Innovation Delaware Q&A: Mike Scuse, secretary of the Department of Agriculture

As Delaware’s Secretary of Agriculture, Mike Scuse is charged with helping the agricultural industry grow and thrive. He has witnessed farmers using advanced technology to improve outcomes and make farms more efficient. Here, he answers some questions about the state’s agriculture climate.

What does the pending merger of DuPont and Dow mean for agriculture in Delaware?

You’re going to see an agriculture company that will have a tremendous amount of financial resources to put into research in terms of seed technology and crop-production techniques. We need to keep up with weeds that have become resistant to products that we use today. We need new insecticides to take care of the pressures the crops are under.

How has technology helped irrigation efforts?

Thanks to GPS systems, farmers can track the irrigation better and also have better outcomes in the fields. And they can now turn systems on and off with their phones and tablets. Those devices also allow them to monitor the irrigation progress.

What innovations are now found in the feed given to chickens and livestock?

Thanks to feed-ration improvements, the production has gone up, even for dairy farmers. Research has led to healthier feed, which in turn has made the animals healthier.

What uses have farmers found for drone technology?

Drones are inexpensive ways producers big and small can look at their fields. They mount cameras to drones, and [the drones] can fly over fields to look for insect pressures, weed pressures and areas impacted by drought. Later in the season, farmers can’t access corn and soybean crops easily, so they use the drones to fly over them to assess any damages.

Why is Delaware such a good place for farmers?

Our soil is great, and we are very agriculture business- friendly here. The state is located close to 25 percent of the nation’s population, and our climate makes Delaware a really good place for poultry, grains, fruits and vegetables. We promote agriculture and we work with companies that want to come here to help get them through the process so there are no surprises when they start operations.

This article appeared in the premiere issue of Delaware Innovation Magazine, an overview of the state’s cutting edge industries and the people leading them. See the whole issue here.

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