Monthly Archives: March 2023

JenREES 3/26/23

Happy Spring! Special thank you to all who helped make the Seward County Ag Banquet so successful! It’s a very special night celebrating agriculture, the farm family, farm business, and scholarship award winners! For this week’s column, I’ll share on a number of different resources.

Preliminary farm real estate numbers were released last week at: All Center for Ag Profitability webinars can be found at: Last week’s Virtual Landlord/Tenant Cash Rent workshop for Eastern and Western NE should be posted soon on that site.

Soil Temperatures can be found at: This is helpful for knowing when to plant vegetables, when to plant crops, and what the soil temp is when applying fertilizer to fields. It’s also helpful for homeowners to wait to apply crabgrass preventer for lawns until soil temps are at least 50-55F for 5-7 days straight.

CropWatch at is still our one-stop shop for all crop-related information from Nebraska Extension. In case you missed it, this week’s edition covered a number of nutrient-management related topics including a comparison showing the importance of residual soil nitrogen and the dollar savings for this year’s crop and calculating the value of nutrients in manure for crop fields.

On-Farm Research Results Book: PDF version can be viewed at: Different protocols can be viewed at: You can also contact your local Extension educator directly to develop protocols that fit your needs.  

Vegetable Planting Guide for the area can be found at:

Gardening Workshop: Sarah Browning, Extension Educator, did a fabulous job at the Project Grow gardening workshop several weeks ago. Whether you were able to attend or not, the full slide presentation is posted at: If you’re interested in gardening but don’t have room at your home, there is a community garden with Project Grow; please contact the UBBNRD if you’re interested in learning more.

Lawn Calendars:

Lawn Care: Kelly Feehan shares, “Lawn care that can be done in March or early April, once conditions allow, is removal of debris that collected over winter, raking leaves that were not removed last fall, and mowing. However, wait to mow until after turfgrass has started to grow. Some people mow dormant turf very low in hopes of stimulating growth. It is best to allow turfgrass to come out of dormancy on its own. If new growth has not started, there is no need to mow. Low mowing is usually not good for lawns. Ideally, leave turfgrass the same height all season. For Kentucky bluegrass and tall fescue, this is about three to three and a half inches. If you wish to mow low in spring, do not mow any lower than 2.5 inches. With some snow cover this year, vole damage may be seen. This damage appears as two-inch wide tracks in lawns where grass has been chewed close to the ground. These areas fill in once new growth begins and are not a concern.” Overseeding of thin turf areas can also be done now.

Ag Week 2023

Happy National Ag Week! What happens in ag impacts all Nebraskans as 1 in 4 Nebraska jobs are connected to ag. A strong ag economy (Nebraska ranks #1 in farm cash receipts of all commodities/capita) helps Nebraska’s overall economy. “In 2020, every dollar in agricultural exports generated $1.03 in economic activities such as transportation, financing, warehousing and production. Nebraska’s $7.1 billion in agricultural exports in 2020 translates into $7.4 billion in additional economic activity.” Also, 92% of Nebraska’s land is used for farming and ranching to grow the food, fiber, and fuel we rely on each day. The following are from Nebraska Dept. of Ag’s ‘Nebraska Ag Facts Brochure’: and 2023 Ag Facts card: Thank you to all who are involved ag-related careers! And, for youth, there’s numerous opportunities to pursue ag-related careers in the future!

#1: Nebraska’s largest ag sector is beef production with Nebraska leading the nation in commercial cattle slaughter. We moved up and are currently tied with Texas as #1 in all cattle on feed at 2.78 million. #2 in all cattle and calves, beef and veal exports, and commercial red meat production. Nebraska’s beef industry generates approximately $10.6 billion in annual cash receipts. With 6.8 million head of cattle, cattle outnumber people in Nebraska more than three to one.

#1: Nebraska ranks 1st in U.S. popcorn production with approximately 34% of the popcorn consumed in the U.S. produced in Nebraska. Nebraska also ranks 1st in Great Northern bean production, 2nd for pinto bean production and 4th in the nation for all dry edible bean production.

#2: Nebraska is #2 in ethanol production capacity. With 24 operating ethanol plants utilizing 32% of Nebraska’s corn crop as the main feedstock, Nebraska produces more than 2.5 billion gallons of renewable fuel annually. Distillers grains, a co-product of ethanol production, is an important livestock feed. Nebraska is also #2 in bison production.

