Farm Bill Decisions

Farm Bill: Been receiving questions on farm bill since before Christmas and just hadn’t taken time to dig into it till this week. Viewing charts is helpful to me, so I’ve added some to jenreesources.com, including one from Robin Reid from K-State which is helpful in understanding how program payments are triggered. If you missed the UNL/FSA farm bill webinar, you can view it at:  https://go.unl.edu/x0i9. I am not running simulations this year and don’t recommend that you do it either. The Texas A&M tool is a very good tool, but it will show you a range of probabilities beyond what is realistic for this 2022 decision, barring some type of trainwreck. If you’d like to very easily see for yourself what yields and prices would be necessary to trigger program payments, download the spreadsheet from K-State (and I have an example on my blog): https://www.agmanager.info/ag-policy/2018-farm-bill/tradeoff-between-20222023-arc-and-plc.

Looking at any potential payments for the 2021 crop, projected prices are substantially above the PLC price payments for crops like corn, soybean, wheat, and sorghum grown in Nebraska and would take a 23-33% price reduction to trigger a PLC payment. They’re also substantially above (30-47%) the price and would take a 30-40% county yield loss to trigger ARC-Co. I’m unsure counties with more substantial wind damage from July 9, 2021 wind storm had enough county average yield loss to trigger and ARC-Co payment…and many may have chosen PLC corn last year with the prices at the time anyway.

Decisions for 2022 need to be made by March 15, 2022. For 2022, neither ARC-Co nor PLC would be anticipated to trigger for corn, soybean, wheat, sorghum with current USDA projected prices (which are just numbers at this time). K-State does a nice job of compiling the different sources of 2022/2023 MYA prices and updating them every month here:  https://www.agmanager.info/crop-insurance/risk-management-strategies/projections-and-sources-myaprices-arc-and-plc-commodity. Different election decisions (ARC-Co or PLC) can be made for crops in different FSA farm numbers if you’d like to spread risk. Fields with higher yields would be more favorable for your PLC decisions.

A consideration for ARC-Co for corn, soybean, wheat, or milo would be if a county has a lot of non-irrigated acres and one anticipates a drought event in 2022. That may look additionally favorable if the county has the opportunity to split crops into irrigated and non-irrigated decisions.

For soybean, ARC-Co is potentially a little more favorable than PLC, but still most likely won’t trigger a payment. The Soybean MYA price would need to fall below $8.40 to trigger a PLC payment and below $7.84 to trigger an ARC-Co payment with an average yield.

For corn, the MYA price would need to fall below $3.70 to trigger a PLC payment and below $3.18 to trigger an ARC-Co payment with an average yield. Robin Reid with K-State shares, “Strong export demand currently would lead us to believe that PLC payments are unlikely, but again, much uncertainty exists. A farmer could select PLC for the downside price protection or, if they are optimistic that current high prices are here to stay, selecting ARC-County would give them a higher likelihood of payment if county yields are low. In the case of irrigated corn, the likelihood of a yield loss large enough to trigger an ARC-County payment is less, so irrigated base may lend itself more to PLC.” I would note, this is true unless the county has a history of major storm events which traditionally have impacted county average yields, thus making ARC-Co irrigated also an option.

For wheat, PLC has been favorable in the past, but current prices are well above the $5.50 reference price. And for sorghum, PLC has also been favorable in the past with a $3.95 reference price, but again, current prices are well above this.  

Bottom line, it’s not anticipated that either PLC nor ARC-Co will trigger program payments for 2022 at this time. I think many farmers would prefer good crops and decent prices. ARC-Co and PLC are tools for risk management and perhaps crop insurance tools will play an even bigger factor in managing risk for this coming year.


