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Spring Agriculture Salute






Beckman recognized for conservation practices



By PATTI SCHROEDER Program Assistant Dubois County SWCD The Dubois County Soil and Water Conservation District presents an annual award to a Dubois County farmer who uses good soil and water conservation practices on their farm and puts extra effort into conserving natural resources. During the SWCD’s annual meeting at Shiloh United Methodist Church in Jasper on Tuesday, Feb. 6, Tony Sanders, ag lender from Old National Bank, and Brenda Sermersheim, ag lender from German American Bank, presented the 2018 Otto J. Bauer Outstanding Conservation Farmer of the Year Award to Kenny Beckman. Beckman’s land is located in Marion township near Dubois. The farm was purchased in 1979 by his parents. After his father developed knee problems, Beckman began taking over the farming duties. He now owns approximately 500 acres and rents another 100 acres. While he is working on the farm full time, he employs some part-time workers during harvesting and planting seasons, including a nephew, a cousin and several friends. He produces corn, soybeans and is a contract hog raiser. His pasture fields are rented to others. Lots of changes have been seen since the farm has been under Beckman’s management. He is a big proponent for no-tilling and focuses on doing right by the different practices and programs for conservation tillage, forest management and drainage management. After observing the county highway workers cleaning the ditches around his property after rainstorms, Beckman began notilling practices and incorporating cover crops. Beckman believes good drainage practices and notilling go hand in hand. He has also included Timber Stand Improvement practices on woodland


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Farmer Kenny Beckman, center, was presented with the 2018 Otto J. Bauer Outstanding Conservation Farmer of the Year Award by Brenda Sermersheim, ag lender from German American Bank, and Tony Sanders, ag lender from Old National Bank on Feb. 6. areas and installed dry dams and catch basins. These practices increase the levels of organic material in the fields and helps prevent erosion which increases acre profitability. He plans to do more conservation practices as his finances allow. Beckman stated how helpful NRCS was in educating him on the many different conservation practices currently available. When asked about Beckman’s biggest farming challenges, he responded that weather dictates when and what a farmer can do on his property. He has also observed how volatile weather has become and occurs more frequently. Another challenge he realizes is commodities pricing. Beckman is a Patoka River Conservancy board member and retired after 23 years as a Dubois Fire Department board member. He belongs to St. Rafael-St. Isadore parish cluster and is a member of St. Vincent de Paul. The Otto J. Bauer Outstanding

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Conservation Farmer of the Year award is named in memory of Otto J. Bauer. Bauer was a champion of soil and water conservation efforts in Dubois County and a member of the SWCD Board of Supervisors from 1969-86.

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Luekens receive forest stewardship award By PATTI SCHROEDER Program Assistant Dubois County SWCD Ron and Matt Lueken of Lueken Livestock and Grain Inc. were presented the OFS Brands Forest Stewardship Award by Scott Reckelhoff, property manager of OFS Brands, at Shiloh United Methodist Church in Jasper during Dubois County Soil and Water Conservation District’s aAnnual meeting on Feb. 6. The SWCD Board of Supervisors annually recognizes forest landowners who carry out wise forestry stewardship programs on their land. Dubois County forestlands provide numerous environmental benefits from wildlife habitat to buffering and filtering of water runoff. The forestry industry also helps support a large sector of the economy as the sixth largest industry in Indiana providing jobs and recreation. This year’s recipients, a fatherson team, own approximately 135 acres of forestland in Hall and Jefferson townships. They are the fourth and fifth generation to act as stewards of the property which has been in the family for more then 130 years. The property was held by Ralph Lueken, Ron’s father, until Ron and Matt purchased it in 2013. The Luekens want to continue the traditions of keeping their forestlands strong and sustainable. They have long practiced wise forest management, using DNR and consulting foresters to guide their management decisions to

ests have improved their productivity, riparian areas have been reforested and livestock have been excluded from the woods. They used Multi-Resource Management foresters Thom Kinney and Doug Brown for their select timber harvest in 1995 and 2014. These were followed up with NRCS EQIP Timber Stand Improvement and some invasive control. Some of challenges they have dealt with have been battling invasive species vines and tree diseases, such as the emerald ash borer. Matt also included topography as an issue because of some of the



