PDPW Dairy's Bottom Line -- October 2021

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BOTTOM LINE Thursday, October 21, 2021 SECTION E

Sharing ideas, solutions, resources and experiences that help dairy producers succeed.


Keep fatigue at bay JOHN SHUTSKE

Agriculture sadly remains the most dangerous industry sector in the United States, based on those who die on the job on a per-capita basis. Injury rates are also high. Regardless of the type of farm one operates or works on, there’s one risk factor associated with serious injury or death that cuts across all sectors – dairy, livestock or crops. It’s fatigue. I once worked with a team who studied injuries on almost 4,000 Shutske farms, with more than 13,000 people in Wisconsin and four other states. That work showed a clear connection between long work hours and injury risk. Studies across all types of workers suggest that working a 12-hour day – or more – results in a 37 percent increase in injury risk. Twelve-hour workdays are not the least bit uncommon on farms. We once surveyed agricultural workers who did seasonal fieldwork for co-ops and fertilizer plants. We found 80- to 100-hour work weeks were normal during certain times of the year. We learned those workers frequently experienced the sensation that they were simply “going through the motions;” they often felt dazed. They didn’t have time to take appropriate safety precautions such as using recommended protective equipment or clothing. Many spoke of the negative impact on relationships with family and friends as well as on job satisfaction and mental health. The overload of working 12-hour workdays is so risky because, research shows, there’s a direct connection between fatigue and error. We forget to follow safety procedures. We kick into autopilot mode; we do things in the wrong order or unintentionally skip key steps. A producer I remember from a presentation I conducted years ago had experienced a long and difficult fall harvest. After weeks of bad weather there was finally a dry spell so he began to work late. One evening while combining corn he realized the crop was still suitably dry late into the evening. He decided he’d go as late as he could keep his eyes open. At about midnight the cab windows were covered with dust. So he decided to exit the combine with a roll of paper towels and window cleaner. Suddenly he realized the combine was running at almost full throttle with the header fully engaged. And there he was, balanced on the header, wiping down the windshield. That’s dangerous! Not only do we make mistakes; our bodies are also subject to breakdown. If we drive a truck or car 10,000 miles in

The overload of working 12-hour workdays is so risky because, research shows, there’s a direct connection between fatigue and error. We forget to follow safety procedures. We kick into autopilot mode; we do things in the wrong order or unintentionally 00 1 skip key steps.

six months it will need some preventive maintenance. If we push that vehicle and drive it 20,000 miles in six months or 40,000 miles in a year, it will wear out twice as fast – particularly if we don’t take time for routine care and maintenance. Our bodies are no different. Pushing our bodies to the limit is one reason why dairy farmers and others suffer early in life with severe arthritis, back injury and the need for joint replacements. But the work must be done; these ideas and suggestions will help.  If faced with a lengthy stretch of long days try to schedule in at least a halfday of rest time each week. But sometimes when one is charging at full speed, slowing down for a halfday can be difficult. So plan in advance to spend time with family and friends, or to do something that will give body and mind a break.  Resist the temptation to go as late into the night as can be tolerated – especially if it’s already been a long day. Sleep is critical. The more one can set a regular bedtime, the better sleep and recovery will be.  Calculate a meal plan. In super-busy times of the year we often don’t take time to sit for a balanced meal, although that’s preferred. Try to plan for having food at the correct time. If possible take just a 15-minute break to nourish and hydrate. Even small breaks can help recharge our batteries. If responsible for other employees, think about how to keep them fed. A few moments to stop and share food is also a good time to check in and solve problems with workers.  If 70 or 80 hours a week is the norm, for the sake of one’s health and well-being it’s advisable to evaluate the situation. Long work hours are not sustainable without some negative impact. Determine if all those tasks are necessary. There may be ways to do things more efficiently or maybe additional help is needed. Most of us who work in agriculture do so because we love the life it’s connected to – the land, our families and nature. But we also have a

tendency to work ourselves so hard that we can’t enjoy the abundance that surrounds us. A careful evaluation of time can help us enjoy life more while reducing risk and improving the quality of those work hours.

Research shows a direct connection between fatigue and error. Busy times of year can make it challenging to sleep enough – but it’s critical to safety.

John Shutske is a professor and University of Wisconsin-Division of Extension specialist. Email john.shutske@ wisc.edu to contact him.


