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» April 16, 2008 «
It looks like hay prices will stay high, which will affect farmers who grow it and farmers who buy it to feed to cattle, horses and other livestock. Market analysts say hay supplies are not expanding to meet demand. In fact, acreage in one of the state's leading hay-growing counties, Imperial, dropped 13 percent. Even though prices have been strong, a number of farmers shifted land into winter wheat and other grains, which also have been in high demand and can be grown with less water.
When farmers transport hay on trucks, a little bit blows off the top … and a bill moving through the state Legislature would consolidate rules about the incidental loss of hay or straw chaff on the road. Existing regulations aren't clear about whether some chaff may be lost without violating the rules, but authorities agree that small amounts don't cause trouble. So the bill would allow California hay haulers to lose small amounts of chaff without penalty.
Food leftovers from Bay Area restaurants are being transformed into nutrient rich compost. A Vacaville company takes the scraps, along with yard trimmings, and composts them into organic fertilizer in about 90 days. Farmers say they've achieved good results when using the fertilizer. The program started in 1998 as a means to reduce the amount of trash going into landfills. It is now the largest urban compost collection program in the nation.
More cities have been hiring goats as a natural form of weed control. Grazing with goats removes vegetation and protects property from wildfires. The goats eat vegetation and knock down what they don't eat into small pieces. Goats have also been used to graze weeds on levees. Goats do most grazing for weed control, but farm advisors say sheep have also been used to control yellow star thistle and other plants.Top