Monthly Archives: February 2018
On-Farm Research: Last week a team of us did a series of meetings throughout the State regarding on-farm research updates. It’s always great to have the farmers presenting their research and adding in additional details that we didn’t have when the results booklet was published! Two more meetings continue in western Nebraska this week.
Perhaps my biggest reason for strongly promoting on-farm research is because there often is no better way to obtain answers to some of the questions you all have. These types of studies are often difficult to obtain funding (or can take months to obtain funding, resulting in a lost window of opportunity) and by conducting this research on your farms, we obtain the answers for your specific situations. Sometimes challenges such as storm damage also become opportunities to answer a question via on-farm research. Growers tend to appreciate research conducted on other growers’ farms when we share this research at various meetings, field days, and in articles. A variety of topics are researched every year including nutrient management, various products, row spacing, and new technologies including multi-hybrid planters, use of drone sensors, etc.
In this week’s UNL CropWatch at http://cropwatch.unl.edu, three on-farm research cooperators are featured. One of these is Ken Herz along with sons Zach and Aaron in the Lawrence, NE area as first-time cooperators. Ken approached me with several questions the winter of 2015. As growers with a non-irrigated, no-till wheat/corn/soybean rotation and a cattle operation, his family was curious about the impacts of grazing cover crops for cattle gains and improving soil organic matter. They were also curious about the trade-offs of the cover crop vs. any soil moisture loss or impact on the successive corn yield. They also wanted this study to be something that would be applicable to what farmers in this area did and something they could all learn from together. Thus, it was decided to not plant cover crops into the corn or soybean residue as that isn’t common and this would need to be a long-term study. Dr. Mary Drewnoski and I met with the Herz family to develop a plan for this study. Also thankful for Dr. Suat Irmak for his help in providing additional soil moisture equipment and advice I needed, to the Little Blue NRD in partnering with reduced cost of soil moisture equipment and also for the partnership of Green Cover Seed.
In 2016-2017, this study evaluated four treatments on the effects of successive corn yield: 1-ungrazed wheat stubble 2-grazed wheat stubble 3-ungrazed cover crop 4-grazed cover crop. Wheat was harvested July of 2016 and a five-species cover crop mix of spring triticale, winter peas, oats, collards, and purple top turnips was planted August 14, 2016 (they wanted a mix that would winter-kill). The cover crop received moisture within a week of planting that allowed for germination. Some additional fall moisture allowed for good growth and cover crop biomass was measured (3401 lb/ac) prior to grazing 28 (1100 lb) first-calf heifers for 22 days resulting in the cover crop carrying 2.4 animal unit months (AUM)/ac. The goal was not to graze too heavy to allow for ground cover and any long-term soil improvements, thus 2177 lb/ac of biomass was present post-grazing. Soil moisture was monitored from after cover crop planting through corn harvest. The soil was so dry after wheat harvest prior to planting the cover crop that it took using a drill to install the second and third foot moisture sensors. Beginning soil health parameters were also taken to be compared long-term in this study.
Corn was planted May 15, 2017. Prior to planting the corn, the soil moisture where the grazed and ungrazed cover crop plots were located were at 35% depletion (top three feet) compared to at field capacity (full soil moisture profile) in the grazed and ungrazed wheat stubble plots. Eight inches of rain in May evened out the soil profile allowing all plots to be at a full profile (top four feet) at the beginning of the corn growing season. As the season progressed, the grazing treatments started separating out from the ungrazed treatments from July through end of the season. I don’t know how to explain that yet.
