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New technologies in agriculture



Have you considered how advances in technology are impacting agricultural production? Here are some fascinating examples.

Milking robots are now deployed by many dairy producers. In addition to saving time and reducing labor requirements, these machines collect and record valuable data pertaining to feeding, production volumes, and animal behavior. In addition, researchers are pursuing new and improved means of using robotics to simplify tasks and further accelerate workflow.

Digital solutions
These days, farmers are using information and communication technology (ICT) to improve various stages of production. Depending on their application, these technologies can enhance operations, refine support services, boost land use and improve value chains.

ICT enables farmers to collect a wealth of data to facilitate decision-making. Agricultural sensors with this technology deliver real-time transmission of crop data. In addition, ICT lasers provide food comparisons that help optimize taste and texture.

Farms are also increasingly using agricultural drones to detect the presence of predators and determine crop hydration levels.

Finally, among the many other technological innovations available to farmers are self-driving tractors, genetically modified plants, and pedometers for livestock. To learn more about how these technologies work, consider visiting a farm in your area.


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Farming the Future: Robert A. Clark’s innovative efforts earn him top honors



In a remarkable feat that resonates with his lifelong dedication and passion for his work, Robert A. Clark, a Senior Extension Agent with a focus on Agriculture and Natural Resources, has recently received the 2023 Alumni Award for Extension Excellence from the Virginia Tech Alumni Association.

Bobby Clark


Better known as Bobby, Clark expressed his delight and gratitude for this well-deserved recognition. “My desire to become an Extension agent started when I was in high school. My Extension career spans two states — North Carolina and Virginia — and 35 years,” he said, reflecting on his journey that has taken him through three and a half decades of service. He added, “Throughout my career, I have always enjoyed helping both individuals and communities succeed through the knowledge shared as an Extension agent.”

Clark’s contribution to the field extends to addressing an array of economic and environmental issues. His tireless work in the northern Shenandoah Valley and beyond has encompassed a series of initiatives like improving slug management in no-till corn and soybeans, helping farmers increase profitability while practicing better environmental stewardship, addressing large animal mortality disposal issues, and devising solutions to poultry litter management issues. The success and impact of these initiatives speak volumes about Clark’s commitment to his stakeholders and his community.

In her supportive remarks, Lori Miller, Senior Staff Officer and Environmental Engineer for USDA, lauded Clark’s unique approach and dedication, saying, “Bobby’s initiative and ability to think outside the box has greatly improved our nation’s ability to respond to animal health emergencies during our times of greatest need; his leadership, professionalism, and practicality have had a major impact on the protection of American agriculture.”

As one of the most respected figures in his field, Clark’s body of work has earned him several awards, including Program Excellence Awards at the district and state levels, the National Association of County Agricultural Agents Distinguished Service Award, and the Virginia Association of Agricultural Extension Agents Distinguished Service Award. This most recent accolade from Virginia Tech further underscores his immense value to his field and his profound influence on American agriculture.

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Why small farms make a big difference



Despite the continuing shift in production to larger farms in the United States, the contribution of small family farms is still considerable. According to the USDA, small farms and ranches number nearly two million and generate 15 percent of production. Here’s why small farms can make a big difference.

1. They’re more productive. Smaller farms are more productive per hectare than significantly larger farms. They also tend to have more dependable yields. This is in part because they employ diversified farming systems.

2. They increase diversity. Large farms tend to plant monocultures because heavy machinery makes them easy to manage. By contrast, small farms typically grow wider varieties of crops, contributing to agrobiodiversity, which is essential to sustainable food systems.

3. They safeguard the environment. Small farms have a vested interest in protecting their soil’s fertility and their land’s long-term productivity. Consequently, they act as land stewards for future generations and employ more sustainable farming practices than large, conventional farms.

It’s important to support small family farms whenever possible to ensure they continue to grow and thrive. You can help by shopping at your neighborhood farmer’s market, spreading the word about locally grown products, and requesting your corner store sell more goods from nearby growers.

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4 benefits of supporting local farmers



This year, National Ag Day is celebrated on March 21. The theme is Agriculture: Growing a Climate for Tomorrow. This campaign encourages Americans to recognize and celebrate the farmers, ranchers, foresters, farmworkers, and other agricultural stewards across the United States. In honor of this event, here are four benefits of supporting local farmers.

1. Protect the environment. Most small, local farmers employ sustainable growing practices to minimize their environmental impact. Moreover, when food products don’t have to be shipped across the country, it reduces air pollution and minimizes the amount of packaging that ends up in landfills.

2. Eat healthier. The less distance your food travels, the less chance for contamination, expiration, and other issues. Besides, seasonal fruits and vegetables taste better and have a higher nutrition content.

3. Bolster the community. Supporting local farmers means supporting the local economy. When you buy from a local farmer, that money is reinvested into other businesses and services that help improve community life for everyone.

4. Support animal welfare. Local meats, cheeses, and eggs often come from family farms where the animals have been raised in favorable living conditions without hormones or antibiotics. You can feel good about what you’re eating.

Each farmer in the United States feeds 144 people, much more than ever. This National Ag Day, thank a farmer for all they do.

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Agricultural giant John Deere heads into space



Close your eyes for a moment and think, “John Deere.” The odds are that the first things to come to mind are green tractors and rolling farmlands. Yet now, John Deere has its eyes set on a (literally) sky-high ambition: using satellites to revolutionize agriculture.

If the renowned farm equipment company has its way, farmers will soon use satellites to generate geospatial maps that allow them to monitor productivity and crop performance.

