Global food systems

Improve affordable, accessible, safe and healthy food.

 

Free app from MU Extension helps you identify that unwanted weed

 

screenshot of Weed ID app
University of Missouri Extension has a free app for iPhones, iPads and Android devices to help people easily identify weeds in the field, lawn or garden.

 

The app, called ID Weeds, has information on more than 400 plant species that could be encountered as weeds in crop fields, pastures, lawns, gardens or aquatic areas in Missouri and surrounding states, said Kevin Bradley, MU Extension weed scientist.

ID Weeds lets users narrow the list of suspects with a series of drop-down boxes for various plant characteristics. Don’t worry if you’re not familiar with technical terms such as “ligules” or “spatulate.” For most characteristics, users can click on “what’s this?” to see an illustration.

Clicking on “Identify” will produce a list of weeds that match the characteristics you’ve chosen. The more characteristics you specify, the shorter the list will be. Selecting a weed on the list brings up detailed information and one or more photographs.

You can also look up a weed by searching for its common or scientific name, or select from an alphabetical list, from “Alligatorweed” to “Yucca.”

“Proper identification of weeds is important so that you choose an appropriate and cost-effective method of control,” said Bradley, who is also an associate professor of plant sciences in the MU College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources.

Released December 2012, ID Weeds has averaged about 1,000 downloads per week on Apple’s App Store. The app was developed by James Meng, a programmer for MU Extension Technology and Computer Services (ETCS). ID Weeds is compatible with iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad running iOS 5.1 or later, and devices running Android 2.2 or later.

To download:
iPhone and other iOS devices: itunes.apple.com/app/id-weeds/id559906313.
Android: Search for “ID Weeds” at play.google.com/store.
A Web version is available at weedID.missouri.edu.

$5 million

MU Extension faculty partnered with Missouri’s Natural Resource Conservation Service and soil and water conservation districts to conduct 23 multiday regional grazing workshops across the state. Of producers attending, 98 percent said they will implement at least three management practices taught at the workshop, and half indicated that they will apply for cost-share funds to improve their fencing and watering facilities.

The investment by producers in improvements as a direct result of these workshops exceeded $5 million.

High tunnels mean fresher produce, more cash to producers

photo: High tunnel

Floating row covers placed over crops inside a high tunnel provide extra protection from the cold.

“We are in a food production revolution,” University of Missouri Extension horticulture specialist David Trinklein told agriculture educators recently at MU’s Bradford Research and Extension Center. High tunnels have grown in popularity in recent years, partly because of increased interest in locally grown produce, which tends to be fresher and more flavorful, Trinklein said.

Farmers use high tunnels to extend the growing season, boost production and increase marketing opportunities, he said. “Prices are very strong and interest has been growing,” he said.

Although high tunnels resemble greenhouses, they are quite different. High tunnels primarily use solar heat to warm the soil and air. They are less expensive to build and maintain than greenhouses.

Often referred to as “a poor man’s greenhouse,” high tunnels are constructed “with economy in mind,” Trinklein said. They are typically constructed using a single layer of plastic over metal ribs. Side and end walls can be rolled up or down as needed to adjust temperatures through venting. Commercial greenhouses may cost more than $20 per square foot to construct, while high tunnels may cost as little as $3 to $5 per square foot.

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Tim Reinbott, superintendent of the University of Missouri’s Bradford Research and Extension Center, showed high tunnels to agriculture educators from across the state at a recent workshop.

By maturing more rapidly, produce from high tunnels brings in significantly more dollars per plant than conventionally grown plants, with early-season crops commanding the best prices of the season.

Tomatoes are one of the most popular high tunnel plants. “Tomatoes are king,” Trinklein said. “Early-season tomatoes are big, big moneymakers.” He further noted that some early-season tomatoes fetched $4 per pound at farmers market auctions last year. Crops such as lettuce and salad greens can be grown in fall and winter, making them marketable to high-end restaurants.

For more information on high tunnels, go to extension.missouri.edu and enter “high tunnels” in the search box.

MU Extension works with veterinarians and animal owners

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Dr. Craig Payne, director of MU Extension’s Veterinary Medical Extension and Continuing Education, talks with cattle producers at the annual Missouri Beef Tour about cattle handling and facility design.

MU Extension’s Veterinary Medical Extension and Continuing Education (VMECE) provides educational opportunities and up-to-date information for veterinarians and animal owners. In 2013, the program offered continuing education for veterinarians seeking continuing education credit to renew their veterinary licenses. Team members also presented information about production-related topics or animal disease to more than 1,000 people at 19 different meetings across the state.

Faculty from VMECE often work with other MU faculty to increase economic viability of livestock operations. For example, VMECE faculty helped with the launch of a new program called Quality Beef by the Numbers, which is sponsored by the College of Agriculture Food and Natural Resources (CAFNR) and MU Extension. The objective of the program is to add value to beef cattle produced and marketed in the U.S. through the use of reproductive and genetic technology.