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Reference Guide for Mastitis-Causing Bacteria

Fri, 07/07/2017 - 20:52




The reference guide for mastitis-causing bacteria below was developed to provide a succinct yet comprehensive summary of the major classes of bacteria that cause mastitis in dairy cows as a rapid reference for dairy farmers and bovine practitioners. In addition, the guide denotes the environmental or contagious nature of each pathogen, its source in the cow’s surroundings, mechanisms of spread, methods of control, and treatment strategies.

Please check this link first if you are interested in organic or specialty dairy production.














Reference guide for mastitis-causing bacteria


C. S. Petersson-Wolfe and J. Currin
Virginia Tech Mastitis & Immunology Laboratory & Virginia Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine
(Information obtained from NMC Laboratory Handbook on Bovine Mastitis and veterinary consultation for treatment recommendations)

Classification Bacteria Contagious or Environmental Source Spread Control Treatment* Staphylococcus spp. Staph.
Contagious Infected udders, hands of milkers Milking time Post-dip, DCT1, segregation and cull if necessary Label recommendations for broad-spectrum antibiotics, if early lactation – 5-7 d pirlimycin, do not treat chronic infections Coagulase (-)
staph. &
S. hyicus Neither Skin flora & occasionally environment Infect teat canal from skin sources Post-dip, DCT Treat clinical cases (broad spectrum), DCT Streptococcus
spp. and Enterococcus spp.
Contagious Infected udders Milking time Milking time hygiene, post-dip, DCT Label recommendations for broad-spectrum antibiotics Strep.
and environmental Infected udders and environment Milking time & environmental contact Milking time hygiene, pre- & post-dip, DCT, teat seal Label recommendations for broad-spectrum antibiotics Strep. uberis Environmental Environment – early dry period New IMI2 during early dry period Milking time hygiene, pre- & post-dip, DCT, teat seal Label recommendations for broad-spectrum antibiotics and consider IMM3 therapy
4-5 d penicillin systemically (3.5 cc/100 lb body weight)** Environmental
strep & Enterococcus
spp. Environmental Environment Environmental contact Milking time hygiene, pre- & post-dip, DCT, teat seal Gram negatives Escherichia
Environmental Bedding, manure, soil Environmental contact Cows clean & dry, use of sand bedding, pre-dip, a J5 vaccine Do not treat local cases.
Systemic cases – 2-3 L hypertonic saline IV, followed by oral fluid therapy, NSAID*** and injectable antibiotics Klebsiella
spp. Environmental Organic bedding Environmental contact Avoid sawdust & recycled manure, pre-dip, J5 vaccine Enterobacter
spp. Environmental Bedding, manure, soil Environmental contact Cows clean & dry, use of sand bedding, pre-dip, a J5 vaccine Serratia
spp. Environmental Soil and plants Environmental contact Cows clean & dry, pre-dip (no chlorhexidine products) 180-300 ml hypertonic saline IMM infusion Pseudomonas
spp. Environmental Water & wet bedding Environmental contact No water use in parlor, no cooling ponds, sand bedding, a J5 vaccine Proteus
spp. Environmental Bedding, feed & water Environmental contact Not much known, use of sand bedding, a J5 vaccine Pasteurella
spp. Probably contagious Upper respiratory tract of mammals and birds Unknown – likely cow to cow Prevent teat injuries, remove affected cows from herd Do not respond to IMM treatment Other Yeast &
mold Environmental Soil, plants, water Dirty infusions Aseptic infusions No treatment Corynebacterium bovis &
other coryneforms Contagious Infected udders Cow to cow Post-dip Treat clinical cases and DCT Prototheca Environmental Soil, plants, water Dirty infusions, infected udders Aseptic infusions, eliminate infected cow No treatment – cull cow Bacillus spp. Environmental Soil, water, air Dirty infusions Aseptic infusions Broad-spectrum antibiotic Arcanobacterium pyogenes Contagious/ Environmental Teat injuries Flies Fly control Kill affected quarter or remove from herd Information obtained from NMC Laboratory Handbook on Bovine Mastitis and veterinary consultation for treatment recommendations).
*These are general treatment recommendations; actual recommendations may vary from herd to herd. Please consult your veterinarian.
**Extra label usage; please consult your veterinarian before starting this protocol.
***Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.
1 – DCT, dry cow therapy; 2 – IMI, intramammary infection; 3 – IMM, intramammary. Author Information

C. S. Petersson-Wolfe and J. Currin,
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

Selected References

National Mastitis Council. 1999. Laboratory Handbook on Bovine Mastitis. NMC Inc., Madison, Wis.

The Smarter Lunchrooms Scorecard Site Visit Protocol

Fri, 07/07/2017 - 14:49

In this webinar Erin Sharp, MS, MAT, Curriculum Designer for the Smarter Lunchrooms National Office, overviews best practices for using the Smarter Lunchrooms Scorecard to identify areas of strength and opportunities for improvement in the healthfulness of school cafeteria design. Erin begins with tips for preparing for the site visit, checking in, observing the lunchroom, and completing the scorecard. She concludes by sharing effective standards for debriefing with school food service personnel, including interpreting the assessment score, discussing goals and next steps.

**recording updated on 7/7/2017**

Learning Objectives

After viewing this webinar, participants will:

  • Be able to accurately complete the Smarter Lunchrooms  Scorecard and site visit protocol to identify areas for improvement in the healthfulness of the lunchroom environment
  • Have a greater understanding of how to use these tools to prepare for a school site visit that includes, planning, observation, and debriding food service directors and staff on next steps 

PDF of Presentation Slides 

The 6 Principles of Behavioral Economics in School Lunchrooms

The 4 Steps to a Smarter Lunchroom Makeover

Smarter Lunchroom Scorecard


Dairy Calf and Heifer Management Videos

Wed, 07/05/2017 - 18:47

This article is part of our series of original articles on emerging featured topics. Please check here to see other articles in this series.

Heifers are the future of your dairy operation, and require a significant amount of attention and decision-making. Will you raise your own heifers or contract them out? How will you manage nutrition, breeding, health, and even mastitis control? In this selection of DAIReXNET videos, you’ll find information on a range of calf and heifer topics, including economics, nutrition, and health management.

Please check this link first if you are interested in organic or specialty dairy production.

Avoiding Disease in Dairy Calves

Attention to health is particularly important for young calves, which are vulnerable to a number of conditions. As the old adage goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, so watch this video to learn about best practices for disease prevention! Here, Dr. Geof Smith focuses on environmental controls and early disease detection.


Critical Economic Decisions when Raising Heifers

Not sure of all the factors you should consider when making heifer-raising decisions? Jason Karszes lays them out for you in this video. He talks about the costs involved, factors that could influence those costs, and how the replacement program can affect the farm’s overall financial performance.


Economic Considerations Regarding the Raising of Dairy Replacement Heifers

Diving a little deeper into heifer economics, Dr. Mike Overton joins us to focus on the differences in conventional and intensive heifer raising systems. He discusses the inputs in different stages of growth, compares models, and talks a little bit about the impact that heifer-rearing can have on later lactation.


Meeting Heifer Nutrition Goals

It can be difficult to keep an efficient and effective heifer nutrition program. Watch this video to learn about optimizing pre- and post-weaning growth and achieving puberty at the desired age.


Feeding Systems for Group Housed Calves

Speaking of nutrition, how do you get it into them in the first place? In this last video, Dr. Mark Thomas discusses feeding systems for group-housed dairy calves. Learn about optimizing nutrition, ad libitum feeding, acidified group feeding, and comparisons of available systems.

Dairy Cattle Mastitis and Milking Management

Wed, 07/05/2017 - 18:42

Mastitis in dairy cattle can result in potential losses in milk production, milk income, and milk quality bonuses. Understanding the many aspects of dairy cattle mastitis can lead to more effective prevention and treatment strategies. Articles in this section can help producers as well as industry-allied partners further their knowledge about mastitis issues in dairy cattle.

Some of these publications are also available in Spanish for Spanish-speaking workers and managers. If there is a Spanish version, there will be a link at the top of the article.

