Farm and Ranch 2022

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Farm & Ranch October 26, 2022

A special supplement to the Oakdale Leader, Escalon Times, Riverbank News, Manteca Bulletin and Ripon Bulletin

2 | Farm & Ranch • October 26, 2022

Common sustainable agriculture practices The concept of sustainability varies by industry. Within the agricultural industry, sustainability is a multifaceted concept that has become increasingly popular in recent decades. According to the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, sustainable agriculture seeks to increase profitable farm income, promote environmental stewardship, enhance quality of life for farm families and communities, and increase production for human food and fiber needs. In an attempt to reach those goals, farmers who embrace sustainable agriculture may look to various practices.

independent science to address the planet’s most pressing problems, notes that cover crops are planted during the offseason when soils have traditionally been left bare. Cover crops can help prevent soil erosion and replenish the nutrients in the soil. Cover crops also can limit weed growth, reducing the need for herbicides that can prove harmful to the environment.

• Reduce or eliminate tillage: According to the UCS, traditional plowing, or tillage, can cause a significant amount of soil loss, even as it prepares fields for planting and reduces the likelihood of weed problems. Eliminating or • Cover crops: The Union of reducing tillage involves inserting Concerned Scientists, a nonprofit seeds directly into undisturbed organization that aims to employ soil, which can reduce erosion and

when deliberately combined with crops and/or livestock. The shade • Integrated pest management: and shelter provided by trees and Integrated pest management shrubs can protect plants, animals techniques aim to minimize the and water resources. use of chemical pesticides that can • Crop/livestock integration: prove harmful to the environment The UCS notes that there is and local wildlife. According to the growing evidence to suggest that University of California Statewide the careful integration of crop Integrated Pest Management and animal production can help Program, IPM strategies like farmers make their farms more habitat manipulation and the efficient and profitable. planting of disease-resistant Sustainable agriculture is a plants are designed to promote complex concept that can benefit long-term prevention of pests and farmers, their local communities the damage such pests can cause. and the environment in myriad • Agroforestry: The Association ways. for Temperate Agroforestry defines agroforestry as an intensive What is sustainable agriculture? land management system that Many transitions have taken place incorporates trees and/or shrubs in the agricultural industry over the to optimize the benefits they provide last several decades. The widespread improve the health of the soil.

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adoption of various technologies over the last 20-plus years has helped farmers streamline their operations, making their farms more efficient and less wasteful as a result. In addition, many farmers have embraced sustainable farming, which is a relatively recent approach to agriculture. According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, sustainable agriculture is a complex, multi-faceted concept. Sustainable agriculture intends to contribute to

a robust economy by making farms profitable. Farmers who embrace sustainable agriculture also aim to have a positive effect on the environment and their surrounding ecosystems. That’s accomplished by embracing strategies that focus on building and maintaining healthy soil, managing water wisely, minimizing pollution, and promoting biodiversity. The National Institute of Food and Agriculture notes that sustainable agriculture encompasses a wide range of production practices, including some associated with conventional farming and some linked to organic farming. As a result, sustainable farming should not be mistaken for organic farming, or vice versa. However, the UCS notes there’s a strong likelihood that certified organic produce at local grocery stores are byproducts of farms that embrace sustainable agriculture.

Natural habitat maximizes the benefits of birds for farmers, food safety and conservation By: Kat Kerlin

University of California

The study, published in the Journal of Applied Ecology, was Agriculture and Natural Resources conducted at 21 strawberry fields A supportive environment can along California’s Central Coast. It bring out the best in an individual — found that birds were more likely to carry pathogens and eat berries even for a bird. without surrounding natural habitat. After an E.coli outbreak in 2006 The authors said a better devastated the spinach industry, farmers were pressured to remove understanding of the interplay of natural habitat to keep wildlife farming practices, the landscape, and — and the foodborne pathogens the roles birds play in ecosystems they can sometimes carry — from can help growers make the most out visiting crops. A study published of wild birds near their fields. this year from the University of “Bird communities respond to California, Davis, shows that farms changes in the landscape,” said lead with surrounding natural habitat author Elissa Olimpi, a postdoctoral experience the most benefits from scholar in the UC Davis Department birds, including less crop damage of Wildlife, Fish and Conservation and lower food-safety risks. Biology at the time of the study.

