Cropping Update

It won’t be long and we’ll see lots of field work going on. Corn and soybean planting is right around the corner! If you are a crops producer, I hope you have our CropWatch website http://cropwatch.unl.edu book marked and your check it out on a regular basis. It’s our one stop shop for UNL cropping information. This week a couple of timely article address the use of soybean inoculation and corn seeding rates.

With today’s current economics, I know that many producers are scrutinizing inputs and really focusing on profit. Using products/inputs that might increase soybean yields 2 bushels per acre might have been profitable when soybeans were $14 per bushel, but becomes a stretch at the $9 per bushel.

Nathan Mueller has prepared a timely CropWatch article that addresses when we need soybean insulants and when they may not be needed. At this time of the year, we often think about planting date, seeding rate, and seed treatments, but do you think about inoculants? The risk vs. reward of inoculating soybeans has been discussed for decades. The risk is not lower yields, just whether the inoculant is going to return a profit, even though it is relatively cheap. Check out his update at http://cropwatch.unl.edu.

A couple more timely topics in this week’s CropWatch edition is a summary of our Nebraska On-Farm Research corn seeding populations and an article by Bob Wright regarding a Michigan State publication that summarizes all commercially available Bt corn hybrids, the insects they control or suppress, refuge requirements for the midwestern U.S. and herbicide tolerance traits. I hope you’ll check these article out!

As you get ready for the upcoming planting season I hope you’ll consider conducting at least one On-Farm Research Study! It’s really easy to do and I’d be glad to assist you with designing the study! Our protocols are available at: http://cropwatch.unl.edu/farmresearch. If you’re comparing a single product or treatment all you need to do is plant two strips of the treatment and then two strips of the check and repeat this process 6-8 times. By doing that we’ll be able to get good statistically sound data. Email me at gary.zoubek@unl.edu or call me at 402-326-8185 and we can visit about a potential study!

Finally before I finish this week’s column I’d like to encourage area irrigators to consider investing in irrigation equipment like ETgages and Watermark Sensors. Check out the Upper Big Blue NRD’s cost share information at: http://www.upperbigblue.org/index.htm. Click on the forms link and then the irrigation scheduling order form.

Information about this equipment is available from our office or our water website. Let me know if I can be of help to you!

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Farm Bill Decision Aids

The last few weeks I’ve been promoting the hands on training about Texas A&M Agricultural Food Policy Center comprehensive Farm Bill Decision Aid computer program that’s being held on Wednesday, January 14, 2015th.

Since we have the Crop Production Clinic going on at the same time here in York, I’m not able to attend, but plan to view an archived session of it. Hopefully after viewing it and getting some tips from Randy Pryor and Jenny Rees along with staff at the FSA office I’ll be able to give it a try. I’ve started one farm and did not have all the needed information, so I’m holding off until I get that.

This model is great, but like any model is no better than the information you provide? The decisions are based on where you feel potential prices will be in the next five years. You’ll need your CC yields and base acres from FSA as well as your production history since 2008 (2003 if you wish to run the insurance tool).

When using the Texas A&M model you need to decide what you want the tool to analyze.
The:
1) Yield Update Tool – calculates values for PLC yields using yield histories for your units.
2) Base Acre Reallocation & PLC/ARC Decision Aid Tool – helps you decide whether to reallocate your base acres and whether to choose PLC, ARC-C, or ARC-I for each farm unit based on your data.
3) Farm Bill 2014 Insurance – calculates net revenue for alternative insurance choices available through the 2014 Farm Bill and RMA. This option can take considerable time and EACH crop insurance tract needs to be entered as a “new farm unit” under each FSA farm number.
If you are not looking at the insurance decisions but the others, for York County farms with combined dryland and irrigated yields, completing the Price Loss Coverage (PLC) Yield Worksheet (CCC-859) from the FSA with your combined irrigated and dryland yield for each FSA number will really help you inputting your data.

I’m planning to view the training and have a couple of producers that are gathering the needed information so that we can give the tool a try. Over the next week or two, I’m going to see how it works and then I will be willing to help interested producers input the data.

I want to thank Randy Pryor for all his efforts to line up the training and helping answer questions about this tool as well as Jenny Rees for some great input screen shots and the link to 23 youtube videos related to the Texas A&M model: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC3AO1iVZMvOStCUJz-ShLzw. I’m, sure additional videos will be added over the next few months.

Be sure to also check out the NE Extension Farm Bill information page: http://farmbill.unl.edu and the CropWatch pages for updates: http://cropwatch.unl.edu/. This week’s edition has some Q & A about updating your yields. Just click on the appropriate link.