Corn was harvested the Thursday of the major wind event with a calibrated grain wagon. Yields were not statistically different and were 218 bu/ac, 211 bu/ac, and 213 bu/ac for the ungrazed wheat stubble, grazed cover crop, and ungrazed cover crop respectively. The grazed wheat stubble treatment yielded 212 bu/ac but only had two reps at the end of the growing season so was not included in the statistical analysis. Economically, grazing the cover crop was as competitive as the ungrazed wheat stubble treatment when it came to ensuing corn yields and the spring rains made all the difference in beginning soil moisture. Because of the crop rotation, there wasn’t an opportunity to add a cover crop in this field Fall 2017. The Herz’ feel they lost an opportunity as environmental conditions vary so much every year, and this year, cover crops didn’t have as much growth in area fields. Thus, they’ve chosen to dedicate three fields to this study topic in the future, allowing for one of the fields each year to have wheat/cover crop/grazing to account for environmental variation. Continuing this for the next 5-7 years will better answer their questions while benefiting all of us with what is learned. Perhaps other growers are interested in some variation of this study for your farms?
Most studies are not this in depth and this is just one example of how growers are answering questions they have for themselves via on-farm research. It can take extra time at planting, harvest or other times of the season depending on the study. I believe most growers I’ve worked with would say the effort has been worth it to scientifically answer their questions for themselves. Truly am grateful for all of you I’ve had the opportunity to work with via on-farm research! So, if you’re thinking about a question you’d like to answer on your farm this year, consider reaching out to me or your local Extension educator and we’d be happy to talk with you now about how to set up your study. It is important to talk this through, especially if this is your first time conducting research. If you’d like to learn more about on-farm research, view some protocols, or view results from previous studies, please check out our website at http://cropwatch.unl.edu/farmresearch.
Bake and Take Month: March is Bake & Take month, a time when wheat organizations encourage others to bake a wheat good and share it with family, friends, neighbors, co-workers and shut-ins. In honor of the month, the Nebraska Wheat Board (NWB) is again sponsoring recipe cards and stickers for any 4-H groups or other organizations that wish to participate. This year’s recipes are mini dessert tacos and crockpot cherry chocolate lava cake. Those interested in participating or who have questions can contact the NWB office at (402) 471-2358 or firstname.lastname@example.org. There is no cost for the supplies, and no limit on the number that can be requested. Those wishing to preview the recipes before requesting materials can find them listed at http://wheat.nebraska.gov starting March 1.
York County Fair Volunteers: Gary Zoubek asked me to mention he’s looking for a few volunteers that could help with 4-H and Open Class primarily on entry and judging day in Ag Hall on July 31 and August 1st. If you’re interested, please contact Gary at 402-326-8185 or email email@example.com.
Dicamba Best Management Practices: Last week I finished pesticide and dicamba trainings for our area. In each of the meetings, off-target injury from dicamba in 2017 was discussed. A few weeks ago in my column, I shared how dicamba applications to corn played a role in our area of the State. I’ve also received questions regarding best management practices for all dicamba applications in 2018. A team of Nebraska Extension Specialists and Educators have been discussing this for several months based on the research we could find in the literature. Grateful for this team working together and you will see three articles in this week’s UNL CropWatch at http://cropwatch.unl.edu. These articles include: best management practices for all dicamba applications in 2018, potential off-target movement from corn applications, and the tricky task of removing dicamba residues from sprayers. Please check them out! This week’s CropWatch also features several student intern reports on soil, forage, and cover crop research.
Farm Bill Meetings: A new federal farm bill is due this year and is under development in Congress. With action completed on a federal budget including some agricultural programs, the farm bill process could pick up quickly with proposals and legislation fully debated in the coming weeks.
Reminder of the last Farmer/Rancher College program Feb. 23 in Geneva (10 a.m.-3 p.m.) at the Fairgrounds on the farm bill and crop insurance. Great lineup of speakers including Steve Johnson from Iowa State University and Brad Lubben with UNL. No charge but please RSVP (402) 759-3712 as they are still taking registrations.
There’s also a series of Farm Bill Meetings upcoming in Nebraska and Kansas in late February/early March. The meetings will provide an overview of the current debate and current economic conditions in agriculture which help frame the discussion and will look at crop and dairy commodity programs, conservation programs, and nutrition programs and other policy issues, as well as proposed crop insurance changes.
