Monday, September 19, 2022

Weekend Ag News Round-up - September 18

 Water conservation is urgently needed as the drought intensifies

The impacts of the drought are becoming even more serious for the citizens of northeast Nebraska as the dry conditions continue to escalate.  The attached map shows the comparison across the Lower Elkhorn Natural Resources District (LENRD) over the last few weeks, with most of the district moving from an extreme drought to an exceptional drought (D4) designation.

During the drought of 2012, many private well owners found themselves lowering their pumps to provide water in their homes for their families.  Not only did domestic wells suffer, but there were also irrigation and livestock wells that failed to function properly during the drought.

LENRD general manager, Mike Sousek, said, “Imagine coming home after work to find you have no water in your home.  Or you turn on your pivot to water your crops and there’s no pressure, or your livestock well runs dry.  These are the times we are in, and we must come together, collectively, to protect the resource that we all share.”

An exceptional drought is a critical situation, and water conservation is at utmost importance.  The average person uses 80-100 gallons of water each day.  Sousek said, “We can all use at least 20 percent less water by being more mindful of our actions, checking for leaks, installing water-saving appliances, and managing our sprinklers more efficiently.”  Cities and towns across the district have water conservation measures in place, encouraging residents to limit their water use on their scheduled days.

Farmers are also bound to certain power restrictions limiting their usage during scheduled times throughout the irrigation season.  Economics also play a large role in limiting water usage.  Sousek added, “Even with restrictions in place, we can all work harder, as individuals, to do our part in protecting the resource.  We can’t wait for the cities to tell us when to conserve or wait until our well fails and we can’t pump water for our crops, we need to save water today and prepare for what happens next, if conditions don’t improve.”

To keep groundwater levels stable and protect supplies long-term, the LENRD has allocations in place for any irrigation wells installed after 2017.  Sousek said, “We would like to remind landowners, with newer wells, to plan accordingly with their irrigation scheduling and to be aware of the current 9-acre inch allocations.  All water users need to be cognizant of the amount of water being used and be accountable to our neighbors by assuring them that we’re doing all we can to share the resource with everyone around us, especially during a drought.”

There are also allocations in the Groundwater Quantity Management Subareas across the district.  In those areas, an additional 2-acre inches are available, after September 15th, for producers who are planting a cover crop.  Sousek said, “If someone abuses this allocation, it’s not only hurting the producer, but it’s hurting all groundwater users who share the resource and could affect future management decisions by the board.”

The drought is being closely monitored by the district, with possible drought mitigation actions being considered.   These actions will be determined by the board of directors and the district’s Drought Mitigation Response Team.  Any actions the district puts into place for the 2023 growing season must be decided by Nov. 1st.

Sousek added, “It’s important to adopt the mindset that the current dry cycle could be part of a multi-year weather pattern.  There’s value in preparing ourselves for what’s ahead and conserving our groundwater to help resolve present and future water quantity issues, to protect all groundwater users.”

The next LENRD board of directors meeting will be Thursday, September 22 at the LENRD office in Norfolk at 7:30 p.m. and on Facebook Live.

ABC Program Irrigation Updates and Trainings Scheduled

The Agricultural Budget Calculator program's (ABC) calculations for irrigation energy and labor costs have been updated in order to provide you with improved decision-making tools for irrigation application. To fully take advantage of these new features, you will need to modify your existing irrigation system records and irrigation application records.

Continue reading to view a summary of what has changed, how those changes benefit you and steps to get started updating your records.

Summary of Changes

        ABC is now tracking the amount of water applied to each field by each irrigation system.
        ABC is now considering energy in terms of the amount required to apply an acre-inch of water to a field.
        ABC is now separating out labor costs for irrigation into two categories:
            Total labor required for annual maintenance, setup, and teardown.
            Labor required to apply an acre-inch of water to a field.

Benefits to the Producer
        More accurate estimations of energy and labor costs associated with irrigation.
        Decision point: Cost to Add Another Inch of Water
            Estimates the energy and labor cost to add an inch of water to any/all fields covered by irrigation systems.
        Check Point: Energy Efficiency of Irrigation Pumping
            Uses pressure and lift to calculate ideal energy efficiency.
            Finds comparative efficiency of irrigation based on historical energy and water use.

