Monday, September 12, 2022

Friday September 9 Ag News

Nebraska Extension is Ready to Meet You at Husker Harvest Days 2022
Crystal Powers - Research and Extension Communication Specialist, Nebraska Water Center

Stop by the “Big Red Building” to explore how the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, the Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources, along with Nebraska Extension can help you through Leveraging Innovation, Growing Your Legacy at the 2022 Husker Harvest Days farm show, located at Lot 827.

Teams of Nebraska Extension educators and specialists will be sharing their field-proven experiences with new data-driven, unbiased research. Discover more about agriculture economics, beef, manure management, precision agriculture and conservation, cover crops, groundwater and irrigation, energy, local foods, on-farm research, agricultural leadership, careers and more. Bring along your plant and insect samples, too.

The Water and Irrigation Team helps Nebraskans manage one of their critical resources: groundwater. Bring your questions about optimizing soil moisture, economics, and pump and system performance. Discover the water below your feet with our jumbo groundwater model demo, showing impacts between what we do on the surface, and our wells and rivers. Also ask about your own drinking water, and ways to ensure your water is safe to drink.

The Center for Agricultural Profitability (CAP) helps producers leave a legacy of financial health. Aiming to produce yield or pounds is not enough. Today’s economic environment requires that farmers and ranchers prioritize financial and business considerations to better realize marginal benefits and the costs and risks associated with every production decision. CAP represents the responsive and trusted source of agricultural business management research and education.

The Beef Team helps producers sort through all the new technology — from drones checking water and cattle health to virtual fences, cameras and smart feeders. We can help you dig into the research so you can make the best decisions for your operation.

Nebraska Regional Food Systems Team (NERFSI) works with all things food — from growing to marketing to increasing access to local foods. Whether we’re helping people cultivate crops from their cultural heritage, connecting producers with schools to provide fresh produce or aiding your corner grocery store in selling better-quality products, we work to bring healthy, nourishing food from the farm to your table.

The Nebraska Extension Digital Ag, On-Farm Research, and Smart Machinery Team can help you better understand precision technology and how they can be used for future management decisions. Also, we can help you test new ag tools, products or techniques to determine how they will perform on your own farm.

Using livestock manure to fertilize cropland is nature’s original recycling program. With the Manure Management Team, explore how manure and inorganic fertilizer best meet crop needs while also providing critical organic matter. We know “manure happens.” Our goal is to provide resources and tools to help farmers build their soil and sustain their legacy.

With farming costs on the rise and increasing electrification, now is a great time to look at ways to reduce costs. Two options — reducing electrical costs through your rate schedule and exploring adding on-farm solar — will be discussed by the Energy Team. They can help you make data-based decisions on whether a solar system is right for you. They also can help you understand your electrical rate schedule and make decisions that save dollars.

The Soil Health Team will show you how cover crops can increase organic matter, fix nitrogen, prevent nutrient loss and erosion, manage weeds and boost water infiltration — all of which benefit the cash crop that follows. High-quality forage can also be harvested by haying, grazing or ensiling. Some cover crops are ideal for filling grazing forage gaps when other pasture resources are limited.

Do you have issues with consistently low yields in sections of your fields? Do you continue to farm those marginal areas hoping production will increase? The Precision Conservation Team can help you identify solutions to increase whole-field profitability. Come discuss solutions to maximize whole-field profitability by farming the best yielding acres while reducing soil erosion and water runoff on marginal or low yielding acres.

The environment in which one lives can have a significant impact on quality of life. The Community Environment Team can answer your questions about pollinators, trees, water, soil, local food production, the benefits of plant-people connections and more. They will also provide tips on all things home horticulture like tree selection, planting and maintenance.

LEAD has been developing agricultural leaders for 40 years. The program director of the Nebraska LEAD Program will be available to show how LEAD can help you develop strong leadership skills necessary to respond to the challenges facing agriculture in Nebraska.

