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.

Posted in Crops, Irrigation, Livestock, Uncategorized

Census of Agriculture

According to a news release from the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS), America’s farmers and ranchers will soon have the opportunity to strongly represent agriculture in their communities and industry by taking part in the 2017 Census of Agriculture. Conducted every five years by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS), the census, to be mailed at the end of this year, is a complete count of all U.S. farms, ranches, and those who operate them.

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Photo Credit: pexels.com

The Census of Agriculture is the only source of uniform, comprehensive, and impartial agriculture data for every county in the United States, according to the NASS administrator Huber Hamer.  The Census of Agriculture highlights land use and ownership, operator characteristics, production practices, income and expenditures, and other topics. The 2012 Census of Agriculture revealed that over three million farmers operated more than two million farms, spanning over 914 million acres. This was a four percent decrease in the number of U.S. farms from the previous census in 2007. However, agriculture sales, income, and expenses increased between 2007 and 2012. This telling information and thousands of other agriculture statistics are a direct result of responses to the Census of Agriculture.

Producers who are new to farming or did not receive a Census of Agriculture in 2012 still have time to sign up to receive the 2017 Census of Agriculture report form by visiting http://www.agcensus.usda.gov and clicking on the ‘Make Sure You Are Counted’ button through June. NASS defines a farm as any place from which $1,000 or more of agricultural products were produced and sold, or normally would have been sold, during the census year (2017).

For more information about the 2017 Census of Agriculture and to see how census data are used, visit www.agcensus.usda.gov or call (800) 727-9540.

Posted in Crops, Horticulture, Irrigation, Livestock, Uncategorized, Youth

Celebrate Agriculture!

The Agriculture Council of America (ACA) hosts National Agriculture Day on March 21, 2017. This marks the 44th anniversary of National Ag Day, which is celebrated in classrooms and communities across the country. The theme for National Ag Day 2017 is “Agriculture: Food For Life.” The purpose of National Agriculture Day is to tell the true story of American agriculture and remind citizens that agriculture is a part of all of us. A number of producers, agricultural associations,Ag Day2017 corporations, students and government organizations involved in agriculture are expected to participate.

National Ag Day is organized by the Agriculture Council of America. ACA is a nonprofit organization composed of leaders in the agricultural, food and fiber community, dedicating its efforts to increasing the public’s awareness of agriculture’s role in modern society. The National Ag Day program encourages every American to:

  • Understand how food and fiber products are produced.
  • Appreciate the role agriculture plays in providing safe, abundant and affordable products.
  • Value the essential role of agriculture in maintaining a strong economy.
  • Acknowledge and consider career opportunities in the agriculture, food and fiber industry.NewAgDay_Original.jpg

Since National Ag Day is one day out of the year, it is important for us to note that we everyday we should promote agriculture and share our story. Did you know how amazing Nebraska agriculture is?  The Nebraska Department of Agriculture publishes some statistics that are interesting to read! For example, nationally, Nebraska ranks first in popcorn production, Great northern bean production and commercial red
meat production. Nebraska ranks second on pinto bean production, number of head of bison and proso millet production. We rank third for corn grain production and corn exports and fourth in cash receipts for all farm commodities. Nebraska ranks fifth soybean and grain sorghum production.

Cash receipts from farm marketings contributed over $23 billion to Nebraska’s economy in 2015 and 6.1 percent of the U.S. total. Every dollar in agricultural exports generates $1.22 in economic activities such as transportation, financing, warehousing and production. Nebraska’s $6.4 billion in agricultural exports in 2015 translate into $7.8 billion in additional economic activity.

One in four jobs in Nebraska is related to agriculture, thus the importance agriculture has on our economy. In Extension, we have several great programs that not only teach youth the importance of agriculture, but also strive to make youth aware of the numerous career opportunities in agriculture. As technology continues to advance, types of careers in agriculture will also continue to expand.

In conclusion, while March 21st is one day devoted to celebrating agriculture, we should celebrate agriculture everyday. If you ate, thank a farmer or rancher who produced your food. From the food we eat to the clothes we wear, tires on our cars, toothpaste, crayons, windshield wiper fluid, etc., we need to thank our American farmers and ranchers for providing us with products that are affordable and good for the environment. Thank you farmers and ranchers!

Posted in Crops, Uncategorized, Youth

Innovative Youth Corn Challenge

iycc-17-promoAttention 4-H and FFA members! Do you enjoy being outside? Learning new things about crops? Considering a career involving crops, insects, diseases, soils, water or more? Do you want to help figure out how to feed our world’s growing population in a sustainable way?

Nebraska Extension and the Nebraska Corn Board are offering the sixth Innovative Youth Corn Challenge contest. This contest, open to 4-H members (age 10 & older as of Jan. 1st) or FFA members (in-school members), guides participants through all aspects of corn production, as well as agricultural careers related to corn production.

As a team (2 or more participants), youth will be challenged to implement a production practice different than normal to determine if they increased their yield. Economics and sustainability of the practice will also be considered. Yields, cropping history, and production information will be collected in the Corn Yield Challenge management summary.