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Photo contributed A recent study found that most bird species brought both costs and benefits to farms, depending on how the landscape was managed. “As birds shift in response to management, so do the costs and benefits they provide.” The study looked at how different farming practices influenced the costs and benefits that wild birds provided on the strawberry farms. The scientists combined nearly 300 bird surveys and the molecular

analyses of more than 1,000 fecal birds brought more benefits than samples from 55 bird species to harm. determine which birds ate pests, “Nature is messy, and birds are beneficial insects and crops, and complex,” Olimpi said. “The best carried foodborne pathogens. we can do is understand how to They also ranked birds to see which take advantage of the benefits while were more likely to bring benefits or reducing the harms. Growers will tell costs to farmlands. Barn swallows, you it’s impossible to keep birds off for instance, got a “gold star” in the your farm — you can’t do that and study, Olimpi said. Their mud nests don’t want to from a conservation are commonly seen clinging to the perspective. So how can we take underside of barn eaves, from which advantage of the services birds they fly out to swoop over fields, provide?” foraging on insects. The study is one of several But rather than resulting in a list publications from UC Davis Professor of “good” and “bad” birds, the study Daniel Karp’s lab highlighting the found that most bird species brought environmental, agricultural, and food both costs and benefits to farms, safety impacts of conserving bird depending on how the landscape habitat around farms. A related study was managed. in 2020 found that farms with natural The presence of natural habitat habitat attracted more insect-eating was the single most important driver birds — and fewer strawberry-eating differentiating a farm where wild birds — so that farmers experience

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less berry damage on farms with more habitat nearby. Such habitats also bring greater numbers of bird species to the landscape. “All together, these studies suggest that farming landscapes with natural habitat tend to be good for conservation, farmers, and public health,” said Karp. Additional co-authors of this study include Karina Garcia and David Gonthier of University of Kentucky, Claire Kremen of UC Berkeley and the University of British Columbia, William E. Snyder of University of Georgia, and Erin Wilson-Rankin of UC Riverside. The research was funded by the USDA and UC Davis Department of Wildlife, Fish and Conservation Biology.

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5 | Farm & Ranch • October 26, 2022

Dairy farms fight pollution, turn manure into cash

By: Lisa McEwen

Ag Alert California Farm Bureau Federation Managing manure is nothing new for dairy operators. After all, cows and their four-chambered stomachs are one of nature’s best examples of efficient digestion. But these days, those bovine digestive systems are generating a new source of income for nearly 200 dairies in California. At his River Ranch Farms in Hanford, Jack de Jong now counts on the thousands of gallons of milk his 5,600 Holstein cows produce each day and the thousands of pounds of manure they excrete. Each product is important to his bottom line. While his milk is turned into a variety of dairy products at the nearby Land O’ Lakes cooperative in Tulare, River Ranch Farms’ other commodity is flushed from its two milking barns.

The cow droppings take a systematic journey across the 2,100-acre dairy. They go from a manure separator to a weeping wall and eventually land in a large, rubber-covered anaerobic digester.

