The Declining Mennonite Farming Community, Biological Insect Control and More Bits & Pieces

Learn about the declining mennonite farming community, biological insect control, the benefits of houseplants and more in this Bits & Pieces.
By the MOTHER EARTH NEWS editors
March/April 1985
Add to My MSN

The boll weevil may finally have met its biological match, ironically in the form of another infamous pest, the fire ant.
PHOTO: FOTOLIA/


Content Tools

Related Content

Share Your Vision for a Sustainable Future

Don't miss this opportunity to change the future of American Agriculture!

Maple Field Milk: Any Excuse to Eat Horseradish

Now the milk is in the chill room and we can eat cheese and freshly made chiabata with nearby cheese...

Spicy, Healing Horseradish

Horseradish is often overlooked as a mere hot condiment. In reality it possesses many healing proper...

Organic Insect Control for Your Container Vegetable Garden

Dealing with insects in your garden is inevitable. It’s just a matter of when it happens. Just becau...

The Declining Mennonite Farming Community

The Mennonite community has a long-standing reputation for producing frugal and successful farmers, but not even the Mennonites have been able to escape the economic problems that beset the American farmer. So, at a special assembly in Mt. Pleasant, Pa., 130 Mennonite farmers formed a national organization to help other farming community members combat the accumulating debts that are driving established growers into bankruptcy and young people away from the farm.

In 1963, 38 percent of the North American male members of the Mennonite church farmed. Only 19 percent of the men farm now, and most of those individuals find themselves in situations similar to those of American farmers at large, who now account for only 30 percent of the American male population. That even such careful husbanders as these should find themselves in trouble underscores the seriousness of the decline in American agriculture.

Biological Insect Control: Fighting Fire With Fire

Biological controls have come into their own lately. Scientists at the USDA Insect Research Laboratory in Missouri have begun a release program involving two species of European weevil, which they hope will help control the musk thistle, a multimillion-dollar-a-year crop pest.

And that other weevil, the boll weevil, may finally have met its biological match, ironically in the form of another infamous pest, the fire ant. Researchers found that unsprayed cotton fields in East Texas with high infestations of fire ants reported no economic loss from boll weevils over the 11-year period from 1971 to 1982. On the other hand, fields from which the ants had been eradicated with Mirex in 1974 showed 90 percent cotton-bud damage when surveyed in August. While no one is recommending that fire ants be introduced into fields where they are not already prevalent, the research suggests that for some farmers, fire ants may be a problem worth living with.

Benefits of Houseplants

People typically buy indoor plants on the basis of two characteristics: The plants' aesthetic value and their ability to survive neglect. But scientists at NASA point out another attraction — the plants' ability to reduce concentrations of poisonous chemicals in the air.

The scientists subjected a variety of household plants to formaldehyde-laden air and monitored the results. Spider plants came out on top: One plant reduced formaldehyde pollution by one-seventieth in an 1800-square-foot home. Add 69 more plants, and presumably such a home can be guaranteed formaldehyde-free. Other plants and their ability to clean the air of other chemicals are now being tested.

The Horse Twitch: Equine Acupuncture

The horse twitch, a rather medieval-looking device consisting of a short loop of rope attached to the end of a stout stick, would seem an unlikely means of controlling an intractable stallion. Yet, applied to a horse's upper lip, the twitch seems to have an almost immediate soporific effect.

Now Dutch scientists believe they have discovered the secret of the twitch: The pressure of the rope on the horse's lip stimulates the release of endorphins, hormones that slow the heart and dull the body's perception of pain, in much the same way that acupuncture needles relieve pain in humans. A high-strung horse, thus sedated with its body's own painkiller, will more willingly abide the probing and poking of vets and handlers.

The Pig Ball: A Pig Toy

The pig, one of your more intellectual domestic animals, is, as any pig farmer will tell you, unusually sensitive to the ennui of confinement. So how to keep a bored pig amused? John Cali of Addison, Ill., has addressed that problem and is now marketing his solution: a colorful 10-inch plastic pig ball.

According to a story in the Wall Street Journal, the hollow balls can be partially filled with water. Rocked by the momentum of the sloshing water, the balls seem to hold the attention of even the most discriminating hogs.

Farmers have thrown playthings into their pig pens for years to keep pigs from venting frustrations on their fellow oinkers. But this, apparently, is the first time a toy has been designed and marketed specifically for swine. The balls, which come in a variety of colors, sell for $10.95 and up from Bonar, Inc. in Addison, Ill. Note: This article was published in 1985, and as such, the products and prices mentioned within may not be accurate today.
 


Previous | 1 | 2 | Next






Post a comment below.

 

Bob Reinlie
9/26/2008 8:27:55 AM
I have a no-cost, no-chemical method for eliminating fire ants. If you have multiple ants piles, take a scoop of pile A and put it on pile B. Take a scoop of pile B and put it on pile A. The mixing of the two piles causes a war between the "two sects", causing a complete annihilation of both piles. At least, the next day, both piles are void of any ants and I don't see any evidence that they are just moving to a new neighborhood. No expense and very little time!








Subscribe Today - Pay Now & Save 66% Off the Cover Price

First Name: *
Last Name: *
Address: *
City: *
State/Province: *
Zip/Postal Code:*
Country:
Email:*
(* indicates a required item)
Canadian subs: 1 year, (includes postage & GST). Foreign subs: 1 year, . U.S. funds.
Canadian Subscribers - Click Here
Non US and Canadian Subscribers - Click Here

Lighten the Strain on the Earth and Your Budget

MOTHER EARTH NEWS is the guide to living — as one reader stated — “with little money and abundant happiness.” Every issue is an invaluable guide to leading a more sustainable life, covering ideas from fighting rising energy costs and protecting the environment to avoiding unnecessary spending on processed food. You’ll find tips for slashing heating bills; growing fresh, natural produce at home; and more. MOTHER EARTH NEWS helps you cut costs without sacrificing modern luxuries.

At MOTHER EARTH NEWS, we are dedicated to conserving our planet’s natural resources while helping you conserve your financial resources. That’s why we want you to save money and trees by subscribing through our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. By paying with a credit card, you save an additional $5 and get 6 issues of MOTHER EARTH NEWS for only $12.00 (USA only).

You may also use the Bill Me option and pay $17.00 for 6 issues.