Monday, April 28, 2014

Monday April 28 Ag News

Elmore Returns to UNL, Part of New Water Focus Team

Roger Elmore joined the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in January as an Extension Cropping Systems Agronomist and Professor of Agronomy and Horticulture. He is a fellow of the Robert B. Daugherty Water for Food Institute and fills the B. Keith and Norma Heuermann Chair.

As the final hire of the UNL "water cluster," he is part of a team that includes Patricio Grassini, Haishun Yang, Derek Heeren, Francisco Munoz-Arriola, Guillermo Baigorria, and Trenton Franz. Elmore has a joint extension-research appointment in the Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources.

Elmore's vision for his applied crop production research and extension work at UNL is to maintain or increase crop production profitability and water use efficiency by seeking and demonstrating environmentally sound production practices.  His mission is to research, develop, teach and extend timely and pertinent crop management information to farmers, agribusiness, Extension personnel, and graduate and undergraduate students.  To that end, his research program focuses on production practices that increase profit through optimizing or maximizing yield and water use. Previous research projects have included:
-    effects of previous hybrid in corn following corn systems;
-    dry matter and nutrient accumulation of modern and historical corn hybrids;
-    effects of corn planting dates, row spacing, plant population responses; and
-    the impact of plant to plant variability.

At UNL Elmore co-leads with Humberto Blanco and several other colleagues a new cover crop research project supported by the Nebraska Soybean Board and the Nebraska Corn Board.
A Farming Heritage

From 2005 until December 2013 he worked as an Extension Corn Agronomist at Iowa State University to help improve corn productivity and sustainability. A major accomplishment while serving at Iowa State University was the publication in 2011 of Corn Growth and Development (PMR 1009) with UNL agronomy alumni Lori Abendroth.

Are Cutworms Likely to be a Big Problem in Corn in 2014?

Robert Wright, UNL Extension Entomologist 

Several cutworm species in Nebraska may damage corn, so it is hard to make an overall prediction.

Most people concentrate on the black cutworm because it is more common in the eastern Corn Belt, but is not necessarily the most common cutworm in Nebraska.   Black cutworms do not overwinter in Nebraska, but the moths fly up from the south in the late spring.  Depending on the wind direction and population levels to the south of us, we may or may not have high populations in Nebraska, most commonly in the eastern third of the state. Pheromone trapping of the moths can be used to predict when black cutworm larvae will be big enough to cut plants, but traps can't predict cutworm levels in individual fields.

Our basic recommendation is to scout corn as it emerges and treat postemergence if necessary.  Neonicotinoid seed treatments (Cruiser and Poncho)  and some Bt corn traits are labeled for control of black cutworm, but high populations may overwhelm them, and the other cutworm species in Nebraska overwinter as partly grown caterpillars and are harder to kill with seed treatments or Bt corn.


Bruce Anderson, UNL Extension Forage Specialist

With all the rain the past week and a half or so, I’ll bet you’re anxious to get into the field for planting.  Don’t forget, though, that this also is the best time to control musk thistles.  And I’ll also bet that you can get into your pastures to spray at least one or two days sooner than you can get into row crop fields to plant.

Did you have musk thistles last year?  If so, I’m sure you’ll have them again this spring.  And the current rosette growth form is the ideal stage for controlling these plants this spring.  That means spray herbicides soon, while your musk thistle plants still are in that rosette form, and very few plants will send up flowering stalks for hand digging later.

Several herbicides are effective and recommended for musk thistle control.  My current favorite is a relatively new herbicide called Milestone.  Another very effective herbicide is Tordon 22K.  Be careful if you use Tordon since it also can kill woody plants, including trees you might want to keep.  Both Milestone and Tordon also will help control other weeds that usually appear later in the season.

Other herbicides also can control musk thistles in pastures – like Chaparral, Grazon, Cimarron, Overdrive, and Curtail.  A tank mix of dicamba and 2,4-D also works very well.  No matter which weed killer you use, though, be sure to read and follow label instructions, and be especially sure to spray on time.

All these herbicides will work for you this spring if you spray soon, before musk thistles bolt and send up their flowering stalks.

