Category Archives: Reflections

JenREES 11-24-19

I’ve often thought about two words the past few months: Grief and Gratitude. It’s been a hard year for many with grief coming in the form of various losses. The stories I’ve been blessed to be entrusted with this year included losses in the form of livestock, land, fences, feed, finances, crops, homes, health, relationships, family members, pets, farms, jobs…

It’s important to take the time to grieve and acknowledge the losses while not getting stuck there. I think sometimes we want to push forward and avoid the mess of grief, but there’s healing in acknowledging it. At our Extension Fall Conference, we spent time talking through 2019 and the experiences we had as Extension faculty with boots on the ground serving people. While it was uncomfortable for many, there was healing in the discussion and sharing, in the tears and triumphs of helping others during a really difficult year. I would encourage us all to acknowledge losses we’ve experienced and ultimately keep talking with others instead of isolating.

Our keynote speaker at our conference was David Horsager who wrote the book The Trust Edge. One thing he asks his audiences, “What is the most endearing quality a person can have?” What do you think? Often people say kindness, compassion, generosity, being positive, humor, etc. His company does a great deal of research and they’ve found the most endearing quality is…Gratitude…sincere gratitude. According to Oxford’s Dictionary, gratitude means “the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness”.

There’s been a lot of research on gratitude! Harvard University shared, “In positive give thanks.PNGpsychology research, gratitude is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness.” Summarizing several studies I read, most would say finding a way to count one’s blessings or focusing on gratitude greatly improved a person’s sleep, health, attitude, focus, and relationships. Many of those studies didn’t involve individuals who struggled with mental wellness. However, one study in Indiana focused on 300 adults who suffered from anxiety and depression. The researchers wanted to see if focusing on gratitude could help with mental health concerns. Adults were split into three groups and each group also received counseling. One group wrote a letter of gratitude to someone each week (but wasn’t required to share it). Another group wrote down negative thoughts and experiences while the third group didn’t do any activity involving writing. Individuals who wrote the gratitude letters were found to have significantly improved mental health 4 and 12 weeks after starting the activity (in spite of only 23% actually sending the letters). The gratitude activity on top of receiving counseling resulted in better mental wellness for the individuals than counseling alone. Regardless of if one is in the midst of a difficult time or not, research ultimately shows the benefits of seeking gratitude!

Grief and Gratitude. With Thanksgiving this week, for what are you and I grateful? Perhaps there’s someone who came alongside you this year during a difficult time or someone who showed you an unexpected kindness that you wish to thank in some way? Perhaps you choose to make a list of things for which you’re thankful or jot a few things down each day? Perhaps you choose to write one letter or note to someone each week expressing thanks? Or perhaps your family starts a tradition of expressing gratitude in some way during Thanksgiving dinner? Additional ideas for expressing gratitude, particularly for those with children, can be found at: https://go.unl.edu/q04v. Here’s wishing everyone a blessed Thanksgiving!

UNL Thanksgiving Food Safety Resources:  https://go.unl.edu/ji8p
UNL Thanksgiving Food Preparation Tips: https://go.unl.edu/7rwi

JenREES 10-6-19

As I reflect, it was a hard week for many of you in our farming community with the weather and harvest delays. Many of us would say the challenges of 2019 actually started in the fall of 2018. From that perspective, it’s been an extra hard year! As we continue with a delayed harvest, I’m truly hoping the fall of 2019 doesn’t result in an extra challenging 2020 as well. I’m sure that’s a hope for us all!

It’s amazing how something as simple as the sun shining or incredible sunrisesIMG_20191004_071447.jpg on then dreary, drizzly days lifted my spirits and the spirits of many of you I spoke or texted with this past week. For those who receive my email newsletter, you’ve seen me share each week a set of tips to consider for help in relieving stress/changing current mindset based on how much time you have in the day. And, some of you have rightfully put it back on me when I’ve needed a mindset change! While you may not want to take 30 minutes or even 10 minutes, we all have 2 minutes. So, my challenge for all of us is utilize one of the following tips for two minutes or use something else that works for you each day this week to change our mindset/lift our spirits when needed. Two minute tips (Adapted from: Gilbert Parra, PhD; Holly Hatton-Bowers, PhD, and Carrie Gottschalk, LMHP, MS):  Breathe; Stretch; Laugh; Doodle; Acknowledge one of your accomplishments; Say no to a new responsibility; Look out the window (or go outside); (adapted) Faith based prayer. Please go to jenreesources.com for the full list.

