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Farm Progress 2014

A special supplement to the March 15, 2014 Morris Sun Tribune

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Morris, Minnesota 56267

An update on crossbreeding at WCROC conventional dairy Brad J. Heins University of Minnesota, West Central Research and Outreach Center Why do we have so many cows in our conventional dairy herd? Crossbreeding! My colleagues and I just completed a study that evaluated crossbred cows sired by Montbéliarde bulls c o m p a re d t o H o l s t e i n cows. This study may provide an insight as to why there are so many cows in the Morris dairy herd. We evaluated cows from both the St. Paul and Morris conventional dair y herds; however, I will only present the results from the Morris herd. Decreased survival and increased death loss of Holstein cows has resulted in a renewed interest in crossbreeding of dairy cattle. Previous published reports from the California crossbreeding study (my PhD dissertation) found that crossbred dairy cows have

a higher rate of survival and higher profit compared to Holstein cows during their lifetimes. Data collection was from March 2006 to February 2013, and compared cows during their first five lactations. All crossbred cows had similar 305-day fat plus protein production compared to their Holstein herdmates during first, second, and third and greater lactation (see accompanying table). Notably, the results for production are reported on a 305-day projected basis, which does not necessarily reflect milk produced within a fixed interval of time, because cows that died or left the herd are projected to 305 days. The Montbéliarde × Holstein and Montbéliarde × Jersey/Holstein cows were superior to the Holsteins for fertility across the first five lactations. To put this into perspective, 18 p e rc e n t m o re 3 - b re e d

crossbred cows became pregnant after one service than Holsteins, and the crossbred cows were becoming pregnant 1 to 1.5 heat cycles sooner than the Holsteins (fewer days open). The table also has survival rates for crossbred

cows versus Holsteins, and all crossbred groups had higher percentages of cows that calved a third, fourth, and fifth time than Holsteins. The Montbéliarde × Holstein (5.1 percent) had lower mortality rate than Holstein (17.7 percent) cows. The results in-

dicate that Holstein cows were 2.1 times more likely to die on-farm than MOsired crossbred cows during their lifetimes. Mortality represents a significant loss of income for dairy producers because salvage value is lost, carcass disposal is costly, future pro-

duction is lost, and heifer replacement costs may not be recovered. Results of this study indicated crossbred cows had similar production to Holsteins, but the crossbred cows had advantages over Holsteins for fertility, sur vival, and longevity.

What we do with a soil sample at the ‘Soils Lab’ Chris Wente USDA-Agricultural Research Service, Morris, Minn. Soil samples are important tools for many of our research programs at the USDA-Agricultural Research Service's North Central Soil Conservation Research Lab. In fact, many people know us as the “Soils Lab.” We use soil samples to tell how many nutrients are in soil, where they are transported, and how they are distributed. These samples can also tell us where soil water is being stored and how much is available to meet crop needs. In addition, the samples can be used to determine soil compaction and erosion. Soil samples can be taken by hand or with a hydraulic probe. Hand probes work very well in difficult-to-access areas

where minimal disturbance is desired. Most hand sampling is done during the growing season in the top 18 inches of the soil. A hydraulic probe is used to take deeper and larger samples, usually at the beginning or end of the growing season. A hydraulic cylinder is used to push a sample tube into the ground, usually to a depth of three feet. Once a soil core has been taken, it is divided into specific depth increments needed for the research. At most sampling locations two soil cores are taken: one is used for element analysis and the second is used to measure physical properties. As soon as possible, soil samples used to measure physical properties are weighed and placed in an oven at 225 degrees F. Baking them at this temperature removes all the water from the samples. Then the

s a m p l e s a re w e i g h e d again. The difference in weight before and after drying gives us the information we need to calculate water percentage and the density of each sample. Elemental samples are placed in an oven at 99 degrees F to dry. A lower temperature is used to reduce elemental transformation which is loss or change of elements in the soil sample. After the elemental samples are dried, they are ground to the consistency of flour using a hammer mill along with a mortar and pestle. After they have been ground, the elemental samples are now ready for further studies in the chemistry lab. A majority of elemental analysis begin by using a solution to extract nutrients from the soil. A nutrient we commonly study is nitrate, which is one of the forms of nitrogen available for plant growth. Other nutrients of interest

include ammonium, phosphorous, and potassium. Once we are finished with our extraction, the solution can be analyzed for the nutrient. Typically a colorimetric measurement is used. It is a chemical reaction that produces color changes according to how much of an element is in the solution. These results are used to calculate nutrient concentrations in the soil. Most of the time these nutrients are present in very low quantities and are reported as part per million, or PPM. By combining nutrient analysis with soil density measurements, we can calculate nutrient levels in the soil. When we take multiple soil samples during the growing season, we can monitor changes in nutrient levels and distributions and track changes in soil water levels. Soil samples Chad Rollofson prepares to take a soil sample with a hydraulic at the beginning or end of probe. Soil samples are important research tools at the Soils growing seasons can be Lab. used to monitor fertilizer application rates, nutrient different crops in different use, and efficiency. Finally, rotations affect soil nutriby taking yearly soil sam- ents and soil water. ples we can analyze how

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In Morris…..soil to oil is real, not just a motto Abdullah A. Jaradat, Jana Rinke, and Jon Starr USDA-Agricultural Research Service, Morris, Minn. During the last few decades, the demand for vegetable oil—which can be used for food, feed, industry, and biofuel—has grown significantly in the US and around the world. This coincides with the need in the emerging US and global bioeconomy for the development of new and diverse crops. Equally important, farmers need to be able to maximize potential yields and returns on marketable products from oilseed crops, including protein levels and seed oil quality and content. The good news is that for oil seed producers, the biodiesel industry is already here! To help Minnesota farmers determine if they can participate and benefit from this growing national and international market, the Soils Lab embarked on a research program to evaluate and introduce oilseed crops for multiple uses. As part of this effort, the Lab, which is part of USDA’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS), participated in a national program to evaluate and select adapted oilseed Brassica (rapeseed) for biodiesel. Brassica oilseeds contain a high oil content which makes them a good candi-

date for producing feedstock oils for biodiesel. For example, seeds from spring canola, which is a Brassica crop, contain around 42 percent oil, while soybean seeds only contain around 20 percent oil. Based on these figures, an acre of spring canola can produce about 130 gallons of oil, while an acre of soybean only produces around 50 gallons of oil. Rapeseed and other oilseed crops might also be a good alternative crop that could be used to diversify crop rotations in Minnesota. Working with a collection of oilseed brassica germplasm, we evaluated and documented a large number of traits that may contribute to high seed and oil yield. Our research program will provide farmers and producers with scientific information about many production issues facing Minnesota farmers, including how to sustainably produce “bioenergy” crops in current and future cropping systems and identifying the value-added technologies needed to make biofuel production more cost-effective. Farmers considering oilseed production need to know that the economic returns for the crops equal or exceed returns from other crop options. The value of oilseeds as a biodiesel feedstock depends upon many factors, including the current costs of petroleum-

based diesel, seed meal, and co-products. Costs of crushing the seed and processing the seed oil into biodiesel are also factors that need to be considered. We will continue to collaborate with ARS partners on large-scale field experiments and laboratory tests to develop cost-effective oilseed cropping systems for U.S. farmers. These efforts will include selecting potential new feedstock

crops for biofuels, improving the yield and economic performance of these crops through breeding and best agronomic practices, and providing educational opportunities and demonstrations for farmers during field days and stakeholders’ meetings.

Zac Jesser takes measurements on whole plots to monitor growth and development of oilseed Brassica crop.

In the field, Drake Burri, Jon Starr and Jana Rinke record multiple images on plots of oilseed Brassica crop at full bloom.

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Morris, Minnesota 56267

What is life cycle assessment and how does it impact farmers? Example Swine Production Life Cycle Assessment Before The Farm

On The Farm

Past The Farm Gate

10 Units Feed

100 Units Liquid Manure 2 Units Propane

1 Unit of Live Hog

110 Units Meat 2 Units Liquid Fossil Fuel Barns, facilities

Tractors, vehicles

1 Unit Electricity

Pens, feeders, equipment 100 Units Clean Water This simplified example of the swine production life cycle has the major inputs and outputs into a typical swine production system. This is a partial life cycle because it ends at the point where the products leave the farm. A complete LCA would assess the products to the point where they reach the consumer and are recycled or put in the waste streams.