Scott Reckelhoff, left, property manager of OFS Brands, presented Ron and Matt Lueken of Lueken Livestock and Grain Inc. with the OFS Brands Forest Stewardship Award on Feb. 6. meet long-term goals. These goals include having a positive financial return, using the property for hunting and wildlife, protecting the family legacy, and practicing sustainable management to pass on a healthy, productive forest for future generations. Their woodlands provide recreational hunting and natural buffer strips to establish protected zones which lessen the impact of human activity and land disturbance. Their forestlands are also connected to their neighbor’s forested areas, which provides a habitat and movement corridor for many

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steepness in the land. Matt and Ron are concerned about preventing erosion on the slopes above of the creeks. During the meeting, Matt and Ron expressed how much they appreciate the expertise and guidance that they have been given over the years. The Luekens are members of Schnellville Conservation Club, the Dubois County Cattlemen’s’ Association, and Sacred Heart of Jesus Catholic Church in Schnellville, which along with St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church is in the Devine Mercy Parish.

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Dubois County SWCD: Always working for you By JUDI BROWN Executive Director Dubois County SWCD Two Soil and Water Conservation District Supervisors received their oath of office at the SWCD’s annual meeting on Feb. 6. Patrick Eckerle and Alex Hohl are beginning three-year terms on the SWCD’s Board of Supervisors. Eckerle, a graduate of Jasper High School and Oakland City College, is a service technician at Mehringer Plumbing and Heating and farms part time. On his farm, Eckerle utilizes cover crops, notill, water and sediment control basins, and other conservation practices to reduce erosion. These practices improve water quality and the health of the soil, and increase profitability on the farm. Eckerle is a member of the Jasper Jaycees, Knights of Columbus, St. Joseph Parish in Jasper and serves as a Dubois REC Operation Round-Up Trustee. His appointment to the Board of Supervisors was approved by the State Soil Conservation Board. He replaces John Jackle, who served two terms as an appointed supervisor. Hohl earned a Bachelor of Science degree from Indiana State University in management. He is the district sales manager for Beck’s Hybrids. Prior to this, he worked for six years as a lab technician and operator for the Huntingburg Wastewater Department. Hohl holds a Class 3 wastewater license through the State of Indiana. In addition, Hohl operates the family farm in St. Henry. He has a cow and calf operation and raises

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row crops. He uses cover crops, and has installed waterways and water and sediment control basins on his farm to control erosion and improve Eckerle soil health. Hohl was elected to the Board of Supervisors at the SWCD annual meeting. He replaces Alan Smock, who served two terms as an elected supervisor. Soil and Water Conservation Districts are units of state government. In Indiana, the SWCDs’ boundaries run along county lines, so Indiana has 92 Soil and Water Conservation Districts. The Dubois County SWCD is responsible for leadership in conservation of soil, water, and related natural resources within Dubois County. To fulfill it’s role, the SWCD works with local government agencies, citizens’ groups, and individuals to address existing soil and water concerns in the county. Current members of the Du-

bois County SWCD Board of Supervisors are Brenda Sermersheim, chair; Glenn Goeppner, vice chair; Glenn Menke; Alex Hohl; and Patrick Hohl Eckerle. SWCD supervisors are government officials charged with properly conducting the affairs of their local district and serve three-year terms. Their major roles are to evaluate local soil and water conservation needs and opportunities, set priorities and provide for the development of programs to meet those needs within the district. The natural resource areas of concern for the Dubois County SWCD are stormwater runoff: quantity and velocity; soil health, nutrient management: manure and chemical fertilizer; invasive and noxious plant species; and forestry, and loss of pasture. All programs and projects of the SWCD serve to address these resource concerns. Programs include cost

share funding and technical assistance for landowners, field events, and management of the Land Stewardship Initiative. The many different uses of land across Indiana, and the land itself, determines what the local SWCD focuses on. SWCD operations are financed through state and county appropriations, money earned by SWCD projects, contri-

bution agreements with the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, grants, and contributions from private sources. The Dubois County SWCD meets the first Thursday of each month at 5:40 p.m. from November through April, and 6:40 p.m. May through October. Input from members of the public is welcome.


