Posts Tagged Agriculture

What’s a hectare?

One of the common questions I receive deals with measurements in agriculture land area/size beginning with what is the difference between an acre and a hectare, then what’s a hectare.  Simply put acre and hectares are measurements of land or area.  Acres are used in the Imperial (American System) which takes up 43,560 square feet (13277 square meters) while a hectare is part of the metric system.  A hectare is not part of the International System of Units (SI) but is the scientific standard for area.  A hectare is 10,000 square meters (107,639 sq ft) which is also the size of the international rugby field.  (a little fact I got from Google)

What if I want to convert from acres to hectares?  When going from acres to hectares divide your acres by 2.471 example: 5 ac / 2.471 = 2.023 ha

OR you can go the other way and convert ha to ac by multiplying your ac by 2.471 example: 2.023 ha X 2.471 = 5 ac

How can I determine how much my garden, land, pot or crate is in acres?

1) find the your area in square feet by using the formal Length X Height

2) Then DIVIDE that by 43,560 sq ft (1 acre) – then from there you can convert to hectares.

Example 25×25 = 635 sq ft / 43560 = 0.0143 acres or / 2.471 = 0.0058 hectares.

Hope that helps – Dr. Dirt aka the Poopsmith

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The Field Season

I loved this time of year as a kid.  I would spend time driving around the orchard on the Honda Trail 90, watch the Peterson’s harvest Christmas trees next-door and ship them to the Midwest, work at the mink ranch during pelting season and help Bomps close up the tractor.    As the cold damp rainy weather set in until 4th of July it was time to make account for the field season.  The ups and downs, the blessings, lessons learned, winterize the equipment, and determine what to do for the next field season if blessed to have another one.

I have come to think of life in the terms of a field or growing season.  In American agriculture and climate we are always trying to lengthen the season but in the end we generally get just one.  This past growing season has been filled with blessings, challenges, and adventure, however it is the next growing seasons ahead that have me striving forward.  Why?

The general consensus is that roughly 870 million people in the world are still chronically undernourished and 16 million of those are from developed countries (FAO, 2012 (1)).  The world population is primed for an increase of 9.1 billion by 2050, which will demand a 60% increase in agricultural production. This increase has to also take into account the good soil that remains, sustainability, economic viability, yield increases on existing land, and the ongoing debates over the use of GMOs (Genetically Modified Organism) and total effect climate change on farmable lands (FAO, 2012 (2)).

As we roll into 2013 I am reminded that 2050 is just 37 field seasons away.  If seasons remain reasonably stable when the first tractor breaks ground in 2050 I will only be 76.    As I look to the next growing season as a person who deals with farmers and some of the 870 million chronically undernourished daily I am reminded of the lesson I learned growing up – every growing season is different and growing season matters.

Therefore, if I going to impact 2050, whether I am the husband, dad, scientist, farmer, preacher, or runner THIS next field season must be better than last because the last season is in the field notes and almost closed.

Preparing the Soil for Harvest

FAO (1) The State of Food Insecurity in the World 2012.  The State of Food Insecurity in the World 2012 is published jointly by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the International Fund for Agricultural Development and the World Food Programme. Released October 8, 2012.

FAO(2) World Agriculture Towards 2030/2050: The 2012 Revision.  ESA E Working Paper No. 12-03.   Released June 2012.   

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Norman Borlaug

In the last month the world lost the father of the green revolution Norman Borlaug.  He won the Noble Peace Prize for basically his breeding of semi-dwarf, high-yield, disease-resistant wheat varieties.  (I might add that the original variety Borlaug used for his base breeding was developed and given to him by Orville A. Vogel the wheat breeder at WSU)

In a presentation to the American Society of Agronomy in 2007 (  Borlaug addressed the issue of world hunger and ability to use GMO’s (Genetically Modified Organisms) to help the issue of world food security.  I understand the issues surrounding GMO’s I deal with the debate on a regular bases for classes, research and personal pondering however the question I pose is this:

This great era of political correctness, environmental awareness, the Omnivore’s Dilemma, world population nearing 7 Billion, and agriculture being told it must turn away from large scale commercial endeavors – WHO DIES FIRST and WHO GETS TO DECIDE?

Norman Borlaug was an advocate for the poor and hungry yet was dismissed at times for his support of GMO’s.   If we do not use every tool available in our tool box including: no til, precision agriculture, big farm, small farm, machines, hand tools, synthetic fertilizers, green manures, manures  and GMO’s there will most likely not be  enough global food production to sustain our population, people will die.

I think the legacy of Dr. Borlaug will not only be feeding millions of people but his keen awareness that hungry people should eat and we need all the tools available to accomplish this task.

Can you answer the question? Who dies first and who decides?

Is it government, Universities, ADM, the producers of Corn King, the farmers, Al Gore?  Who gets to limit the tools in the tool box – would we limit the tools our heart surgeon has available to him during open heart surgery?

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