Leading the discussion will be Mykel Taylor and Art Barnaby from Kansas State University and Brad Lubben from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Taylor is a farm management specialist with expertise in producer decision-making, including in-depth analysis of the 2014 farm program enrollment decision. Her analysis of past decisions and outlook will provide perspective on the commodity programs, the potential changes and the decisions ahead in 2019. Barnaby is a national expert in crop insurance with keen insight on the features and performance of crop insurance. His work will explore the proposed changes and the potential ramifications to the program and to producer crop insurance and risk management decisions. Lubben is a noted expert in agricultural policy with insight on both the farm bill issues and the process. He will help frame the debate and the expectations for new programs and policies to provide perspective on the broader budget and policy challenges facing members of Congress in writing the new farm bill.
Each meeting will run from 9:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Registration will begin at 8:30 a.m. with refreshments and lunch served. The registration fee is $20 if pre-registered five days before the date of each meeting, and will increase to $30 after the deadline or at the door. The fee covers the meal, refreshments and meeting materials. To register, visit http://www.agmanager.info/events/2018-farm-bill-meetings and click on the meeting you wish to attend. Locations include:
• DODGE CITY, KS.: Feb. 28, Knights of Columbus Hall, 800 W. Frontview, Dodge City, KS. Host: Andrea Burns, firstname.lastname@example.org or 620.227.4542
• MANHATTAN, KS.: March 1, Pottorf Hall – CiCo Park, 1710 Avery Ave., Manhattan, KS. Host: Rich Llewelyn, email@example.com or 785.532.1504
• MEAD, NEB.: March 5, ENREC near Mead, Eastern Nebraska Research and Extension Center, 1071 County Road G, Ithaca, NE. Host: Keith Glewen, firstname.lastname@example.org or 402-624-8030
• HASTINGS, NEB.: March 7, Adams County Fairgrounds, 946 S. Baltimore, Hastings, NE. Host: Ron Seymour, email@example.com or 402-461-7209
Further information is available at http://agmanager.info or http://farmbill.unl.edu or by contacting the meeting host at each location.
Central Nebraska Cover Crops Conference: From grazing cover crops, seeding methods, innovative methods to incorporating cover, and more, the Central Nebraska Cover Crops Conference offers the latest information to help Nebraska growers profitably incorporate cover crops into their operation. The event will be held Friday, March 2 at the Merrick County Fairgounds with donuts provided by Lincoln Creek Seed at 9:00 a.m. The event has a great lineup of speakers including Paul Jasa, Extension Engineer; Keith Berns, Green Cover Seed and Nebraska Farmer; Dean Krull, Extension Demonstration Project Coordinator; Mary Drewnoski, Extension Beef Specialist; Daren Redfearn, Extension Forage Specialist; and Steve Melvin, Extension Educator.
Exhibitor space is still available for anyone wanting a booth. The event is free but please RSVP to (308) 946-3843. More information is available at https://extension.unl.edu/statewide/merrick/.
SE Nebraska Soil Health Conference will be held March 5 at the Kimmel Expo Center in Syracuse, NE. The program begins at 9 a.m. (Registration 8:30 a.m.) with topics including no-till/cover crop research update, best management practices for planting into cover crops, grazing cover crops, and two Iowa farmers sharing on how they utilize cover crops in corn and soybeans and on their farms. This event is free and lunch is included but pre-registration is necessary by calling (402) 274-4755 or at http://go.unl.edu/senebsoilhealth.
A Sprayer Applicator Clinic will be held on Tuesday, March 6, 2018, from 11:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. at the Kimmel Ag Expo Building in Syracuse, NE. “By attending this clinic, you will be a better prepared spray applicator,” says Greg Kruger, Weed Science and Pesticide Application Technology Specialist from North Platte, NE. Register by Friday, March 2, 2018, by contacting Nebraska Extension in Nemaha County at 402-274-4755. The cost of the program is $20 per person. Checks should be made payable to University of Nebraska-Lincoln and mailed to the Nemaha County Extension Office, 1824 N St, Ste. 102, Auburn NE 68305. Lunch is being provided by these sponsors: Midwest Farmers Cooperative, Dean Seeds – Syracuse NE, Andy Wellensiek – Channel Seed, Cook, NE, and University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension. For more details regarding the clinic see the https://extension.unl.edu/statewide/nemaha/unl-sprayer-applicator-clinic/.
