Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Tuesday September 10 Ag News

Forage Sampling Procedures
Amy Timmerman – NE Extension Educator

Proper sampling of forage is essential if we want to obtain an accurate indication of the nutrient composition, dry matter content, or value of any feedstuff. Correct sampling and analysis is even more important under conditions that might increase feedstuff variability, such as challenging growing conditions. Sampling procedures vary depending upon the type of forage and whether or not sampling occurs pre-harvest or after the forage has been stored.

Forage in a Windrow Prior to Baling

With a sharp shears, cut 6-inch sections from several locations in the windrow. If the forage is dry, take extreme care to avoid losing leaves. Cut the sections into pieces about 1 inch long and mix samples in a clean container.

Forage Prior to Silage Harvest 

If forage in the windrow or standing corn or sorghum is to be harvested with a forage chopper, several rounds can be chopped from a representative part of the field. Collect small samples from various locations in the forage wagon, and mix thoroughly in a clean container. As an alternative method, a representative sample of standing forage can also be cut off, run through a chipper, and then a sub-sample of the chopped material used for moisture testing.

Hay Bales 

Use a hay probe to collect samples. For large round bales the probe should be inserted from the rounded side into the center of the bale. Square bales should be probed from the middle of the butt end. 


For bagged silage, collect about 2 gallons of silage by taking handfuls at random from about 10 locations and mix them in a clean container. With bunkers or piles, the best method is to remove silage from multiple locations in the face using a loader or silage facing tool, and then subsampling from the removed material. Grabbing samples by hand from the exposed face greatly increases the risk of being trapped in an avalanche, particularly as the sizes of bunkers or piles increase.

When Should Forage Be Sampled?

Forage samples should be collected as closely as possible to when the samples will be analyzed and when management decisions will be made. Sampling pre-harvest allows producers to pin-point moisture content and harvest timing. The microwave method is a low-cost way to test for dry matter content on the farm with minimal turn-around time.

Sampling immediately after harvest provides valuable information for marketing feedstuffs or for making longer-term feeding plans. Collecting a sample close to when the feed will be fed will provide the most accurate estimate of actual feed value and account for any storage or weathering losses that may occur post-harvest.

Regardless of when the sample is taken, it should be analyzed as quickly as possible. You can freeze samples to be shipped later, but minimizing the delay reduces the risk that the sample composition will significantly change. Mail or deliver samples early in the week for best results.

Other Considerations

Make sure that the sample collected is representative of the lot of forage. Changes in fields, maturity, hybrids, or other factors mean that a different sample should be taken. Within each lot, taking more small samples from a variety of bales or locations within a silage pile is preferable to fewer, larger quantities. Finally, make sure to label the containers well so as not to rely on memory.


The first episode of Trade Matters, a podcast of the Clayton Yeutter Institute of International Trade and Finance at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln, has been released, with Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts discussing his views on trade.

“Ninety-five percent of the world’s consumers lie outside of our borders, so if we want to grow Nebraska, we have to go out and get those customers outside of our country,” Ricketts said.

During the episode, the governor also talks about how he weighs in with Washington on trade policy, where he sees opportunities for Nebraska exports and how he strategizes for trade missions.

Episodes of Trade Matters will be released biweekly this fall on iTunes and Stitcher. Yeutter Institute Director Jill O’Donnell will host each episode, speaking with guests who will illuminate an aspect of trade policy-making behind the scenes.

“Our goal with Trade Matters is to make trade relatable, considering new developments, longstanding trends and the potential impacts of both,” O’Donnell said. “Trade matters to everyone, and this podcast will showcase that with dynamic discussions and thoughtful analysis.”

The second episode will be released Sept. 24 and feature Edward Alden, Ross Distinguished Visiting Professor at Western Washington University and senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations.

If there are topics listeners would like to hear about on the podcast, those ideas can be emailed to yeutterinstitute@unl.edu. Opinions expressed on Trade Matters are solely those of the guest or host and not the Yeutter Institute or the University of Nebraska–Lincoln.