After flowering, though, the shovel is about the only method remaining to control thistles this year.


Academy Award-winning filmmaker James Moll’s new feature-length documentary, Farmland, will be released nationally on May 1, 2014, and the film could be coming to a theater near you.

The documentary, which was supported in part by the U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance, offers viewers an intimate and firsthand glimpse into the lives of six young farmers and ranchers across the U.S., chronicling their high-risk/high-reward jobs and their passion for a way of life that has been passed down from generation to generation, yet continues to evolve.

One of the six young farmers featured is Nebraskan David Loberg, a fifth-generation farmer from Carroll. Loberg farms with his family, raising corn and soybeans, custom feeding cattle and running an irrigation business.

Lisa Lunz, a Nebraska farmer from Wakefield, sits on the board for the USFRA and encourages people to attend a screening. “It’s no secret that the agriculture industry is extremely important to Nebraska. However, as more and more people move away from the farm, a fundamental disconnect has occurred between consumers and their food,” Lunz said. “Moll did an excellent job of telling the story of today’s farming and ranching through the personal viewpoint of some of the young men and women who will be the future of food production. It’s an emotional ride.”

The film will play at four theaters across the state on May 1, including:
·    Bellevue – Marcus Twin Creek Cinema
·    Lincoln – Marcus Lincoln Grand Cinema
·    Omaha – Marcus Village Point Cinemas
·    Wayne – Majestic Theatre
·    Scottsbluff – Midwest Theater (May 4 and 5)

Watch the trailer to catch a glimpse of the stories, and then find a theater near you starting May 1, go to

W-P students awarded $1,500 America’s Farmers Grow Ag Leaders scholarships

Wisner-Pilger High School students Sarah Herzinger and Erica Lewis have each earned a $1,500 scholarship from America’s Farmers Grow Ag Leaders. Both students plan on attending the University of Nebraska–Lincoln to study food science and technology.

The Grow Ag Leaders scholarship is available to students choosing from a variety of agriculturally focused fields of study. Modern agriculture is more than just farming—it includes thousands of careers in a variety of fields, including plant science, engineering, communications, finance, and more.

“Agriculture is a crucial part of our community,” said Wisner-Pilger FFA Advisor Mark Schroeder. “I enjoy teaching students who are so passionate about agriculture. Both Sarah and Erica want to expand their knowledge in this field, and I am extremely excited for them to be given this scholarship opportunity through the America’s Farmers Grow Ag Leaders program.”

The agriculture industry needs talented, driven and passionate young people like Herzinger and Lewis. This scholarship program, presented by Monsanto in cooperation with the National FFA Scholarship program, aims to encourage and support students interested in a career in agriculture. Because today’s farmers are crucial to nurturing that interest, each applicant is also required to receive the endorsement of local farmers. Teresa Brown, Mark Herzinger, and Chris Ruskamp endorsed Herzinger; Helen and Tom Feller, Daniel Meiergerd, and Mark Schweers endorsed Lewis.

Schroeder named speaker for NCTA graduation on May 8 

Chuck Schroeder will deliver the keynote commencement address for the University of Nebraska-Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture on Thursday, May 8 at the Curtis Memorial Community Center.

Schroeder has served as executive director of the Rural Futures Institute of the University of Nebraska since December 1, and resides in Lincoln.  He also has been director of the Nebraska Department of Agriculture, CEO of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, executive vice president of the University of Nebraska Foundation, and most recently was president and executive director of the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum.

The two-year technical agriculture college will confer 84 degrees and certificates to students from agribusiness management, agricultural production, horticulture, and veterinary technology.  Graduates hail from Nebraska, Colorado, Kansas, Iowa, Illinois, Michigan, South Dakota and Washington.

Ron Rosati, NCTA Dean, will preside at the 1:30 p.m. graduation exercise. He will be assisted by Associate Dean Scott Mickelsen and joined by NU Regents Bob Phares of North Platte and Tim Clare of Lincoln, and Ronnie Green, NU Vice President and Harlan Vice Chancellor of the Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources.