#3: Nebraska is #3 in corn exports and we fell to #4 in corn production (perhaps another result of 2022 storms). Today’s corn farmers grow 87% more corn per ounce of fertilizer than they did 30 years ago.

#4-7: Nebraska is ranked #4 in dry edible pea production. We rank 5th in soybean exports and we fell to 6th in soybean production. We also rank 5th in grain sorghum production and 5th in the nation for production of sugar beets, with half of U.S. sugar production coming from sugar beets. Nebraska is 6th for all hogs and pigs on farms and in commercial hog slaughter. Nebraska ranks 7th in alfalfa hay production.

Nebraska is the 14th largest wheat producing state; one bushel of wheat weighs 60 lbs on average and can make 64 loaves of bread. We are ranked 8th for organic cropland acres and 8th for all hay production.

I’m unsure of avian influenza’s impact on these numbers in 2022: Nebraska has approximately 9.1 million birds populating Nebraska’s commercial laying facilities producing more than 2.6 billion eggs/year. Nebraska ranks 25th in total milk production from dairy cattle. There are around 78,000 sheep and lambs raised in Nebraska and Nebraska is home to more than 24,000 meat goats and around 3,500 dairy goats.

There’s so much to be proud of regarding agriculture in Nebraska! Yet, ag increasingly is blamed for many problems. Every industry can improve. It’s times like this, like now, that I wish I could see more unity within ag. So often I hear divisions…divisions around tillage practices, use or not of cover crops, grass fed vs. grain fed, conventional vs. organic, direct vs. non-direct marketing, etc. Divisions impact our ability to provide united messages and solutions when attacked. These divisions also impact our consumers’ view of ag. I’m blessed with an incredible career to learn from all of you I serve…to learn why you each do what works for you and watch you adapt! We all observe each other’s operations as we drive around the countryside. Do we silently criticize or are we curious? How often do we actually have a conversation, seeking to understand why a neighboring farmer/livestock producer chooses a specific practice or marketing strategy? My encouragement to all of us, especially within ag, is to seek to understand, learn from, and encourage each other. Find common ground on the things that unite us so we can continue to produce food for our families, this nation, and the world in years to come. As we’re seeing throughout the world, we can’t take farming and food production for granted! May we seek to celebrate the opportunities we all in ag provide consumers: safe products and a choice of products at various price points consumers can purchase!

JenREES 3/12/23

Seward County Ag Banquet: The Kiwanis Club of Seward partnered with SCCDP and Seward Co. Ag. Society will honor Seward County Ag Leaders on Monday, March 20, 2023 with the 55th Annual Agriculture Recognition Banquet at the Ag Pavilion at the Seward Co. Fairgrounds. Social hour with wine, cheese, beer, and music will be at 5:30 p.m. with the prime rib meal and program to follow at 6:30 p.m. The cost to attend the banquet is $30.00 per person. Please contact Pam Moravec (402-643-7748) or Shelly Hansen (402-643-3636) to reserve your seat. The Kiwanis Club of Seward will use the proceeds from the event to support the youth of Seward County through a variety of programs and events.

Nitrogen Rate Studies: As growers consider pre-plant nitrogen applications this year, there’s opportunity to consider a variety of nitrogen rates to test any impacts on one’s own field(s). I covered the results of some area studies comparing rates of 50 lb N/ac nitrogen differences in an earlier article. One can easily test this for yourself in a field by either using field-length blocks as those studies did, or with the use of precision ag technologies, prescriptions can be written to try different N rate blocks that are smaller in scale (300’ long by 30’ or so wide). These blocks can then be repeated throughout areas of the field with different soil types and topography. I have an example at of what this looked like from studies last year. Please let me know if you’re interested in testing this. The 2022 on-farm research results can be viewed at:

Perennial cover crops: Several weeks ago, I shared our research on interseeding cover crops into early season corn and soybeans and said I’d share our next steps in a future column. One goal of the cooperators was to achieve a living cover that survived into the next growing season. When we saw that interseeded red clover established in soybeans and survived the following spring, we got excited about the possibility of more intentionally growing clovers as a perennial cover crop.