Steps to Update Records
        Update Irrigation System Records
            Go to Manage Inputs > Irrigation Systems and click on the name of a system that needs updated.
            On the Irrigation System Details page, click on the Edit tab to start making changes.
            Find the energy use per acre-inch for the system using one of these options:
                Pressure/lift calculation.
                Historical use calculation.
                Direct entry.
            Enter labor hours and workers for annual system maintenance, setup and repair.
        Update Irrigation Application Records
            Go to the Field Operations page for an irrigated enterprise that needs updated, and click on the Irrigation tab.
            Click on the Edit button next to an irrigation application record that needs updated.
            Enter the estimated amount of water applied to each field for the growing season.
            Enter the estimated labor hours for water distribution to each field.
        Be sure to save any changes you make to your irrigation system and application records.

Questions on these changes? Join us on Wednesday, Sept. 28 during ABC Q&A Sessions to learn more. Register for the Zoom link here

Registration begins for Northeast Community College’s AgCeptional Women’s Conference

Registration is underway for Northeast Community College’s annual AgCeptional Women’s Conference. The conference is northeast Nebraska’s premier event for women in agriculture, attracting over 400 women who come together for a full day of networking, professional development, and personal growth opportunities. The conference sells out each year.

The 14th annual event will be held Fri., Nov. 18, from 8 a.m.-5 p.m., in the Lifelong Learning Center, 601 E. Benjamin Ave., in Norfolk. This year’s theme is “What’s Next.”

“Many of us, myself included, have wondered “What’s Next?” multiple times during the past few years,” said Karmen Hake, agceptional conference administrative assistant. “The agriculture industry has felt many highs and lows as a global pandemic transitioned to inflation and drought. The AgCeptional Women’s Conference is designed to celebrate the resilient women involved in agriculture.”

The conference will feature over 20 speakers discussing issues related to creating predictable profits in an unpredictable industry, nitrates and public health, dedicating one’s life to service, hemp in Nebraska, smartphone photography for the farm or ranch, keys to prevent Alzheimer’s disease, and growing intuitive eaters, among many more options.

The opening session will feature a keynote speaker who has had to answer the question of What’s Next in her life. Stacy Pederson, Palmer Lake, Colo., had lost everything at one point, became gravely ill, suffered from severe depression and posttraumatic stress disorder, and never quit. Her perspective on grit and determination coupled with humor will leave participants laughing and walking away with a new perspective on grit in their own lives.

The closing presentation will be from Jill Brown, Mound City, Mo. Her message will pertain to gratitude and simply saying “Thank You.”

A tribute to the 2022 AgCeptional Woman of the Year will also be a highlight of the conference.

The early registration fee for the 2022 AgCeptional Women’s Conference is $45 if purchased prior to Oct. 15th, which includes breakfast, lunch and an afternoon snack. After Oct. 15th, the registration fee will rise to $60.

“We are able to keep the cost of attending the conference affordable thanks to the support of the many sponsors of our event,” Hake said.

To register or learn more about the conference, visit

For additional information, contact Hake at (402) 844-7181 or email


A University of Nebraska–Lincoln scientist is leading a multi-institutional effort to better understand sorghum’s genetic makeup in a quest to improve the crop’s nitrogen use efficiency.

Jinliang Yang, assistant professor of agronomy and horticulture, leads a three-year, $2.7 million project that includes other Husker scientists as well as collaborators at Kansas State University and the Alabama-based HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology. The multidisciplinary project is funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Energy.

Increases in the price of nitrogen fertilizer and the environmental impact of fertilizer runoff on ecosystems have driven extensive research into increasing sorghum’s fertilizer use efficiency. That research, at Nebraska and other institutions, has helped scientists answer questions around nitrogen’s assimilation, transport, and reallocation processes. Studies have identified specialized nitrate transporters and sensors, helping scientists characterize the nitrogen mobilization process, all with an eye toward helping the crop  use nitrogen as efficiently as possible and reducing fertilizer use. One-third of the sorghum grown in the U.S. is used for livestock feed, and it’s also a popular food crop in areas of Asia and Africa.

This new research also will focus on other aspects of sorghum’s fertilizer use, including nitrogen sensing, signaling and downstream regulatory pathways.

Scientists have previously characterized a number of sorghum genes that appear to have a role in managing nitrogen. They have edited those genes using the CRISPR-Cas9 process — a technology that allows scientists to find a specific piece of DNA inside a cell and then alter that DNA. The new project will enable the Nebraska-led team to further characterize those edited genes phenotypically and molecularly.

In addition, scientists will edit a second set of nitrogen-responsive genes and characterize them through the high-throughput phenotyping system at Nebraska, ultimately leading to field testing. These genes may play an essential role as nitrogen sensors. Finally, the project will fund generation of population-scale gene expression datasets.

“The overall goal is to try to improve nitrogen use efficiency,” Yang said. “We would like to understand better the genetic functions of the crop’s individual genes and then piece them together as a complex network.”