Students also will be honored Wednesday, May 7, at the annual NCTA Awards Night beginning at 7 p.m. at the Nebraska Agriculture Industry Education Center. 

In addition, faculty and staff awards will be announced that evening. The public is invited to attend both events.

Iowa soybean farmers embrace soil and water conservation

The Iowa Soybean Association (ISA) and environmental groups work with farmers to improve fish and wildlife habitat and water quality.

Iowa Soil and Water Conservation Week, April 27-May 4, is an excellent opportunity to recognize important conservation practices like oxbow restoration. The ISA, Fishers and Farmers Partnership, The Nature Conservancy, Sand County Foundation, Iowa Department of Natural Resources and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service have worked cooperatively over the past couple of years to restore five oxbows in north central Iowa’s Boone River Watershed.

“They act like a small wetland, filtering nutrients and providing excellent habitat for fish and wildlife,” said Keegan Kult, ISA’s Environmental Programs & Services environmental programs manager. “It’s an attractive practice to producers because (oxbows) are located in marginal land anyway.”

Iowa streams often change course, mainly during large floods. When a stream bend or meander gets cut off from the main channel, a small lake is formed. These disconnected segments are called oxbows, and they provide an important ecological function. If possible, field tiles are routed into the oxbow to process nutrients before water enters the adjacent stream.

Currently, many oxbows have filled with sediment and no longer hold water for extended periods. Thus, much of the benefits these systems could provide are gone. The ISA, along with farmer and organizational partners, is working to restore this habitat. If interested, contact Kult at (515) 334-1036 or

Sites are identified through aerial imagery. If the landowner is receptive, a restoration plan is developed and permits are obtained. Then, funding mechanisms are established so there is little or no cost to the landowner if possible.

Sediment is removed from the oxbow down to the native sands and gravels of the old streambed. Groundwater almost always fills the oxbow quickly. The sides are re-vegetated with native grasses to create prime habitat for birds, reptiles, amphibians and fish. Cool groundwater seeping in maintains fish populations during harsh summers and winters.

“We’ve done fish surveys and found a few thousand,” said Kult, including the endangered Topeka Shiner.

Other conservation practices embraced by farmers include cover crops, no-till, strip till, terraces, grass waterways, buffer strips and others. Studies show soil erosion per bushel of soybeans has decreased 66 percent since 1980. More than 95 percent of U.S. soybeans are grown on land that follows government conservation requirements.

Results Released of Five-Year Cover Crop On-Farm Yield Study

Cereal rye cover crops added to a corn-soybean rotation seem to have little effect on yield, according to a five-year study conducted by Iowa Learning Farms and Practical Farmers of Iowa. Ten Iowa farmers have devoted part of their acres to conduct the study.

Between 2009 and 2013, the farmers established side-by-side strips of corn/soybean crops with a winter cereal rye cover crop, and strips using no cover crop, replicated at least two times. The cover crop was either drilled after harvest or aerially seeded into standing crops each fall. At each site, the cover crop was terminated the following spring by herbicide.

When the project began, the farmers were concerned that the winter cereal rye would impact their corn or soybean yields negatively. But after harvest was completed each year, the farmers reported that this was not so. The properly managed cover crops had little to no negative effect and, in some cases, actually improved soybean yield.

“When I first started the trial, I thought the following crop would suffer because of the competition for water and nutrients,” says Butler County farmer Rick Juchems. “That has been proven wrong with stronger yields and better soil quality.” Juchems’ corn yields remained steady and he saw a slight improvement in soybean yields on the cover crop acres last year as well as in 2011.

Proper management is a key issue when incorporating cover crops into a corn-soybean rotation. Knowing which cover crop to plant, when and how to plant and terminate the cover crop are the main components to successful management. There are many resources to help farmers with answers to these management details. Primary resources can be a cover crop farmer champion contacted through the ILF or PFI network, or a local Extension field agronomist or NRCS field specialist.

