September 29, 2016

Have a Safety First Attitude This Harvest Season!

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The harvest season is upon us. Temperatures are dropping, spider webs are flying and farmers across the state are busy harvesting this year’s crop. This is a hectic time of year and farmers have a huge amount of work to do, within a very short window of time. As farmers work diligently during the busy harvest season, Nebraska Corn is encouraging them to have a safety first attitude and take the extra second for safety.

Last week we recognized National Farm Safety Week—but Nebraska Corn emphasizes that farm safety is a priority that should be recognized every day.  Agriculture remains one of the more dangerous occupations in North America, and this is especially true during the busy harvest season. The urgency to get the crop out of the field in a timely manner, can lead to more accidents during harvest than at any other time during the year. 

“There are a lot of moving parts during harvest. We are all working long hours under the stress of weather delays and equipment breakdowns—and that can lead to fatigue,” said Dave Merrell, farmer from St. Edward, Nebraska and chairman of the Nebraska Corn Board. “That is why it’s a good reminder to be proactive and take the extra second to exercise caution, get plenty of rest and make safety-first decisions to keep things safe on the farm for everyone.”

This reminder isn’t just for farmers alone, added Merrell.  He also cautioned motorists driving on rural roads to use extra caution during harvest. These roads see additional traffic during harvest, which increases the chances for accidents to occur between slower moving farm equipment and vehicles moving at faster speeds. Rural intersections will have heavier-than-normal travel and dusty conditions may limit visibility, as can sun glare in the morning and evening. Standing crops in the field may also block a clear view of oncoming traffic.

Nebraska Corn encourages farmers to pay special attention to the safety features of their equipment, and encourages everyone to keep an eye toward safety on the highways and byways this harvest and year round.

“Harvest and fall field work is truly a thrill for Nebraska farmers, but it’s important that we stay focused and take care of ourselves during this fast-paced time of year,” said Larry Mussack, farmer from Decatur, Nebraska and president of the Nebraska Corn Growers Association. “During long stretches of work, it’s important that you take short breaks, get enough sleep and eat healthy. This will keep things safe around the farm for everyone, including family members and employees helping to harvest the crop.”


Some things to consider for farmers and farm workers while on the farm this fall:


  • Stay alert. Take breaks to help avoid fatigue — get out of the cab and walk around every few hours. Keep your cell phone charged so you can communicate as needed with family members and employees.
  • Use extra caution around PTO’s. Check that PTOs are well protected to avoid contact with clothing or people during operation. And never step over a rotating PTO—a few extra steps to walk around the tractor are worth the effort.
  • Shut down before working on a machine. If the combine becomes clogged, shut off the motor, not just the header, before attempting to unplug it by hand.
  • Be aware of your surroundings. Know where your co-workers and family members are at all times and always be aware of power lines that you can come in contact with while moving equipment and augers around grain bins. Visibility can be especially poor around large machinery and at night.
  • Grain Bin/Handling Safety. Grain bins deserve special attention and caution when grain is being loaded and removed. Never stand on grain that is being or has been moved. Safety measures should be put in place to avoid any risk of entrapment and suffocation.
  • Move Machinery Safely. Make sure your Slow Moving Vehicle emblems are in good condition and properly mounted. If you must move machinery on a roadway after dark, have all necessary working headlights and flashing front and rear warning lights. The better you can be seen the less likely you are to be hit by motorists.
  • Develop Safety Rules. Have a set of safety rules for everyone to follow – and enforce them. Protective eye and ear wear is important in many situations. It is also important to equip tractors and combines with a fire extinguisher, as dry crop residue is fuel for a fire. Finally, ensure that trained family members and employees are operating powerful equipment—if kids want to be involved, give them age appropriate jobs.

September 27, 2016

Shelby Field Day Features Soil Health

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On September 7, the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA), in conjunction with the Nebraska Corn Board (NCB) and the Nebraska Corn Growers Association (NeCGA), hosted a field day in Shelby, Nebraska, highlighting the Soil Health Partnership. Farmers, land owners and community members had an opportunity to engage in hands-on learning and group discussions around the topic of soil health.