Courtesy Robin Reid, K-State. https://www.agmanager.info/crop-insurance/risk-management-strategies/arc-or-plc-question

Payments for 2021 are not likely for either ARC-Co or PLC elections barring major price changes or large average county yield losses. Slide via Brad Lubben, UNL. https://cap.unl.edu/policy-legal/farm-program-details-decisions-and-directions-jan-20-2022-webinar

Projected prices for 2022 to aid in 2022 election decisions. Again, it would take a major price drop or major county average yield loss to trigger payments. Slide via Brad Lubben, UNL. https://cap.unl.edu/policy-legal/farm-program-details-decisions-and-directions-jan-20-2022-webinar

This spreadsheet is great tool to very visually see just how much prices and yields have to change to trigger either PLC or ARC-Co for a crop in a county. In this corn example, PLC triggers at the reference price of $3.70. For ARC-Co, at that $3.70 price, county average yield would need to drop to 191 bu/ac to trigger ARC-Co. Or with higher prices, the county average yield would have to drop below 191 bu/ac. I think most farmers would prefer good yields and decent prices. The spreadsheet can be downloaded from K-State at: https://www.agmanager.info/ag-policy/2018-farm-bill/tradeoff-between-20222023-arc-and-plc

February 2022 Events

It seems like January is flying by with hitting winter programming hard! So, with only a few weeks left, wanted to get some early February programs on your radar. But first, sharing a correction for York Co. Corn Grower Banquet on evening of Jan. 20th: the social time begins at 5:30 p.m. with meal at 6:00 p.m.

For those interested in growing or utilizing sorghum, there’s two upcoming opportunities. One Jan. 26 in Lincoln regarding using sorghum food products and another Jan. 27 in Kearney regarding sorghum research. You can view topics and register here: https://www.nebraskasorghum.org/.

For those attending Crop Production Clinics, just FYI that a weed guide is provided with your registration. Reminder Hastings Jan. 19, Kearney Jan. 25, York Jan. 26 and virtual Jan. 28. Register at:  https://agronomy.unl.edu/cpc.

Feb. 2 Soil Health Conference: For those who’ve attended the Eastern Nebraska Soil Health Conference in the past, it will be held at David City at the Fairgrounds this year. No details yet but registration starts at 8:30 a.m. with program from 9 a.m.-3:30 p.m. Registration at: https://go.unl.edu/qe45.

Feb. 2 Hamilton Co. Ag Day will be held at fairgrounds in Aurora. This event also qualifies for nitrogen certification credits from UBBNRD. Registration begins at 9 a.m. with program from 9:30-3:30 p.m. Topics include: updates from Nebraska Corn Growers and USDA, Understanding southern power’s pricing changes and options, Understanding on-farm solar and land leasing for solar development, Nitrogen sensors, Nitrogen inhibitors and sources for 2022, Ag water dashboard, and What’s been learned from interseeding cover crops. There’s no charge and lunch is sponsored by Aurora Coop.

Feb. 8 is Merrick Co. Ag Update at fairgrounds in Central City. Registration begins at 9 a.m. with program from 9:30-3:30 p.m. The morning topics are similar to what is being shared in Aurora. In addition to those topics, there will be a farmer-led session on non-chemical weed control options, Weed management in the Platte Valley, Land lease considerations for 2022, Irrigation scheduling from satellite imagery, and Effects of crop residue baling on land and animal performance. There’s no charge and lunch is sponsored by Archer Credit Union.

Practical Cover Crop Management: New this year, I’m hosting a two-hour series (10 a.m.-Noon) each Friday in February at the 4-H Building at York Fairgrounds. When asked questions, I often share that a specific farmer has tried a certain practice and share what was learned, but I often don’t know the specific details farmers ask about. So, my goal with this series is that you hear directly from farmers, build connections and learn together. I envision this series being applicable to crop and livestock producers, ag industry professionals, landlords, and bankers. Please RSVP at 402-362-5508 or jrees2@unl.edu.

  • Feb. 4: Back to Basics: Getting started with cover crops is an opportunity for those who have never tried covers or want to learn more. Learn the basics of timing, rates, species, and when to plant for different systems. Learn goals and what has/hasn’t worked for different farmers.
  • Feb. 11: Termination timing including planting green is an opportunity to hear from farmers who plant small grains like rye and their experiences in terminating the cover crop prior to planting corn/soybeans or planting green and terminating the cover after planting corn and soybeans.
  • Feb. 18: Interseeding cover crops is an opportunity to hear from farmers planting cover crops into growing corn or soybean crops. Learn about herbicide choices, species selection, goals, and what has been learned.
  • Feb. 25: Reducing inputs with cover crops is an attempt to discuss numbers/economics around cover crop management. Hear how farmers are reducing nitrogen and chemical inputs by utilizing cover crops. Discuss how we can place an economic value on any soil changes.