It should be an interesting few months, I’ve made a few runs and I’m starting to get the basics of the program. It’s important that producers provide accurate information. I’ve posted a one page form on our website that includes instructions and the data that is needed. It can be found at: http://york.unl.edu/crops-future. Then click on the appropriate links.

I’m going to be willing to help input your information or answer questions. The link to the Texas A&M program is: https://usda.afpc.tamu.edu/.

Give me a call at 402-362-5508 or email me at gary.zoubek@unl.edu if you have questions.

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York Extension and Agricultural Centennial Notes

In my last Extension Update column I indicated that I was not going to share any more York Extension Centennial Notes, but I’ve changed my mind and will share one more and ask for your help. I been preparing a power point about the history of irrigation in York County and Nebraska. So, if you have pictures or tidbits of information that you’d be willing to share, bring them into my office and I’ll scan the images or email me that info to me. I’d like to add images and bits of information to the presentation. THANKS IN ADVANCE!

Over the years, I’ve tried to continually update information about the York area rainfall. For 2014, we received 35.19” of precipitation, this compares to our 94 year average of 26.99”. The 2014 total ranks 9th out of the 94 years of data I have, the top year I have was 40.37” in 1993. My figures are not exact, but they’re close. In August we received the 4th most precipitation for a month at 10.22”. The top historic months I could find were 16.04” in 1950; 13.60” in 1967; 10.46” in 1958. One thing for sure no two years are the same and you cannot predict the weather!

I also have file that I continually update with the York County corn and soybean yields and acres planted over the years. The data is from the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS). I’ve charted this information and will include this with this week’s column. The data is from 1949 for the corn and from 1964 for soybeans.

In 1949 we raised about 150,000 acres of corn most of which were rainfed. Today, we have around 225,000 acres of corn most of which is now irrigated. Since 1949 our irrigated corn yield have gone up about 3.2 bushels/year. For irrigated corn, we’ve gone from less than 100 bushels/acre to now over 200 bushels/acre.
Since 1964, for soybeans we’ve gone from planting very few to planting about 90,000 acres most of which are irrigated. Over the years, irrigated soybean yields have gone up by about .85 bushels/acre/year and now average 60-65 bushels/acre.

We’ve sure made great progress in producing more crop and at the same time become more efficient with both nutrient and water utilization. We need to continue to make improvements if we’re going to be able to feed our world’s population. It will be interesting to see what crops we are growing 50 years from now as well as what the yields will be?
York Corn AcresYork Corn Yields
York soybean acresYork soybean yields

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Nitrogen Use Efficiency

Charles Shapiro, Extension Agronomist shared a recent column of his that I found it to be very interesting, so I thought I’d share it? Do you know your nitrogen use efficiency? (NUE).

His column follows: “Do you know your PFP? What the heck is PFP? In science speak, PFP is an abbreviation for Partial Factor Productivity. It is one way to calculate nitrogen use efficiency, which is sometimes abbreviated NUE. That probably does not help much either. What it means, related to corn production and nitrogen use, is how much corn is produced with a pound of nitrogen fertilizer.

One can think of it as the miles-per-gallon type number for nitrogen efficiency in corn production. A car’s miles per gallon do not tell the whole story.

A small hybrid might have 50 miles per gallon compared to a pickup, but if the pickup is pulling a large load, the small hybrid might not be able to accomplish the task, or need to make several trips to get the job done, canceling out the advantage. But when all things are equal, miles per gallon will give some idea of gas efficiency.

WITH NITROGEN AND corn, the pounds of corn grain produced per pound of nitrogen applied is not the whole story since the plant takes up nitrogen from other sources. Another measure of efficiency would be the pounds of grain relative to all nitrogen applied and accounted for as credits. For years, University of Nebraska-Lincoln recommendation procedures have been based on credits from other sources such as irrigation water, manure, soil nitrates and legumes. Using these credits will increase the PFP of fertilizer nitrogen compared to ignoring them.

My farm management professor from college used to say, “You can’t manage what you don’t mea- sure,” so as we work toward increasing our nitrogen use efficiency we need to have a measurement that will help us know if our changes in management are producing benefits. One of these measures could be PFP.

SOME NUMBERS MIGHT help. One way to calculate the PFP is to take the corn yield, multiply by 56 and divide by the pounds of nitrogen applied. Here are two examples, both with yields of 200 bushels per acre. First, 150 pounds of nitrogen were applied to the field; this calculates to a PFP of 75 [(200 x 56)/150]. Second, 225 pounds of nitrogen were applied to the field; this calculates to a PFP of 50.

