Cornell Field Crops News

Timely Field Crops information for the New York Agricultural Community

March 22, 2019
by Cornell Field Crops
Comments Off on TIME SENSITIVE – NYSABA Launching Testimony Gathering Campaign to Combat Protectant Bans

TIME SENSITIVE – NYSABA Launching Testimony Gathering Campaign to Combat Protectant Bans

The following is posted on behalf of our colleagues at the New York State Agribusiness Association

Dear Agrarians,
The Battle to Ban key agricultural protectants is heating up in Albany. I am told that Chlorpyrifos will see action as early as next Monday.
We need each of you take action now. We have been asked by the legislators to produce farmer testimony to oppose the protectant bans.
On the hotseat are:
*Neonics as a group
It appears Chlorpyrifos will be the test case, and thus needs immediate action.We need Chlorpyrifos letters before MONDAY MORNING!
The ask- We have been asked to provide letters of testimony from farmers who use the product
·        Product Name-
·        On which crop-
·        To combat-
·        What alternatives are and why not used-
·        Farmer name-
·        Farm detail-
·        Effect ban would have on farm-
Hit up your farm clients today. Gather the testimony and send it to me at I will coordinate getting the testimony to the right hands in Albany. *Remember to remind your farmers that these chemicals may be in their mixes also.
Jeanette Marvin
NYS Agribusiness Association
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December 4, 2018
by Cornell Field Crops
Comments Off on Consider Bedded Pack Barns for Cow Comfort and Manure Management: Learn More at January 9 NYCO Meeting

Consider Bedded Pack Barns for Cow Comfort and Manure Management: Learn More at January 9 NYCO Meeting

Bedded pack barns are one of the topics for presentation and discussion at the January 9, 2019 NY Certified Organic meeting in Geneva, N.Y. Photo: Fay Benson

Small dairy farm operators in New York may soon be faced with the prohibition of winter spreading of manure by the State Department of Environmental Conservation. As an option to winter spreading, farmers considering updating barns or building new facilities can consider a bedded pack barn system for manure storage and animal comfort. There may also be government assistance to help build such a barn.

Farmers who have used bedded packs will be featured at the NY Certified Organic (NYCO) meeting on January 8, 2019, beginning at 10 AM, in Jordan Hall, 630 West North Street, Cornell AgriTech, Geneva, NY. There is no cost or need to register to attend the NYCO winter meetings in January, February, and March. Participants are asked to bring a dish to pass at the potluck lunch.

NYCO Winter Meeting Organizer and Cornell Cooperative Extension Small Dairy Specialist A. Fay Benson provides the following information on the two types of bedded pack systems with some pros and cons of each type and examples of one system in Vermont and one in New York.

The Deep Bedded Pack (DBP) uses fresh bedding daily to keep the pack dry and clean. The pack grows to a depth of 5-6 feet by the end of one winter.

The Composted Bedded Pack (CBP) requires the farmer to stirring once or twice a day with a tractor tractor-mounted rototiller. This system works best with wood shavings or chopped straw.

The choice of pack depends upon each individual farm’s needs. Both systems have been used by confinement and grazing operations and with beef and dairy cows. Benson has seen CBPs mostly on grazing dairy operations using the barn only during the 150 days or so of the winter.

A DBP system generally consists of a foundation of concrete or hard clay. Most DBPs use straw which is more absorbent than hay. DBP systems use more bedding, for example, one farm used 20 lbs. of straw/day/animal. As more manure and bedding are added daily, the pack grows deeper and requires strong retaining walls. DBP cleaning is more difficult due to the wetter, compressed material.

CBPs have a foundation of concrete covered by a layer of thick wood chips to allow moisture and air movement at the base. Composting in the pack happens just as in a compost pile. When the pack has the correct carbon-nitrogen ratio and air is regularly introduced to the pack by stirring, microorganisms flourish and break down the carbon structures of bedding and manure.

The main drawback to a CBP is the requirement of an expensive piece of rototilling equipment and the daily labor to run it. The bedding requirement for a CBP is less since stirring releases moisture to the air and the bedding is drier. Some CBP barns direct fans at the packs to increase drying.

The CBP’s main benefits are less material to be spread and nutrients (N, P, & K) that are more stable in the compost and will not run off with water when applied to the land.

Microbial activity in the CBP provides heat throughout the bedding for animal comfort through the winter. A farmer with a CBP barn in Vermont measured 60-80 degrees F up to 12 inches into the pack.

For both types of bedded packs, side-retaining walls need to be strong enough to contain 4-6 feet of the pack and stand up to cleaning. As with any type of housing management, using adequate bedding, properly maintaining the bedding system, and consistently applying good milking and animal hygiene help manage the pathogens naturally found in a bedded pack system. Cow access, animal grouping, and travel-to-the-feed-alley patterns can be managed by electric fences. Cows make more manure in eating areas so daily scraping those areas will also help reduce manure in bedded areas.