The field day took place at two locations. During the morning, attendees gathered at Central Valley Ag in Shelby for group discussions. Here, staff with the Soil Health Partnership showcased how changing nutrient management and tillage strategies, along with cover crop adoption, can create lasting environmental and economic benefits. The afternoon was spent on Greg Whitmore’s farm where attendees had the opportunity to take part in hands-on field demonstrations, including a soil pit for participants to observe cover crop root growth and soil properties. Whitmore, a farmer from Shelby Nebraska and vice chair of Nebraska Corn’s research and stewardship committee, has been involved in the partnership for three years.

“The Soil Health Partnership has been a great program to help bring awareness to the importance and benefits of soil health,” said Whitmore. “As a farmer, I have a strong interest in not only achieving good yields, but also in sustaining the productivity of my land for future generations. This program has taught me that improving the health of my soil can help with both of these objectives.”

The soil health field day covered a variety of topics, including a discussion on practical methods to improving soil health and what a soil health test really tells you. Cover crops were also discussed—digging into why they are important, the variety of cover crops that can be used and how cover crops improve the health of the soil. As more farmers seek innovative practices to change the way they care for their land, the Soil Health Partnership aims to bring farmers and experts together to share information and resources on these topics on a local level.

 “Implementing practices to improve soil health can have numerous benefits including preventing nutrient loss and erosion, and improving soil structure,” said Boone McAfee, director of research at NCB. “Farmers are our best ambassadors for sharing these soil health practices and encouraging adoption among their peers.”

Nebraska Corn is encouraging farmers to consider becoming involved in the Soil Health Partnership. If you are interested in learning how to use innovative soil management strategies and would like to become one of the Soil Health Partnership’s demonstration farms, contact the Nebraska Corn Board office.

About the Soil Health Partnership 
The Soil Health Partnership brings together diverse partner organizations including commodity groups, federal agencies, universities and environmental groups to work toward the common goal of improving soil health. Over a period of at least 10 years, the SHP will identify, test and measure farm management practices that improve soil health and benefit farmers. We believe the results of this farmer-led project will provide a platform for sharing peer-to-peer information, and lend resources to benefit agricultural sustainability and profitability. An initiative of the National Corn Growers Association, we provide the spark for greater understanding and implementation of agricultural best practices to protect resources for future generations. For more, visit soilhealthpartnership.org.

September 26, 2016

Nebraska corn rated 74% good or better

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Photo courtesy of Imperial FFA Chapter
For the week ending September 18, 2016, temperatures averaged near normal in the east and two degrees below normal across western Nebraska, according to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. Minimal precipitation fell across western areas, while rainfall was widespread over eastern Nebraska. Parts of the northeast received five inches or more of rain. Dry bean combining was underway in western counties. Seed corn and silage harvests continued. There were 5.1 days suitable for fieldwork. Topsoil moisture supplies rated 7 percent very short, 23 short, 65 adequate, and 5 surplus. Subsoil moisture supplies rated 7 percent very short, 26 short, 64 adequate, and 3 surplus.

Field Crops Report: Corn condition rated 1 percent very poor, 5 poor, 20 fair, 57 good, and 17 excellent. Corn dented was 95 percent, near 91 last year, and equal to the five-year average. Mature was 45 percent, near 41 both last year and average. Harvested was 2 percent, near 4 last year, and behind 7 average.

Data for this news release were provided at the county level by USDA Farm Service Agency and UNL Extension Service. 

Access the National publication for Crop Progress and Condition tables HERE

Access the High Plains Region Climate Center for Temperature and Precipitation Maps HERE

Access the U.S. Drought Monitor HERE

September 20, 2016

Nebraska corn 95% dented, 45% mature.