“Historically, I’ve entertained the idea of making money from manure, and initially, I was not excited,” de Jong said. “There has been hesitancy getting to this point, but as understanding of the situation increases, so does the comfort Bacteria break down the manure level.” solids, and emissions that would normally escape into the atmosphere The gas leaves the digester at are captured. The biogas byproduct, about 65% to 67% methane, but methane, is an energy-rich fuel. once it cycles through the hub, It is deposited in a pipeline that methane percentage reaches 98%, runs beneath the dairy to a biogas de Jong said. cleaning hub a few miles away. The methane is purchased by The hub, funded in part by a grant Southern California Gas Co. It from the California Department of enters its pipeline and is used to Food and Agriculture Dairy Digester power a variety of renewable natural Research and Development Program, gas projects such as fueling fleets is owned by a partnership of dairies of trucks or buses. Carbon credits and Maas Energy Works, a digester earned by the dairies are shared by developer, operating as Lakeside the gas company and Maas Energy Pipeline LLC. It is already collecting Works. methane from five dairies and can Managing manure has taken on accommodate three more, for a total of 33,500 cows, de Jong said. greater urgency in the past several

years with passage of Senate Bill 1383, legislation in 2016 aimed at curbing pollution from methane. As a result, the California Air Resources Board implemented strategies to reduce emissions from dairy manure by 40% by 2030. To accomplish this, the state has incentivized the process of capturing manure’s release of methane with competitive grants through its dairy digester research effort and its Alternative Manure Management Program. These efforts recently gained traction as important steps in battling climate change and providing business opportunities for dairy operators. “The state grant process has used the carrot versus the stick principle to encourage us to use the technology available,” de Jong said. continued on page 10

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Faith, Family and Integrity for Flory Industries The Flory family moved to Salida from Whittier, California to their home ranch location and built a barn in 1909. Their home was built in 1910 and the manufacturing facility, Flory Industries, continues to operate at the same location today. During the late 1920’s and early 1930’s, the Flory’s had a 100 cow grade “B” dairy. They were the first family to have milking machines in Stanislaus County. With innovation in their blood, they were the first to have a farm tractor in the area and to convert from steel tractor wheels to rubber tires (thanks in part to Harvey Firestone). The dairy operation eventually expanded into custom grain and bean harvesting that ultimately grew to 15 harvesters. Howard Flory designed and built the two bean harvesters for use in their harvesting business. According to Stuart Layman, Howard’s grandson, Howard had “some ideas on how to make better harvesters, so he designed one.” The Flory Family ran harvesters from 1935 to 1974, a total of 30 harvest seasons. In 1961, the first Flory pick-up harvester was built, it was a small 3-point mounted, tractor-powered harvester that was primarily used in almonds. That harvester resides in Flory’s barn to this day (see page 13A). As the industry grew, so did Flory, with the production of a self-propelled harvester, with a 4-foot pick-up width. As the speed and cleaning efficiency continued to improve in harvesters, there was a need for faster, more efficient sweepers. Flory met that need in 1972, with a self-propelled heavy-duty sweeper, which featured a hydrostatic transmission, large diameter five-bar sweeper reel, and engine crankshaftmounted blower fan. Sweepers have continued to improve over the years with more power, larger blower fans, and simplicity of design to the current sweepers with diesel engines. Flory Industries is considered a leader in the field of nut-harvesting equipment, with sales worldwide for harvesting almonds, cashews, chestnuts, figs, hazelnuts, macadamia, pecans, tung nut and walnuts. Stuart shared that they

sell harvesting equipment worldwide; Australia, Chile, Mexico, Africa, Portugal, Spain, Ukraine and Israel, to name a few. Stuart said that Flory takes pride in building everything in-house. “We like to do our own processes, and see the equipment through each step.” This rings so very true for Stuart in his own career.

Even as a grandson of Howard, Stuart had to work his way up. He held positions in fabrication, welding, service and assembly, and now sales. Flory Industries manufacturing facilities and offices are located on the original property purchased in 1909 at 4737 Toomes Road in Salida. But things look a little different today. After a hundred years of business, and four generations, Flory Industries employs nearly 400 hundred people who spend their time repairing and building nutharvesting equipment, flail mowers, and vineyard equipment. In addition to the 400 employees, Stuart and several of his cousins sit on the Board of Directors. And while generation three has since retired, Stuart shared that there are still about 15 family members working in numerous departments.

of air while continuously removing debris and dust on the order of thousands of pounds per hour. While typical mobile dust suppression systems rely on water sprayers to reduce dust from air, this machine eliminates the need for a substantial amount of labor and logistics involved in operating water trucks and filling tanks.