Soybean Cyst Nematode (SCN) Sampling: With the increase in sudden death syndrome this year, several have asked for soybean cyst nematode sampling bags (as the two diseases are synergistic with each other). Free sampling is via the Nebraska Soybean Board through your soybean checkoff dollars. Sampling bags can be obtained from your local Extension Office or call 402-472-2559 to obtain bags. Crop consultants should contact Extension Plant Pathology directly (402-472-2559) for larger numbers of sample bags. Samples should be done for areas 40 acres or less (less is better). If you had areas with higher SDS this past year or places where yield maps showed lower yields, plan to take a sample from those areas of the field. Also take a sample from a good yielding area of your field for comparison. Take around 20 cores 6 to 8” deep. If you or an agronomist is taking soil samples, taking a few extra cores will allow for part of the sample to be sent in for fertilizer recommendations and the other part for SCN. Make sure to thoroughly mix the cores collected before transferring to sample bags. If you take them from a soybean field, taking the sample a few inches off the old soybean row may provide the highest potential numbers if SCN is present in the field. However, SCN samples can be taken from corn or sorghum fields as well to help inform decisions if rotating to soybean next year. Other places in fields which may first show SCN include: low areas where water drains after rain; along a stream that periodically floods; along fence lines; field entryways or driveways as that’s the first place equipment enters from other fields. Anything that moves soil will move SCN.

Lawn Weed Control: Now is an excellent time for weed control in lawns, especially for dandelions, clover, ground ivy, and plantain. This is because carbohydrates are being transferred to the roots of perennial weeds and thus allows for the chemical to move to the roots as well. If using granular products that contain weed killer, they’re best applied on mornings with heavy dew and no rain in the forecast for 24 hours (however, read the herbicide label). Most herbicides labeled for use around the yard will contain 2,4-D and/or dicamba. I’m often asked for names but this is not an exhaustive list and not intended to exclude anything available (2,4-D, dicamba, Weed B Gon, Trimec Plus, Trimec Classic).

*End of News Column.


Wellbeing Tips:
(Adapted from: Gilbert Parra, PhD; Holly Hatton-Bowers, PhD, and Carrie Gottschalk, LMHP, MS)

How Much Time do You Have?
2 Minutes:
  • Breathe
  • Stretch
  • Laugh
  • Doodle
  • Acknowledge one of your accomplishments
  • Say no to a new responsibility
  • Look out the window
  • (adapted) Faith based prayer
5 Minutes:
  • Listen to music
  • Have a cleansing cry
  • Chat with a co-worker, friend, or family member
  • Sing out loud
  • Jot down dreams
  • Step outside for fresh air
  • Go for a brief walk
  • Enjoy a snack or make a cup of coffee/tea
  • (adapted) Read faith-based devotional
10 Minutes:
  • Evaluate your day, Write in a journal
  • Call a friend
  • (adapted) Meditate, Prayer, Devotional
  • Tidy your work area
  • Assess your self-care
  • Draw a picture
  • Listen to soothing sounds/music
  • Read a magazine

JenREES 3-17-19

Perspective. I spoke a little of this last week. This week, in the midst of much occurring, it was all about perspective for me. It’s hard to find words for the devastation occurring in Nebraska. Perhaps like me, you found yourself feeling a tad overwhelmed or helpless by the images of damage…cattle being dug out of snow or stranded on islands and whole communities engulfed by water… I think what made this extra hard for me is that so many of our people are hurting and affected. Tornadoes and hail damage are somewhat more isolated for allowing people to more easily respond. This has been harder to help with road and bridge infrastructure damaged in so much of the State. And, unfortunately, we will feel these effects for a long time.

Perspective for me was counting my blessings. Because I rely a great deal on my faith, considering worse things I’ve personally gone through and remembering God’s faithfulness to me helps me with perspective. My family is all safe and we have each other, and my dad’s livestock are also safe. Those statements aren’t true for some I know who lost family and livestock this week and many more that I don’t know. In talking to a farmer friend, he was also sharing how he kept thinking about his blessings and that was the message he was sharing with others. So perhaps thinking of our blessings can help all of us with so much loss all around us? That actually is one of the research-based tips mentioned in this article: https://cropwatch.unl.edu/2019/coping-stress-during-crisis.

Nebraskans are so resilient! In the midst of tragedy, the stories of people pulling together to help however they can is heart-warming. Though we may experience more devastation for a time, we will get through this! #NebraskaStrong.

Considerations and resources for now:

  • Please heed the warnings of emergency management and Nebraska State Patrol regarding road closures, bridges, etc. People not doing so has put them at additional risk for rescue operations.
  • There may be additional places in the future, but this is what was shared with me thus far. Anyone in need of feed for livestock or wishing to donate to help farmers/ranchers affected can consider doing so at Nebraska Farm Bureau’s website: https://www.nefb.org/get-involved/disaster-assistance
  • For anyone who has lost livestock, feed, fences in the past month due to weather or flooding, please call your local Farm Service Agency office to report those losses. Losses have to be reported within 30 days and a phone call will start that process. We have additional information regarding considerations for livestock losses that occurred due to extreme weather conditions before this most recent blizzard and flooding. I just don’t have room to cover all that here now.
  • We also realize that loss of livestock, farms, etc. is more than a source of income; it’s a livelihood. There’s an emotional component to loss that financial compensation can’t replace. Nebraska Extension cares about you and recognizes the additional stress that can occur to producers and your families during times of crisis and loss. A number of resources are available. The following has helpful tips on how to cope during crisis: https://cropwatch.unl.edu/2019/coping-stress-during-crisis
  • I’d also ask us all to consider two things. One: continue checking in on each other and seeking to encourage as I wrote about in an earlier news column. Two: consider adding two phone numbers into your address book as we never know when we may need them.
    • The Nebraska Counseling, Outreach and Mental Health Therapy (COMHT) Program, 800-464-0258, offers no-cost vouchers for confidential mental health services for persons affected by the rural crisis.
    • Nebraska Farm Hotline/Rural Response Hotline – 1-800-464-0258.
  • All our flood information can be found at: http://flood.unl.edu.