Mastitis and Milking Management Videos


Mastitis Causing Pathogens: Prevention and Control Management Practices Milk Quality and Somatic Cell Counts Milking Management and Equipment Culturing Clinical Mastitis and Antibiotic Therapy Subject Area Leader

Ron Erskine is the leader of the Mastitis and Milking Management subject area. If you have submissions or comments, you can contact him via email at erskine@cvm.msu.edu.

Dairy Cattle Genetics

Wed, 07/05/2017 - 18:42

Improvement of dairy herd genetics can affect herd health, longevity, reproductive traits, and many other vital aspects of dairy cattle production. It can also lead to increased milk production, milk quality, and overall animal performance. Efficient sire selection is the primary avenue for an immediate impact on genetics in a dairy cattle operation.

Genetics Videos


Subject Area Leader

Mike Schutz is the leader of the Genetics subject area. If you have submissions or comments, you can contact him via email at mschutz@purdue.edu.

The Business of School Food: Content Group Profile

Wed, 07/05/2017 - 14:00

The content of this resource area is devoted to helping food service professionals and school administrators to create and sustain healthy and profitable school meal programs by offering success stories and research based methods for bettering the school food environment. This area also seeks to increase understanding of how school food service operates among stakeholders who can support and enhance the efforts of school meal programs, such as parents, teachers, and community members.

Search by Key Topic Search By Specific Audience  Click here for ALL Business of School Food Articles

​Development of this content area is led by:

 Adam Brumberg, Cornell University and Annette Marchbanks, Liverpool Central School District 


Monthly Investment Message: June 2017

Tue, 07/04/2017 - 15:03

Barbara O’Neill, Extension Specialist in Financial Resource Management

Rutgers Cooperative Extension


June 2017

Income Taxes on Investment Profits

A high priority financial goal for many people is to have a comfortable lifestyle in later life. Investing can help. Most people do not become wealthy from their earnings alone but, rather, by investing a portion of their income and letting it grow for several decades. Through a combination of regular investment deposits and compound interest, it is possible to build a large amount of wealth over time.


With investing earnings come income taxes, however. An exception is interest earned on municipal bonds, which are tax-exempt at the federal, and perhaps state and local, level. Roth IRA earnings are also not taxed if certain conditions are met. When an investor sells securities- even municipal bonds- and earns a profit, capital gains are realized and income tax is due. A capital gain is defined as the increase in value of a capital asset such as real estate or investments (e.g., stocks and mutual funds). In other words, people realize capital gains when they “buy low” (e.g., stock purchased for $10 a share) and “sell high” (e.g., stock sold for $20 a share).


When investors sell a capital asset, the difference between its basis (generally the amount paid for it) and its sale price is a capital gain or loss. Capital gains may be short- or long-term. A short-term capital gain is a gain made on capital assets that are held for a year or less and a long-term gain is a gain on assets held more than one year. Both types of capital gains must be claimed on tax returns that determine an investor’s income tax payment.


It is often wise for investors, especially those with significant assets, to monitor their tax withholding status. If additional withholding is needed to cover the taxes due on investment gains, investors have two possible strategies. One is to set aside a portion of their investment profit and use it to pay quarterly estimated taxes to the IRS. The other is to have more tax withholding taken out of their paychecks with which to pay taxes.


Short-term capital gains are taxed as “ordinary income” (i.e., income other than long-term capital gains, such as salaries) based on an investor’s marginal tax rate which is determined by tax filing status (e.g., single, married filing jointly, etc.) and household taxable income. Long-term capital gains are taxed at a lower capital gains tax rate which is determined by an investor’s marginal tax rate. Long-term capital gains tax rates range from 0% to 20%, depending on an investor’s financial status.


Taxpayers in the 10% and 15% federal marginal tax brackets pay a 0% long-term capital gains (LTCG) tax rate and most taxpayers qualify for the 15% LTCG rate, which covers taxpayers in the wide swath of the 25%, 28%, 33%, and 35% tax brackets. The highest LTCG tax rate is 20%, which is paid by high-earning investors in the highest (39.6% rate) federal income tax bracket. State income tax rates on investment profits vary among states.


Mutual fund investors can also earn taxable capital gains when the funds that they invest in sell securities and realize a profit.  In other words, the gain is realized by a mutual fund itself rather than by individual investors who sell securities profitably. In this situation, investors receive a 1099-DIV form from the fund that lists the amount of the capital gain distribution and the amounts that are classified as short-term and long-term.


If capital losses exceed capital gains, the excess can be deducted on a tax return, and used to reduce other income up to an annual limit of $3,000. If the total net capital loss is more than the yearly limit on capital loss deductions, the unused part can be carried over to the next year. Capital gains and losses are reported on IRS Schedule D and transferred to Line 13 of Form 1040.


Another source of taxable income to investors is dividends. Dividends are a distribution of a portion of a company’s earnings to its shareholders. Dividends are declared by a company’s board of directors and can be made to investors in the form of cash payments or shares of stock. In the case of mutual funds, dividends received by mutual funds from the securities in their portfolio are passed on to fund shareholders.


There are two types of dividends: ordinary (the most common) and qualified. Ordinary dividends are taxed as ordinary income and qualified dividends are generally taxed at LTCG rates (see above description). An exception is dividends received from money market mutual funds. This income is treated as ordinary income. Investors receive a Form 1099-DIV that describes the type and amount of their taxable dividend earnings. Dividends must be reported on tax Schedule B if they exceed $1,500.


Check out our Archived Monthly Investing Messages

Argentine Ants

Wed, 06/28/2017 - 18:06

The Argentine ant, Linepithema humile (Mayr) -- formerly named Iridomyrmex humilis – is one of the more troublesome ants in the United States. Argentine ants are mainly a nuisance to people because they are often found indoors, forming wide, noticeable lines or trails of ants into homes.  Argentine ants are one of several home-invading ants collectively known as "sugar ants" because they readily feed on sugary foods.

Argentine ants do not sting.  They probably arrived in Louisiana in the 1870`s on coffee ships  from Brazil. They rapidly spread throughout the United States. Entomologists have been trying to control these ants since the early 1900`s. Argentine ants avoid the cold winters by inhabiting heated buildings or by congregating in warm areas such as compost piles.

Argentine ants are 2-3 mm in length and black to brown in color, have a one node petiole, and lack large erect setae on the mesosoma.  Argentine ant workers are all about the same size (monomorphic, see image left), in contrast to fire ants, where workers can be different sizes (polymorphic). Workers emit a faint musty odor when crushed.  

Colonies are large and can contain many queens. Nests can be identified by the presence of brood. Brood are the egg. larval and pupal stages of the ant. Brood are cream colored to white and immobile, so workers ants must carry them when they need to be moved.

Control of Argentine Ants Argentine ants are difficult to control for the following reasons.
  • All ants are holometabolous (complete metamorphosis),  having an egg, larval, pupal, and adult stage. Foraging adult ants are only a fraction of the total colony.
  • Broadcast spraying insecticide around the perimeter of the house targets only the foraging adult ants in the colony. Control will be temporary since the colony will simply send out more foraging ants when others are killed.
  • The colony supports many queens if ant populations are large. If a broadcast spray around the house is the primary method of control, the Argentine ant workers and queens will scatter. When the ants scatter in sufficient numbers, new colonies can be formed. The one main colony can split into several smaller ones, all of which have the potential to grow. Thus, broadcast spraying alone can potentially make the problem worse.
  • Unlike some ant species, Argentine ants from different colonies do not fight. Therefore, their spread is less limited because they are not territorial.
  • Even with their large colony size they are quite mobile and can move from one area to another quickly. A broadcast spray may temporarily alleviate an Argentine ant infestation. But there is a good possibility that the ants will simply move to another area until the chemical breaks down. After the chemical breaks down, the ants will return because they are constantly scouting and foraging for food, water, and nesting sites.
  • Heavy mulch against the walls of houses creates pockets of moisture that these ants need.
  • Potted plants are a favorite nesting site. Moving infested pots into the house can create an indoor infestation.

These characteristics combine to create a pest control nightmare.  Argentine ant control is an ongoing effort. Due to the large size of the colonies and their rapid mobility, even if one colony is eliminated, another will move into the area over time.

IPM Control Program

An Integrated Pest Management (IPM) approach offers a greater chance for control of the Argentine ant, An IPM approach incorporates all available control methods into a pest management program.  Methods include identification, inspection, sanitation, exclusion, and chemical strategies.


