Thought of the Week

“Our fields are never bare.
When you use a shovel to look at the soil in our fields, it’s like a geological dig.
Much of it hasn’t been turned over in 40 years.  It has a thick duff layer to prevent erosion and is full of earthworms and all kinds of soil life.”

-John Aeschliman, No-till Farmer

Posted in Ag Production, Dirt, Education, Erosion, Farmers, Farmland Preservation, For Kids, No-till agriculture, Other Topics, Soil, Technology, Thought of the Week | Leave a comment

Thought of the Week

“I really like to innovate.
Farming is such an exciting occupation
and way to live.”

-John Aeschliman, Farmer

Posted in Ag Production, Education, Farmers, Farmland Preservation, Feeding the World, For Kids, Technology, Thought of the Week, Work | Leave a comment

What is Biotechnology?

Whew boy, what a question, right?  We here are Kiss My Tractor are not pro-GMO nor are we anti-GMO.  What we are is pro-science.  This post discusses how biotechnology (Genetically Modified Organisms) works.

So, with that said… Just What Is Biotechnology?  It’s easy to figure out if you break the word apart:  Bio is short for biology, which is the study of all living things.  Technology is another word for tools.  Biotechnology then, is a tool that uses biology to make new products.  For example, plant biotechnology is a precise way to make seed with special qualities.  These seeds allow farmers to grow plants that are more nutritious, more resistant to pests or weeds and are more productive.  Plant biotechnology is a tool for looking closer at nature to find solutions to improve the health of the Earth and its people.


Biotechnology enables scientists to look closer at genes and make improvements in them.  Our bodies are composed of millions of individual units (cells).  Within each cell are genes that carry all of the information which allows our bodies to work and determines how we look and grow.

We get our genes from our parents, which is why we may look like our parents, grandparents and great-grandparents.  All people, plants and animals inherit traits from their parents through their genes.

One of the first people to study how traits are passed from parents to their young was a monk in Austria named Gregor Mendel.  About 150 years ago, he used plants to show how certain things, like flower size and color are passed on from the parent to the offspring.


Biotechnology enables scientists to study how plants grow and how they react to the environment.  As a result, scientists can now insert a specific gene into a plant that will help it adapt to its environment, make it more pest resistant or even make it more nutritious.

Biotechnology can help farmers and the environment in may ways.  Insects and weeds are big problems for farmers.  They have many tools to choose from to protect their crops.  Sometimes farmers use chemicals to help control the weeds and insects.  Biotechnology is another option.  For example, many farmers throughout the world grow cotton.  Some young insects, or larvae, love to eat cotton plants.  To stop the larvae from feasting on cotton plants, scientists have found ways to use biotechnology to help the cotton plant protect itself from insect larvae worms.  Farmers who grow these biotech cotton plants do not need to spray as much insecticide on their crops, and they can still grow as much or more cotton per acre!


Larvae damages the cotton flower


Undamaged cotton, ready for harvest

Weeds can be a problem, too.  Weeds crowd out the farmer’s crops and rob them of water, light and nutrients they need to grow.  Some farmers plow, disk or cultivate their fields to destroy these weeds, but tilling can cause severe soil erosion.  Thanks to biotechnology, a farmer can manage the weeds without having to do extra tilling.  This saves energy as well as the soil.  Giving farmers more choices to control harmful insects and weeds help their farms and the environment.

Biotechnology has tremendous potential for improving the environment and our food supply for people around the world.  While for centuries, farmers have been breeding plants to create better crops, biotechnology takes the process a giant step further.  Agricultural biotechnology is a precise way to make seeds with special  specific qualities.  These seeds can allow farmers to grow plants that are more nutritious or more adaptable to their environment, more resistant to pests, and more productive.


For example, varieties of biotech corn have already been developed for regions of Africa which have saltier, drier and wetter conditions than past available corn would tolerate.  In some areas, their yields there have quadrupled, enabling farmers to improve the lives, economics and health of their families.  Golden rice, a biotech variety, has higher levels of beta-carotene, and is grown in Asia, where soils are deficient in Vitamin A.  Golden Rice is improving the diets and saving the lives of hundreds of thousands of young children there.


Golden Rice on the left as compared with regular white rice

As our world population increases and we become more dependent on our farmers to produce higher yields and better nutrition, with less chemicals, less erosion and less water, biotechnology may prove to be the greatest aid in food production and environment protection we have ever seen.

*Ag Mag, an agricultural magazine for kids, permission from the Council of Biotechnology Information.

Posted in Ag Production, Biotechnology, Education, Erosion, Farmers, Farmland Preservation, Feeding the World, For Kids, GMOs | Leave a comment

Thought of the Week

“The soil must be treated as a living thing,
and when you stop tillage
the organisms that produce the nutrient exchange systems that feed our crops return in mass.  The soil once again becomes healthy like it was in the beginning.”

-John Aeschliman, Farmer

Posted in Agvocacy and Social Media, Dirt, Education, Erosion, Farmers, Farmland Preservation, For Kids, No-till agriculture, Soil, Technology, Thought of the Week | Leave a comment

American Lamb

Some quick fact that I gleaned from the Food Producers of Idaho’s Ag. Pavilion at the Western Idaho Fair in July this year.  For your use and storehouse of agricultural knowledge.


More than 80,000 family farmers raise lamb across every state in the U.S.



Lamb raised and sold in the U.S. is far fresher than lamb that is imported from abroad.  Much of the lamb we  in the U.S. consume is imported from New Zealand.
Those lambs travel 10,000 miles to get to your plate.
Compare that with lamb raised in your own state.


Sheep recycle vital nutrients back into the soil, improving the quality of the pasture and rangeland, while minimizing erosion and encouraging native plant growth.

