Posted in Crops, Livestock, Programming

Farmers & Ranchers College

The Farmers & Ranchers College was formed in January 2000 with the purpose of providing high quality, dynamic, up to date educational workshops for area agricultural producers in south central Nebraska through a collaborative effort between business, industry and higher education leaders. Furthermore, the Farmers & Ranchers College will provide the tools necessary so that agricultural producers will be able to respond positively to these changes using a profitable decision making process.frcollege-logo-front-panel

The Farmers and Ranchers College is a unique opportunity to educate agricultural producers in south central Nebraska. Approximately two hundred fifty producers participated in the 2018-19 Farmers & Ranchers College programs. Producers attending these workshops managed over 100,000 acres and managed nearly 10,000 head of beef animals. Participants surveyed indicated a potential impact of nearly $1 million from knowledge gained from participating. The 18th annual Partners in Progress- Beef Seminar featured a variety of industry, University and agricultural organization presenters. Ninety-eight percent of participants surveyed were very satisfied or satisfied with the program quality and fifty-five percent indicated that previous programming improved their knowledge of making risk management decisions.

Contributions and support of area businesses allow participants to attend at no cost, however for programs that have meals, it is requested that people RSVP at least a week in advance for an accurate meal count by calling Fillmore County Extension 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.

2019-2020 Program Schedule

December 9, 2019 – “Agriculture Today: It is What it is…What Should We Do About It” w/ Dr. David Kohl, Professor Emeritus, Dept. of AAEC, VA TECH at the Opera House in Bruning, NE from 1-4:00 pm

January 28, 2020** – “Partners In Progress Beef Seminar” Cow/Calf College at U.S. MARC near Clay Center, NE from 10-3:30 p.m., Registration at 9:30 a.m.

March 2020 – “Strategies for Family Farming Success in the Shark Tank” with Dr. Ron Hanson, UNL Harlan Agribusiness Professor Emeritus at the Fillmore Co. Fairgrounds- Geneva, NE     Details are still being finalized for this program.

 ** Programs are free; however registration is appreciated for a meal count. Please call the Fillmore Co. Extension Office at (402) 759-3712 one-week prior to the program to reserve your spot.

Posted in Crops, Livestock, Youth

Remember Ag Safety

Last week I attended the Progressive Agriculture Safety Day coordinator training. This training provides excellent resources for the annual Progressive Agriculture Safety Day we have each May in Geneva. By participating in this program, national donors provides us the opportunity to provide youth t-shirts, access to vital curriculum materials and other support. At the training, two staggering statistics reinforced my reason for continually offering this program to area youth. In North America, every 3 days, a child dies due to an ag-related accident. Also, in North America, every day 33 youth are injured in an agricultural setting.img_6564

The vision of Progressive Agriculture Foundation is that “no child would become ill, injured or die from farm, ranch or rural activities.” As the mother of two school-aged children, I try to stress the importance of safety in and around crop and livestock areas, but it just takes one moment for an accident to happen so please remember to take it slow and easy this harvest season. The stress of farming and ranching is large and taking care of yourself is important not only for your health but to those around you.

Our local ag safety day planning committee will be meeting after the first of the year to plan our program. If you or your business would like to contribute financially to our local youth or be involved in our program, please contact me at (402) 759-3712 or brandy.vandewalle@unl.edu and I’d be glad to talk about ways to effectively teach our youth about ag safety.

Posted in Livestock

Get The Most From Grazing Corn Stalks

cropped-cropped-cornweb.jpgMy colleague and Extension Specialist, Bruce Anderson recently provided some tips for grazing corn stalks which I’ve decided to share in the first part of my column this week.

One of the most important decisions in all grazing situations is stocking rate, including corn stalks.  Fortunately, you can get a good estimate for corn stalks by dividing the corn grain yield by 3.5 to estimate grazing days per acre for a 1,200-pound cow.UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_85d1

So, for a field that yielded 210 bushels per acre, dividing 210 by 3.5 gives 60 grazing days per acre.  Thus, a 160-acre field could provide 9,600 cow grazing days.  That means you could graze 9,600 cows for one day or 1 cow for 9,600 days.  Not very practical, so some other combinations need to be explored.

One possibility is to graze 60 cows for 160 days.  Starting here at the end of October, that could take you all the way through March.  Sounds pretty good but how will this work nutritionally?  Cows will eat the best feed first, any downed grain and the husks.  After a couple months, all that will be left are stalks and leaves that have been walked over, rained or snowed upon.  Without a lot of supplements, these cows will be in very poor shape by the end of March.

Clearly, shorter grazing periods are needed.  Maybe, instead of 60 cows for 160 days you graze 160 cows for 60 days.  Better, but you still may need supplements near the end of the 60 days.  Better still would be to give those 160 cows just one week’s worth of the stalks to start, a little over 18 acres.  By day 6 and 7 those 160 cows will have cleaned up just about everything, but on day 8 you give them a fresh 18 acres, returning them to high quality feed without so much supplement.