For maximum control make sure you properly identify the ant pest. Different ants have different food preferences and different behaviors that will directly impact the efficiency of control measures.

Collection  Tip — One way to collect ants for identification is to place a dab of honey or sugar water  in the center of an index card. Place the index card where ants are seen. Allow ants to recruit to the sugar source. Put ants on the index card into a plastic bag, then place the bag in the freezer. The cold temperatures will slow the ants down or kill them. When they are immobilized, the ants can be easily tapped into a small vial of alcohol and submitted for identification.


Find the source of the ants. Place bait or granules where the ants are foraging or nesting. Generally, Argentine ant trails will be conspicuous (Figure1). If trails are not obvious, placing an index card with a dab of honey or sugar water where ants have been seen may help locate established trails as ants recruit to the sugar source. In general, treatments are more effective if they are placed where ants are found.


Remove excess leaf litter, decomposing wood, yard debris, and other material along the perimeter of a building that provide harborage and can serve as ant nesting sites.

Eliminate sources of moisture (such as leaky faucets, plumbing, and free-standing water) and food because these ants are scavengers.

Clean windows of dead insects. These ants will feed on dead insects.

Remove the food source if ants are trailing to food. With a mild detergent, wipe ant trails after food is removed to erase the trail pheromone. The trail pheromone is a special chemical that foraging ants lay down to guide other foraging ants to food or to a new nesting place.

Spray the ants with soapy water from a spray bottle. This will often temporarily halt ant problems if insecticide use is of concern around  food or other sensitive areas. Soap breaks the surface tension of the water, making it easier for ants to drown.

Check potted plants for ants before bringing the plants indoors. One way to check for ants is to water the soil thoroughly to force ants out of the soil.

Physical Exclusion

Caulk cracks and crevices in the house.

Keep branches from coming in contact with your house (ants will walk on them into the house).


Apply chemicals judiciously. Precision spot treatments at points of entry into the house such as around window sills and door thresholds may be effective. Broadcast spraying for these ants is unwise. Insecticides are often repellent to ants. Ants will not feed on a bait that is placed in the vicinity of a repellent insecticide application.

Bait stations designed for outdoor and indoor use have been reported to be effective in killing these ants. Look for products with delayed toxicants such as hydramethylnon, abamectin, fipronil, or indoxacarb. The toxicant must be slow-acting to allow the ants to feed the bait to the rest of the colony.  Other active ingredients may be available.  Make sure the label (the instructions and information that come with the bait stations) states the product is a bait to be used for Argentine ant control.

1% boric acid in a 10% sugar solution is a homemade remedy for many sweet-loving ants such as the Argentine ant. There are several disadvantages to this bait. First, it is very slow-acting.  Second, because the colonies are so large, they must be given a constant supply, which means the homeowner would have to repeatedly check on the bait. Even then, control is not guaranteed. The only advantage is that this bait is inexpensive.

Characteristics of the Ideal Ant Bait
  • Slow-Acting Toxicant
  • Non-Repellent Toxicant
  • Preferred Food Source

Baits work because they exploit the ants’ behavior of sharing food and nutrients with other ants.

Passing nutrients from one ant to another is called trophallaxis. If food contains a slow-acting toxicant and the ant does not detect it, the toxicant is passed throughout the colony by trophallaxis, before killing its members, including the queen.

Ant baits work only if the ants eat the bait. Eliminate any alternate food sources by keeping counters clean and storing food in sealed containers.

Professional Pest Control

Good pest control operators have the training, equipment, and materials necessary to perform ant control safely and effectively. You may prefer to have all of your pest control done by a professional because effective pest management requires extensive knowledge of IPM tactics.

If you do contract the services of a pest control operator, ask questions about the plan to control your pest problems and get estimates from at least three reputable firms before choosing one.

This  publication  was  originally prepared  by  Faith M  Oi and David  H  Oi, as Alabama Cooperative Extension System Circular ANR-0999.

For More Information

More information on managing ant pests can be found at Integrated Pest Management for Ants.

Argentine Ants, University of Georgia

Argentine Ant, in Ants of the Southeastern United States, Mississippi State University

Tools for Building a Successful Summer Meals Program

Wed, 06/28/2017 - 16:23

During the summer months, many schools, community centers, public libraries, and childcare providers offer free meals to children as part of the federally-funded Summer Food Service Program. Also known as the Summer Meals Program, the Summer Food Service Program provides free meals to youth age 18 and under in low-income areas. Participation in the Summer Food Service Program is free and there are no enrollment requirements. The USDA estimates that in the summer of 2017, over 200 million meals will be served through the Summer Meals Program to ensure that no child goes hungry(1).

If you offer summer meals at your program site, there are many resources available to help increase participation all summer long. These resources include fun activities and nutrition education ideas to motivate families and youth to choose more fruits and vegetables and make positive behavior choices to support health and well-being.

Select the links below to visit the Summer Meals Toolkit from FSNE, Maryland’s SNAP-Ed program

Fruits and Vegetables: Make eating more fruits and vegetables fun!

Farm to Summer: Promote local agriculture and explore where we get our food.

Increase Participation: Build site capacity with inviting activities that make summer nutrition fun.

Tips from the USDA for offering healthy summer meals that kids will enjoy

Why We Serve Summer Meals (video from the USDA)

Getting Teens Involved in Summer Meals (video from the USDA)

For more ideas, visit the USDA’s Summer Food, Summer Moves website.


Joi Vogin, MS, CNS, LDN, University of Maryland Extension

  1. USDA, FNS: Summer Service Program www.fns.usda.gov/sfsp/summer-food-service-program

“Summer Feeding” by U.S Department of Agriculture is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Fire Ants: Instructional Videos

Thu, 06/22/2017 - 19:44

Watch videos to see how fire ants bite and sting, forage for food, care for their young, and take care of the queen. Learn how to identify fire ants and their swarms. You can also see videos on how to properly treat your property to control fire ants.

Fire Ant Control (Management)

Learn first hand how to manage and control fire ants by viewing these instructional videos.


Fire Ant Biology

Learn what it is like to live in a fire ant colony.

Hormigas bravas: Videos de instrucción

Control Fácil de las Hormigas Bravas

Biological Control of Fire Ants

Video Clips on Fire Ants from eXtension and Other Sources

The following clips show how fire ants behave or demonstrate concepts and procedures associated with controlling fire ants. They were filmed with the input of fire ant scientists for use in educational programming. Most of them are silent videos.

Biting/Stinging Foraging and Bait Applications Individual Mound Treatments Biology and Identification Mating Flight/Movement



What do fire ants eat?

Thu, 06/22/2017 - 15:19

Imported fire ants are omnivores.  They eat both plants and animals to satisfy their nutritional needs.  Their menu includes carbohydrates (sugars), lipids (fats), and protein. Worker ants cannot ingest solid food particles (greater than 2 microns, 1 micron = 0.000039 of an inch), so they primarily feed on liquids. Only the last developmental stage of the fire ant larva (fourth instar) can convert solid food particles into a liquid that is then fed to other colony members.

How Do Fire Ants Find Food?

To search for food, foraging worker ants leave the nest or mound and wander randomly. Upon discovery of a food source, they head straight back to the colony, using their stingers to periodically mark the ground and leave a chemical pheromone trail (watch video). When they reach their colony or colony "outpost" (the end of a subterranean tunnel radiating away from the colony where forager ant "reserves” congregate), additional worker ants follow the pheromone trail to the newly found food source.  Those ants retrieve the food and return to the colony, also marking the pheromone trail laid down by the first group of ants. In a short period, many more ants follow the foraging trail, quickly arriving at the source and dominating the site to protect it from competitors.

Fire ant foragers are very effective predators. They have strong jaws or mandibles that bite and secure prey. Venomous stingers on the end of their abdomen can sting multiple times while injecting a toxic venom into prey. This enables fire ants to paralyze and kill animals much larger than they are. Once they immobilize their prey, the fire ants carry it back to the colony.  If the prey is large, the fire ants dismantle it into small, transportable pieces.  Fire ants will also eat other insects (like fly larvae) that feed on decomposing bodies (carrion). By eating the fly larvae, the ants can delay decomposition and dominate the food source.

