Tuesday, June 21, 2022

Monday June 20 Ag News


As a teenager decades ago on his family’s swine farm in Vietnam, Hiep Vu saw firsthand the benefits of vaccinating livestock. His parents had gradually increased the size of their operation, and when they inoculated their animals, the positive results struck Vu.

“It amazed me at that time how vaccines work,” said Vu, now an assistant professor of animal science at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln. He earned a degree in Vietnam to become a veterinarian, but his scientific interests broadened into animal-focused immunology.

“I started to be interested in working on vaccines,” he said, “because that is the most cost-effective way to protect from infectious diseases.”  

At Nebraska, Vu received his master’s degree in veterinary science and, in 2013, a doctorate in integrative biomedical sciences. He is now an expert in swine viruses. He is also a faculty member with the Nebraska Center for Virology and an associate editor for the Journal of Medical Virology. For his extensive research into porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus, he received two patents connected to vaccine development.

Now, Vu is embarking on a collaborative, federally funded project to fill in a major knowledge gap that has hindered development of a vaccine for African swine fever. ASF stands out for its extraordinary mortality. The disease doesn’t affect humans, but when it affects a swine supply, only a handful of pigs survive.

Experience with the disease this century shows that the fallout for swine production can be catastrophic. When ASF struck parts of Asia in 2018, South Korea wound up destroying 47,000 pigs. China, the world’s largest swine producer, culled a staggering number of the animals — an estimated 225 million. In all, ASF reduced the world’s pig supply by nearly 25% between 2018 and 2019.  

Though ASF has been studied for a century, development of an effective vaccine has long been stymied by a lack of complete information on key aspects of the disease. Creating a vaccine requires identifying the full set of viral proteins that stimulate the pig’s immune system to develop antibodies, for example. But due to the complexity of the virus, researchers so far have inventoried only a small number of those proteins.

That knowledge gap is precisely the one Vu and his research partners will seek to fill with the support of a $770,000, three-year grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture. A key partner in the project is Scott McVey, professor and director of Nebraska’s School of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences and associate dean for the Nebraska/Iowa State University Professional Program in Veterinary Medicine.

Cataloging a pig’s protective proteins against ASF will require overcoming two obstacles, Vu said. The first is scientific: The ASF virus is large and complex, with about 170 genes compared to, for example, the 29 or so found in SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. It takes time in the laboratory for a sophisticated analytical procedure to complete the comprehensive genetic identification.  

The second obstacle is logistical.

“Because this is a high-consequence viral disease, the biosecurity is very stringent,” Vu said.

And because ASF isn’t found in the United States at present, samples from pigs infected with the virus are not readily available for research.

To solve those challenges, Vu and McVey are partnering with scientists at the Vietnam National University of Agriculture, as Vietnam is one of the Asian countries with an incidence of ASF. Through this international partnership, the Husker researchers have access to many samples collected from pigs that were infected with the most virulent strain of ASF virus. These samples are valuable for studying the pig’s immune responses to ASF viral infection.    

The project will identify viral proteins that are immunogenic — that trigger the pig’s immune system to generate antibodies against ASF. Then, Vu said, the researchers “can compare among them to know which ones are relatively more immunogenic than the others.”

By the end of the project, “We will have a complete picture of the pig’s antibody profile against ASF infection,” Vu said.

In so doing, he and his colleagues can remove a central obstacle to combatting one of the planet’s deadliest animal diseases. This may lead to improved diagnostic tools, as well as robust vaccine candidates.

Protecting Groundwater Quality a Priority for NRDs

Since their inception in 1972, Nebraska’s Natural Resources Districts (NRDs) have been monitoring groundwater quality to protect lives, property and the future.

Approximately 85 percent of Nebraskans rely on groundwater as their drinking water source and it is the primary irrigation source for agriculture, Nebraska’s No. 1 industry. NRDs have been developing groundwater quality plans since the 1980s, which are an essential part of protecting Nebraska’s most precious resource.

Groundwater quality issues are often multi-faceted with no-one-size-fits-all solution, as highlighted in the following NRD programs.

