April 24, 2017

Corn planted above average at 17%

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Photo Courtesy of Imperial FFA Chapter
For the week ending April 23, 2017, temperatures averaged two to four degrees above normal, according to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. Significant rainfall was limited to a few north central counties and some eastern areas. Corn planting was underway in most areas and the first fields of soybeans were planted. There were 4.9 days suitable for fieldwork. Topsoil moisture supplies rated 6 percent very short, 21 short, 69 adequate, and 4 surplus. Subsoil moisture supplies rated 7 percent very short, 24 short, 67 adequate, and 2 surplus.

Field Crops Report: Corn planted was 17 percent, near 15 last year, and ahead of 11 for the five-year average. Emerged was 2 percent, near 1 last year and average.

April 20, 2017

How Radishes Improve Soil Quality

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How Radishes Improve Soil Quality

Greg Whitmore of Shelby is enrolled in the Soil Health Partnership, a national data-driven initiative that encourages farmers to incorporate strategies to improve soil health on their land. These strategies include growing cover crops, practicing conservation tillage and advanced nutrient management. Cover crops such as radishes, turnips, rye and other species are not only helping Whitmore improve the overall quality of soil on his land. Cover crops are also helping him keep the soil he has.

 “I got tired of seeing that soil blow away in the spring or wash away down the hill during a hard rain,” he said. “Cover crops have helped stabilize the soil and improve its overall quality. We’re already seeing significant return in terms of productivity and reduced input costs.”

 “The cover crops also suppress weed growth, so I’m saving money on herbicide and reducing impact on the environment by reducing chemical use,” Whitmore added.

Typically, Whitmore plants the cover crops immediately after harvesting his primary cash crop. The cover crops grow in the months after harvest, keeping the soil “active” long after the primary crop is taken out of the field. When the cover crops eventually die off in the winter or are killed prior to spring planting, they add organic matter to the soil as they decay.

Importantly, the cover crops also help the soil retain moisture and withstand erosion during winter winds and early spring rains. As the roots burrow into the soil, they create “channels” for better water infiltration, nutrient dispersion and soil stability.

Radishes and turnips have deep tap roots which capture nutrients that may lie beyond the reach of the primary crop such as corn or soybeans. By absorbing those nutrients, the cover crop brings those nutrients closer to the surface, where they become available once the cover crops die off.
Greg Whitmore

“I see the use of cover crops as a key sustainability strategy for my farm,” Whitmore said. “I reduce erosion, reduce weed pressure, improve the soil’s nutrient value and enhance soil moisture. It’s a systems approach to soil health that isn’t just about cover crops, but requires holistic management of fertility, water, nutrients, tillage and other practices.”

April 18, 2017

Is soil "alive"? What's the difference between soil and dirt?

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Is soil "alive"?

"There are living components in soil such as microorganisms, bacteria, fungi, insects, worms and even mammals," said Neil Dominy, Nebraska State Soil Scientist. "The inert material-the minerals-are not alive. But everything around that inert material and within that system is living."

What's the difference between soil and dirt?


Neil Dominy
First of all, there is a difference. And according to Neil Dominy, the answer is pretty simple. "Soil is in place, dirt isn't. Soil has integrity and has structure, living organisms, and has been in place over time."

Dirt, on the other hand, is mobile. "Dirt is what's on the road, the bottom of your shoes or in the air. It's out of place," Dominy said.

A Unique Partnership Focused on Improving Soil Health

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The Soil Health Partnership is a farmer-led initiative focused on identifying, testing and measuring management practices to improve soil health and enhance sustainable agricultural production.

Many farmers across the country are implementing innovative management practices that result in economic and environmental benefits. The Soil Health Partnership builds upon the work of these farmers to provide connections between on-farm practices and improving soil health.

The following organizations provide funding and/or technical support for the partnership:ƒ
  • Monsanto
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture (Natural Resources Conservation Service)
  • Midwest Row Crops Collaborative
  • Walton Family Foundation
  • The Nature Conservancy
  • Environmental Defense Fund

“We have assembled a diverse group of excellent partners in this program,” said Dr. Nick Goeser, executive director of the Soil Health Partnership. “They each bring a unique perspective to the program that challenges us to think about working with farmers and agronomists in new ways. Their input and engagement continues to be invaluable in our efforts to tackle difficult issues and develop effective solutions and strategies.” 


Discover more at: soilhealthpartnership.org

March 30, 2017

Soil - Where the Food Chain Begins

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Nebraska farmers have known for decades that soil quality is the very foundation of sustainable crop production. We simply cannot produce the food we need on the scale we need without soil. Soil is the growing medium for much of the world’s food. Protecting, preserving and nurturing soils is critical to our ability to produce a reliable, sustainable food supply.

The food chain begins with soil

 What makes a soil "healthy?"

Nick Goeser, Executive Director of the Soil Health PartnershipSoil health is defined as the continued capacity of a soil to function as a vital living ecosystem that
sustains plants, animals and humans. According to Dr. Nick Goeser, executive director of the Soil Health Partnership, there are three major components that determine the quality or “health” of a soil:

Physical: The ability of the soil to hold water; the overall stability of the aggregate; the physical nature of the soil in terms of its texture, structure and compaction.