Food Preferences

Fire ant food preferences include a smorgasbord of plants, microscopic organismsinvertebrates (including arthropods), and  vertebrates (reptiles, birds, mammals).  Fire ant workers have been known to wander into dirty laundry, probably attracted to the sugars and/or oils that are soaked into clothing. In companion animal and wildlife areas, fire ant control may be required to reduce losses.

In some cases, other pests are prey for fire ants. This food-seeking behavior is considered to beneficial. Fire ants are known to prey on ticks and boll weevils. In other instances, the predatory behavior is can be a serious threat – as when fire ants go after songbirds or endangered or threatened species. In areas of fire ant infestation in the southern U.S., fire ants may be the most dominant predatory insect in the environment. Infestation of new areas, or removal of these exotic invasive fire ant species by any means, will undoubtedly have a profound effect of the flora (plant life) and fauna (animal life).

Fire ants, like many other ants, will feed on other food substances like the sweet liquid produced by special plant glands called nectaries; and also on the honeydew produced by sucking insects like aphids, whiteflies, scale insects, and mealybugs (see below). Fire ants tend the insects producing the honeydew by providing them protection from natural enemies (parasites and predators).  They also and eliminate diseased or unhealthy individuals, which allows the insects  to grow and flourish.  This can aggravate the problem caused by the insects in the first place and can result in over-use of pesticides in an attempt to control them.   Ant control is often part of the effort for managing sucking insect pests.

One of the best tools used to detect and monitor fire ants and other ant species is the use of slices of hot dogs as a food lure. Research on foods that attract foraging fire ant workers has led to development of effective granular bait products. Conventional fire ant bait formulations are made of processed defatted corn grit impregnated with soybean oil.  The soybean oil contains the active ingredient, or toxicant that kills the ant.  Fire ants feed on the oil and ingest the toxicant.

In the southern United States, the invasive imported fire ant, Solenopsis invicta, feeds on honeydew from grass-feeding mealybugs. Most important appears to be Antinina graminis, the Rhodesgrass mealybug. Researchers found more mealybugs closer to S. invicta mounds suggesting that mealybugs benefit as well. Mutual benefits derived by S. invicta and A. graminis are consistent with the hypothesis that associations among invasive species can be important in their success at introduced locations (from Helms, K. R. and S. B. Vinson. 2003. "Apparent facilitation of an invasive mealybug by an invasive ant". Insectes Sociaux 50:403-404).


Imported fire ants can affect many parts of a plant. They cause economic losses to agricultural crops such as corn, sorghum and soybeans by feeding on germinating seeds, killing young corn by tunneling into the bases of young plant stalks, tunneling into potato tubers, and consuming developing okra and citrus fruit. In newly planted citrus plantations in Florida, worker ants in mounds around the base of young tree trunks can remove bark, causing girdling and killing the trees. Fire ants collect certain seeds while foraging. In some cases the seeds are eaten. In other cases (e.g., horse mint ) they do not consume the seed's embryo, but rather scatter the seeds around their mounds.  This results in dispersal across the landscape, which could affect plant species distribution and abundance.



Fire ants eat the oil-containing embryo portion of corn (top left) and sorghum (top right) seeds causing plant stand losses during dry spring conditions (photos by B. M. Drees); fire ant damage to young corn stalk, bottom left (photo by J. W. Stewart); fire ants feeding on developing okra (photo by B. M. Drees).


Scorpions and spiders: Red imported fire ant can prey on scorpions if they cannot escape attack. They can also feed on spider eggs laid in egg cases.


See animated GIF of fire ants preying on a scorpion, left (images by B. M. Drees). See larger image of fire ants preying on spider eggs in egg cases, right (photo by B. M. Drees).

Ticks and chiggers: Evidence has shown that Imported fire ants reduce populations of certain tick species by preying on engorged female ticks filled with blood and eggs or small hatching ticks. Non-engorged ticks freeze in place and "play possum" when examined by a foraging ant, thus escaping their fate as ant food! Fire ants also prey on chiggers, reducing their populations.


Imported fire ant preying on engorged adult female tick (left), and examining a  non-engorged tick (right).

Insects:  Fire ants prey on many different life stages of various insects including flea larvae and cockroach eggs.  This helps reduce populations of these pests. They would readily eat termites, but the soldier caste in termite colonies defends the colony while the worker termites seal any holes in the colony walls made of carton, a mixture of chewed food and saliva (see a YouTube video of fire ants fighting a soldier termite). However, many animals rely on insects as a food source, including many birds such as young quail and prairie chickens, which feed on insects before they begin feeding on grains. When fire ants consume food such as grasshoppers, they may indirectly affect the health and survival of these species. Fire ants also directly attack weakened honey bee colonies and may need to be managed to prevent losses. Imported fire ants attack other ant species and raid their colonies, but not necessarily as a food source (see video of red imported fire ants fighting a tropical fire ant, Solenopsis geminata). These exotic invasive fire ant species have displaced native fire ant species as they expanded their geographic range. Fire ants also eat dead insects.  This research has led to one ant bait product that is produced from ground up silkworm pupae!


See larger image and close-up of fire ants preying on grasshoppers hatching from underground egg pod (photos by N. Troxclair). See larger image and close-up of fire ants attacking an adult differential grasshopper (photos by A. Calixto).

Caterpillars and other insects: Imported fire ants prey on all stages of developing butterflies and moths: eggs, caterpillars, pupae and adults (when they can catch them!). Some of these caterpillars are serious agricultural pests of cotton and sugarcane and therefore the ant's activities are beneficial, providing biological control. However, when fire ants prey on butterfly caterpillars, their activities are considered to be a problem (See Fire Ant Project Fact Sheet, Managing Fire Ants in Texas Schoolyards and Butterfly Gardens).



Fire ants preying on bollworm egg (top left), bollworm caterpillars (top and bottom right photographs by W. Sterling) and sugarcane borer (bottom right)(photograph by D. Pollet).

Green lacewing eggs: One organism commonly used for biological control of aphids, mealybugs and other pests is the predaceous green lacewing larva, often called an aphid lion. Companies selling this biological control agent can provide winged adults, larvae1, or eggs2 glued onto cards. The cards can be placed around plants to control pests.  If imported fire ants are present, they will consume all of the eggs glued to the cards (see image below where the left one side was shielded from ant predation using a microscope slide). Thus, fire ant control may be necessary to achieve successful biological control using this natural enemy.
1 the predaceous feeding stage with sickle-like mouthparts that pinch prey and suck out the haemolymph or insect blood of the prey
2 normally laid on stalks which helps prevent cannibalism by hatching larvae


Green lacewing life stages, left (adult, bottom left; eggs, top center and larva or aphid lion, bottom right (photo montage by B. M. Drees); Green lacewing eggs removed by imported fire ants on unprotected (right) side of egg card used to release this biological control agent (photo by B. M. Drees).


Reptiles and amphibians: Reportedly, fire ants will attack all stages of development of snakes, lizards, turtles and crocodiles.  These animals are most vulnerable during and shortly after hatching. Red imported fire ants are thought to have dramatically reduced population levels of the Texas horned lizard either through direct predation of hatching lizards or eliminating the lizard's major food source - the red harvester ant. Alternately, insecticides used to treat for fire ants may have eliminated the red harvester ants. Other factors, such as elimination of horned lizard habitat by land use (subdividing ecosystems into smaller parcels of land with multiple uses), cultivation, urbanization and introduced predators (cats and dogs) are other possible factors in the declining horned lizard population levels (in east Texas and elsewhere).


Texas horned lizard with radio transmitter glued to its back (photo by B. M. Drees). See videos of Texas horned lizard feeding on a red harvester ant.

Birds: Birds, particularly those nesting on or near the ground, are vulnerable to fire ant predation. In some cases, such as colonial waterbirds, ants directly prey on hatching eggs. Fire ants have reduced the overall survival of nestling songbirds in Texas. When a chick first punctures the egg shell as it starts to hatch, yolk from the egg attracts foraging worker ants.  The worker ants quickly alert other ants to the food source. Soon, fire ants overrun the nest and sting the chick to death.