Bazile Groundwater Management Area – Lewis & Clark, Lower Elkhorn, Lower Niobrara and Upper Elkhorn NRDs

The Bazile Groundwater Management Area (BGMA) brings together ag producers, four NRDs, the Nebraska Department of Environment and Energy, the Natural Resources Conservation Service, the Nebraska Environmental Trust and Nebraska Extension to address rising nitrate levels in communities and domestic wells in northeast Nebraska.

The nitrate contamination goes beyond individual NRD borders and includes parts of three counties – Antelope, Knox and Pierce. Sandy soils, shallow depth to groundwater and extensive application of nitrogen fertilizer and irrigation water make the BGMA aquifer particularly vulnerable to nitrate contamination.

Agriculture producers in the BGMA work to reduce nonpoint source groundwater contamination through the adoption of best management practices (BMPs), which could include nitrogen inhibitors, soil sampling, water sampling, limits on fall fertilizer application, variable-rate applicators, center pivot irrigation, chemigation, flow meters, cover crops, moisture sensors, split feeding fertilizer, and factoring in the nitrogen present in the irrigation water when deciding fertilizer application.

“Nonpoint source pollution is difficult to address, because the source of the problem is from a widespread area,” said Terry Julesgard, Lower Niobrara NRD general manager. “The success of the program relies on producers voluntarily utilizing the various tools and actively making changes to reduce contamination and improve groundwater quality.”

This voluntary, collaborative approach allows BGMA partners to leverage U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Clean Water Act funding and make a stronger case for receiving federal funding to collectively address the problem in the larger aquifer. The BGMA Plan was the first federally recognized groundwater-focused plan to address nonpoint source pollution in the nation.

Hastings Wellhead Protection Area – Little Blue and Upper Big Blue NRDs

A Wellhead Protection Area has public drinking water wells, which require special attention to prevent contamination. Through regular water testing, the City of Hastings found that several of their wells were above the allowable limit for nitrate contamination.

Since Hastings is split between two NRDs – Little Blue and Upper Big Blue – and because nonpoint source nitrate pollution is primarily from surrounding agricultural activity, the city coordinated with the districts. NRDs have regulatory authority and the necessary flexibility to develop the collaborative programming to help protect Hastings’ drinking water.

The Hastings Wellhead Protection Area program uses educational programming and producer incentives to reduce contamination. Cost-share programs include irrigation management, soil sampling, septic tank and leach field abandonment, and well abandonment.

“This project bridges the rural-urban divide to address nonpoint source nitrate pollution,” said David Eigenberg, Upper Big Blue NRD general manager. “Understanding the sources of contamination and preventing additional contamination is key. This partnership will require long-term cooperative efforts between producers and NRDs to slow nitrate losses to protect drinking water.”

Rain-Ready Landscapes Program – Lower Platte South NRD

Groundwater contamination is not just a rural issue. Due to stormwater runoff, many pollutants typical in urban areas can be found in local waterways. Lower Platte South NRD offers cost share to homeowners, who participate in the Rain-Ready Landscapes Program in Lincoln and throughout the district.

The goal of this program is to improve water quality, reduce runoff, and facilitate infiltration by preventing water from leaving properties and entering storm drains. By installing landscaping projects like rain gardens or bioswales, waterwise lawns, and pavement removal, rainwater is slowed and captured to allow infiltration.

In addition to protecting water quality, rainscapes are more sustainable than traditional landscaping because they utilize native plants, which require less water and fewer pesticides.

Addressing groundwater quality issues requires regular data collection and recognizing and planning for changing conditions. Nebraska’s Natural Resources Districts’ regulatory and taxing authorities allow NRDs to develop locally based incentive and educational programming and to enforce regulations when needed to protect Nebraska’s groundwater today and into the future.

Throughout 2022, the NRDs will commemorate breakthroughs and achievements in conservation. To join in the celebration and follow the Natural Resources Districts’ special activities throughout 2022, visit nrdnet.org and follow #Since1972 on social media.

Burrower Bugs in Soybeans

Robert Wright - NE Extension Entomologist
Justin McMechan - Crop Protection and Cropping Systems Specialist

Nebraska Extension faculty have received reports from homeowners and soybean farmers in southeast Nebraska of a small reddish-black bug. These are white-margined Burrower Bugs, Sehirus cinctus.