The vision of Husker alumnus and renowned trade expert Clayton Yeutter, the Yeutter Institute connects academic disciplines related to law, business and agriculture to prepare students for leadership roles in international trade and finance, support interdisciplinary research and increase public understanding of these issues.

For more information on the Yeutter Institute, visit https://yeutter-institute.unl.edu.

 Nebraska Rural Communities Impacted by Flooding Eligible for Additional USDA Assistance Program

U.S. Senator Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, released the following statement today after the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced that $150 million is now available through its Community Facilities Program for rural communities impacted by natural disasters, including this year’s severe flooding:

“Many rural communities in Nebraska have a long way to go on the road to recovery following this year’s extreme flooding. Because we fought to include Nebraska in disaster relief legislation earlier this year, our state is eligible for this Community Facilities Program and several others. I encourage our rural communities to look into this program and apply for assistance. This is another important step to advance Nebraska’s full recovery.”

More information from the U.S. Department of Agriculture:

The $150 million in grants available through the Community Facilities Program is intended to help rural communities continue their recovery from the devastating effects of hurricanes, fires, and other natural disasters. The grants may be used for natural disasters where the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has provided a notice declaring a Major Disaster Declaration and assigned a FEMA disaster recovery number.

Eligible applicants include municipalities, public bodies, nonprofit organizations, and federally recognized Native American tribes. Projects must be in eligible rural areas with populations of 20,000 or less.

Women’s Health in Ag Program

Platte County Extension Office
Monday, September 16, 2019, 6 – 8 p.m.

They will discuss Ergonomics, Yoga for the Farm, Reproductive Health, and Risk Management for Women.  The program is presented by Nebraska Extension and the AgriSafe Network.  A light dinner will be provided!!

Please register by Friday, September 13th by calling 402-563-4901.

Nebraska Youth Beef Leadership Symposium

November 8 - 10, 2019
Application Deadline:  September 20th

The annual Nebraska Youth Beef Leadership Symposium will be held at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Animal Science Complex on November 8 - 10. The symposium is designed to introduce youth to careers opportunities and current issues in the beef industry, as well as offer education and practice in the use of leadership skills.

Showcasing Beef:  A Culinary Challenge
    eligible if you are a 10th, 11th or 12th grader (regardless of whether you've attended NYBLS before)
    get more in-depth information about the beef industry
    interact with faculty and learn about genetic markers, reproduction, environment/manuare management, and antibiotic resistance
    develop and market a beef product and work with a professional chef from Omaha Steaks
    learn more about career opportunities in the beef industry

If you're selected to participate, a $75 registration fee will be needed.  This covers the cost of hotel, meals, and materials. Your room and all meals are provided!

At the Sunday luncheon we will conclude with this group and they will present their new products and marketing plan to a panel of judges. Parents and guests will also get a chance to taste their products!

For more information, contact:
Alli Raymond, UNL Department of Animal Science
(402) 472-0204


Bruce Anderson, NE Extension Forage Specialist

               During the past couple weeks I’ve been unhappy about all the weeds in some of my pastures.  What have I been doing wrong?

               I’ve prided myself in keeping my pastures thick and vigorous enough to compete with weeds, but this year they got the best of me in some of my paddocks.  Common ragweed was the worst, with foxtail and barnyardgrass next.

               Why did the weeds get so abundant this year?  The grass was thick and heavy all spring and early summer because of all the early rain we received.  That should have at least kept the annual ragweed down.  Or so I thought.  I have well over a dozen paddocks in my pasture.  And weeds weren’t bad in all of them.  They all had more than the usual but three of them got especially weedy.

               I have a theory as to why the weeds were bad, but mind you, it’s only my theory.  After the abundant spring rains and excessive grass growth, I went through a period of around six weeks that received less than one inch of rain.  Pastures still grew but the top soil got really dry and hard.  Then I received one rain of nearly three inches that really softened the top soil.