JenREES 1/9/22

It was great to kick off winter programming last week and reconnect with people at the York Ag Expo! For those who attended pesticide training, please allow up to 3 weeks for the postcard with billing info. from NDA to be mailed to you. If you don’t receive a postcard in 3 weeks, please contact me or the local educator you received training from.

Two upcoming webinars of potential interest:

York County Corn Grower Banquet will be held Jan. 20th at Stone Creek in McCool Junction. Social will begin at 5:30 p.m. A supper of broasted chicken and roast beef will be served at 6:00 p.m. with program shortly after. The evening’s entertainment will be comedian Kris Covi. Kris is a Nebraska comedian who can be seen at events around the country and is known for his family friendly comedy. Tickets are $12/person and can be purchased from any York Co. Corn Grower director, the York Co. Extension Office, or at the door the evening of the 20th.

Nebraska Farm Income and Farm Policy Directions: Had several conversations the past week regarding farm income, bill, and thinking about the future. Dr. Brad Lubben recently wrote an article on this, so I’m sharing excerpts in the event you missed it. The full article can be viewed at: https://go.unl.edu/ixge.

“Farm Income: Using official state-level farm income data published by USDA’s Economic Research Service through 2020 and my projections for 2021-2024, net farm income in Nebraska is currently projected to be $8.1 billion in 2021, a sharp rise from the $5.3 billion estimate for 2020, which itself was up substantially from the $3.5 billion average over the 2015-2019 downturn. Stronger commodity prices since late 2020 coupled with reduced, but still substantial government payments led to the record income estimates.

“The record farm income levels may not last however, as forecasts through 2024 based on longer-term baseline projections from USDA and the Food and Agricultural Policy Center (FAPRI) at the University of Missouri pull Nebraska farm income back to the $5 billion to $6 billion range. An expected pullback in some commodity prices, a sharp rise in input costs, and a dramatic decline in government payments account for the drop in projected farm income.

“Safety Net: Looking closer at government payments provides insight on the role of the federal safety net as well as management decisions ahead for producers. Relying again on data from USDA’s Economic Research Service through 2020 and my projections for 2021-2024, the analysis shows government payments dropping from unprecedented levels in 2020 to minimal levels over the coming years.

“Government payments in Nebraska peaked at nearly $2.5 billion in 2020 as ad hoc COVID-19 relief rolled out primarily in the form of Paycheck Projection Program support and Coronavirus Food Assistance Program payments. That was more than double the payments of 2019, which itself was high due to the ad hoc relief in the form of Market Facilitation Program payments to combat losses related to on-going trade conflicts. Government payments dropped dramatically in 2021 as COVID-19 relief scaled back and they look to virtually disappear by 2022 except for the stable, predictable conservation payments of around $150 million per year.

“Amid the massive ad hoc payments over the past four years (trade assistance payments in 2018-2020 and COVID-19 relief payments in 2020-2021), the core part of the farm income safety net, namely commodity programs, have largely disappeared in relevance.

“Under the 2018 Farm Bill, producers had an opportunity to change their enrollment for 2019 and beyond and largely shifted toward PLC given the price projections at the time and the relative support of the ARC program versus the Price Loss Coverage (PLC) program. ARC and PLC payments in 2020 for the 2019 crop were substantial at more than $240 million (almost all PLC) but have dropped to around $50 million for 2021 and are projected at minimal levels going forward given current price levels and projections.” The rest of the article can be viewed at: https://go.unl.edu/ixge.

Figure 1. Net Farm Income in Nebraska

Source: USDA-ERS and author calculations.

Figure 2. Government Payments in Nebraska

Source: USDA-ERS and author calculations.