These have been seen periodically in Nebraska and Kansas in a variety of crops. The Kansas State University Insect Newsletter from July 1, 2011 provides a short summary of their biology. These bugs overwinter as adults, become active in the spring, and lay eggs, which usually hatch in mid-May. Their preferred host plants include henbit, other mints, and nettles. They prefer to feed on seeds of these plants. After henbit or other hosts are terminated by herbicides or cultivation, large numbers of nymphs move to nearby crop plants to feed. Typically they do not cause economic damage to crop plants.

The adults are ¾-inch long, shiny black insects with a white margin; they look similar to stink bugs. The nymphs are red with black blotches on the abdomen.

Saunders County Feeders Tour is June 27

Saunders County Livestock Ass'n Annual Twilight Tour is MONDAY JUNE 27th 2022 starting @ 5:00 P.M.  This years tour will be in Northern Saunders County.

1st stop is All Metals Market. 1225 county road Y Fremont Nebraska. Metal collection & recycling operation.  Owners; Kevin & Lori Yount.    

2nd stop is Bohemian Lumberjack Co. LLC.  131 Ann Street, Morse Bluff Nebraska. Logging & sawmill operation, Owner; Colt Spence.  

3rd & final stop is Roland, Kinley & Dean Kavan Farms, 2849 county road 27, Morse Bluff, Nebraska, Farming Practices & operation, as well as dirt construction Business, and a tour of a new Farm Shop. Owners; Roland, Kinley & Dean Kavan.      At the last stop we will have a meal & refreshments.  

Everyone is welcome!

Nebraska Cattlemen Foundation Recognizes 2022 Retail Value Steer Challenge Winners

Earlier this month, the Nebraska Cattlemen Foundation (NCF) Retail Value Steer Challenge (RVSC) winners were honored at the NC Foundation lunch on June 10, 2022, during the Nebraska Cattlemen Midyear Meeting in Valentine.

The Retail Value Steer Challenge raises money to support youth and adult educational programs, scholarships, research and infrastructure projects, history preservation, and collegiate judging teams across Nebraska.

Nebraska Cattlemen Foundation President, Ryan Loeske stated, “We are proud to announce this year’s winners of the 2022 Retail Value Steer Challenge and appreciate all participants who went out of their way to help our next generation of beef cattle producers in their educational pursuits. We would especially like to thank our partners at Darr Feedlot of Cozad who make the administration and feeding of our competing steers possible.”

The Retail Value Steer Challenge is divided into three categories including, Average Daily Grain, Carcass Value, and Total Value. The 2022 RVSC winners with the best performing steers in each category are as follows.

Average Daily Grain
1st – Trotter Inc. of Arcadia
2nd – Faessler Farms of Bridgeport
3rd – Huss Livestock Market, LLC and Lexington Livestock Market

Carcass Value
1st – A steer owned by Rhea Farms, Rhea Cattle and Abiwill, LLC of Arlington

2nd – Benjamin Feedlot of Cozad
3rd – A steer owned by George and Barb Cooksley (Anselmo) and Jacy and Kathie Martindale (Brewster)

Total Value
1st – Pandorf Land and Cattle of Callaway
2nd – Reynolds, Inc. of Lexington
3rd – Equitable Bank of North Platte  

The 2023 Retail Value Steer Challenge will begin this fall. The Nebraska Cattlemen Foundation welcomes steer donations by individuals, businesses, groups of individuals or businesses, and NC affiliates. Donors can donate their own steer or purchase one from the Foundation. Donors do not have to own the whole steer with options to own 1/4, 1/3 or 1/2 available. To donate, or for more information concerning the NC Foundation, contact Lee Weide, Nebraska Cattlemen Foundation Secretary at (402) 475-2333, lweide@necattlemen.org or Jana Jensen, NC Foundation Fundraising Coordinator at (308) 588-6299, janajensen@nebcommfound.org.


– Todd Whitney, NE Extension Educator

Harvesting high quality hay between rain & storm events can be a challenge. So, how do you best manage this risk?

Legumes like alfalfa are more impacted by rainfall than grass forages especially if leaves are shattered or dropped from extra windrow raking or turning. Quality losses are minimal if the rain occurs soon after plants are cut off before the curing (drying) process begins.