In March of 2022, six sites were dormant seeded with either Mammoth red clover (tall), Medium red clover, or Dutch white clover (low-growing, aggressive like clover in lawns). The clover eventually emerged at all the locations. All but two sites were lost due to the dry spring or June 14 hailstorms. Two sites in Clay County survived the June 7th hailstorm. The grower at those sites chose the Mammoth red clover. It was dormant seeded in March using a drill interseeder into cereal rye. The cereal rye was killed with 10 oz/ac clethodim prior to planting corn and after planting soybean. Once the clover had emerged and was at least 1” tall, Zidua was used in both the corn/clover and soybean/clover areas and was used again 3-4 weeks later. The check areas in the corn and soybean used the grower’s full herbicide program.

The clover provided excellent weed control in the corn. It had good weed control in the soybean with velvetleaf, sunflower, and lambsquarters being the predominant weed species. Biomass samples of the clover prior to harvest showed 30 lb N/ac available. Samples will be taken again this spring. The soybean without clover out-yielded the soybean with clover (74 bu/ac vs. 68 bu/ac). It also economically did better this first year. The ultimate goal is to get something living between the rows for reducing chemical and nitrogen inputs, providing a grazing benefit, and determining impacts to yields and economics over several years. We currently have 9 growers planning on some type of clover study in 2023. If anyone is interested, the easiest way to try this is just dormant seeding this March (can drill or broadcast) clover in 5+ acre blocks leaving a check block between the clover blocks and checks on either side. I will work with you on the combine passes to get the replications. This year the farmers are trying AberLasting clover (Dutch white X Kura), Dutch White + Medium Red, or Mammoth red clover. We also have a couple of growers trying AberLasting with either bluegrass or buffalograss. The simpler design being used by the growers is on my blog. This is a different way of thinking, in some ways going back to what our ancestors did only with today’s hybrids and varieties. These growers are desirous to find ways to reduce inputs on their own farms for the future. Please let me know if you’re interested in trying this too.

The above designs are just some ideas for doing nitrogen rate prescriptions by soil type/topography or field-length strips.

10 lb/ac Mammoth red clover was dormant drill seeded March 2022 into cereal rye. A shot of rain in the spring helped it get established. The grower felt it was more successful establishing the clover into old soybean ground prior to the corn crop. The cereal rye was terminated with clethodim around 10 days prior to corn planting. Once the clover was up 1″, Zidua was applied to the field (other Group 15 herbicides could be used instead). He used Zidua again 3-4 weeks later. The corn with the clover had excellent weed control as did his check treatment which used a full corn herbicide program. The clover got about 2.5′ tall and then laid down. We couldn’t take this study via on-farm research because two different hybrids were used across the clover/check area. He moved over with strip till rig in the fall and took out some of the clover, but quite a bit still remained. Soybeans will be planted in this field next year and the plan is to maintain the clover in the strips without needing to reseed anything.

10 lb/ac Mammoth red clover was dormant drill seeded into cereal rye in March 2022. A timely shot of rain helped with establishment. Soybeans were planted green into the field. The rye was then terminated with 10 oz/ac of clethodim and Zidua was applied when clover was at least 1″ tall (other Group 15 herbicides could be used instead). Zidua was applied again 3-4 weeks later. A June 7, 2022 hailstorm damaged the soybean and clover with the clover recovering faster than the soybean. The Mammoth red clover gets tall and it looked kind of interesting in September to see the soybeans holding the clover up so it could reach sunlight. When soybean leaves started senescing, the clover started forming more of a mat. Primary weed species were velvetleaf, sunflower, lambsquarters (weed species shift from predominantly waterhemp/palmer). This field has a history of being very clean. At harvest, the combine didn’t seem to have much issue harvesting it and the grower had combine set well so there wasn’t green material going into the tank. The field smelled like fresh cut alfalfa after harvest. The grower strip tills in the fall and moved the strip to the side of the old row, taking out some of the clover. Corn will be planted into those strips this spring with the goal of maintaining the clover without seeding any additional clover.