JenREES 1/2/22

Happy New Year! Wishing everyone a safe and blessed 2022! This week I’m going to share some info. on upcoming ag programs for the month of January.

The end of the year also means report time for those of us in Extension. Each year we need to justify the things we do in trying to help people with research-based information. If you would please consider helping me by completing this short 5 question survey I’d greatly appreciate it. Thanks! 
https://app.sli.do/event/bWKk1cPhRG5MsLmu3Y7vkR/live/polls

York Ag Expo will be held Jan. 6-7 at the Holthus Convention Center in York. Thank you to all the vendors and the sponsors of this event! An Ag Appreciation Lunch will begin each day at 11:30 a.m. and is sponsored by Cornerstone Bank. Pesticide Training will be at 9:30 a.m. on the 6th and Chemigation Training will be at 9:30 a.m. on the 7th. Please RSVP to 402-362-5508 or jrees2@unl.edu if you plan on attending either of these.  

Crop Production Clinics are back in person this year with a larger number of locations to attend. The closest to this area are Beatrice on Jan. 13, Hastings on Jan. 19, ENREC near Ithaca on Jan. 21, Kearney on Jan. 25, York on Jan. 26 and a virtual option on Jan. 28. There’s still the pest management room which provides for commercial, non-commercial, and private applicator pesticide certification and the crop/soil/water room. We’ve also worked to create a few highly interactive sessions and will look forward to hearing feedback regarding them. You can learn more and register at https://agronomy.unl.edu/cpc

Cow-Calf College will be held Jan. 25 at the Clay County Fairgrounds from 9:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Registration starts at 9:00 a.m. This year’s program will be offered in a hybrid format through zoom & attendance in person. The 2022 Cow-Calf College will start with an in-depth look at eastern redcedar control in the morning. The afternoon will have updates by beef cow-calf specialist, Kacie McCarthy and a special presentation by Tom Field focusing on ways to engage youth in the beef industry.  

This year’s program provides flexibility. For those only interested in red cedar control, you can attend the morning session, which includes development of management plans, effective integration of management tools, and use of new rangeland monitoring platforms. Those interested in bull management and strategies for transitioning the next generation of beef producers and professionals, can attend the afternoon sessions. All the sessions will be offered in-person and available via zoom. For those attending in person, lunch will be provided for those who register by calling the Fillmore County Extension Office at 402-759-3712 or Clay County Extension Office at 402-762-3644 or online at go.unl.edu/frcollege. To participate via zoom, register at go.unl.edu/onlinecowcalfcollege.

York/Hamilton Cattlemen’s Banquet is scheduled for Jan. 25, 2022 at the Holthus Convention Center in York. The evening’s entertainment will feature Greg Warren of the St. Louis, MO area. Greg is a standup comedian and was a member of the ‘Where the Field Corn Grows’ comedy tour. The evening starts at 6:30 with a cash bar, a Prime Rib meal at 7:00 with entertainment and recognition of honored guests to follow. Tickets are $25 per person, or banquet sponsorships that include two banquet tickets and recognition at the banquet are available for $150. Cattlemen’s Banquet tickets can be purchased from any of the York-Hamilton County Cattlemen’s Directors or at the Extension Offices in Hamilton and York Counties.

Also, save the date for York County Corn Growers Banquet on the evening of Jan. 20, 2022. Additional details to follow.


JenREES 12/26/21

Upcoming Farm Bill Webinar: As you consider 2022 farm bill decisions, there is an upcoming webinar from UNL on Jan. 20th at Noon. You will need to register to obtain the Zoom link and can do so at: https://cap.unl.edu/webinars.

End of Year Reporting for Extension is here. If you would please consider sharing ways that information I shared helped you this past year, I’d appreciate it. Thanks!
https://app.sli.do/event/bWKk1cPhRG5MsLmu3Y7vkR/live/polls

Evergreen Trees and Perennial Plants: The weather has been incredible overall for December which has allowed for additional things to get done. However, the fact that we’re experiencing temperature extremes and warmer weather is difficult for plants which prefer steady and colder temperatures than we’ve experienced prior to this coming week. Kelly Feehan, Extension horticultural educator, shares some thoughts below on helping alleviate winter stress to evergreens.