To put this in perspective, in Nebraska when the nitrogen purchased is divided by the reported corn yield, the pounds of grain per unit of nitrogen comes out to a PFP of over 60. This number has been increasing since the 1960s. The higher the better. Hypothetically, if one were to apply only the nitrogen that was removed in a bushel of corn (0.7 pounds nitrogen), the PFP would be 80.
This is not realistic since nitrogen is needed to grow the rest of the plant, and we use 1.2 pounds as a rule of thumb for the amount of nitrogen to grow a plant with one bushel of corn with 0.7 pounds nitro- gen in it.

SO HOW CAN we improve our PFP? That is where taking credits for already available nitrogen comes in. If these credits are taken, and we reduce our applied nitrogen, we increase our PFP. In the ex- ample above, where the PFP was compared for the two nitrogen rates used to produce 200 bushels of corn, the 150-pound nitrogen rate was derived from the UNL Corn Nitrogen Calculator with credits for soil organic matter, soybeans as a previous crop and some irrigation nitrates. The 225-pound nitrogen rate was derived from giving a general 50-pound credit for soil nitrogen.
Use your calculated PFP to help you decide if you need to look for more ways to credit the nitrogen that is there. If the issue is not nitrogen, then some other management factor is keeping your yields low, and that needs to be addressed.

IN A RECENT issue of the Journal of Environmental Quality, UNL professor Richard Ferguson documented the situation in the Central Platte Natural Resources District.

There he found that although there was high PFP when fertilizer nitrogen was calculated, when the potential credits were included in total nitrogen available, the PFP went down from the 60s to the 40s. This indicates there may be nitrogen credits that could be used.

Efficiency has to be balanced with total production. Nitrogen use efficiency is highest before maxi- mum profit and yield are achieved, so one can’t use PFP to determine nitrogen recommendations. How- ever, in order to produce corn profitably with low corn prices, efficiency has to be high.

Calculate the PFP on various fields, and if they are below 65, then take the time to determine if there are missing credits available.

Go to http://cropwatch.unl.edu/soils to find many tools and resources to improve nitrogen use efficiency.”

While at CropWatch, please also take time to complete our CropWatch survey by this Friday, December 19 at: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/CropWatch. If you would like a chance to win a free Crop Production Clinic registration or 5 weed guides, please include your contact information in the optional last question. Otherwise, your survey will remain anonymous. We would really appreciate your feedback and suggestions.

Field Assessment Meetings
The past week I along with several other Extension Educators and Charles have been involved in a series of Field to Market field assessment meetings to improve efficiency in farming practices and production. We had sessions in Clay Center, Geneva, Auburn, Fairbury, Aurora and Fremont with 27 producers participating. The goal of the effort is to quantify several indicators to increase understanding of the environmental and economic impact of management practices and to determine which practices will improve sustainability without decreasing economic value. We also want to communicate to the general farming community and the public the efficiencies that exist in agriculture and future goals to continue to make improvements.

We’re working with the Field to Market team and the website: http://www.fieldtomarket.org. Producers that participate will input their production practices on individual fields for 2013 and/or 2014 and have that information summarized. The information is confidential, but eventually they’ll be able to compare their fields to others in the Nebraska project. I know that both the Soybean Growers and Corn Growers are encouraging their producers to participate.

I did not host a session last week, but hope too after the 1st of the year. There is no charge to participate, so if you’d like more information or are interested, give me a call 402-362-5508 or email me at gzoubek1@unl.edu.

Farm Bill Education Meeting
We had about 320 people attend our Farm Bill Educational meeting last Tuesday Dec. 9th and I heard several positive comments about the presentations. It’s an extremely complicated program and producers are encouraged to attend more than one session as well as check out our webpage that includes some excellent tools to help you determine the best options for your farm situation.

For more Farm Bill information, go to: http://agecon.unl.edu/farmbill.

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Upcoming Educational Opportunities

Now that harvest is winding down, I guess it’s becoming that time of year for educational meetings. This week I SoilTrianglewant to remind area producers of several upcoming meeting.

Soil Health Meeting

I know that this is short notice, but Greg Whitmore is hosting a Meeting on Soil Health. It’s a project to make agriculture more productive and sustainable through improved soil health.

This meeting will be Wednesday November 12th, 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. at Central Valley Ag,
340 Oak St., Shelby, NE 68662.