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BOTTOM LINE Thursday, October 21, 2021 E2

Sharing ideas, solutions, resources and experiences that help dairy producers succeed.

Environmental solutions, economics drive change TAYLOR GRACYALNY

For the Dairy Innovation Hub

The University of Wisconsin-Dairy Innovation Hub has since 2019 bestowed more than 100 funding awards to the UW-Madison, UW-Platteville and UW-River Falls. Faculty at those campuses are harnessing the power of research and development to keep Wisconsin’s dairy community globally relevant in an economically, environmentally and socially sustainable manner. Dairy Innovation Hub researchers are askGracyalny ing bold questions with hopes of making big discoveries that will impact farmers, processors, citizens and communities alike. Research is a long-term investment but in many cases projects already have preliminary data or don’t require long timelines. Stewarding land and water resources is one of four core pillars that Dairy Innovation Hub research is designed to address; ongoing concerns with water quality are a primary issue in that pillar. For environmental solutions to have meaningful adoption among farmers and processors, there must be a significant economic impact. Projects that address both the environmental and economic sustainability of Wisconsin dairy farms are making a dif-

ference with support from the Innovation Hub. Susanne Wiesner is a postdoc in the UW-Department of Biological Systems Engineering in Madison. She’s working on a twoyear study involving the environmental impacts and profitability of cropping management in dairy systems. Her project focuses on how agricultural vegetation can mitigate greenhouse-gas emissions and improve soil quality, as well as how those systems can be profitable for farmers. Field trials for that research have been established at the U.S. Dairy Forage Research Center farm near Prairie du Sac, Wisconsin. Small-scale plots measuring 30 feet square are repeated four times in four blocks, with six different cropping treatments and three different manure treatments. “These measurements help us understand what cropping systems offer the greatest rate of soil improvements, the highest forage quality for milk production or the greatest carbon-sink potential,” Wiesner said. “Following with that data we can determine economic tradeoffs through milk production and income from ecosystem-service credits.” Matthew Digman is an assistant professor in the UW-Department of Biological Systems Engineering at Madison. Rebecca Larson and Iris Feng are from UW-Madison. Joseph Sanford is from UW-Platteville. The colleagues are working to understand how precision agriculture can improve manure-nutrient

utilization. Near-Infrared Reflectance Spectroscopy has proven to be a useful tool in their research; it predicts manure-nutrient composition and computes data into a useful form for farmers. “We’re really trying to understand how useful nutrient-prediction technology is for managing nutrient variability,” Digman said. “Our pilot study, funded by the Dairy Innovation Hub, looks at using fixed- and variable-rate manure on different plots of land with different soil sampling and management zones to see if we really can drive changes.” In other exciting research, Joseph Wu and John Obielodan, associate professors at UW-Platteville, are developing milk-protein-based 3D-printing biocomposites. Three-dimensional objects made from milk proteins have the potential to be a significant boon to the dairy community because they create an alternative use for milk outside of human consumption. In turn, milk that would otherwise be discarded due to surplus production, expiration, contamination or lack of storage could be used or even reused. That research has implemented two 3D-printing approaches thus far – the extrusion-based process and the vat-photopolymerization process. “We have the primary objective to convert the proteins’ casein and whey into raw materials that can be used to 3D-print objects for engineering applications or for other applications in our society,” Obielodan said. Preliminary results have shown

that tensile strengths decrease marginally with casein addition. There is a greater stiffness for samples with casein concentration cured for 30 minutes. The ongoing Dairy Innovation Hub-funded projects are proving once again that environmental sustainability and economic progress can coexist in the dairy community. Farmers and the public can learn more about those and other projects at two upcoming events.  Nov. 17 – A virtual Dairy Summit will feature the Dairy Innovation Hub’s newest projects and is formatted for a general audience.  Nov. 18 – The Dairy Symposium is geared toward students, faculty or anyone looking for a deeper dive into the Dairy Innovation Hub’s most advanced research. Both events are free and open to the public; pre-registration is required. The symposium will offer in-person and virtual options. Visit dairyinnovationhub.wisc. edu for more information.

PDPW: Who we are

Professional Dairy Producers of Wisconsin (PDPW ) is Dairy's Professional Development Organization®. W ith a vision to lead the success of the dairy industry through education, our mission is to share ideas, solutions, resources and experiences that help dairy producers succeed.