Good ventilation, whether the pack barn is positioned for natural wind ventilation or uses mechanical assistance with fans, helps keep cows healthy, the pack dry, and odors down.

The open barn area of a bedded pack system allows for natural animal movement which will become increasingly important as animal care standards are implemented. Opinions differ on how much room should be allowed per cow; 85 to 100 sq. ft. per animal is usually the recommendation and is higher than for a freestall system. Breed, age, and animal condition impact that decision when planning a new barn. The general consensus is the more room, the better. The extra housing cost per animal is one reason BP barn structures are used more on smaller dairies.

The comfortable environment of a BP system reduces lameness and provides for cows’ deep and restful sleep that in turn positively impacts milk production. A report at the 5th National Small Farm Conference in 2009 noted that a 2000-lb. increase in milk sales/cow was attributed in part to use of a bedded pack management system ( That same year a study by the Cornell University Department of Applied Economics and Life Sciences concluded that the bedded pack management system was “an excellent environment for cattle and provided the intended environmental benefits.”

Vermont Pack Barn Shows Innovation

Bedded pack barns have been used in Vermont as a way for a smaller operation to build manure storage since the state prohibited winter spreading of manure in 1995.  At his organic Butterworks Farm in Westfield, Jack Lazor used a DBP with three animal groups in a 60X120-foot barn. He separated them with electric fences suspended from the ceiling and raised as the pack grew. A 6-foot coil of water line inside water troughs unwound as the waterers rose with the pack.  Jack used bale rings to feed baleage on the pack.

Jack noted that the return for the significant expense of straw for the pack: $40-$45 every other day plus the labor of composting the pack, was in the positive effect on the soil and soil nutrients. Once the cows went out to pasture, Jack would usually remove the pack after first cutting. He left it in long, 6-foot-high windrows on a nearby field until after the last harvest. By leaving it for 3 months, the pack composted to reduce the amount to haul to fields for spreading. Jack reasoned that applying the aged manure in the fall mimicked nature applying carbon to the soil in the fall with dead leaves and grass.

“Raw manure is hard on the soil and the environment; many of the nutrients are volatile or water soluble. By adding the extra carbon through the straw more of the volatile nutrients are captured and stored. Allowing them to go through the biological activity of composting, the nutrients are stabilized and won’t run off with significant rainfalls,” Jack said.

NY Farm Adds Pack Barn, Then Free Stalls

In 2010, Super Milk producers Ben and Kate Whittemore of Dead End Farm, an 80-cow organic dairy in Candor, NY, built a 70×120-foot bedded pack barn with a 16-foot feed alley and 16-foot scrape alley.

“Our cows loved the bedded pack barn with its thick, cushy bedding and wide open space to kick up their heels,” Kate Whittemore wrote in her farm blog, noting that most of the cows chose the bedded pack at night over the pasture.

The Whittemores first used chopped hay in the pack since it was less expensive, but found it more labor intensive and not as dry. They switched to sawdust as easier to apply and easier to stir with their rotovator. Stirring three times a day improved the composting efficiency. and they could go more than a year between barn cleanouts.

The Whittemores decided to add more animals and felt the best way to expand was to replace the bedded pack with free stalls. In 2014, they increased from 85 milkers to 120 milkers in the same barn.

Resources and Funding Assistance

Because of the environmental benefits of a bedded pack system, the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) may offer funding incentives for designs that pass their engineering specifications. Learn more by contacting your local NRCS office.

The NRCS also has a 5-page Compost Bedded Pack Dairy Barns fact sheet, published in 2007, that is still relevant, as is an 18-page Bedded Pack Management System Case Study resource published in 2009 by a team with the Cornell University College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Department of Applied Economics and Management.

For more information, Benson with Cornell University’s South Central NY Regional Team can be reached at 607-391-2660,



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February 13, 2018
by Cornell Field Crops
Comments Off on United States Farming Practices Survey

United States Farming Practices Survey

Throughout the United States, farmers are using innovative approaches to sustainably produce crops and improve soil health. However, farmers are also faced with numerous challenges, and they are often not included in decision-making that affects the way they farm.

Cornell University, University of California—Berkeley, and The Nature Conservancy are conducting a nationwide survey for all fruit, vegetable, grain, and field crop producers to identify the biggest challenges that farmers face, as well as the best solutions.

Our goal is to understand what the most important factors are for farm owners and managers when deciding whether or not to use certain practices related to soil, crop, and pest management.

Key findings from the survey will be published and communicated to grower organizations and other farmer advocates so that recommendations, actions, and outcomes reflect what growers identify as being most helpful for their operation.

All responses will remain anonymous. If you choose to enter your e-mail address at the end of the survey, you will receive a summary report of the findings and you will be eligible for a chance to win $500. The survey takes about 30 minutes to complete.

