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September 14, 2013
Although most station members work closely with agricultural products, we may often forget that our research has a direct impact on the farmers and their harvests in our community. Eager to re-connect with our agricultural roots, sixteen station members participated in a tour of three local farms this past Saturday, organized by SAGES (the Student Association of the Geneva Experiment Station).
The first stop on the tour was Hansen Farms in Stanley, NY, where Eric Hansen talked about his family’s farm. A third-generation farmer, Eric explained how their 2,700 acres are divided among crops like wheat, corn, soybean, and cabbage. Station members were interested to hear about how the cabbage is hand-picked, why it is so well-suited for the upstate NY climate, and what disease problems the farm has been combating this year with so much rain. The massive cold-storage rooms were very impressive, helping to keep the cabbage in good condition prior to shipping. Areas of food safety were also pointed out, and participants heard first-hand how the Hansen farmers strive to comply with Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs) and benefit from the extension work of our station colleagues.
Next on the tour was Pedersen Farms in Seneca Castle, NY, owned by Rick and Laura Pedersen. Laura took the group to two different sites, one where large pumpkins were being brought in and a second where the hop yard is located. Being a mixed commodity farm and also certified organic with certain crops, there is a lot of different work to be done in each season. Both fresh and dried hops are supplied by Pedersen Farms to multiple local breweries, becoming morepopular with the recently passed NY Farm brewery law.
Just down the road from Pedersen Farms is Hemdale Farms, which was the final stop on the tour. Owned by Dale Hemminger, this farm is widely known for having robotic milking stations, and our tour guide Casey showed us all parts of the operation. With thirteen robots, all cows on the farm are milked with this technology, which had everyone ooo-ing and ahh-ing when watching the robots in action. Thanks to the automation, record-keeping has become much more stream-lined and measuring activity of the cows in the machines has helped monitor the herd’s health. Part of the feed is from waste products of crops grown on the farm’s acreage, adding a “green” effort. The highlight of the day was when the group saw a baby calf just one hour old being washed and carried to the calf pen – just another part of a farmer’s job!
The whole tour group, ranging from graduate students and family members to emeritus professors, expressed how engaging and informative it was to see the farm operations first-hand and to ask the farmers specific questions. SAGES would like to thank Eric, Rick & Laura, and Dale & Casey for sharing their time and expertise with the station community.