PDPW Board of Directors President Katy Schultz Fox Lake, Wis. 920-210-9661 katylschultz@ gmail.co m Vice President Janet Clark Rosendale, Wis. 608-341-6709 vafarmsllc@hotmail.com Secretary John Haag Dane, Wis. 608-576-0812 jahaag5@gmail.com Treasu rer Steven Orth Cleveland, Wis. 920-905-2575


Directors Andy Buttles Lancaster, Wis. 608-723-4712 stonefront@tds.net Ken Feltz Stevens Point, Wis. 715-570-6390 feltzfarms@hotmail.com Corey Hodorff Eden, Wis. 920-602-6449 corey@secondlookholsteins.com Paul Lippert Pittsville, Wis. 715-459-4735 lippert4735@gmail.com Brady Weiland Columbus, Wis. 920-285-7362 bweiland11@hotmail.com

Taylor Gracyalny is a 2021 graduate of University of Wisconsin-Madison with a double major in dairy science and life-sciences communication. She recently joined Saputo Inc. as a customer administration analyst where she merges her passion for dairy with her knack for communication and data. Prior to Saputo she served as the inaugural communications intern for the UW-Dairy Innovation Hub. Email attaylorgracyalny@gmail.com to reach her.

Workshops also focus on calf raisers

PDPW Advisers Andrew Skwor 608-963-5211 askwor@msa-ps.com

Kurt Petik 920-904-2226 kurt.petik@raboag.com Roger Olson 920-362-4745 roger.olson@zinpro.com Peter Weber 715-613-6664 pweber@genex.coop

www.pdpw.org mail@ pdpw.org 800-947-7379

Upcoming Educational Events


The success of every dairy business is founded on strong and healthy calves – and that takes compassionate and capable calf raisers. Three upcoming PDPW Calf Care Connection® workshops will share practical strategies to produce thriving calves and calf-care managers. Each session will be simultaneously translated into Spanish at three Wisconsin locations.  Oct. 26 – La Sure’s Banquet Hall, 3125 S. Washburn St., Oshkosh  Oct. 27 – Chippewa Valley Technical College, Energy Education Center, 4000 Campus Road, Eau Claire  Oct. 28 – Southwest Technical College, 1800 Bronson Blvd., Fennimore Caring for calves is often viewed as one of the most rewarding jobs on a dairy. But the demanding responsibilities can also be emotionally intense, leading to feelings of burnout and compassion fatigue. In addition to providing strategies to offer the utmost care for calves, the workshops will offer practical tips to alleviate stress levels of calf managers and their team members. Monica Cramer McConkey is a rural-mental-health specialist with 25 years of experience working with farmers and farm families. She will discuss how feelings of being overwhelmed can affect personal health and workplace performance. She’ll share tips for alleviating negative emotions and offer stress-management strategies for those who care for calves. Two veterinarians will speak to the healthy growth and treatment of calves.  Dr. Scott Earnest, livestock veterinarian and dairy consultant at Lodi Veterinary Care, will lead a hands-on session highlighting tools and strategies to troubleshoot the first two months of a calf’s life. Participants will work with refractometers, bacterial cultures, and colostrum and serum samples to understand how data is collected. Attendees will also work together to apply their findings to improve their operations.  Dr. Scott Pertzborn, owner and livestock veterinarian at Lodi Veterinary Care, will re-

OCT 19-21; 26-28

The Dairy Signal™ Online, 12 – 1 pm CT Visit www.pdpw.org to participate in live-streamed event. Audio/video recordings also available free.

OCT 26,27,28

Calf Care Connection®

Translated simultaneously in Spanish! Oct. 26 Oshkosh, Wis. Oct. 27 Eau Claire, Wis. Oct. 28 Fennimore, Wis. Visit www.pdpw.org for details; all sessions held in compliance with CDC guidelines.

NOV 2, 3

Herd Management Workshop Translated simultaneously in Spanish! Nov. 2 Marshfield, Wis. Nov. 3 Arlington, Wis. Visit www.pdpw.org for details; all sessions held in compliance with CDC guidelines.

NOV 2-4; 9-11

The Dairy Signal™ Online, 12 – 1 pm CT Visit www.pdpw.org to participate in live-streamed event. Audio/video recordings also available free.

NOV 10-11

Financial Literacy for Dairy® (Level 1 begins)

PDPW headquarters Juneau, Wis. Visit www.pdpw.org for details; all sessions held in compliance with CDC guidelines.

