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Cows Contented by New Fly Trap

April 9, 1996

CLARKSVILLE, Md. (AP) _ Tom Moreland thinks he has built a better fly trap. Now he will see whether cattle farmers beat a path to his door.

Moreland, research manager with the University of Maryland agriculture school, has devised a white plastic chute that could save cows the irritation of flies that distract them from producing milk or putting on weight.

Tests at the university’s dairy farm in Clarksville showed that the device, the ``livestock walk-through fly trap,″ cut populations of horn flies and face flies by 87 percent and 71 percent, respectively.

The chute is placed in the gateway between the cattle barn and the pasture. As the cows pass through it, flaps that resemble the hanging sheets in an automatic carwash brush the flies off their faces and backs. A light in a grid cut into the side of the chute lures the flies into an electrocution unit and kills them.

``It’s one after another pop, pop, pop, pop as they’re going through it,″ said Moreland.

The university has licensed the technology to Orkin Pest Control Inc. of Atlanta, which is rolling out the product across the United States this summer under the trade name Fly Blocker System. It will sell for $2,000 to $2,500 per unit.

``Unless you’re involved in the agriculture field, you don’t really realize how big this is,″ said Gar Fraley, general manager of Orkin Agribusiness Services.

The dairy and beef industries suffer millions of dollars in losses from fly infestations. Flies spread brucellosis, foot and mouth disease, anthrax and tuberculosis. Horn flies can bore into the beasts and cause wounds. Face flies get into cows’ eyes and cause infections.

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TWIN FALLS, Idaho (AP) _ Wheat and potato markets are so good that some farmers are plowing alfalfa fields under a year before their normal rotation.

``Hay prices aren’t bad, you understand,″ said Bob Romanko, a crop specialist at the University of Idaho’s Parma center. ``But wheat prices are exceptional.″

He said that might be why Idaho’s usual 1 million-plus acres of hay will be reduced by an estimated 70,000 acres this year.

The reduction is predicted by the Idaho Agricultural Statistics Service in its spring planting intentions report. But Romanko said it probably would not affect the alfalfa market.

Rick Speicher, district sales manger for Northrup King, said new hay seedings this spring are expected to be modest, followed by increased alfalfa planting this fall.

``Quite a few people are rotating out of hay early,″ Speicher said. ``They’re plowing out stands before normal rotation so they can take advantage of wheat contracts and play the potato market. I’m hearing that all across the state.″

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WASHINGTON (AP) _ Farmers are being offered an early exit from federal Conservation Reserve Program contracts on less-environmentally sensitive lands.

The Agriculture Department, acting under the newly signed farm law, announced the early out will be available on pre-1995 contracts that have been in effect for at least five years.

The offer is not available on several categories of lands, including those with an erodibility index over 15; land devoted to useful-life easements; field windbreaks; grass waterways; shallow-water areas; and filter strips.

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