Heavy (1” plus) rains typically leach 10 percent of the soluble sugar nutrients out of the hay; and losses can increase to over 30% if multiple rain events occur during curing. Typically, losses are usually from 5 to 15% with each additional rain.

To minimize rain damage, producers focus on limiting field exposure time after the forage is cut. Practices such as spreading windrows as wide as possible; chemical or mechanical conditioning; and timely raking can speed forage dry-down from two days to one-half day.

Another effective strategy is harvesting at higher moisture content. Chopping alfalfa for silage is a way to limit weather risks. A newer technique is to wrap high-moisture alfalfa as bale silage. All silage harvesting methods can move alfalfa off fields in two days or less.

A final strategy is to use protectants to bale alfalfa at a slightly higher than normal moisture content. Hay inoculant preservatives like propionic acid and acetic acid reduce mold formation and potential heat damage of baled alfalfa. These forage additives work well if the forage is just slightly wetter than normal and applied correctly under certain harvest conditions and can save as much as a full day of drying time.  

2022 Bazile Groundwater Management Field Day on June 30

Northeast Nebraska farmers and agricultural professionals will learn about tools they can implement to mitigate nitrogen loss at the 2022 Bazile Groundwater Management Demonstration Field Day. Hosts for the day include Lewis and Clark NRD, Lower Elkhorn NRD, Lower Niobrara NRD and Upper Elkhorn NRD and local Nebraska Extension Water and Integrating Cropping Systems extension educators with funding provided from the Nebraska Environmental Trust.

Speakers will address important tools that can be used to mitigate nitrogen loss. The BGMA Demo Field Day is scheduled for Thursday June 30, 2022 southeast of Creighton, Nebraska (From Hwy 59 and Hwy 14 Junction, go three miles south on Hwy 14, then one mile west on 869 Rd and a ½ mile south on 523 Ave.). The field day will start with registration at 1 p.m. with the educational programing starting at 1:30 p.m. and ends at 7 p.m.

Speakers and Topic:
    Steve Melvin and Nate Dorsey, water and integrated cropping systems extension educator on variable rate irrigation.
    Javed Iqbal, nutrient management and water quality specialist on nitrogen fertilizer deficiency and measuring nitrate leaching.
    Aaron Hird, Natural Resources Conservation Service soil health specialist on soil infiltration and variability.
    Xiaochen Dong, graduate student on subsoil carbon infection/remediation.

The field day is free to attend including supper, but pre-registration is requested by June 23. Visit the BGMA site for more information https://bgma.nebraska.gov/.

Armstrong Research Farm to Hold Summer Field Day

The Armstrong Memorial Research and Demonstration Farm will hold a field day June 29 with crop management and soil health demonstrations hosted by Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, the Wallace Foundation and the United States Department of Agriculture's Natural Resources Conservation Service.

The event is being offered in collaboration with a group of soil health driven producers and professionals in southwest Iowa known as the SWISH team.

The day begins at 10 a.m. and concludes with a presentation at 2 p.m. The field day will be held at the Wallace Learning Center and Iowa State University Armstrong Research and Development Farm, 53020 Hitchcock Ave., Lewis.

The agenda includes:

- 9:30 a.m. Registration and welcome at the Wallace Learning Center.

- 10 a.m. Corn rootworm management demonstration with Erin Hodgson, professor in entomology and extension specialist in entomology at Iowa State; Ashely Dean, education extension specialist in entomology with ISU Extension and Outreach; and Aaron Saeugling, field agronomist with ISU Extension and Outreach.

- 11 a.m. STRIPS demonstration (Science-based Trials of Row Crops Integrated with Prairie Strips), featuring a soil pit, with Tim Youngquist, agricultural specialist in agronomy at Iowa State, and graduate student Cole Dutter.

- Noon. Lunch and NRCS presentation. Using the soil health principles to build stress tolerance in cropping systems: Rainfall Simulator Demonstration with NRCS soil health specialists Hillary Olson and Ruth Blomquist.

- 1 p.m. Maximizing cover crop benefits: using diverse species mixes to build soil resiliency and interseeding demonstration with soil health expert and Shenandoah, Iowa, farmer Chris Teachout.

