bachelor’s degree in Communications, Public Relations or a related field preferred.
  • ♦  Military service preferred, but not mandatory.
  • ♦  Strong understanding of the organic farming industry.
  • ♦  Excellent oral and written communication skills.
  • ♦  Strategic thinker.
  • ♦  Excellent project management skills.

TRAVEL:

  • ♦  Some travel is required.

To apply, please send coverletter, resume and references to linda.carlson@rodaleinstitute.org

Communications and Outreach internships

Rodale Institute is seeking an intern to assist the communications department with all aspects of department operations. The applicant should have a strong interest in writing, journalism, media relations and be web and computer savvy. Interest or knowledge in organic agriculture, healthy living, environmental and/or agricultural policy, or science a plus, but not required. (more…)

Farm Photo Friday: December 12, 2014

Every Friday we share some snaps from our 333-acres in Kutztown, PA. Our photographers? The staff members who keep this farm chugging along. Enjoy a sneak peek at what’s going on here at Rodale Institute!

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In this week's installment of Farm Photo Friday, we start with a tour of the livestock with Stephanie Zimmerman-Schmitt, Strategic Solutions Team Staff Member, as she does the morning chores. Our piglets are now weaned from their mother, Tammy, and doing just fine on their own!

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In fact, these just may the most curious and busiest batch of piglets we've produced thus far! This one wonders if a camera is, perhaps, delicious?

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In search of belly rubs, these piglets sniff Stephanie out. It's clear they prefer her over this photographer!

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After trying out a few belly rubs, this photographer finally got some attention...

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And maybe even a new friend!

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This little one is trying to eat the zipper on Stephanie's jacket. If he succeeds, he's going to be in very PIG trouble!

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Elsewhere on the farm, Zorro is busy munching down the poison ivy.

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We just can't believe how much Alfalfa looks like Zorro, his Dad!

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We still have organic Christmas trees for sale!  Call us for pricing and hours!

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Clark, one of our oxen, smiles for the camera as he has his breakfast.

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Dr. Gladis Zinati, Associate Research Scientist, is working on an experiment to perfect certain bacterial and fungal environments which will be perfect for growing basil, but not so perfect for growing weeds such as Giant Foxtail, Pigweed and Lamb's Quarter.

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Now that her cultures are ready, she has dropped seeds in to see what will grow.

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Some of these weed seeds are very tiny! These are Pigweed and Giant Foxtail.

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In the same lab, Rick Carr, Compost Production Specialist is working on freeze-drying some microorganisms for later use.

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Here is what the resulting powder looks like when he freeze-dries his compost extracts.

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The process requires low temperatures and high pressure.

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The ice is a byproduct of the sublimation process!

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Going back to Dr. Zinati's experiment, all her samples are ready to incubate in...  the incubator!

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On to other projects for the day, this one needs some time.

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Back in Rick's office, here is what some of the freeze-dried compost extract looks like.

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Kim Schroeder, Director of Facilities, is representing the holiday spirit in full force!

Don’t forget… Show your organic love!

Farm Photo Friday: December 05, 2014

Every Friday we share some snaps from our 333-acres in Kutztown, PA. Our photographers? The staff members who keep this farm chugging along. Enjoy a sneak peek at what’s going on here at Rodale Institute!

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Can you guess why Dan Kemper, Strategic Solutions Team Member, is having a lot of fun?

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If you guessed wreath and swag making, you're correct! Looks like the supplies are out, wreath making starts in 5...4...3...2...1...

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And they're off! The wreath making madness begins!

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Those are going to be some beautiful wreaths!

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Wow! What a success! Doesn't that pine look just fine? Special thanks to everyone who attended the Wreath Making Workshop!

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Looks like some of the employees have started to bake some fresh organic cookies. Just in time for Rodale Institute's Winter Open House. Yummy! Attendees have a lot to look forward to!

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Not only will there be fresh cookies, but some fabulous raffle baskets too...

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...and while you're here, don't forget to swing by Rodale Institute's Garden Store for some delicious deals! What would make a better gift than organic goodies?

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It just wouldn't be Farm Photo Friday without our adorable baby goats! They are out clearing out brush for the winter.

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Close by, our piglets are enjoying some lunch. It's amazing how big they've gotten already!

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Congratulations to Michael Schmaeling, Strategic Solutions Team Member, on his completion of the hoop house structure. Great job Michael!

Don’t forget… Show your organic love!