Eventually, the most promising sorghum variations will be tested in agricultural fields in Nebraska.

Yang’s Nebraska collaborators include Thomas Clemente, Eugene W. Price Distinguished Professor of biotechnology; Yufeng Ge, Harold W. Eberhard Distinguished Professor of biological systems engineering; and James Schnable, Charles O. Gardner Professor of Agronomy.

Texas Tech’s Davis College Names New Dean

Clint Krehbiel, a professor and administrator with decades of experience in animal science and ruminant nutrition at universities throughout the Southwest and Midwest, has been named the new Dean of the Gordon W. Davis College of Agricultural Sciences & Natural Resources at Texas Tech University.

Krehbiel will begin his duties at Texas Tech on Jan. 1. He arrives in Lubbock after serving as the Marvel L. Baker Department Head and Professor of Animal Sciences at the University of Nebraska in Lincoln since 2017.

“Clint brings the leadership and research prowess needed to propel the Davis College of Agricultural Sciences & Natural Resources forward,” said Provost and Senior Vice President Ron Hendrick. “I look forward to working with him in this role.”

A native of Kansas who grew up on a diversified farm near McPherson, Krehbiel has an extensive history in agriculture. He earned his bachelor’s (1988) and master’s (1990) degrees in animal science and industry from Kansas State University and his doctorate in animal science with a concentration in ruminant nutrition from the University of Nebraska in 1994.

Prior to joining the faculty at the University of Nebraska, Krehbiel served on the faculty at Oklahoma State University for 17 years, leaving as the Regents Professor and Dennis and Martha White Endowed Chair of Ruminant Nutrition and Health and the assistant head of the Department of Animal Science.

Before Oklahoma State, Krehbiel served three years as an assistant professor of ruminant nutrition at New Mexico State University. He also has held positions at the University of Nebraska while pursuing his doctorate and as a postdoctoral research associate at the Roman L. Hruska U.S. Meat Animal Research Center in Clay Center, Neb.

He is a member of the American Society of Animal Science (ASAS), the American Dairy Science Association, the American Registry of Professional Animal Scientists and the Plains Nutrition Council.

Krehbiel has received the ASAS Southern Section Outstanding Young Animal Scientist Award for Research, the Oklahoma State Department of Animal Science Tyler Award, the James A. Whatley Award for Meritorious Research in Agricultural Science, the Gamma Sigma Delta Research Scientist Award of Merit, the Sarkey’s Distinguished Professor Award, the OSU University Service Award and the AFIA ASAS Ruminant Nutrition Award.

“I am grateful for the trust that Texas Tech University has placed in me to lead the Davis College of Agricultural Sciences & Natural Resources,” Krehbiel said. “Davis College is a premier agriculture and natural resources program with a rich history of excellence seen through the achievements of faculty, staff and students. I’m eager to become part of a dynamic team and honored to have the opportunity to work with Davis College’s amazing faculty, staff, students, administrators and alumni as well as external partners and stakeholders. With the challenges and opportunities facing the future of agriculture and natural resources, the time is now to aspire to make the best better. I hope to convey that spirit to people inside and outside of Davis College. I will challenge myself daily to build on the success of Davis College through teaching, research, service and outreach to better serve our state, national and global stakeholders.”

Producers Convey Pork Industry Priorities During NPPC Fly-in

The National Pork Producers Council held its fall Legislative Action Conference Wednesday and Thursday last week, with nearly 100 pork producers in Washington, D.C., meeting with their members of Congress to discuss pork industry priorities. Over the two-day event, producers asked lawmakers to:
    Press the Biden administration to join the 11-nation Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership and to negotiate an Indo-Pacific Economic Framework trade deal that addresses market access for and non-tariff barriers to U.S. products.
    Expand the H-2A visa program to year-round agricultural workers, including packing plant employees. Currently, the visa only allows for temporary, seasonal farm laborers.
    Pass the “Beagle Brigade Act,” authorizing a training center for dogs that can detect animal and plant diseases and pests at the country’s points of entry. Only the Senate must approve the measure; the House passed the bill earlier this year. Producers also asked that the Bureau of Customs and Border Protection agricultural inspection program be fully funded.
    Fund in next farm bill the National Annual Vaccine and Veterinary Countermeasures Bank, the National Animal Health Laboratory Network, the National Animal Disease Preparedness and Response Program, and the National Veterinary Stockpile. Producers also asked for an increase in funds to help reduce the population of feral swine, which can carry foreign animal diseases.
    Reauthorize and fund — also through the farm bill — the Market Access and the Foreign Market Development programs to promote U.S. agricultural exports and authorize a USDA catastrophic risk insurance program to help mitigate risks for pork producers.