To complete the survey, click below:
United States Farming Practices Survey

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July 20, 2017
by Cornell Field Crops
Comments Off on Cornell Field Crops Professor Harold van Es Named 2017 Precision Ag Educator/Researcher of the Year

Precision Ag, a worldwide precision agriculture information and analysis organization and website, has named Dr. Harold van Es their 2017 Educator/Researcher of the Year.  Read more.

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May 11, 2016
by Cornell Field Crops
Comments Off on NNYADP Announces 14 Projects Focused on Crops in 2016

NNYADP Announces 14 Projects Focused on Crops in 2016

Ten projects funded by the farmer-driven Northern New York Agricultural Development Program in 2016 will address opportunities for corn, soybean, alfalfa, oats, grass and grain production. Photo: Joe Lawrence

Ten projects funded by the farmer-driven Northern New York Agricultural Development Program in 2016 will address opportunities for corn, soybean, alfalfa, oats, grass and grain production. Photo: Joe Lawrence

Northern New York.  The farmer-driven Northern New York Agricultural Development Program has announced 26 research projects prioritized for attention on farms in Clinton, Essex, Franklin, Jefferson, Lewis and St. Lawrence counties in 2016.

Ten projects addressing opportunities for corn, soybean, alfalfa, oats, grass and grain production include:
. an evaluation of brachytic dwarf brown midrib forage sorghum for improved forage production, rotation profitability, and environmental stewardship
. a Year-2 evaluation of the agronomic and forage quality characteristics of brown midrib and non-BMR corn silage hybrids
. an assessment of the impact on nutrient efficiency and forage production of double cropping with cereal and corn silage
. an evaluation of the efficacy of Bt corn for western bean cutworm control under NNY conditions
. continuation of alfalfa winter survival trials
. a Year-2 assessment of plant tissue nutrient levels in soybean in NNY
. Year-2 research into late summer-planted oats as viable option for forage production in NNY
. field trials for maximizing both alfalfa and grass quality in mixed plantings
. continuing work to re-evaluate yield potentials of corn grain and silage in the region, and
. an evaluation of industry-recommended corn hybrids for corn grain production and leaf disease severity in NNY.

An additional four projects are aimed at disease and pest management in crops critical to the regional dairy and livestock industries; corn alone is a $100.6 million crop in northern NY. These projects include:
. a Year 3 diagnosis and assessment of diseases of corn and soybean on NNY farms
. Brown root rot (BRR) research with a second production year of alfalfa populations developed after exposure to BRR fungus and ice sheeting
. the continuation of alfalfa variety breeding trials to increase resistance to alfalfa snout beetle, and
. an evaluation of the use of alfalfa snout beetle biocontrol nematodes on corn rootworm during corn rotation.

Five dairy-focused projects include evaluations of how weather conditions impact cow and calf health plus continuing to work to speciate and quantify lesser-known causes of mastitis.

Five projects with NNYADP funding will advance the regional production of fruit and vegetables, including apples, juneberries, cherry tomatoes, and cold-hardy grapes.

One project will evaluate the use of 3/16-inch tubing to enhance maple syrup production with both natural flow and artificial vacuum sap collection systems in regional sugarbushes; and one project will improve beekeeper management practices to increase the health in the pollinating insects that support honey production in the Northern New York region.

Farmers who have hosted NNYADP field trials praise the value of the Northern New York Agricultural Development Program, noting the impact of enhancing animal health and crop quality, and promoting new agribusiness in the region.

Rhonda Butler of Asgaard Farm and Goat Dairy, AuSable Forks, has participated with a NNYADP small livestock parasite control project. She said, ‘The project results will guide our decisions, and provide us another way to maintain our animals’ health.’

Dairy farmer Lynn Murray of Murcrest Farms, Copenhagen, said, ‘The Northern New York Agricultural Development Program snout beetle control project has paid off here. My 2015 alfalfa crop produced the best first cutting yield ever.’

‘The Northern New York Agricultural Development Program research and training has been very good for helping us cope with an increasing problem of alfalfa snout beetle in the Malone area. We plan to open our own nematode rearing business,’ said Mary DeBeer of Debeer Seeds and Spraying, Malone.

The Northern New York Agricultural Development Program received $600,000 in the 2016-17 New York State Budget. Funding for the NNYADP is supported by the New York State Senate and administered by the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets.

See for a complete list of the 2016 NNYADP projects, economic impact reports, and the results and application of completed projects.