Rodale Institute Awarded Top Animal Welfare Certification

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Aaron Kinsman
Phone: 610.683.1427
Email:
akinsman@rodaleinstitute.org
Website: www.rodaleinstitute.org

 

RODALE INSTITUTE AWARDED TOP ANIMAL WELFARE CERTIFICATION

--Pioneering Organic Research Center earns AWA certification, highlighting the links between agriculture and sustainability--

 

KUTZTOWN, PA (November 25, 2014)—The pigs, laying hens, and dairy goats at Rodale Institute—one of the world’s leading non-profit research facilities dedicated to pioneering organic farming through research and outreach—are now Certified AWA. This certification confirms the animals at Rodale Institute are being raised in accordance with the highest animal welfare standards, demonstrating the organization’s commitment to the care of animals, land and the local community. AWA is widely acknowledged as the most credible and meaningful farm certification in North America, available to both organic and non-organic farms and ranches.

Rodale Institute is one of a handful of organizations in the world undertaking independent agricultural research. Through first-rate scientific research, the 333-acre working farm near Kutztown, PA, pioneers best practices of organic agriculture. In keeping with their work as a research farm, the Rodale Institute has set up a number of farm animal enterprises to examine how livestock and poultry systems can be managed organically and produce high-quality food for the market. With demonstrations involving different styles of livestock management systems, Rodale Institute shares its observations of animal health and behavior and trends in production using different breeds with farmers and scientists throughout the world. The Rodale Institute receives over 15,000 visitors every year.

‘Coach’ Mark Smallwood, Rodale Institute Executive Director, says

“When I first brought livestock onto the Rodale Institute farm just a few short years ago, the purpose was to create living, working models of the best practices in animal husbandry. We believe that the quality of life an animal experiences is reflected in the quality and taste of the products from that animal. Our animals work here. Our pigs till as they root, our chickens clean up after our pigs, our goats cut back the poison ivy, our oxen mow grass. We are not interested in simply meeting minimum standards of living space or daily hours in the sun, but encouraging these animals to thrive and to fulfill a meaningful purpose here on the farm. AWA understands our attitude because we have the same goals when it comes to animal welfare. We are more than proud to display their seal of approval.”

Andrew Gunther, AWA Program Director, says

“Rodale Institute has been pioneering sustainable farming methods for over 60 years, sharing their findings with farmers throughout the world to help them farm better. Despite claims from the industrial farming lobby that we need to further intensify livestock production systems, Rodale Institute’s comparative Farming Systems Trial—America’s longest running, side-by-side comparison of organic and chemical agriculture—shows that we can not only feed the world sustainably, but can also help to mitigate climate issues through non-industrial farming practices.”

“We are extremely proud of our growing reputation among farmers and the wider food industry as a pragmatic farming-based organization that is driven by practical science and whose farm standards are grounded in the everyday reality of farm life. It’s a testimony to AWA’s standing that an organization as widely-respected as Rodale Institute saw AWA as a natural partner to validate their livestock farming enterprises.”

ABOUT RODALE INSTITUTE

Since its founding in 1947 by J.I. Rodale, the Rodale Institute has been committed to groundbreaking research in organic agriculture, advocating for policies that support farmers, and educating people about how organic is the safest, healthiest option for people and the planet. The Institute is home to the Farming Systems Trial (FST), America’s longest-running side-by-side comparison of chemical and organic agriculture. Consistent results from the study have shown that organic yields match or surpass those of conventional farming. In years of drought, organic corn yields are about 30 percent higher. New areas of study at the Rodale Institute include rates of carbon sequestration in chemical versus organic plots, new techniques for weed suppression and organic livestock. For more information visit www.rodaleinstitute.org

ABOUT ANIMAL WELFARE APPROVED

Animal Welfare Approved (AWA) audits, certifies and supports farmers raising their animals according to the highest welfare standards, outdoors on pasture or range. Called a "badge of honor for farmers" and the "gold standard," AWA is the most highly regarded food label in North America when it comes to animal welfare, pasture-based farming, and sustainability. All AWA standards, policies and procedures are available on the AWA website, making it the most transparent certification available.

AWA's Online Directory of AWA farms, restaurants and products enables the public to search for AWA farms, restaurants and products by zip code, keywords, products and type of establishment. AWA has also launched AWA Food Labels Exposed, a free smartphone app guide to commonly used food claims and terms, available to download from the App Store or Google Play. A printable version is also available for download at www.AnimalWelfareApproved.org.

Farm Photo Friday: November 21, 2014

Every Friday we share some snaps from our 333-acres in Kutztown, PA. Our photographers? The staff members who keep this farm chugging along. Enjoy a sneak peek at what’s going on here at Rodale Institute!

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Michael Schmaeling from the Strategic Solutions Team is continuing his work on one of our new greenhouses. As you can tell he's made some great progress since last Friday!