Cover crops provide numerous benefits to farm fields. They reduce erosion by holding soil in place, increase soil microbial activity and nutrient cycling, reduce excess nitrogen and increase soil carbon. The biomass from the plant helps to build soil organic matter as well. Cover crop varieties range from grains like cereal rye, legumes such as hairy vetch, and brassicas including radish and rapeseed. Winter cereal rye was the only cover crop used in this study.

The farmers in this study include: Bill Buman, Harlan; Jim Funcke, Jefferson; Rick Juchems, Plainfield; Whiterock Conservancy, Coon Rapids; Mark Pokorny, Clutier; George Schaefer, Kalona; Jerry Sindt, Holstein; Rob Stout, West Chester; Gary and Dave Nelson, Fort Dodge; and Kelly Tobin, New Market.

A four-page summary of the study is available online at the ILF website,, and the PFI website,

Students Enjoy Reward Day with Husker Athletics

Twenty-five schools from Nebraska sent 204 students and 50 advisors to the Nebraska Fuel Up to Play 60 Student Reward Summit this month, celebrating what they've accomplished through our premier program that positions dairy as a solution. They earned an invitation by achieving Touchdown Status, completing six steps and involving students in the initiative. The day began with a tour of the Training Table, where Husker student athletes eat, and then moved to physical activities on the field with Husker student athletes and later a game called Family Food. Melissa Konecky, a UNL student from a dairy farm family, brought feed for the students to smell and used photos to explain her family farm. The day ended with a presentation from Tommy Armstrong, the current Husker running back. It was a great day to celebrate all the Fuel Up to Play 60 activity in Nebraska schools, which is a key ingredient to helping dairy stay front and center in the health and wellness of our kids!  Fuel Up to Play 60 is a project of the National Dairy Council and Midwest Dairy Association. 

2014 Dairy Academy Kicks Off with Hy-Vee Stores

Midwest Dairy Association's "Academy for Retail Excellence" resumes in early May with Hy-Vee in the Kansas City and Omaha markets. They are also in conversations with retailers in Chicago and Kansas City to conduct additional Dairy Academies throughout the year. Dairy Academy is a one-day training session where store directors, operations managers, dairy department managers and store dietitians get together for a day of dairy learning. Topics covered include dairy food safety, on-farm production practices, livestock care and handling, land stewardship and dairy case management basics. Classroom training is combined with visits to a milk processor and a dairy farm. They also provide recommendations on how to grow dairy sales in stores. The goal is to ensure all those who attend can answer their shopper’s dairy questions on hot topics like antibiotic use, hormones and GMOs. 

Free BQA Training Proves Popular

An impressive 7,500-plus producers and associated industry folks completed their Beef Quality Assurance certification or recertification during the Feb. 3–April 15 free BQA certification period, thanks to a partnership with Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica. That’s an increase of 114 percent above last year’s participation, making for a combined 11,000 certifications in the first two years of the program! This boost for BQA represents significant progress in the beef checkoff’s efforts to help cattle producers improve their end products through use of proper on-farm management tools and practices. It also is directly responsive to recent checkoff research, which found that while only about 25 percent of producers were familiar with the program, most of those certified said BQA adds value to their operations.

Pulling together Cattle on Feed, Cold Storage, and Beef Demand Indicators...

Glynn T. Tonsor, Associate Professor, Dept. of Ag Econ, Kansas State University

Over the past ten days the market has received three critical pieces of information including updated Cattle on Feed and Cold Storage as reported by USDA and Beef Demand information as reported by Kansas State University. It is useful to pause and aggregate the key points of these reports to get a handle on the broader supply and demand situation underlying beef and cattle markets.

Cattle on Feed

Cattle on Feed inventory on April 1st was down 1% while expectations were for a 0.4% increase. March marketings were down 4%, which is a slightly larger reduction than pre-report estimates of 3.5%. Placements in March were down 5%, which is substantially lower than the pre-report expectation of +1.6%.

Cold Storage

Total red meat supplies were down 8% on March 31st from prior month and down 14% from last year. Looking specifically at beef supplies, the 20.8% decline since last year stands out. This 20.8% decline in beef supplies is the largest reported since April of 2005.