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Consider maintenance when buying fruit trees By KENNETH J. ECK Extension Educator, Agricultural & Natural Resources Purdue Extension, Dubois County As winter snow continues to fall across Indiana, the annual flurry of seed and fruit tree catalogs begins in local mailboxes and drop stations. As you select which plants might work best for your family — especially in the area of fruit trees — take some time to consider what might work best not only for taste, but for fruit tree care and maintenance as well. When choosing a tree for your home orchard, begin with a catalog or nursery with strong, healthy stock. For mail companies, make sure there is a refund guarantee on shipped plants should they arrive with defects or damaged root systems or branches. For local nurseries also check on guarantees, and whether the business must plant the trees to allow an exchange or refund should problems arise. Select trees for mail delivery or to take home from the store when the weather allows you to plant the tree as soon as possible. This avoids having the tree dry out or become stressed. Check spring frost dates to avoid damage due to cold conditions. Never select the “$1 special” at the end of the year at big box stores, as these frequently are stressed from infrequent/ too frequent watering, heat stress, and being moved or jostled around the store. Remember, it will take most trees three to five years before they might bear fruit, so pay a little more for a strong, healthy tree and leave the “bargains” for the next person. When selecting trees, you should look at several factors including: ■■ Type and use of fruit: Which type of apple, pear, or cherry is best for your family’s needs? Do you need eating apples, or apples for sauce? Check out newer varieties that may have better fruit qualities such as taste, texture, or use than older varieties by purchasing and “taste testing” new varieties found at your local market or grocery store. ■■ Harvest time: Do you want all your fruit at once, or over several months? By choosing different varieties of fruit, you can spread out your harvest (and fresh eating) schedule depending on your family’s needs. ■■ Space considerations: How large will the tree grow? Although the idea of a large tree full of juicy fruit may sound good at

first, when pest management or harvest is considered this may not always be the best choice. By choosing trees grafted onto dwarf (8 to 10 feet tall) or semi-dwarf (12 to 20 feet tall) root stock, homeowners will have an easier time at spraying and harvesting fruit that might be produced by being able to access smaller trees. ■■ Disease resistance: Will your tree be able to withstand common disease challenges? If full or partially disease resistant varieties are available, consider purchasing these for your home. Not all popular varieties are available yet with full resistance, and in some cases the flavors or textures of some fruit types make it worth the extra effort to plant non-resistant trees. Resistant varieties may reduce the number of fungicide sprayings needed for a healthy fruit crop ■■ Hardiness: Can your variety survive the local weather? Each state is divided into USDA plant cold hardiness zones to help growers match the correct plants with local weather conditions. Check tree tags and information sheets to insure that your plants will survive when planted.

■■ Location: Can your tree grow where you plant it? Most fruit trees prefer well drained soils with adequate year-round moisture (not droughty sands). A tree may survive a few years in a wet location, but stress will eventually cause it to die. Make sure the tree is not placed near obstacles such as power lines, roads, sidewalks, or home foundations where additional problems may eventually develop. ■■ Soil tests: Will the tree have the food it needs? Run a soil test

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for nutrients and pH before planting the tree, and make adjustments so that conditions are right before digging the tree’s hole. Do not guess on what is beneath the soil, as most soil tests will provide you with what you have (the actual soil analysis) as well as what you need (fertilizer and lime recommendations). A home fruit planting can provide fresh, tasty, and nutritious fruit for family use or sale. By following the suggestions listed, you will be more successful while


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Farm rental rates remain low, match grain prices By KENNETH J. ECK Extension Educator, Agricultural & Natural Resources Purdue Extension, Dubois County With the close tie between commodity grain prices and land sale and rental rates, local landowners and renters are seeing some of the lowest prices in recent years. Challenging economic concerns related to grain sales will probably keep rates low to slightly higher until overseas trade or lower yielding crop seasons reduce a larger than desired grain surplus in the United States.

Advancing production of food From Purdue Research Foundation WEST LAFAYETTE — Purdue University researchers have created a greenhouse on campus featuring a new automated conveyor system that keeps plants moving constantly, a change they hope will provide answers about ways to avoid a looming food crisis with the global population expected to grow to more than 9 billion by 2050. Ian Jin, an assistant professor in Purdue’s Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering, said the approximately 1,000-squarefoot greenhouse, which began operations in May, will allow researchers to better determine the best seeds to create the highest yields while also being drought- and climate-resistant. The greenhouse, which cost about $400,000 to refurbish, allows researchers to test a wider variety of seeds under uniform conditions while using a leading-edge imaging system to closely monitor plant growth and characteristics. Traditional greenhouses are full of microclimates because of inconsistent conditions. The temperature directly under a light can be much hotter than a spot just a few feet away and the area near a cooling panel can be considerably chillier. Air circulation also varies throughout, depending on where fans are located, as do lighting conditions. By moving plants steadily through these microclimates, researchers can ensure that each plant is exposed to similar conditions. “We use the conveyor system to shuffle the location of the plants 24/7 so we smooth out this environmental un-uniformity,” Jin said. “Microclimates are the enemy for plant science researchers in the greenhouse because these microclimates generate a huge amount of data noise, environmental un-uniformity.” To ensure that the conveyor system worked, the researchers conducted a test comparing the automated greenhouse with a traditional greenhouse. They used identical seeds, watered them the same amount and gave them the same amounts of nutrients. Researchers found the automated greenhouse eliminated up to 90 percent of the variance caused by a traditional greenhouse. Jin said more stable conditions means researchers require fewer plants to conduct studies because there are fewer variances. The robotic phenotyping system uses hyperspectral cameras to provide up to 10 terabytes of plant data per day for the researchers. The scanner measures plant health, growth, traits and other characteristics, as well as its water, nitrogen and chlorophyll content.

