Monday, November 5, 2012

Monday November 5 Ag News

Livestock Groundwater Monitoring Wells
(from NE Cattlemen newsletter)

Groundwater monitoring wells for Nebraska Deptartment of Environmental Quality (NDEQ) gone dry?  This has been extremely common this year and many producers have been unable to get a sample to turn in to NDEQ.  If  you are getting some water to come out, NDEQ recommends grabbing the 1st water available rather than purging.  Make note of  this when you turn it in to NDEQ and they will make sure to put that information in your fle.  If  you cannot get any water drawn, don’t worry.  You should not be asked to dig new groundwater wells unless and until you have not been able to take 3 consecutive samples because the well went dry.  This would mean no sample was retrievable for 1 ½ years.  After that amount of  time and lack of  samples NDEQ has asked producers to dig new wells and has required them to pay for the new wells in the past.

Thus, any producer who cannot sample this fall because of  a well being dry shouldn’t be asked to dig new wells if  this is the frst or second consecutive dry sample. NDEQ also requires that lack of  samples be consecutive, so if  a producer has a dry (no) sample in fall, wet (actual) sample in spring, and another dry (no) sample in fall this would not qualify.

If  your groundwater monitoring well has gone dry, just alert NDEQ and wait until your next sampling requirement comes around.  If  in the future or you are currently being asked to dig new groundwater monitoring wells contact NC at 402-475-2333.  There are regulations and standards governing this process and NC can help you navigate this process, provide evidence that perhaps groundwater monitoring wells do not warrant being replaced, or help provide evidence that groundwater monitoring no longer needs to be conducted.

Are You Wasting Hay?

UNL Extension Educator Steve Tonn, Washington County

Hay feeding time has started for cattle producers and feeding big round bales has made the job easier.  Large bale feeding systems are designed to minimize labor but not waste.   So how much of that hay are you throwing away?   Depending on the feeding method, feeding losses can reach as high as 30-35 percent.  You wouldn’t dream of throwing away one third of the hay you are feeding to your cows especially when hay is $180 – $250 a ton and in short supply. 

Large bales fed free-choice without a rack or feeder in muddy conditions can result in forage losses as high as 45%.  But that’s what happens when cattle are allowed unlimited access to hay.  Livestock trample, over-consume, foul on, and use for bedding 25% to 45% of the hay when it is fed with no restrictions or is not processed.

Hay loss and waste can be reduced by managing how often we feed and by the type of hay feeder we use.  Daily feeding will force cattle to eat hay they might otherwise refuse, over-consume, trample and waste.  Cattle waste less hay when the amount fed is limited to what is needed each day.   One fourth more hay is needed when a four-day supply is fed with free access.  If hay is fed free choice, cows will over consume. 
While we want to restrict the number of bales offered at one time, we should make sure that there is enough space for all animals to access the forage.  Otherwise, the more aggressive cows will eat first and consume the more desirable hay, and animals that are more timid will be forced to eat the lower quality hay or go hungry.

Feeding hay in a rack or a round bale feeder limits the opportunity animals have to trample or soil hay, and reduces waste substantially.  Least feeding losses occur where hay is fed with a rack or bale feeder that forces the animal to turn its head when backing away from the feeder.   When animals can back straight out of a feeder, they can pull out large chunks of hay that drop on the ground and are lost as feed.  Research at the University of Nebraska and Michigan State University has shown feed waste of 3.3%, 5.9%, 9%, 11.1%, and 14.2% for cone, ring feeder with skirt, racks, trailer and cradle feeders.  Long feeders are less effective than round or square feeders because boss animals will push others back by walking down the long feeder, interrupting their feeding and reducing their intake.

Now is the time to take a look to see how much hay you are wasting and how it can be reduced. While some losses will always occur, keeping losses to a minimum can reduce feed costs, resulting in more efficient use of forages and increasing the profitability of the cow herd enterprise. 

Landlord/Tenant Cash Lease Workshops Highlight Communications, Alternative Lease Arrangements

Steve Tonn, UNL Extension Educator, Washington County

A farm lease workshop hosted by University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension in Washington County will be held at the Blair City Hall, Blair, NE. This workshop will help landlords and tenants establish and maintain a positive farm leasing relationship.  It is being sponsored by the Nebraska Soybean Board and the North Central Risk Management Education Center.