In other species, such as quail and prairie chickens, fire ant stings to young birds seems to be more of a factor than egg predation. Stinging debilitates the young birds to the point that they cannot keep up with the mother bird, thus reducing the young bird's chance for survival. Finally, fire ants can prey upon the insects young birds depend on for food, as described above. Chickens in poultry operations can be affected by fire ant predation. Those that survive may have blemishes on their skin from fire ant stings that reduce their market value. Thus, fire ants are frequently controlled around these operations.


Tricolor heron chick being attacked by imported fire ants (photo by B.M. Drees). See video (Warning: graphic subject matter) of fire ant attack (video by J. Summerlin ).

Mammals: Rodents, particularly those that nest in one place (rather than moving nests frequently when disturbed) may be particularly vulnerable to imported fire ant predation. Foraging ants recruit to moisture and softer tissues of newly born animals and bite and sting them multiple times. Reduction in rodent numbers may indirectly affect other animals that rely on rodents as a food source, including raptors (e.g., hawks, owls) and other predators (e.g., bobcats).

Deer fawns born near fire ant mounds, particularly during warmer months of the year, are vulnerable to fire ant attack because they instinctively hide and remain still while the mother forages for food. Ants sting their eyes, causing blindness and dramatically reducing chances of survival. Although heartbreaking, deer population levels continue to increase in many areas where fire ants occur.

In cattle operations, imported fire ants injure or kill newborn calves by stinging soft moist tissues including the eyes. Calves that have been attacked by fire ants will lick ants from their skin.  This is the reason many ants are found in their digestive systems at necropsy. This is just one of the costs of imported fire ants to cattle producers, according to a 1994 survey of Texas veterinarians.



Fawn with fire ant sting scars on head, top left (photo by B. M. Drees); Calf eyeball showing fire ant stings on pupil, top right (photo by J. Joyce); Rumen content from calf that suffered fire ant anaphylaxis, bottom left (photo by C. Barr).

Carrion: Fire ant workers are often found feeding on dead animals (carrion). Whether or not the fire ants killed the animal cannot often be determined confidently.  Images of a dead newborn rabbit illustrate how imported fire ants exploit this food resource over time (photos by B. M. Drees).


             Click here for larger images.

Related Literature Cited

Lofgren, C. S. 1986. The economic importance and control of the imported fire ant in the United States in The Economic Impact and Control of Social Insects (S. B. Vinson, ed.). Praeger Press, N.Y.

Tschinkel, W. R. 2006. The Fire Ants. The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 723 pages.

Starting from Scratch – Let’s Get Cooking School Meals

Wed, 06/21/2017 - 15:32

Webinar on June 28th, 2017 at 3pm: https://learn.extension.org/events/3121

When progressing to a scratch production model in your school kitchens, making small but manageable changes is the name of the game. Join Shellie Kark, Chef Consultant with LiveWell Colorado’s School Food Initiative, for an informative webinar on getting started with scratch cooking, tips & tricks for planning ahead, and marketing the new menu items. Let us assist in making this fresh transition as smooth as possible for the entire Food & Nutrition Services Department. 


PDF of Presentation Slides (forthcoming) 


The Use of Runoff Risk Advisory Tools for Water Quality Protection

Tue, 06/20/2017 - 20:30

This webinar presents four different current runoff advisory tools: the Runoff Risk Advisory Forecast (WI), Application Risk Management System (WA), Fertilizer Forecaster (PA), and the Saturated Area Forecast Tool (VA). This presentation was originally broadcast on June 16, 2017. More...

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The Use of Runoff Risk Advisory Tools for Water Quality Protection

Nichole Embertson, Whatcom Conservation District and Washington State University (16 minutes)

Presentation Slides
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Runoff Risk: A Multi‐Partner Decision Support Tool to Mitigate Environmental Impacts of Nutrient Applications

Steve Buan, National Weather Service (12 minutes)

Presentation Slides
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The Fertilizer Forecaster: guiding short‐term decisions in nutrient management

Anthony Buda, USDA-ARS - Pasture Systems and Watershed Management Research Unit (16 minutes)

Presentation Slides
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Coupling Short‐Term Weather Forecasts with Distributed Watershed Models to Predict the Extent and Timing of Saturated Areas (Right Time and Right Place)

Zachary Easton, Virginia Tech University (15 minutes)

Presentation Slides
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Questions and Answers

All Presenters (7 minutes)

Download a Copy of this segment (42.6 MB)
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Additional Information Continuing Education Units

Certified Crop Advisers (CCA, CPAg, or CPSS)

View the archive and take the quiz (not available yet). Visit the CCA continuing education page for additional CEU opportunities.

American Registry of Professional Animal Scientists (ARPAS)

View the archive and report your attendance to ARPAS via their website. Visit the ARPAS continuing education page for additional CEU opportunities.

Research Summary: How Bioenergy Experts Can Improve Public Engagement

Fri, 06/16/2017 - 16:19

By including landowners in conversations about bioenergy crops such as switchgrass, willow and Miscanthus, experts are more likely to promote adoption than by just providing new information.

Sponsoring Partner

Funded by AFRI. Learn More.

Table of Contents Introduction

Current efforts to engage landowners on the topic of dedicated energy crops may fall short due to a crucial assumption made by scientific and policy experts about what causes changes to human behavior. By providing opportunities for dialogue between groups with different viewpoints, however, those experts may be able to encourage support and adoption of crops such as switchgrass, Miscanthus, and shrub willow.

Research Purpose

NEWBio researchers Weston Eaton, Morey Burnham, Clare Hinrichs, and Theresa Selfa wanted to know if the way bioenergy experts think about landowner behavior might affect their outreach to those landowners, and how both groups could better understand each other's viewpoints on bioenergy crops and their adoption.

Research Activities

/*-->*/ The researchers interviewed plant scientists, policy specialists, government employees, and other bioenergy experts in the Northeast United States and analyzed the results. They wanted to learn how these experts think about or conceptualize landowner behavior and how that perspective influences the way these experts design and practice landowner engagement and outreach.

What We Have Learned

The bioenergy experts in the study viewed landowners as unaware of or misinformed about dedicated energy crops, a perspective that is termed the “knowledge deficit” model in the literature on public engagement. According to this model, it is assumed that landowners’ misunderstanding of, or lack of awareness for bioenergy crops is a major hurdle to the successful development of a bioenergy economy in the Northeast and one that can be overcome through the provision of facts.

One respondent in the study, for example, said that landowners “tend to have very emotional, knee-jerk, non-science based reactions…”. Another responded, “[Landowners] have no real sense of…whether or not wood or grass is better than oil or natural gas…I think people just make assumptions and don't really understand truly what the differences are.”

In adopting this perspective, bioenergy experts often design their engagement approaches to try to fill perceived knowledge deficits of landowners with what experts view as the 'correct' information on energy crops. For example, ‘fact sheets’ suggest there is one correct understanding for particular energy crops and that through conveying this information, ‘incorrect’ understandings can be overcome. Importantly, engagement activities that intend to overcome misunderstanding with fact, or fill knowledge gaps with information, are premised on the assumption that providing correct information causes landowners to change their behavior regarding adoption and support of energy crops.

However, the effectiveness of this approach in changing human behavior is limited. While facts sheets do, of course, provide information, in focusing solely on scientific perspectives they exclude any alternative understandings landowners may have for dedicated energy crops specifically, or for managing their land more generally. In effect, when new information sources fail to recognize the existence or value of current ways of understanding the world, people may feel left out of the conversation. This can lead to negative rather than positive responses to new information. So, while fact sheets may in fact provide correct scientific information, information provision alone is likely insufficient for promoting support and adoption of energy crops among Northeastern landowners. 

Why This is Important

What alternative approaches might experts take to better partner with Northeast landowners to realize some of the potential economic and environmental benefits of dedicated energy crops? Drawing from the literature on public understanding of science, the researchers suggest that humans do not change their behavior through reviewing new information alone. Instead, humans also change their behavior when groups with different forms of knowledge and experience engage in productive dialogue about the views and interests of all parties (see Figure 1).

Fig 1. A productive dialogue. Graphic: Dr. Weston Eaton.

Through dialogic processes, which are premised on mutual respect for experiences and perspectives that at times contrast, new understandings for energy crops can be developed by all parties, experts and public groups alike. The researchers suggest that this dialogic approach can indeed change human behavior—although what that change looks like will depend on the outcome of the dialogue between experts and public groups. 