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Joel Tallaksen, Research Scientist, Univ. of Minn. West Central Research and Outreach Center Over the last 30 years, manufacturers have been using Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) to identify the inputs and outputs from their operations and the impacts of those inputs and outputs on the environment. This was mainly limited to large corporations in industrial manufacturing, power production industries, and raw materials suppliers. However, in the last several years, LCA methods have begun to be used in many more industries, including agriculture. Tools such as LCA are being used by agricultural product manufacturers to address consumer demands and market requirements for agricultural products that have lower impacts on the environment. Agriculture, just like manufacturing operations, uses raw materials, labor, and energy in the production of grain and other products. LCA is an accounting system that analyzes the amount of these inputs needed for each unit of output. The LCA process also estimates the impacts

of using the resources to make a product. A very common focus for LCAs is the amount of energy being used to make a product, the amount of carbon dioxide being released to the atmosphere in the manufacturing process, and the impacts that these have on global climate change. As a simple example, consider the inputs and outputs of a swine operation (see the accompanying picture). Feedstuffs (primarily grain and soybean meal), energy, and water are put into the swine production operation , whose main products are meat and manure. Therefore, we can calculate how much grain is needed to make one pound of pork. Similarly, we can look at water and energy use in swine systems. This provides us with information about how efficient the production operation is at using resources. The next step is to figure out what the impact of this system is on the environment. We are taking fresh water from a lake, stream, or aquifer. Energy is likely being produced with fossil resources that emit carbon dioxide when used. In addition, the manure produced in the operation will release

ammonia gas and nitrous oxide to the atmosphere; both are linked to global climate change. As this example shows, the concept of LCA is fairly straight forward. However, a full LCA study is much more complex than the example. Rather than simply calculating the energy directly used in the pork production operation, the study would have to include all the diesel fuel, petroleum-based chemicals/fertilizers, and energy used to produce the feed grain. In addition, the energy used in construction of equipment, buildings, and tractors/vehicles would be part of the LCA. Another factor that is important when discussing agricultural LCA work is land use. Using land in different ways has impacts on the environment. Bringing all these factors together in a LCA requires making some very tough choices in which data to include and what can be left out. Additionally, the volume of data that is needed for a complete LCA is difficult to collect and manage. Therefore, specialized computer software and training is needed to assess, manage, and interpret the data needed in a large LCA proj-

ect. So, why would we want to go to the effort of conducting an LCA? LCAs are designed to answer questions about resource use. In heavy industry, it may be valuable to focus on questions like ‘How much steel is being used to produce a truck?’. The same sorts of questions can be asked in agriculture. For example, how many acres of corn are needed to produce one ton of market ready hogs? A big advantage of LCA methods is that we can compare different production systems. Again using the swine example, we could compare the acres of corn needed if we fed the animals with a conventional corn diet compared to one with distiller’s grains from ethanol production. One of the largest areas where LCA is being used is energy. In a cropping example, the question may be ‘How

much more or less energy (diesel fuel) would I use if I switched from conventional tillage to no till?’. Though farmers often look at their data to get a rough answer to these questions, they typically will not go as deeply into the data as LCA methods require. An LCA is designed to look at an entire system in detail, which is needed to assess environmental impacts. In fact, the largest use for LCA methods is looking at broader environmental impacts. In agriculture, there are two main areas where LCA is being used to examine these impacts; biofuels and food products. In the case of food products, the companies that manufacture or sell the products are under pressure from consumer groups to sell foods that have lower environmental impacts. This includes large multinational food manufacturers, who buy grain, meat, and milk from Midwest farms. The environmental impacts of ethanol and biodiesel production are also being heavily scrutinized. Ethanol opponents have used early ethanol LCAs to suggest that ethanol is not a viable source of renewable energy. This has led some state governments, notably California, to examine how ethanol fits into their environmental goals a n d w h a t p o l i c i e s a re needed to meet those goals. Though the impacts on farmers are indirect, LCA data has already begun to change the farm economy. Companies who want to meet consumer preferences for foods that have less environmental impacts are likely to buy their commodities from producers who meet specific energy, organic, or production goals in their farming operations. Similarly, ethanol produced with methods that require more energy is of less value under the California clean air regulations. This in-

cludes the energy used on the farm for growing corn. The data being used to make these decisions is coming from LCA work being done on agricultural production systems. It is important for farmers to understand that the methods that they use to produce their crops, meat, and milk are being evaluated by techniques such as life cycle assessment and that the data is being used to influence the values of some of their products. Because of the difficulty in conducting LCAs, most farmers wouldn’t consider doing one on their own. However, most major commodity organizations are having LCAs conducted as part of their check-off programs. In addition, most land-grant universities are researching LCAs of different agricultural systems. A benefit to all of the LCA work is that farmers are getting new tools to help reduce energy use in their operations, which translates to lower production costs. Life cycle assessment studies will likely be more important as consumers groups and government agencies continue to push for improved environmental performance from agriculture. While most farmers don’t have the time to invest in understanding all the details of LCA, understanding some of the findings from LCA work will help them reduce their inputs and provide them with insight into future trends in consumer demands and government regulations. For more information on specific cropping or animal specific life cycle work, a set of web links has been set up at

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Saturday, March 15, 2014 - Page 5C

Feeding dairy steers on pasture tential additional source of Brad Heins and Elizabeth Bjorklund revenue for organic dairy producers. Currently, with W i t h t h e e x t r e m e the high price of organic drought conditions in the grains in the United States, Upper Midwest during the male offspring of or2012, many dairy produc- ganic Holstein and crossers continue to be worried bred dairy cattle represent about high grain and hay a potential resource for prices. Therefore, produc- pasture-raised beef in the e r s a r e r e d u c i n g t h e Midwest. The research study used amount of grain fed to cattle to reduce feed costs and b u l l c a l v e s b o r n f ro m maintain profitability. At March to May 2011 from the West Central Research the WCROC dairy, and they and Outreach Center’s or- were subsequently evaluganic dairy, we have re- ated for growth, meat qualcently completed a study ity, consumer acceptability, where we evaluated the ef- and profitability over the fects of growth, meat qual- next 14 to 20 months. The ity, and profitability of con- bull calves were assigned to ventionally raised dairy one of three groups at birth: steers compared to organi- conventional, organic cally raised dairy steers. (pasture plus concenThis project was funded by trate), and organic-grass a North Central SARE grad- only (100 percent pasture). The conventional steers uate student grant. There is an increase in were fed a diet of 80percent global demand for organic concentrate and 20 percent products, especially grass- roughage and received fed and finished. Bull Component E-S implants. calves may represent a po- The organic steers were fed

Land Stewardship project The USDA-Agricultural Research Service (“Soils Lab”) in collaboration with The Land Stewardship Project Cover Crops Network will be providing detailed soil health assessments to farmers implementing newly diversified row-crop and pasture production systems. The soil health assessments will provide valuable information on the benefits of diversifying with cover crops and annual and perennial forages. The photo shows producer John Ledermann, of Brandon, Minn., in late October 2013, examining the tap root of a tillage radish in this mixture with red clover, and volunteer wheat, planted after wheat harvest. His goal is to provide weed suppression, reduce compaction, increase soil stability, retain and increase nitrogen and build soil organic matter.

a diet of organic corn, organic corn silage, and at least 30 percent of their diet consisted of organic pasture during the grazing season. The grass-only steers grazed pasture during the grazing season and were fed high quality hay or hay silage during the non-grazing season. The conventional steers were sent to slaughter July 24, 2012 to the Tyson Fresh Meats plant in Dakota City, Neb. and the organic and grass-only steers were sent to Lorentz Meats, Cannon Falls, on Sept. 19, 2012 and Nov.13, 2012, respectively. Strip loins were collected for a consumer taste panel, which allowed 100 beef consumers to rate the beef for overall liking and flavor. Profit was defined to include revenues and expenses for beef value, feed cost, pasture cost, health cost, and yardage. The grass-only dairy steers had greater days to

slaughter, lower slaughter weights, and had lower average daily gains than conventional steers. Average daily gains from birth (lb/day) were 2.52 (conventional), 1.79 (organic), and 1.35 (grass-only). As expected, steers fed higher amounts of grain and concentrate had carcasses with greater fat thickness, larger ribeye area, and higher yield grades than steers fed higher amounts of pasture. The fat from the grassonly steers was higher in Omega-3 fatty acid and lower in monounsaturated and saturated fat, which may indicate potential health benefits of grass-fed beef. Consumers who rated the beef found no significant difference for overall liking for the conventional and organic beef. The organic beef had significantly higher flavor liking than the conventional beef. However, consumers rated the grass-only beef

the lowest in overall liking and flavor. For profitability, grain costs were substantially higher for the organic steers, and therefore, resulted in a net loss per steer (-$644/steer). The higher cost of production for the organic steers is due to the extremely high value of organic corn ($15.90/bushel, January 2013). The grass-only steers had the highest profit per steer ($593 vs. $442) compared to conventional steers because of lower feed costs, mainly pasture. Therefore, a low grain ration may reduce feed costs without sacrificing profit in an organic dairy system, assuming the grass-fed steers can be marketed at a premium price based on the production

system. The conventional steers had some advantage over the grass-only steers, and the conventional dairy steers grew much faster and required less time to slaughter. However, grassonly steers required fewer resources than conventional steers. Organic dairy producers trying to seek relief from high grain prices, with a little “extra” pasture may be able to make a profit from feeding organic dairy steers versus selling them to conventional markets. The most important point for reducing inputs and increasing profits in organic dairy systems is to produce high quality forages and maximize dry matter intake on pasture.