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Photo Courtesy of David City FFA
For the week ending September 18, 2016, temperatures averaged near normal in the east and two degrees below normal across western Nebraska, according to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. Minimal precipitation fell across western areas, while rainfall was widespread over eastern Nebraska. Parts of the northeast received five inches or more of rain. Seed corn and silage harvests continued. The first fields of soybeans were being taken and winter wheat seeding was active in the west. There were 5.1 days suitable for fieldwork. Topsoil moisture supplies rated 7 percent very short, 23 short, 65 adequate, and 5 surplus. Subsoil moisture supplies rated 7 percent very short, 26 short, 64 adequate, and 3 surplus.

Field Crops Report: Corn condition rated 1 percent very poor, 5 poor, 20 fair, 57 good, and 17 excellent. Corn dented was 95 percent, near 91 last year, and equal to the five-year average. Mature was 45 percent, near 41 both last year and average. Harvested was 2 percent, near 4 last year, and behind 7 average.


Data for this news release were provided at the county level by USDA Farm Service Agency and UNL Extension Service. 

Access the National publication for Crop Progress and Condition tables HERE

Access the High Plains Region Climate Center for Temperature and Precipitation Maps HERE

Access the U.S. Drought Monitor HERE

September 16, 2016

Support For Atrazine Crops Up At Husker Harvest Days

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Husker Harvest Days goers and elected officials alike showed their support for atrazine during the 2016 Husker Harvest Days show. Visitors to Nebraska Corn's booth in the agriculture commodities building were invited to fight back against the Environmental Protection Agency's recent proposal to drastically limit the amount of atrazine farmers can apply to their fields. Nearly 1,000 signatures were collected on Fight EPA petitions, showing support for Nebraska farmers.

Fight EPA postcards also hit farm mailboxes across the state earlier this month. Please join the fight. Make your voice heard by returning one of these cards to Nebraska Corn, or sign the online petition at www.fightepa.com.


Photo Caption: Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts signed a Fight EPA petition while visiting the Nebraska Corn booth on September 14th at Husker Harvest Days.

Trends to watch in agriculture

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"There are always opportunities.


Yet, those opportunities are always followed by hardships," Tom Field, Ph.D., Director of the Engler Engler Agribusiness Entrepreneurship Program at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln said at the recent Red Angus Association of America Annual Convention.

He went on to explain that the current times in agriculture that we are facing are topsy-turvy, wild times and the rule book is out the window. There are, however, trends to watch for that can help producers manage their risk and operations during the current, volatile markets.

Volatility is not going to go away.


Opportunities are part of the game, but it doesn’t mean you can’t thrive. Volatility and the current market is a challenge. Yet, one size does not fit all and big doesn’t always mean best. It’s a fast economy – we need to learn to deal with it.

Big data.


With all of the data being gathered within the technology in agriculture, we have a challenge: turning data into information. Doing everything through the cloud – this is the reality of the next generation of business owners. Virtual space is not going away. The next generation also includes more women: one-third of farm ownership is held by women.

“The world isn’t mad at us (agriculture),” Field said. “It resonates with people who we think don’t believe in us.”


Technology in agriculture.


The future: unmanned vehicles. We are already seeing technology that talks to each other and fitbit-type technology for animal welfare.

Search for new markets.


India and China is the increasing middle class – we have an opportunity in the protein business to reach the world demanding protein. 93-96% of consumers in the world include meat in their diet.

This trend is a huge opportunity for food production and entrepreneurs.

New space where people need high-touch.


Relationships that are face-to-face is still important in our high-tech economy. Those in the food business have an opportunity because there is not much higher touch than food. This involves the head and the heart – an emotional economy. Science still matters but perception, emotion and feelings matter more. Food decisions are emotional as they are logical. Customers make choices based on a lot of information and are loyal to brands they enjoy – this is emotional.


Consumers want simple.


Our consumers want a simple outcome. You are responsible for the customer understanding/utilizing the products. If the customer has problems in usage, blame yourself.