“Warm, sunny winter days increase the risk of winter drying and sunscald injury. A lack of soil moisture and snow cover greatly increases the risk of winter dessication. Winter dessication results in evergreens turning brown during spring. Just because an evergreen looks fine now does not mean it is not stressed. It can take an evergreen months to turn brown after a fatal injury. Just think of Christmas trees. They remain green a long time after being cut down.

Evergreens most at risk are newly planted evergreens but even established Arborvitae, Japanese Yew and some Junipers are quite susceptible. Evergreens planted in the last year or two and those planted near south facing walls of light colored homes or pavement are even more at risk.

While we may not see a lot of dessication on established spruce and pines, this does not mean they are not stressed. Especially with spruce, we continue to see an increase in diseases that are tied to moisture stress. 

Winter watering is becoming increasingly important to help reduce winter drying. While adequate summer and fall watering is most beneficial, winter watering would be wise this year.

Winter watering needs to be done when temperatures are above 45 degrees Fahrenheit and early in the day for water to soak into the soil before nightfall. Water should not pool against a tree trunk and plant stems to freeze over night as this can cause damage.

When soils are dry and not frozen, apply water slowly with a slow running hose or by punching holes near the bottom of a five gallon bucket. Place the bucket over tree roots and fill it with water, allowing the water to slowly trickle out of the small holes.

About once a month, if needed, moisten the soil to about an eight inch depth from the trunk to just beyond branch tips. Placing a four inch layer of wood chip mulch over the roots of evergreens will help conserve soil moisture during the growing season and throughout winter. Mulch layers should not be too deep or piled against tree trunks.

And if you have a real Christmas tree, consider cutting off the branches and using them to protect tender perennials and young shrubs. By placing the branches over the tops of perennial plants or inserting them into young shrubs, the branches will act like a winter mulch, protecting plants from drying winds, bright sun and temperature extremes.”

Additional Certifications

Joy, Comfort, Hope. Three words the Pastors at my church have been preaching on this month. Been thinking about those impacted with much loss by the recent disasters of tornadoes out east and the wildfires and winds in Kansas. Also thinking about so many who have lost loved ones this year and the difficulty of holidays with those losses. There’s also plenty else going on in the world! All around us, people can sure use some joy, comfort, and hope right now! And thankfully, this time of year reminds us of that for those of us who celebrate Christmas; The Hope of the World came down to earth to be born to die so we can live! This Christmas may we have eyes to see those who are hurting, hands willing to help how we can, and hearts ready to share the hope within us. Have a blessed Christmas!

Pesticide Applicator Certification: Last week, I shared about changes to private pesticide applicator certification. Just to clarify, private applicators are purchasing and using restricted use pesticides on land they farm. Private applicators cannot apply to others’ land and receive a payment as they would then be considered commercial applicators. Private applicators can trade services by applying pesticides to other people’s land as long as money is not exchanged (ex. other party plants a field for the applicator in exchange for the applicator spraying his/her field).

Fumigation is no longer a topic we can teach with private pesticide training. The new law states that those who wish to fumigate need to obtain that specific certification by obtaining study materials and passing an exam (in addition to the private applicator training also required) . The fumigation materials and exam dates are the same ones commercial applicators have to take and are found at https://pested.unl.edu/ under the “commercial/non-commercial” study materials and exam sessions.

Commercial and Non-Commercial applicators are receiving payment to apply pesticides to other people’s ground (for non-commercial applicators, it’s a requirement of their job). To obtain initial certification, one has to purchase study materials for the categories the applicator wishes to apply (ex. ag plant, fumigation, etc.). All commercial and non-commercial initial applicators need to pass an exam that includes General Standards (category 00) and whatever additional certification the person is seeking. Go to https://pested.unl.edu/ and in the right-hand column, it lists certification information for commercial/non-commercial applicators. It has a direct link for the study materials and also a link for the exam sites. For recertification, the most common one for those working in ag industry would be Ag Pest Control-Plant (Category 01). The easiest way to do recertification, and what we recommend, is to attend a Crop Production Clinic. There’s one in York on Jan. 26 but you can find them all listed at https://agronomy.unl.edu/cpc. For recertification in other categories, an exam needs to be taken and passed; the dates are found at the https://pested.unl.edu/ website.