               Cattle were grazing one of the paddocks that eventually got weedy and quickly moved into and through the other real weedy paddocks.  These paddocks contain the most cool-season bunch grasses like orchardgrass and fescue, with very little brome to form a more solid sod.  So they also got real rough and cut up.  So I suspect weeds grew where cattle hooves cut into the wet soil.

               No matter whether my theory is right or wrong, now I need to help the orchardgrass and fescue recover well so they compete with the weeds.

               And I’m feeling a bit more humble.  Live and learn.


               Remember the old grazing adage “take half and leave half”?  Let’s see how it applies to your pastures this fall.

               "Take half and leave half” was the grazing management recommended for many years on rangeland and for planted warm-season grasses.  And in many cases it still is.  But today, more emphasis is on grazing techniques that use cross-fences to form multiple paddocks.  These techniques are known by many names like management intensive grazing, controlled grazing, even mob grazing.  Used correctly, they permit increased stocking rates and can produce excellent animal performance.

               How you graze your pastures, though, does not affect the basic growth processes of your grasses. If you severely graze a pasture short, plants in that pasture need extra time to recover before they are grazed again.  And warm-season grasses are particularly sensitive to recovery periods that are too short.  This is true regardless of whether the plants are in a continuously grazed pasture or the plants are separated into many rotationally grazed paddocks.

               Recovery time is particularly important as winter approaches.  Extra rain on many pastures recently allowed grass to thrive.  You still may have enough growth to provide grazing for another month or two.  But plants grazed hard earlier this summer may not have fully recovered yet despite the rain.  Severe grazing now, before full recovery from earlier grazing, will weaken plants as they go into winter.  Plants probably will survive, but next spring they will green-up later, early growth will be slow, and they'll compete poorly with weeds.

               As we approach winter, “take half and leave half” still may be a good management technique.  It helps assure that your pastures will be healthy and grow vigorously again next year.

Corn Silage Tips

With the limited hay crops in some areas this summer, beef producers may want to consider harvesting corn silage to supplement the cow herd this winter. Corn silage can be a very cost effective feedstuff for cow herds, but proper harvesting, storing and feeding is critical to maintain silage quality and feed value.

Hugo Ramirez-Ramirez, Iowa State University dairy specialist, shared his top five priorities for making quality silage at the 2018 Iowa-Wisconsin Silage conference.

1. Harvest at the right moisture content. During the fermentation process, sugar in the chopped corn is converted into lactic acid by bacteria, but the silage needs to be at 35% dry matter (or 65% moisture) to ensure it packs tight enough to become anaerobic so the bacteria can do their job. A ballpark indicator of whole plant moisture is the milkline on the kernel; harvesting at 2/3 to 3/4 milk line is a common practice to capture more energy as starch in the kernel. A better way to determine whole plant moisture is to actually chop up a few stalks and test it for moisture, either with a tester designed for this purpose or by using a microwave and kitchen scale. See instructions for testing silage moisture from ISU Extension and Outreach. A general rule of thumb is that corn plants will dry about 0.5% points each day.

2. Chop length and kernel processing. Good timely fermentation requires an anaerobic environment where the bacteria have access to the sugars and starch in the chopped corn plant. Particle size (and moisture) has a big impact on packing density and oxygen exclusion. When a kernel processor is used, particle size should be about 3/4”, and when a processor is not used the particles should be 1/4” to 1/2” in length. Kernel processing opens up the corn kernel, which results in increased feed quality by allowing better energy utilization by the cow.

3. Inoculants. Bacteria are naturally occurring, but not all bacteria produce lactic acid to assist in the fermentation process. Adding a lactic acid-producing bacteria (LAB) to the chopped corn increases the "good" bacteria and speeds the fermentation process, resulting in less spoilage and higher feed quality. Inoculants are simply inactive, live LAB which are activated when rehydrated, and because they are live bacteria, do not use chlorinated water to rehydrate the inoculant.