Come check out our interactive display to explore potential careers and test your skills at the 4-H College and Career Success booth. Families and high school students are encouraged to bring your questions about college and career decisions to help answer that common question, “So what ya doing after high school?”. Also visit with representatives from the UNL College of Agriculture and Natural Resources and the Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture in Curtis to find out more about opportunities for you on campus.

We all look forward to seeing and visiting with all HHD participants!

Freshmen Northeast ag students get familiar with college with the help of other students, faculty

New students enrolled in agriculture programs at Northeast Community College went through New Student Orientation with hundreds of others prior to the start of classes back in August. They had a chance to go through another orientation experience designed to help them learn more about the department as well as find out how to participate in clubs, contests and extracurricular activities on campus.

This is the second year for the department’s Ag Orientation Day. Agriculture Program Director Jill Heemstra said after COVID 19 shut down so many activities for the students while they were in high school, they are noticing that the freshmen are eager to find ways to participate in college life.

“Another goal of the day was to really talk through each of the majors and the types of courses and potential jobs available for them. We do find a few students realize they are not in the major they should be.”

A fun part of the day is when students participated in a “get to know the faculty” game show. It was designed to help students recognize that their instructors have interests and experiences outside of the classroom. Another important part of the day was to outline the expectations instructors have for the students when they are representing the department at contests and events.

“We have some department-wide things we expect of them, and we introduce them to some campus-wide resources they may have already seen in larger presentations, but they may be less intimidated in a smaller group setting,” said Dr. Trentee Bush, horticulture instructor. “Sophomores were here to show them the ropes and help us with some of the legwork, but it’s also a great way for them to be involved. And the day also helps us as faculty members in putting faces with names of students that we may not see until their second year with us.”

Dr. Leah Barrett, president of Northeast, also spoke to the students.

Heemstra said it was a good day for everyone. She said having sophomore students participate in the day-long event was beneficial to the approximately 120 freshmen.

“They helped move groups from one session to another, explained what they gained from participating in clubs and events and were part of a student panel that fielded questions from the freshman.

All events took place at Northeast’s Chuck M. Pohlman Agriculture Complex on the Acklie College Farm approximately one mile east of the main campus in Norfolk.

Northeast Community College offers 13 agriculture programs in agriculture, food and natural resources –agribusiness, agriculture - college transfer, agronomy, animal science, dairy technician, diversified agriculture, horticulture & golf course management, mechanized agriculture, natural resources, precision agriculture, urban agriculture, pre-veterinary technology, and veterinary technology.

2022 Cover Crop and Soil Health Field Day

Paul Jasa - Extension Engineer

The “almost” annual University of Nebraska Rogers Memorial Farm Soil Health and Cover Crop Field Day will be 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 20, with a free lunch.

A soil pit will be dug on the long-term tillage study, now in its 42nd year of comparing no-till to other tillage systems. Functional cover crop mixes for different purposes, with two planting dates, will be shown and discussed.

A highlight will be a new statewide study to evaluate cover crop variety selection and performance, with one of the locations being on the farm.

Field Day Presentations
    Learn about soil health as Ray Ward explores the soil pit.
    See the effects of 42 years of continuous no-till with Paul Jasa.
    Hear about cover crop biomass production from Gary Lesoing.
    Observe various cover crops and cultivars in a study by Andrea Basche.
    Meet Nebraska Extension’s new Soil Health Educator Katja Koehler-Cole.
    See how cover crops suppress weeds in wheat stubble.

Registration for the free field day is required for the lunch count. Please e-mail Paul Jasa before Thursday, Sept. 15 to be included in the lunch count and ensure enough handouts are available.

The farm is located at 18630 Adams St., Lincoln, Nebraska, about seven miles east of the city.

New Agricultural Systems Technology Major Prepares Students for Future of Agriculture

The department of Biological Systems Engineering is excited to announce a new major, Agricultural Systems Technology (AGST) that will be available to students starting fall of 2023. This major will be offered through the UNL College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources.