- 2 p.m. Maximizing cover crop benefits: cereal rye termination timing and options with Nate Quam, BASF, and Terry Gleaves, NRCS.

Sponsors include the Iowa Soybean Association; No-Till on the Plains; Benson Hill; Nutrien Ag Solutions -- Hancock, Iowa; TFS AG Solutions, Aaron Sick, Carson, Iowa; and Iowa Cover Crop.

The field day is free and open to the public, but pre-registration is requested. Please register with Ruth Blomquist at 712-254-4346 (office), 319-541-2969 (cell) or ruth.blomquist@usda.gov

Taking Nominations for Outstanding Pork Producers in Iowa

It's time to nominate those Iowans in the pork industry who best represent the qualities for Master Pork Producer, Master Pork Partner and the Environmental Steward. The Master Pork awards are a joint effort of the Iowa Pork Producers Association (IPPA) and Iowa State University Extension and Outreach.

The submission deadline is Aug. 1, 2022. Nomination forms for Master Pork Producer and Pork Partner can be found online at www.iowapork.org/producer-resources/master-pork-producer-nominations/. The nomination form for the Environmental Steward award is at www.iowapork.org/producer-resources/environmental-steward-nominations/. You can also get nomination forms by contacting the IPPA office at 800-372-7675.

The Master Pork Awards program began in 1942 to help stimulate pork and lard production in support of Word War II efforts to keep Americans fed. While program standards have changed over the years, the awards still promote diversity, efficiency and excellence in pork production. The Master Pork Awards Program has honored 1,499 Iowa pig farmers since its inception, and15 farm families have received the Environmental Steward Award.

Criteria for the Master Pork Producer award include the farmer's commitment to the We CareSM principles, which outline values in food safety, animal well-being, employee safety and health, community outreach and protection of both the environment and public health.

There are three categories for the Master Pork Partner awards: Veterinarian of the Year; Truck Driver of the Year; and Partner or those who provide support to those working in the barns or in on-farm jobs.

Criteria for the Environmental Steward Award include responsible use of manure/nutrient management, soil and water conservation, air quality, public relations, wildlife habitat, and environmental management innovations.

All award winners will be honored at the January 2023 Iowa Pork Congress in Des Moines.

USDA Awards $80 Million, Makes Another $22.9 Million Available to Support Dairy Initiatives

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) today announced $80 million in awards to support processing capacity expansion, on-farm improvements, and technical assistance services to producers under the Dairy Business Innovation Initiatives (DBI). The funds are being awarded noncompetitively to the four current DBI Initiatives at the California State University Fresno, the University of Tennessee, Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets, and the University of Wisconsin. Additionally, USDA is announcing the availability of $22.9 million through a Request for Applications for funding provided by FY 2022 appropriations to support these same DBI Initiatives.

The awards were made possible by supplemental funds from the American Rescue Plan (ARP) Act, and the newly-announced RFA will provide funding available through the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2022.

“The Dairy Business Innovation Initiatives have proven to be an invaluable resource for dairy farmers and businesses because of their ability to provide targeted resources and funding through subawards at the local and regional level, maximizing impact,” said USDA Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs Jenny Lester Moffitt. “As we celebrate National Dairy Month this June, USDA continues to look for ways to support America’s dairy industry, especially amidst ongoing supply chain and food system challenges. With this additional funding, the four DBIs are receiving a significant increase in resources, enabling each to continue facilitating the development of critical relationships with local dairy producers and processors to support their on-the-ground needs."

Celebrate the Beauty of the Western Prairie During National Grasslands Week, June 19 - 25

The beauty and historical importance of twenty national grasslands managed by the USDA Forest Service will be celebrated during National Grasslands Week, June 19-25, 2022. The western prairies that make up today's national grasslands provide abundant wildlife habitat and recreational opportunities, help maintain farms and ranches, and serve as a treasure for all Americans.

The National Forest System grasslands comprise 82 percent of the country's federally managed grassland acreage and preserves a wide variety of resources and habitats, including:
•           Comanche National Grassland in Colorado with approximately 275 bird species and the longest dinosaur track-way in the world;
•           Thunder Basin National Grassland in Wyoming with the largest coal producing mine in the world; and
•           Black Kettle National Grassland in Oklahoma with five lakes offering 670 acres of warm water fishing.

