Posts Tagged ‘agriculture’

Nutrients in the Garden 19: Garden Maintenance

Tuesday, July 8th, 2014
We are in the dog days of summer and there isn't a lot to report in the garden. The hail set us back so while others are harvesting, we are waiting and watching for everything to grow, bloom and produce.  As we wait; we water, weed and fertilize. (more…)

Nutrients in the Garden 18: Oh Hail

Wednesday, June 25th, 2014
Oh Hail! I watched the dark clouds roll in as I weeded the garden.  I thought I would weed until it started raining, however, when the lightning started, I headed into the house. Within twenty minutes, the garden was gone. Hail and high winds shredded my tender plants as I helplessly watched from the window. (more…)

Meet Pink Tractor

Tuesday, June 17th, 2014
We have a big garden, a few acres of brome hay, one heifer, two steers and a barn full of cats. I wish I could say that was enough to make me a farmer, but it doesn’t. I just tell people we pretend to farm. (more…)

Nutrients in the Garden 17: Side Dressing with Commercial Fertilizer

Thursday, June 12th, 2014
I am really good at growing weeds! As you can see from this patch where I sowed carrots and herbs, there are more weeds than carrots and herbs. (more…)

USA Science and Engineering Festival

Wednesday, June 4th, 2014
Recently, the Nutrients for Life Foundation participated in the third annual USA Science and Engineering Festival (USASEF).The event has taken place in Washington, D.C. for the past 4 years and is the largest science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) event in the United States. (more…)

School Garden Spotlight: Tony Jensen

Monday, March 24th, 2014
Mr. Jensen, agriculture teacher in Nebraska, has always spent a lot of time outside.  From landscaping with his wife to activities like hiking and camping, he knows the value of getting some fresh air.  Now, with the creation of a growing dome, his students are able to connect with nature while at school!  The garden is almost a year old and has already had two successful seasons of growing vegetables.  Below, Mr. Jensen shares the challenges and opportunities of creating a school garden. Name: Tony Jensen School: Freeman Public School County, State: Gage County, Nebraska Grade, Class: 7-12th Grade Agriculture   Tell us about your background with soil science, nutrients, and gardening. I have always enjoyed being outdoors doing activities like fishing, hiking, and camping.  My wife has a horticulture background so our family spends a lot of time in the garden and working on landscaping around our home and community. Why did you decide to start a school garden? We constructed a growing dome greenhouse in May 2013 and are using the raised beds inside the growing dome to grow vegetables year-round.  We then donate our harvests to local food banks and pantries to provide for our neighbors in need. To me, there are many teachable moments that come from this facility.  We can teach about crop production, soil science, renewable energy, healthy eating, food safety, and service to others through hands-on activities. What were the first steps in making the growing dome a reality?  We researched a feasible option for a greenhouse structure that would meet the needs of our school, we set goals for our project, and then began raising funds for the structure. What did you grow and how did you choose that plant?  The first year, we decided to experiment with a variety of different vegetables to…

From the Ground Up: The Science of Soil Launch

Monday, March 17th, 2014
The Foundation is excited to announce it is now expanding its reach into the digital education world! In collaboration with Discovery Education,  the Foundation is making an impact with a program called From the Ground Up: The Science of Soil.  (more…)

Nutrients in the Garden 6: Get Acquainted With Your Soil

Monday, March 10th, 2014
There is a Chinese proverb that says, “He who plants a garden plants happiness.” I could not agree more. If you have been following the blog from the beginning of this series, you are four steps closer to planting happiness. You have decided why you want to garden, you know where to put your garden, you know what you want to plant, and you have a map of your plan!   Now, we talk about the most important ingredient to your gardening success: soil! Side note: I prefer not to call it dirt. Dirt is the stuff I tell my kids to wipe off their feet before coming into the house. Soil is where our food comes from. Without soil, we are naked and hungry. Soil is cultivated by hard working farmers that keep us fed and clothed. It is critical to our mortality; out of respect for this precious resource, I prefer to call it soil. This is where you want to get it right! With the wrong soil, your garden will struggle and you might consider throwing in the trowel and giving up. Simply put, poor soil = poor garden. We can prevent this by doing our homework now, while it’s still too cold to garden. There are over 70,000 types of soil and they are not all created equally; some soils are more plant friendly than others. Soils can have too much clay, be too sandy, too compacted, too acidic... the list goes on, but don’t worry, soil can be improved! Keep in mind that if you are dealing with a dire soil situation, sometimes it is easier to garden in pots or a raised bed, because you have total control over the type of soil you use. If you choose to garden the traditional way, cultivating a spot in…