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Morris, Minnesota 56267

Using summer annuals as forages for livestock systems Brad Heins University of Minnesota, West Central Research and Outreach Center Pasture is the primary source of forage for grazing dairies, and for organic dairies, the National Organic Program livestock production regulations require a minimum of 120 days grazing per animal. In the northern United States, this requirement is typically met by a May–September grazing season, and profitability depends on pastures that provide a uniform, season-long supply of high quality forage. However, in the northern United States, seasonal variation in temperature and precipitation creates a challenge, as the predominant forage plants, which include perennial grasses such as Kentucky bluegrass and smooth bromegrass, and legumes such as white clover, undergo a “summer slump” in production. To

create a more uniform and extended forage supply, research studies have recommended diversifying pasture systems to include warm season species in the summer. An approach to increasing diversity in a farm’s forage base is to combine annual and perennial crops in separate fields. An example for the northern United States would be to use cool season grasses and legumes for forage in spring and early fall, and warm season annuals like teff and sudangrass for forage in summer. Grazing systems using these different approaches to achieve diversity require biological, environmental and economic analysis. Why should summer annuals be considered by livestock producers? They are very drought tolerant and can fill a gap in feed when other species experience the “summer slump”. They are great emergency forages during dry weather

and are multipurpose, so you can use them for grazing, silage, or for baling. During the summer of 2013, we planted two summer annuals for grazing for the first time at the University of Minnesota WCROC dair y in Morris. BMR Sorghum-Sudangrass and Teff grass were planted to extend our forage supply. These grasses were seeded with a drill on May 28, 2013, but because of the late spring, this was about two weeks later than what we planned. BMR Sorghum-Sudangrass has increased in popularity due to the BMR gene and increased NDF digestibility (5-10 percent h i g h e r t h a n re g u l a r sorghum-sudangrass). The plants have thick stems a n d a r e v e r y l e a f y.

Sorghum-sudangrass has moderate regrowth potential, but you should not graze or cut for forage until the plants are at least 18 inches tall to reduce prussic acid concentration. The ideal height for forage is 18 to 36 inches tall. When grazing sorghum-sudangrass animals should be moved so they leave six to eight inches of stubble, but they might waste 20-30 p e rc e n t o f t h e f o r a g e through grazing. Lastly, s o rg h u m s a n d s u d a n grasses are luxury consumers of potassium, so they should not be used for dry cow forages. For seeding rate, we seeded our fields and pastures at 20 lbs/acre. Teff grass is native to Northern Africa. Teff is drought tolerant and can

be seeded into many different soil types. With this grass, you will have high yield with competitive forage quality, and will have rapid growth for 9 to 12 weeks. The seed is very, very small, and we seeded our pastures at 8 lbs/acre. Both of these annuals should be planted at 60 to 65 degree soil temperature and planted 1 to 1.5 inches deep. Perhaps, manure should be added as a fertilizer before planting because they have nitrogen requirements that are similar to corn. The table has averages for forage quality of BMR sorghum-sudangrass, teff grass, and cool-season grasses during 2013. The cool-season species consist of mixtures of smooth bromegrass, orchardgrass,

red and white clover, and alfalfa. The dry matter of the sorghum-sudangrass was low because the cattle grazed the fresh forage in the early vegetative state. The summer annuals were not as high in crude protein as the cool-season grasses. However, with lower crude proteins, we probably improved nitrogen utilization of the milking herd. The ADF values of the grasses were very similar and are within the range of low 30s to mid-50s. All of these grass species were high in digestibility. The NDF levels were higher for the summer annual grasses comp a re d t o c o o l - s e a s o n species. However, the total tract NDFD (TTNDFD) was lowest for the teff grass. TTNDFD is a measure of how much fiber is digestible, how fast the fiber digests, and how long a cow holds the fiber in the digestive system. The summer annuals were similar to the cool-season grasses for sugar and non-fiber carbohydrates, and they provided similar net energy for lactation and milk per ton as the cool-season grasses. Remember, sorghumsudangrass and teff grass are not replacements for cool-season forages, but should be added to a forage program to compliment the cool-season grasses. If there is a drought or dry weather, these two forages may prevent you from having to buy expensive hay during a drought.

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Saturday, March 15, 2014 - Page 7C

Morris Area Ag Management and Entrepreneurship student essays share ideas on agriculture topics Students in the Ag Management and Entrepreneurship class at Morris Area High School were asked to write about agriculture. This class focuses on the many facets of agriculture -- markets, futures, marketing, management systems and the principals of running an ag business. Every student in the class wrote a short essay on a topic in agriculture, from machinery to conservation practices to ag land use. These essays were selected to represent the work by the entire class. The Morris Sun Tribune thanks ag teacher Natasha Mortenson and her students for sharing their thoughts as part of our 2014 Farm Progress edition. AgReliant Genetics By: Samantha Henrichs AgReliant Genetics is a country wide business. At AgReliant Genetics, farmer customers guide research and production efforts. They research different crops like corn to find new and better breeds. At AgReliant Genetics they specialize in seed product i o n . To h e l p t h e re searchers find the best kind of seed they do national a n d g l o b a l re s e a rc h through on-farm trials. AgReliant has six different brands of seed, AgriGold, Great Lakes Hybrids, LG Seeds, Producers Hybrids, We n s m a n , a n d P r i d e Seeds. There are 13 different research places in the United States. The states the research centers are in are Minnesota, Iowa, Nebraska, Kansas, Illinois, Indiana, and Michigan. One of the research centers is right here in Morris, Minn. The purpose of genetic research is to develop hybrids with higher yields, improved feed value, and to understand the use of traits to achieve resistance to insects, drought and diseases. There are many career opportunities in AgReliant. You can work with sales, marketing, being an

agronomist, research, etc. The people doing all those jobs are all important in finding a more successful brand of seed to give you the best end result. How BIG is Agriculture in Minnesota? By: Tracy Meichsner Have you ever thought about how big agriculture is in Minnesota? In the state of Minnesota, there are 54 million acres, and of that land, 26.9 million acres is farmland. The top agricultural products in the state are corn, soybeans, hogs, dairy products, and cattle and calves. Also the state has 1.32 million acres dedicated to conservation and wetland reserve programs. There are 81,000 farms in Minnesota with the average farm size being 332 acres. Minnesota is a true agricultural state and to prove this, we are ranked seventh in the world for farm exporting. The facts stated above tell you the importance of agriculture to the people in the state. Minnesota’s second-largest employer is agriculture and food industries, which this statistic itself shows how important agriculture is to not only our economy but also our Morris community. Minnesota also has an Ag in the Classroom program to help share and spread the great word of agriculture. You may be wondering why this article is important, or even why anyone should care. But the real truth is everyone uses agriculture every day of their life even if you don’t admit it or see it. Whether you notice or not, agriculture is EVERYWHERE! In Minnesota and all over the world, people depend on agriculture to live and make a living off of it. If it wasn’t for agriculture, we would not be living the life we live today. Women in Agriculture By: Anna Hadler The number of women in agriculture is going up. According to a study done by the U. S. Department of Agriculture, the number of

farms owned and operated by women more than doubled from 1982 to 2007. There are also more than one million women involved in farming, which is 30 percent of the total number of farmers in the United States. These numbers are expected to increase in the coming years. Researchers at Iowa State University have estimated that women could potentially own a majority of the farmland in America by 2027. Currently, 20 percent of the farmland in Iowa is owned by women and 10 percent is owned by single women over the age of 75. This is due to the fact that many women become the owners of their farms by outliving their fathers or husbands. Many women are choosing to begin farming for reasons other than continuing the legacy of their family, however. There are many women who have begun farming to try to break the glass ceiling, challenge stereotypes, and make a difference in the world. One of the ways women are making a difference in agriculture is their focus on sustainability. Women are the front-runners in growing organic crops. Many female-operated farms also put a great deal of focus on providing crops for their local communities. These factors combine to make women leaders in the field of sustainable farming. Is social media the gateway to success in Agriculture? By: Carlie Zimmel When asked five years ago what the impact of technology on agriculture was, most people would believe it was the scientific and technological advances such as GPS, natural resources, or crop genetics. Today one of the most crucial tools in agriculture is the use of social media. Being successful in the agricultural world is all about connections. While using social media to enhance your business might have positive outcomes,

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there are also some factors working against you. On Feb. 20 when speaking to Morris Area High school, Amanda Radke, a fifth generation rancher from Mitchell, S.D., stressed how important social media and blogging are to her business. She told students by connecting with people all over the world and giving them little tips and clues on what is happening in the agribusiness world, you will increase the amount of people doing business with you. Social media is a way to reach out to the public and inform them about what’s healthy and how food is made. “There’s so much misinformation out there about farming and what farmers do. A lot of people have lost track of where their food comes from,” said Dino Giacomazzi, a fourth-generation dairy farmer in central California. Conferences are held all over the world to inform farmers how the use of social media is beneficial to them. Social media is a nice tool unless it is being used to negatively impact the agriculture industry. Antiagriculturists are also using social media to promote their ideas and beliefs. Organizations like PETA and Humane Society of the United States have used techniques including social media to gain more support. People from big cities log onto social media and see messages falsely advertising agriculture or a video of animals being harmed and believe it because they aren’t around agriculture every day. If those people think pigs or cows are misstreated, they might not want to buy pork or beef anymore. As long as farmers and people in the agriculture field are staying connected and standing up against these organizations, social media will continue to be a useful tool.

