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ODFW uses drones to monitor birds

July 31, 2012 --

ODFW to deploy drone aircraft to monitor birds at Haystack Rock on Oregon coast
By Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife

High winds, rocky terrain, salt water and seabirds can make flying on the Oregon Coast challenging, even dangerous under the best of circumstances. For a team of researchers from the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife and Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University these conditions represent the ideal laboratory for testing unmanned or “drone” aircraft.

Drone aircraft being developed at Embry-Riddle will be deployed from Cape Kiwanda State Natural Area July 26-27 in an attempt to photograph double-crested cormorants nesting on Haystock Rock near Pacific City.

Double-crested cormorants are large seabirds that inhabit Oregon’s estuaries during the spring and summer. Cormorants, which can eat up to two pounds of fish per day, have been identified by sportsmen’s groups and others as a potential threat to the outbound migration of salmon and steelhead. ODFW is monitoring the cormorants at Haystack Rock as part of a broader population study to find out what impact the birds may have on migratory fish. Cormorants are protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, so extra care must be used to ensure the birds are not unduly disturbed.

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ODA warns of noxious weed rebirth after range fires

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ODA advises ranchers and land managers to watch for weeds if they replant seeds
By Oregon Department of Agriculture

Wildfires this month have already devastated more than 800,000 acres of rangeland in southeastern Oregon. Ranchers and land managers don’t want to get burned a second time by invasive noxious weeds that may sneak in as part of restoration efforts in the area. The Oregon Department of Agriculture wants to make sure that plantings of desirable grasses and other vegetation in Malheur and Harney counties don’t include weed seeds.

“There will be a need for restoration following these major fires and we certainly want to help prevent the introduction of noxious weeds into areas where they haven’t been before,” says Tim Butler, manager of ODA’s Noxious Weed Control Program. “That means using clean, tested weed-free seed in these areas. A good set of standard practices everyone can adhere to while securing seed is important.”

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Drought Price Surge: Corn 33%, Wheat 23%, Soy 13%

July 30, 2012 --

By Oregon Small Business Association

The price of corn is up 33%, and America’s reserves of corn have declined nearly fifty percent since March. Soybean prices are up 13%, and wheat costs 23% more than it did at the beginning of the year. Plus, drought is getting dryer across the Corn Belt of the United States, the world’s largest exporter of corn and wheat. Even though the U.S. has more acres planted in corn this summer than it’s had any year since 1937, only 48% of the corn crop has a “top-quality” rating. That’s compared with the 69% of the corn crop that earned the highest rating last year. This year, corn future have risen a third in the last month, to $6.75/bushel.

According to a senior economist at the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization in Rome, “The world looks to the U.S. as the safest source of supply. Everyone watches the U.S. because they can rely on it. Without it, the world would starve,” reported Bloomberg.

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Clueless celebrities muddle Farm Bill

July 29, 2012 --

Celebrity Chefs Forget a Pinch of Humility, Whip Up Bitter Baloney
By Cathryn, Corn Commentary.
National Corn Growers Association

This election year, Americans are already growing increasingly agitated with pompous, self-important celebrities who feel an uncontrollable desire to pontificate upon politics. Qualified only by having played a politician in a made-for-TV movie or having co-written a B-side flop, these self-anointed bearers of the divine torch of celebri-smarts help us regular folk understand our mistaken, unworldly personal ponderings.

Honestly, who could take a multi-millionaire who plays dress-up for a living seriously when he or she banters on about the plight of the common folk? Did they learn about Main Street in a Method class?

Another group of sell-out celebrats, the chefs of cable TV, who not only feed actors but often host their own insightful television programs, want to tell average Americans how to think about the farm bill. In a letter proudly coordinated by the Environmental Working Group, intellectual icons including Mario Batali and Tom Colicchio trumpeted their opposition to big, rich commodity farms while wrapping themselves in the trendy terminology of the local, organic and environmental movements. As much as they criticize the Senate legislation, how many of these signers even read it?

To be frank, it seems a tad hypocritical to take the bully pulpit preaching a populist gospel while rubbing elbows with the sophomoric socialites who get a kick out of menus that offer greater detail about each truffle-decorated tapa than their letter offers about the world-changing policies proposed. It’s like they all live in Portlandia.

The only advice these elitist epicureans have the expertise to dish out pertains to the dishes in their ovens. Most Americans cannot afford to dine at their establishments; America cannot afford to bite into their half-baked policies.

Farmers feed us in a meaningful, sustainable fashion. So, call the trendy wannabes out for what they are and stand by a classic. America’s farm families need a farm bill now. America’s top chefs need a new hobby.