JenREES 2-24-19

Change. Sometimes it can motivate us to move forward and sometimes we can allowIMAG7539.jpg unwanted change to cripple us. The theme of the Women in Agriculture conference last week was “Taking Charge of Change”. There’s a number of changes we all face, especially for those involved with agriculture. Many are outside of our control yet we can control how we respond. We were challenged to write down 2-3 changes currently occurring in our lives and then what parts of those changes, if any, we had any control over. The first keynote speaker then built off of that in speaking on “Getting Clear on our Impact”. He was talking about life’s changes and our yearly goals. In clarifying impact around our goals, he mentioned three steps including: thinking long term, clarifying values/intentions, and optimizing for the starting line. The first two were pretty intuitive for me, but I wasn’t sure what he meant by the last one till explaining. In optimizing for the starting line, it’s about taking the first step. How many of us have made goals that have seemed too daunting to achieve such as fitness, nutrition, or other personal goals? He gave the example of a man who made the goal to run 5 miles every day for a year. Even though it’s measurable, it may not be achievable every day. He said the past three years, he made the goal each year to play his fiddle. He had been a fiddle player before having children but failed to even play once in spite of the goal. “Optimizing for the starting line” is about taking the first step. For the first man, it became simply putting on his running shoes. Once the shoes were on, it was the first step to any type of exercise. For himself, it was scheduling a time each day to only ‘pick up his fiddle’. Once he picked it up, it was the first step to begin playing again and he has been successful at playing since. The thought of this is so simple yet profound. It makes a lot of sense. In these cases, it can be change that’s positive by taking the first step, including in changing negative habits. It goes along the lines of other things we’ve heard such as “just making one’s bed” to complete one task, etc. For me, it will be to pick up a note card which is the first step to writing long-overdue thank yous and notes of encouragement. What first steps would allow you to achieve some of the goals you have in life or more positively help you deal with change occurring in your life right now?

Women’s Farmers & Ranchers College Program: Another opportunity for women in agriculture is upcoming on March 14. Michele Payn, founder of Cause Matter Corp., will be speaking to women on “Gate to Plate” at the next Farmers & Ranchers College. This informative and light-hearted program will start with registration at 6:00 p.m., a light meal and program to follow. The venue will be Lazy Horse Vineyard & Brewery near Ohiowa, NE or at 211 Road 20, Ohiowa, NE. This program is for women involved in agriculture to learn strategies for sharing their story of agriculture to today’s consumers. This program is free, however space is limited so please RSVP to 402-759-3712 or at go.unl.edu/farmersrancherscollege. Cause Matters Corp. focuses on addressing food myths, developing science communication, and connecting farm to food. In each of these core areas, Michele helps organizations clearly identify issues, understand their audience and grow solutions. Michele’s goal is to help you communicate “why your cause matters” – whether you’re a scientist, dietitian or in agribusiness. Michele’s resources and website can be found at http://causematters.com. For those of you on Twitter, Michele also founded the weekly #agchat conversation.

CropWatch  and BeefWatch Podcasts: Dr. Roger Elmore, Extension Cropping Systems Specialist joins Michael Sindelar, Extension Educator, to talk about Corn Planting and Early Growth Stages in this month’s CropWatch podcast. You can listen to it at: https://cropwatch.unl.edu/2019/cw-podcast-corn-planting-and-early-growth-stages. The monthly BeefWatch newsletter now has entire articles available via podcast. You can click here to subscribe if you’re interested: https://beef.unl.edu/beefwatch-podcast?platform=hootsuite.

Grain Marketing Workshop in David City: Are you getting the most profit out of your grain? A free Nebraska Extension Grain Marketing Workshop will help you build your own marketing plan for next year’s crops. The workshop will be 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday, March 5 in David City at the Hruska Memorial Public Library, 399 Fifth St. Austin Duerfeldt, Nebraska Extension ag economist and extension educator, will lead the morning session on how to develop a grain marketing plan. In the afternoon participants will get to test two scenarios using the Marketing in a New Era simulator. MINE is a commodity simulation game designed to help producers develop and improve their commodity marketing skills. Also speaking will be Eric Erickson, Risk Management Consultant at Thrive Ag LLC. The workshop, workshop materials and lunch are free. Seating is limited to the first 20 registrants and please RSVP to: Melissa Bartels at melissa.bartels@unl.edu.

JenREES 1-6-19

It feels like a long time since I wrote! Being burned out, I wasn’t ready to reflect on 2018 in my previous column. Perhaps some of you felt that way too? There were plenty of challenges for agriculture in 2018. Grateful for breaks. Grateful for a new year! Grateful for good new hires in Extension to help with the work load throughout the State! As I reflect on the past several years, thank you for your support as I’ve done my best to cover a lot of counties to the best of my ability. Grateful for the opportunity to serve Nebraskans via Extension and to enjoy this work! And while it comes at the expense of our farmers, I’m grateful for the continual opportunity to learn with every new crop/pest problem. I know a few of you have wished these problems didn’t have to happen to you so I could learn! Yet I do appreciate the phone calls to work through situations with our farmers and ag industry professionals. While each year presents unique challenges, I’m always inspired by the resiliency of our farmers and those in the ag community. Looking forward to serving you in 2019!

