Posted in Crops

Harvest Safety

It is hard to believe that harvest is starting and just as a reminder that with harvest comes more traffic on the county roads and other stresses for farmers. It never fails, that equipment can break, there can be delays at the elevator and those extra-long hours can all add extra stress to farmers. That being said, it is important to carefully slow down and realize the many hazards you are being exposed to during harvest.

IMG_9973.jpgAn Iowa State Extension publication, Harvest Safety Yields Big Dividends points out that injuries can occur by taking shortcuts to perform routine tasks, not getting enough sleep or regular breaks, or failing to follow safety practices. Some injuries occur when operators are pulled into the intake area of harvesting machines, such as balers, combines, or corn pickers, and many injuries occur from slips or falls around these machines. Exposure to powerful machinery is highest during the harvest season. The equipment must be powerful to effectively handle large amounts of agricultural commodities. When equipment plugs, NEVER try to unplug it with live equipment, instead always disengage power and turn off the engine before trying to manually clear a plugged machine. Regular maintenance of these machines can also make harvest go smoother. Also, lots of accidents actually happen by the operator slipping and falling off equipment.

In the same publication listed above, there are several tips for reducing fall hazards:

  • Always keep all platforms free of tools or other objects.
  • Frequently clean the steps and other areas where workers stand to service, mount and dismount, or operate the machine.
  • Wear well-fitting, comfortable shoes with non-slip soles.
  • Use grab bars when mounting or dismounting machinery.
  • Be sure your position is stable before you work on a machine.
  • Recognize that fatigue, stress, drugs or alcohol, and age may affect stability.

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Other helpful tips during harvest are to keep kids away from machinery. Tell them the dangers that can occur and not to play near the equipment, even when it is shut off; you never know when they will be playing in hidden areas of the equipment. Operators should double check where kids are before moving the equipment. Too many accidents can occur when youth are in the path of equipment out of the operator’s view. Operators of all equipment should check in regularly and let someone know where you are. Keep all guards on equipment; it is there for a reason!

It is also important for the public to understand the increased traffic on public roads and be patient. The greatest threat raised between farm equipment and passenger vehicles is the difference in speed. Farm equipment runs at an average speed of 20 miles per hour while passenger vehicles average 60 miles per hour. If the motor vehicle overtakes a tractor, the impact is comparable to a passenger vehicle hitting a brick wall at 40 miles per hour. If the tractor and a car, mini-van or pickup collides head on, the impact is the same as hitting a brick wall at 60 miles per hour.

Farmers can reduce the chances of an accident by using warning lights, reflectors and reflective tape on their machinery to keep passenger vehicle operators aware of their presence on roads. Some farmers may choose to install supplemental lights to increase visibility. It also is a good idea for producers to keep off heavily traveled roads as much as possible and avoid moving equipment during the busiest part of the day.

Some farm equipment, such as combines, can take up more than half of the road. Even so, it is up to both drivers to be aware of their own limitations and adjust accordingly. Farmers should not take up more space than is needed, but other drivers should try to provide as much room as possible. It is a good idea for passenger vehicles to turn off onto side or field roads until larger machinery has passed. Whenever possible, farmers should use an escort vehicle such as a pickup to precede or follow large machinery and equipment on public roads. More than one escort may be necessary. Ideally, the escort vehicle would have extra warning lights and a sign indicating oversized or slow equipment ahead or following.

Have a safe harvest!

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Posted in Crops, Youth

Making One Agronomist at a Time

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Kornhusker Kids 4-H Club of Cuming County and Colfax County 4-H represented Nebraska in the regional youth crop scouting competition on August 28, 2017.

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In late August, seven Nebraska youth traveled to Indiana to participate in the 2nd Annual Regional Youth Crop Scouting Competition held at Purdue University’s Beck Ag Center near West Lafayette, Indiana.  These youths scouted six fields for diseases, insects, abiotic/biotic disorders, weed identification and crop growth stage and development. Teams from Iowa and Indiana also competed. Nebraska teams ranked 3rd and 6th respectably. Between all three state competitions, 195 youth competed from Nebraska, Iowa and Indiana. Top two teams from each state competed at the regional competition. Congrats to all of the youth who not only networked with agronomic professionals, but also gained the most by improving life skills related to a potential career path. Next year’s regional competition will be hosted by Nebraska Extension.

While this is one program, which impacts a very small percentage of youth, it is very important to start training the next generation of ag leaders to feed our growing population. In fact, globally there is an effort to encourage youth in agricultural positions. According to the U.N. International Labor Organization (a specialized agency of the United Nations), globally there will be about 74.2 million unemployed young people (ages 15-24) in 2017 which is an increase of 3.8 million since 2007. While it is troublesome that those graduating high school and/or college are unemployed, this could present an opportunity for those in the agricultural industry. If we can create programs which spark an interest in agriculture, there is potential to attract youth to the agricultural industry.

Getting over the stigma that agriculture is a back-breaking with little room for advancement, while in fact it is quite the opposite. As educators, we should be promoting agricultural careers as “intellectually stimulating and economically sustainable” according to foodtank.com. Programs designed to encourage young people into agriculture are in numerous countries across the world including the New Entry Sustainable Farming Project in the U.S., a variety of USDA initiatives and programs like Farm Africa for youth in Ethiopia, Kenya, South Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda or the International Fund for Agricultural Development Rural Youth Talents Program in South America. If you know of a young person undecided in his/her career path or a youth who is passionate about agriculture, let them know of the bright future and opportunities available in agriculture.

For more information on how to engage youth in crops, visit our UNL CropWatch site at http://cropwatch.unl.edu/cropwatch-youth.