Palmer Amaranth: I’ve been speaking a lot this winter on palmer amaranth and a few shared it’s fairly depressing. The positive side of this is we have an opportunity to learn from the research conducted in the Southeastern U.S. regarding palmer management so we don’t get to where they’re at! Their top question for cash renting or purchasing ground is “do you have palmer?”…so we have an opportunity to manage it here now!
In order to do that, though, we need to think of a system’s approach. This approach may not be economical for every year, but a system’s approach looks at the long-term benefits as a whole.
The keys for palmer (or any weed) are to keep it from germinating and then, once germinated, keep it from seed production. Palmer germination has been found to be induced more by natural and red light than soil temperature. Thus, bare soil in the first few weeks of May allow for a good situation for palmer germination and emergence. Management to avoid early germination include: keeping the soil covered with residue, small grain, or cover crop; burndown apps and pre-plant herbicide applications. Palmer can continue to germinate throughout the growing season to mid-September. During the growing season, quicker canopy closure and post-herbicide apps with residual are key.
At harvest, management includes seriously considering not running your combine through palmer patches. We’ve had farmer success stories in 2016 when farmers didn’t harvest their soybean endrows but did harvest the rest of their fields. Instead, some chose to disk down endrows with heavy palmer pressure and planted a wheat or rye cover crop in them. In 2017, they shared it made a big difference in reducing palmer in those fields. I’ve also received farmer testimonials sharing the opposite; they wish they didn’t harvest the endrows or the one patch that had palmer in the field as now they’ve spread it throughout the field. Research has shown 99% of the palmer seed going through the combine is still viable; thus we’re just moving it throughout the field and from field to field.
Fire was not found to be effective to get hot enough to kill the seed when the whole field was burned. Instead, crews carry black trash bags, pull the female palmer plants, and haul them out of the fields burning them in burn barrels.
The University of Georgia found they had to hoe the plants 2” below the soil surface in order to kill them. An average palmer plant can produce 500,000 seeds/plant. The plant on the edge of the field can produce up to 1.8 million seeds. I had a hard time believing the seed production research from the soil surface (22,000 seeds on average) and 1” stem (36,000 seeds on average), until I saw it walking fields last summer. I remember tweeting out the pictures saying #hatethisweed.
A study conducted in Kentucky compared 1-Wheat with double crop soybean 2-Wheat fallow (no herbicides were applied) 3-Full season soybean. They counted palmer plants in 100 square feet in each replicated treatment. No palmer could be found in the wheat other than in the tram lines; the double crop soybean into the wheat stubble only had 5 plants/100 sq. ft. In comparison, the full season soybean
ranged from 18-40 plants/100 sq. ft. while the fallow ground had 80 plants/100 sq. ft. A system’s approach is considering adding a small grain like wheat back into the system. Or, at least consider wheat/rye as a cover crop to help reduce light interception onto the soil surface in early spring.
We’ve also heard more about tillage in the southern states. Palmer is a small seeded plant and the seed can actually germinate within the top two inches of soil. Spring tillage doesn’t appear to significantly reduce palmer germination compared to fall tillage. So the following is all from fall tillage research. Research has found that burying palmer seed at least 2” can reduce densities similar to control with pre- and post-herbicide applications. Research from at least three studies has shown burying palmer seed with a plow to 4” or using inversion tillage reduced palmer germination anywhere from 50-80%. Leaving the seed
buried for three years reduced palmer germination further. So, the suggestion is if you deep till, do it once and then get a small grain cover on the field to knock out the early spring light interception. At least two studies showed that fall inversion tillage followed by cover crop resulted in 85% reduction of palmer the next spring. I share this knowing we can’t afford plowing for soil loss, soil moisture loss, and tillage doesn’t fit some of your systems. It is a management option to consider if other options aren’t working for you. Summary: fall tillage once, get a cover on it, and then leave it alone.