Each year youth are surveyed and an overwhelming majority indicate an improvement in knowledge in the areas of: economic thresholds to treat pests, crop scouting procedures, financial record keeping, determining if practices on a field are profitable and how to evaluate new products/practices on a field. One youth stated, “I learned about how much time and hard work is needed to care for corn.” Several other youth enjoyed meeting new people (as a result of the Innovative Youth Corn Challenge). Another participant said, “I realize what I do today matters for tomorrow.”iycc-cover

Cash prizes and plaques will be given to the first, second, and third place teams. First place will receive $1,000, second place will receive $500, and third place will receive $250. Sustainability, crop scouting and “extra mile” awards will also be given, each worth $200. A webpage and FaceBook page are available with resources to help participants complete their project that can be found at cropwatch.unl.edu webpage under “related topics” titled “youth and youth activities”.

To participate in 2017, youth must complete an online entry form by March 15th to the Fillmore County Extension Office in Geneva, NE. Hard copy forms can also be downloaded. For more information, contact me at brandy.vandewalle@unl.edu.

Posted in Crops, Livestock, Programming, Uncategorized

Tips & Tricks for the Ag Women

The last Farmers and Ranchers College program of the season is a special program for the ladies in agriculture and will be February 27, 2017 at Lazy Horse Vineyard near Ohiowa, NE with registration at 5:45 and program starting at 6:00 p.m. Why a program for “just women”?

According to a 2016 Cornhusker Economics article:
“The involvement of women in agriculture nationwide and in Nebraska has increased in recent years. According to the 2012 Ag Census, there are approximately 47,000 operators in Nebraska– 20,000 are women who partner with their spouses or other business partners. In addition, 4,091 women are the primary operators of their agricultural operation. Many women comment that business and estate planning is an issue that is the most difficult to tackle with their partners and family members, but is the most important.” womenagprogram

Also according to the 2012 Ag Census, approximately 1 million women in the United States are involved in agriculture and women principal operators of U.S. farms account for around $13 billion in annual agricultural product sales.

According to the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), when women have more decision-making power in agriculture, there are positive effects on child health, nutrition and agricultural productivity. IFPRI’s research also found that women’s “innovative group-based approaches can help women’s capacity for risk management by safeguarding their control over critical assets.”

While there are hurdles women have overcome in agriculture, one way for women to face the stress and pressure of stigma is through peer social networking. For example, last year I conducted Annie’s Project, which is a 6-week program in which women learn risk management principles with their female peers. This program is successful largely due to the fact women are able to comfortably learn from each other.

Whether women (participants) want a chance to socialize with peers about agriculture or take some time to reflect on the important role they have in the ag industry, this final Farmers & Ranchers College program will feature Debbie Lyons-Blythe who is a mom, wife and rancher from Kansas. As a blogger since 2009, Debbie provides tips and trick for the ag woman in answering questions from people who don’t live in rural areas. Her blog can be found at kidscowsandgrass.com. Registration for this free program is appreciated by February 20th for meal planning purposes.

The Farmers and Ranchers College Committee consists of Fred Bruning of Bruning, Bryan Dohrman of Grafton, Sarah Miller of Carleton, Jennifer Engle of Fairmont, Ryne Norton of York, Jim Donovan of Geneva, Bryce Kassik of Geneva, Eric Kamler of Geneva, and Brandy VanDeWalle of Ohiowa.

Hope to see the women of ag at the Tips and Tricks for the Women in Ag on February 27th! To register, call the office at (402) 759-3712 or online.

Posted in Crops, Livestock, Programming, Uncategorized

Managing for Difficult Times

According to the Nebraska Department of Agriculture, one in four jobs is related to agriculture in Nebraska. This signifies the importance of agriculture to Nebraska’s overall economy. Current market conditions are a challenge for many agricultural producers. In response to the economic downturn, Nebraska Extension has developed an initiative focused on strengthening Nebraska’s agricultural economy.strong-neb-ag-twitter

A new series of educational materials is featured on the Nebraska Extension CropWatch and Beef websites. Nebraska Extension specialists and educators from across multiple disciplines share research-based information to help producers reduce input costs, increase efficiencies, and improve profitability of farm and livestock operations. In planning for the coming season, consider how you can incorporate the strategies that best match your cropping systems, livestock operations, and management styles into your operation.

These educational materials will be available on CropWatch.unl.edu and on Beef.unl.edu. Find related information on Twitter at #StrongNebAg.

As this initiative is being developed, Fillmore County will be hosting a program, building off these same materials, titled Managing for Difficult Times on February 22nd starting at 9:30 a.m. at the Fillmore County Fairgrounds in Geneva, NE. During this program, Nebraska Extension faculty will present topics to help improve profitability such as cutting out production practices that are not economically feasible. Land leasing updates and strategies will be presented in addition to a review of basic financial recordkeeping. This program will equip farmers with strategies for reducing stress and keeping our families healthy during difficult times. Finally, tips on preparing for farm loan renewal time will be given.

A local update on the progress of the Fortigen fertilizer plant will be given. Nebraska AgrAbility resources will be shared as well. As always, all programs are free due to the generous support of Farmers and Ranchers College Sponsors. Registration is due February 16th for a meal count and can be done online through fillmore.unl.edu or by calling the office at (402) 759-3712.

The Farmers and Ranchers College Committee consists of Fred Bruning of Bruning, Bryan Dohrman of Grafton, Sarah Miller of Carleton, Jennifer Engle of Fairmont, Ryne Norton of York, Jim Donovan of Geneva, Bryce Kassik of Geneva, Eric Kamler of Geneva, and Brandy VanDeWalle of Ohiowa.

Next week’s post will provide details about the last Farmers and Ranchers College program of the season which is a special program for the ladies in agriculture and will be February 27, 2017 at Lazy Horse Vineyard near Ohiowa, NE with registration at 5:45 and program starting at 6:00 p.m.