Peterson vs. Westrom: How to Cast Your Vote By: Mike Rausch In the year 2014, it is once again the time to vote for your U. S. Congressman. Now this year is going to be a difficult year for many voters as Torrey Westrom (R) is running against Collin Peterson (D). And even though Peterson labels himself as a democrat, many of his views can lean towards the right, leading many voters to be in a bind over this year’s election. Both of these men have many years of experience in government and both share some views on several major agriculture issues, and in fact on many issues are almost identical. So what it ends up coming down to is who do you want representing you in the House? Peterson, who was elected in 1991 to the House, has been active for close to 25 years, while if Westrom was elected into the position, he would be starting at the bottom of the totem pole. Peterson is a very conservative democrat and votes for what most call republican views on all matters including gun control, gay rights, abortion and immigration. The only area that he has a liberal vote is in terms of education. Though he is a “Democrat” he still has the support of many of today’s Republicans and will continue to until the end of his career. What will decide the vote for many voters is the amount of time that each has had. With the amount of experience that Peterson has had in the House, his voice has earned the respect of many of the other representatives. Westrom, on the other hand, is brand new and would have to take a lot of time getting up to the top in the ranks. If you want to focus on the differences between the two, there are not

many. The major difference is that Peterson has a history of voting for more funding for education. If you agree with the education system needing more money, then he is your guy. If you are so against extra funding that you don’t want to cast your vote for him, then don’t, and if you are completely unsure of who to vote for, call the office of the candidate or send them an email. If you have an opinion, make your voice heard. By: Nate Vipond The Environmental Protection Agency (aka the EPA) wants to pass a law called the Clean Water Act. This sounds like a great idea to most of the country, however it would really affect how so much of our business is done. This Act would put restrictions on all “navigable waters”, which in their description, is every piece of land that water sits on, or travels over. That includes all ditches, low lands, and even land where water just sits. The effects of this Act would be insane to every farmer. It could take away lands from them to farm and it would take 100 feet of the farmer’s land to act as a buffer around these navigable waters. That would add up very fast. If there was a low spot in a field, they would have to set aside 100 feet of land on each side of that low spot, plus however big that spot is. If a farmer wanted to tile his field or level it, or really do any work on his land, he would have to apply for a permit. This can be a very long, expensive process. This would keep a lot of farmers from tiling and other work that could g re a t l y i m p ro v e t h e i r yields.

Page 8C - Saturday, March 15, 2014


Morris, Minnesota 56267

Winter housing systems for organic dairy cows Brad Heins University of Minnesota, West Central Research and Outreach Center

housing utilized sawdust shavings that were stirred twice per day. The OUTDOOR housing used organic wheat straw in a circular pack protected by a natural windbreak. The organic cows were in their housing systems from December 2012 to May 2013. The INDOOR cows averaged 35.5 lbs of milk, 4.0 percent fat, and 3.4 percent protein per day. The OUTDOOR cows averaged 34.2 lbs of milk, 4.2 percent fat and 3.4percent protein.

The INDOOR (357,000) cows had higher mean somatic cell count than the OUTDOOR (206,000) cows. Cows in both housing systems had similar daily dry matter intake (39.3 lbs/cow for INDOOR cows and 38.8 lbs/cow for OUTDOOR cows). Total bedding material used for each management system throughout the winter was nearly twice as much in the INDOOR compost barn (205,510 pounds of shavings) versus OUTDOOR

straw pack (118,210 pounds organic wheat straw). However, with shavings cost at $0.045/pound and straw at $0.07/pound, OUTDOOR cow bedding cost about $1,000 less than INDOOR bedding. In a second part of the study, we wanted to better understand stable fly production potential of different bedding materials within the winter housing systems. After cows were moved to pasture May 28,

2013, we sampled the remaining straw and compost packs with fly emergence traps to measure numbers of stable flies produced by the packs. Flies were emerging when we began sampling on June 14th, 2013. Emergence rates peaked in late June, continued through July and declined to zero in August. Extrapolated totals indicated that approximately 1.5 million stable flies emerged from the average straw pack, as opposed to 27,000 from the average compost pack (a 98 percent reduction). These results show that stable fly prevention is a pre-

viously unrecognized benefit of compost barns for housing organic cattle in winter. This study is being repeated during the winter of 2013-2014 with intent to benefit organic producers who want to make less of an investment in winter cattle housing, which can cost over $600 per cow. Organic dairy producers may want to manage their herd with limited capital structure and eliminate barns as part of their real estate needs.

Red River Watershed Management Board and Red River Basin Flood Damage Reduction Work Group holds 16th joint annual conference The 16th joint annual Red River Basin Flood Damage Reduction Conference will be held on March 25 and 26 at the Holiday Inn Conference Center in Detroit Lakes. This conference is a once-a-year opportunity for everyone in the Red River Valley interested in water management to meet and talk about reducing flood damage, improving water quality and enhancing fish and wildlife habitat. The conference provides a forum for sharing ideas and experiences, and to get updates on projects - both in development

and planned for the future. This year’s program will also provide information on new technologies that can accelerate the development of flood damage reduction projects, as well as opportunities to exchange ideas on how to engage residents, local governments and agencies to move forward with projects that provide multiple benefits. Registration is open to the public - there is no charge for registration. The Conference is sponsored by the Red River Watershed Management Board and the Red River Basin Flood Damage Re-

duction Work Group. Everyone interested in reducing flood damage in the Red River Basin is welcome. Speakers for the conference include Dave Frederickson, Commissioner MN Dept of Agriculture and Tom Landwehr, Commissioner MN – DNR For additional information and to register, please contact Naomi Erickson, Red River Watershed Management B o a rd : 218.844.6166, rrwmb@, on-line at:

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We are in the middle of the second year of the organic out-wintering study. The study is being repeated in 2014 and a full economic analysis of the costs and of benefits outdoor straw packs or compost-bedded pack barn winter housing systems, including benefits of stable fly control, will be evaluated at a later date. I wanted to provide a brief update of results from the first year of the study. Notably, the results may be very different this year because the weather during the winter of 2014 is much different than the winter of 2013. We used 83 organic dairy cows, and we compared them for production and economics in two different winter housing scenarios. Cows were housed in a compost-bedded pack barn (INDOOR) or an outdoor straw pack (OUTDOOR). The INDOOR

Morris, Minnesota 56267


Saturday, March 15, 2014 - Page 9C

USDA announces efforts to expand support for small and mid-sized farmers and ranchers SANTE FE, N.M.窶的n remarks at the National Farmers Union National Convention, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced new and expanded efforts to connect small- and mid-sized farmers and ranchers with USDA resources that can help them build stronger businesses, expand to reach new and larger markets, and grow their operations. "The recent Census of Agriculture shows that t h e re i s t re m e n d o u s growth potential for small and mid-sized producers in the American agricultural landscape," said Vilsack. "USDA is taking a hard look at our existing resources to ensure that they work for producers of all sizes. We've adjusted policies, strengthened programs and intensified outreach to meet the needs of small and mid-sized producers. These producers are critical to our country's agricultural and economic future." Efforts include improved access to USDA resources, revised risk management tools that better fit the needs of smaller producers, additional support for hoop houses, and expanded collection of valuable market news information. USDA is also introducing a series of education tools focusing on opportunities for farmers engaged in local and regional food systems. In addition, USDA field staff will be boosting their outreach efforts to small and midsized farmers and ranchers. More information about tools and resources available to small and mid-sized farmers will be rolled out in the coming months, including information about access to capital, risk management, food safety, and locating market opportunities on USDA's Small and Mid-Sized Farmer Resources webpage.

The new efforts an- plan for their future. nounced by the Secretary USDA is developing a today include: whole farm insurance policy that will better meet the ACCESS TO CAPITAL needs of highly-diversified Changes to the Farm producers, particularly Storage and Facility Loan small and midsized fruit (FSFL) Program to help and vegetable growers. small and midsized fruit Using new tools provided and vegetable producers ac- by the Farm Bill, USDA is cess the program for cold working to reduce crop instorage and related equip- surance costs for beginment like wash and pack ning farmers and ranchers. stations. And organic producers will Diversified and smaller benefit from the eliminafruit and vegetable produc- tion of a previously-reers, including Community quired five percent surSupported Agriculture charge on crop insurance programs, are now eligible premiums. for a waiver from the requirement that they carry LOCATING MARKET crop insurance or NAP cov- OPPORTUNITIES erage when they apply for USDA's Farm to School a FSFL loan. FSFL can also Program has put seven new be used to finance hay Farm to School Coordinabarns and grain bins. tors on the ground in reFunding for producers gional offices to help build under the popular mi- direct relationships becroloan program. tween small and mid-sized USDA launched the mi- producers and school discroloan program to allow tricts. One priority area for beginning, small and mid- Farm to School is creating sized farmers to access up more opportunities for to $35,000 in loans using a small and mid-sized livesimplified application stock and poultry producprocess. Since their debut ers. Since 2013, USDA has in 2013, USDA has issued invested nearly $10 milm o re t h a n 4 , 9 0 0 m i - lion in Farm to School croloans totaling $97 mil- grants that support schools lion. as they purchase from local F u n d i n g f o r h o o p and regional sources. In the houses to extend the grow- 2011-2012 school year ing season. Hoop houses alone, schools spent nearly provide revenue opportu- $355 million on local and nities while also promoting regional food purchases. conservation for small and Expanded price, volume, mid-sized farmers. The supply and demand inforhoop house cost share pro- mation through Market gram began as a pilot in News. 2010. Since then, more Market News is now colthan 10,000 hoop houses lecting price data on grasshave been contracted. fed beef to arm producers USDA will soon announce will real pricing informaan additional $15 million tion from the sector. Marfor hoop house develop- ket News will also soon ment in persistent poverty begin collecting data about counties in nineteen states local food prices and volas part of USDA's Strike- ume, valuable to small and Force for Rural Growth and mid-sized producers enOpportunity Initiative. gaged in that marketplace. Market News provides real R I S K M A N A G E - time price, volume, supply, MENT and demand information Developing tools to help for producers to use in small and midsized farmers making production and and ranchers make sound fi- marketing decisions. Acnancial decisions as they

cess to timely, unbiased market information levels the playing field for all producers participating in the marketplace. Broadened the National Farmers Market Directory to include CSAs, on-farm stores and food hubs. This information will help small and mid-sized producers find new market opportunities. USDA will begin collecting data to update the directory for the 2014 season this spring. The USDA National Farmers Market Directory receives over 2 million hits annually. FOOD SAFETY Launched pilot projects in five states to help small and mid-sized farmers achieve Good Agricultural Practice (GAP) certification. GAP certification indicates farmers have met food safety standards required by many retail buyers. Under these pilot programs, small and midsized producers will be able to share the costs and fees associated with the certification process as a group. Group GAP efforts are being developed in partnership with small and mid-sized producer groups in Michigan, Wisconsin, Montana, Pennsylvania and Missouri. EDUCATIONAL RESOURCES AND OUTREACH Created a Learning Guide Series for small and midsized producers to help them navigate available USDA resources, available on the Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food website. The first in this series will be for small and midsized livestock and poultry producers. Additional Learning Guides will be released later this year. USDA field staff and StrikeForce teams will increase outreach to small and midsized producers using the

