Tuesday, October 11, 2022

Monday October 10 Ag News

Highboy Cover Crop Interseeding Project
Nate Dorsey - Extension Educator

Cover crops are a recognized method for increasing soil health by reducing soil erosion, increasing soil organic matter and improving soil structure. Cover crops also have the potential to positively impact water quality by reducing nitrate leaching and nutrient runoff.

While cover crops are growing in popularity in Nebraska, there are still significant planting challenges. To address these challenges, interseeding with ground-based equipment has been proposed as an alternative planting method to increase cover crop success. In 2022, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln began a Highboy Cover Crop Interseeding Project (HiCCIP) to address cover crop barriers in the state and investigate water quality impacts of cover crop adoption.

Cover Crop Barriers

The HiCCIP is a unique project that seeks to address barriers to cover crop adoption in Nebraska. The project is a collaboration between the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Nebraska Department of Environment and Energy (NDEE), and several Natural Resources Districts (NRDs), including the Lower Platte North NRD, Lower Platte South NRD and the Upper Big Blue NRD. The main barriers this project seeks to address are:
    Planting timing that allows for cover crop growth prior to winter dormancy.
    Time and labor requirements for planting.

Planting Timing

Traditionally, most cover crops in Nebraska are planted following cash crop harvest. However, this planting method, while perhaps the most simple and convenient, in most cases does not allow for sufficient time for cover crops to establish and produce biomass before winter temperatures arrive. As a result, interseeding cover crops into standing corn or soybeans has been suggested as an alternative planting method that would allow cover crops more time to develop prior to winter. There are several interseeding options available, such as aerial, but this method can be very uneven, and seeds are often captured by the crop canopy and do not reach the soil surface. Using a ground-based machine can potentially increase success as seeds are placed directly on the soil surface.

Time and Labor Requirements

With most cover crops being planted following harvest, there can be significant time and labor challenges. Harvest is a very busy time of the year, which can be further complicated by weather delays or equipment issues. As a result, seeding a cover crop — which does not bring in an immediate profit — is often a low priority. By practicing late-season interseeding, which often occurs at the end of August or early September in Nebraska, cover crops can be planted at a time of year when labor and time is more available.

Highboy Cover Crop Interseeding Project

To address the barriers to cover crop adoption, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln was awarded a grant funded by the NDEE to investigate and promote the use of late-season interseeding technology. Through this grant, the university purchased a high-clearance Hagie sprayer that was retrofitted to spread seeds in standing crops with a Montag Fortifier system. This “highboy” is capable of driving through late-season corn to apply seed at rates of up to 200 pounds per acre. Key features of the highboy interseeder include its wide booms that make it capable of covering large areas quickly (60-80 ac/hour), stainless steel drops that allow seed to be placed below the canopy and directly on the soil surface, and technology integration with John Deere guidance, rate control and data systems.

The project has been proposed for five years, with the fall of 2022 being the first seeding season. For the first year of the project, 29 producers participated and used single- or multi-species seed mixes depending on their needs and goals. This cover crop seed was applied near the R5 stage of corn across the selected fields. Due to the dry 2022 growing season, fields with irrigation were prioritized to allow for successful germination and establishment. Fields were irrigated right after the seeds were placed, with irrigation rates ranging from 0.6 to one inch.

For future seasons, the project plans to expand into additional areas and increase the scope of research and demonstration. This will open opportunities for additional producers to participate and select from various levels of involvement. For example, beginning in 2023, producers will be able to select from simple one-year demonstrations where the machine will seed up to 200 acres, to being involved in multi-year evaluations that will span crop rotations as well as evaluate aspects of water usage, nitrogen availability to the cash crop, yield impacts and more. Parallel research on cover crop interseeding using the highboy will also commence at the university’s Eastern Nebraska Research Extension and Education Center (ENREEC) in Ithaca, Nebraska.