4. Packing. Packing to remove oxygen from the pile is critical since the bacteria require an anaerobic environment to ferment the forage. Density (pounds of forage per cubic foot) is used to measure the success of packing silage. Density is influenced by crop, chop length, dry matter, type of structure, delivery rate, packing weight and time. The target density for a bunker silo is 40-45 pounds of fresh forage or 14-16 pounds of dry matter per cubic foot. Density also has an impact on spoilage during feedout, since a less-dense pile allows for more oxygen to enter the pile. A Wisconsin study showed that silage density of 16 pounds of dry matter per cubic foot had a 15% loss, where 10 pounds of dry matter per cubic foot lost 20% of dry matter. A tool to help calculate the number of tractors needed to achieve adequate density based on silage moisture and delivery rate is available from the University of Wisconsin.

5. Sealing and covering. Covering and sealing a silage pile may be the most important factor to ensure good fermentation and an anaerobic environment. A plastic cover specifically designed for use on silage piles that is at least 4-mil thick should be used. These special plastics are designed to resist tears and block ultraviolet light. Some plastics are even designed with high oxygen impermeability. Some plastic covers incorporate one layer of oxygen barrier film with a second layer of UV barrier, or producers can utilize an oxygen-limiting film next to the silage and a black/white UV plastic on top of it. Weight is needed on top of the plastic cover to hold the cover down and prevent air infiltration. Most producers use either old tires or tire sidewalls, and ideally the tires should touch each other, covering the entire pile.

In addition to focusing on silage quality, safety around silage harvest, storage and use also need to be pointed out. One safety concern is silo gases, especially in upright silos, though they can also be a concern in bags or bunkers. The fermentation process produces nitrogen dioxide, which converts to nitric acid when contacting moisture in the lung. At low levels, nitrogen dioxide causes a burning sensation in the nose, throat and chest, while at high levels it causes death within seconds. Fermentation also produces carbon dioxide, which is odorless, colorless and heavier than air so it settles in low spots. It displaces oxygen and can cause death from asphyxiation (lack of oxygen.)  The biggest risk from silo gases is in the first two to three weeks after filling. Bleach-like odors or yellowish-brown fumes at the silo base are indicators of nitrogen dioxide. It is recommended to stay clear of the silo for at least three weeks, then run the silo blower for 15 to 20 minutes with the door closest to the top of the silo open, before entering the silo. Do not enter the silo during or after filling for at least three weeks, and keep children and visitors away from the silo area during the danger period. If you must enter a silo during the three-week danger period or even when opening the silo, wear an approved, self-contained breathing apparatus and ventilate the silo for 20 minutes before entering. You should also be attached with a lifeline to someone outside the silo.

Safety risks around bunkers also include machinery accidents during filling and avalanches during feedout. Extra caution should be used by pack tractors, especially when operating above the solid side walls of the bunker to prevent rollover accidents. Trucks delivering forage should unload at the base of the ramp and not operate above the sidewalls of the bunker. When feedout starts, falls when uncovering bunkers or taking feed samples, avalanche of the pile or collapsing silage could happen. Take feed samples from the loader bucket after moving a safe distance away from the bunker face. Try to stay a distance of at least three times the height of the pile away from the face. Always remove silage from the top of the pile first to prevent undercuts which may collapse.

More information on safety can be found at www.silagesafety.org. ISU Extension and Outreach beef and dairy specialists can also assist producers with silage production and feeding.

IFU Members 'Fly-In' to Washington D.C. to Lobby Congress

Iowa Farmers Union members will join a group of nearly 400 Farmers Union's family farmers and ranchers traveling to the nation's capital this week to meet face-to-face with administration officials and members of Congress.

Attendees will campaign for policies that strengthen the farm safety net, support climate smart practices and biofuels, restore competition to the agriculture economy, improve the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, and resolve ongoing trade disputes.

The Fly-In kicked off Monday with a briefing at the United States Department of Agriculture followed by a Capitol Hill agriculture briefing. Tuesday and Wednesday, Fly-In attendees will visit all congressional offices to meet with members of Congress and congressional staff. Attendees will deliver messages personal to them about how federal policies are impacting their farming operations, families and community.