Learning Guides. Launched Small Scale Solutions for Your Farm, a series of educational resources designed for both small livestock and fruit and vegetable producers. This includes tips on simple management activities such as planting cover crops to complex structural practices such as animal waste management systems or innovative irrigation devices 2014 FARM BILL The recently-signed 2014 Farm Bill provides USDA with more direct resources to support small and mid-sized farmers, including: Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program (BFRDP), which provides grants to organizations that train, educate and provide outreach and technical assistance to new and beginning farmers on production, marketing, business management, legal strategies and other topics critical to running a successful operation. The 2014 Farm Bill provides $100 million total to BFRDP over the next 5 years. Value-Added Producer Grant Program was modified to allow USDA to better target small and midsized family farms, beginning and socially-disadvantaged farmers, and veterans. The 2014 Farm Bill provides $63 million over the next 5 years. Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion Program is expanded to support both direct-to-consumer opportunities and other supply chain projects such as food hubs. The 2014 Farm Bill provides $30 million annually. USDA FY2015 BUDGET PROPOSAL U S D A l a s t w e e k re leased its FY2015 Budget, which includes additional resources to help small and

mid-sized farmers and ranchers, including: $2.5 million to provide food safety training to owners and operators of small farms, small food processors, and small fruit and vegetable vendors affected by Food Safety Modernization Act. $3 million for Small, Socially Disadvantaged Producers Grants Program to ensure historically underprivileged rural Americans have opportunities for cooperative development. $2.5 million for a new Food and Agriculture Resilience Program for Military Veterans (FARM-Vets) that promotes research, education, and extension activity for veterans. $11 million for the Value-Added Producer Grants Program. The 2014 Farm Bill provides an additional $63 million in mandatory funding that is available until expended. $2.5 million in funding for the National Agricultural Statistics Service to conduct a survey on land ownership and farm financial characteristics. This supports an Administration priority that will provide additional demographic data related to small and beginning farmers and ranchers. $1.2 million for the Office of Advocacy and Outreach to carry out these responsibilities and the provisions of the 2014 Farm Bill related to outreach to beginning, small, and socially disadvantaged farmers, and ranchers, including veterans, and rural communities. $25.7 million for Departmental Administration to maintain critical support activities and oversight for the Department, including management of small and disadvantaged business utilization programs.


Page 10C - Saturday, March 15, 2014

Morris, Minnesota 56267

Using individual feeding stalls to protect low S ranking sows in group housing systems Yuzhi Li West Central Research and Outreach Center, University of Minnesota In group-housing systems, low-ranking sows are usually defeated and injured by high ranking sows. Injuries of low-ranking sows represent an important concern for sow well-being in group-housing systems. By protecting low-ranking sows, we will be able to eliminate individuals with severe injuries, and consequently improve well-being of sows in group-housing systems. At the WCROC, pregnant sows are kept in an alternative housing system. Sows are allowed to roam in pens and fed in individual stalls to ensure all sows get their daily rations. Using this group-housing system, we investigated whether low-ranking sows can use feeding stalls as hiding spaces to escape from fighting and reduce injuries caused by fighting when they are mixed with unfamiliar sows. One hundred and fifty sows were used. Sows were assigned to pens of 15 after

weaning their litters. The control pen allowed sows to access feeding stalls only for feeding during the initial 48 hours of mixing, and the treatment pen allowed sows to access feeding stalls continuously during the same period. Fighting among sows in each pen was video-recorded and analyzed. Sows were categorized as high rank, middle rank, and low rank according to outcomes (wins and losses) of fights they involved in. On average, sows in treatment pens spent 10 percent of their time in feeding stalls during the first 10 hours after mixing, with low ranking sows spending more time (13 percent) than high ranking sows (6 percent). During the initial 4 hours of mixing, low ranking sows spent significant amount of time (27 percent, Fig.1) in stalls than high ranking (7 percent), with middle ranking sows being intermediate (20 percent). Sows fight intensively during the initial few hours after mixing and slow down as time passes by. So, the fact that low ranking sows used feeding stalls

more often during the initial four hours suggests that they were hiding in stalls when fighting was intense. Stall access reduced the number of fights among sows from 50 to 38 during the first six hours after mixing. As a result, low ranking sows and middle ranking sows in treatment pens had fewer skin lesions than their counterparts in control pens (Fig. 2). Therefore, this study demonstrated that individual feeding stalls can be used by low ranking sows as hiding spaces to escape from fighting during the mixing period. Continuous access to feeding stalls during the mixing period improved the well-being of low ranking sows in the group housing system, as indicated by reduced number of fights and injuries caused by fighting.

Fig. 1 Time that sows of differing ranks (High Rank, Middle Rank, and Low Rank) spent in stalls during the initial 8 hours of mixing with unfamiliar sows.

Fig. 2. Effects of stall access on skin lesions caused by fighting in sows of differing ranks (High Rank, Middle Rank, and Low Rank) at 48 hours after mixing.

Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea virus facts and biosecurity guidelines Morris, Minn. — A year ago, Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome (PRRS) virus was the main thought on pork producers’ minds. Today while PRRS is still on the minds of producers, Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea Virus (PEDV) now leads the list of concerns for producers, veterinarians, researchers, packers, and others throughout the industry. Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea virus was first confirmed in the United States in May 2013. Before 2013, PEDV was first observed in England in 1971 and most recently in Asia. PEDV is a coronavirus similar to Transmissible Gastroenteritis (TGE) virus, which has been around the U.S. industry for numerous years. PEDV is only infectious to pigs and is not a food safety concern. Specifically, PEDV affects a pig’s intestine causing severe diarrhea and vomiting. Vomiting is mostly seen in younger pigs. Suckling pigs are affected the most, experiencing extreme dehydration resulting from the diarrhea and vomiting. The dehydration has been known to cause 100 percent mortality in piglets less than seven days of age. Feeder and grower pigs and sows typically experience reduced feed intake, slower gains, and body condition loss without experiencing the severe dehydration. Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea virus is spread by the direct or indirect fecal-oral routes. Direct route involves pig to pig contact, with indirect route including contaminated clothing, footwear, supplies, equipment, and vehicles. Research completed at the University of Minnesota shows PEDV is highly infectious, meaning a very small amount of the virus will cause a pig to have the clinical signs of diarrhea and vomiting. There have been questions about whether PEDV is spread via air, but

that has not been confirmed. The University of Minnesota Swine Disease Eradication Center (SDEC) is currently looking at the lateral spread of PEDV. Researchers were able to collect the virus in the air, but when they introduced that virus to pigs, it did not cause any clinical signs of PEDV in pigs. Because PEDV is a virus, there is no specific treatment for it. Vaccines have been used in Asia and Europe, but those vaccines are not available for use in the United States due to concerns over their effectiveness. Instead, producers are working with their veterinarians to best manage the virus by minimizing the negative effects of dehydration caused by the diarrhea and vomiting. Other ways producers are managing the virus are by weaning piglets earlier than normal and doing an immediate feedback of infected material to the breeding herd as a means to build immunity that can be passed on to their piglets. It is still unknown how long this immunity lasts. Harrisvaccines, based in Ames, Iowa, has developed a vaccine called “iPED”. The company is currently working with U.S. Department of Agriculture to obtain a conditional license to sell the vaccine more widely. Currently it is available through a veterinarian prescription only. To help minimize the spread of PEDV it is recommended that producers, exhibitors, livestock haulers and anyone handling pigs or coming onto a farm must practice strict biosecurity. In order to minimize the spread of PEDV from one farm to another, a line of separation should be established. The line of separation is defined as the line between the area that is to be used by the visitor (transporter, manure hauler, feed truck, etc.) and the area

to be used by farm or market personnel. Individuals should be aware of where the line of separation is in every situation. Depending on the situation, there may be multiple areas where the line of separation is drawn. Lines of separation may be at the door of a vehicle, at the back of a trailer and the loading chute, or at the entry door of a swine facility. Individuals should have a plan to manage the line of separation between them and the site. • Use dedicated storage containers to hold clean equipment, cover-up clothing and footwear. • Use clean equipment at each site and have a plan for how you will clean it between each site. • Follow a disposal plan to remove and contain used/contaminated equipment. If an individual must cross over the line of separation, it is important to make sure it is a clean crossing. • Cover-up: wear protective gear when crossing a line of separation with boots, coveralls, and gloves that are washable or disposable. • Contain: when done, items that are contaminated need to be contained until they can be washed and disinfected or disposed of. • Clean up to remove risk: clean up by washing and disinfecting all contaminated supplies. When washing and disinfecting equipment and supplies it is important to remove all manure and other organic matter first. It is extremely important to remove all traces of manure because manure cannot be disinfected. Organic matter causes disinfectant to be ineffective. Additionally through environmental stability studies done by the University of Minnesota