Short Survey: In Extension, we always need to prove that what we do in our work brings value to those of you we serve. Would you please consider completing this short survey for me to provide feedback, specifically regarding my email newsletter, news column, any specific way I helped you last year, and ways I can improve in my Extension role in 2019? All feedback is anonymous. Please go to the following direct link: https://app2.sli.do/event/q2p1sedv/polls or you can also go to https://www.sli.do/ and enter the code 7708. Thank you for considering this!

York Ag Expo: Reminder of the York Ag Expo this week! Hoping to see many people come out to view the exhibits and also come to the educational sessions. I try to train people to RSVP for all my educational events, but walk-ins are always welcome. Chemigation is on January 9th from 9 a.m.-Noon with Steve Melvin. Then come out and hear the latest on the Farm Bill, Crop Insurance decisions, and Farm Taxes from 1-4 p.m. from Brad Lubben, Cory Walters, and Austin Duerfeldt. On January 10th, I will present private pesticide training from 9 a.m.-Noon. Then come out for residue and manure management from 1-4 p.m. with Mary Drewnoski, Michael Sindelar, Tim Mundorf, and myself. From 4-5 p.m. will be the keynote speaker Chad E. Colby. Agribusiness after-hours from 5-6 p.m. Ag appreciation lunch both days and all exhibitors and sponsors can be found at: https://yorkchamber.org/event/ag-expo/. Hope to see you there!

RUP Dicamba Training: On the Nebraska Department of Ag website, you will now see the list of UNL face-to-face trainings, the link to the UNL online dicamba training, and a list of certified applicators who have completed dicamba training. I took the online course on Friday so I could better answer questions. This year, it allows you to take one of two tracks: presentations by Dr. Bob Klein or Dr. Greg Kruger. You are also welcome to take both for more information. There are instructions with screenshots on the online dicamba training webpage: https://pested.unl.edu/dicamba-training-instructions. Some reminders regarding this, the applicator’s name and applicator ID number need to be listed when registering for the online course. Last year we had some wives complete the registration for husbands and then the wives were listed as certified and not the husbands. This year anyone applying RUP dicamba must complete approved RUP dicamba training and must also be a certified licensed pesticide applicator. Regarding face to face trainings, I am not having a dicamba training during the York AgExpo, but there are many options available that can be viewed on the NDA website. For that training, you will need to bring your certified applicator number. If you are a new pesticide applicator who hasn’t received a number yet, you will put ‘pending’.

York-Hamilton Cattlemen’s Banquet: The York-Hamilton County Cattlemen are planning their 71ST Annual Cattlemen’s Banquet for Tuesday January 29, 2019 at the Holthus Convention Center in York. Dave Thorell of Loomis, NE will be the featured entertainment. Dave Thorell is a regionally known speaker, avid agriculture advocate, humorist, story teller and was the voice of Agriculture News for over forty years on KRVN Radio.  Thorell was elected into the Nebraska Broadcaster Hall of Fame. The Cattlemen will also recognize Rich Pearson of Hordville and Allen Roehrs of Bradshaw as Honored Guests for the evening for their contributions to the area livestock industry and the Cattlemen’s Association. The evening starts at 6:30 with social time, a Prime Rib meal at 7:00 with entertainment and recognition of honored guests to follow. Cattlemen’s Banquet tickets are $25 per person. Sponsorships are also available that include two banquet tickets and recognition at the banquet for $150.  Cattlemen’s Banquet tickets can be purchased from any of the York-Hamilton County Cattlemen’s Directors including Brian Blase of Hordville; Brock Ekhoff and Terry Ross of Aurora; Jeff Underwood of Exeter; Allen Klute and Mark Klute of Hampton; David McDonald of Phillips, Jeff Meradith, Kim Regier and Josh Chrisman of York; Kim Siebert of Henderson, plus the Extension Offices in York County and Hamilton County.

JenREES 10-28-18

Dates are something I tend to remember. This past week I was reflecting on a year ago: fire dangers with three wind events including the Thursday event that was the final straw, a beautiful Wednesday for getting plots out, and then Friday seeing the massive change in yields due to dropped ears. To me, many challenges began with last year’s harvest, and many may wish to forget last year. But reflecting also allows us to learn and count our blessings. Grateful for all the harvest that occurred the past couple of weeks with beautiful weather!…especially since things looked pretty bleak with all the rain and the snow event! Grateful for good yields overall and that we’re not dealing with widespread dropped corn ears at this time!

