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Acre

A parcel of land, containing 4,840 square yards or 43,560 square feet. One acre is approximately the size of a football field.

Ag Consultant

A person trained in agricultural and management sciences to help provide information to land owners/managers for a fee. There are three types of certifications for ag consultants that are recognized in the U.S.: Certified Crop Advisor (CCA), Certified Professional Agronomist (CPAg), and a Certified Professional Crop Consultant (CPCC).

Agronomy (agronomic)

The science of crop production and soil management.

Animal Unit

A unit of measurement of livestock. For example, the equivalent of one mature cow weighing 1,000 lbs. Five mature ewes are also considered an animal unit.

Apiary

Colonies of bees in hives and other beekeeping equipment for the production of honey.

Auto-Steer

A GPS guidance system that steers agricultural equipment with centimeter accuracy.

Avian

Pertaining to poultry and/or fowl.

Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt)

A soil bacterium that produces toxins that are deadly to some pests. (See Bt Crops.)

Boar

A breeding male hog of any age.

Bovine

An animal from the cattle group, which also includes buffalo and bison.

Bt Crops

Crops that are genetically engineered to carry a gene from the soil bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt). Bt produces proteins that are toxic to some pests, but non-toxic to humans and other mammals. Crops containing the Bt gene are able to produce this toxin, thereby providing protection for the plant. Bt corn and Bt cotton are examples of commercially available Bt crops.

Bull

A mature male bovine (see bovine).

Calf

A young animal of the bovine species, such as cattle, buffalo or bison.

Cash Crop

The crop or livestock that a farmer raises to sell for money/profit.

Combine

A large machine used for harvesting grain.

Cover Crops

Close-growing crops that help manage soil erosion, help build and improve soil fertility and quality, and control weeds and pests. Cover crops are planted between rows of primary crops or between periods of normal crop production, as well as between trees in orchards and vines in vineyards.

Crop Rotation

The practice of planting different crops sequentially on the same plot of land to help improve soil health, optimize nutrients in the soil, and combat pests and weeds.

Elevator (Grain Elevator)

A grain elevator is a facility that stores, moves, and processes grain in bulk.

Extension (Extension Agency)

An outreach arm of an agricultural university that does research and provides educational programs.

Feeder Cattle

Cattle that are ready to be finished for market, weighing 550-650 pounds or heavier.

Forage

Vegetable matter, fresh or preserved, which is gathered and fed to animals as roughage (e.g., alfalfa hay, corn silage, or other hay crops).

Free-Range

This is a food label indicating that the flock was provided shelter in a building, room, or area with unlimited access to food, fresh water, and continuous access to the outdoors during their production cycle. The outdoor area may or may not be fenced and/or covered with netting-like material. This label is regulated by the USDA.

Genetic Engineering

Genetic engineering, also referred to as biotechnology, allows plant breeders to take a desirable trait found in nature and transfer it from one plant or organism to the plant they want to improve. Some examples of desirable traits include resistance to insects and disease, and tolerance to herbicides that allow farmers to better control weeds.

Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs)

Crops developed through genetic engineering. GMO crops are created to achieve a desired trait, such as resistance to a pest or tolerance to drought conditions. There are ten GMO crops commercially available in the U.S. today: Corn (field and sweet), Soybeans, Cotton, Canola, Alfalfa, Sugar Beets, Papaya, Squash, Apple, Potato.

Grade

A classification system of food quality. For example, a 'Grade A Dairy' is a dairy that produces market milk for human drinking purposes under state approved sanitation conditions according to state controlled pooling laws. The facility and equipment must meet certain state regulations.

Grass-Fed

The grass-fed food label is regulated by the USDA. Grass-fed animals receive a majority of their nutrients from grass throughout their life. The grass-fed food label does not limit the use of antibiotics, hormones, or pesticides. Meat products may be labeled as grass-fed organic.

Heifer

A young female (less than 3 years old) of the cattle species that has not borne a calf.

Herbicide

A type of pesticide that kills weeds.

Herbicide-Tolerant Crops

Crops that have been developed to survive application(s) of particular herbicides by the incorporation of certain gene(s) either through genetic engineering or traditional breeding methods. The genes allow the herbicides to be applied to the crop to provide effective weed control without damaging the crop itself.

Humane

Multiple labeling programs make claims that animals were treated humanely during the production cycle, but the verification of these claims varies widely. These labeling programs are not regulated by the USDA.

Incubation

A process of holding eggs under controlled conditions of heat and moisture, allowing the fertile eggs to hatch. Chicks require approximately 21 days and turkeys 28 days to hatch

Insecticide

A type of pesticide that kills insects.

Layer

A female chicken producing eggs regularly. According to the USDA, a good layer should produce between 19 and 20 dozen eggs in 12 months.

Livestock

Any domestic animal produced or kept primarily for farm, ranch, or market purposes, including beef and dairy cattle, hogs, sheep, goats, and horses.

Monoculture

Planting the same crop in a field year after year with no crop rotation.

Natural

As required by USDA, meat, poultry, and egg products labeled as “natural” must be minimally processed and contain no artificial ingredients. However, the natural label does not include any standards regarding farm practices and only applies to processing of meat and egg products. There are no USDA standards or regulations for the labeling of natural food products if they do not contain meat or eggs.

No-Till

A method of planting crops that involves no seedbed preparation other than opening small areas in the soil for placing seed at the intended depth. There is generally no cultivation during crop production.

Organic

Organic is a labeling term that indicates that the food or other agricultural product has been produced through approved methods. USDA certified organic foods are grown and processed according to specific federal production guidelines.

Pasteurization

A process of treatment of milk through heat that kills all harmful bacteria, without changing the physical or chemical composition of the milk.

Pasture-Raised

Due to the number of variables involved in pasture-raised agricultural systems, the USDA has not developed a labeling policy for pasture-raised products.

Pesticide

A substance that kills any pest, including insects, fungi, and weeds.

Planter

Agricultural farm equipment that is traditionally pulled behind a tractor. Planters lay seed down in a precise manner along rows. Seeds are distributed through devices called row units. The row units are spaced evenly along the planter. Planters vary greatly in size, from 2 to 48 rows. The spacing between the row units also vary greatly.

Poult

A young turkey.

Poultry

Domestic birds raised for eggs and meat.

Precision Farming (Precision Agriculture)

Managing crop production inputs (seed, fertilizer, pesticides, etc.) on a site-specific basis to reduce waste, maintain environmental quality, and increase profits.

Pullet

A female chicken less than one year old.

Rooster

A mature male chicken.

Roughage

Roughage is plant-based feed for livestock that is higher in fiber content.

Ruminants

Animals having a stomach with four compartments (rumen, reticulum, omasum and abomasum). Their digestive process is more complex, therefore, than that of animals having a true stomach. Some commonly known ruminants are cattle, sheep and goats; an example of a true stomach animal is the pig.

Sow

A mature female hog.

Steer

A bull that has been castrated for better meat production.

Stewardship

An individual's responsibility to exercise care over possessions entrusted to him or her.

Variable-Rate Application (VRA)

The adjustment of the amount of cropping inputs such as seed, fertilizer, and pesticides to match conditions in a field.

Viticulture

The science and practice of growing grapevines.

Yield

The amount of crop produced in a given time or from a given place.