SDEC researchers, we know that PEDV can live in manure slurry for up to 14 days at 77°F (25°C) and over 28 days at -4°F (20°C). In the same study, PEDV-infected manure was stored at 104°F (40°C), 122°F (50°C), and 140°F (60°C) at different relative humidity levels (30 percent, 50 percent, and 70 percent). The results showed that PEDV can survive up to seven days at these temperatures. After manure and other organic matter are removed, all equipment should be thoroughly washed and disinfected with an appropriate disinfectant and then dried. Researchers at Iowa State University conclude that heating livestock trailers to 160°F for 10 minutes or leaving it sit for seven days at 68°F is effective at reducing the risk of PEDV. If a livestock trailer or other equipment is being washed, it is important to also clean and disinfect the cab of the vehicle. Cleaning the cab includes the floor, pedals, steering wheel, door handles, and dashboard. Hand sanitizer should be used prior to touching the inside of a vehicle to maintain a clean cab. It is important for everyone to follow strict biosecurity protocols to help minimize the spread of PEDV. Everyone includes: pork producers and farm employees, transporters, manure haulers, feed truck drivers, or any other visitors to a swine farm. ------Source: Sarah Schieck, Swine Extension Educator, U of M Extension Regional Center, Morris—(320) 589-1711,


Morris, Minnesota 56267

Saturday, March 15, 2014 - Page 11C

Pakistani researcher visits Soils Lab Rai Altaf Hussain, Rashid Ahmad, Jana Rinke and Abdullah Jaradat, USDA-Agricultural Research Service, Morris, Minn. The Soils Lab in Morris is not just for soil research any more. During recent years, the Soils Lab, a part of the USDA's research arm of the Agricultural Research Service, expanded its research into alternative crops. As a result, researchers at the Soils Lab are internationally recognized for their skills and expertise—which is why Mr. Rai Hussain, a Ph.D. student in the Department of Crop Physiology from the University of Agriculture in Faisalabad, Pakistan, came to work at the Soils Lab. Mr. Hussain obtained a scholarship from the Higher Education Commission in Pakistan to spend six months studying with Soils Lab Research Leader Abdullah Jaradat. During his time at Morris, Mr. Hussain is expanding his Ph.D. work on how foliar applications of nitrogen and potassium affect the drought tolerance of sunflower. Sunflower is one of the few crop species that originated in North America, and sunflower seeds are the third largest source of vegetable oil worldwide. Pakistan needs to increase its production of edible oils, because domestic production only meets 25 percent of current demand. To make up the difference, the country spends about $4.2 million every year importing edible oils and oilseeds. Compared to the past three decades, Pakistan’s production of domestic edible oil has increased 2.6 percent per year, but consumption has risen almost

8 percent per year. So increasing the domestic production of commercially available varieties of sunflower seeds, which contain from 39 to 49 percent oil, could help Pakistan meet its domestic oilseed demand. In Pakistan, sunflower is produced on almost one million acres. There are many reasons why sunflower acreage remains limited, including the need for a comprehensive marketing infrastructure, the lack of a quality seed, and the lack of know how among Pakistani farmers. Even with these challenges, the development of new sunflower hybrids and better technologies has increased domestic sunflower seed production from 670 pounds to more than 1500 pounds per acre. Like many other places around the globe, drought stress in Pakistan significantly reduces agricultural productivity and is a major threat to the country’s food security. Using nutrient management to mitigate the effects of drought is a viable approach for enhancing crop productivity under limited water conditions. While in Morris, Mr. Hussain is simulating alternative management practices in laboratory, greenhouse, and growth chamber studies to investigate how genetic traits affect sunflower drought tolera n c e a n d n u t r i e n t re sponse. His experiments will use various physiological and biochemical techniques to evaluate how soil-applied and supplementary foliar applications of nitrogen and potassium mitigate the drastic effects of drought on sunflower genotypes. During the study, Mr. Hussain will also

record different growth and agronomic parameters and will conduct nutrient studies of soil and plant samples to better understand the beneficial role of nitrogen and potassium in sunflower during drought stress. This six-month training will provide Mr. Hussain a chance to work and interact with the internationally renowned scientists and researchers at the Soils Lab and the university to build long-term collaboration.

(Right Top) Jon Starr, Zac Jesser and Rai Altaf Hussain examine a sunflower in a greenhouse experiment being conducted at the Soils Lab. Mr. Hussain is a PhD student from the University of Agriculture in Faisalabad, Pakistan, who is spending six months at the Soils Lab to investigate how genetic traits affect sunflower drought tolerance and nutrient response.

(Right Center) Zac Jesser (partially obscured) and Rai Altaf Hussain examine a sunflower in a greenhouse experiment being conducted at the Soils Lab.

Rai Altaf Hussain examines a sunflower in a greenhouse experiment being conducted at the Soils Lab. Photos by Abdullah Jaradat

Smithsonian asking for your ag stories As fewer and fewer Americans make their living primarily through farming, it is becoming more important to preserve innovations and experiences in farming. The Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History is asking the public to share their stories about the technologies and advancements in agricultural work. The goal of this archive is to build a comprehensive digital archive of modern agriculture through user-submitted personal stories. The history of American a g r i c u l t u re h a s b e e n marked by tremendous transformations. Over the past seventy years, farming has become both more efficient and more sustainable, even as fewer and fewer Americans make their living as farmers. With the Agriculture Innovation and Heritage Archive, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History is asking the public to help us preserve the innovations and experiences of farming and ranching across the United photo from Morris Sun Tribune archives

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States. Visitors can share their stories about the technologies and innovations that have changed agricultural work, as well as how these changes have affected their communities. The museum hopes to build a comprehensive digital archive of modern agriculture through user-submitted personal stories, photos, and other ephemera. The archive has a strong focus on personal stories. Stories accepted into the archive website will explore the impact of agricultural innovation on individuals and communities. Stories that promote a particular product, service, or business will not be accepted. To share your story, visit edu/agheritage.

This online archive depends on your support. Your stories will be used by the Smithsonian’s staff to help prepare new exhibitions like American Enterprise, and several entries will be featured on our museum’s blog, Facebook page, and Twitter account. Additionally, all accepted submissions will be preserved and made publicly available on the archive's website, creating a new database for students, researchers, and scholars. Changes in American agriculture have affected us all; this initiative will help all Americans explore and appreciate this aspect of our shared experience.

Page 12C - Saturday, March 15, 2014


Morris, Minnesota 56267

Celebrating National Ag Week March 23-30, 2014

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Morris, Minnesota 56267

Saturday, March 15, 2014 - Page 1D

Farm Progress 2014 Is sweet sorghum good for Minnesota farmers? Abdullah A. Jaradat, Jana Rinke and Steve Van Kempen (retired) USDA-Agricultural Research Service, Morris, Minn. S w e e t s o rg h u m h a s many feedstock characteristics that will be needed to support large-scale bioenergy production. Stem juice sugars, grain starch, and stalk cellulose and hemicelluloses can all be fermented into an advanced biofuel that would produce 50 percent fewer greenhouse gas emissions than petroleum-based fuel. However, in order to maximize the potential of sweet sorghum as a feedstock, work still needs to be conducted on assessing germplasm (genetic material/seed) collections for the plant’s tremendous genetic diversity and making those results available to researchers and developers around the world. The bioenergy community is interested in sweet sorghum as a biofeedstock because of its large biomass yield, high water use efficiency, low nitrogen requirement, tolerance to drought and low-input growing conditions, and efficient conversion to ethanol. In addition, the crop harbors a large and mostly untapped pool of genetic traits that could be valuable for biofuel production. Our Soils Lab team assessed sweet sorghum types preserved in the US Genetic Resources Information Network (GRIN) germplasm collection for their high sugar content and selected 46 types from five races. Then we evaluated the 46 types in field trials in West Central Minnesota for adaptation, yield potential, and stem biomass as the main source for fermentable sugars. The original germplasm collection contained large variations in juice sugar

levels, as well as visible differences in the shapes of plants, leaves, and seed heads, all of which might be genetically linked to biomass yield and sugar content. These traits include tillers per plant, stalk thickness, fresh stalk weight, s t a l k m o i s t u re , p l a n t height, seed head length, terminal branch length of panicle, flag leaf height, flag leaf length, flag leaf width, exertion of panicle, flowering schedules, and physiological maturity time. Since most accessions were already adapted to the short growing season in West Central Minnesota, selections could be made for the best combination of growth and development traits. The two top accessions showing the most promising results for all of these traits were then carefully evaluated in field trials and controlled growth chamber studies for visible and chemical traits. Based on a population density of about 101,200 plants per acre, accessions of the most adapted group partitioned 68 to 72 percent of fresh weight into stems, had the largest biomass (around 9 ½ tons per acre), and the smallest seed yield (averaging 2870 pounds per acre). The two top-yielding accessions produced around 10 tons of biomass per acre. The carbon to nitrogen ratios in stems, leaves and seed of the top two yielding accessions were strongly correlated with biomass yield and can be used as screening criteria for large stem biomass yield potential. Based on these results, modeling indicates that the top yielding accessions can produce around 10 tons of biomass per acre 110 days from emergence. Calculated ethanol yield from sugar, cellulose and hemi-cellulose in biomass for these successions is predicted to range from 695 to