With the challenges on the soybean side, there’s two

IMAG6635

Soybeans showing discoloration from purple seed stain, Phomopsis seed decay, and potential stinkbug damage.

articles in this week’s CropWatch at http://cropwatch.unl.edu that may be of interest. One is about feeding soybeans to cattle. With reports of elevators rejecting soybean loads to the east of our area, we received questions if they could be fed. The Cercospora fungus causing purple seed stain and the Phomopsis fungus causing seed decay do not produce mycotoxins. We’re not aware of any soybean mycotoxins. We also don’t know how these fungi affect soybean seed quality regarding the feed value. So, we recommend testing for that if you’re interested in doing this.

Another article is by Cory Walters, UNL Ag Economist talking about crop insurance help with various dockage that one may have received. This fall’s weather could trigger indemnity payments due to low quality. This is just a short excerpt of his article. He writes, “The following discussion describes how crop insurance adjusts soybean yield due to quality for a particular county. While I have not found any differences in discount factors among counties, it is possible. The final outcome depends upon what the county actuarial documents stipulate. Discount rules contain quite a few if/then statements, so final outcomes will depend upon the particular production characteristics.

…Final yield is determined by multiplying the harvest yield by one minus the sum of all discount factors. Factors for each discount type are summarized as follows:

  • A sample grade outcome results in a 3% discount factor so no discount factors for any other grade.
  • For test weight, discount factors start at 48 to 48.99 lb with a discount factor of 0.7% that increases to a 1.5% discount factor with a 44 to 44.99 test weight. Test weights lower than 44 are settled through the other category.
  • Damage discounts start at 8.01% with a 4.4% discount factor that increase to a 25.2% discount factor with a 34.01% to 35% damage. Just like with test weight, damage over 35% are settled through the other category. Damage includes everything except heat.
  • Odor sample grade discounts are 2% for musty odor, 2% for sour odor, and 4% for commercially objectionable foreign odor (COFO).

For example, suppose your harvest soybean sample comes back as grade 4 with a 48.5 lb test weight and 9.4% damage. The field yielded 50 bu/ac. Yield would be reduced by 5.9% from the summation of 0.7% (test weight discount) + 5.2% (damage discount). Final yield would equal 47.05 bu/ac (50 x (1-.007-.052)). An indemnity will be paid if harvest revenue is less than guaranteed, which will vary among producers with different insurance products, coverage levels, and APHs.

Producers with multiple insurable units, likely coming from optional or basic units, should contact their insurance agent to determine the process for keeping samples of each unit. This is very important when soybeans are going to the bin. Quality discounts found here will likely not cover the entire price deduction found at the elevator. While this is unfortunate, some coverage is better than none. It is possible to get discount factors updated and/or modified for upcoming insurance contracts.” For questions and comments please contact Cory Walters at cwalters7@unl.edu and view the entire article in this week’s CropWatch.

Fall Burndown Apps is something we recommend, particularly if you have a problem with marestail or winter annuals like henbit in your fields. Nebraska data has shown over 60% of marestail germinates in the fall. Amit Jhala, Extension Weed Scientist shared an article in this week’s CropWatch. The following is a small excerpt, “Preliminary data for eastern Nebraska suggests that a fall burndown applied with a residual herbicide may eliminate the need for an early spring burndown for marestail control; however, this would not replace an at-planting residual application for management of additional troublesome weed species such as waterhemp and Palmer amaranth. For successful marestail management in the fall, apply herbicides following harvest while weather conditions remain favorable (air temperature above 50°F).

  • Glyphosate-resistant marestail is widespread across eastern Nebraska, thus 1 lb a.e. 2,4-D per acre is recommended as the base treatment for marestail burndown.
  • Glyphosate or other products such as Sharpen® or Gramoxone® may be tank-mixed with 2,4-D to provide broader spectrum control of winter annuals and certain perennial weeds.
  • We generally do not recommend including residual herbicides in fall applications since they provide little benefit in managing weeds that emerge the following spring; however, if infestation of marestail is high in the field and the field has a history of marestail seedbank, it would be advantageous to add a residual herbicide such as Authority® or Valor® or Autumn™ Super, or other metribuzin products.
  • Refer to the most recent Guide for Weed, Disease, and Insect Management in Nebraska for more herbicide options.

Fall herbicide application is unlikely to eliminate the need for burndown application at planting. Weeds adapted to cool temperatures, such as marestail, are likely to emerge prior to planting, making it necessary to control them.” He also shows photos in this Week’s CropWatch article of fall tillage or use of rye cover crop as additional options for reducing/suppressing marestail and other winter annual weeds.

JenREES 7-1-18

Last night brought much-needed rain and grateful for that!  From driving today, also saw some crop damage due to flooding, hail, and greensnap.  So sorry for those of you most affected by greensnap and hail!

