Learn to grow Agronomic Crops
- foods, fibres and oils
- small or large scale farming
Agronomy involves broad acre growing of crops. Major agronomic crops include such things as wheat, cotton and rice; but there are many other agronomic crops also grown around the world ranging from poppies grown for pharmaceuticals to lavender grown for cosmetics. Potatoes and carrots are agronomic crops widely grown for human consumption; as are turnips grown for animal feed and barley grown for brewing. Agronomy is a large and important sector of agriculture, employing many people working both on farm, and other off farm who provide services and supplies to farms.
Note that each module in the Qualification - Certificate in Agronomy is a short course in its own right, and may be studied separately.
Learn to Grow Different Crops for Different Markets
The agronomic farmer has to make choices every year, about what to grow, when to grow it, and what market to sell his harvest into.
One way of managing the ever present risks in farming can be to diversify what is grown and where it is sold.
Grain for instance may sold into not only the human food market; but can also be sold as a livestock feed. Some farmers may value add to their grain by using it for brewing or processing into a higher value product such as muesli or baked goods. If you choose to process and value add; you may be able to profitably farm a smaller property.
Grains for Animal Feed
Grains can provide animals with concentrated protein, and for livestock there may be times in their life cycle or other reasons for providing such a boost to protein consumption. Legumes are also an important forage type.
Cereal grains are high in carbohydrate concentrates and may be fed whole and with no process, depending on the species of animal and grain. Grains may be ground or rolled or crushed, this helps to breakdown the digestible enzymes aiding in digestibility and may prevent problems such acidosis. The cereal grains may also undergo the process of extrusion, where they are mixed with other ingredients to then be extruded and cut to specific shapes and sizes. Cereals or grains may also require, or are more efficient, if they are cooked, steamed or flaked.
Barley is one of the main cereal grains and is a member of the grass family. It is used as a concentrate for feeding cows, sheep, pigs, horses, and even aquatic fish food flakes. It may be fed to livestock whole, ground and rolled to break down enzymes, or even soaked in water, which also helps prevent acid. Before feeding to a horse, barley should be boiled or soaked for at least two hours before feeding to prevent swelling. If feeding dry to horse barley must be ground or rolled. Barley is also used in pet food for a variety of species. It is commonly found it dog foods, and should be wholegrain as this holds most of nutrients. Barley does contain gluten, and there has been much discussion on whether gluten should be in a dog’s diet and may account for several dietary issues.
Corn is a large grain plant, with a leafy stalk which grows seed known as kernels. Before being fed to any cows, poultry or horses the corn must be steam flaked, cooked or steamed. It is also included in many pet muesli diets which are still available.
Oats are another cereal grain which produces seeds, which can be used for animal feed concentrates and is one of the most commonly used for livestock feed. Oats can be given whole, rolled or crushed into oatmeal or ground into a fine oat flour and may also be cooked. Cows and horses can be offered oats as complimentary boost in their food mix, or given on its own.
Wheat can be fed to ruminants either ground or whole. It can be commonly found in pet foods, including dogs however there has also been much discussion to the quality of wheat and whether it would be better avoided in their diet.
Soybeans are legumes which are cultivated widely and is classed as an oil seed rather as a pulse. The soy beans are crushed during the processing period and oil is extracted. For animal feed this is turned into soybean meal or oil, and usually undergoes further processing. Raw soybeans are toxic to all mono gastric animals, and should be processed appropriately before being offered to these animals. It is used in many animal feeds for farm animals, including pigs and poultry. The soy bean is also used in lower graded dog foods, and is even used in some fish foods.
Lentils are another legume which can be used in animal feed. Although it is grown for human consumption, any which is regarded unsafe may be used in animal feeds. It is generally quite expensive for livestock feed, but has been used in poultry feed.
Peas are a legume which is widely grown around the world. The seed itself contains a high level of crude protein. Once the crop is cultivated and the seeds removed from the pods, the crop residue can be fed to livestock. Ruminants digest the peas easily and are commonly used in feed for farm animals. During processing, the pea can be dry flaked which is then included in many small pet foods such as rabbit or guinea pig. It can also be found in many dog and cat foods and is believed to be easier to digest than other legumes such as soy or lentils.