909 gallons per acre if the plants are harvested 40 days after anthesis, and 85.6 to 96.3 gallons per acre from grain if the plants are harvested at full maturity. Based on a conversion rate of 7.2 Giga Joules of energy per ton of biomass, the top yielding accessions would produce 64.8 to 72.8 Giga Joules of energy per acre. This is 12 to 20 Giga Joules per acre more than other first-generation biofuel crops. For Minnesota farmers, there are a range of environmental and economic advantages for developing beneficial varieties of sweet sorghum. The crops require less water and lower inputs of nitrogen, and fewer greenhouse gas emissions are generated during their production. Sweet sorghum also has a favorable-reduced growing season, and its high grain and biomass yield could mean that it can support more energy produc- There is large diversity in plant height, head (panicle) shape and biomass of some sweet sorghum tion per acre than other bio- varieties grown at the Swan Lake Research Farm near Morris. fuel crops.

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Morris, Minnesota 56267

Snow melt poses challenges for livestock manure management St. Paul, Minn. – As winter gives way to spring, rapid snow melt and the potential for flooding pose challenges for farmers who spread livestock manure on cropland. Farmers who spread solid manure during winter must ensure that it doesn’t run off the field, with snowmelt flowing to ditches, streams and other waters. According to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA), manurecontaminated runoff not only threatens water quality, it reduces the value of manure as a crop nutrient. If possible, farmers should refrain from spreading manure during periods of rapid melt. Minnesota rules to protect water quality require a 300-foot setback from surface waters

and open tile intakes for all manure spread onto frozen or snow-covered soil. If temporary stockpiling is not possible and manure land application can’t wait, to help reduce the impact of manure applied to the surface of wet, frozen or snow covered soil, choose the flattest field or flattest parts of fields and follow these guidelines: Field slope should be less than 6 percent for solid manure, and 2 percent for liquid manure. Do not apply non-incorporated manure within 300 feet of surface waters. If possible apply manure at even greater setback distances. Do not apply in portions of fields that contain other areas of concentrated flow. A 300-foot setback is re-

quired for intermittent streams; however most fields also contain other areas such as grass waterways that receive concentrated flow. Keep back as far as possible from these other areas of concentrated flow. Choose fields that contain the most crop residue; greater than 30 percent is recommended. Avoid fields where the furrows are full of ice and snow. Keep application rates low enough to avoid runoff or ponding during application. Choose fields that do not have adjacent non-tillable land containing areas of concentrated flow such as ravines, ditches with open side inlets, streams or dry runs. If this not possible,

stay as far away as possible from these off-field areas of concentrated flow. When applying manure on snow-covered or frozen soils, producers should avoid high-risk periods of runoff. These include times when there are two or more inches of snow on the ground and maximum temperatures are forecast t o e xc e e d 4 0 d e g re e s within 24 hours, or when there is a prediction of ¼” or more of rain within 24 hours. “Producers should consider short-term stockpiling of manure in the field until after the major snowmelt of the year,” says Wayne Cords, a supervisor with the MPCA's feedlot program. “While this does involve additional time and labor, there are signif-

icant benefits in the reduced pollution potential, as one well-placed shortterm stockpile poses significantly less pollution hazard than a whole field of surface-applied manure.” “Producers who are considering surface-applying manure to snow-covered or frozen soils should work with a crop consultant and complete a Minnesota Phosphorus Index model to determine the phosphorus loss risk, and then choose fields with the lowest risk value to winterapply,” Cords says. “And NPDES-permitted sites need to carefully read their permit as they have additional requirements and restrictions when applying manure to frozen or snow covered soils.” Livestock farms that ex-

perience manure runoff into waters of the state must report to the Minnesota Duty Officer by calling 800-422-0798, and take immediate action to reduce environmental impact, such as creating temporary berms to stop discharge, temporarily plugging culverts and drain tile intakes to prevent manure inflow, and soaking up liquid with absorbent material, such as hay, straw, cornstalks or wood shavings. For more information, see the MPCA fact sheet, “Managing manure and land application during adverse weather conditions,” contact your county or MPCA feedlot staff (see us/zihy6a1), or call the MPCA at 800-657-3864.

Farmland that keeps on giving West-central Minnesota program benefits land production, local charities Forum News Service FERGUS FALLS, Minn. - A new program will help area farmland owners keep their land in production, under local ownership and benefit local charities well into the future. West Central Initiative recently launched the

Heart-Land Giving program. It’s a tool that landowners can use for charitable giving and estate planning goals when there’s no one to pass their land to; perhaps they don’t have children or their children are not interested in farming. The Heart-Land Giving

program allows landowners to donate their land to WCI through a planned giving option. In return, the donation provides donor tax benefits, keeps the farm locally run and retains a county tax base, all while producing revenue for charitable organizations. The three giving options for landowners are: -- Gifting the land to the

WCI unrestricted endowment, which supports all the programs that WCI offers in the region. -- Gifting the land to an existing component fund, a list of which can be found on the West Central Initiative website. -- Establishing a donoradvised fund and helping to determine where grants are directed. The program is available

to tillable farmland owners in Douglas, Becker, Clay, Grant, Otter Tail, Pope, Stevens, Traverse and Wilkin counties. “As we have been talking with professional advisors and some individuals who have shown interest in Heart-Land Giving, we have received many positive reactions,” said Tom McSperron of WCI. “We look forward to working

with them and we understand that a decision to make a gift of this type will take careful consideration and review by both the donor and their advisors.” For more information, call McSparron or Kim Embretson at West Central Initiative at (800) 735-2239 or visit w w w. w c i f . o r g / ? page=heartlandgiving.

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Saturday, March 15, 2014 - Page 3D

Immunological castration and ethanol co-products studied to improve pork production

Global competitiveness for grains commonly fed to pigs, such as corn and soybeans, continues to grow. By utilizing alternative feed ingredients such as distillers dried grains with solubles (DDGS) and reducing the amount of resources (feed, water, and land) needed to produce lean, high quality pork, production systems can remain competitive while helping to keep pork affordable for consumers. Historically, pork producers have surgically castrated male pigs (barrows) within the first few days of life. Barrows eat more feed, grow slower, and are fatter than uncastrated male pigs (boars). Thus, barrows require more feed and utilize feed less efficiently compared to boars. It would be economically advantageous for pork producers to raise boars instead of barrows. However, boars naturally produce compounds, as part of their re-

productive system, that cause unpleasant, offodors in the meat which consumers find unpalatable and unacceptable. Castration eliminates these off-odors. Recently the swine research group at the University of Minnesota has been evaluating the use of a new, FDA-approved product called Improvest, at the West Central Research and O u t re a c h Center (WCROC) in Morris, Improvest works like any vaccine by using the pig's own natural immune system to produce antibodies. In the case of Improvest, the reproductive system is temporarily turned off to give the body time to remove the compounds that cause off-odors before pigs are harvested. Improvest replaces traditional surgical castration in the first few days of life, and replaces it with immunological castration which occurs later, between 3 to 10 weeks before harvest. Immunologically castrated pigs remain as boars for a longer period of time during which they consume less feed, are leaner, and grow faster than surgically-castrated pigs. Additionally, since these pigs consume less

Research made easy Jon Starr is fine-tuning a sophisticated climate change computer program to predict how crops and soils in the Chippewa River Watershed (CRW) in west-central Minnesota will respond to current and future climate change. His work is part of a funded project by The Land Stewardship Project, one of the long-term collaborators of the Soils Lab in Morris. In this screen shot, Jon is looking at a “model” cropping system where renewable inputs are maximized and recycled within the farm, non-renewable inputs are minimized, soil physical, chemical and biological characteristics are optimized, and leakage of water, nutrients and greenhouse gases are minimized to the extent possible. One of the objectives of his computer modeling work is to test a wide range of conventional and organic management practices, crops, crop rotations and inputs, then select the most appropriate to fit “expected” climate change scenarios. Based on Jon’s work, farmers in CRW are encouraged to diversify current cropping systems, enhance the buffering capacity of their land, and help mitigate the impact of future climate change by adjusting land-use to accommodate more perennials in future crop rotations. This will help develop multifunctional production systems that can produce standard commodities as well as a wide range of other ecosystem services.