Last month I focused on counting my blessings-which are many!  One has been the wonderful rains we’ve received at critical times of being so dry.  The crops overall are beautiful right now regarding overall color and especially soybean weed control!  Another blessing has been the opportunity to serve people in several counties the past 2+ years.  I’m grateful for the extra time to serve my former area while also getting to know people in my new one!  Grateful that relationships can be maintained and built regardless of where a person works or lives!  I’m also grateful that we’ve been able to hire an individual who I believe to be a good fit for the Clay County Crops/Water Educator position with accountability region of Nuckolls, Thayer, and Fillmore counties.  Michael Sindelar begins this new role on July 2.  Michael conducted graduate research at South Central Ag Lab (SCAL) near Clay Center, so he is familiar with the area and with SCAL.  His major advisor was Dr. Humberto Blanco, UNL Soil Scientist, and one of their projects was looking at soil impacts on corn residue removal and any impacts of adding cover crops into that system.  I asked Michael to provide a brief background so I could introduce him to you.Michael Sindelar

“Hi, I am Michael Sindelar, the new cropping and water systems educator based out of Clay Center, Nebraska. I was born and raised in Lincoln, Nebraska. However, I was exposed to agriculture at a young age as my father would take me to the family farm located near Richland, Nebraska in Colfax county to “help” with the farm work. I joined the Navy in 2005 and served until 2010. I was a cryptologist collective (CTR) and worked in military intelligence. I was stationed out of Hawaii for my enlistment. I had the opportunity to see parts of the pacific and spent one year deployed in Afghanistan where I collected intelligence and conducted combat operations. After having fun for a couple of years I got my act together and earned a bachelor’s degree in Agronomy from the University of Nebraska. This spring I completed my master’s degree in Agronomy with a specialization in soil and water science from the University of Nebraska. I spent most of my master’s degree studying how changes in soil management affect soil water storage, recharge, and heat as storage and transfer through the soil. I look forward to starting my new position on Monday. I sign most of my emails using V/R which is a carryover from the military meaning very respectfully.”

There will still be a transition time of various projects currently underway with July 4 this week and Clay County Fair the next.  Please be sure to introduce yourself to Michael when you see him!

When I transitioned to York/Seward a few years ago, I wrote a column entitled “Blessed”.  I’ve been blessed to serve the people of Clay/Nuckolls/Thayer/Fillmore Counties a few extra years.  And, I will always be grateful for relationships built and the opportunity you gave me entrusting me to help you with diagnosis and farming decisions!  I hope you will also give Michael that same opportunity as he begins in this new role!

Tree Branches:  Many of us had tree branches down again after the winds.  After the last event, a few farmers mentioned to me that it’s frustrating when town people dump their branches in their farm ditches leaving the farmers to pick them up.  So, while it’s only common sense and respectful to not do this, I said I’d mention to please not do this (although I’m uncertain if they would be reading my column)!

Glyphosate Resistant Palmer Amaranth Field Day:  View field demonstrations and hear from experts at the Glyphosate-Resistant Palmer Amaranth Management Field Day Wednesday, July 11 at Carleton. The event is free and will be held from 8:30 a.m. (Registration) with program from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.  Keynote speaker will be Aaron Hager, associate professor and Extension weed scientist at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He will speak on the biology of Palmer amaranth and current research on its control in corn and soybean, including in new technologies such as Xtend and Enlist soybeans. Populations of Palmer amaranth in Nebraska have been found resistant to glyphosate, atrazine, HPPD, and/or ALS herbicides, said Amit Jhala, field day coordinator and Nebraska Extension weed specialist.  Demonstrations include:

  • How row spacing and herbicide programs can affect glyphosate-resistant Palmer amaranth control in Roundup Ready 2 Xtend Soybean;
  • Management of Palmer amaranth in: Balance GT/Liberty Link Soybean (resistant to isoxaflutole and glufosinate) and Enlist E3 Soybean (resistant to 2,4-D choline, glyphosate, and glufosinate;
  • Critical period of Palmer amaranth removal affected by residual herbicides in Roundup Ready 2 Xtend Soybean.

These in-field demonstrations and research projects were funded by a grant from the Nebraska Soybean Board.  Register online at http://agronomy.unl.edu/palmer to ensure appropriate meals and tour rides. Three Certified Crop Advisor (CCA) credits will be available for attending. If there are questions about registering, please call 402-472-5656. Directions: From Geneva go south on Hwy 81 for 14.6 miles. Turn west onto Hwy 4 and go 5.3 miles. The field day will be on the south side of Hwy 4 between C Street and Renwick Street in Carleton. (GPS: 40°18’24.7”N 97°40’29.0”W).  Partial funding for this field day was provided by the Nebraska Soybean Checkoff and Nebraska Extension.

Reflections on 2017

Happy New Year!!! This week has been a good one to reflect on 2017.

It was a year of unusual situations such as the dry winter allowing for nitrogen burn onIMAG1311 corn, herbicide carryover, wheat stem maggot in corn from late-terminated wheat/rye, dicamba concerns on soybeans/trees/vegetables, downed corn ears and the challenge of recovering them…I think so often as I reflect, it’s easy to see the problems that occurred as those tended to be the headlines.

But as I also reflect, I think of so much more. It’s been a hard several years both personally and professionally for me and one reason I love Extension is for the relationships I’m so blessed to have. As I reflect on this past year, it was a year of spending time sharing the ways we all were hurting/healing while looking at crop problems, working in on-farm research plots, or just visiting. It was a special year in building even deeper relationships with many of you whom I’ve served in the past and meeting new people in the area I’m serving. Thank you also for your grace as it is a challenge serving regions of counties. I truly am grateful for the friendships and opportunity to serve you!