The announcement comes with new scholarship funding in honor of Dr. Jack Schinstock, a long-time UNL faculty member who passed way in 2018. Each scholarship is $2,000, and students can apply online.

By integrating agricultural technology, business and agricultural sciences, the program will prepare students to dive into a variety of careers in agriculture and make a lasting impact.

AGST builds upon a solid foundation laid by previous BSE majors. The department started a Mechanized Agriculture program in the 1950s, then expanded to Mechanized Systems Management in the 1990s. This major is the next evolution responding to industry needs, said David Jones, BSE Department Head.

“The history that is informing Agricultural Systems Technology includes the previous iterations,” he said. “Changes over the last five decades is an example of us continuing to evolve.”  

The major will help students gain a practical understanding of agricultural technology and prepare them for the future, said Deepak Keshwani, BSE Associate Professor and Director of Undergraduate Programs. This is informed not only by research conducted in the department, but also strong industry ties.

“Agricultural Systems Technology captures that breadth of technology we see in agriculture today, but we also have to recognize that technology changes,” he said. “This program will provide core skills to help students make sense of technologies to come.”

Through the program, students can expect hands-on experience, research opportunities and plenty of time in the field. Internship work can also provide up to five credit hours. This experiential learning will help bolster understanding, Keshwani said.

“You’re not always going to be in the lecture hall,” he said. “It’s common for students to spend hours in the field collecting data to make sense of what they’re learning in the classroom.”

AGST also offers a more personalized approach by allowing students to design the major to align with their own interests and choose their own minor within the program.

All facets of the degree are designed to help students succeed whether they join the agricultural industry, continue their education, or run their own ag startup. It will help unite all the areas agricultural systems encompass, Jones said, by being complementary to agricultural engineering.

“One of the things this major is going to do is strengthen the partnership across science and technology,” he said. “Agronomists, engineers, scientists — these Agricultural Systems Technology students will be the glue bringing them together.”

For more information about the program and scholarship, visit the Biological Systems Engineering site

Iowa Farm Bureau voting delegates set state and national policy direction for 2023 at annual Summer Policy Conference in West Des Moines

Iowa Farm Bureau members met in West Des Moines this week to discuss and develop the organization’s legislative policy direction on important issues to its statewide membership.

Voting delegates representing all 100 county Farm Bureaus engaged in robust discussions over the two-day conference, addressing several issues impacting Iowa farmers and rural communities.  As lawmakers in Washington, D.C. ramp up Farm Bill appropriation discussions, voting delegates affirmed crop insurance as a top priority for the coming year.  Additional programs under the Farm Bill, including trade, market development, agricultural research and conservation were identified by the county leaders as priorities.  

“The Farm Bill, and included crop insurance programs, are essential to sustainable agriculture and provide farmers critical protections and recovery when facing challenges out of their control,” said Iowa Farm Bureau President Brent Johnson.   Education, outreach and effective communication with key stakeholders will be critical, and Iowa Farm Bureau is prepared and well positioned to engage in these important conversations.”

Voting delegates discussed a variety of issues regarding landowner protections when energy infrastructure projects are being developed, such as pipelines and transmission lines. Long standing Farm Bureau policy has supported a minimum threshold of voluntary easements before eminent domain authority can be used for infrastructure projects when multiple properties are involved. Voting delegates adopted policy specifically calling for a minimum voluntary easement threshold of 90% of the land in a project area before eminent domain authority is granted. Voting delegates also adopted policy supporting compensation to farmers for crop yield reductions within a pipeline easement, regardless of installation date. Additionally, members supported policy which would allow farmers to file complaints directly with the Iowa Utilities Board (IUB) if a pipeline company or its contractor fails to follow ag land restoration standards.

Iowa livestock farmers are committed to raising animals responsibly and ensuring adequate access to livestock medical care across the state. Voting delegates adopted policy to expand the scope of practices licensed veterinary technicians can perform, consistent with their training.  