Biological: The presence of beneficial bacteria and fungi; organic matter such as roots and decaying vegetation; living organisms such as worms and insects.

Chemical: Levels of fertility including nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium and micronutrients; soil pH; and the soil’s cation exchange capacity, a measure of the “electrical” environment within soil that determines its ability to retain water and nutrients.

 About 45% of a healthy soil is actually porous space made up of air or water. That’s the space where plant root systems can grow and where beneficial microbes can thrive.

“The key to soil health is to strike the right balance between all of these components,” Goeser said. “There is no one solution that works for all fields since soil types and characteristics vary greatly–even within the same field. But helping farmers better understand what impacts soil health and how they can better manage their soils is a huge step in terms of sustainability of this precious resource.”




In the photo: Standing in a soil pit near Shelby, Neb., Dr. Nick Goeser of the Soil Health Partnership speaks to a group of farmers about ways to improve soil quality.

For more information on soil and soil health, visit the Nebraska Corn Board's Winter 2017 issue of CornsTalk

March 7, 2017

Commodity Classic 2017

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With my internship at the Nebraska Corn Board, I had the amazing opportunity to attend the 2017 Commodity Classic in San Antonio, Texas. As I have had this trip planned for the past several months, I was looking forward to not only the convention itself, but also to escape the cold Nebraska winter. Although the weather wasn't much of a change from the unusually warm winter we've had here, I still had a great time at Commodity Classic, a time that I will never forget.

Commodity Classic is an annual event that is held in different parts of the United States where farmers and agricultural leaders meet to discuss current and rising policy, technology, communication, education and business within the industry. This years Commodity Classic was held in San Antonio, Texas from March 2-4. Through this blog you will gain an overview of my time while at the classic.

DAY 1

Waking up at 2 a.m. isn't something that I particularly enjoy, however I had no difficulty getting out of bed when my alarm went off early Wednesday morning as I knew I was about to embark on a trip that I would never forget. I departed Lincoln at around 3 in the morning for the Omaha airport and after a
The view outside of my hotel room (Tower of the Americas)
connecting flight through Chicago, I arrived in San Antonio around noon on Wednesday.

After my arrival in San Antonio, I was off to a meeting right away. The first session of the afternoon was the Nebraska Caucus. Nebraska brought 11 delegates to Commodity Classic which were individuals who weighed in and voted on policy revisions during Corn Congress. The Nebraska caucus session was a briefing for all Nebraska delegates and staff to collaborate ideas and viewpoints of policy topics which would be covered during Corn Congress.

After the Nebraska Caucus, I attended the welcome reception in the evening. Here, I visited with other attendees of the 2017 Commodity Classic, as well as enjoyed some tasty Texas hors d'oeuvres. Needless to say, I was ready for bed after a LONG Wednesday.

DAY 2

Corn Congress went into session on Thursday morning. Corn congress is an event where delegates from different corn growing states discuss and debate certain policy issues within the corn industry. It was a very informative and interesting session for me, as I was unaware of several current policy issues within the agriculture field.

After corn congress, I attended the national communicator's meeting. There, we heard from CEO of Growth Energy, Emily Skor. Ms. Skor spoke about the common misconceptions of ethanol and how we as communicators can address those misconceptions and promote ethanol. After hearing from her, all of the corn communication directors from across the nation spoke about different issues and topics within their state that they are currently addressing. Working as the market development and communications intern with the corn board, this meeting was very beneficial as it broadened my knowledge as to what I can do to better our communications of corn and corn-based products within Nebraska.
Corn Congress

After the communicators meeting, I attended the EducationProjects.com reception. EducationProjects.com is a company that encourages the application of agriculture into the high school classroom. They provide curriculum and train science teachers on how to incorporate agriculture into their lessons. This reception was one of my favorite parts of classic, mainly due to the fact that I am an ag education major and will soon be pursuing a teaching career within the agriculture field.

After the education reception, I wrapped up the evening by enjoying food and conversation with all of the Nebraska Corn representatives attending Commodity Classic at the Hard Rock Cafe on the River Walk.

DAY 3


Trade Show
To start off my Friday, I attended the "general session". At this session, I heard from several ag industry leaders and their viewpoints of the current ag economy. Many of them had a strong hope that our economy would improve in the near future, which was very comforting. Also at the general session, John O'Leary, a motivational speaker, visited with us about how we must keep a positive attitude about the industry's current events and economy, even though it has been hard to do.

Following the general session, I made my way to the enormous trade show and helped work the National Corn Grower's Association booth where I visited with several growers and businessmen from around the country.

DAY 4

Since I didn't get the chance to explore the trade show much on Friday, I took Saturday morning to walk around and visit with company professionals a bit more. The trade show was comprised of several hundred agribusiness decision makers and also showcases state of the art products and services within agriculture. After I completed all of my stops at the trade show, I attended the second and
final session of corn congress in the afternoon.