RUP Dicamba Training: Extension is not providing RUP dicamba training. This is being provided by the companies who sell RUP dicamba. Most of these are online and the 2022 trainings may not be on the websites yet. Below are the links for reference. One more thing that NDA wished us to share, any RUP dicamba product on hand that was formulated prior to 2021 is considered off-label as it doesn’t meet the updated EPA approved labels and cannot be used.

Chemigation Training is for anyone who applies fertilizer and/or pesticides through an irrigation system. There is no charge for this training, but one does need to pass an exam whether for initial or recertification. Training and the exam can be done either at an in-person training or online for both initial and recertification. You can find the links for both options in the right-hand column of the https://pested.unl.edu/ website.

Pesticide License Updates

It’s been nice to plan winter meetings this year with more ‘normalcy’ than last year! Been getting questions regarding private applicator training. There’s several changes that we need to make you aware of.

Training options for 2022 include: in-person training via your local county Extension office (Fee $50), online training via pested.unl.edu (Fee $50), or attending Crop Production Clinics cpc.unl.edu (Fee $80). RSVP will be required for all in-person training to the county Extension office hosting the training.

One change to the training: a hard copy of the “Guide for Weed, Insect, Disease Management” will not be provided with your training materials this year and is not included in the fee cost. A weblink to view the Guide will be provided to certifying applicators. A hard copy of the Guide can also be purchased and info. will be shared when we mail out pesticide letters to applicators needed to recertify in 2022.

Due to changes in the Nebraska Pesticide Act, there are additional updates to the private pesticide safety training that may impact your operation, particularly regarding fumigation. By 2025, everyone who fumigates, needs to have a fumigation category associated with one’s pesticide license. This includes for private applicators. The fumigation category can only be obtained by purchasing the training materials from pested.unl.edu and then taking a test at an NDA walk-in testing location.

In 2022, pesticide cards (tan in color) will be printed to be thicker like a credit card since the ink would often rub off on the previous paper versions. Private applicators previously did not have categories assigned on their licenses but will in the future if they fumigate. This change will begin in phases beginning with licenses that expire in 2022. Licenses that expire in 2023 and 2024 will need to obtain fumigation certification during their pesticide renewal years.

Your new license will indicate that you received private pesticide safety training with the words “General Agriculture” and/or a code (00) printed on it. If you choose to get certified in either Soil or Non-Soil/Structural Fumigation, your license will show these as 01a and 11, respectively.

Activities that require the Soil Fumigation (01A) category include: The use of restricted use fumigants to control soil-borne insects or disease such as in potato fields or fumigation prior to planting tree nursery stock. If you wish to use soil fumigants, you will be required to pass the commercial/noncommercial Soil Fumigation (category 01a) exam to receive this certification. Training manuals are available for purchase on the pested.unl.edu website or call 402-472-1632 for more information.

Activities that require the Non-Soil/Structural Fumigation (11) category include: The use of solid or gaseous restricted use fumigants in burrows, buildings, chambers, vaults, tents, vehicles, railcars, or other vessels. The application can be for protection of commodities from insects, vertebrate animals, or pathogens that cause disease. For example, fumigation of stored grain (flat or silo storage), fumigation of rodent burrows (moles, gophers, etc. because fumigating burrow, not soil), fumigation of logs or other wood materials (under tarps or in chambers), fumigation of structures for termites or other wood destroying insects. If you wish to use non-soil, structural, or rodent burrow fumigants, you will be required to pass the commercial/noncommercial Non-Soil/Structural Fumigation (category 11) exam to receive this certification. Training manuals are available for purchase on the pested.unl.edu website or call 402-472-1632 for more information.