New Resource: Potash Video & Potassium Cycle Poster

Wednesday, February 12th, 2014
The Nutrients for Life Foundation is proud to provide its latest free education resources: The Potash Mining Video and Potassium Cycle Poster. Every plant needs three basic elements to grow nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. Potassium (K) is important to plants because it acts as a regulator. It helps plants efficiently use water, transfer food, and protect against structural stress. If a plant is deficient in potassium, it is much more susceptible to stunted growth and disease. K is found naturally in soil, but sometimes must be replaced, especially after years of growing plants on the same land. So where do we get the K in fertilizer that provides all these great benefits? From mining potash in deposits of ancient evaporated inland oceans. To learn more, watch The Potash Video:   Also, check out our new Potassium Cycle Poster available free through our website. It is so meaningful for science classes to expose students to natural biogeochemical cycles, such as the potassium cycle. Even if students are unable to recall every aspect of the potassium or phosphorus cycle months after your class, the concept of the cyclical nature of earth’s major resources is an essential concept for tomorrow’s generation.   Mineral weathering, plant residues, animal sources, and fertilizers supply K to the plant roots. In some soils, mineral weathering primarily supplies enough potassium to provide sufficient amounts of K, with help from plant residues, biosolids, and animal sources. However, continual use of the soil for crops or gardening can deplete potassium faster than natural weather and other sources can replenish it. Runoff, erosion, plant harvest, and leaching can be causes for potassium loss. In those cases, potassium fertilizer can restore amounts. We hope these new resources invigorate your soil science lessons and are a helpful addition to your classroom! Keep up with the Foundation- Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | YouTube 

Foundation 101: What is the Nutrients for Life Foundation?

Thursday, February 6th, 2014
I often get asked, “What does the Nutrients for Life Foundation do?” My standard response goes something like this, “Since 2004, we have been providing science-based information to educate people about the valuable role fertilizers play in feeding our growing world.” I follow up with how much I love my job and how fulfilling it is to work in the one industry our world cannot live without, agriculture.  Our role at the Foundation is to educate others about agriculture and, specifically, how crop nutrients help increase our food supply by fifty percent. We have a big task, because the general public knows very little about the industry as documented in the following video.   Every time I play this video I get a few good laughs from the crowd, especially if they know a lot about agriculture. I realize there are some extreme examples in this video, but in reality, most consumers know very little about food production. Consumers lack basic scientific knowledge as it applies to agriculture. In the video they are talking about nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium; all three are elements on the periodic table. After 6th grade science, we should all recognize these basic elements. Why were the interviewees confused? Where does the confusion come from? Was it because they didn’t have a good scientific background in school? Or, perhaps, they haven’t learned to think critically about what they learned? I share this video, first, because it is eye opening, but secondly because it shows that we need more agriculture educators. At no other time in history has my job, as an agriculture educator, been more critical. I believe our biggest challenge isn’t feeding the world’s population, rather, educating them on HOW we are feeding them. In our efforts to educate, the Foundation has a…

Helping Communities Grow 2012-2013 Winners and Project Summaries

Friday, January 17th, 2014
  The Helping Communities Grow outreach program is administered by the Nutrients for Life Foundation and is offered to FFA chapters. The Helping Communities Grow award program encourages FFA members to teach others about the importance of fertilizer and the role that it plays in one of two categories:  1) providing a safe and nourishing food supply; or 2) keeping the Earth green. In 2013, seventy-four FFA chapters were awarded for creating hands-on innovative programs to educate and engage their community on plant nutrition, fertilizer, soil science and crop related agricultural issues and the positive and critical role they play in food production. The top three chapters in each state and in the At-Large category received monetary awards of $5,000, $3,000, and $1,000 for first, second and third place. All other participants were awarded $500. “I am so impressed with the quality of projects we received in our Helping Communities Grow FFA chapter recognition program,” said Nutrients for Life Foundation Executive Director Harriet Wegmeyer. “It gives us great honor to award these checks to such deserving students. Not only did they educate fellow students and their communities about the important value of fertilizer, they expanded their leadership ability, communication skills and knowledge base during the year-long projects.”     At-Large First Place: Plateau Valley FFA, Colorado The Plateau Valley FFA members conducted an experiment on lettuce by studying how different types and rates of fertilizers effect plant growth. As a result, they learned soil type and quality had a large influence on their ability to grow the lettuce. Their experiment was conducted on growing stands they constructed out of wood and PVC pipe.  FFA members reported that the most rewarding part of the project was serving lettuce to community members at their annual FFA banquet and knowing it was FFA…