NCGA Files Court Motion in Support of E15

The National Corn Growers Association yesterday moved to intervene in an effort by big oil to challenge the EPA’s final RVP rule by filing a motion in support of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the final rule allowing for year-round sales of E15. If successful, the oil industry’s lawsuit would overturn the E15 rule.

NCGA and its farmer members have been long-time advocates of removing the unnecessary and outdated barrier to year-round E15. Removing that barrier took several years to accomplish, but our persistence paid off. With that barrier gone, more retailers are coming off the fence to offer consumers more fuel choice that saves drivers money and lowers emissions. Monday’s action was a continuation of NCGA efforts to increase corn grind by expanding the sales of higher ethanol blends. NCGA will be joining efforts with other ethanol advocates as the legal process continues.

Truck Rates Declining in 2019


The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Grain Transportation Report indicates trucking cost per ton is down almost 9%, which is a welcome change from the spike in trucking rates caused by the electronic log device (ELD) rule. Although agriculture was exempted, the overall tightening in available Class 8 truck supply increased trucking rates.

Dial-A-Truck (DAT) reports van spot rates in July declined 19% versus last year.  The rate decrease has occurred at the same time the American Trucking Association’s (ATA) advanced seasonally adjusted (SA) For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index increased 6.6% in July after falling 1.2% in June. In July, the index equaled 122.7 (2015 = 100) compared with 115.1 in June.

Although trucking issues remain, such as a need for drivers, a decline in transport costs is a great help to the farmer’s bottom-line.

2019 Enrollment Deadline for the Dairy Margin Coverage Program Is Sept. 20

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) reminds dairy producers that the deadline to enroll in the Dairy Margin Coverage (DMC) program for 2019 is Sept. 20, 2019.

Authorized by the 2018 Farm Bill, the program offers reasonably priced protection to dairy producers when the difference between the all-milk price and the average feed cost (the margin) falls below a certain dollar amount selected by the producer.

“Over 19,100 operations have signed up for DMC since the new program opened enrollment on June 17,” said FSA Administrator Richard Fordyce. “DMC is a great risk management tool that protects against narrowing margins caused by down turns in the market and increased feed costs. I encourage farmers who have not yet enrolled to sign up as soon as possible.”

As the 2019 enrollment period draws to a close, FSA estimates over $257.7 million in payments to producers who are currently registered. Also, nearly half of the producers are taking advantage of the 25 percent premium discount by locking in for five years of margin protection coverage. FSA has launched a new web visualization of the DMC data, which is available here... https://www.fsa.usda.gov/programs-and-services/dairy-margin-coverage-program/program-enrollment-information/index.

Margin payments have triggered for each month from January through July. Dairy producers who elect higher coverage levels could be eligible for payments for all seven months. Under certain levels, the amount paid to dairy farmers will exceed the cost of the premium.

For example, a dairy operation that chooses to enroll for 2019 an established production history of 3 million pounds (30,000 cwt.) and elects the $9.50 coverage level on 95 percent of production will pay $4,275 in total premium payments for all of 2019 and receive $15,437.50 in DMC payments for all margin payments announced to date. Additional payments will be made if calculated margins remain below the $9.50/cwt level for any remaining months of 2019.

Enrollment for 2020

For 2020, dairy producers can sign up for coverage under DMC beginning Oct. 7 through Dec. 13, 2019. At the time of signup, dairy producers can choose between the $4.00 to $9.50 coverage levels.

DMC offers catastrophic coverage at no cost to the producer, other than an annual $100 administrative fee. Producers can opt for greater coverage levels for a premium in addition to the administrative fee. Operations owned by limited resource, beginning, socially disadvantaged or veteran farmers and ranchers may be eligible for a waiver on administrative fees. Producers have the choice to lock in coverage levels until 2023 and receive a 25-percent discount on their DMC premiums.

Producers who locked in coverage in the 2019 sign-up must certify the operation is producing and commercially marketing milk and pay the annual administrative fee during the 2020 enrollment period.