Featured Topics Include:
• Cover crop integration in corn systems
• Benefits of soil health and advanced nutrient management
• Local resources for improving soil health on Eastern Nebraska farms

The draft program is:
8:30 – 9:00 am Registration
9:00 – 9:40am – Introduction to Greg Whitmore and the Soil Health Partnership
9:40 – 10:10am – Nebraska Corn Growers Association research and program update and Q & A
9:40 – 10:10am – NRCS Programming efforts across the Nebraska Landscape and Q & A
10:10 – 10:30am – Travel to Field•
10:30 – 11:00am – Soil Health on your farm – productivity, profitability & environmental outcomes
11:00 – 11:20am – Seeding Technologies for Cover Crops and Q & A
1:20 – 11:45am – Central Valley Ag Research and Programming Efforts & Q & A
11:45 – 12:00am – Travel to lunch
12:00 – 1:00pm Lunch and Field day conclusions – All presenters

Breakfast and lunch will be provided — event will be held rain or shine.

Looks like they have a great program planned!

Cornhusker Economics Outlook Meetings

The second educational opportunity is a series of five Cornhusker Economics Outlook Meetings planned for November 17-November 25th in Beatrice, Columbus, Gering, Curtis and Hastings.

Topics will include:
Crops—What are the markets telling us?
Livestock — Excitement and uncertainty?
Policy — Should I sign up for ARC or PLC?
Finance – Managing cost of production through a time of “minimizing losses”.

The meetings go from 9:00 a.m. to noon at all the locations except Curtis which goes from 5:00 pm. to 8:00 p.m. No cost for registration, however it’s important to contact the host educators so that adequate materials can be on hand. Complete details and registration information can be found at: http://york.unl.edu/crops-future. Then click on the Outlook link. I hope you’ll have a chance to attend one of these meetings.

Midwest Corn Bean Expo

Dave Dickerson wanted me to remind area producers about the Midwest Corn Bean Expo planned for November 19th and 20th in Lincoln at the Lancaster Event Center. The Expo runs from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. each of the two days and has educational presentations for 9:00 a.m., 1:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m. each day. Topics and more information can be found at: http://www.midwestcornbeanexpo.com/.

Dave has asked me to make a presentation on a summary of twelve years of on-farm research results. It’s been kind of interesting looking back of the results we’ve found.

York County Corn Growers Annual Banquet

The York County Corn Growers Annual Banquet is planned for Friday November 21st at Chances R Restaurant, I want to remind those involved in corn production that the annual York County Corn Grower Banquet is planned for Friday November 21st at here in York. Tickets are available for $10.00 from any of the York County Corn Growers Board of Directors as well as at our office. Social at 6:30 p.m., meal at 7:00 p.m.

They have a great program planned, with an excellent LEAD trip presentation, updates from both the Corn Growers and Corn board and I’m working on a short presentation related to the history of irrigation in York County. It should be a fun evening, so if you’re interested, get those ticket purchased by November 19th!

Farm Bill Education Meetings

As I mentioned last week, we are hosting one of several Farm Bill Education Meetings planned. Our meeting will be December 9th from 1:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Cornerstone Ag Event Center here in York. The University of Nebraska Lincoln Extension and the Farm Service Agency (FSA), are teaming up to provide educational meetings about the 2014 Farm Bill.
All farm operators and land owners are invited to attend. FSA will inform participants about the sign-up process for the Farm Bill including the documentation needed and the deadlines for sign-up. UNL Extension will provide information about the decisions that will need to be made for base acre reallocation, yield updates, and for the Agricultural Risk Coverage (ARC) vs. Price Loss Coverage (PLC) program selection.

It should be helpful to attend one of the meetings to get insight on the options everyone has with the 2014 Farm Bill. Farm Operators and Land Owners will have three main steps to signing up. One is to review their current base acre allocations which is occurring at this time. Secondly, a decision about re-allocation of base acres will need to be made. Finally, the program selection will involve the ARC or PLC program. ARC is the revenue safety net program similar to the recent ACRE program and PLC is the price safety net program. With ARC, the options will be an Individual ARC coverage vs. a County ARC coverage. With PLC, the available Supplemental Coverage Option (SCO) will be discussed. Decisions made for this Farm Bill sometime in 2015 will be final for the duration of the Bill.