In regards to average sale and rental prices for local farmland, Purdue surveys conducted in June 2017 found that on a statewide basis, year to year comparisons of Indiana farmland indicated that top quality land sale prices remained steady (an increase of 0.2%) while average and poor quality farmland showed modest declines of 1.6 percent and 1.4 percent, respectively. Average 2017 sale prices for Indiana were $8,529 for top farmland (200 bu. corn/ acre average), $6,928 for average farmland (169 bu. corn/acre average), and $5,280 for poor farmland

(139 bu. corn/acre average). For the southwest Indiana region (which includes Dubois County and counties west), all categories of farmland sale prices continued to drop with top (208 bu. corn/year average), average (165 bu. corn/year average), and poor (126 bu. corn/year average) categories showing declines in prices of 1.4 percent, 10.6 percent and 14.5 percent, respectively. Farmland average prices for southwest Indiana found top farmland at $8,984, average farmland at $6,271, and poor farmland at $3,982. Similarly for farmland rental

rates, low commodity grain prices continued to drive caution in pricing across Indiana with average rental rates decreasing statewide by 1.6 percent for the top category, but making slight increases for average (0.5%) and poor (3.8%) categories. Average rental rates for these land classes were $253 per acre, $205 per acre, and $163 per acre, respectively. Southwest Indiana rental rates continued to fall for all categories, with top, average, and poor categories showing average drops of

5.9%, 7.6 percent, and 6.0 percent, respectively. Rental rates for our region averaged at $257 per acre for top farmland, $194/acre for average farmland, and $140 per acre for poor farmland. For the complete report on 2017 farmland sale and rental averages (including rates for pasture and hay fields), check out the free Purdue publication “Purdue Agricultural Economics Report – August 2017” at agecon/Documents/PAER%20August%202017.pdf.

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Weed control key to having healthy pond By KENNETH J. ECK Extension Educator, Agricultural & Natural Resources Purdue Extension, Dubois County With spring right around the corner, many folks are starting to again look at their farm pond or lake. Whether used for fishing, swimming, or watering horses or livestock, this valuable water resource should be checked for weed concerns where vegetation appears to be getting out of control. Vegetation in some form is a valuable part of a healthy pond or lake system, with plants providing a variety of benefits. Plants provide oxygen for non-plant residents of the deep. All pond creatures, including insects, fish, birds, and mammals, depend on plants for food sources or eat something else that does eat plants. The biomass stabilizes shorelines and bottom sediment, and intercepts and slows waves hitting shore. Plants also simply add to the beauty of a lake, breaking up an otherwise uniform surface with texture and color. In too large of an amount, however, aquatic vegetation can cause problems that will eventually need to be corrected. Excess plants can choke spillways and ditches; impair fishing, boating, and swimming; reduce oxygen levels as plants die (causing large fish kills); change water quality or taste; harbor mosquitoes; trap too much sediment; and out-compete native plants. As with anything in life, moderation is the key with the right amount and type of vegetation being needed in a stable pond environment. The plants that lead to most problems can be divided into general plant groups, with treatment options unique for each group. No one control or aquatic herbicide will control all weeds, so figuring out to which group a plant belongs is key to its eventual control. Algae are simple, non-flowering plants that may come in several forms. Microscopic algae can cause a blue-green, red, black, or brown “scum” or “oil” across a pond surface, and often is found when excessive nutrients come into a pond. Mat-forming algae form mossy patches that may take over entire sections of a pond. Chara, or stonewort, is found in ponds with hard water and has a musky smell, and somewhat resembles other pond weeds that are rooted. For flowering (non-algae) plants, there are four groups of plants – submerged, free-floating, rooted floating, and emergent. Each have different growth habits and require their own management techniques when control is needed. Submerged plants are those rooted to the bottom that grow up through the water and have flowers which might emerge through the surface. They are mainly identified by the number of leaves at each joint and the shape of their leaves, and frequently have a “bottle-brush” appearance. Common members of this group include coontail, naiads, watermilfoil, elodea, hydrilla, and pondweed. Plants that float on the surface but are not rooted in the soil are known as free-floating plants, and include watermeal and duckweed. Both are extremely small (1/8 to 1/4 inch) and often resemble small green seeds. When they completely cover a lake they have the ability to shade out desirable plants, causing a drop in oxygen in deeper waters. They usually are a result of nutrient-rich water. Rooted-floating plants include waterlilies, watershield, spatterdock, and American pondweed, and have underground stems (rhizomes) from which new plants