To assist producers in making coverage elections, USDA partnered with the University of Wisconsin to develop a DMC decision support tool, which can be used to evaluate various scenarios using different coverage levels through DMC. https://www.fsa.usda.gov/programs-and-services/farm-bill/farm-safety-net/dairy-programs/dmc-decision-tool/index

NBB and 33 Members Ask President Trump to Save Small Biodiesel Producers

Yesterday, the National Biodiesel Board (NBB) and 33 of its members sent a letter to President Trump asking that he save small biodiesel producers harmed by his administration's small refinery exemptions. The letter indicates that more than 200 million gallons of U.S. biodiesel production capacity has been idled as a result of policy instability.

"Every small refinery waiver issued by the Environmental Protection Agency has the potential to put a U.S. biodiesel producer out of business," NBB writes in the letter to President Trump. "We anticipate that additional facilities will close over the next several months if you do not take quick action to restore RFS volumes for biodiesel and renewable diesel."

The letter highlights additional policy headwinds that are harming the biodiesel industry, including the U.S. Department of Commerce's recent proposal to virtually eliminate trade protections against heavily subsidized biodiesel imports.

"Growth in the biodiesel market is the only way to keep domestic producers operating and protect U.S. workers' jobs," the letter concludes.

Kurt Kovarik, NBB Vice President of Federal Affairs, added, "It is important for President Trump to keep his word and continue supporting the Renewable Fuel Standard. We are asking the administration to, first, restore the RFS volumes undercut by small refinery exemptions over the past several years and, second, continue to provide growth for biodiesel and renewable diesel in the RFS program."

ESMC Partners with United Soybean Board, Adds Six New Members

The Ecosystem Services Market Consortium has received $255,500 from the United Soybean Board (USB) to help develop an ecosystem service protocol for the Soy and Corn Belt. ESMC's ecosystem services protocols measure soil organic carbon, greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, water quality and water use efficiency.

Through the partnership, ESMC will work with soybean farmers in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska and Ohio in a pilot project covering 50,000 acres. The Consortium will be building on its experience with an initial pilot project in the Southern Great Plains on 12 ranches in Oklahoma and Texas.

ESMC champions a voluntary, market-based approach to incentivize farmers and ranchers to implement conservation practices that provide quantified ecosystem benefits. The resulting environmental credits will be available for purchase by corporations to meet their sustainability goals when ESMC launches its marketplace in 2022.

USB seeks to help soybean farmers maximize their profits by building markets for U.S. soy and encouraging sustainability. Under the USDA checkoff program, USB promotes American farmers' efforts to mitigate environmental impacts while increasing productivity. USB affirms the value of producing soy that meets consumer and industry demands for practices that demonstrably preserve and protect the environment.

In addition to the partnership with USB, ESMC has added six new members to its Consortium. Nestle is joining as a Founding Circle Member, and the American Soybean Association; NativeEnergy; Newtrient, LLC; the Conservation Technology Information Center (CTIC) and World Wildlife Fund are joining as Legacy Partners.

ESMC's top priority is building a marketplace that works first and foremost for farmers and ranchers. The Consortium's long-term goals are to enroll 30 percent of available land in the top four crop regions and top four pasture regions to impact 250 million acres by 2030.

Current ESMC Founding Circle members include: ADM; Bunge; Cargill; Corteva Agriscience; Danone North America; General Mills; Indigo Agriculture; Land O'Lakes; McDonald's USA; National Fish and Wildlife Foundation; Noble Research Institute, LLC; Nutrien; The Nature Conservancy and the Soil Health Institute. ESMC Legacy Partner members include: American Farmland Trust; Anuvia Plant Nutrients; Bayer; Farm Foundation; Impact Ag Partners; Mars, Inc.; National Association of Conservation Districts; National Corn Growers Association; National Farmers Union; Pivot Bio; Sand County Foundation; Soil Health Partnership; The Fertilizer Institute; Tatanka Resources; the Tri-Societies; and Tyson Foods. Partners pledge financial support and active participation to improve ways to measure, verify and monetize increases in soil carbon, reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, improved water quality and increased water conservation. ESMC welcomes companies, nonprofit and conservation organizations and agricultural organizations as partners.

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