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USA wins blind pork taste test competition

July 28, 2012 --

By U.S. Meat Export Federation

For the second time in two years, South Korea’s top cooking magazine, Cookand, joined with the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) for a blind taste test conducted with panels of food industry experts and consumers to determine which pork would be preferred by Koreans when taste is the only consideration.

Four types of chilled pork belly and collar butt (U.S., Canadian and two South Korean brands: Sunjin and Moguchon) were included in the sampling. To remove any favorable conditions for one type of pork over another, each sample was 10 days old, purchased from the sale seller, cut to the same portion size and cooked identically without seasoning.

Each participant judged the samples on tenderness, tastiness and juiciness, as well as how the pork smelled and its texture after cooking.

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Wasp weapon to fight Oregon stink bug

July 27, 2012 --

Oregon pursues biocontrol of brown marmorated stink bug
By Oregon Department of Revenue

In some ways, it’s a race against time. It appears the potentially devastating brown marmorated stink bug is spreading in Oregon and populations of the insect pest are expected to jump over the next couple of years. Meanwhile, research is underway in Oregon and two other states centering on a tiny wasp, which happens to be a natural predator of the exotic stink bug, to see if it can be an effective biological control agent. In a best case scenario, the good bug will be able to go into battle about the same time the stink bug population takes off.

Oregon wants to avoid the extensive damage Pennsylvania and other states have suffered because of the brown marmorated stink bug. What started out as a nuisance pest a decade ago in the Mid-Atlantic states has now exploded. Pennsylvania has reported major losses the past couple of years for apples, peaches, grapes, tomatoes, and many other fruits and vegetables that also grow in Oregon. The list of crops and plants the stink bug won’t feed on is probably shorter than the list of crops and plants it likes. The bug even feeds on maple and cedar trees.

The brown marmorated stink bug was first discovered in 2004 as a home pest in Portland. Additional sightings initially took place in urban areas. But the past couple of years, the bug has been found in such agricultural production areas as the Willamette Valley and Hood River.

“On a pest risk scale of one to ten, I would say the brown marmorated stink bug is a 15,” says Helmuth Rogg, manager of the Oregon Department of Agriculture’s Insect Pest Prevention and Management Program. “We don’t want to make it sound too alarming, but we want people to be aware that there is great potential for this to be a very, very bad pest. Hopefully, time is on our side and we can avoid the big outbreak we’ve seen in eastern states. Biological control can help.”

ODA is the lead regional agency for conducting research involving Trissolcus halyomorphae, the imported wasp that acts as a parasite of the brown marmorated stink bug. ODA has received $116,147 from the US Department of Agriculture as part of a Farm Bill funding package addressing pest and disease management. Florida and Michigan are the other two states looking at the same good bug to treat the bad insect pest. The tiny wasps were collected from Asia– also home to the brown marmorated stink bug– and have been provided by USDA’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS). Oregon was a good candidate for the funds because it has the pest to begin with, ODA has the expertise in biological control, and Oregon State University has the quarantine facility needed to rear the insects and house the research.

“It’s a perfect choice for a classical biological control program,” says Rogg. “We have an exotic pest that comes into a new environment without its natural enemies where it can easily multiply. Parasitic wasps are found in its native Asia, brought to the US, and tested in the lab. Hopefully, biocontrol will be successful in controlling the brown marmorated stink bug because there aren’t really any other viable management options at the moment.”

A year ago, ODA received permission to import the tiny good bugs– classified as parasitoids from the original ARS rearing facility in Delaware. The research program set up shop at OSU where not only was a colony of parasitoids established over the winter, but a colony of brown marmorated stink bugs as well. Research confirmed that the adult female tiny wasp lays its eggs inside the brown marmorated stink bug eggs. As a result of the parasitization, the stink bug egg does not survive.

The big concern, and the reason it is way too early to consider the biocontrol agent a success, is whether or not the parasitoids will similarly impact native stink bug species. Not all stink bugs in Oregon are bad, and researchers want to make sure non-target species won’t be affected.
191_bai_parasitoid.jpg
“We’ve made strong progress this past year in establishing the colonies,” says ODA entomologist Barry Bai, who is working with an OSU graduate student to conduct the research. “Our goal right now is to test native species to make sure the parasitoids won’t go after them. It’s a long process. We need to test several generations of parasitoids to make sure they don’t affect the good stink bugs and efficiently deal with the bad ones.”

While ODA and its cooperators test out the biocontrol agent on non-target species this summer, similar work is being done in Michigan and Florida with native stink bugs in their respective regions. All data will be shared and evaluated before any final decision is made to allow release of the tiny wasps. Assuming the imported parasitoids impact only the brown marmorated stink bug eggs, they would be reared in insectaries to attain sufficient numbers and possibly be released into the natural environment within the next couple of years.

