Posted in Crops, Livestock

The Great American Eclipse & Agritourism

Some of my summer has been spent creating lessons to accompany the solar eclipse event which will occur August 21, 2017. Over 200 Nebraska communities fall within path of totality, or the path of the shadow where observers will see the moon completely over the sun for roughly two and a half minutes.  During the total solar eclipse, the moon’s umbral shadow will fly across the United States from Oregon to South Carolina, in a little over 90 minutes. This is the first eclipse through the contiguous United States since 1979, according to NASA records.

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Photo Credit: NASA

An eclipse will only occur in the same spot once every 375 years and we are fortunate to be in the area of totality. With thousands of tourists expected to visit Nebraska to visit the eclipse, I’ve heard of people as far from Japan and Sweden coming to our area to view this amazing event. There may even be a few rural landowners wanting to capitalize on this economic development opportunity. There are a few things that David Aiken, Extension Agricultural Law Specialist has pointed out to be aware. Landowners have legal protection against tourist personal injury liability if they do not charge a fee to campers or eclipse viewers. If they do charge a fee, they must meet 2015 Nebraska agritourism legal requirements in order to reduce their injury liability risk.

In short, if you are charging people to camp on your land, you could be liable of that person gets hurt. There are ways Nebraska landowners can obtain limited agritourism liability protection such as posting your property with the specified agritourism liability signs and include the same language in any agritourism activity contract like a camping lease. The landowner must also exercise reasonable care to guard against unusual dangers associated with the property, maintain the property, facilities and equipment, train and properly supervise any employees and comply with any related state or local legal requirements (i.e. capping an abandoned well). There are other legal options as detailed in a recent University of Nebraska news release, “Great Plains’ ecotourism initiative produces liability study”.

Aiken suggests contacting your insurance agent regarding whether your current liability insurance will cover any eclipse-related incidents. Your attorney can advise you regarding agritourism liability, agritourism leases, and agritourism liability waivers.

Posted in Crops, Youth

Bacterial Leaf Streak

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My colleague from York County, Jenny Rees provided a quick summary of bacterial leaf streak (BLS) which has been confirmed in corn in various parts of the state.  Lesions can look similar to other diseases such as gray leaf spot (GLS). The major difference between BLS and GLS is that the lesion margins of bacterial leaf streak are wavy whereas they are blunt in gray leaf spot.  It’s important to tell the difference between the two since fungicides will not control bacterial diseases.  On CropWatch at http://cropwatch.unl.edu, there is an article showing a number of corn diseases and how to identify them.  Be sure to check it out and when in doubt, you can always get a sample to your local Extension educator or the plant and pest diagnostic lab.

Tamra Jackson-Ziems also has a Youth BLS Survey and competition with cash prizes for BLS envelopeFFA Chapters, 4-H Clubs, or other youth groups that submit the most POSITIVE samples from different fields.  Groups submitting 3 or more positive samples also get a certificate identifying them as “Certified Crop Disease Detectives!”  Youth packets can be be obtained from Tamra directly by emailing her at:  tjackson3@unl.edu

Posted in Crops, Livestock

Reminders for Farmers

For those you receive the electronic Farm Service newsletter, the information below is just a reminder to:

  • CERTIFY YOUR PLANTED ACRES:  If you do not have a certification appointment, call and get it scheduled. The deadline to complete 2017 acreage reporting is July 17.
  • ARC/PLC CONTRACT SIGNATURES DUE AUGUST 1:  Producers are reminded that the deadline to return signatures for the 2017 ARC/PLC farm safety net program is August 1. All signatures must be returned by this date to ensure payment for the 2017 crop year.

FSA Loan Servicing, Other Organization Resources Available During Financial Stress

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Credit: bubaone

There are options for Farm Service Agency loan customers during financial stress. If you are a borrower who is unable to make payments on a loan, contact Ben Herink, your local FSA Farm Loan Manager, to learn about the options available to you.

Farmers and ranchers also can access assistance through other entities in Nebraska that offer services during financially challenging times. The Rural Response Hotline provides referral and support services for farmers, ranchers and rural residents and their families. The number to call is (800) 464-0258.