“The Iowa Farm Bureau Federation’s (IFBF) Summer Policy Conference provides our organization with a clear direction on policy, directly from our membership, shaping our legislative efforts,” said Johnson.  “Our policy development process reflects the true grassroots nature of the organization, with active engagement, participation and input from members in each county, ensuring a strong and unified voice to support Iowa agriculture, farm families and their communities.”                       

IFBF’s Summer Policy Conference is the final step of the year-round grassroots policy process in each of the 100 county Farm Bureaus across the state and leads the organization’s policy direction for the upcoming year.  National policies are subject to debate during American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) policy discussions, which will take place at the AFBF Annual Convention in San Juan, Puerto Rico, January 6-11, 2023.

USDA Proposes Changes to Rule Related to Livestock Indemnity

NPPC newsletter

USDA is proposing to make changes to regulations for payment of indemnity for the destruction and disposition of livestock and poultry its Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) classifies as infected with, suspected of, or exposed to “diseases of concern,” including foreign animal, emerging, and program diseases. Current regulations for valuing animals for indemnification purposes vary from species to species and, sometimes, from disease to disease within a species.

The new rule would harmonize how APHIS determines animal values and deals with costs associated with transporting, cleaning, and disposing of diseased animals. Methods currently include flat rates and in-person appraisals, with the latter being the most common method specified in the regulations.

USDA wants to use an annual indemnity value table for livestock, with allowances for appraisals only when a value cannot be calculated using the tables, or when a producer appeals the indemnity value based on extraordinary circumstances. The agency also would provide indemnity values by animal classes similar to the Farm Service Agency’s Livestock Indemnity Program.

Additionally, APHIS wants to consolidate all commodity indemnity regulations under one provision of the Animal Health Protection Act (AHPA). Currently, species and their diseases are listed in separate parts of the AHPA even though the process for requesting and obtaining indemnity is “substantially similar” in each provision. Consolidating the rules would allow APHIS to harmonize how it addresses value determinations and compensation for cleaning and disposing of animals.

USDA is accepting public comments on the proposed changes, asking specifically whether there are species, commodity classes or intended uses within a species, or other considerations that would merit separate provisions. The agency also is requesting input on sections where the disease management approach could be significantly altered by the consolidation of the indemnification process.

Pork Checkoff Webinar Invitation

Pork producers are invited to register and tune in as experts share insights generated from menu modeling research funded by Pork Checkoff dollars.

Webinar: Insights from Food Modeling Research — Putting the Thrifty Food Plan into Practice
When: Sept. 22 at 11 a.m. CT
Can't make it? Register anyway, and we'll share a recording afterwards.
Click to Register:

With food inflation, hunger and nutrition insecurity at all-time highs, low-income families are challenged to keep nutritious meals on home menus while staying within their budgets.

In August of 2021, the USDA announced a 21% increase in benefits under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). The extra benefits are based on USDA’s review of the Thrifty Food Plan, which estimates the cost of a healthy diet to feed a family of four.  

This means more families will have better access to foods that satisfy their nutritional needs. NPB is working to ensure protein-packed pork is at the top of their grocery lists.

Pork has a huge role to play as a high-quality, affordable and nutrient-dense protein that satisfies many taste and cultural preferences.

NPB has assembled experts with roles in academia, government-adjacent organizations, and non-profits in the food policy sector to update dietitians and others in health professions.

They'll talk about what it takes to put an optimized, affordable and nutrient-dense eating plan into practice and what this increase in benefits means for their patients and clients.

Five New Research Projects Funded Through NAFA’s Alfalfa Checkoff

The Alfalfa Checkoff program, also known as the U.S. Alfalfa Farmer Research Initiative (USAFRI), awarded funding to five projects in its recent review of proposals submitted by researchers in response to NAFA’s latest request for proposals. Researchers from California to Virginia were the beneficiaries of funding generated by the checkoff, now in its sixth year of enhancing alfalfa research across the country.

