Published: Sunday, September 16, 2012 at 4:00 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, September 14, 2012 at 3:52 p.m.
Record revenues for California farmers
California farmers received a record $43.5 billion for their crops last year.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture reported that cash receipts for the state’s 81,500 farms and ranches increased 15 percent from 2010. California’s farm revenue amounted to nearly 12 percent of the nation’s total last year.
Dairy, the state’s biggest farm sector, saw revenues jump 30 percent to nearly $7.7 billion. However, the department noted that dairy farmers still struggled due to high feed costs. California lost 48 dairies last year.
Ten of the state’s 11 billion-dollar crops increased in value last year. Along with dairy, the billion-dollar crops are almonds, grapes, cattle, greenhouse/nursery plants, strawberries, lettuce, walnuts, hay and tomatoes.
Sudden Oak Disease seminars next month
Rural landowners can learn about the fight against Sudden Oak Death disease at free seminars and meetings next month.
The gatherings, hosted by the Sonoma County Master Gardeners, include a seminar at 6 p.m. Oct. 12 at the UC Cooperative Extension Office, 133 Aviation Blvd., Suite 109, Santa Rosa. Two UC Berkeley scientists will report on a community project that is tracking the spread of the disease in Sonoma County.
Two treatment training meetings will be held Oct. 13. The first will be from 10 a.m. to noon at the Sebastopol Veteran’s Hall, 282 High St., and the second from 2 to 4 p.m. at the Upper Oak Knolls Picnic Area of Spring Lake Regional Park, 5585 Newanga Ave. in Santa Rosa.
For more information, contact the Master Gardeners’ office, 565-2608.
Dairies turn to robots to milk cows
Some farmers say high-tech milking robots have the potential to save family dairies.
The robots have spread to about 50 dairies in Minnesota and Wisconsin after first being installed in the region six years ago. The robots not only milk the cows but also control their feed.
The robots’ Dutch manufacturer, Lely, recently expanded its North American headquarters in Iowa to include a 36,000-square-foot production facility, the company’s first outside the Netherlands.
The 3,000-pound, red robo-milkers cost between $150,000 and $200,000 each, but are seen as a way to save labor costs and free farmers from the hours of milking twice a day seven days a week.
The machines work around the clock, except for twice-daily cleaning sessions. They also eliminate the chore of corralling cows for milking: After being trained to accept the robot, cows get milked whenever they please.
The robot measures production and knows if a cow needs to be milked more or less often.
— Compiled by Staff Writer Robert Digitale from staff and wire reports. Submit items to email@example.com
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