The Nebraska Department of Agriculture manages the Negotiations Program, which offers mediation services for agricultural borrowers, creditors and USDA program participants. Through this program, participants also can access free one-on-one education on agricultural financial and legal matters. For information, call (800) 446-4071.

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Credit: Alex Belomlinsky

Nebraska Extension has developed an initiative called “Strengthening Nebraska’s Agricultural Economy” that features a series of educational materials on the Extension Crop Watch and Beef websites. The materials are designed to provide producers with ideas for reducing input costs, increasing efficiencies and improving profitability. Find the materials at CropWatch.unl.edu and Beef.unl.edu.

Posted in Crops, Irrigation

NE Ag Water Management Network

Agricultural irrigation system watering corn field in summer

If you have irrigated ground and are looking for ways to save money, reduce nutrient loss and use less water, consider joining the Nebraska Agricultural Water Management Network, or NAWMN.  Evaluation results have shown a one to two-inch savings of irrigation since it’s inception. The Network has been having significant impacts on both water and energy conservation due to farmers adopting information and implementing technologies in their irrigation management. The cost of applying an additional 2 inches of water is going to vary depending on your depth to water, system pressure, and equipment costs, but could easily run from $10 to $30 per acre.

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To determine the actual cost, I recommend using the IrrigateCost app, developed by Nebraska Extension. The app, which is available for both Apple and Android products, allows users to input their specific information such as acres irrigated, pumping lift, system PSI, pump and pivot life, and inches applied as well as related costs such as for the well and engine, labor, energy, district fees, and taxes. The app then calculates total irrigation, total ownership, and total operating costs. It also breaks down costs by irrigation well, pump, gear head, pump base, diesel engine and tank and system and calculates per acre annual cost and per acre-inch annual cost.

A couple of the tools the NAWMN uses are ETgages® or Atmometers which mimic crop evapotranspiration or ET and Watermark soil matrix sensors which measure soil matric potential or the energy required to remove water from the soil. These two tools have really worked well and have made irrigation management much easier than those gut feelings.  The more information you have the better decisions you can make!

If you are in the NAWMN, and have not already installed your equipment, be sure to remember to start the soaking/drying cycle on your Watermark sensors to be sure they work! It’s also important to replace the #54 alfalfa canvas covers and wafers on a regular basis at the start of each season. For more information, go to: http://water.unl.edu/web/cropswater/nawmdn.

Once you have your ETgage out, I hope you will post your weekly readings to the Nebraska Ag Water Management Network (NAWMN) website. As a reminder, once you are on the main screen, you can login to your site by entering your site name and password and clicking on “Login.” Once you have logged in, you will be taken to your weekly data from past weeks, including last year. To enter your weekly data, click on the “Add new ETgage reading” link which will take you to the data entry page where you can enter your growth stage, rainfall, and ETgage change.

If you’ve forgotten your site name or password, please contact Aaron Nygren at anygren2@unl.edu or 402-352-3821.

Source: UNL CropWatchwebsite

Posted in Crops, Programming

Weed Management/Cover Crops Field Day

During the summer, our crops extension team has some great field days to share research and management strategies to farmers. One of those opportunities to learn more about weed management and cover crops will be on June 28 at the South Central Agricultural Laboratory near Clay Center.  There is no charge for the field day with registration beginning at 8 a.m. and field day from 8:30 a.m.-12:15 p.m.  Lunch will be served which will then be followed by a cover crop field day from 1-3 p.m.  marestailThe weed management field day will include on-site demonstrations of herbicides for weed control in corn, popcorn, and soybean as well as a view of ongoing cover crop research. An early morning demonstration will focus on weed control in soybeans followed by a demonstration of projects for weed control in corn, popcorn and sorghum. Onsite demonstration of cover crop research will highlight the afternoon session.soybeans

Soybean demonstrations will include an unbiased comparison of herbicide programs of different companies for weed control in Roundup Ready, Liberty Link, and Xtend soybeans.  Weed control and crop safety in Roundup Ready 2Xtend Soybean, Balance Bean, Bolt Soybean, and Conventional Soybean will also be discussed.