NOV 16-18; 23-24; 30

The Dairy Signal™ Online, 12 – 1 pm CT Visit www.pdpw.org to participate in live-streamed event. Audio/video recordings also available free.

DEC 1, 2021

Dairy Insights Summit Madison, Wis.

More details to come; all sessions to be held in compliance with CDC guidelines.

DEC 14-15, 2021


Healthy calves are essential to the longevity and productivity of any dairy. Three upcoming Calf Care Connection® sessions will equip those who care for calves with strategies to enhance calf-health programs, with a special focus on personal wellbeing. view options for pain relief and for making decisions that keep the calf’s best interests in mind. He’ll outline humane euthanization, quality of life, and strategies to avoid pain and stress for calves. Closing out each workshop will be a discussion with a panel of three Wisconsin dairy farmers and calf raisers. Laura Raatz of Wagner Farms Inc. near Cecil, Pam Selz-Pralle of Selz Pralle Dairy near Humbird and Kathy Brown of Hall’s Calf Ranch near Kewaunee will share their experiences collecting and putting

data to work for more-effective calf-raising decisions. “Bedding and calories, or what I call ‘BC,’ make all the difference when cold weather comes around,” Raatz said. “The 2021 Calf Care Connection workshops will be a great time to connect with experts and fellow calf managers to get some practical tips and new ideas to raise stronger, healthier calves.” The producer panel will also discuss the metrics they use, to help attendees sort through which analytics to refer to when making calf, herd and finan-

cial-management decisions. The Calf Care Connection training is accredited and approved for continuing-education credits.  as many as 4.25 CEs in Dairy AdvanCE or DACE  as many as 3 CEs in the American Registry of Professional Scientists or ARPAS  as many as 1 non-medical and 3.25 medical credits in the Registry of Approved Continuing Education or RACE Visit www.pdpw.org or call 800-947-7379 to register and for more information.

Dairy Managers Institute® Wisconsin Dells, Wis. Visit www.pdpw.org for details; all sessions held in compliance with CDC guidelines.

JAN 11-13, 2022

Manager’s Academy for Dairy Professionals™ West Palm Beach, Florida Visit www.pdpw.org for details; all sessions held in compliance with CDC guidelines.

MAR 15-16, 2022

Cornerstone Dairy Academy™ Wisconsin Dells, Wis. Visit www.pdpw.org for details; all sessions held in compliance with CDC guidelines.

MAR 16-17, 2022

PDPW Business Conference Wisconsin Dells, Wis. Visit www.pdpw.org for details; all sessions held in compliance with CDC guidelines.

PDPW mission: to share ideas, solutions, resources and experiences that help dairy producers succeed.

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BOTTOM LINE Thursday, October 21, 2021 E3

Sharing ideas, solutions, resources and experiences that help dairy producers succeed.

Financial literacy essential to success PDPW

To be successful in business, dairy producers need a firm understanding of how to calculate and reach specific financial benchmarks. Developed with that objective in mind, PDPW’s Financial Literacy for Dairy® is segmented into three tiers of targeted sessions that build on fundamental concepts and apply the actual financial numbers of each participant’s dairy business. Those attending level one will participate in two separate two-day sessions, with the first to take place Nov. 10-11. The curriculum was originally developed by David Kohl, professor emeritus of agricultural finance, and small-business management and entrepreneurship at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. It incorporates assignments for attendees to complete using their own data before they return for subsequent sessions. It also includes an online placement test in advance of the first session to determine which level best suits the participant’s degree of financial comprehension. The first level expands on core financial concepts; it sets the stage for improved business management and more effectively working alongside lenders. Topics covered include goal setting, balance-sheet principles, cash-flow budgeting and more.

“The biggest benefit I found attending PDPW’s Financial Literacy Class is the extemporaneous, down-to-earth style employed by facilitators Gary Sipiorski and Dr. Kevin Bernhardt,” said Asher Herr of Norswiss Farm near Rice Lake, Wisconsin. “The high-level financial touch points we discussed became more real and approachable, offering a template for more-fruitful conversations with lenders and partners.” The second level is open to those who qualified by their placement tests or by completing level one. Level two progresses to broader concepts including establishing key performance measures and ratios, enterprise budgets, financial ratios and analysis, separating and measuring profitability of specific entities, and more. Two years after the program’s inception, PDPW added a third level to the program. Covering advanced concepts of financial management, level three teaches strategies for optimizing capital purchases, the use of budgeting tools for planning and performance monitoring, best practices for optimizing family-business governance and more. Jake Hoewisch of Hoewisch Homestead near Fremont, Wisconsin, has completed all three levels of Financial Literacy for Dairy.