Beef Demand

The Choice Retail Beef and All Fresh Beef Demand (AFBD) Indices for the first quarter of 2014 each fell by 1.8%. This is the first quarter the AFBD Index experienced with a year-over-year decline since the second quarter of 2010. The AFBD index decline reflects per capita consumption declining by 5.6% and real (inflation-adjusted) prices increasing by 4.9% ($5.32/lb nominal price). If real prices would have increased by 6.8% then the AFBD index would have been unchanged from Q1.2013.

Overall these three points of information are reinforcing a similar message:
-    beef supplies are tight and are likely to get tighter;
-    historically high retail prices are being realized yet even higher prices are needed given reductions in availability.

In aggregate, these signals offer support for both cattle and beef prices in the near term. While notable uncertainty remains, the underlying situation of tight cattle and beef supplies coupled with reasonably stable demand is a positive condition for industry stakeholders to make management, marketing, and possible expansion decisions within.

American Farm Bureau Federation Joins AgGateway

Reflecting the increasing importance of data usage and privacy issues to America’s farmers, the American Farm Bureau Federation has joined AgGateway, the non-profit organization dedicated to promoting, enabling and expanding eBusiness in agriculture. 

“Our farmers are continually seeking better tools to increase profitability, and there are multiple exciting projects at AgGateway designed to improve how farmers use data to meet that goal,” said American Farm Bureau Director of Public Policy Mary Kay Thatcher. “We look forward to participating in and supporting the efforts that will make it easier for farmers to use data, and in a secure and safe way.”

“It’s very timely and helpful to have the participation and support of the Farm Bureau,” said AgGateway Executive Vice President and COO Wendy Smith. “Growers are faced with increasing operational complexity, regulatory requirements, and domestic and international market pressures – but at the same time, they are hampered by the inability of their systems and equipment to exchange data in a way that could help improve their productivity. They’re also concerned about data privacy, ownership and security. These are some of the key issues that AgGateway is focusing on today.”

AgGateway’s Precision Ag Council is currently working on field operations, precision water management, telematics and crop insurance/compliance reporting. More than 90 companies are participating in the Precision Ag Council. One of the council’s projects, the Standardized Precision Ag Data Exchange (SPADE) Project, is addressing the problem of moving data from machine systems to farm management information systems (FMIS) and to other FMIS so that the farmer and ag retailer can improve decision-making and improve productivity.

As the work within SPADE is implemented, growers and ag retailers will be able to easily move data between software programs and systems to securely share data. Among other things, this will simplify mixed-fleet field operations and improve decision making, and make it easier for growers to share data with their trusted advisors and other partners.

 In addition, AgGateway’s Data Privacy and Security Working Group will soon publish a white paper that examines the historical, legal and regulatory perspectives on the issue, provides key terminology and principles, and in general gives a roadmap of how to proceed in establishing security, protection and privacy standards and procedures.

More information on AgGateway projects will be available at the AgGateway Mid-Year Meeting in Altoona, Iowa, June 9-12. For more information, go to

Addition to NCGA Production and Utilization Department Brings Both Expertise and Enthusiasm 

The National Corn Growers Association welcomes Dr. Nick Goeser who joins the organization as Manager of Soil Health and Sustainability.  Goeser, a multi-faceted scientists and educator, brings nearly a decade of experience in the agricultural industry and academic research to the position.

"Nick is an incredibly valuable addition to our team, and we are excited utilizing his deep knowledge of agronomy and field research to our new Soil Health Partnership program," said Director of Production, Stewardship and Livestock Max Starbuck.  "He is uniquely suited to the position because, in addition to his scientific achievements, Nick has already developed an extensive understanding of the many issues which impact farmers in relation to soil health and has a wealth of experience interacting with the many stakeholders necessary to ensure the success of this exciting new venture."

Goeser most recently worked for Monsanto as a Technology Development Representative based out of Arlington, Wisconsin.  He previously worked as an agronomist and crop manager and at the University of Wisconsin - Madison as a Graduate Research Assistant in both Agronomy and Horticulture.

