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 on 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 Science 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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.
On March 15, 2016, we will celebrate National Ag Day. The Agricultural Council of America began celebrating Ag Day in 1973 with the desire to recognize and celebrate the contribution of agriculture in our everyday lives. This program encourages every American to understand how food and fiber products are produced; value the essential role of agriculture in maintaining a strong economy; and appreciate the role agriculture plays in providing safe, abundant, and affordable products.
Today, each American farmer feeds more than 144 people which is a large increase from 25 people in the 1960s. Today’s farmers also produce 262 percent more food with 2 percent fewer inputs (labor, seeds, feed, fertilizer, etc.), compared with 1950. Farm and ranch families comprise just two percent of the U.S. population. According to the American Farm Bureau Federation, America’s rural landscape is comprised of around 2.2 million farms with 97 percent of U.S. farms being operated by families – individuals, family partnerships or family corporations.
Regarding Nebraska, the Nebraska Department of Ag reports in its “2016 Ag Facts” card that cash receipts contributed almost $25 billion to Nebraska’s economy in 2014 and 5.9 percent of the U.S. total.
- Nebraska’s ten leading commodities (in order of value) for 2014 cash receipts are cattle and calves, corn, soybean, hogs, wheat, dairy products, chicken eggs, hay, dry bean and potatoes.
- Every dollar in agricultural exports generates $1.27 in economic activities such as transportation, financing, warehousing and production.
- Nebraska’s $7.2 billion in agricultural exports in 2014 translates into $9.2 billion in additional economic activity.
- Nebraska’s top five agricultural exports in 2014 were soybean and soybean meal, corn, beef and veal, feeds and fodder, and hides and skins.
- Nebraska had 49,100 farms and ranches during 2014; the average operation consisted of 921 acres.
- In 2014, Nebraska had 25 operating ethanol plants with a total production capacity of 2.125 billion gallons.
- Nebraska ranked 2nd among states in ethanol production and utilized 43% of the state’s 2014 corn crop.
- Livestock or poultry operations were found on 49% of Nebraska farms.
- 1 in 4 jobs in Nebraska is related to agriculture.
- From east to west, Nebraska experiences a 4,584 foot elevation difference and the average annual precipitation decreases by one inch every 25 miles.
- Between 2007-2012, Nebraska experienced a 5% increase in the number of farms and 10% increase in the number of new farmers.
Future of Agriculture
As we look at the future of agriculture, many challenges and opportunities lie ahead. We are tasked with feeding over 9 billion people by 2050 with less land and water resources and more efficient inputs…essentially do more with even less while being environmentally sustainable. Water quantity and quality will continue to be important. We are in an exciting time of technological advancements providing numerous opportunities for young people to attain careers in agriculture. Technological advancements with seed and animal genetics; variable rate applications of fertilizer, water, seed/hybrids and other inputs; the use of unmanned aerial systems (UAS), satellite, or other aerial technologies; and much more. Perhaps the largest challenge agriculture faces is the continually growing disconnect between our consumers and from where their food originates. Social media, internet, TV personalities, and activist groups have done much to share mis-information and spread fear regarding production agriculture. Many farm families are working to share their own farm stories which is wonderful and I would encourage more to do so! Perhaps in some ways we in agriculture are our own worst enemies? I wonder if we could exponentially change the course of this growing disconnect if by instead of the divisions that occur based on production practices and marketing we would unite together under a common mission? Perhaps one of providing the opportunity of consumer choice in a world where our ultimate goal is to provide a safe, abundant, and affordable food supply?