Take time to rest MICHAEL HOFFMAN


Attendees Deb Reinhart, left, and Christina Winch use personal farm numbers to work through financial scenarios taught during PDPW’s Financial Literacy for Dairy®. “I had been somewhat intimidated by financials, but at the end of the classes I was able to figure out our cost of production for our different entities,” Hoewisch said. “Now we have a more-accurate data system that helps us make decisions with marketing milk and selling beef. And now we know where our break-even point is.” All sessions will be held at PDPW headquarters near Juneau, Wisconsin. Level one will include a second session Dec. 8-9. Level two will consist of three two-day sessions beginning Jan. 19, 2022. Level three will take place March

23-24, 2022. “Believe me when I say this was the best financial course that I have attended, hands down,” said Geoff Gerrits, chief financial officer of Breeze Dairy Group near Appleton, Wisconsin. “Never before have I had such a list of items that I could take back and actually implement in the real world.” Visit www.pdpw.org or call 800-947-7379 for more details, to register and to learn about lending partners that will provide partial or full scholarships to producers through the “Count on Us” campaign.

I hate small talk. I’m just not good at it. Cocktail parties are always to be avoided. But that night was an exception. I needed to be there; my wife made me. The good news was I knew most of the people there, including my nephew Scotty. He’s a great guy, a talker and always good for a laugh. As the night Hoffman went on and with beverage in hand, I stood in a circle and mostly listened. And one conversation changed my life. I was in rapture as I was intensely aware of the wide-ranging topics being covered – politics, electric-car technology, baking with chocolate and yes the future of farming. I wondered how people found time to learn about such things. One topic I took great delight in was Scotty’s extensive knowledge about and passion for comics. He knew everything from Please see HOFFMAN, Page E4

Workshop offered with Spanish translation Taking control of challenging situations will be the focus of the 2021 PDPW Herd Management Workshop. Preventing, detecting and treating metabolic diseases during the transition period, managing feed costs as prices increase and effectively responding to farm emergencies are among the topics that will be presented by leading experts at the oneday program in Wisconsin. Developed for dairy managers, nutritionists and veterinarians, all sessions will be presented with simultaneous Spanish translation.  Nov. 2 – University of Wisconsin-Marshfield Agricultural Research Station, Russell Johannes Auditorium, 2611 Yellowstone Drive, Marshfield  Nov. 3 at the UW-Arlington Agricultural Research Station, Public Events Building, N695 Hopkins Road, Arlington “Managing transition cows, getting the most out of feed rations and keeping team members safe are all critically important topics for every dairy farm regardless of size,” said Katy Schultz, president of PDPW and a dairy producer near Fox Lake, Wisconsin. “The opportunity to interact with experts in all these topics and network with other herd managers, nutritionists and veterinarians makes the 2021 Herd Management Workshop a must-attend event.”  Chris St. Pierre will share his experiences in the electrical-construction industry and public-safety sector, by outlining strategies to prevent and manage on-farm crises and injuries.

He’ll also present a breakout session with hands-on opportunities for attendees to practice life-saving measures during emergency situations on the farm. He’ll share important techniques that first responders use to save limbs and lives.  Luiz Ferraretto is an assistant professor and ruminant-nutrition specialist at the UW-Division of Extension. Connecting the dots between diet, nutritional management and cow response will be the focus of his general session. He’ll discuss methods to improve forage and diet-fiber digestibility to increase consumption and modulate behavioral patterns. He’ll present a breakout session reviewing case studies to manage increasing feed

costs, and will analyze alternative options while protecting production and the dairy’s bottom line.  Ryan Pralle is an assistant professor of animal and dairy science at UW-Platteville’s School of Agriculture. He’ll showcase monitoring and prevention tools to mitigate subclinical ketosis and fatty liver in transition cows. He’ll also share ongoing research for assessing incidence of fatty liver on the farm. In a hands-on breakout session he’ll pinpoint ketosis risk factors, review herd reports and explore treatment strategies with commonly available cowside diagnostic tests for ketosis. “The combination of research findings with practical case studies and hands-on

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breakout sessions means that anyone who attends the Herd Management Workshop will leave with practical strategies to implement immediately,” Schulz said. Visit www.pdpw.org or call 800-947-7379 for more information regarding presenters and continuing-education credits, and to register.