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Michael is carefully laying gravel down around the base of the greenhouse for drainage purposes. Water removal is a very important aspect of greenhouse construction.

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Surprise! We have two more adorable baby goats. The cuteness never ends!

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Not too long ago, Alfalfa was just as small as our new babies, but as you can see he's already started to grow his beard. By the look on his face he definitely enjoyed his photo shoot!

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Awww, that looks like some quality father son bonding. Zorro is so proud of his son! Can you tell where all the babies get their good looks from?

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Our piglets are also all doing great, they are growing up so fast!

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Farming never stops at the Rodale Institute! Here is some freshly planted organic garlic. It's important to wait until after the first frost to plant your garlic.

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Garlic isn't the only vegetable flourishing on the farm. Even in the cold weather our big dome greenhouse shelters a variety of organic leafy lettuces. Yummy!

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Nina Griffis, Strategic Solutions Team Member, carefully separates each plant.

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After separation it's time to plant!

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Whoa! Look at that beautiful parsley! In our smaller dome greenhouse we have heavenly herbs growing all year long.

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Close by, there are beautiful flowers drying out in the shed in preparation for the Rodale Institute's Holiday Wreath Making Workshop! How exciting! Are you getting into the holiday sprit yet?

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Creating holiday wreaths is an excellent way to use up materials from your backyard and garden. Not to mention they look great in your home or even as a gift!

Don’t forget… Show your organic love!

Old Traits, New Trends

Lauren Cichocki, Animal Husbandry Specialist, with one of Rodale Institute's organic hogs.

Lauren Cickhocki, Animal Husbandry Specialist, with one of Rodale Institute's organic hogs.

By Lauren Cichocki, Rodale Institute Animal Husbandry Specialist

Rodale Institute, the oldest organic farm in the country, is using new trends to bring back old breed popularity. The 2014 Culinary Forecast produced by the National Restaurant Association placed locally sourced meat and seafood as the number one trend in the food industry. Free range pork also made the list at number 61. Educating chefs, farmers, educators, and restaurant owners on the values of heritage breeds can aid in the regrowth of critical and threatened breeds. There is no better time or place to push these values than now, and Rodale Institute’s strong relationship with the public through research, education, and outreach can help to shed some light on the importance of saving heritage breeds.

Although the organic livestock program is only in its infancy at the Rodale Institute, we are already in the process of publishing our first research project featuring our Large Black X Tamworth hogs. This six week long observational study, expected to be published in January 2015, resulted in a better understanding of pastured pig behavior as well as an analysis of parasite loads in organic pastured swine. I spent an hour each day watching the twenty-six grower finishers as they approached their finishing weights. The communication abilities and routines of the young pigs can be perfectly expressed at Rodale Institute, as they have unlimited resources and a large area of land to roam. Without any suppression of natural behaviors, the breeds are able to thrive. Hopefully the publishing of this observational study will encourage other farmers to not only raise heritage breeds, but raise them in a way that utilizes the animal’s instincts in order to create a better product.

My past experiences with swine have primarily included commercial breeds raised in commercial settings. This commercial process resulted in an average product that inspired few and disappointed many. After visiting Rodale Institute, I knew that pork could make a comeback in the foodie world; it was just a matter of reeducating the misguided members of the agricultural community. Rodale Institute, as a leader in research and education, has already begun to influence the way chefs and farmers view pork. During our first pastured pork seminar, about twenty people from five different states listened as we explained the benefits of raising heritage pork on pasture. Additionally, we have supplied our pork to three local restaurants and fed it to thousands of attendees at Rodale Institute events. The feedback has been extremely positive and has even inspired one of the chefs to volunteer with the animals on the farm. The best education we can provide is a taste of the passion with which we raise and care for our product.

Along with providing classes and delightful tasting opportunities, we hope to expand our resources to the public through outreach. Our new building will provide a scalable model for other farmers to begin a pastured pork project similar to our own. The building will allow us to closely monitor the excellent foraging qualities of our heritage breed hogs, reduce grain intake, and teach farmers how to greatly reduce costs associated with high feed prices. This will come through pasture and parasite management and will allow more farmers to raise heritage pork in a profitable manner. It will encourage more farmers to put pigs on pasture, thereby reducing the stress associated with confinement.

Ultimately, we chose heritage breeds because commercial pork is at a dead end. You cannot inspire chefs and pork lovers with commercial hogs raised in total confinement and experiencing daily stress. Foraging, marbling, head to tail, local, organic, research, inspiration, passion, and community encompass all that Rodale Institute hopes to accomplish with our livestock. Heritage breeds are the only way, in our opinion, to reach our goals of animal agriculture reform.