Corn demonstrations include an unbiased comparison of several herbicide programs by different companies for weed control in glyphosate- plus glufosinate-resistant corn. Effect of row spacing and herbicide on weed control in popcorn, DiFlexx DUO for weed control in corn, INZEN sorghum, and injury symptoms of dicamba or 2,4-D on a number of crops will also be discussed.

Afternoon demonstrations of cover crop research will include cover crops in corn and soybean systems including planting dates, plant populations, and maturities. Participants will walk cover crop experiments planted in corn and/or soybean.  Cover crop pluses and minuses: Bio-mass, nitrogen for the following crop, nitrates, erosion, water use, and crop yields will also be discussed.

Certified Crop Advisor (CCA) continuing education units will be available.  There is no cost to attend the field day, but participants are asked to register at http://agronomy.unl.edu/fieldday.  The South Central Agricultural Laboratory is 4.5 miles west of the intersection of Highways 14 and 6, or 12.4 miles east of Hastings on Highway 6. GPS coordinates of the field day site are 40.57539, -98.13776.

Other programs relatively close to our area include:
June 22:  Cover Crop Conference, 2 p.m., Holthus Convention Center York.
July 18:  Crop Management Diagnostic Clinic:  Soil Health, ARDC (now ENREC) near Mead

Posted in Crops, Programming, Youth

Youth Crop Scouting Competition

One of the statewide programs I coordinate is the Youth Crop Scouting Competition which engages youth in the crop sciences. It provides youth with real-world scenarios in crop production as they diagnose plant diseases, crop disorders, identify insects and weeds and other challenges producers currently face.IMG_6054.jpg

Registration is now open for the 2017 Youth Crop Scouting Competition to be held this August in eastern Nebraska. The contest is open to FFA and 4-H club members and will help those interested in crops test their skills and those new to crops better understand crop production.

To prepare for the contest youth are encouraged to learn about crop growth and development and basic crop scouting principles. If a group doesn’t know a lot about crops, they’re encouraged to ask a local agronomist to assist by providing a short lesson on crop production at regular meetings or outside of the meeting.

The crop scouting contest will be held at the Eastern Nebraska Research and Extension Center (ENREC, formerly ARDC) near Mead on Aug. 1. The event will include both indoor and outdoor events. Teams of three to five junior high or high school students (those completing 7-12th grades) from across Nebraska are invited to participate.

FFA Chapters or 4-H Clubs may enter a team composed of three or four participants. An adult team leader must accompany each team of students. Team leaders could be FFA advisors, crop consultants, extension staff, coop employees, etc.IMG_6093.jpg

Top-scoring teams win prizes: $500 for first, $250 for second, $100 for third place. The top two teams will be eligible for regional competition in August at Indiana.

Teams will be expected to know the basics of scouting corn and soybean fields. This includes crop staging; looking for patterns of crop injury; disease, insect and weed seedling identification; etc. Other topics may include but are not limited to pesticide safety, nutrient disorders, and herbicide injury.

More information about the crop scouting competition and instructions on how to register a team are available online in the Youth section of CropWatch under “Crop Scouting Competition” and in the contest flyer. The program is limited to 10 teams so be sure to register soon! Teams must be registered by July 20.

This program is sponsored by DuPont Pioneer, the Nebraska Independent Crop Consultant Association, and Nebraska Extension.

 

Posted in Crops, Programming, Uncategorized

Nebraska Winter Wheat Field Days

Attention wheat growers!  Nebraska Extension is again hosting some wheat field days within the area in collaboration with various business and industry partners. There are 4 field days in the Panhandle area, 2 in west central Nebraska and 2 in the eastern part of the state with the closest one in our area located in Jefferson County.wheat-867612_960_720 2

Wednesday, June 7th at 6:30 p.m. at the farm of Mark Knoble will be a wheat field day. From Fairbury, head north on NE 15, turn west onto 721st Road, dive 1.9 miles and the destination is on the left. For more information, contact Randy Pryor, Extension Educator in Saline County at (402) 821-2151. For details on all of the field days and to see a list of sponsors, go to  agronomy.unl.edu/wheatdays.