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Engineering Agriculture

BY JAKE MAYER

If you asked most people (including those in agriculture) to make a list of professionals or businesses that help farms and ranchers, the answers would likely include:  Veterinarian, Agronomist, Chemical and Fertilizer Salesmen, Farm Equipment Dealers, Nutritionist, Pharmaceutical Salesmen, Insurance Agent, Truck Drivers, NRCS Conservationist, and Extension Educators.  We all know that it takes numerous agri-businesses to support the day-to-day activities of production agriculture, but there is one group that often gets left off the list – ENGINEERS.

I’ll admit that as an engineer I am a little bit biased, but the role of engineering in farming and ranching is undeniable.  Irrigation engineers design the pumps, pipe, and pivots that help farms provide the right amount of water at just the right time for growing crops and forages.  Structural engineers design agricultural buildings and grain storage facilities.  Equipment engineers design the machines that help us do our jobs efficiently and effectively.  Environmental engineers design grass waterways and terraces to control erosion.  You get the point.

I think that the primary reason that engineers are overlooked due to the common perception that engineers all wear thick glasses, have a pocket protector, and don’t have a lick of common sense.  That couldn’t be further from the truth.  Simply put, engineers are problem solvers.  They use their knowledge to design and build solutions to people’s problems.  That is what drew me to a career in Agricultural Engineering

I want to share a piece of my story because I know there are lots of young people who are interested in how things work, helping people, and staying involved in agriculture.

I work for Settje Agri-Services & Engineering, Inc.), an environmental engineering and consulting firm in Eastern Nebraska.  We help livestock producers (mostly beef cattle feedlots, but we’ve done numerous swine and dairy projects) permit their operations according to state and federal laws and keep them in compliance with current regulations.  We offer services like nutrient management planning, groundwater monitoring, soil sampling, and record keeping.  My job allows me the opportunity to design livestock systems that are production focused, flexible, and environmentally conscious.  Our clients include familiar faces such as current NCBA President J.D. Alexander, NCBA Federation Division Chairman Craig Uden (Craig’s daughter Blair used to work in our office), and blogger Anne Burkholder.

Dispelling myths about raising beef seems to be a popular goal for cattlemen and women these days.  Perhaps reading my thoughts today will give you a better understanding on a group of men and women who have a vital role in modern cattle production – ENGINEERS.

Happy Trails & God Bless,

Big Jake

 
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Posted by on June 20, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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We Are All Angus

BY LAUREN CHASE AND JESSE BUSSARD

Whether or not you raise Angus cattle, the media features that the American Angus Association produces are well-worth a watch and well-representative of the entire beef industry. We are always so impressed with the I Am Angus video features because they give viewers a glance at all aspects of beef cattle production, environmental issues and feature the great people that make up the cattle world. Today, we would like to share with you a few recent I Am Angus features….be sure share them with all of your friends and family.

I Am Angus: Dr. Jude Capper, Washington State University

I Am Angus: Christian Hagen, Wildlife Biologist

I Am Angus: Dan Dagget, Author and EnvironmentalistI Am Angus: Frank Mitloehner and the Benefits of Modern Livestock Production

 

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Cattle Farmers and Ranchers Care for the Environment

via Pearl Snaps’ Ponderings

by Jesse Bussard

In honor of Earth Day on April 22nd I wanted to share with you some of the ways that America’s farmers and ranchers are stewards of the land.  Below are 40 ways cattle farmers and ranchers care for the environment(ExploreBeef.org).

40 Ways Cattle Farmers and Ranchers Help the Environment. They…

1. Maintain and introduce habitats as homes for numerous endangered species.

2. Use biological controls on invasive pests.

3. Plant trees for windbreaks, which provide protection for the cattle, wildlife and soil.

4.
Maintain proper nutrients in soil by regularly analyzing soil samples to determine which nutrients are needed and in what amounts.

5. Implement conservation tillage so that soil can be conserved and available moisture used more efficiently.

6.Fence off streams and wetlands to create a buffer that helps prevent bank erosion and helps control runoff.

7.Utilize beef production technologies to raise more beef with fewer natural resources.

8. Plant grasses on highly erodible land, thereby conserving soil.

9. Utilize biofuel on cattle operations.

10. Fertilize fields with manure from cattle feeding operations to reduce fuel needed to manufacturer synthetic fertilizer.

11. Optimize delivery of feed allowing for fewer trips to the farms.

12. Protect open spaces from development through programs like conservation easements.

13. Reduce fuel consumption by using ATVs that use less fuel than other farm/ranch vehicles.

14. Recycle corn stalk bales into cattle bedding.

15. Utilize solar-powered electric fence chargers.

16. Create retention ponds to protect waterways from excessive runoff.

17. Use recycled products to build fences and recycled tires to build water tanks.

18. Provide habitat for ground nesting birds.

19. Operate methane digesters, which capture methane from manure decomposition and utilize it to generate electricity for the farm.

20. Participate in university research projects that aim to improve agricultural environmental practices.

21. Compost cattle manure into fertilizer products that can be used by golf courses, athletic fields, gardens, etc.

22. Practice contour farming, in which crops are planted along the natural contours of the land. The rows formed slow water run-off during rainstorms to prevent soil erosion and allow the water time to soak into the soil.

23. Plan soil nutrient management systems to control nutrient runoff and to minimize the need for additional nutrients to grow crops.

24. Incorporate ethanol by-products into cattle feed to recycle this resource.

25. Monitor and document effective practices and regularly solicit input from expert sources to improve resource management.

26. Control weeds and prevent residue build-up on pasture land so it doesn’t turn into hot and dangerous fires.

27. Maintain open space as cattle grazing pastures, allowing land to remain natural, free of trash, debris and invasive weeds and trees.

28. Install irrigation systems that efficiently utilize limited water resources.

29.Facilitate fish passage at irrigation diversions so migrating fish can continue to spawn in creeks.

30. Install fish screens in ditches so that fish do not get trapped.

31. Partner with state, local and national environmental agencies to monitor land, water and wildlife and make improvements.

32. Plant cover crops to increase soil fertility.

33. Hold up water on ranchlands for extended periods of time in order to replenish underground aquifers and filter out nutrients and particulate matter.

34. Improve plant density, a sign of a healthier rangeland.

35. Recycle materials such as feed bags and plastic containers (mineral tubs), batteries, used motor oil, tires, and scrap metal.

36. Allow cattle to graze and consume forages that convert to healthy, nutritious beef.

37. Feed cattle crops that are grown locally to reduce fuel needed for transportation.

38. Utilize rotational grazing in which cattle are moved to different pastures every few days to prevent overgrazing.

39. Use wind mills to harvest wind energy into usable mechanical power.

40. Work to recognize others in the industry who have made long-standing contributions to the preservation of the country’s natural resources through the Environmental Stewardship Award.

To learn about more you can also view the Cattlemen’s Stewardship Review.  It provides a look at the values and vision of America’s cattlemen and how they responsibly raise good food and healthy animals, while protecting the environment and building strong communities—all with the end of goal of providing the safest, highest-quality, most consumer-friendly beef in an environmentally and economically sustainable manner in order to feed people around the world.

 

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