The easier design that we’re using for the clover study. Doesn’t take much investment of space, but can make this as large as someone wants and as one’s equipment allows. We need at least two combine passes from the center strips to get three reps. This can be repeated across fields for more reps, but showing a smaller scale for anyone who wishes to try this. The growers are using their traditional herbicide programs for the check treatments…so one also needs to keep sprayer widths in mind. The combine passes don’t have to look like what I’ve drawn-it all depends on the individual producer’s equipment as to how harvest passes are taken for the cash crop.

JenREES 3/5/23

Well, March is here, and we start looking towards the next growing season. It was a great winter programming season, though, and it was great seeing many people!

Nontraditional Products: There’s a number of products on the market with claims of the biology or chemistry within them allowing for reduced nutrient inputs by the producer. The goal is for the biology or chemistry to make unavailable nutrients more available to the plant. Interest in the products stems from the potential to reduce nutrient inputs and enhance environmental stewardship, both of which would be beneficial. Perhaps the more recognized products currently are Pivot Bio PROVEN® and PROVEN®40? These products contain an N-fixing bacterial inoculant that is expected to fix N over the growing season. Use of biological N fixation in cereal crops has potential to reduce the use of synthetic N fertilizer, thus increasing N use efficiency and reducing N losses. We have 11 site-years of on-farm research data on the Pivot Bio products in 2021-2022. We have minimal testing on other biological/chemical products for reducing nitrogen rates. Pivot Bio was applied at 12.8 oz/ac and compared to an untreated check. The nitrogen rates were selected by the growers. Some growers chose the same N rate for both treatments, while others chose to evaluate Pivot Bio at additional reduced rates. It’s helpful to see comparisons at a range of reduced nitrogen rates to better determine nitrogen response to products tested.

Across 64 replications, the Check treatment yielded 234 bu/ac on average and Pivot Bio yielded 235 bu/ac on average, with no statistical difference at a 90% confidence level. When looking across the 64 replications, Pivot Bio had a 5 bu/ac or greater yield increase 27% of the time, a 5 bu/ac yield reduction 17% of the time, and yield difference within +/- 5 bu/ac 56% of the time. When looking at many of the individual locations, the grower-chosen N rates most likely could have been reduced beyond 40 lb/ac. Future on-farm research will focus on testing Pivot Bio PROVEN®40 at a wider range of N rates across different soil textures and landscape positions. One way to test this is by creating prescriptions for N rate blocks for different areas of the field. If you’re interested in testing something like this for Pivot Bio or any other non-traditional product, please let me know.

There’s also interest from producers seeking a regenerative ag path to grow their own microbes for reducing inputs through the use of compost extracts and teas. Compost is built through different processes then microbes are extracted from the compost using water and air. The water/microbe solution is then applied to a field while the compost is added back into a pile to be reused. One compost option is via a Johnson-Su bioreactor which uses a static aerobic composting process. Another is aerobic composting via a Turned Compost process. In 2022, a Seward Co. producer chose to compare a Check treatment of 142 lb N/ac and reduce the nitrogen rates added to the biological products in his study by nearly 40 and 100 lb N/ac. His goal was to push the system to see how the biological products compared and to have low enough nitrogen rates to see what the biological products would do in releasing N. His treatments and yields were: Check (total 142 lb N/ac yielding 235 bu/ac); Johnson-Su Compost High (total 106 lb N/ac yielding 220 bu/ac); Johnson Su Compost Low (Total 48 lb N/ac yielding 167 bu/ac); Turned Compost High (Total 106 lb N/ac yielding 212 bu/ac); Turned Compost Low (Total 48 lb N/ac yielding 164 bu/ac); and Pivot Bio Proven®40 (total 106 lb N/ac yielding 195 bu/ac). The Check treatment yielded the greatest and statistically was not different than the Johnson-Su High and Turned Compost High at the 90% confidence level. The Check treatment was different from the Pivot Bio and the lower rates of the compost extracts. The Johnson-Su and Turned Compost were applied at 8 gal/ac extract in furrow at planting. This study was pivot irrigated in a silt loam soil where the previous crop was soybean. This study will continue on these same strips for three years. Please let me know if you’re interested in testing compost extracts as we seek to obtain more data around this topic.  

One thing to consider with any type of biological treatment study is it’s helpful to conduct the study on the same areas of the field for multiple years to better determine any impacts over time. 2022 On-Farm research book at:

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