Getting Involved - Producer

If interested in having acres seeded in either the single-year or multi-year project options, producers are encouraged to reach out to their local NRD office to determine eligibility and start the application process. There are a limited number of openings in 2023 and priority watersheds will remain a focus, so not all applications will be selected.

Getting Involved - Service Provider

Through this project, there is the opportunity for a service provider, such as an agricultural cooperative or private custom applicator, to receive a grant from the NDEE to assist in purchasing a similar highboy machine. This will allow interseeding to continue to grow in the state and provide economic opportunities for a Nebraska business.

To learn more, visit the Highboy Cover Crop Interseeding Project page https://water.unl.edu/highboy-cover-crop-demonstration.


– Ben Beckman, NE Extension Educator

Allowing for alfalfa to winterize before dormancy is a key factor preventing winter kill across a stand.  Traditionally, my recommendation has been to time the last cutting for roughly 6 weeks before the first frost. At a minimum, plants need 3 uninterrupted weeks to complete the transfer of carbohydrates to the crown and roots that is the winterization process.  The additional 3 weeks gives us a cushion in case of an early frost.
While this general guideline has proven its worth over the years, many producers would love to have a bit more accurate method to time last cuttings.  One way to narrow the no-harvest window down is by utilizing growing degree days (GDD).  Researchers at the University of Wisconsin calculated winterkill risk looking at GDD at a base 41°F accumulating until a killing frost of 25°F.  They noticed two GDD levels of importance for alfalfa stands; 500 and 200 GDD.
By providing at least 500 base 41°F GDD after harvest, research showed that there was sufficient time for alfalfa to winterize.  If harvest occurred with under 200 GDD left, alfalfa plants did now have sufficient time to regrow and deplete carbohydrate reserves to a level that would negatively impact winterization.
While other factors like ground cover and stress of the stand over the course of the year need to factor into the decision for a late cutting, this gives us a more accurate calendar point to shoot for if forage is needed.
A tool like the High Plains RCC CLIMOD can be used to look at past years GDD and decide if we can accumulate 500 GDD or less than 200 GDD going forward.  When we are between the two wait to cut, but once chances of surpassing 200 GDD are low and extra hay is needed, it’s probably safe to take that final cutting.

Nebraska Extension hosting new cover crop grazing conference Nov. 1

Nebraska beef producers and corn growers can enhance their operations by attending the 2022 Cover Crop Grazing Conference. The conference will take place Nov. 1 at the Eastern Nebraska Research, Extension and Education Center near Mead.

The conference kicks off with registration, refreshments and a trade show at the August N. Christenson Building at 9 a.m.  Educational programs are from 10 a.m. – 2:45 p.m. and include a producer panel session and live field demonstrations.   

Nebraska Extension is uniquely suited to bring farmers unbiased and research-based information that will be shared at this conference. Featured presentations include “Rotational/Strip Grazing” with Ben Beckman, Nebraska Extension Educator and “Grazing of Perennial and Annual Forages” presented by Brad Schick, Nebraska Extension Educator.

This expo will help first-time or experienced farmers looking to fine-tune their cover crop grazing management utilizing cover crops as an alternative forage source. Speakers and panelists will address important issues for Nebraska farmers and ranchers and provides one-on-one discussion with local, private industry exhibitors and sponsors.  

Please preregister by Oct. 28 at: https://enrec.unl.edu/covercropgrazingconference/.  Agenda, details and map/directions are also at the website.

A $10 registration fee is payable via cash or check at the conference.  Or checks can be mailed in advance to 2022 Cover Crop Grazing Conference, Nebraska Extension, 1071 County Road G, Ithaca, NE 68033. The fee covers lunch and refreshments throughout the day.  When paying by check, payable to University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Agribusiness stakeholders are being sought as sponsors and trade show exhibitors.  Please contact Connor Biehler at cbiehler2@unl.edu or 402-624-8007 for more details.