Ultimately, the management keys are to ‘start clean and stay clean’ using burndowns, pre’s, several effective modes of action, keeping the ground covered to reduce light interception, and incorporating a small grain and/or cover crop into your system. Hopefully this helps as we think about managing palmer this coming growing season.
On-Farm Research Updates: One of my favorite winter programs is our Nebraska On-Farm Research Updates because of our growers presenting the research they conducted with us. These are upcoming next week starting Feb. 19 at former ARDC near Mead and Feb. 21 at College Park in Grand Island. Programs most days run from 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m. with registration beginning half an hour before each day’s program. Full details of dates, locations, and RSVP can be found at: https://cropwatch.unl.edu/2018/growers-statewide-share-farm-research-5-sites. Over 80 on-farm research projects will be presented this year including a wide range of topics: cover crops, variable rate seeding, planting populations, multi-hybrid planting, starter fertilizer, etc. Certified Crop Advisor Credits are applied for. Growers take an active role in the on-farm research project sponsored by Nebraska Extension in partnership with the Nebraska Corn Growers Association, the Nebraska Corn Board, the Nebraska Soybean Checkoff, and the Nebraska Dry Bean Commission. To learn more about the Nebraska On-Farm Research Network, visit http://cropwatch.unl.edu/farmresearch. Hope you consider attending!
Crop Insurance, Farm Bill Policy Update: Also reminding you about the final “Farmers and Ranchers College” program for our area this year to be held Feb. 23 in Geneva at the Fairgrounds. This workshop on Crop Insurance, Farm Bill Policy Update and More, will run from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. with registration beginning at 9:45 a.m. You can view the whole agenda and speakers at: https://vandewalleviews.wordpress.com/2018/02/02/crop-insurance-farm-bill-and-more/
Introductory Beekeeping Classes: Was asked to share about upcoming beekeeping classes. There are two course levels: one for beginning beekeeping and one for those who are currently keeping bees and want information on colony health and maintenance. Workshop details can be found at: https://entomology.unl.edu/bee-lab#tab2.
Mixer/Loaders and RUP Dicamba: Mixer/loaders are now required to have RUP dicamba training; however, they may not have a pesticide applicator license. On the RUP dicamba training registration sheets, just put “mixer/loader” instead of a pesticide applicator number. New pesticide applicators who haven’t received their number yet can just put “pending”.
The last Farmers and Ranchers College for this season will discuss Crop Insurance, Farm Bill Policy, and More! Consider attending!
Today’s farmers and ranchers not only have to be efficient with production practices, but also need to be well-informed with risk management and economics of their business. With that in mind, the Farmers and Ranchers College is offering the program, “Crop Insurance, Farm Bill Policy Update and More” at the Fillmore County Fairgrounds in Geneva, NE on February 23rd. This workshop will start at 10:00 a.m. with registration at 9:45 and will wrap up at 3:00 p.m. Due to the generous contributions of many businesses and organizations, the program is free; registration is preferred for an accurate meal county by February 16th. Call the Fillmore County Extension office at (402)759-3712 or email Brandy at firstname.lastname@example.org to register.