Flory Industries has found success following their company’s values and vision: Faith, Family and Integrity.

It took the team five years to bring this harvester to market. They were set on creating a low dust harvester, without using water. And, timing is key. You can only test a harvester during harvest. With the VX240, out in the field this season, Stuart said it “is looking really good.” “Working with great people, in this great industry,” keeps Stuart excited after all these years. And still growing, Stuart said Flory Industries is always looking for great people with a willingness to learn, “we can teach you the business. We had an employee who started out running parts and now is a seasoned welder.”

Flory’s latest harvester, the Ultra Low Dust VX240

While each generation is certain to have seen changes, Stuart and his counterparts have had to adapt equipment to increasing dust reduction and safety demands. “Since 1997 the Air Board has been asking for dust-reducing equipment,” shared Stuart. And, just this harvest season, Flory released its latest harvester, the Ultra Low Dust VX240. Stuart explained that this harvester does a really good job of “scrubbing out the heavy stuff, before venting,” resulting in just a fine dust that makes it through the fan. All thanks to the work of the Flory engineering team. The Flory VX240 is a new tractor powered nut harvesting machine that incorporates a waterless, filterless, dust suppression system to reduce the dust emissions generated by the harvesting process. This machine uses a threestage dust suppression system that is compact enough to fit in an orchard and is capable of moving over 12,000 CFM


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Advancements in livestock technology Consumer demand drives changes in industry, and the agricultural sector is no exception. Consumer demands for improved animal welfare have led to changes in the livestock sector, and various technologies have been developed and are in development to help this particular segment of the agricultural industry thrive.

Another firm working to treat livestock is the United States-based General Probiotics. Animal AgTech reports that General Probiotics develops cellbots and antimicrobial probiotics that eliminate harmful pathogens in livestock. That can reduce dependency on antibiotics and make food production safer. Welfare

Faromatics, a firm based in Spain, has combined robotics, artificial intelligence and big data to improve animal welfare and farm productivity. One Faromatics product utilizes a robot suspended from a ceiling to Treatment monitor certain variables, including The Israeli firm Armenta has equipment function and health and developed a non-antibiotic treatment welfare, that affect broiler chickens. for bovine mastitis that utilizes The American firm Swinetech acoustic pulse technology. The utilizes voice recognition and treatment has a 70 percent cure computer vision technology in its rate. SmartGuard product to prevent According to the Animal AgTech Innovation Summit, various startups have developed technologies that can make the livestock industry more sustainable and efficient.

piglet deaths from crushing and identifying their livestock. starvation. The product also makes The Netherlands-based H2Oalert it possible to track and facilitate is a water control management obstetrical assistance. system that checks the quality and Operations Based in Uganda, Jaguza Tech has developed a livestock management system that utilizes sensors, data science and machine learning to improve the efficiency, productivity and sustainability of modern farm operations. Farmers can utilize Jaguza to perform a host of functions, including monitoring their animals’ health and

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Harvest Safety - the good, the bad and the practical By: Anna Genasci Stanislaus County Farm Bureau.

With harvest in full swing, growers and their teams are running on little sleep and pushing hard. This is the perfect recipe for injuries in the orchard. It is hard to worry about safety when you are working against a firm deadline, like harvest, but it is so important and could save a life. Based on recent U.S. Department of Labor Statistics, there were 475 fatalities in farm-related work-related injuries in the U.S., which resulted in a fatality rate of 21.2 deaths per 100,000 workers. Let’s not have this year’s harvest contribute to those numbers. Safety can sometimes feel overwhelming, and growers don’t know where to begin, consider the following three items to help get started: equipment, personal protective equipment, and communication and planning.