This workshop will be on Tuesday, Dec. 4 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Blair City Hall, 218 S 16th Street in Blair.

“The Landlord/Tenant Cash Lease workshop series will help producers and landowners deal with the volatility of their cash rents”, said Steve Tonn, UNL Extension educator in Washington County.

“Landlords are trying to be loyal to their tenants, yet want a fair return for the land asset. Tenants want to be sure to stay in business, yet feel the pressure of bidding to keep the land base that they have been farming,” said Tonn.

Topics for discussion include: expectations from the lease, including goal setting for the rental property; lease communication; determining appropriate information sharing for both the tenant and landlord; relatives – tips for farm leases that include relatives; irrigation system questions, as they pertain to setting lease rates; alternative cash lease arrangements; flexible provision considerations for your situation; and other topics like grain bin rental will be covered as time allows.

A team of UNL Extension Educators will be on hand to discuss these topics and provide common sense tips during the presentation.  Managing the 2012 drought and implications for 2013 will also be discussed.

It is very helpful if both the tenant and landlord can attend together.

“Putting together the right lease isn’t about what is being discussed at the coffee shop, or what a university survey of cash lease rates says; it is about what fits both the landlord and tenant for their circumstance and situation. Attending this presentation will provide a set of ideas to work from as those specifics are discussed,” observed Tonn.

For more information about these workshops, contact Tonn at 402-426-9455, email visit the UNL Washington County Extension web site at

The workshop is free, but registration is required to reserve a spot. Please register by Monday, November 26.  Handout materials, a meal, and refreshments provided.  Participation is limited. To register, call 402-426-9455 or email

Behlen Manufacturing Company to Pay $59,996 Civil Penalty for Hazardous Waste Violations in Columbus, Neb.

Behlen Manufacturing Company, an agricultural and industrial product manufacturer, has agreed to pay a $59,996 administrative civil penalty to settle a series of Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) violations in Columbus, Neb. 

In addition to paying the civil penalty, the company will spend a minimum of $75,578 to install pollution reducing equipment as part of a supplemental environmental project.

According to an administrative consent agreement filed by EPA Region 7 in Kansas City, Kan., EPA representatives conducted a compliance evaluation inspection at the company’s Columbus facility in October 2009, and noted several RCRA violations.  RCRA regulates the storage, handling, and labeling of hazardous waste.

“Behlen Manufacturing was cooperative throughout the negotiation process,” EPA Region 7 Administrator Karl Brooks said.  “The innovative environmental project that Behlen will complete will turn wastes into a useful product and is an example of environmental stewardship for similar companies to follow.”

The violations at Behlen Manufacturing included failure to perform a hazardous waste determination, operating a hazardous waste storage facility without a RCRA permit, and failure to comply with universal waste requirements.

By agreeing to the settlement with EPA, Behlen Manufacturing Company has certified that it is now in compliance with all requirements of the RCRA regulations.

FSA Urges Farmers and Ranchers to Vote in County Committee Elections Beginning Nov 5

Nebraska Farm Service Agency (FSA) Executive Director Dan Steinkruger announced today that the 2012 FSA county committee elections will begin on Monday, November 5, with the mailing of ballots to eligible voters.  The deadline to return the ballots to local FSA offices is December 3, 2012.

“The role and input of our county committee members is more vital than ever,” said Steinkruger.  “New county committee members provide input and make important decisions on the local administration of disaster and conservation programs.  With better participation in recent years, we also have seen promising increases in the number of women and minority candidates.”

Eligible voters who do not receive ballots in the coming week can obtain ballots from their local USDA Service Center.  December 3, 2012, is the last day for voters to submit ballots in person to local USDA Service Centers.  Ballots returned by mail must also be postmarked no later than December 3.  Newly elected committee members and their alternates will take office January 1, 2013.

To be an eligible voter, farmers and ranchers must participate or cooperate in an FSA program.  A person who is not of legal voting age but supervises and conducts the farming operations of an entire farm also may be eligible to vote.  Agricultural producers in each county submitted candidate nominations during the nomination period, which ended August 1.

While FSA county committees do not approve or deny farm operating loans, they make decisions on disaster and conservation programs, emergency programs, commodity price support loan programs, and other agricultural issues.  Members serve three-year terms.  Nationwide, there are about 7,700 farmers and ranchers serving on FSA county committees.  Committees consist of three to 11 members that are elected by eligible producers.