If you cannot make the Dec. 9th informational meeting, others planned in our area include:
Nov. 21 – Saline county — (Saline Center) – 9:00 a.m.
Nov. 25 – Hamilton county – Leadership Center (Aurora) – 9:00 a.m.
Nov. 25 — Hall county – Central Community College (Grand Island) –1:30 p.m.
Dec. 3 — Seward county — Fairgrounds (Seward) – 9:00 a.m.
Dec. 8 – Hamilton county – Leadership Center (Aurora) – 1:30 p.m.
Dec. 16 – Fillmore County Fairgrounds (Geneva) – 9:00 a.m.
Dec. 16 – Clay County Fairgrounds (Clay Center) – 1:30 p.m.
Dec. 19 – Polk county Fairgrounds (Osceola) – 1:00 p.m.

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Connecting with Extension to Enhance the Land Grant Mission

Connecting Extension and Research the Land Grant Mission.

Next Generation Extension

I had the opportunity to provide a seminar to the UNL Agronomy and Horticulture Agronomy seminar picDepartment last week which was truly an honor.  As I thought about what to present, I kept thinking about the future of Extension and two major challenges I see Extension facing in the next 100 years…actually now.

Challenge of losing our research base.

Challenge of sharing our unbiased, research-based information in the places where customers are receiving information.

I continue to think about Extension’s Mission:  We provide unbiased, research-based information to the people to ultimately improve their lives.  

My thoughts kept centering around the fact that in order for me to achieve Extension’s Mission, I need to be more connected with the people on campus and research stations.  I need to know about their research to share with our customers.  For us to be the best Land Grant University System we can be in…

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SCN Sampling – Part Science & Part Art

SCN Sampling is Part Science, Part Art
This week John Wilson and Loren Giesler answered a question about how to best sample for Soybean Cyst Nematodes, so I thought I’d share it:

“There is both a science and an art to collecting good soil samples.

The Science of Sampling
1348_61soycystnemThe science part is pretty easy:
• Use a clean probe and bucket to avoid contaminating samples, which could lead to a false positives.
• Sample an area no larger than 40 acres per sample (less is better).
• Take a minimum of 20 to 25 soil cores from randomly selected areas.
• If the field has standing soybean stubble, take your sample just a couple inches to the side of the old soybean row and go 6 to 8 inches deep. (This way you’ll be probing through the old root system and are more likely to detect SCN if it is there.)
• If you are sampling in a field that wasn’t in soybeans this year but will be going to soybeans in 2015, randomly collect samples from across the area to be tested. (If you find SCN, this information will be important when you order seed. When selecting an SCN-resistant variety, remember to also evaluate other traits you want, including emergence, lodging or chlorosis ratings and resistance to other diseases, etc.)
• Thoroughly mix the cores you collected and submit the soil sample in bags available at your local UNL Extension office for a free SCN analysis. The cost of the analysis (normally $25 per sample) is being covered by the Nebraska Soybean Board.
• Submit your sample to the UNL Plant and Pest Diagnostic Clinic at the address listed on the bag. These samples do not require any special handling (such as being refrigerated, frozen, etc.) until they are delivered to the lab.”

The Art of Sampling
“When selecting which areas within a field to sample, remember: Anything that will move soil will also move SCN, including wind, water, wildlife, humans, and equipment. Think about the areas in your field where soil may have been moved because these are areas where SCN is likely to have first become established. Take several cores in each of these areas. These areas include:

• Along a stream that periodically floods. An upstream field may have had SCN that washed down to your field.
• Low areas where water drains after a heavy rain. Light infestations throughout the field may be concentrated in these low areas where water stands.
• Along fence lines. In the past when fall tillage was more common, fences would act like a trap for the blowing soil and SCN.
• By field entryways or driveways. This is the most likely place for soil from another SCN-infested field to travel in on equipment and be brushed off.

There are two other major areas that I encourage farmers to sample:
• Areas with a higher incidence of sudden death syndrome (SDS) or brown stem rot (BSR). You can have either SDS or BSR without having SCN or you can have SCN without having either of these diseases. However, if you have SCN in a field or even part of a field, you are more likely to have SDS or BSR in the affected area.
• Areas where soybean yields are less than expected and there is no difference in soil type or incidence of soil compaction, herbicide injury, weed, insect or disease pressure, or other explanation for lower yields. This can be a whole field, but more commonly is an area in the field.
In either of these situations, take a sample where a problem is suspected and one close by but outside this area. This can help you confirm or eliminate SCN as the cause in the suspect area.”

Just a reminder, I do have several sample bags available and will be glad to get the sample to Lincoln if you bring them back to me. The first step to controlling this pest is know if you have them or not!

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