For More Information
  • Eaton, Weston M., Morey Burnham, Clare Hinrichs, and Theresa Selfa. 2017. “Bioenergy Experts and Their Imagined “Obligatory Publics” in the United States: Implications for Public Engagement and Participation.” Energy Research & Social Science 25:65-75.
  • Busch, Lawrence. 1978. “On understanding understanding: two views of communication.” Rural Sociology 43(3):450–473.
  • Wynne, Brian, 1992. “Misunderstood misunderstanding: social identities and public uptake of science.” Public Understanding of Science 1(3):281–304.
Contributors to this Research Summary Authors
  • Dr. Weston M. Eaton, Postdoctoral Research Associate, Agricultural Economics, Sociology, and Education, The Pennsylvania State University

Peer Reviewer
  • Dr. Theodore Alter, Professor of Agricultural, Environmental and Regional Economics; Co-Director, Center for Economic and Community Development, The Pennsylvania State University


The Northeast Woody/Warm-season Biomass Consortium - NEWBio is supported by the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative. This material is based upon work that is supported by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, U.S. Department of Agriculture, under award number 2012-68005-19703.

Led by Penn State University, NEWBio includes partners from Cornell University, SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry, West Virginia University, Delaware State University, Ohio State University, Rutgers University, USDA’s Eastern Regional Research Center, and DOE’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory and Idaho National Laboratory.

Grow This, Eat That! Youth Learning Healthy Living through Gardening and Culinary Programs

Fri, 06/16/2017 - 12:57

University of Florida, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, Brevard County Extension and Family Nutrition Program along with Brevard County Public Schools, Afterschool Program, 21st Learning Centers, have partnered to offer youth an opportunity to grow their own food and learn how to prepare healthy snacks.  The program is offered to schools throughout the county and allows youth to learn STEM in the garden and bring those concepts to the kitchen through culinary lessons.  Youth enjoy what they learn and what they eat too!


Elizabeth Shephard, University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences

Vanessa Spero-Swingle, University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences


Research Summary: Socio-cultural Factors Shape Landowner Support and Willingness to Adopt Bioenergy Crops

Fri, 06/16/2017 - 03:14

Socio-cultural meanings that landowners give to their land, community, and bioenergy technologies are important in determining whether landowners will participate in renewable energy technology development.

Sponsoring Partner

Funded by AFRI. Learn More.

Table of Contents



Research by NEWBio scientists breaks new ground in how the meanings landowners and farmers attribute to their land, community, and bioenergy technologies influence their willingness to adopt dedicated energy crops and to support the development of a bioenergy industry in their communities. 


The successful development of a sustainable and profitable bioeconomy in places like the Northeast United States will require the widespread adoption of dedicated energy crops such as switchgrass, shrub willow, and Miscanthus. However, adoption and support for dedicated energy crops by landowners and farmers is complex, and our scientific understanding of these processes is underdeveloped.

Research Purpose

Recent research suggests that while economic considerations remain important, on their own they are inadequate to explain how landowners make decisions about energy crops. To do that, we need to better understand the social and cultural components of landowners’ decision-making processes.

Research Activities

In their study, NEWBio researchers Weston M. Eaton, Morey Burnham, Clare Hinrichs, Theresa Selfa, and Sheng Yang surveyed 907 landowners in the Northeast United States to investigate how cultural meanings influenced their support for local bioenergy development and their willingness to grow energy crops on their land. The literature on social responses to the development of renewable energy technology shows that people draw on their cultural understandings to construct diverse and often contrasting meanings for both the places they live and the technologies proposed for local development. For instance, for some landowners, their land may represent a resource for making a living, while others see their land as fragile and in need of protection. For some, technologies like bioenergy crops are seen as in harmony with nature, whereas others see these technologies as uncertain and imposing new risk.

What We Have Learned

People defined as "technology progressives" often respond better to traditional outreach approaches such as field days and demonstration sites than do those defined as "technology skeptics." Photo credit: NEWBio.

The researchers analyzed factors underlying the place-based meanings respondents attributed to their land, community, and bioenergy technologies. Specifically, their survey asked respondents to indicate their level of agreement with ten statements, including “bioenergy crop production conflicts with natural processes” and “bioenergy crop production would provide benefits to my community.” A factor analysis of responses to these ten statements suggested two underlying categories that the researchers termed “technology progressives” and “technology skeptics.”

Specifically, the research found strong, statistically significant correlations between landowners described as technology progressives, those described as technology skeptics, and the study’s two outcome variables. The key finding is that technology progressives, or those who viewed bioenergy crop technologies as innovative and in harmony with nature, were more likely to support local bioenergy development and more likely to be willing to adopt these technologies on their land. However, technology skeptics, or those who indicated bioenergy crop technologies were risky and in conflict with natural processes, were less likely to support local development and less likely to be willing to adopt them on their land. 

Why This is Important

The widespread adoption of bioenergy crops by farmers and other landowners could provide biomass feedstocks for a burgeoning bioenergy industry in the Northeast. Moreover, when adopted on the landscape, bioenergy crops can improve damaged soils and protect and enhance water and air quality. However, the realization of these economic and ecological benefits is premised on landowners deciding to adopt bioenergy crops on the land they manage and own.

Our research findings show that technology progressives and technology skeptics view and make decisions about adopting bioenergy crops very differently. Traditional outreach approaches, such as fact sheets and demonstration sites, are premised on the one-way communication of facts from experts to the public. Such approaches may be sufficient for communicating bioenergy crop opportunities to landowners or other stakeholders with technology-progressive stances, as such individuals already view bioenergy crops in a positive light and are therefore more likely to be open to considering information in such formats.

However, if bioenergy development is to be successful, and economic and ecological benefits are to be obtained, bioenergy crop adoption will need to be widespread. This means adoption cannot be limited to landowners with “technology progressive” leanings—“technology skeptics” will also need to adopt bioenergy crops.

But, as the literature on public engagement suggests, traditional one-way communication outreach approaches will likely be insufficient or misdirected for engaging landowners with technology-skeptic leanings. To engage successfully with this latter group, promoters should instead use dialogue-based approaches premised on two-way communication, meaning both parties contribute to the defining of problems and solutions. For example, in a two-way communication, dialogue-based approach, experts and others who hold a range of views on bioenergy crops would share their views on and experiences with bioenergy crops, consider contrasting views, and weigh the views of others against their own understandings. In this dialogue-based fashion, “skeptics” and experts could work together to identify what opportunities may exist for a bioenergy future that is seen as desirable and beneficial for all parties.

See eXtension summary “Bioenergy experts and engagement” for further discussion of engagement with landowners. 

For More Information
  • Weston M. Eaton, Morey Burnham, Clare Hinrichs, Theresa Selfa, & Sheng Yang. “Socio-cultural factors shaping landowner support for and willingness to plant bioenergy crops.” Under Review.
  • Eaton, Weston M., Morey Burnham, Clare Hinrichs, and Theresa Selfa. 2017. “Bioenergy Experts and Their Imagined “Obligatory Publics” in the United States: Implications for Public Engagement and Participation.” Energy Research & Social Science 25:65-75.
  • Eaton, Weston M. and Wynne Wright. 2015 “Hurdles to Engaging Publics around Science and Technology." Michigan Sociological Review 29:48-74
  • Eaton, Weston M. 2016. “What's the Problem? How ‘Industrial Culture’ Shapes Community Responses to Proposed Bioenergy Development in Northern Michigan, USA.” Journal of Rural Studies 45:76-87
Contributors to this Research Summary Authors
  • /*-->*/

    Dr. Weston M. Eaton, Postdoctoral Research Associate, Agricultural Economics, Sociology, and Education, The Pennsylvania State University

Peer Reviewer
  • Dr. Theodore Alter, Professor of Agricultural, Environmental and Regional Economics; Co-Director, Center for Economic and Community Development, The Pennsylvania State University
  • Dr. Wynne Wright, College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Michigan State University

The Northeast Woody/Warm-season Biomass Consortium - NEWBio is supported by the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative. This material is based upon work that is supported by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, U.S. Department of Agriculture, under award number 2012-68005-19703.

