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The 800 pound butter sculpture of a scene off the farm (seen here on the World Dairy Business Blog) is usually the headliner at the Dairy Building of the New York State Fair.But people wait in a long line for another hot item being used to promote New York’s dairy industry: a cup of milk that costs a quarter at the dairy bar.That includes a young James Moore, who says "It’s the best chocolate milk and white milk I’ve ever tasted in my life." "The Chocolate is more chocolaty and it’s nice and cold."The milk is all whole milk, which probably helps. Chocolate milk rules overall. The milk bar serves five cups of chocolate for every cup of plain milk.Mary Ellen Chesbro, agricultural manager for the fair says the total cups served goes up every year. This year, she's hoping the milk bar will top 400,000 cups of milk out this year.The whole operation is run by a task force of volunteers from the dairy industry, from farmers to distributors. The goal is to promote New York dairy – the state’s biggest agricultural product.Seventeen-year old Dale Durant, who serves milk to fairgoers says it can get pretty busy at the counter."Really nice days there’s a lot of people here. Weekends we get really busy."So to get a taste, go when it’s raining.And keep an eye out for the other smart entrepreneurial move in the Dairy building - the Syracuse bakery selling cookies next to the milk bar.

University advocates Native American farming methods

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Traditional American Indian cropping could be the key to a more sustainable agricultural system, Rochester Institute of Technology students have heard.

The university’s Native Innovation day had a focus on what’s called the ‘three-sister system’ which some scientists believe can decrease soil erosion and protect soil nutrients.

The ‘three-sister method’ used by the Iroquois people involves growing three crops: corn, beans and squash together in the same field.

Associate professor in Cornell University’s agriculture program Jane Mt. Pleasant, says tilling, or plowing, increases soil erosion and lowers the amount of nutrients for plants to feed on in the soil.

And it’s the no-till part of the 'three-sister system’ that could have implications for a more sustainable modern cropping method.

“This system has a lot of principles that we can use in thinking about sustainable agricultural systems today," she says. "One of the primary things is actually that it was done without tillage. We recognize that tillage, even though it does lots of good things, it also is enormously destructive of our soil resource.”

She also says, although most farmers plant crops separately today, research shows that a multi-cropping method with certain seeds grown together has outperformed mono-crops in some instances.

Mt. Pleasant says the modern agricultural sector could learn a lot about the sustainability of natural resources from  practices in Native American culture.

WXXI/Finger Lakes Reporter for the Innovation Trail
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