In his new position, Goeser will be responsible for administrating the Soil Health Partnership.  SHP is a five-year initiative dedicated to improving soil health through a series of demonstration farms throughout the Midwest.  The Partnership is NCGA and Monsanto, with technical advice from The Nature Conservancy, the Environmental Defense Fund and the Walton Family Foundation.

Site of action key to herbicide effectiveness

Weed control today is more complex and difficult than it was for past generations. Not only do today’s growers need to prepare to face difficult weeds, an increasing number also face herbicide resistance. In fact, three out of four growers who participated in a recent BASF survey suspect that glyphosate resistance is a cause of tough-to-control weeds. A key element to combatting resistance is the herbicide site of action.

Herbicide-resistant weeds became a problem when growers depended on a single-herbicide program over a long period of time without supplementing any significant cultural practices, such as tillage. As the same herbicide was applied year after year, weeds were progressively selected for resistance because only one herbicide site of action was used.

Many wonder about the difference between site of action and mode of action. The site of action is the location within the plant where the herbicide impacts the development process. The mode of action is the name for the process the herbicide uses to control the weed. So site of action is “where” and mode of action is “how.”

“The site of action is the location in the plant where the herbicide has its primary effect,” said Bryan Young, Ph.D., Associate Professor of weed science, Purdue University. “Typically, the target is an enzyme used in carrying out a process like amino acid production or photosynthesis. The herbicide targets that enzyme and stops the process.”

Though sites of action can be referred to by the protein function they inhibit, such as acetolactate synthase (ALS) or p-hydroxyphenylpyruvate dioxygenase (HPPD) they are also grouped numerically based on their function. For example, an ALS herbicide that inhibits amino acid synthesis is labeled as Group Two. This group label is always listed on the product label.

Today, resistance exists to glyphosate, ALS and triazine.

“Because it is the key to a herbicide’s effectiveness, we recommend using a variety of effective sites of action,” said Chad Brommer, Biologist, Herbicides at BASF. “Utilizing different sites of action is like having multiple tools in your weed control tool belt.”

There are about two dozen sites of action registered today for commercial products. About half of those are available in the United States. Because of the limited number of available sites of action and the spread of weed resistance, it’s important to use overlapping effective sites of action to reduce selection pressure on any single site of action and mitigate the development of further resistant populations.

“One way to combat resistance is through rotation and diversification,” said Young. “Even if crops are rotated from year to year, the goal should be to use a diverse combination of herbicide sites of action each year with minimal overlap of any single site of action between years in the same field.”

For improved weed management, use more than one site of action and rotate herbicide usage to control weeds and prevent resistance.

Boehringer Ingelheim Launches 3FLEX 50 Doses HSB Vaccine for Swine

Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica, Inc., (BIVI) introduces the 3FLEX® 50 Doses HSB (head space bottle) vaccine for swine veterinarians and producers to control three of the most common respiratory diseases in pigs: porcine circovirus, Mycoplasma hyopneumoniae and porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome (PRRS).

Each 3FLEX® vaccine package contains a bottle of Ingelvac CircoFLEX®, Ingelvac MycoFLEX® and Ingelvac PRRS® MLV. The Ingelvac MycoFLEX® is supplied in a headspace bottle with extra capacity for purpose of aseptic mixing; making it easier to mix and administer all three vaccines in a single 2mL dose.

Sarah Jorgensen, senior brand manager, swine, for BIVI, says the significant production losses caused by these major swine diseases – PCV2, Mycoplasma, and PRRS – makes reducing the impact of these diseases even more important to producers and the swine industry.

“Recent research shows that while these diseases by themselves can reduce pig performance and increase mortality, co-infections of these diseases in combination can be particularly devastating, resulting in losses averaging more than $10 per pig1,” Jorgensen explains. “3FLEX® is an effective option when protection is needed against these three major diseases. Like all products in the FLEX family of swine vaccines, veterinarians and producers have the ability to customize their disease control programs by selecting the right monovalent or combination vaccine that best fits their herd.”

This new addition to the FLEX Family, 3FLEX® 50 Doses HSB, will be available starting spring of 2014.

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