Equipment: A lot of growers have moved towards enclosed cabs for their equipment. If financially practical, this is a great way to provide a layer of safety. The cab serves as a barrier to items that can cause injury, like dust, limbs, and rocks. Additionally, ensure that equipment is in good working order and serviced regularly to avoid issues in the orchard. And as always, employees need to be trained on each piece of harvesting equipment they operate. If you did the annual training with your team last January, consider a tailgate training update as a refresher. Before jumping into a piece of equipment, do a quick walk-around to ensure guards are in place, lights are working and slow moving signs are visible. Not only is this a great

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safety practice, but it is also a you planted the orchard, did you give requirement of Cal/OSHA § 3441, yourself room to turn equipment at Operation of Agricultural Equipment. the end of the row? Or, did you prune sufficiently to avoid running into Personal Protective Equipment: branches constantly? Are employees Personal protective equipment, trained to inspect the orchard before usually referred to as PPE, is an bringing equipment in and mark any essential safety tool. Typically, we hazards that will be difficult to see see a need for PPE when we cannot once in the shaker? In preparing for eliminate a hazard. For example, if you don’t have closed-cab the season, discuss communication equipment, then operators should expectations, if someone is working wear safety glasses and a dust alone; do they need to call in every mask to protect themselves from couple of hours? And, speaking of dust and branches. Consider hearing phones, avoid this distraction while protection or even reflective vests if operating equipment, it is important employees are working in the dark. to stay alert. However, be sure the vests are the And finally, in the words of Ray tear-away type; bulky outer clothing Lial, an almond grower in the north can get caught in equipment. part of our county, harvest safety comes down to these simple things, Communication and Planning: This area really speaks to doing “stay alert, get enough sleep and pre-harvest work. Things like, when focus on quality.”

Our own, Randy Basi, was honored as CA Farm Bureau’s 2021 Top Farm Sales Agent He shares this award with farm account managers, Brittney Zurlinden, Megan Barksdale, & Daniela Casillas (left-right with Randy) These top-notch professionals know farm and ag insurance like no other account managers in the area. Ultimate customer service is always their goal. For 34 years, we have insured hullers, shellers, processors, growers, packers, shippers, farms and more.

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Explaining precision agriculture Few, if any, aspects of life in the 21st century have not been touched by technology. Advancements in technology have affected everything from the way students learn in the classroom to how senior citizens connect with their grandchildren. Technological advancements also have left their mark on industry, including the agricultural sector. Modern agriculture bears some similarities to farming of past eras. Technology has affected the agricultural sector for centuries, and modern farmers know that’s no different today. One of the more recent developments in the agricultural sector is the rise of precision agriculture, a farming management concept that can pay dividends for generations to come.

What is precision agriculture? Precision agriculture (PA) is rooted in improving crop yields through the utilization of technology. PA is designed to help the agricultural sector maximize resources and improve yields and the quality of crops. That’s a critically important function as the world population continues to grow and the demand for food increases as a result.

Weather modeling is another component of PA that can help farms be more cost-effective and efficient. Whereas in years past many farms would need to manually assess certain variables to determine when to harvest, weather modeling technology has enabled some farmers to generate remote readings, saving time and money.

problems, sometimes before they escalate into larger issues; and avoid potentially costly mistakes. Technology has left no industry untouched. The growth of precision agriculture is a testament to the influence that technology is having on a vital sector of the global economy.

How does PA help farmers?