Not All Manure is Created Equal

Leslie Johnson - Animal Manure Management Extension Educator

Chicken, beef cattle, swine, and dairy cows all produce manure. All of these manure types are valuable, but are they equal? Absolutely not. I could rank them by smell, another person might rank by nutrient content, another person by their proximity to them, and yet someone else could separate them for their ability to influence soil health characteristics. This article will discuss a little about the different kinds of manure and explain why not all of this valuable product is created equal.

Nutrient Differences

Based on some analyses that I have accumulated from various sources in Nebraska, all of the following manure application rates provide approximately 150 pounds of nitrogen (N) available for next year’s crop if applied this fall:
    5000 gallons per acre of swine manure (injected),
    18 tons per acre of beef manure (surface applied),
    15,000 gallons of dairy slurry (injected), and
    6 tons per acre of poultry litter (surface applied).

That means it would take three times as much beef manure to provide the same amount of nitrogen as poultry litter. Three times! But the beef manure would provide significantly more organic matter than the poultry litter. So, depending on your goals, either could be a good option for your cropping system.

What about the other nutrients in manure? The following table shows estimates of available nutrients when each manure is applied at the rate indicated above.
                                N        P        K
Swine pit slurry     154     118     95
Beef feedlot         154     282     420
Dairy lagoon         154     203     186
Poultry litter         154     121     169

Here we see that beef manure at the same N rate would supply more than twice as much phosphorus as swine slurry or poultry litter and more than four times the amount of potash as swine manure. So, if you’re applying to a field that has sufficient soil phosphorus concentrations, you might gain more value from a product like swine manure if it’s available near that field. However, if the field you want to apply to is needing phosphorus, beef manure might be just the ticket to help build up that soil phosphorus concentration, improve soil properties through organic matter inputs, and offset your commercial fertilizer costs for a number of years.

Logistics of Differing Manures

While balancing nutrients is important, you also have to consider the availability and characteristics of the product. Swine and dairy manures are more expensive to transport compared to drier solid manures due to their high water content. They’re just too heavy and therefore costly to haul greater distances. This means they may not be economical options everywhere in the state.

Manure's Ability to Build Soil Health

There's not a lot of research on how different types of manure impact soil health, but we know one thing for sure: Manure is superior to commercial fertilizer for building soil organic matter concentration and increasing the water-holding capacity of soils. We also know that solid manures, like beef manure and poultry litter, typically contain larger concentrations of organic matter than more dilute slurry and liquid forms of manure, which benefits soil. If left on the soil surface, manures with organic matter can even have a mulch-like effect, conserving soil moisture and decreasing erosion and runoff.

When you're trying to balance nutrients needed on your fields, it's good to know what's in your manure and to remember that not all manure is created equal. If you're considering using a manure product, be sure to think not only about availability of different manure types, but also about the nutrient contents and the characteristics of the products.


Developing countries around the globe face a challenge that pits economic growth against environmental protection. As they expand their agricultural production, they often convert forest into cropland and pasture. But the large-scale removal of trees weakens the world’s ability to prevent further climate deterioration and biodiversity loss.

Brazil presents a key example. The country is home to the world’s largest area of rainforest — some 1.2 million square miles, an area more than 16 times the size of Nebraska. The Amazon contains large tracts of rainforests that, when converted to agriculture, release a huge amount of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, exacerbating climate change.

Increasing agricultural production is a national priority for Brazil, the world’s largest soybean exporter. Since the 1990s, agricultural encroachment has eroded major areas of the country's rainforest. During 2015-19, the Amazon basin accounted for a third of the land converted for Brazilian soybean expansion.

A newly released four-year study by the University of Nebraska–Lincoln and its research partners in Brazil identifies a path forward that would allow Brazil to strengthen its agricultural sector while safeguarding the rainforest. The scientists’ recommendations have broad applicability to other developing countries facing a similar challenge.