The highlight of the biennial fly-in was Wednesday’s Capitol Hill-famous BaconFest reception, with dozens of congressional lawmakers and hundreds of staffers in attendance. Because of COVID, it was the first BaconFest since the fall 2019 legislative conference.
At the conclusion of the conference, NPPC President Terry Wolters, President-elect Scott Hays, Vice President Lori Stevermer, and CEO Bryan Humphreys, joined by NPPC policy staff, met with reporters to discuss the NPPC-American Farm Bureau Federation challenge of California Proposition 12, which bans in the state the sale of pork that doesn’t meet California’s sow housing standards. Oral arguments in the case will be presented to the U.S. Supreme Court on Oct. 11.

Ag's Share of Total U.S. Export Value Sets Records in '21

The value of total U.S. exports, excluding the re-export of foreign-origin goods, has grown at an average annual rate of 6 percent since 2002, reaching a record high of $1.4 trillion in fiscal year (FY) 2021. While the bulk of total U.S. exports was associated with industrial supplies and capital goods, agriculture's share of total U.S. exports has steadily increased.

Between fiscal years 2002 and 2021, the value of U.S. exports of agricultural products rose by an average of 11 percent annually, exceeding the overall rate of increase for total U.S. exports. In 2021, agricultural exports accounted for 12 percent of the total value, up from 9 percent in 2002. Growth in agricultural exports has largely been resilient to market shocks associated with the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Even as total U.S. exports fell by 12 percent during COVID-19's onset in fiscal year 2020, agricultural exports remained steady on the strength of surging shipments of soybeans, corn, and pork to China. In 2021, total U.S. exports rebounded by 14 percent as global demand recovered and trade restrictions were relaxed. However, exports of agricultural products surged 23 percent to $172 billion on increased demand for grains and feed, followed by oilseeds and animal products. Much of this demand came from China, but also Mexico and Canada, consistently among the top three importers of U.S. products.

While China's demand for U.S. soybeans, corn, and other feed products rose because of its hog sector rebuilding from the African swine flu outbreak, agricultural exports to Mexico and Canada were bolstered by their growing livestock and poultry sectors, integrated supply chains, and the ratification of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA). Led by increases in corn, cotton, and soybean shipments, agricultural exports are forecast to reach a record $196 billion in FY 2022 and are projected to remain strong at $193.5 billion in FY 2023.

International Grain Buyers Meet With U.S. Suppliers At Export Exchange In Minneapolis

International buyers and end-users of coarse grains and co-products from more than 50 countries are scheduled to be in Minneapolis in October for Export Exchange 2022 to meet with U.S. suppliers and service providers across the value chain.

Co-sponsored by the U.S. Grains Council (USGC), Growth Energy and the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA), Export Exchange 2022 offers attendees an unparalleled opportunity to conduct business and build relationships with U.S. suppliers of corn, distiller's dried grains with solubles (DDGS), sorghum, barley and other related co-products.

A roster of experts from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and across the grains industry will speak during the conference. Attendees will also have opportunities to conduct business directly and facilitate future sales during the event’s trade show and special business-to-business sessions. Confirmed speakers include:
    Jason Hafemeister, acting deputy undersecretary for trade and foreign agricultural affairs at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA);
    Ryan LeGrand, president and CEO, U.S. Grains Council;
    Kelly Davis, vice president, technical and regulatory affairs, Renewable Fuels Association;
    Chad Willis, past chairman, U.S. Grains Council;
    Arlan Suderman, Chief Commodities Economist for StoneX Group Inc. – FCM Division;
    Jay O’Neil, senior agricultural economist, IGP, Kansas State University;
    Dr. Vijay Singh, Founder Professor and Executive Director of Integrated Bioprocessing Research Laboratory at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Deputy Director of the Center for Advanced Bioenergy and Bioproducts Innovation;
    Dr. Alvaro Garcia, professor of Dairy and Food Sciences and Director of Agriculture and Natural Resources at South Dakota State University;
    Dr. Greg Aldrich, associate professor, Kansas State University;
    Ronnie Tan, aquaculture consultant, U.S. Grains Council;
    Brett Stuart, president, Global AgriTrends;
    Reece Cannady, assistant regional director for Europe and the Middle East, U.S. Grains Council;
    Shane Mueller, feed mill manager, North Dakota State University; and
    Norma Ritz-Johnson, executive director, United Sorghum Checkoff Program.

WHEN: OCT. 12-14, 2022
1001 Marquette Avenue South
Minneapolis, Minnesota 55403

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