“It’s encouraging to see new researchers submitting proposals with each new round of funding for NAFA’s Alfalfa Checkoff program,” said Beth Nelson, NAFA President. “We envisioned this program as one which would re-energize research into alfalfa and forages and that’s exactly what we’ve seen.”

NAFA’s Alfalfa Checkoff request for proposals generated research projects requesting a total of more than $1.1 million from a broad geographic area demonstrating continued demand among researchers for alfalfa research funding. Proposals addressed a wide range of topics intended to drive innovation and profitability in the alfalfa industry - from developing an open-source web-based tool for predicting alfalfa yield and quality to improving irrigated alfalfa yield and water use efficiency - all intended to enhance alfalfa and alfalfa seed production throughout the country. Research projects in California, Idaho, Kansas, Minnesota, and Virginia were funded. They include: (project objectives can be viewed on the

    The Relationship Between Passage Rate and Degradation Rate of Alfalfa and Its Effect on Digestibility
    Gonzalo Ferreira, Virginia Tech

    Alfalfa Value-Added Characteristics: Screening Cultivars for Beneficial Biochemical Compounds
    Jo Heuschele, USDA-ARS (St. Paul, MN)

    Improving Alfalfa Forage System by Addressing Boron and Sulfur Deficiency
    Bruno Pedreira, Kansas State University

    Carbon Footprint of High-Yielding Irrigated Alfalfa Production in California
    Cameron Pittelkow, University of California-Davis

    Do Insect-Transmitted Viruses Affect Forage Alfalfa Yield and Quality?
    Erik Wenninger, University of Idaho

The NAFA review committee selected projects that best met established research priorities, including: feed value consistency (i.e., harvest, storage, digestibility, sampling); forage quality improvements; new uses and market development; and yield improvements. Proposals were scored on industry need (alignment with USAFRI research priorities); scientific merit; direct benefit to farmers, cost effectiveness; and partnerships.  

The Alfalfa Checkoff call for proposals is released twice a year, in May with proposals due in June, and in November with proposals due in December. Final reports continue to roll in and reveal important data and information with regard to alfalfa seed and forage production and are available at Be sure to bookmark this page and continue to monitor it for continuing results throughout the year.

Texas Tech Researchers Studying Genetic Properties of Quality Beef

Why are consumers willing to pay high prices for steaks?

A research project from Texas Tech University’s Davis College of Agricultural Sciences & Natural Resources, in collaboration with groups in Ireland and Australia, is trying to answer that question.

The project started with a simple idea from a doctoral candidate, who wanted to know why consumers would pay $75 for a steak when much cheaper options were available. It has evolved into L GEN 2000, a collaborative genomics project funded by a $603,960 grant from the University of New England, that seeks to relate the genetic differences in the culinary quality of various beef cattle.

“We discovered the part of the brain stimulated when you have your best experience in life – first kiss, first love, marriage, children, whatever it is – gets turned on when you eat a high-quality piece of beef,” said Markus Miller, a professor and the San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo chair of meat science, food processing and preservation in the Department of Animal & Food Sciences.

“Why would people want to eat beef when in every country on the planet, it's the most expensive protein? The reason is because of what it does to you physiologically. It makes you feel warm and fuzzy. You feel happy, you feel good about yourself. And food does that to everybody.”

The L GEN 2000 project will collect data from consumers across three countries with different methods of raising beef cattle, compile that data and try to isolate the genes that give consumers the best dining experience.

In the U.S., consumers in the test project will eat steaks from 100% grain-fed beef. The beef produced for the tests in Ireland will be 100% grass-fed and the beef in Australia will be a mixture of the two, with the goal being to find out if the different methods of raising beef cattle produce different genetics.

“This genomics project will look at beef in different production systems and relate it to the genome of the beef animal,” Miller said. “It may be that we have the same genetics everywhere and there's no genetic difference, but we need to know.

“Understanding the differences, or lack of differences, allows us to know how to manage feeding and production. It will help us maximize the quality and healthfulness of beef in relation to all outputs like methane, carbon and water use.”

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