“In the current context of high grain prices and food supply disruptions, we believe there is a critical need for major crop-producing countries to reassess their potential to produce more on existing cropland,” the authors wrote in an article published Oct. 10 in the journal Nature Sustainability. “Without an emphasis on intensifying crop production within the existing agricultural area, coupled with strong institutions and policies that prevent deforestation in frontier agricultural areas, it would be difficult to protect the last bastions of forests and biodiversity on the planet while being sensitive to the economic aspirations of countries to develop.”

Since 2000, moratoria and incentives have been used to slow deforestation in Brazil. However, sharply increased commodity prices and political pressure to quickly recover from combined impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and war in Ukraine have placed the Amazonian rainforest under heightened threat. If current trends continue, Brazil will convert about 57 million acres to soybean production in the next 15 years, with about one-fourth of the expansion occurring in environmentally fragile lands such as rainforest and savannah.

Yet prohibiting cropland expansion would cost Brazil an estimated $447 billion in lost economic opportunity through 2035.

The study led by Patricio Grassini, Sunkist Distinguished Professor in Agronomy and associate professor in the Department of Agronomy and Horticulture at Nebraska, shows how it could be possible for Brazil to expand its agricultural production without converting more rainforest and savannah to crops. With a carefully managed strategy to intensify production on existing acres, the country could increase its annual soybean output by 36% by 2035 while reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 58% compared to current trends.

Grassini and his co-authors describe a three-pronged “intensification” strategy that calls for:
> Significantly increasing soybean crop yields.
> Growing a second crop of corn on soybean fields in certain areas.
> Raising more cattle on smaller pastures to free up more land for soybeans.

Brazil’s tropical and subtropical climates make it possible to cultivate two crops on the same land during the growing season in most regions, Grassini said. Plus, “livestock production is huge in Brazil,” he said, “and our study shows there is a big opportunity for Brazil to increase livestock-based production systems and by doing so, free up some of the area currently used for livestock production and use that land for producing more soy.”

Detailed modeling for the project indicates that by 2035, the strategy could boost Brazil’s soybean production by 36%. At the same time, Grassini said, Brazil could “eliminate deforestation completely and essentially reduce the amount of carbon dioxide equivalents released into the atmosphere, helping to mitigate climate change.”

“This approach strengthens agriculture while protecting fragile ecosystems that are important from a perspective of climate change mitigation as well as biodiversity conservation,” he said.

To determine how much yields could be improved on existing Brazilian farm ground, the scientists examined soybean production in four key regions: the Pampa and the Atlantic Forest regions along the Atlantic coast, where soybean cultivation has been underway for about 50 years, and the Amazon and the Cerrado regions in Brazil's interior, where soybean production began after the turn of the 21st century. The analysis made extensive use of the Global Yield Gap Atlas previously developed by Grassini and colleagues at Nebraska. The atlas is the world’s leading database on high-quality agronomic data, covering more than 15 major food crops across more than 75 countries.

“By showing that it is possible to produce more on existing agricultural land,” the scientists wrote, “this research study is bringing real solutions to the table and can have a massive impact to help Brazil produce more while protecting the environment.”

Success on the dual goal of agricultural expansion and protecting the forest will require strong institutions, proper policy and enforcement to make sure those productivity gains effectively translate into forest preservation, Grassini cautioned. Still, the intensification approach can help achieve a reasonable balance between crop production and the protection of fragile ecosystems.

Grassini’s team calculated three scenarios in the four key regions: "business as usual," where existing trends would continue; "no cropland expansion," where additional land conversion would be prohibited; and "intensification," where steps would be taken to increase yields, encourage second cropping and concentrate cattle production. They concluded the intensification strategy would enable Brazil to realize 85% of the projected gross income from soybean and second-crop maize, compared to current trends, while reducing global climate warming by 58%.