Evening fun with Nebraska Soybean staff
DAY 5

When Sunday came, I still felt as if I had just arrived in San Antonio, however it was time to head back home. We flew out of the San Antonio airport at about 8 a.m. and after a connecting flight through Dallas, arrived back in Omaha a little before noon.

Although my stay in Texas seemed to fly by, I had an absolutely phenomenal time. I made connections with professionals that I never would have otherwise, broadened my agricultural knowledge, and made memories with friends and colleagues that I will never forget. I want to thank the Nebraska Corn Board for providing me with this amazing opportunity, and also want to thank everyone who made this adventure so much fun!

River Walk view while walking to supper

February 27, 2017

Without Corn: No Bedding!

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In a World Without Corn...
Corn and products made from corn improve the lives of Americans in thousands of little ways. Often, consumers don't even know corn is present, let alone know the role it plays. But if corn and its products weren't available, many common products would be less useful, more expensive, even unavailable. Here is an example of a little annoyance and bigger problem Americans would face without corn:

Americans are Sleeping with Corn
A whole new family of corn products, marketed under the Ingeo trademark, includes pillows and comforters stuffed with 100% corn fill and blankets woven from the Ingeo fiber. Ingeo products are environmentally friendly because they take less energy to produce than many synthetics and they can be composted back into natural components.

February 22, 2017

Without Corn: No Coloring!

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In a World Without Corn...
Corn and products made from corn improve the lives of Americans in thousands of little ways. Often, consumers don't even know corn is present, let alone know the role it plays. But if corn and its products weren't available, many common products would be less useful, more expensive, even unavailable. Here is an example of a little annoyance and bigger problem Americans would face without corn:

No Coloring!
Whether playing with chalk on the sidewalk or crayons in school, children rely on corn. Corn starch is used as a binder to help such products hold together better when in use. It may also be used to dust molds during the manufacturing process so that brand-new crayons pop out undamaged.

National FFA Week: February 18-25, 2017

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FFA Members from Norris High School

National FFA Week kicked off February 18 and runs through February 25. Nearly 650,000 students in grades seven through 12 are members of the FFA organization. In Nebraska, there are over 7,400 student members from 175 chapters across the state.
State FFA Convention - Lincoln, Nebraska
The Nebraska Corn Board remains committed to providing the state’s FFA members with support to help further fuel their interest in agricultural education. Each year, the Board invests in the Nebraska State FFA Convention, sponsors proficiency awards and provides transportation for the state officer team as they visit high schools across the state.
“It’s a privilege to partner with Nebraska FFA,” said Kelly Brunkhorst, executive director of the Nebraska Corn Board. “It’s reassuring to know agriculture is in good hands with this talented group of individuals.”
Several activities are planned throughout the country to celebrate National FFA Week, including National Wear Blue Day on Friday, February 24. During this day, anyone can show off their FFA pride by wearing blue. For more information on FFA and National FFA week, click here.

Ag Manufacturing Big Business for Nebraska

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Growing Nebraska’s economic base through agriculture is not solely about growing crops or raising livestock. Nebraska has a manufacturing sector that is closely tied to agriculture – and that creates thousands of jobs and billions of dollars in economic activity.

Nebraska is the second largest ethanol producer in the nation. But that industry would not have grown here if not for the state’s ability to produce corn and cattle.

Nebraska is typically first or second in the nation in terms of cattle on feed and beef processing. The state is second in ethanol production and third in corn production.

“That’s not an accident,” said Ken Lemke, an economist with the Nebraska Public Power District. “It all comes together because there is a symbiotic relationship between those three sectors – and Nebraska is blessed to have a robust presence in all three.”

Nebraska’s ethanol plants have created more than 1,300 full-time jobs, with thousands more jobs created in related sectors. “The ethanol industry has been very positive, but it has also created additional investment that is staying local,” said Dave Behle, key accounts and economic development manager with Dawson Public Power. “Feedlots, dairies, pork production, trucking, feed mills – all that money stays in the community and that is huge.”
 
The Cargill plant at Blair was the world’s first to transform corn into polylactic acid (PLA), which is used to make compostable bioplastics. Consider as well that the world’s top echelon of pivot irrigation companies are all headquartered in Nebraska, which makes sense given that the technology itself was created here – and the fact that Nebraska has more irrigated acres than any other state. That is also a reason that Nebraska is one of the top locations for seed genetic companies to develop new hybrids and varieties.

Nebraska is home to companies that manufacture everything from tillage equipment to fertilizers; from combines to plastic pivot tires; from grain bins to cattle fencing.


“We have a new $1.2 million truck washing facility here in Lexington and it’s the only facility on the interstate for cattle trucks between Denver and Omaha,” said Jennifer Wolf, economic development director in Dawson County. “We have a high-tech company that purchases blood from the Tyson beef processing facility in Lexington and extracts the iron to make iron supplements. Without a thriving livestock industry, we wouldn’t have spin-off businesses like this that lead to new investment and jobs right here.”