Activities that require a pesticide license but do NOT require fumigation categories include: the use of restricted use pesticide mists, smokes, fogs or other aerosols that are NOT labeled as fumigants. Examples of these are ‘gopher gasers’ and other products that aren’t labeled as fumigants. They typically have a smell to them whereas fumigants don’t.

This is all new for 2022 and will most likely be confusing. Please contact the Nebraska Department of Agriculture at 402-471-2351 with any questions if the fumigation activities you are doing involve a fumigation license.


Information directly via Nebraska Department of Agriculture.

Example of what new private applicator pesticide card will look like beginning in 2022.

JenREES 12/5/21

With high fertilizer prices and some short on forage, I’ve received questions on determining a value for corn residue baling for a good month now. I know there are mixed feelings on this topic, particularly because of the range of what fields look like depending on conditions and equipment settings. Our job is to share the research. It is an opportunity for residue management while also helping our livestock sector. The following is a portion of what Ben Beckman, Brad Schick, and I wrote recently for CropWatch and BeefWatch taking a system’s approach to this topic. Additional details of cost considerations can be found at: https://go.unl.edu/3g84.

Price of cornstalk bales via Nebraska/Iowa hay summary released Thursdays are currently going for $60/ton for large rounds ($100/ton ground). For every 40 bu/ac of corn, approximately one ton of residue is produced. Each ton of corn residue contains 17 lb N, 4 lb P2O5, 37 lb K, and 3 lb S. With rising fertilizer prices, residue this fall will contain up to $34 worth of nitrogen, potassium, phosphorus and sulfur per ton (at time or writing this). Do all those nutrients need to be replaced? Not necessarily for each field. With most Nebraska fields at sufficient K levels, we mostly consider replacing the other nutrients.

The nitrogen replacement may also be flexible due to potential increased mineralization that can occur due to the change in C:N ratio with residue removal. At South Central Ag Lab near Clay Center, eight years of residue removal showed increased yields in spite of a net negative nitrogen balance by removing residue (more nitrogen removed with the residue than what was applied for the crop). Thirty-six studies over 239 site-years showed a 3% average yield increase when residue was removed versus not removed, in locations where water was not a limiting factor. The yield increases are hypothesized to be from more even plant stands and/or from increased soil mineralization.

Based on the research, the following are UNL’s recommendations for which fields to consider for corn residue removal:

  • Use reduced tillage (no-till or strip till) on fields where residue is removed.
  • Only harvest corn residue when fields yield over 180 bu/ac.
  • Avoid fields or areas with slopes greater than 5%.
  • Avoid removing more than 2 tons/ac of residue and maintain at least 2.4 tons/ac of residue. Talk with people at equipment companies on how to set the equipment for corn residue baling to avoid so much soil in the bale and to keep at least 50% residue on the surface.
  • In continuous corn, harvest cornstalks every other year. In corn-soybean, harvest cornstalks every four years.
  • Consider applying manure or use a cover crop after baling cornstalks for amelioration.

From a nutritional standpoint, cornstalk bales are typically even lower quality than straw. Even if being selective with what we harvest by only baling the two to three rows behind the combine, we can only count on around 5% crude protein and up to 45% total digestible nutrients (TDN). With these nutritional values, diets will likely need to consist of additional protein, probably in the form of distillers grains.

To find the value, we need to compare a cornstalk/distillers grain diet with what it would be replacing. Dr. William Edwards, Iowa State emeritus ag economist, solved this problem on a worksheet. For his example, the original diet consisted of 2.6-ton alfalfa-brome hay and 0.3 ton dry distillers grain. One-ton cornstalks replaces 1.16-ton of hay and requires an additional 0.22-ton distillers grain.

If mixed hay is going for $150 per ton (as fed) and dry distillers grain at $200 per ton (as fed), the stalk value would be 1.16 x $150 (hay value) minus 0.22 x $200 (distillers grain value), which comes out to $130 per ton. The stalk and cob in corn residue are unpalatable and will not be consumed by cattle unless the bale is ground. Thus, cornstalk bales are usually ground, reducing the value to the end user by $10-15 per ton. In the end, this drops our cornstalk value to $117 per ton. This value can serve as a breakeven price when deciding to purchase corn residue bales to change feed rations versus using a traditional hay ration. The fuller context of this article can be found at: https://go.unl.edu/3g84.

