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In the Field • Tuesday, March 15, 2011 • Kearney Hub Salute to Agriculture LEAD 29 ARTHRITIS TE MANIA People are people everywhere, learn participants in international tour. Pages 6-7 The ways people in ag use their bodies make them vulnerable to arthritis. Page 11 Angus ranch in Australia relies on intense rotational grazing. Page 14 Fed expert: Top-dollar land sales won’t last forever Nebraska ag land values jump alongside net farm income in 2010 By LORI POTTER Hub Staff Writer KEARNEY — Some eyepopping prices are being paid for ag land in Nebraska and other parts of the Great Plains, and that will bring rewards and risks to ag producers and their communities. Jason Henderson, vice president of the Omaha Branch of the Federal Jason Reserve Bank Henderson in Kansas City, said Nebraska farmland is selling for an average of about $5,300 per acre, with much higher prices in some areas, particularly in eastern Nebraska. Tim Lemmons, a University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension educator in Madison County, said supply and demand is only a part of the price-setting process. “The true price and rent for any parcel is ultimately what one party is willing to pay and another party is willing to accept,” he said. The March 2011 edition of The Nebraska Economist published by the Federal Reserve Bank says Nebraska’s cropland values increased by more than 17 percent in the fourth quarter of 2010, and ranchland was up 13 percent. A report for the bank’s entire 10th district — western Missouri, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Wyoming, Colorado and northern New MexiIT’S NOT co — shows EASY TO FIND similar A SELLER, numbers for KEARNEY Kansas and BROKERS SAY single-digit price jumps PAGE 2 for the other states. Averages were 14.8 percent for irrigated cropland, 12.9 percent for nonirrigated cropland and 9.2 percent for ranchland. At the recent Nebraska Governor’s Ag Conference, Henderson said the ag economy is known for ups and downs in commodity prices and land values. One sign that the current highs in both probably aren’t sustainable is that land values are rising twice as fast as cash rents. “Are these farmland values sustainable?” he asked. “Is there a bubble?” The Nebraska Economist attributes increases to rising farm income and a limited number of farms for sale, which created the demand behind the price increases. Henderson said the U.S. LAND VALUES, PAGE 2 Courtesy A HIGH TUNNEL on the Schwarz farm southeast of Smithfield protects crops including greens, turnips and carrots from a cold Nebraska winter. A step inside is like a mini-vacation to a green, lush, earthy-smelling tropical oasis. More Work, Better Ratios It’s not for everyone, family says, but switch to organics made sense when Schwarz farm downsized By JENNIFER CHICK Hub Regional Correspondent BERTRAND — Organic farming helps Tom and Linda Schwarz squeeze more profit out of every acre of their farm southeast of Smithfield. In the late 1990s, Tom’s father died, leaving the farm to Tom and his sister. His sister did not want to continue farming so Tom and his wife, Linda, decided to downsize from 2,300 acres to less than 1,000. “To make it work, we had to shift gears,” Tom said. “We needed more profit per acre relative to what conventional farming had been doing.” So they began investigating the process of converting their farm from conventional production to organic. The Schwarzes already were growing alfalfa as a commercial hay business and had determined that alfalfa fit well into an organic rotation. Alfalfa builds nitrogen in the soil, which allows for a corn rotation the next year. One field at a time, Tom and Linda converted their farm to an organic operation, adding soybeans and wheat to the rotation. Now, less than 10 percent of their farm uses conventional farming. The alfalfa still is sold to local feedlots and cow-calf producers through their ORGANIC SWITCH, PAGE 4 MORE Learn more about value-added agriculture in these stories: ■ Choquette Gardens in Upland, page 5 ■ Buy Fresh Buy Local, page 5 ■ Organic agriculture and tips, page 8 ■ Alternative crops and tips, page 13 Higher yields, environmentally friendly practices Twin-row, diamond-pattern strip-till planter one of brothers’ ‘better methods’ By BETSY FRIEDRICH “It’s a systems approach. It really is,” Gene said. “We’ll combine the fertility placement with the twin row together, which is not done very often MINDEN — Twin brothers Gene in the country, and that combination is and Dean Carstens want to help what makes it work.” change the way crops are planted and The brothers already owned and fertilized around the world. The Carstenses own Twin Diamond operated First Ag, a fertilizer business Industries on the south side of Minden at the same location south of Minden, where they design, engineer, assemble, when Gene purchased a farm in market and distribute Strip Cat equip- Franklin County in 1994. “Being in the fertilizer business, we ment for strip-till farming, a method continually looked for better methods they say creates higher yields and is of farming and fertilizer management. more environmentally friendly than We were some of the first ones in the other tillage methods. area to strip-till. We did this for This fall they also plan to unveil Betsy Friedrich, Kearney Hub their business’ namesake: a twin-row approximately nine years on our farm, basically using it as a research plot. TWIN BROTHERS Dean, left, and Gene Carstens own Twin Diamond Industries planter that will space plants in a diaBefore getting in the retail end of this, on the south side of Minden. The company designs, engineers, assembles, mar- mond pattern, making more efficient use of land and allowing plants to get kets and distributes equipment for strip-till farming, a method the Carstenses STRIP TILL, PAGE 3 say results in higher yields and better soil and water conservation. maximum sunlight. Hub Staff Writer

Salute to Agriculture: In the Field 2011

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