The four-year project involved collaboration between the University of Nebraska–Lincoln and universities in Brazil, including the University of Sao Paulo, Federal University of Santa Maria and University of Goias, as well as Embrapa, the leading agricultural research organization in Brazil. Coauthors on the project included Juan Pablo Monzon and José F. Andrade, former research assistant professors in agronomy and horticulture at Nebraska. The project was funded by the International Plant Nutrition Institute, Research Foundation of the State of São Paulo, Brazilian Research Council, Research Foundation of the State of Rio Grande do Sul, and the Global Engagement Office in Nebraska's Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources through the FAPESP-UNL SPRINT program.

Fabio R. Marin, a Brazilian scientist who was the main author of the paper along with Brazilian scientist Alencar J. Zanon, received financial support from the Fulbright program to support a six-month stay at Nebraska.

I-29 Moo University Dairy Webinar to Discuss Long-term Dairy Supply and Demand Trends

The I-29 Moo University Dairy Webinar Series continues Thursday, Nov. 10, from noon to 1 p.m. with a focus on long-term dairy supply and demand trends.

The webinar will feature food and agriculture consultant Betty Berning, operator of Betty Berning Consulting, which provides services ranging from supply chain optimization to market intelligence for the food and agricultural sector. Berning will help producers learn about how dairy supply and demand are shifting globally and what that means for U.S. dairy.

“With the world-wide production declining and the current strong demand for dairy products bolstering prices, all eyes are on the future – the value of the dollar, recession and world politics that can change the situation in a heart-beat,” explained Fred Hall, dairy specialist with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. “Berning will share her insights on what’s ahead for the dairy industry.”

In addition to serving as an analyst for the Daily Dairy Report, Berning has extensive experience in the agricultural supply chain and has held a wide variety of roles including senior dairy buyer at General Mills, loan officer at Farm Credit, and extension educator at the University of Minnesota, and has worked on her family’s dairy farm in Central Minnesota. These experiences have enabled her to understand both the challenges farmers face as well as the decision-making processes of food companies and consumers.

Dairy producers and allied industry representatives are invited to join the Nov. 10 webinar. The webinar is free to attend, but registration is required at least one hour before the webinar. To register, visit https://go.iastate.edu/O55DC7.

For more information, contact: in Iowa, Fred M. Hall at 712-737-4230; in Minnesota, Jim Salfer at 320-203-6093; or in South Dakota, Heidi Carroll at 605-688-6623.

Farm Mental Health and Wellness Program Benefits Iowa Farmers, Rural Communities

Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig today announced that Iowa farm families and their advocates are benefitting from mental health and stress assistance as well as other wellness support, thanks to the Farm and Ranch Wellness: Meeting Local Needs program.

In August 2021, the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship was awarded a $500,000 grant to expand farmer mental health support programs in Iowa. Over the last year, the Department has partnered with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach to help raise awareness about mental health and wellness resources and make them more accessible to farmers and rural communities.

“We want anyone dealing with stress and mental health challenges to know that they are not alone,” said Secretary Naig. “This successful partnership between the Department and Iowa State University Extension and Outreach has helped to ensure that mental health and wellness resources are available and accessible to farm families and residents of our rural communities across our state.”

Through this grant, Iowa State University Extension and Outreach staff have provided more than 1500 direct one-on-one local consultations and nearly 6000 group consultations across the state, sharing key farm stress resources. Individual contacts have been made with veterinarian offices, cooperatives, banks and credit unions, certified public accountants, crop production services, Farm Service Agency offices, Farm Credit Service offices, local seed companies, farm implement dealers, and many others. Group consultations have been offered at Private Pesticide Applicator, Farmland Leasing, and Annie’s Project meetings, as well as to county extension councils and Rotary clubs, among others. During these consultations and meetings, more than 25,000 farm stress resource publications have been shared.    

“What is important is that we put a list of exceptional resources into the hands of individuals and businesses who could most benefit,” said Dr. David Brown, Behavioral Health State Specialist with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. “Our farmers, ranchers and producers are still being impacted by the lingering effects of COVID-19, drought, and high input costs, and can still benefit from stress assistance and other forms of support.”