Both stocking rate and changes in the quality of grazing with time need consideration as you plan and manage stalk grazing.  Do it right and corn stalks become a great winter feed resource.

Source: Bruce Anderson, Extension Professor- University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Posted in Youth

Tips for a Healthier Halloween

For many, autumn events like Halloween are a time to wear costumes, go trick-or-treating, go to parties with friends, and eat sweet treats. Celebrations such as Halloween are a chance to not only have fun, but also provide healthy snack options and be physically active with friends and family. Make your Halloween season healthier this year by getting plenty of physical activity to balance food intake and help children choose wisely and eat their treats in moderation. My colleague, Megan Burda found some great tips on making Halloween healthier. Below are tips to make your Halloween healthier for trick-or-treaters and guests.

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Photo by Public Domain Pictures on Pexels.com

Hand out healthier treats.

  • Give out healthier treats for trick-or-treaters and party guests this year. The calories in all those bite-size treats can add up quickly. There are lots of options when it comes to healthier food treats.
  • Examples include cereal bars, packages of dried fruit, baked pretzels, trail mix, animal crackers, mini boxes of raisins, graham crackers, sugar-free gum or hard candy, snack-sized pudding containers, individual applesauce containers or squeeze pouches, sugar-free hot chocolate or apple cider packets, individual juice boxes (100% juice), or fig cookies.

Try out non-food treats.

  • If you want to steer away from handing out food this year, children will also enjoy non-food treats, such as things you would put in birthday goodie bags. Some non-food items are suitable for all ages, but small items should be limited to kids over age three.
  • Examples include small toys, pocket-sized games, plastic costume jewelry, glow sticks, tiny decks of cards, pencils, pencil toppers, fancy erasers, stickers (including reflective safety stickers), bookmarks, bottles of bubbles, whistles, coloring books, or small packages of crayons.

Promote physical activity.

  • Use party games and trick-or-treat time as a way to fit in 60 minutes of physical activity for kids. You can encourage and pump up the enthusiasm for being more active by providing small and inexpensive toys that promote activity.
  • Items could include a bouncy ball, jump rope, side walk chalk for a game of hopscotch or foursquare, or a beanbag for hacky sack.

Moderation is key.

  • Halloween is a great time to discuss and demonstrate the importance of moderation. Keep track of children’s candy so they don’t go overboard in one sitting. Let them pick out a few treats on Halloween night and then let them have a few pieces each day after that.
  • Show kids treats can fit into a healthy eating plan in small amounts. Combine a treat, such as fun-size candy, with a healthy snack like a piece of fruit. Be sure they eat the fruit first so they don’t fill up on the candy.

Survive sweet treats at work.

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Photo by Mareefe on Pexels.com
  • Snack- or fun-size candies are small and easy to eat, but eating several throughout the day can add up to extra calories. Keep the wrappers where you can see them so they don’t accidentally pile up.
  • If you can’t just eat a few treats at work, start bringing healthier alternatives with you. Stock your snack bag or desk drawer with fruit cups, dried fruit, lightly sweetened whole grain cereal, graham crackers, low-fat pudding cups, popcorn, or granola bars.
  • Remember that friends or co-workers may also be struggling to stay motivated to make healthy changes. Lean on each other and be there when others need encouragement. This year, make an effort to bring healthier treat options to work.

Find recipes and learn more at https://food.unl.edu.

Posted in Crops

CropWatch Resources

The year 2019 will definitely go down as one of the most challenging years in recent memory. With flooding in the spring and recent localized flooding last week, many are ready to wrap up this year and hope for a much better year in 2020. Just a reminder that the UNL CropWatch website has many resources to answer your questions and can be accessed by going to cropwatch.unl.edu.

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Also, please consider helping Nebraska Extension by completing the Nebraska Weed Issues Survey: By completing the survey you will be helping with a research project to update issues impacting you. Survey at: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/QZV8Z2T

Posted in Crops, Irrigation, Livestock, Programming

Free Ag Law and Farm Finance Clinics

Free legal and financial clinics are being offered for farmers and ranchers at seven sites across the state in October. The clinics are one-on-one meetings with an agricultural law attorney and an agricultural financial counselor. These are not group sessions, and they are confidential.

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

The attorney and financial advisor specialize in legal and financial issues related to farming and ranching, including financial and business planning, transition planning, farm loan programs, debtor/creditor law, debt structure and cash flow, agricultural disaster programs, and other relevant matters. Here is an opportunity to obtain an independent, outside perspective on issues that may be affecting your farm or ranch.

To sign up for a free clinic or to get more information, call the Nebraska Farm Hotline at 1-800-464-0258.

Funding for this work is provided by the Nebraska Department of Agriculture, Legal Aid of Nebraska, North Central Extension Risk Management Education Center, and the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture.

Clinic Sites and Dates

  • North Platte — Thursday, October 10
  • Lexington — Thursday, October 17
  • Fairbury — Wednesday, October 23
  • Valentine — Tuesday, October 29
  • Norfolk — Wednesday, October 30