With farm businesses – take time to sit down with your family and/or employees and ask yourselves your goals and what it would take to be the best company in the world. We need to brand ourselves – who do you inspire to be? Who do you listen to? Are we asking the right questions?

September 13, 2016

Corn Harvest Underway with 1% Harvested

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Photo Courtesy of David City FFA
For the week ending September 11, 2016, temperatures averaged two to four degrees below normal across western Nebraska, but two to four degrees above normal in the east, according to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. Precipitation of an inch was common across north central areas, portions of the east, and central Nebraska. Southwestern areas and much of the Panhandle remained dry. Cutting Silage was active and the first fields of high moisture corn were being harvested for feedlot use. There were 5.4 days suitable for fieldwork. Topsoil moisture supplies rated 8 percent very short, 27 short, 61 adequate, and 4 surplus. Subsoil moisture supplies rated 7 percent very short, 28 short, 63 adequate, and 2 surplus.

Field Crops Report: Corn condition rated 1 percent very poor, 5 poor, 20 fair, 57 good, and 17 excellent. Corn dented was 89 percent, ahead of 83 last year, and near the five-year average of 87. Mature was 28 percent, ahead of 23 last year, and near 25 average. Harvested was 1 percent, equal to last year, and near 4 average. 
Photo courtesy of David City FFA


Data for this news release were provided at the county level by USDA Farm Service Agency and UNL Extension Service. 

Access the National publication for Crop Progress and Condition tables HERE

Access the High Plains Region Climate Center for Temperature and Precipitation Maps HERE

Access the U.S. Drought Monitor HERE

September 9, 2016

My Summer with USMEF

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By Kelsey Scheer, USMEF summer intern


Enjoyed an evening visiting with
Janel Domurat at her humble abode in the mountains.
Well, I have been back in Nebraska for about a month now, and my summer in Denver is getting farther and farther behind me. Many times I have been asked how my summer was, and I have nothing but positive things to say about my amazing experience in Denver with the U. S. Meat Export Federation. I appreciate the opportunity that was given to me by the Nebraska Corn Board and USMEF. I enjoyed this experience and know that I learned way more than I ever thought I would.

My last month went by extremely fast!!

I spent the majority of my last month finishing up work with the Technical Services Department. We continued our work to update the Slaughter and Processing Plant information. I received emails back with the information for each plant, gathered all of the data from the emails, and imputed it to an excel spread sheet that I had created.

The men of USMEF actually do work. Just kidding.
They do a lot of work at the office and take out the trash on moving day!
Some of my time was spent finalizing all of the information on the Corn Project handout that I had been working on all summer. Last week I received the final handout, and I have passed it on to John Hinners, Jessica Struetzel, and Erin Borror, the USMEF employees that have helped me out with the project since the beginning. Once the project has been finalized, handouts for the remaining top ten states will be created and distributed to the respectable states.

My last week and a half at USMEF was spent helping them to move offices. Like I mentioned in my last blog post, the company had to move offices because of the extremely high rent that was being charged at their downtown location. To prepare for the move, we had to get several boxes ready to go to a storage facility. We also packed up the offices, kitchen, and all of the office supplies. On my last day I helped to make sure that the furniture and boxes made it to the correct offices at the new office building.

Greg Hanes (left) and John Hinners (right) looked out over the
 Colorado State Capital Building from the view of their offices. 
Overall, my summer with USMEF was a complete learning experience. I now have a wider view of agriculture, past that of just production. I better understand exports, from learning who our top export countries are and what percentage of our production is being exported - and how much it takes to get our products around the world to those consumers who desire them. I also understand how valuable these exports are, not just to the livestock producer, but also to other commodity producers. It was enlightening to experience firsthand all of the work that the USMEF staff put into promoting exports as well as the teamwork between them and leaders of corn, soybeans, and other farm organizations. I had several opportunities to network with international USMEF employees, USMEF members, and NCBA (National Cattlemen’s Beef Association) members.