One of my highlights was pesticide training…yes, pesticide training! I know it’s required for us as private applicators every three years, but it’s my chance to teach/learn from/see so many of you and do my best to share important crop information as well. I enjoy winter meeting time as it always feels like a big reunion to me to see who comes and to catch up! Pesticide training last year was fun to still have the opportunity to train those of you in my former area and meet many in my new area.

Another highlight is a group of youth I meet with each month for Crop ScienceIMAG0122 Investigation (CSI). This was such a rewarding experience for me in Clay County working with Clay/Nuckolls county youth and watching them learn, grow, and some pursue ag careers through the years. In York County I’m blessed with a very young, energetic group of youth who are so much fun and love to learn! Basically, the youth are detectives every time we meet as I give them a real problem to solve. We spend time out in the fields learning about crop growth, weed/insect/disease ID, take industry tours, etc. Our youth right now are mostly in the 6-11 year old range but any youth and parents are welcome to join us if you’re interested. Please just let me know at jrees2@unl.edu for meeting times.

On-farm research plots are always a highlight for me for how much can be learned and this year we had some intense plots regarding data collection! Grateful for the farmer-cooperators in the time spent on these plots and how you’re so good at working with me.

I also am grateful to the media. With fewer of us in Ag Extension, we’re called on more often to share when problems arise. So grateful for the relationships with all our media partners-TV, radio, newspapers, magazines-and all you do in helping us share our research-based information timely!

As I think about 2018, one concern continues to be low commodity prices and ways to make it through. The Farm Bill and what will happen regarding it is another topic. Dicamba unfortunately may continue to be a topic. And, it seems like every year we have varying weather that creates challenges and opportunities. Two things that will continue are the optimism/resiliency I see every year in our farmers and the strong family that Ag in general is. Here’s wishing you a safe and blessed 2018!

York Ag Expo: Reminder of the York Ag Expo January 10-11 at the Holthus Convention Center in York. A full list of exhibitors is available at: http://yorkchamber.org/yorkagexpo/. Lyndy Phillips will be the speaker at the Prime Rib Supper at Stone Creek in McCool Junction with social hour at 5:30 p.m. and supper at 6:30 p.m. Tickets can be purchased for $30 at the York Chamber Office. I’m really excited for the opportunity to provide educational sessions this year and am particularly excited about the cover crops/annual forages for grazing. If you have cattle and are looking for outside-the-box ideas, this session may be helpful. Educational sessions include:
• Chemigation Training by Steve Melvin, Jan. 10 from 9-Noon
• Cover Crops/Annual Forages for Grazing, Jan. 10 from 1-4 p.m.
• Private Pesticide Training by Jenny Rees, Jan. 11 from 9-Noon
• Precision Ag, Jan. 11 from 1-4 p.m.

Winter Ag Program Brochure:  You can also find our winter ag program brochure for South Central/Southeast Nebraska at:  https://go.unl.edu/vzyg.

Blessed

In May of 2004, I was a new college graduate beginning my career in Extension in Clay County. Extension is pretty nebulous when one begins…it’s about making connections and determining the needs of the people we serve.

First Days and Week

I remember the first day of my career being met in the field by two great educators in Gary Zoubek and Andy Christiansen as we discussed an on-farm research project; I was blessed to be mentored by them to understand what good Extension looked like. That weekend, we had a tornado go through the county. I remember Monday morning receiving a call from Andy letting me know it was my job to drive the county and help document the damage for the Farm Service Agency. Not knowing anyone, Deanna Peshek, our office manager, graciously volunteered to drive me around pointing out farmsteads and letting me look at fields. Since that first time, we’ve unfortunately had many tornadoes, wind/hail storms in which damage has been documented and where we’ve all worked together to help communities/farmsteads clean up and help farmers make the best decisions. It’s always been special to watch people throughout the county and area come together to help each other.

Friendships

I’m grateful to those farmers who early on introduced themselves and gave me permission to look at their fields each week so I had a better handle on crop problems and diseases. I’ve been blessed to have worked with wonderful on-farm research cooperators through the years and with NRDs/Extension/many farmers/consultants in Clay and the surrounding area with installing moisture sensors/ET gages for irrigation scheduling and in diagnosing crop problems. There are farmers/home-owners who befriended me, always taking time to chat when I went to look at their fields/lawns/trees or took time to stop in the office to visit; grateful for these friendships! Fair time has always been such a special time for me; our fair is a true gem. Very few counties can say the Fair Board, Extension Board, 4-H Council, and Extension staff all get along-and that is true of Clay County! Beyond that, we have great livestock quality, competition, and sportsmanship amongst our families which is how it should be. The focus of youth/families at the Clay County Fair has also been a blessing to me. The closing of South Central Research and Extension Center and restructure into the South Central Ag Lab had occurred a few years before I was hired, yet the excellent research conducted there remained with dedicated technicians, staff, and researchers with whom I’ve been blessed to work in addition to those at USMARC and GPVEC. And, I’ve been so blessed in Clay county and surrounding area to have relationships with newspaper staff who understand that ag drives our local economies and who strive to work with Extension. I’m also grateful for the team of ladies I’ve worked with in the Extension office and faculty and staff in surrounding counties as we’ve all worked together to serve our constituents.