With this data in hand, farmers can put together appropriate and nuanced responses. For example, if one part of the field is underperforming, farmers can investigate and then react, perhaps increasing fertilizers to one area or deploying pesticides.

Farmers may not be limited to data from their fields or nearby fields. John Deere is working to increase connectivity worldwide. This way, farmers can monitor major events and trends from afar, which could help them organize a more effective response to changing environmental and operating conditions.

John Deere has been gathering data for some time. However, most current data collection relies on farmers using individual See & Spray devices. These devices can alert farmers to problems, such as growing weeds. Now, the company wants to up the ante by looping in low-earth satellites.

In recent months, John Deere has been in discussions with various satellite companies, looking for the perfect partner that will enable farmers to reap the full benefits of data. In the long run, farmers may enjoy greater yields and, thus, more substantial profits.

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How to increase monarch butterfly populations on farms



For the past decade, environmental experts have touted the importance of safeguarding beneficial insects like honeybees. However, did you know that protecting monarch butterflies is equally important? Monarch migration across North America is essential to many ecosystems worldwide.

Farmers play a key role in growing monarch populations by protecting, restoring, and establishing native milkweed — wildflowers that monarch butterflies can’t live without — and other nectar plants. Here are a few ways farmers help bolster monarch populations:

• Refrain from spraying monarch habitats with herbicides and insecticides
• Manage ditches along fields to promote monarch habitats
• Leave grass uncut during periods when monarch eggs and caterpillars are present
• Implement grazing and burning practices that promote beneficial plants

If conservation experts and farmers continue to work together, they can create a more successful habitat for monarchs while minimizing the impact on crops and livestock production. Contact your local conservation authority to find out how you can help.

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Understanding crop rotation



Crop rotation is the practice of planting different crops sequentially on the same plot of land from one year to the next. Though it requires careful planning, crop rotation is adaptable and can be modified according to the environment and other factors.

What are the benefits?
Crop rotation is a sustainable management practice that can increase biodiversity and improve crop performance. For example, it helps with weed control by preventing undesirable plants from adapting to the space and becoming a problem.

In addition, this practice can li¬mit heavy fertilizer and herbicide use. It also makes it possible to grow crops without the use of pesticides. Crop rotation improves soil structure, boosts soil fertility, prevents erosion, and increases harvest yields.

What types are there?
Farmers can execute many types of crop rotation, including simple, complex, and perennial variations. Each has its own advantages and disadvantages. Farmers can choose the method that best suits their operation by considering seeding time, crop competition, and fertilization needs.

Crop rotation makes sense for both farmers and the environment. Encourage the farms that use this method by opting for their products at farmers markets and grocery stores.

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Thank You to our Local Business Participants:


Aders Insurance Agency, Inc (State Farm)

Aire Serv Heating and Air Conditioning

Apple Dumpling Learning Center

Apple House

Auto Care Clinic

Avery-Hess Realty, Marilyn King

Beaver Tree Services

Blake and Co. Hair Spa

Blue Mountain Creative Consulting

Blue Ridge Arts Council

Blue Ridge Education

BNI Shenandoah Valley

C&C's Ice Cream Shop

Card My Yard

CBM Mortgage, Michelle Napier

Christine Binnix - McEnearney Associates

Code Jamboree LLC

Code Ninjas Front Royal

Cool Techs Heating and Air

Down Home Comfort Bakery

Downtown Market

Dusty's Country Store

Edward Jones-Bret Hrbek

Explore Art & Clay

Family Preservation Services

First Baptist Church

Front Royal Independent Business Alliance

Front Royal/Warren County C-CAP

First Baptist Church

Front Royal Treatment Center

Front Royal Women's Resource Center

Front Royal-Warren County Chamber of Commerce

Fussell Florist

G&M Auto Sales Inc

Garcia & Gavino Family Bakery

Gourmet Delights Gifts & Framing

Green to Ground Electrical

Groups Recover Together

Habitat for Humanity

Groups Recover Together

House of Hope

I Want Candy

I'm Just Me Movement

Jean’s Jewelers

Jen Avery, REALTOR & Jenspiration, LLC

Key Move Properties, LLC

KW Solutions

Legal Services Plans of Northern Shenendoah

Main Street Travel

Makeover Marketing Systems

Marlow Automotive Group

Mary Carnahan Graphic Design

Merchants on Main Street

Mountain Trails

Mountain View Music

National Media Services

Natural Results Chiropractic Clinic

No Doubt Accounting

Northwestern Community Services Board

Ole Timers Antiques

Penny Lane Hair Co.

Philip Vaught Real Estate Management

Phoenix Project

Reaching Out Now

Rotary Club of Warren County

Royal Blends Nutrition

Royal Cinemas

Royal Examiner

Royal Family Bowling Center

Royal Oak Bookshop

Royal Oak Computers

Royal Oak Bookshop

Royal Spice

Ruby Yoga

Salvation Army

Samuels Public Library

SaVida Health

Skyline Insurance

Shenandoah Shores Management Group

St. Luke Community Clinic

Strites Doughnuts

Studio Verde

The Arc of Warren County

The Institute for Association & Nonprofit Research

The Studio-A Place for Learning

The Valley Today - The River 95.3

The Vine and Leaf

Valley Chorale

Warren Charge (Bennett's Chapel, Limeton, Asbury)

Warren Coalition

Warren County Democratic Committee

Warren County Department of Social Services

Warren County DSS Job Development

Warrior Psychotherapy Services, PLLC

WCPS Work-Based Learning

What Matters & Beth Medved Waller, Inc Real Estate

White Picket Fence

Woodward House on Manor Grade

King Cartoons

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