Led by Penn State University, NEWBio includes partners from Cornell University, SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry, West Virginia University, Delaware State University, Ohio State University, Rutgers University, USDA’s Eastern Regional Research Center, and DOE’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory and Idaho National Laboratory.

Using Augmented Reality to Enhance Presentations, Publications, and Virtua Tours

Thu, 06/15/2017 - 19:34
Proceedings Home W2W Home  Purpose

This mini-workshop will highlight tools and techniques for revving up posters, publications, or demonstrations through augmented reality (AR). AR is different from virtual reality in that it is not immersive, but rather, adds a layer to the physical world. We will explore how to create interactive print (posters, publications), enhance web publications (3D), and look at possibilities for virtual tours (Introduce an app and some examples, including Extension-produced ones).

Finally, we will walk through the steps to add AR to a print publication. Prior to this workshop, if possible, download the free Aurasma app and follow the LPELC channel (all uppercase - important).

Some apps highlighted in this workshop:

  • Aurasma - there is a free version, not as full-featured as Layar
  • Guidigo - virtual tours, can create tours that function without Internet, educators can create 2 free but they have worked with educators to do more
  • Sketchfab - 3D, universal
  • Google Translate/Word Lens
  • Layar - interactive print, most popular, pay per page created

More apps to explore:

  • Blippar
  • Unity
  • 3D Flashcards
  • Augment - 3D

Jill Heemstra, University of Nebraska

Additional Information

Apple's New Big Thing https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-03-20/apple-s-next-big-thing

[Recorded Webinar] Augmented Reality: A New Tool for Extension https://learn.extension.org/events/2816 (also includes links to 4 blog posts about AR)

[Recorded Webinar] 3-D Virtual Reality Infographic Production https://learn.extension.org/events/2892


Michele Kroll, University of Missouri and Allan Dennis, Oregon State University for some of the examples presented in this workshop.

The authors are solely responsible for the content of these proceedings. The technical information does not necessarily reflect the official position of the sponsoring agencies or institutions represented by planning committee members, and inclusion and distribution herein does not constitute an endorsement of views expressed by the same. Printed materials included herein are not refereed publications. Citations should appear as follows. EXAMPLE: Authors. 2017. Title of presentation. Waste to Worth: Spreading Science and Solutions. Cary, NC. April 18-21, 2017. URL of this page. Accessed on: today’s date.


June 2017 Newsletter Livestock and Poultry Environmental Learning Center

Thu, 06/15/2017 - 14:55

<==Subscribe to the newsletter or browse past issues

Webcast Series Looking Ahead to June: Runoff Risk Advisory Tools for Water Quality Protection 

This webinar will present four different runoff advisory tools: the Runoff Risk Advisory Forecast (WI), Application Risk Management System (WA), Fertilizer Forecaster (PA), and the Saturated Area Forecast Tool (VA). Join us to learn more about how these tools were developed and how they are used to advise farm manure spreading decisions. June 16, 2017 at 1:30 pm CDT (2:30 pm eastern; 12:30 pm mountain; 11:30 am pacific) More...

Add to Calendar: iCal (Outlook) | Google calendar

More on Webcasts...

Animal Agriculture In the U.S. Trends in Production and Manure Management What's Going On In the LPELC?

Water Quality Module. In cooperation with US EPA and all the major animal ag organizations, a new module on animal agriculture and water quality has been published. This six-part module includes virtual tours of different types of animal ag farms, looks at trends in manure management, water quality, stewardship efforts, the Clean Water Act and more. Links to a wide array of resources that go further in-depth on individual topics have been carefully curated throughout the module. Visit the module...

Antibiotic Resistance. A new online fact sheet has been published on "Manure Land Application Strategies to Mitigate Antibiotics and Antibiotics Resistance Genes In the Agricultural Environment". Read the fact sheet... | Related: Check out the "Manure Pathogens and Microbial By-Products" section of the LPELC website.

Waste to Worth.  The recordings are nearly complete. Almost all of the proceedings papers have a video of the presentation embedded. Find the recordings two ways: by conference agenda or by topic

Around the Horns

Water Quality. The latest Chesapeake Bay report card indicates that efforts to improve water quality are working. The Bay received a "C" grade overall with the fisheries grade improving to an "A". Efforts to better manage manure nutrients from animal agriculture are among the actions being taken in the Bay. Read more...

Manure Expo. Today (June 15) is the last day to dust off your crappy puns and submit them to the "top 10 rejected Manure Expo slogans" T-shirt contest. Past entries have included gems such as "the future of what's left behind" and "nobody sticks their nose in our business". Join "the movement" and submit yours! Read more...

Policy and Regulation. Regulation of animals (and plants) that have been genetically altered has been lagging substantially behind the available technology, especially in the area of gene editing. In early 2017, FDA released draft guidance for the animal industry to address this new area of research. Public comments are due June 19, 2017. Read more... | Related: Article on the differences between USDA and FDA in their proposed approaches to genetically altered plants and animals.

Grazing Management. The protein levels of forage in native grasslands appear to be declining. The exact reasons are not known, but if the trend continues it will have implications for carrying capacity, supplemental feed costs, and/or animal performance.  More...

Nutrient Use Efficiency. A recent study evaluated different nitrogen fertilizer sources in a dairy forage rotation on nitrous oxide emissions. Fall and spring-applied manure, compost, urea, and an enhanced urea (with urease and nitrification inhibitors) were evaluated. They found that the timing of manure application did not affect nitrous oxide emissions but the enhanced fertilizer reduced them. Read more... | Abstract...

Nutrient Management

  • The Chesapeake Bay program has released a report on "Manure Treatment Technologies" in which an expert panel looked at different technologies through the lens of water quality goals for the Bay. Read the report... | Related: Waste to Worth presentations on this report and other efforts in the Chesapeake Bay on BMP Effectiveness | Manure Treatment Report | Injection & Incorporation
  • Increasing the distance that manure can be economically transported for land application has potential to improve distribution of nutrients. One way that farmers and manure haulers are doing this is by using frac tanks. Read more...
  • An Iowa project modeled the effect of cover crops on fall manure application. Overall, the use of cover crops as simulated by the model was likely to reduce soil nitrate losses. Read more...

Organic Production. USDA has released a second proposed rule on organic livestock and poultry production. The Final Rule amends the organic livestock and poultry production requirements in the USDA organic regulations. This Final Rule was originally set to take effect on March 20, 2017, and is now being extended to November 14, 2017. Comments will be accepted until June 9, 2017. Read more...

Manure Application. This presentation by a commercial manure applicator provides insight into the amount of planning and effort it takes to do a professional job in applying manure. Read more... | Related: Panel discussion working with commercial manure haulers from Waste to Worth 2017.

Farm Demonstrations. One of the most effective learning opportunities for farmers is the on-farm field day. The Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) project has published a "Farmer Field Day Toolkit" to assist educators in planning and holding field days and demonstrations.

Farmer Stewardship

  • Penn State Extension Specialist Ginny Ishler provides a list of stewardship-related practices dairy farmers can use to protect air and water quality. The list includes practices that have extensive research behind them and she includes an explanation of how each makes sense from a financial or business perspective for farmers as well as an environmental one. Read more...
  • One Wisconsin dairy farm discusses their composting operation and how it helps them get along with neighbors. The farm is located in an area where they have become completely surrounded by businesses, schools, and other neighbors. Read more...
Manure Tweet of the Week

Wisconsin Hosts the 2017 North American #Manure Expo: August 22 & 23 - https://t.co/sW5d3U7uhf

— WCM newsletter (@WisCropMan) June 8, 2017 Events & Announcements

ASAS-CSAS.The American Society of Animal Science and Canadian Society of Animal Science are holding their annual meeting and trade show July 8-12, 2017 in Baltimore, MD. More...

Manure Expo. The next Manure Expo will be held in Arlington, WI on August 22-23, 2017. More...

SARE Conference. The Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program is hosting a once-every-decade conference "Our Farms Our Future: The Next 30 Years of Sustainable Agriculture". April 3-5, 2018 in St. Louis, Missouri. More...

News Droppings

A look at animal agriculture, stewardship, and manure in the news: serious, funny or controversial. We don't endorse this stuff, we just think you should know about it.

Lower natural gas prices are likely to affect farms that operate manure digesters as their power purchase agreements expire. Different programs are looking at ways to incentivize biogas and encourage continued use and development of digesters. Read more...