Media Contacts:
. NNYADP Co-Chairs Jon Greenwood, 315.386.3231; Joe Giroux, 518.563.7523; Jon Rulfs, 518.572.1960
. Publicist Kara Lynn Dunn, 315.465.7578,

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May 9, 2016
by Cornell Field Crops
Comments Off on NYS IP Weekly Field Crops Pest Report

NYS IP Weekly Field Crops Pest Report

December 21, 2015
by Cornell Field Crops
Comments Off on 2016 Cornell Guide for Integrated Field Crop Management Now Available

2016 Cornell Guide for Integrated Field Crop Management Now Available

Field Crops Guide CoverThe 2016 edition of the Cornell Guide for Integrated Field Crop Management is now available. This annual publication provides up-to-date field crop production information for New York State. It is designed as a practical guide for field crop producers, crop consultants, ag chemical dealers, and others who advise field crop producers.

In addition to the annual variety and pesticide updates, highlighted changes in this edition of the Field Crops Guide include:

  • A new section on spring malting barley, including field research trial data.
  • Revised forage fertilization guidelines to include sulfur fertilizers.
  • Updated corn, soybean, and wheat disease management tables.

The Cornell Guidelines are available as a print copy, online-only access, or a package that combines print and online access. The print edition of the 2016 Field Crops Guide costs $26 plus shipping. Online-only access is $26. A combination of print and online access costs $36.50 plus shipping costs for the printed book.

Cornell Guidelines can be obtained through your local Cornell Cooperative Extension office or from the Cornell Store at Cornell University. To order from the Cornell Store, call (800) 624-4080 or order online at

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July 17, 2015
by Cornell Field Crops
Comments Off on Keeping Cows and Crops Healthy Earns “Excellence in IPM” Award

Keeping Cows and Crops Healthy Earns “Excellence in IPM” Award

Waldron IPM AwardGENEVA, NY. July 16, 2015: Keith Waldron, livestock and field crop specialist with the New York State Integrated Pest Management Program (NYS IPM), has earned the program’s “Excellence in IPM” award. The award honors Waldron for 30 years of service to farmers who collectively contribute more than $3 billion to New York’s economy. He received his award on July 16 at Cornell University’s Aurora Farm Field Day in Aurora, New York.

Field crops and livestock — teaching better ways to keep them healthy and productive — are Waldron’s stock in trade. And whether he’s working with growers, industry reps, or a farmer’s next-door neighbor, his dependability, responsiveness, and ready humor have earned him broad respect as an honest broker, according to Gary Bergstrom, professor of plant pathology at Cornell University.

As a sought-after speaker on a wide range of topics for a wide range of audiences, says Cornell University weed scientist Russell Hahn, “Keith covers not only IPM but occasionally pinch hits on entomology and plant pathology.”

One innovation: hands-on teaching materials for classes held in farmers’ fields — an approach that makes IPM principles so much easier to understand. In fact, one nominator recalls an aphid infestation found during class time, just in time to save his crop.

“Frankly, we are years overdue in recognizing Keith Waldron for his many important contributions,” says Bergstrom. Bergstrom cites a second Waldron innovation, striking in its simplicity: setting up a series of conference calls among extension educators and researchers statewide throughout each growing season.

“This has done more to build a sense of shared community among field crop personnel than anything I’ve observed over the past 20 years,” Bergstrom says.

Learn more about IPM at


Contact: Gary Bergstrom
606 255 7849

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March 31, 2015
by Cornell Field Crops
Comments Off on How Well Will Corn Grow in Northern NY? NNYADP Field Data Now Available

How Well Will Corn Grow in Northern NY? NNYADP Field Data Now Available

Northern New York farmers grow 156,221 acres of corn; five of the six northernmost counties each grow more than 24,000 acres of corn, according to the 2012 Census of Agriculture. Corn is an essential feed crop for the Northern New York agricultural industry. To help farmers decide which corn hybrids have the best chance to produce high yield and high quality under Northern New York growing conditions, the farmer-driven Northern New York Agricultural Development Program, NNYADP, funds annual corn variety trials.

The results of the 2014 on-farm corn hybrid variety trials, conducted in St. Lawrence and Clinton counties, are now available online at

Seed companies provided early maturing and medium-early maturing corn seed for the 2014 evaluation under the shorter Northern New York growing season as compared to more southern locations in New York State.

Lead researcher Dr. Margaret E. Smith, Cornell University Plant Breeding and Genetics, Ithaca, NY, notes, ‘The 2014 trials included longer-season corn hybrids that many Northern New York growers had found that they can use in light of the recent warmer and longer growing seasons in the region. As it turned out, 2014 was not one of those extra-long seasons in much of the Northern New York region.’

The data from the Northern New York trials is used in the development of the annual Cornell Guide for Integrated Field Crop Management for growers statewide.

Another NNYADP-funded project conducted field surveys of farms across the region to build a two-year database of common and newly-emerging diseases in corn and soybean crops.

The Northern New York Agricultural Development Program provides small grants for on-farm research and technical assistance projects in Clinton, Essex, Franklin, Jefferson, Lewis and St. Lawrence counties. Success stories and research results are posted at

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