Sheep graze on high-quality natural grasses and forage, resulting in succulent, tender meat for your table.


No growth hormones are used in U.S. lamb production.  Although they are not used in U.S. lamb production, growth hormones are legal for producers to us.

American Lamb producers take pride in raising their lamb from beginning to end.

To find American Lamb recipes for your dinner go to:

Want to know more about your shepherd?
See the Great American Lamb Tale and Sustainability sections
on the American Lamb website:


Posted in #lamb, Ag Production, Education, Farm Products, Feeding the World, For Kids, Livestock Production, Ranchers | Leave a comment

Thought of the Week


Posted in Ag Production, Agvocacy and Social Media, Education, Feeding the World, For Kids, Ranchers, Thought of the Week | Leave a comment

Natural Magic!

The American Sheep Industry is updating their American wool logo – and  the effort to rebrand wool as “Natural Magic.”  With the new look of American wool unveiled earlier this year, marketing efforts are shifting toward the development of a new website and social media outlets that will spotlight the benefits and quality of American wool.


100% American grown Merino wool – beautiful

ASI Wool Council Chair Ken Wixom of Idaho said,”I’ve been in the sheep and wool business for a long time, but this is one of the most exciting times I can remember.  We have an opportunity to show consumers just how beneficial wool can be when used correctly in everything from clothing to blankets.”


A beautiful 100% wool Pendleton blanket, made in America

One group that already understands the valued of American wool is the U.S. military.  More than $20 million in new (wool) fabric agains existing fabric contracts.  The U.S. Army is also conducting a major field test of American wool this winter, and will consider additional use of the fabric based on the outcome of those tests.

This is fine news for the wool producers of America.



Pure Merino wool bicycling socks, made in America



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Thought of the Week

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The Idaho Potato Commission can thank the New York City Police Department for drawing attention to a grandiose publicity stunt orchestrated on August 24th in the Big Apple.

The department issued a tongue-in-cheek all-points bulletin over the police radio advising officers to “be on the lookout for a big potato floating down the Hudson River.”


Pretty cool, you have to admit

From that moment, IPC officials’ phones began ringing incessantly with the coveted national media inquiries they hoped to generate by floating their Idaho icon – the Great Big Idaho Potato Truck – past the Statue of Liberty on a barge pulled by a tugboat.

The 6 Ton replica Russet Burbank on a flat-bed truck has toured the country for the past five years to raise awareness of Idaho potatoes and drawing attention to IPC charitable donations in communities along its route.


Look at that!  The Big Idaho Potato Truck with our Statue of Liberty!

The truck was on the water for several hours, photographed by onlookers from tour busses and ferry boats during its cruise.  There were TV crews filming it from helicopters.  “We’ve been picked up by all of the major media here, including the most popular radio station as well as the TV station here,” said IPC President and CEO, Frank Muir.

IPC began planning the event and securing the necessary permits about a year ago, moving  the stunt to the water because of restrictions against semi-trucks on many Manhattan streets.

In conjunction with the spectacle on the Hudson, IPC also gave a New York City soup kitchen a voucher for 12,000 pounds of Idaho potatoes – roughly the equivalent to the serving size of the replica spud.  Muir and his cohorts volunteered at the kitchen on August 25th, to help serve baked Idaho potatoes.

John-Harvard Reid, associate director of Holy Apostle Soup Kitchen said his kitchen serves 1,000 homeless guests every Monday through Friday, and hasn’t missed a meal, including during Hurricane Sandy.


“Getting a baked potato is like something you remember from home,” Reid said.  “A lot of times when you’re homeless, you don’t get those comfort meals that make you feel like you’re home again.”

Way to go, Idaho Potato Commission!  Eat more potatoes!  Thank a farmer for this bounty!

If you’d like to read a related article in the  New York Daily News, click HERE.



Capital Press, Aug. 26, 2016

Posted in #potatoes, Ag exports, Ag Production, Education, Farm Products, Farmers, Farmland Preservation, For Kids | Leave a comment

Advice from an Old Farmer

This wonderful post was circulating on Facebook today, and I thought you all would like it.

Advice from an old Farmer…..

Your fences need to be horse-high, pig-tight and bull-strong.
Keep skunks and bankers at a distance.
Life is simpler when you plow around the stump.
A bumble bee is considerably faster than a John Deere tractor.
Words that soak into your ears are whispered… not yelled.
Meanness don’t jes’ happen overnight.
Forgive your enemies; it messes up their heads.
Do not corner something that you know is meaner than you.
Always stand upwind of the spray of water.
It don’t take a very big person to carry a grudge.
You cannot unsay a cruel word.
Every path has a few puddles.
When you wallow with pigs, expect to get dirty.
The best sermons are lived, not preached.
Most of the stuff people worry about ain’t never gonna happen anyway.
Don’t judge folks by their relatives.
Remember that silence is sometimes the best answer.
Live a good, honorable life; when you get older and look back, you’ll enjoy it a second time.
Don ‘t interfere with somethin’ that ain’t bothering you none.
Timing has a lot to do with the outcome of a rain dance.
If you find yourself in a hole, the first thing to do is stop diggin’.
Sometimes you get, and sometimes you get got.
The biggest troublemaker you’ll ever deal with, sees you from the mirror each mornin’.
Always drink upstream from the herd.
Good judgment comes from experience, and a lotta that comes from bad judgment.
Lettin’ the cat outta the bag is a whole lot easier than puttin’ it back in.
If you think you’re a person of some influence, try orderin’ somebody else’s dog around..
Don’t pick a fight with an old man. If he is too old to fight, he’ll just kill you.
Live simply. Love generously. Care deeply. Speak kindly. Leave the rest to God.
Most times, it just gets down to common sense.

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