If you have any questions about this newsletter, please contact Jill Heemstra jheemstra@unl.edu

Overview of the Laws Governing Child Nutrition Programs

Wed, 06/14/2017 - 18:46

Federal child nutrition programs provide nutritious foods to children across the nation. While this may seem like a simple task, complex laws, policies and regulations are in place to guide program operations. The Child Nutrition Reauthorization Act authorizes all federal child nutrition programs to include:

  • School Breakfast Program (SBP)
  • National School Lunch Program (NSLP)
  • Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program (FFVP)
  • Special Milk Program (SMP)
  • Summer Food Service Program (SFSP)
  • Afterschool Snack Program (ASP)
  • Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP)
  • Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC)
  • WIC Farmers Market Nutrition Program

What laws currently govern child nutrition programs?

The current law governing child nutrition programs is the Healthy, Hunger Free Kids Act. This law was signed in 2010. The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) is the federal agency responsible for implementing the law. The USDA provides guidance and policies to states and states work with school food authorities (SFA) on implementation. States provide training, monitoring and guidance to local SFAs.

How are the laws governing child nutrition programs reviewed?

Reauthorization is the process through which Congress reviews and updates the current laws governing these programs. Reauthorization occurs every five years. The Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry is responsible for drafting the Senate’s version of the bill while the Education and Workforce Committee is responsible for drafting the House’s version. Each bill must be passed by their respective legislative body in order to move forward. Once the bill is passed, a small group of legislators known as the Conference Committee merges both versions of the bill into one. The final version is brought before both the Senate and The House of Representatives. Once approved, the final bill is sent to the President for signature. If signed, the bill becomes a law and is implemented nationwide. If vetoed, the bill returns to Congress for either revision or override of the veto.

Why are the laws governing child nutrition programs reviewed?

Updating the laws provides an opportunity to improve and strengthen programs. This process allows for changes based on the most current nutrition research. When the laws were updated in 2010, the nutrition standards for school meals were aligned with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. The Dietary Guidelines are updated every five years based on the most current research and provide recommendations for Americans on healthful eating. Implementing nutrition policy nationwide is challenging, and reauthorization provides the opportunity to assess implementation and revise policy as needed.     

When will the current laws be updated?

Congress was scheduled to reauthorize the Healthy, Hunger Free Kids Act in 2016. The Senate and House each proposed reauthorization bills in 2016, but neither of these became law. The current administration is busy working on health care and tax reform, and as a result, it is unlikely that reauthorization of child nutrition programs will occur soon. In the meantime, program will still operate under the current law, the Healthy, Hunger Free Kids Act.

Federal child nutrition programs provide millions of meals every year to children. It is important these laws are reviewed and updated to ensure policies align with the most current nutrition research and meet the needs of program operators. To have your voice heard in the process, contact your U.S. senators and congressional representatives.  


Abigail Galyon, Cornell University  

Amanda Mercer, Colorado Department of Education Office of School Nutrition 


Colorado Department of Education - Child Nutrition Reauthorization

FRAC Child Nutrition Reauthorization

The Path to a New Child Nutrition Act

Contact Federal Elected Officials

“A girl eating an apple on the Procuring Local Foods for Child Nutrition Programs poster” by U.S. Department of Agriculture is licensed under CC BY 2.0


Video: Scouting Vegetable Crops: An Introduction for Farmers

Tue, 06/13/2017 - 16:06

eOrganic author:

Carmen Blubaugh, Washington State University

This eOrganic video on scouting vegetable crops was created by members of a project of the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative (NIFA OREI) entitled Biodiversity and Natural Pest Suppression (BAN-PestS). 

Video Transcript Introduction

What was the last crop you lost to a pest? When did you realize you had a problem? Many times we don’t know there is a problem until we are up close and personal with a crop. All too often that is at harvest.

Scouting is the routine monitoring of pest pressure in a crop. A scouting routine can help you identify problems in your field before they get out of control. In this video we will scout for cabbage aphid in brassica crops in the Pacific Northwest. However, the scouting principles and tips can apply to any crop or region.

What is Scouting?

Scouting is a systematic way to assess the health of your crop and threat of pest outbreaks without examining every plant. Scouting relies on sampling a subset of the field to collect data you can use to make informed management decisions. Scouting can reduce your inputs and crop losses, saving you money.

There are various tools used in scouting. The tool you will use depends on the crop and pest. Many pests must be trapped to monitor while others, such as cabbage aphid, can be observed on the crop without trapping. In this video we focus on visual observation, but many of the principles of scouting we cover will apply regardless of the scouting tool used.

To begin a scouting routine, start by researching the pests you are likely to observe and the corresponding beneficial insects. This information will help you identify which scouting tools are appropriate and when to begin scouting. Numerous extension resources are available that describe the community of pests associated with a particular crop in your area.

Scouting 101: Before Entering the Field

When you arrive at the field, commit your attention to scouting. Focus is required to capture signs of pests. First, make observations about the entire field. Look for areas that appear stunted or have a color variation. Notice any unique geographic features, such as a depression. These areas may have higher pest pressure. You will want to visit these areas.

Select a path through the field that will allow you to collect a random yet representative sample. One method is to travel through the field in a "w" pattern, selecting plants to sample randomly along that path. Adjust your path through the field to ensure you visit areas you have identified to be at higher risk for pest infestations. Record your path through the field so that on your next visit you can scout a different route. Each scouting trip, you will select a different random sample. On each scouting trip you may want to visit areas you suspect to have growing pest populations in addition to your random sample.

In the Field

When you reach your first sample, assess the plant overall and then start looking at the individual leaves. Look at both young and old leaves, and don’t forget to search both sides of the leaf. You will want to remove a few leaves for closer observation. Now look at any buds, flowers, or fruit. Depending on the potential pest, you may even use your harvest knife to cut open the stalk or unearth the plant so you can see the roots.

Record your observations and a numeric assessment of the pest. For example, a numeric assessment of cabbage aphid pressure is the average number of aphids per leaf. Select three leaves from different parts of the plant and record the number of aphids and aphid predators per leaf. Repeat for ten plants.

You will follow the same procedure each time you scout, but vary your path through the field and which plants you sample. Standardizing your collection method is necessary to accurately track pest pressure over time.

Calculate the average number of aphids and predators per leaf. Reviewing these averages from visit to visit allows you to determine whether or not the pest pressure is increasing, or if beneficial insects are effectively managing the pest. This information will allow you to determine if and when you need to take action to control the pest, in other words, your action threshold.

Your action threshold is the point at which you’ll experience economic loss if control measures are not pursued. Your action threshold depends on the cost of controlling the pest, the effectiveness of your control measure, the value of your particular crop, and the potential for the pest to cause damage that will impact your ability to sell the crop. These factors vary for different crops. For instance, tolerance for aphids may be higher on kale than broccoli since aphids can get into broccoli heads where they are protected from insecticide applications.

Action thresholds also change over time, as markets fluctuate. Ask your local extension educator for help identifying a recently published action threshold for your region and crop. Keep in mind that action thresholds are usually calculated without considering biological control by beneficial insects, and you may want to adjust your action threshold if you observe high rates of natural pest suppression.

Developing your Scouting Routine

Farming is a demanding occupation. To make sure scouting gets done, it is best to make scouting a habit. Tip: For best results, scout twice a week. For instance, you could dedicate lunchtime Tuesday to scouting a few fields. Keeping a bucket of scouting tools easily accessible can help facilitate regular scouting. Must-have scouting tools include a pencil, paper, clipboard, tally counter, and camera.

Pest emergence and growth are each temperature-dependent, and vary with each crop. Check local extension resources to determine approximately when pests in your crop system emerge, and initiate your scouting routine accordingly.

Scouting is an important practice to do on your farm that will definitely pay off. Check out the Pacific Northwest Insect Management Handbook for up-to-date information on crop specific pests. There, you’ll find examples of action thresholds, local emergence times and other resources to help you prepare for and avoid pest outbreaks on your farm.

This is an eOrganic article and was reviewed for compliance with National Organic Program regulations by members of the eOrganic community. Always check with your organic certification agency before adopting new practices or using new materials. For more information, refer to eOrganic's articles on organic certification.

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