New Challenge

I’ve reflected much the past month on numerous blessings God has provided me in this position since I began in Clay County. Recently, I chose to accept a new challenge in my life by accepting the York/Seward crops/water educator position which will begin April 1. This was a very difficult decision for me; one I haven’t taken lightly and one which has been bathed in prayer. I know this is where God is leading me. That doesn’t come without sadness of leaving as the people of Clay County and this surrounding area are truly special.

Thank You

Thank you for welcoming this young gal straight out of college and eventually trusting me to share research-based information with you, help you with decisions including the farm bill, look at your fields/lawns/gardens/trees, and in many cases build relationships. I will always be grateful to all of you for how you helped me and all you’ve taught me through the years!!! I’ve been assured the Clay county crops/water position with accountability region for Nuckolls/Thayer/Fillmore will be refilled and in the meantime, I will continue to assist this area in addition to my new one. Please do be patient with us during this transition. I’m thankful that agriculture is so connected and that there will be opportunities to connect at meetings in the future. Thank you again for your support of our Extension office and of me!

Upcoming Programs

  • FSA Farm Bill meeting March 17 at 1:30 p.m. at Clay Co. Fairgrounds
  • Water Conservation in the Landscape gardening program April 14th from 5:30-7:00 p.m. at the Clay Co. Fairgrounds
  • Lawn Care program April 21st from 5:30-7:00 p.m., Clay Co. Fairgrounds

Sensitive Issues Training-Engage

Many of us have been there…we’ve been asked a question in which the answer can be deemed controversial because the topic is based on emotion and beliefs.  How do we respond?  Do we get caught up in the emotion and passion of the issue and try to force our beliefs on others?  Do we shy away or try to avoid an answer altogether by remaining silent?

Last week’s Sensitive Issues Media and Communications Training was developed to help all of us through these situations.  It was a remarkable experience working with an amazing group of ladies, all passionate about food, but looking at food from a variety of perspectives and taking an issues-based approach in developing our team.  Our team was comprised of a livestock expert, a manure expert, two food and nutrition experts, a communication’s expert, and myself from a crop production perspective.  Special thanks to Dr. Chuck Hibberd, Nebraska Extension Dean and Director, for providing us a New Audiences Innovation Grant to partially fund this training. You can catch the conversation on Twitter at #SIMCT15.

We invited the Center for Food Integrity to conduct their Engage training with us, which was sponsored by the United Soybean Board.  ThisIMAG4885-1 training uses “the power of shared values to highlight industry trends and teaches strategies for using values-based messaging in daily conversations, and public speaking and media opportunities.”  There was discussion, role playing, and mock media interviews.  The training challenged me to use something I also just learned from “7 Habits of Highly Effective People” training….Seek first to Understand, then to be Understood.

Essentially, ask questions.  Understand why a consumer believes X, Y, or Z about food and agriculture.  Universal values include:

  • Compassion
  • Responsibility
  • Respect
  • Fairness
  • Truth

Seek to understand the other person’s values by listening and asking questions.  Then share by communicating about common values telling your food and ag story.  We can’t really script this.  We can’t be so vague that we’re not credible.  For example, the following is vague and perhaps over-used:

By doing X we help the environment.

Instead, we need to be willing to talk about the hard issues with authentic transparency…to share our own individual stories.

I also desire water that is safe for my family to drink and desire for there to be enough water for future generations.  That’s why my colleagues and I work with farmers to use research-based irrigation scheduling tools.  Doing so helps reduce over-irrigation which can reduce the nitrate levels reaching our groundwater and the amount of water being pumped from the aquifer.

There were a few surprises for me.  The first being the progress in one year (based onIMAG4865-1 the Center for Food Integrity’s research) that we’ve made in consumer trust.  This slide is essentially saying that 42% of consumers feel the food system is going the right direction (up from 34% last year).  Men are more trusting of the food system at 48% believing the food system is on the right track.  32% of women feel the food system is on the wrong track.

Another surprising, yet encouraging piece of information for IMAG4868-1me to see is which people are trusted the most on sensitive topics.  On the topic of genetically modified foods, University Scientists topped the list, a Scientist that was a Mom was second, and Farmers were third.  This is different than other research I’d seen, so I was excited about this.  It was a survey of 2005 individuals conducted in 2014 and was encouraging from the standpoint that we do still have an opportunity to share our stories with those who truly desire to know more about where their food comes from.  We will never change the activists, but we can reach the middle.

Finally, I loved the following quote which is so true:

A picture is worth 1000 words; a video is a library.

They showed the following video from Similac entitled, “The Mother ‘Hood“.  Instantly, my mind went to how easy it would be for ag to do something similar.  We tend to be so divided, but division is killing us.  We are in the business of providing a safe, affordable, food supply to the world…but beyond that, our diversity provides consumer choice.  If you watch the video, consider what is the common issue that could bring all of ag together.  I have some ideas and my team members and I have discussed what a similar video with diverse agriculture groups would look like.  What are your thoughts and ideas?

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