Breakfast on the Farm featured a year in the crop cycle
Crop production took center stage at the Breakfast on the Farm program held at the Humm Farm in Gratiot County. The event drew more than 2,400 attendees from 79 towns across Michigan plus five states and Australia.
Breakfast on the Farm (BOTF), a program of Michigan State University Extension, gives consumers and farm neighbors a firsthand look at modern food production and the farm families who work hard to produce a safe, wholesome food supply for Michigan communities and the world. Sixth generation farmers, Kent and Olan Humm and their families, opened up their crop farm to the public to demonstrate and answer questions about modern agriculture practices.
After a delicious pancake and sausage breakfast, visitors began their tour learning about the local livestock industry before moving on to learn about the wind turbines that dot the landscape in the Breckenridge area. The next 12 stops featured a year in the crop cycle and they covered everything from soil testing to seed selection and plant genetics to global positioning systems (GPS). The Humm’s planted demonstration plots of the major field crops that are grown in the local area. Harvesting equipment was positioned in each plot as were volunteer farmers who explained the crop and its cycle from planting to harvest.
Visitors learned that installed field drainage systems allow for a longer growing season, increase crop yields and improve crop quality. At the soil testing station, they learned the importance of soils and the effort farmers take to maintain their soil health, such as utilizing no-till planting, installing filter and buffer strips and planting cover crops. Farmers also test their soil and rely on the results and recommendations to apply the appropriate nutrients in the right amount at the right time. Today, many farmers, including the Humm’s, utilize GPS technology. Visitors saw firsthand how this technology allows for more accurate application and documentation of fertilizer, seed and chemicals and how it boosts the productivity of the agriculture industry and allows farmers to feed more people.
The crop scouting and health educational station was one of the favorite tour stops. Young visitors eagerly ventured into the soybean field to see what insects they could collect in their sweep nets, and then anxiously waited to see if they had caught beneficial or potentially harmful insects. The adults learned that the goal of crop protection is to keep the plant healthy and to control pests, both of which increase production to feed the world’s growing population. The exhibit also explained plant genetics, biotechnology and genetic engineering, and how this technology has contributed to more efficient crop production, a safer environment and higher quality foods. Visitors left the Humm Farm knowing that farmers are very concerned with the wellbeing of their farm land and the environment.
Forty-two percent of those attending had not been on a modern working crop farm in the past twenty years. Another 26 percent had been on a crop farm between one and five times prior to this BOTF experience. Comments on exit surveys indicated an increase in knowledge of food production and modern agriculture. This farm experience was made possible through the efforts of 400 volunteers and more than 100 generous local and state sponsors.
The 2013 Breakfast on the Farm programs have been completed, with information and photos posted on the website at www.breakfastonthefarm.com. Information on hosting a Breakfast on the Farm event in 2014 is also available on the website.