One of those resources is the Iowa Concern hotline. The program began in 1985 as a toll-free number serving the agricultural community during the farm crisis of the time. Today, Iowa Concern serves both urban and rural Iowans, but is a key link to stress assistance for those farmers or farm families who may be struggling. Iowa Concern services are available 24 hours a day, 7 days per week by calling 800-447-1985 or visiting https://www.extension.iastate.edu/iowaconcern/.

The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship applied for grant funding to support this work through the “Farm and Ranch Assistance Network” program. Funding is provided through the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture through award fund 2021-70035-35720.

The initiative builds upon recent Iowa State University Extension and Outreach efforts in this area, including:
-    expanding Mental Health First Aid and Question. Persuade. Refer. (QPR) facilitators and training,
-    providing Mental Health First Aid and QPR to those involved in agriculture, their advocates and youth professionals serving rural areas of the state,
-    developing a web-based presence to support resource and information sharing, and
-    developing a “culture of agriculture” training program directed to mental health and healthcare providers.

Additional resources are available on the North Central Farm and Ranch Stress Assistance Center website at farmstress.org/. Electronic copies of farm stress resource publications are also available for free download from the Extension Store website, including Farm Stress and Mental Health (HS 180A) and Stress on the Farm (HS180).

Walmart Foundation Teams Up with National FFA Foundation on Building National Sustainability Program

The Walmart Foundation has awarded the National FFA Foundation Inc. a grant of $750,000 to incorporate sustainability principles in school education. The National FFA Foundation will leverage the expertise of the National FFA Organization to develop these educational resources.

Knowing that building a sustainable system is a crucial focus for many industries, the National FFA Organization is working to ensure they meet the demand by educating the next generation of leaders. This generation will lead by example, act responsibly and create solutions to feed, clothe and fuel the world.

"The funding made available allows us to create new sustainability-focused education resources and programming that integrates current sustainable practices across multiple disciplines," said Chief Program Officer of the National FFA Organization Christine White. "We plan to equip our members to create solutions that will address the sustainability challenges of the future."

 The focus of these resources will be to leverage the social influences of students by creating an inclusive program so all students enrolled in agricultural education can see how sustainability is meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet theirs.

 “In 2020, Walmart and the Walmart Foundation committed to help protect, restore, and more sustainably manage 50 million acres of land and 1 million square miles of ocean by 2030,” said Julie Gehrki, VP and COO of the Walmart Foundation. “An important element of this work is equipping the next generation of agriculture leaders with the knowledge and skills they need to be successful. That includes critical knowledge of how to conserve soil, water, and biodiversity so that together, we can help build a prosperous, sustainable agricultural sector for future generations.”

Brazil to Harvest Record Soybean Crop

The arrival of rains in September allowed for a promising start to Brazil's 2022/2023 soybean season, with farmers poised to reap a record of 150.62 million tonnes despite the drought risks associated with the La Niña weather phenomenon in southern Brazil.

According to the average of 12 analysts polled by Reuters, expectations of a bumper crop are being driven by a record large planted area of 42.83 million hectares (105.8 million acres), which farmers are planting now.

Reuters reports that if the average of forecasts is confirmed, Brazilian soybean production will exceed last season's by 25 million tonnes, when a drought in the southern farms of the country spoiled part of the crop.

"The beginning of planting is very good, it is moving fast, there is no lack of moisture, the rains are coming to the Midwest and Southeast," said Luiz Roque, analyst at consulting firm Safras & Mercado. In some parts of southern Brazil, rains brought in excess moisture, but according to Roque, "it is better to have more than not enough."

While farmers are off to a promising start to the season, the current cycle is the third in a row under some effect of the La Niña phenomenon, analysts said. This, they said, may compromise the crop.

No comments:

Post a Comment