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Dairy managers, nutritionists and veterinarians are the targeted audiences for the upcoming PDPW Herd Management Workshops to be held Nov. 2 and 3 near Marshfield and Arlington, Wisconsin.


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E4 | Thursday, October 21, 2021



Despite concerns no-till outperforms MATTHEW OEHMICHEN

“This is the most difficult cover-crop season we have faced yet,” I said at the end of July after reviewing all that had occurred to that point. It seemed cover-crop systems were struggling. In north-central Wisconsin, planting into heavy residue or living plants hindered early development of primary crops. Nitrogen availability was altered by



heavy, thick soil residue. And principal crops such as soybeans and corn were developing comparatively slowly in no-till systems.

To add insult to injury, corn grew rapidly in June; that tightened interseeding-application windows for no-till farmers. It’s true; the growing conditions were finally ideal but by that time conditions seemed to favor conventional rather than conservational systems. The heavy residue of winter rye presented an enhanced carbon presence for soil biology to break down,

which requires nitrogen. Simultaneous warm and wet conditions best promote soil biology but conditions were hot and dry in April, and cool and wet in May. Subsequently soil biology was challenged until June when air and soil temperatures, and moisture, finally became more suitable. Still emergence was slow and poor in no-till Please see NO-TILL, Page E5


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Managing Winter Cover Crops in Corn and Soybean Cropping Systems

Agronomic insights and innovations for forward-thinking farming.

Adding cover crops can of fer

productivity. For example, while

Research studies on cover crop

opportunities for improving soil

legume cover crops can fix valuable

effects on grain crop yields have

q u a l i t y a n d c ro p p ro d u c ti o n

nitrogen (N) for a subsequent corn

reported a range of responses,

efficiency. Most cover crops that are

crop, they generally take longer

depending on environment, cover

used fall into one of three groups:

to establish than grasses in the

crop species and management.

grasses, legumes or brassicas.

fall and are less well suited for

Legume cover crops and grass-

The time and method of cover

scavenging nutrients, suppressing

legume mixtures are more likely to

crop establishment should be

weeds and protecting the soil from

have a positive effect on corn yield

tailored to the cover crop species,

erosion. Selecting the right cover

than grasses alone. Grass residues

local environment and farming

crop for your farming operation

break down more slowly in the spring

o p e ra ti o n . C ove r c ro p u s a g e

begins by identifying the specific

and are more likely to interfere with

throughout Wisconsin is increasing

functions you want the cover crop

residues, which break down rapidly.

soil in place in areas prone to

W h e n s e l e c ti n g c ove r c ro p s ,

wind and water erosion. They can

growers should have goals in mind

also hold over nutrients through

for use. Some crops may take

Cover crops are best viewed as

winter and suppress tough to

longer to establish. Other mixes are

a long-term investment in soil

control weeds.

cold tolerant and more resilient.

more widely planted grass options for corn and soybean growers while wheat growers prefer legumes.

Rye, turnips and oats are common cover crops in Wisconsin. Local watershed groups can also be a source of selection assistance. For more information, contact your local Pioneer sales representative or visit Pioneer ® agronomy at pioneer.com/agroanomy. Sign up to receive the latest agronomy updates for your geography from Pioneer at pioneer.com/signup.

early corn growth than legume

to provide. Cover crops help hold

in popularity. Winter rye is one of the

It may not always appear that no-till systems offer enough advantages when compared to conventional methods. But they’ve been proven to improve soil structure, more effectively capture soil fertility and reduce inputs – among other benefits.