The federal government first designated national grasslands in 1960, but their origin dates back to the Civil War. Congress enacted the Homestead Act of 1862 to spur settlement in the west on 160-acre parcels. By 1904, nearly 100 million acres had been homesteaded and more settlers from urban areas were flocking to rural lands during the Great Depression. Much of the land was unsuitable for intensive farming, which, along with repeated drought and relentless wind, eventually changed the soil into dust.

In the 1930s, the federal government purchased more than 11 million acres of the unsuitable farmland and began planting trees, constructing water developments, and seeding areas with grass under the Land Utilization Program. Most of the lands were eventually transferred to federal agencies to manage. In 1960, the Secretary of Agriculture designated 3.8 million acres of national grasslands to be administered by the Forest Service.

Below is a list of the nation’s twenty grasslands.
1. Butte Valley National Grassland, (California)
2. Comanche National Grassland (Colorado)
3. Pawnee National Grassland (Colorado)
4. Curlew National Grassland (Idaho)
5. Cimarron National Grassland (Kansas)
6. Buffalo Gap National Grassland (Nebraska)
7. Ft. Pierre National Grassland (Nebraska)
8. Oglala National Grassland (Nebraska)

9. The Kiowa National Grassland (New Mexico)
10. Cedar River National Grassland (North Dakota)
11. Little Missouri National Grassland (North Dakota)
12. Sheyenne National Grassland (North Dakota)
13. Black Kettle National Grassland (Oklahoma)
14. Crooked River National Grassland (Oregon)
15. Grand River National Grassland (South Dakota)
16. & 17. Caddo and LBJ National Grasslands (Texas)
18. McClelland Creek National Grassland (Texas)
19. Rita Blanca National Grassland (Texas & Oklahoma)
20. Thunder Basin National Grassland (Wyoming)

Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie in Illinois, which became the first national tallgrass prairie in 1996, will also participate in National Grasslands Week. For more information, visit http://www.fs.fed.us/grasslands.  

Heatwave Poses Risks for French, Spanish Wheat as Harvest Nears

An exceptionally early heatwave in France and Spain may further stress wheat crops after a dry spring though an expected easing in temperature and showers across the region this month should avert large crop losses, analysts and growers said. Any dent to yields could cause concern in a market seeking to offset war disruption to Ukrainian supply, they said.

According to Reuters, most analysts have been anticipating lower wheat production in the European Union this year after record 2021 crops in Romania and Bulgaria and following a dry spring including in top producer France.

Temperatures in France hit 40 degrees Celsius (104°F) locally on Thursday, approaching levels seen in Spain in the past week.

“It’s an extra risk given that we’re coming out of a dry spring,” Aurelien Blary, crop analyst with Strategie Grains said. “We’re expecting some further loss of yield potential.”

Analysts have been projecting France’s soft wheat crop, excluding durum, at 33-34 million tonnes, down from 35.5 million last year as they factor in less sowing and mixed yield potential.

The heatwave, due to ease from Sunday, was seen posing the biggest threat in central France where crops are in their final grain-filling stage.

That could exacerbate yield variations after early June showers helped some crops but missed some parched zones.

“The situation is extremely varied. With recent storms, you had one village getting soaked and the next one not at all,” said Francois Jacques, deputy secretary general of French wheat growers group AGPB.

The hot spell could worsen an expected drop in wheat production this year in Spain and also in Italy.

In Romania, Agriculture Minister Adrian Chesnoiu told Reuters this week that adverse weather and higher production costs would push the harvest below last year’s bumper level of 11.3 million tonnes.

But he said the country would have ample volumes to export.

In Bulgaria, which like Romania exports via the Black Sea, a drop from last year’s 7.1 million tonnes was expected but recent rain should help limit the decline.

“We expect a good harvest, but you should note that last year we had a record-high crop,” said Kostadin Kostadinov, chair of Bulgaria’s National Association of Grain Producers.

In central Europe, a dry spring could also cap yield potential in Germany and Poland, Strategie Grains’ Blary said, adding that western Germany was less affected while June rain had improved conditions in Poland.

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