Additional Resources:

Extension Resources

Trust you had a blessed Thanksgiving! Received a few questions recently on where specific resources were located or if we had specific resources on certain topics. So, while there’s more, here’s a number of resources available from Nebraska Extension in the event any can be helpful to you.

Webinars:

2021 Field Day Recordings:

Podcasts:

Nebraska Extension Websites:

CropWatch Survey: We’re seeking your input for UNL’s CropWatch. The survey found at: https://ssp.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_bxemKxHqB8n82Q6, takes about five minutes to complete, and asks about article readability, topic significance, and includes a section to suggest topics for 2022. The results of this survey will help guide CropWatch’s planning efforts for 2022.

Soil Health Educator: Nebraska Extension is currently seeking a state-wide Extension educator for soil health. Applications are due Dec. 3 for those interested: https://employment.unl.edu/postings/76246.

Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. That may seem strange as the events surrounding Christmas and Easter are far more impactful eternity-wise. Yet, I just so greatly appreciate the fact that there’s a day for focusing on gratitude.

And, while I’m grateful many choose to intentionally give thanks on Thanksgiving Day, sometimes I wonder what it would look like if we chose to live with gratitude. As I reflect on this year, it just seems like there’s increasing divisiveness, uncertainty, fear, anxiety, depression, and stress. Life is so short and not guaranteed. Relationships are so important and can be fragile.

If we chose to live with gratitude, how would it change us and our perspectives? Would we be less prone to complain and get discouraged when things go wrong? Would we be less likely to argue and more likely to extend kindness and grace to others? How would it impact the divisiveness we see in our country, our communities, our families?

Gratitude can produce joy. I think that’s something we all could use more of! It can allow us to find joy in everyday moments and also share joy with others.

So how do we choose to live with gratitude? A start can be to intentionally seek at least one thing each day for which to be thankful. At first it can be difficult and perhaps awkward. For some, it’s hard to even think of one thing. Perhaps a starting point can be gratitude for one’s home, bed, food, vehicle, job, friend or family member, etc.? Over time of practicing this, one’s perspective can change to even finding gratitude as things go wrong. For example, I drive a lot and had several vehicle problems this past year. For the situations when I chose to find gratitude instead of discouragement (such as thanking God that He allowed it to happen where it did instead of elsewhere or thanking God for the times a farmer was in the area to help me), it helped my mindset and provided peace instead of being upset. I’m not good about this all the time, but it sure helps my mindset and increases my perspective when I choose gratitude even when things go wrong. Perhaps others can relate to this?

Ultimately, my hope is that we can experience more joy each day in the everyday moments as we intentionally seek to live with gratitude. And, that this joy can be extended via kindness, grace, compassion to others around us. Wishing everyone a very blessed Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving Food Resources: For your Thanksgiving meal check out https://go.unl.edu/turkey-time for turkey preparation, food safety questions, recipes, and health/wellness topics!

Returning to the Farm: This workshop series is being taught for families that have the next generation of farmers and ranchers coming back to their operations. The workshop helps multi-generations traverse the challenges of successfully succeeding the operation to the next generation. The in-person session will be held Dec. 10-11 in Columbus with follow-up virtual sessions on Jan. 13 and Feb. 10. More information and registration at: https://cap.unl.edu/rtf21.

Ag Budget Calculator (ABC) User’s Workshops (For New and Advanced Users): It’s important to estimate cost of production for our agricultural enterprises, but now with the volatile input and crop prices, it’s even more critical. Knowing your estimated cost of production can assist you in making important management decisions. Ag Budget Calculator (ABC) is one tool to help you enter this information for your ag enterprises. There’s guided virtual workshops from now through February that allow you to be in the ABC program entering your data as instructors demonstrate how to use it and answer your questions. More info. and registration at: https://cap.unl.edu/abc/training.

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