What are some examples of PA Each situation is unique, but the technology? principles of PA can help farmers Sensors are a prime example acess a wealth of information. It of PA technology that helps make might have been possible to access farms more efficient and productive. such information in the past, but PA Sensors serve various functions by has sped up the process and made helping farmers gather data on the it more hands-off, allowing farmers availability of water in soil, the level of to save both time and money. compaction in soil, leaf temperature, PA technology can help farmers insect and disease infestation, and maintain accurate records of their farms; inform their decisions; make other areas. it easier to detect and identify









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Continued from Page 5

costs with manure by using the wastewater to irrigate silage crops or almonds. When properly treated and mixed with well water, this saves on groundwater pumping costs and can Scott Harrison, CEO of Figure address Sustainable Groundwater 8 Environmental of Bakersfield, Management Act regulations. hosted a seminar titled “Monetizing Manure can also be upcycled Manure,” at the recent World Ag Expo into clean, new bedding for animals in Tulare. Harrison’s firm designs, builds and manages manure through a composting process. processing systems for dairies. He Some dairy operators such as de encouraged dairies to think about Jong also sell this compost to other how managing manure can help farmers. Savings in these areas them comply with environmental, can allow dairies to maintain their nutrient and wastewater regulations. herd sizes in light of pending SGMA restrictions. “If you can imagine what’s possible “Drying of separated manure and see the bigger picture, there is solids used to be a burden that a lot of value in manure,” he said. increased our cost of business,” he “Manure is a profit powerhouse.” said. Now that has been helped by There are many other uses for compost sales. manure. For years dairy farmers have Frank Mitloehner, director of been collecting it, storing it and using the Clarity and Leadership for it as a renewable fertilizer. Operators of flush dairies can address operating Environmental Awareness Center at “I praise the state for doing that. By monetizing this, dairymen can get in at a lower cost and risk in a very quick time period.”

But now there are 185 But now there are methanereduc185 methaneing digestersdigesters listed in thelisted state, according reducing in the says 4% to 5% of all greenhouse to the nonprofit organization Dairy Cares. state, according to the nonprofit gases are from agriculture “and There are also more than 300 operating in organization Dairy Cares. There are the U.S. Environdairy is the largest contributor within the alsonation, moreaccording than 300tooperating mental Protection Agency. agriculture.” the University of California, Davis,

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quantity of cattle drinking water in real time. The management system also checks for pollution and malfunctions in the water supply. Livestock technology continues to advance, and firms across the globe are developing new products and platforms to help livestock farmers make their operations more efficient, sustainable and productive. in the nation, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. “I anticipate this technology growing across the United States,” Mitloehner said. “California leads the nation, maybe the world, in this field.” Each dairy is different and requires a tailored approach to its manure management. To that end, Mitloehner encouraged farmers to do their homework and understand the design and operation of their manure-management systems. He said many dairy farmers eventually hire out for this portion of their


“This is not only climate smart, healthy agriculture, but it is good To encourage California’s smaller for the bottom line,” said UCCE dairies—for which a digester may dairy farm advisor Betsy Karle. “The not be feasible—to reduce methane opportunity is here. output, the state provides financial assistance for farm families as they reduce emissions through a variety Did you know? of technologies and strategies. A total of 114 projects have been awarded grants to date. For fiscal year 2021-2022, the state will be awarding $32 million in grants, with priority given to the Alternative Manure Management Program. Previous projects included mechanical solids-liquid separation with drying, conversion of flush systems to scrape with dry manure storage or composting, and compost pack barns. Applications for the program are open through May, with CDFA working in partnership with UC Cooperative Extension to assist farmers needing help in the application process.

fertilizers and pesticides accelerates soil erosion and increases pest problems. Consumers concerned by the effects of industrial agriculture on the environment and on small farmers’ and growers’ ability to earn a good living can support efforts such as regenerative farming and Farmers and growers face a organic farms. significant threat in the years to come as industrial agriculture operations continue to expand. According to the National Resources Defense Council, industrial agriculture is the largescale, intensive production of crops and animals. Such operations make it more difficult for small farmers and growers to turn a profit, and they often involve the use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides. The use of such products poses an additional threat to small farmers and growers, as the Union of Concerned Scientists notes that the heavy application of

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