RYAN BATES Field Agronomist Menomonie, WI

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storylines of heroes I’d never heard of, to the names of comic authors and famous illustrators. Feeling very lopsided in life, the conversations piqued my interest; I needed to follow up with Scotty. Before the end of the night I pulled him aside to chat. “What gives, man? Where did you get this eclectic life experience and how long have you been a comic nerd?” I asked with a big smile. He answered, “Ha! I’ve always loved the comics and it’s been a passion of mine for years. As for everything else, Sundays with the kids. We call it ‘Our Time!’” He had my attention. He told me he was a workaholic and that he almost lost everything because he had an off-balance life. He had been on the brink of divorce. He felt the gaps in his relationships with his four girls but he justified it because “providing” was his role. Unfortunately he did that to the exclusion of everything else. Something needed to change. And the solution was simple – put as much emphasis on taking time to stop and rest as on everything else. Scotty had put into practice the habit of personal refreshing. Sundays were a time to stop and do something completely different. It was a time to shut off the work-week world, to expose their hearts and minds to other things – anything, everything and each other. It was a habit that had profound impact on their well-being. It opened the doors to many different interests – and it proved to be the secret sauce to a tight family.

Growing Farm Safety Traditions

Safety never takes a break. We believe in protecting the families and children in our farming communities. Visit us online to learn how we help keep Wisconsin agriculture strong and find a local agent.

When I say the conversation changed my life, I’m not kidding. I questioned my own life’s approach to balance. What was I doing to stop, take life in and enjoy the fruits of all the work of the previous week? Truthfully it’s a message we hear all the time – “take time to smell the roses.” But what Scotty ignited in my head and heart was a desire to take that concept and make it real. I was a good worker; I loved my job and my family. But was I approaching anything akin to “Our Time” as specifically and purposefully as I approached my work? The concept isn’t a new one. Growing up in church we hear how God rested on the seventh day. Rest is so important that God saw fit to set the example for us. And now more than ever, with the attention-deficit society we live in, we need to return to that concept. Our happiness depends on it. We need to create space in life to rest, recharge and reconnect with those around us and who support us. Rest recharges us; it feeds our happiness and positivity. It impacts our spirits – even on the biological level. Shawn Achor in his Ted Talk “The Happiness Advantage” said if somebody’s level of positivity is increased, his or her brain experiences what’s referred to as a “happiness advantage.” Put another way, when a brain is positive its performance is significantly better than when a brain is negative, neutral or stressed. Intelligence increases, creativity increases and energy levels increases. He said every business outcome improves. When was the last time you picked up a hobby that has nothing to do with what you do during the week? When was the last time you did something for the pure purpose of being happy? Create a space in your life where you, or you and your loved ones, take the time to do something completely different, to rest and to create those happy moments that come to pass during “our time.” The concept has changed my life. My wife and expanding family have never been closer and we cherish “our time” as a weekly family ritual. Small talk still isn’t my favorite. But I’ll say that given opportunities to rest and recharge through the years, I’ll have so much more to contribute. Michael Hoffman is president of Igniting Performance, a Dallas-based training and consulting firm that specializes in the areas of sales, leadership and building customer loyalty. Email michael@ignitingperformance.com to reach him.

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No-till From E4

systems due to soil trenches not closing and less-thanideal growing conditions caused by shallower seed placement in trenches. But then the tide turned. Interseedings received a boost as corn began more rapidly maturing. The quickly growing corn allowed more sunlight penetration to the companion crops and led to thicker growth. No-till fields surged ahead and yields have exceeded expectations. And indications show improvements in soil-profile conditions. The 2021 growing season is a good reminder that we need to resist jumping to early conclusions – it can lead to sharing incomplete or incorrect evaluations. The job of an agronomist includes acknowledging what is happening and, more importantly, understanding why. Agronomists must also cultivate a habit among their clients to ask the “why” questions to encourage more consistency, predictability and profitability on their farms. Other strong reasons for farmers to implement no-till systems are the ongoing weather and logistical challenges Wisconsin farmers face. According to “Wisconsin’s Changing Climate: Impact and Adaptations,” agriculture is likely to see benefits as well as challenges to productivity as climatic patterns shift. At University of Wisconsin-Discovery Farms sites across Wisconsin, despite the combination of wet and dry years, an obvious increase in annual precipitation has been noted. More concentrated in the spring, the increases typically arrive in larger volumes and in a single storm. Wisconsin surface runoff primarily occurs in late winter and spring. Thawing frozen soil mixed with snowmelt and rain events lead to saturated soil conditions. Annual plants such as corn and soybeans aren’t yet established in spring,