I want to thank the Nebraska Corn Board and the United States Meat Export Federation for giving me this wonderful experience!
A weekend before I came back to Nebraska, I enjoyed hiking and biking
in the mountains with some family friends from back home.
 

September 8, 2016

Atrazine an Important Tool for Conservation Farming

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In a case of supreme irony, a recent report from Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is highly critical of atrazine, an herbicide that helps reduce soil erosion and runoff, keeping our soil healthy and our water clean.

EPA released its draft ecological risk assessment for atrazine in June 2016, as part of the re-registration process for the herbicide. If the recommendation in the assessment stands, it will effectively ban atrazine, which plays an important role in conservation cropping systems that reduce soil erosion.

Tillage, or turning up the soil, is an effective means to control weeds, but it disturbs the top layer of the soil, leading to a loss of as much as 90 percent of the crop residue from the top soil. The practice damages soil and leaves it exposed to erosion, particularly by wind and water. Soil erosion leads to more runoff of fertilizer and pesticides.

The introduction of atrazine and other herbicides significantly changed conservation tillage practices, said Bob Hartzler, professor of weed science at Iowa State University.

"Atrazine was one of the first products used on a large acreage because it is broad spectrum and has a wide margin of safety. Prior to that tillage was the primary means of weed control. Atrazine makes it possible to reduce trips across the field," said Hartzler. "The extra two or three trips farmers were making across the field to control weeds loosened the soil and made it prone to erosion."

Farmers have made significant progress adopting reduced tillage and no-till methods of growing a crop, and atrazine plays a key role in making these more sustainable practices possible, Hartzler said. 

"Atrazine isn't the only tool used today, but it has a unique chemistry that makes other chemicals work better. That synergy is documented, and the benefit is it allows farmers to manage weeds effectively, especially problem weeds, and it allows reduced use of these other chemicals," Hartzler said.

Atrazine is one of the best tools on the market today for combatting resistant weeds that waste water and nutrients. It has also been shown to improve wildlife habitats.

NCGA President Chip Bowling called on EPA to consider the whole picture when evaluating the environmental impacts of atrazine and other crop inputs.

"The EPA's mission is to protect the environment. Atrazine plays an important role in sustainable agriculture, and banning it will hurt the environment, not help it," said Bowling.

"Farmers care deeply about keeping America's land and water safe for our families, our neighbors and our communities. The safe, responsible use of herbicides such as atrazine are an important part of modern, sustainable farming. Farmers need access to tools that ensure a safe, abundant, and affordable supply of food and fuel for consumers around the world," said Bowling.

Nebraska Corn urges farmers to voice their concerns about EPA's atrazine proposal at fightepa.org. The deadline to submit comments is October 4.

September 7, 2016

Nebraska Corn 76% dented

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Photo Courtesy of Chase County FFA
For the week ending September 4, 2016, temperatures averaged two degrees below normal across the south and two degrees above normal in northern areas, according to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. Precipitation of an inch was common across the southeast, with heavier amounts recorded in some southern counties. Central Nebraska remained mostly dry. Irrigation was winding down with soybeans being the main focus. Silage cutting was underway and the first fields of seed corn were being harvested. There were 5.8 days suitable for fieldwork. Topsoil moisture supplies rated 9 percent very short, 29 short, 59 adequate, and 3 surplus. Subsoil moisture supplies rated 8 percent very short, 30 short, 60 adequate, and 2 surplus. 

Field Crops Report: Corn condition rated 1 percent very poor, 5 poor, 20 fair, 58 good, and 16 excellent. Corn dented was 76 percent, ahead of 70 last year, and near the five-year average of 73. Mature was 8 percent, near 9 last year, and behind 13 average.


Data for this news release were provided at the county level by USDA Farm Service Agency and UNL Extension Service. 

Access the National publication for Crop Progress and Condition tables HERE

Access the High Plains Region Climate Center for Temperature and Precipitation Maps HERE 

Access the U.S. Drought Monitor HERE