Speakers for the program will be Steve Johnson who has served as the Farm & Ag Business Management Specialist in Central Iowa for Iowa State University Extension and Outreach…
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Dicamba Updates: For those of you who farm in both Nebraska and Kansas, or have customers that do, the following is what is needed for RUP-dicamba training. Nebraska and Kansas have a reciprocal agreement regarding private, commercial, and non-commercial applicator training. Those who have a KS applicator license who wish to apply RUP dicamba in Nebraska don’t need to take additional pesticide training in Nebraska. They do need to apply for a reciprocal license in Nebraska through the NDA and pay the $25 fee (private) or $90 fee (commercial/non-commercial) for a Nebraska pesticide applicator license. There is no additional fee for dicamba training in Nebraska. Kansas Dept. of Ag accepts Nebraska’s dicamba training with no further requirements. Nebraska will accept Kansas dicamba training IF you can also prove you watched the NDA Nebraska specific requirements video. Otherwise, it’s perhaps simpler to take the RUP online dicamba training from Nebraska or attend a Nebraska face to face session.
If you missed the UNL face to face sessions for your area, you can also attend Industry trainings which are upcoming and listed on the NDA website at: http://www.nda.nebraska.gov/pesticide/dicamba.html (please refresh your browser). And, you may wish to attend an industry training anyway depending on the product which you plan to apply to hear more about specific buffer requirements and ask specific questions.
Also, to be clear, anyone who has attended UNL trainings will not receive certificates. Your proof of training will be to download the excel spreadsheet at the NDA website listed above and ensure your name is on that spreadsheet. I’ve been asking that you give NDA 7-10 days before checking it with all the paperwork coming in right now. If you attend a training and don’t see your name, please contact the trainer whose session you attended. It may take longer for those of you who became new pesticide applicators.
The York UNL dicamba training has been rescheduled to February 16 from 10:00-11:30 a.m. at the 4-H Building at the Fairgrounds in York. Updated FAQs can be found at this site (https://pested.unl.edu/documents/RUP_Dicamba_FAQ_2018.pdf) as we receive questions and verify answers with NDA and EPA (please refresh your browser for the updated info.)
Converting ground to annual/perennial forage systems: For the past few years, some of you have spoken with me about converting a pivot to an annual forage system if you owned the land and had cattle. We’ve worked through some economics and a handful of you have tried various options. With current corn and soybean prices, I’ve received an increasing number of questions regarding this topic from farmers and ag lenders. A team of Extension specialists including Dr.’s Jay Parsons, Mary Drewnoski, and Daren Redfearn are seeking your input into what they’ve put together for economics of example systems this coming year. A webinar is scheduled for Tuesday, February 13th beginning at 6:00 p.m. CST. To participate, you can click on the following url: https://unl.zoom.us/j/827594794. Audio can be through your computer speakers or you can also call in. Full details regarding phone number options and additional information can be viewed at: https://cropwatch.unl.edu/2018/economics-annual-and-perennial-forages-webinar. The goal of this webinar is to explain economic examples for both annual and perennial forage systems using different classes of cattle and allow you to provide input into those numbers and ask questions. For those of you interested in this topic and/or are already using annual forages/converted pivots to perennial grass systems, we’d greatly appreciate your input and please do consider sharing your insight!
York County Corn Grower Tour: Gary Zoubek, Extension Educator Emeritus, has planned a great Corn Grower tour for those interested in attending on February 13th! Please call the York County Extension Office at (402) 362-5508 if you plan to attend. Attendees will meet at the York County Extension Office at 8 a.m. with travel to Lincoln at 8:30 a.m. Tours in Lincoln will include Nebraska Innovation Campus (including Nebraska Innovation Studio (the makerspace), the Food Innovation Center, and the Greenhouse Innovation Center, home of the LemnaTec High Throughput Plant Phenotyping system). Attendees will then tour Quantified Ag that developed cattle ear tags equipped with sensors to monitor the health of the individual as well as the herd. Lunch at Valentinos will be followed by Campus visits including learning about biobased textiles, the Ag Econ Marketing Lab/Commodity Trading Room, and the UNL Dairy Store. The final stop will be at Neogen labs that develops, manufacturers, and markets a diverse line of products dedicated to food and animal safety before traveling back to York around 5:15 p.m. You can view more details and the full itinerary at: https://jenreesources.com/2018/01/29/york-co-corn-grower-tour-feb-13/.