Posted in Crops, Irrigation, Livestock

Husker Harvest Days

Don’t forget to visit the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s IANR building at Husker Harvest Days! “Small Changes, Big Payback: Strengthening Nebraska’s Agricultural Economy” is the theme for the Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources exhibits at the farm show Sept. 12-14 near Grand Island.HDD17

Exhibits inside IANR’s Husker Red building will provide information on:

  • Strategies for managing family budgets during challenging economic times;
  • The relationship between cost, nutritional value and impact of various feed sources for cow/calf operations;
  • Understanding the county-by-county differences in the risk factors that affect crop insurance rates and how they impact profitability and management decisions;
  • How farmers can better utilize the Farm Bill safety net;
  • Benchmarking the costs of pumping irrigation water to better control input costs and make decisions related to pump efficiency and energy usage;
  • Crop production strategies that can have a positive impact on cost per acre and profit margin;
  • Using crop budgets to analyze the operating costs for a farm to become a low-cost producer;
  • The university’s annual survey of agricultural land value and rental rates in Nebraska.
Posted in Crops, Livestock, Youth

Hurricane Harvey’s Impact on Agriculture

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If you are connected with social media, you might have seen the video or pictures of cattle being moved by horses down the streets of Texas to higher ground. You might have seen pictures of destroyed cotton crops, grain bins and flooded farm houses. Prior to Hurricane Harvey, farmers worked around the clock to harvest their cotton and ranchers worked to move livestock to safety. For many cotton farmers, they were looking at record yields and Texas A&M AgriLife Extensionreported that at least 1.2 million beef cows graze in the 54 counties on the disaster list as of this article. Texas rice producers had already harvested about 75 percent of their rice, but wind and water likely damaged storage bins leading to more crop losses.

Of course, time will tell how the actual economic impact of this storm, not to mention the impact of fuel prices. The great thing about the agricultural community is that we stick together and help one another during these difficult times. Many local people gave money to assist our Kansas neighbors following widespread fires. Now, farmers and ranchers in Texas could use assistance. There will be a lot of fence to repair, buildings, bins, and just help restore these farm and ranch family’s lives. So how can you help?  There are many options. A close and local option is to give blood!  Some other ways to help include:

Texas A&M AgriLife Extension agents have set up the following Animal Supply Points and are requesting square bale horse quality hay, various types of hay for cattle in round or square bales, all-stock feed and range cubes/protein supplements at this time. They are not currently taking donations for fencing supplies. Before collecting or delivering donations, contact the AgriLife Animal Supply Point Hotline at 979-845-7800 to confirm needs and delivery.

A New Day: Texas Agricultural Education Disaster Relief Fund 

This fund will help FFA chapters and agricultural education programs rebuild following natural disasters such as Hurricane Harvey. Donations to this fund will be dispersed via an application process directly to the programs and chapters affected by the storm. More more information, go to https://www.texasffa.org/NewDay.

Texas 4-H Relief Support Campaign for 4-H Programs Affected by Hurricane Harvey

The Texas 4-H Youth Development Program and the Texas 4-H Youth Development Foundation are facilitating a monetary campaign to directly support 4-H clubs and county programs in the hurricane zone. The website is https://texas4hfoundation.org/.
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STAR Fund

The STAR Fund is used to assist farmers and ranchers in rebuilding fences, restoring operations and paying for other agricultural disaster relief. If you’d like to help farmers and ranchers impacted by floods, wildfires, tornadoes or other natural disasters. To donate to the STAR Fund, go to https://www.texasagriculture.gov and search for the STAR fund.

Of course, there are many other organizations and ways to help. This will take a long time for all of the victims to rebuild their lives. Keep them in your thoughts and do what you can to make a difference.

Posted in Crops, Livestock, Uncategorized

Ag Land Management, Back to the Basics

Anyone who owns or leases farm ground or leases it to someone else will want to attend this day-long seminar providing information and education about that ownership.  Learn management strategies for this asset by attending this seminarnature-field-sun-agriculture.jpg at the Adams County Fairgrounds, 947 S. Baltimore Ave, Hastings, NE. The event will be held Thursday, August 31st with registration starting at 9:00 a.m., program starting at 9:30 and ending around 3:00 p.m.

Participants can use this seminar to learn about: Am I keeping the farm, or selling it? How do I manage a farm? If leasing, what are key lease provisions?  What legal considerations do I have with this decision? And, how do we manage family communications and expectations when other family is involved? What does a soil test tell me?  I hear about organic or natural production; how does that vary from what my farmer is currently doing?  If corn and soybeans aren’t making money why don’t we raise other crops? What should I expect for communications between the landlord and tenant?  What are key pasture leasing considerations?money bag.jpg

“I am contacted monthly from citizens who have had their parents pass away, and now they are managing a farm for the first time in their lives,” said Allan Vyhnalek, Extension Educator and event speaker.  “They may have even grown up there, but haven’t been around for 30 or 40 years, and need to understand that farming practices and management concepts have changed,” Vyhnalek continued.

The workshop is designed to provide primer education for those that haven’t been on the farm much, or on the farm much recently.  It is also designed to be a refresher course for those that would like to have the latest information on land management and rental.

Pre-registration is requested by Monday, August 28, 2017.  Registration fee is $20 per person or $30 per couple.  The fee covers handouts, refreshments and lunch.  Contact Twila Bankson at the Adams County Extension Office, P.O. Box 30, Hastings, NE 68901, twila.bankson@unl.edu, or 402-461-7209 to register.

The program is being provided by Allan Vyhnalek, Aaron Nygren, and Jim Jansen, Extension Educators from Nebraska Extension.  They provide the farm land management and agronomy education in eastern Nebraska.

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