“Maybe by 2015, there will be some limited, restricted field releases by ARS,” says Rogg.

Other imported natural enemies of the brown marmorated stink bug are also under consideration. Everyone wants to see how promising the first biocontrol agent is before moving onto the next one. It could be that a combination of parasitoids will be necessary to control the bad stink bug.

ODA successfully conducted similar research on biocontrol agents for cereal leaf beetle before the good bugs were released in crop production areas. They are currently doing a good job controlling that pest.

“We’ve done this sort of thing before,” says Rogg. “If it all works out, there is hope down the road that these parasitoids will help keep brown marmorated stink bug under control. It’s really a difficult pest. There is no monitoring tool as traps don’t seem to work. There appears to be no other good control tool, including pesticides. So the big hope is for biological control.”

The first tool in the tool box may be the tiny wasp currently being tested in a quarantine facility in Corvallis. In a best case scenario, the parasitoid will take up permanent residency in Oregon to control the brown marmorated stink bug for years to come.

Video of parasitoid life cycle and impact on brown marmorated stink bug eggs

For more information, contact Helmuth Rogg at (503) 986-4662.

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Oregon Cattlemen set up fire victim fund

July 26, 2012 --

Oregon Cattlemen’s Association sets up Fire Victims Relief Fund
–Devastation from wildfires are threatening structures, cattle and homes of Oregon ranchers
By Oregon Cattlemen Association

In response to the devastating fires occurring in Harney and Malheur counties, the Oregon Cattlemen’s Association has set up a fire victim’s relief fund as a part of the Oregon Cattlemen’s Stewardship Fund. Charitable donations of cash or in-kind (including hay and supplies), are now being accepted online, via phone or in person at the OCA office. Ranchers are also seeking relocation options for cattle that are threatened by the fires.

The French Glen fire is threatening a significant amount of ranch land in eastern Oregon. At last report, over 60,000 acres were affected and residents are on a Level 1 evacuation warning. The fire has already burned range structures and killed cattle.

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Federal wildfire hypocrisy & exploding trees

July 25, 2012 --

Forest Policy Briefs
by Rex Storm, Forest Policy Manager
Associated Oregon Loggers

When Wilderness Isn’t Wilderness: When the US Forest Service wants to act fast to protect natural resources, it can. But, when it needs to act fast to prevent catastrophic timber loss to pests or fire, it predictably fails to act. June’s double standard example is within the still-burning 297,000 acre Whitewater-Baldy Fire in New Mexico’s Gila Wilderness, Gila National Forest. As the fire burned, biologists used electro-shockers to capture rare Gila trout from streams, then the trout were netted and lifted-out of the Wilderness via helicopter. No Environmental Impact Statement; no appeal period; and no public input for mechanized machinery or fish-snatching in a designated Wilderness. Go figure.

Exploding trees — Forest Service Believe It or Not: US Forest Service workers in Montana’s Helena National Forest are using high explosives to fall beetle-killed pine trees that pose danger to scenic highways and recreation sites. An engineering program leader at the USFS Missoula Technology Development Center said the danger of cutting down rotted trees in tough locations is a reason to use explosives. “We just don’t have a whole lot of really good sawyers. The days of going out and doing that activity are long gone in the Forest Service.” Sometimes, fact is stranger than fiction.

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Oregon forester gets lost in the woods

July 24, 2012 --

By Guest Submission

A Lomakatsi Restoration Project crewmember decided to try to find his own way home from the woods on June 7, got lost, and ended up spending 8 hours walking ten miles back to a friend’s house in town. The Lomakatsi crew was piling brush on the west side of Forest Service Road 2060 southwest of Reeder Reservoir. Sometime before 3 p.m., a 35-year-old member of the group decided to try a new way home, despite the protestations of his nine teammates. The teammates soon began looking for him, and a two-man team from Ashland Fire and Rescue joined the search, as did the Jackson’s County Sherriff’s department and Ashland Police. Authorities were finally notified that he was safe at around 11 p.m. that evening.

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Farm Bureau Alert: Stop the “Flood” of Regulation

July 23, 2012 --

Clean Water Act Guidance Document – Stop the “Flood” of Regulation
By Oregon Farm Bureau

AFBF has launched their STOP THE FLOOD OF REGULATION Campaign. The goal is to prevent EPA from finalizing their Guidance Document, which would remove the word navigable from the Clean Water Act. Removal of this word would mean that EPA could regulate any or all waters found within a state, no matter how small or seemingly unconnected to a federal interest.

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