More information on county committees, such as the new 2012 fact sheet and brochures, can be found on the FSA website at or at a local USDA Service Center.

Advances in Precision Agriculture is Topic of Iowa Learning Farms Webinar

The Iowa Learning Farms’ monthly webinar, to be held Wednesday, Nov. 14, at 11:30 a.m., will feature Amy Kaleita, Iowa State University associate professor of agriculture and biosystems engineering. The webinar is part of a free series, hosted by ILF, through Adobe Connect. The series is usually held the third Wednesday of each month, but due to Thanksgiving, November’s webinar will take place on the second Wednesday. All that is needed to participate is a computer with Internet access.

Kaleita’s research is in the area of information technology for precision conservation. The natural environment is highly variable. Being able to determine what land management strategies will be the most suitable in a particular location requires characterization of the variable factors at an appropriate scale and synthesizing data with respect to their influence on hydrology.

Her research includes the design of sensing and monitoring systems and utilization of such data in modeling and decision support systems. Kaleita holds a bachelor’s degree in agricultural engineering from Penn State, a master’s degree in civil engineering from University of Illinois with an emphasis in hydrology, and a doctor of philosophy in agricultural engineering from University of Illinois.

Kaleita will offer a snapshot of the cutting edge and future needs of precision agriculture, including:
-    Tiny, inexpensive smart sensors that monitor agriculture operations
-    Communication systems: getting data from the sensors to its users
-    “Internet of Things” for agriculture: cataloging and tracking data to make it usable
-    Overt and invisible applications: apps and how farmers may possibly use them
-    Nimble equipment: moving toward ag equipment that is multifunctional and site-specific
-    Options for the developing world: how technologies can be accessible for agriculture in areas of the world that have smaller farms, budgets and profit margins

To connect to the webinar, go to: Kaleita will be able to answer questions from webinar attendees via the Adobe Connect chat box. The ILF website contains links for archived webinars from previous months:

Western Australia 2012-13 Grain Harvest Could Fall to 8.5 Million Tons

Western Australia's 2012-13 grain harvest could fall to as low as 8.5 million metric tons, lower than previously estimated, marketer CBH Group said Monday.  Record dry weather during the growing season has resulted in a crop now estimated at 8.5 to 9.3 mmt, down sharply from last season's record 15 mmt, CBH said in its latest report.  Last month, CBH forecast that Western Australia producers would deliver 9.1 to 9.3 mmt to its handling and storage facilities.

Grain deliveries to all four port zones in Western Australia have been slowed considerably by unseasonably wet weather in recent days, CBH said.  "It will be some time yet before we have an accurate idea of any impact to quality resulting from the recent rain," it said.  CBH said it had received around 757,130 tons of grain from the current harvest so far.  The harvest is expected to be in full swing within a week or two, it said.

US Commends Ukraine for Restraint over Wheat Export Ban

(AP) -- The U.S. Monday commended Ukraine for showing restraint over its wheat export ban, after the Black Sea nation backtracked on plans to become the first leading producer to impose restrictions in the wake of summer droughts.

"We are particularly glad to see that the government of Ukraine has clarified that it has not put an export ban in place," said the U.S. Mission to the United Nations agencies for food and agriculture in Rome.

"Governments around the world can help to reduce the risk of a food price crisis by abstaining from food export bans and other artificial barriers that increase price volatility and harm the world's most vulnerable citizens," it said.

Ukraine's agriculture ministry last month said a ban on wheat exports would come into effect from Nov. 15 because of concern that domestic-market stocks were running low due to a poor harvest. This was refuted last week by the country's deputy agriculture minister Ivan Bisyuk, who said Ukraine didn't intend to impose such an embargo and that no official document had been prepared.

Summer droughts have scorched crops across the globe, including Ukraine, causing the price of corn, wheat and soybeans to rise, and raising fears of a repeat of the 2007-2008 world food crisis. However, the Group of 20 advanced and developing economies recently called off an emergency meeting to discuss grain-supply problems and ways to temper volatile prices.

Washington, which made the decision as chair of the G-20's agriculture initiative, said related commodity markets were functioning and governments have "exercised prudence and responsibility in policy making, including avoiding export bans that exacerbated volatility in 2007-08."

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