affording minimal soil protection from living plants. Pursuing cover-crop systems can provide necessary soil protection to safeguard against erosion and nutrient loss caused by runoff. Plus cool-season plants can begin to convert extra water into plant matter and more quickly bring soil back to functioning after winter. Alongside the soil benefits, minimal tillage means fewer labor needs. Farm owners will continue to face logistical challenges such as labor and securing inputs. According to a recent report by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of agricultural workers is expected to increase 1 percent from now until 2029. That is less than all other reported occupations. Though dealing with a persistent shortage of labor is a major issue, securing inputs is poised to be an even greater challenge. Shutdown production facilities due to Hurricane Ida, fewer exports from China, the increasing cost of production in western Europe and global stocks being bought out created a spike in price and reduced availability of fertilizer for the 2022 season, according to DTN. Doing more with less will be necessary. That means it’s paramount to embrace a system that not only requires fewer inputs but also captures nutrients that would otherwise be lost from erosion, leaching and volatilization. The no-till approach improves soil structure, captures more fertility, and reduces inputs and workloads. Those systems also modernize agriculture while adapting to current challenges. Building resiliency within farming systems is not just to mitigate weather challenges or environmental regulations; it creates opportunities for the future sustainability of farm businesses. Portions of this article were contributed by Amber Radatz, co-director of University of Wisconsin-Discovery Farms. Email amber.radatz@ wisc.edu to reach her.

Thursday, October 21, 2021 | E5

Climate neutrality within reach FRANK MITLOEHNER

As many have sights set on net-zero carbon – putting no more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere than can be removed during a period of time – the potential for U.S. dairy is even greater. If the sector can reduce its methane emissions by 18 Mitloehner percent to 32 percent in the coming decades, it could achieve something more powerful – climate neutrality. Also known as net-zero warming, climate neutrality occurs when an entity stops contributing any warming to the atmosphere. Once the dairy sector reaches climate neutrality it can begin cooling the atmosphere, providing its emissions reductions continue. It’s more than a pipe dream, according to “Pathway to Climate Neutrality for U.S. Beef and Dairy Cattle Production,” a paper that demonstrates beef and dairy can be part of the solution to global warming. Visit clear.ucdavis.edu/

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news/climate-neutrality for more information. The first step calls for an adequate metric. The Paris Agreement, an international climate-change treaty, calls for limiting global warming to less than 2 degrees Celsius compared to pre-industrial levels. Thus it’s necessary to have climate metrics that indicate how greenhouse-gas emissions affect Earth’s temperature through time. The long-standing “GWP100” metric captures the warming impact of carbon dioxide and other long-lived pollutants. But that metric falls short for methane, the primary emission of the dairy industry. It doesn’t account for methane’s atmospheric removal so it doesn’t show which reductions in methane emissions will produce no additional warming. A new metric known as “GWP*” – verbalized as “GWP star” – considers the change in methane-emissions rates during a specified time frame – typically 20 years for methane. It also considers the small stock component to calculate carbon-dioxide warming equivalent emissions – CO2we. It better depicts

how a change in methane today will affect global warming in the future. GWP* is a more-accurate metric for the methane-intensive cattle industries. The sectors aren’t alone in aiming for climate neutrality. But because the warming footprint of animal agriculture is largely comprised of the shortlived greenhouse gas methane, its ability to reach net-zero warming doesn’t require emissions to reach net zero. It merely requires a constant source of emissions. Accomplishing net-zero warming requires major reductions in emissions. One scenario requires reducing enteric-methane emissions per animal, which is counter to the trend of the past 30 years. The herd size decreased but emissions per animal grew because of increasing feed intake. The industry needs to reduce enteric-methane emissions from cattle on pastures – as opposed to those on feedlots. It also needs to develop and deliver methane-reducing feed additives, develop reduced-methane-emitting breeding strategies and adopt other innovations.

Net-zero warming requires dairy to cut methane emissions by 18 percent to 32 percent, and achieve substantial reductions in emissions of carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide from feed production, land use, energy use and other inputs. It will require a commitment from the industry, government support, and advances in technology and research. Though it won’t be easy, innovations that reduce greenhouse-gas emissions are being studied and becoming more available. Adoption of those innovations is being incentivized. Dairy is one of a few sectors that can be part of a climate solution by pulling carbon out of the atmosphere, thus offsetting emissions of other sectors. On this journey toward climate sustainability, climate neutrality is a major mile marker.

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Frank Mitloehner is a professor in the Department of Animal Science at the University of California-Davis and an air-quality specialist with University of California-Extension. Email fmmitloehner@ucdavis.edu to reach him.

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