Short Rows

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What's for Dinner? Sunlight.

It looks like a juicy sirloin or a tender lamb chop on your plate, but it’s not. Neither is the potato or the side salad. At their core, they are sunlight. Through photosynthesis, plants transform light into carbohydrates, which they either store as starches, use for energy, or turn into oils and proteins. Livestock eating grasses, clovers, or alfalfa consume those substances and further convert them into fats and proteins for their own use. As do we, either directly by eating fruits and vegetables, or indirectly through meat consumption. So the next time someone asks, “What’s for dinner?” tell them. Sunlight.


 

Veggie Power

All vegetables are not created equal, bragged the broccoli to the cucumber. And it wasn’t necessarily wrong—if broccoli could talk. Dietetics and Human Nutrition Assistant Professor Ingrid Adams says research now shows that certain vegetables are powerful weapons against disease. Some studies show that people who eat a colorful diet rich in dark green leafy, orange and yellow, and cruciferous vegetables—like broccoli—as well as tomatoes and legumes reduce their risk of stroke, cardiovascular diseases, hypertension, diverticulosis, and certain cancers. Reason enough to power-up with veggies.


A Wee Cradle

Not only are hummingbirds dazzling barnstormers, the females are also masterful architects. UKAg forestry professor Tom Barnes says they weave nests—half the size of a walnut shell—from bud scales and plant down, cover them with lichen and wrap them in spider silk. High above the ground in a deciduous tree, two chicks will call that wee cradle home for three weeks until they fledge. Child rearing is left to Mom. Dad zips off to dazzle another female with his jewel tones and acrobatics.


An Insatiable Beauty

Green lacewings, with their translucent, multi-veined wings, iridescent green coloring, and eyes like golden orbs, look too delicate to be anything but plant jewels. Beauty, however, is in the eye of the beholder. Ask an aphid. Green lacewings in the larval stage are frequently called aphidlions, for good reason. UK entomology professor Ric Bessin describes them as voracious predators that seek and devour soft-bodied insects such as mealybugs, thrips, mites, young whiteflies, small caterpillars, and yes, aphids—pests that can inflict serious damage on vegetable crops. No slouches when it comes to work, they quickly rise to meet increases in pest populations, making them farmers’ allies.

Photo by Ric Bessin.


ASSURE Tractor Safety

Tractor accidents play a major role in Kentucky farm fatalities, but a few simple precautions can keep you from becoming a statistic, says Mark Purschwitz, extension professor in agricultural safety and health. Help “assure” safe operations with these steps:

Avoid driving across steep slopes. Supervise youth and new operators. Stop tractor completely before mounting or dismounting. Use a roll-over protective structure (ROPS) on all tractors—the most important thing you can do. Reduce speed on slopes. Examine areas for washouts or obstacles.