sprout while leaves and flowers float on the surface. All can provide valuable wildlife habitat in appropriate amounts, but can cause challenges when allowed to grow out of control. Cattails, reeds, spikerush, bulrush, purple loosestrife, willow, and creeping water primrose are members of the final group — emergent plants. This group has most of its vegetation above the water, with the plants rooted usually near the shoreline. Many of these plants spread by underground rhizomes as well as by seeds. Aquatic weeds can be controlled through several means, with a combination of methods usually being the most effective. First, take steps to prevent weeds and invasives from coming into local bodies of water. Clean off boats and equipment before bringing these items into your pond or lake. Never dump exotic aquarium species near a water body where they can take root. Where weeds are becoming a problem, consider mechanical control with rakes or harvesters. This usually works best in smaller patches of vegetation that can be easily reached from shore, although some plant roots or parts might be left behind to propagate future plants. The use of grass carp can help with some aquatic species, although the fish have preferences for certain types of weeds over others. These fish can live for 15 to 20 years, but will vary greatly

in the amount of vegetation they consume as they age. Keep all nutrients and livestock away from ponds and lakes to reduce the unwanted growth of some species. Maintain grass cover around ponds and lakes to reduce the chance of sediment and nutrients from entering, and try not to fertilize lawns close to bodies of water. Establish settling ponds upstream to trap extra sediment and nutrients when possible. For chemical control of aquatic weeds, first identify the plant and plant group in which the species is found. Many chemicals will only control one (or two) plant groups while leaving other groups unharmed, which can actually help the landowner better manage desirable plants while removing nuisance or invasive species. A listing of chemical controls is included in the publication listed below. Landowners should carefully read the product label for any aquatic herbicides to be applied, considering listed plants that will be controlled as well as specific effects on fish and times until water can be used for irrigation and drinking for humans or livestock. First time applicators should consider purchasing products from businesses whose staff are licensed applicators if additional information on the products is needed. For additional information on dealing with aquatic vegetation challenges (including color photos for pond weed identification and herbicide suggestions), check

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Soybeans could dethrone corn as US crop king By JEFF WILSON WP News Service For the first time in 35 years, soybeans are poised to steal the crown of U.S. crop king from corn. American farmers are set to increase their soy plantings to a record 90.69 million acres, according to the average estimate in a Bloomberg survey of 21 trading firms and analysts. Corn sowings are forecast to drop to 90.12 million. The last time soy surpassed corn was 1983, when government payments were based on idling acres. If it feels like we’ve been here before, you’d be right. This time last year analysts were expecting the great soybean steal to happen because the crop was already offering better premiums. And while growers did sow more of the oilseed than ever before, the plantings came in just shy of matching corn as temperate weather favored the grain. So what’s different this year?

Drought. About 16 percent of the corn belt is already experiencing drought conditions, with more dry weather forecast into the start of the growing season. Soybeans, wheat and cotton are all more drought-tolerant than corn. Prices are also still favoring soybeans, with futures for this year’s crop trading about 2.5 times higher than corn contracts. This is the fifth straight year that the oilseed is offering better returns. After years of depressed crop prices, those premiums are more important than ever — just ask Julie Burgod. The 52-year-old farms 4,500 acres and raises calves near Ipswich, South Dakota, with her husband and son. They already plan to slash corn acres in half to make way for soybeans, because the grain “doesn’t pay the bills.” Burgod also owns a crop insurance agency and said many of her clients are echoing the sentiment.

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considered drought resistant. “I watch the weather and I watch market prices, but weather is the key,” Diepolder said “The drier it gets, the more spring wheat will get planted because it’s a good drought crop. You have to have something to sell at harvest.”

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812-482-1081 812-309-0661

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Spring Agriculture Salute  
Spring Agriculture Salute