feed and are leaner, nitrogen and phosphorus excretion in manure and urine is reduced which benefits the environment. Several countries around the world are moving away from surgical castration of pigs. In 2018, the European Union will begin

a voluntary ban of surgical castration. In the U.S., use of Improvest by producers at this time is limited, but widespread use of Improvest would reduce the amount of feed consumed and improve efficiency compared to surgically castrated pigs. The increased leanness of immunologically castrated pigs would also provide additional value to pork producers while still minimizing offodors in pork products that are unpalatable to consumers. A t t h e W C R O C , re searchers have evaluated the growth performance, pork quality, and pork fat quality of immunologically-castrated pigs fed DDGS. DDGS is a co-product of ethanol production from corn. The fiber and fat content of DDGS are greater than traditional ingredients fed to pigs, such as corn and soybean meal. Fat of pigs, especially immunocastrated pigs which are leaner than barrows, reflects the fat the pig consumes. The type of fat in DDGS is high in polyunsaturated fatty acids, which makes pork fat softer. So,

feeding DDGS to immunocastrated pigs could create problems with softer pork fat. This is especially evident in pork products that have a higher fat content such as bacon. Soft fat in bacon can reduce slicing yield for meat processors, decrease shelf life of the bacon, and create an overall 'greasy' appearance that is unappealing to consumers. Research at the WCROC determined that the combination of DDGS feeding strategies and timing of Improvest did not impact growth performance of pigs. Therefore, selection of DDGS feeding strategy and timing of Improvest can be made independently. Regardless of Improvest, pigs fed no DDGS or fed decreasing amounts of DDGS during growth had greater growth rate and improved gain efficiency compared to pigs fed 40 percent DDGS. Dressing percentage (percentage of liveweight that results in carcass weight) determines carcass value to pork producers. Results from this research study showed that pigs fed 40

percent DDGS had reduced dressing percentage compared to pigs fed diets with no DDGS. However, dressing percentage of pigs fed decreasing amounts of DDGS, or pigs fed 40 percent DDGS but no DDGS during the last 5 weeks, was not different compared to pigs fed no DDGS. Regardless of the amount of DDGS in the diet, timing of the second Improvest dose did not affect growth rate, but pigs receiving the second Improvest dose five weeks before harvest had improved gain efficiency, less backfat and reduced dressing percentage compared to pigs receiving the second dose at nine or seven weeks before harvest. While less fat is desirable to both pork producers and consumers, reduced dressing percentage decreases the value producers receive. Effects of Improvest and DDGS feeding on pork quality and pork fat quality in this study are currently being evaluated.

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Erin Harris, Department of Animal Science, St. Paul; Lee Johnston, West Central Research and Outreach Center, Morris, University of Minnesota; Jerry Shurson, Department of Animal Science, St. Paul

Page 4D - Saturday, March 15, 2014


Morris, Minnesota 56267

Supplementation for the grazing cow organic alfalfa silage, and 1.25 lb. of orBrad Heins University of Minnesota, West Central ganic minerals. Furthermore, at least 30 percent of their diet consisted of highResearch and Outreach Center quality organic pasture during the grazing The challenge of managing a grazing season. Supplemented cows were fed system for dairy cattle is quite different TMR in a compost barn after the morning than managing a confinement dairy. Cur- milking and were allowed to graze during rently, some grazing producers are mov- the afternoon and evening. The no grain ing towards 100 percent pasture because cows were continually on pasture except of increased feed costs, their personal phi- during milking. The no grain cows had lower milk, fat, losophy to use less grain, or they may have a specific market demand for grass-fed and protein production than the low and products. We recently completed a study high grain cows (see accompanying to develop practical strategies for organic table). Surprisingly, there were no differdairy producers to enhance the profitabil- ences in production between the two supity of their farm by evaluating organic plemented groups of organic cows for grain supplementation levels and its ef- milk production, but the high grain cows fect on economics of organic dairy cows. may have been partitioning the extra I am presenting the first year results of a grain into body condition. As expected, the no grain cows had higher milk urea ni2-year study in this article. Organic dairy cows at the University of trogen than the low and high grain cows. Across the grazing season, there were Minnesota’s West Central Research and Outreach Center, Morris, that calved dur- no differences for body weight for organic ing fall 2011 and spring 2012 calving sea- cows. For BCS across the grazing season, sons were used to evaluate production, re- the no grain cows had lower body condiproduction, and grazing behavior of or- tion scores than the low and high grain ganic dairy cattle supplemented with cows. Potentially, the low and high grain three levels (no grain, low, and high) of cows in this study devoted more of the enorganic grain. During the 2012 grazing ergy they consumed to maintain and reseason, 96 lactating Holstein and cross- store BCS compared to the no grain cows bred organic dairy cattle were assigned to and this, in turn, may have resulted in the a grain supplementation treatment (no enhanced reproductive cyclicity of the low grain, low grain, and high grain). Cows and high grain cows. Total mixed ration cost were lower were fed the following dietary supplementation levels, 1) ‘No grain” (100 per- ($0.00 versus $3.18 versus $4.21), pascent pasture), 2) low grain (6 lb. of grain ture cost were higher ($1.02 versus $0.86 supplementation per day), or 3) high versus $0.87), and production revenue grain (12 lb. per day). Supplement was from milk were lower ($5.02 versus $6.35 fed with a total mixed ration of an organic versus $5.53) for no grain, low grain, and grain mix (corn and minerals). The TMR high grain cows, respectively. Income was 25 lb. of organic corn silage, 20 lb. of over feeds costs ($/cow/day) was higher

for the no grain and low grain cows. For profitability, grain costs were substantially higher for the high grain cows, and therefore, resulted in a reduced income over feed cost for high grain cows. Pasture can be a cost effective source of feed and housing for dairy animals. During the first year of our organic grain supplementation project, cows that consumed 100 percent pasture had lower milk production, lower body condition scores, but higher income over feed cost. This information can be significant to organic dairy producers, as well as conven-

tional producers, who are looking to reduce input costs during high grain prices. Producers who have a handle on their feed costs in an organic dairy production system can make informed decisions that reduce financial loss. The most important point for reducing inputs and increasing profits in organic dairy systems is to produce high quality forages and maximize dry matter intake on pasture.

Blizzard’s statewide impact minimal in South Dakota Devastating individual effects not expected to severely harm livestock industry By Jessica Giard Forum News Service RAPID CITY, S.D. -- Livestock losses from October's e a r l y s e a s o n b l i z z a rd shouldn't have a major impact on South Dakota’s industry as a whole. Turn the spotlight on the individual ranchers, and the picture changes. "In bulk, we're probably OK. Individually, there's guys going out of business because of this," said Dan Oedekoven, director of the South Dakota State University West River Ag Center in Rapid City. West River producers applying for aid from the charitable South Dakota Ranchers Relief Fund reported losing 42,608 head of livestock in western South Dakota. Oedekoven

thinks applications to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's livestock indemnity program will provide a more accurate tally. Based on the Ranchers Relief claims and a comparative look at county-bycounty statistics, the percentage of livestock lost in the affected area is about 8 percent, he said. He believes the industry will weather the loss, though recovery from the blizzard's sting looks different from ranch to ranch. "I think the losses have more impact when you talk about it on an individual basis," Oedekoven said. "The guy that lost 85 percent of his cows. That is an economic loss ... That's the real wreck." The recovery process started quickly, and help

came in various forms after the blizzard, most notably from the local communities and the state, Oedekoven said. He relayed stories of neighbors helping neighbors, including a rancher who pulled into a neighbor's yard, unloaded a trailer of heifers and promised to come back the next week to help brand the animals for their new owner. "It's neighbors taking care of neighbors kind of stuff," Oedekoven said. "That's exciting to hear those kind of stories." The in-kind support, however, doesn't wipe the slate clean from the emotional and financial impact of losses on individual ranchers. The loss was heavier for those with higher debt, who used

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h e rd s a s c o l l a t e r a l , Oedekoven said. But, even for the financially stable rancher, the impact wasn't sunny. "Even those fellows who were in pretty good financial shape, there's an emotional thing that comes from riding out there one morning and seeing 200 dead cows lying in a pile in one spot," Oedekoven said. "You can't hardly get over that picture in your mind. It's a lasting thing these guys will never forget." Charitable relief Within days of the storm's end, the South Dakota Ranchers Relief Fund was established to provide short-term aid to producers. By the middle of February, the fund had distributed more than $4.1 million, with about 600 applications received by the end of 2013. Eligible producers needed to demonstrate at least a 10 percent loss of their herds. Jodie Anderson, executive director with the South

Dakota Cattlemen's Association, said the partners who established the fund initially expected to raise about $1 million. Partners included the SDCA, the South Dakota Stockgrowers Association, the Black Hills Area Community Foundation and two volunteer organizations that reviewed applications -Lutheran Social Services and Catholic Social Services. "We didn't know what we were going to be able to accomplish. We were getting a lot of phone calls from people wondering what they could do to help," Anderson said. "We needed something to tell people, 'This is what you can do to help.' " She described the fund as an emergency shot in the arm for affected producers. "We never anticipated we would ever be able to make anybody whole," Anderson said. "Our intention always has been to try and fulfill their immediate needs so that they can hang

on until disaster programs get put into place, and they can get to their next calf crop, if they have animals left to have a calf crop. To try and keep them afloat in the interim until they figure out their path forward." The fund was established specifically in response to the storm and received donations from every state and other countries. A majority of donations were given from within South Dakota. Plans are to close the fund by June. Government programs Government programs specifically for the affected producers started coming on line in January, first with the the state's livestock loan program and now with the upcoming federal livestock disaster program. Contionued on page 5D

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Saturday, March 15, 2014 - Page 5D

USDA to invest in Prairie Pothole landscape effort WASHINGTON,DC – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that up to $35 million will be provided during the next three years to help landowners conserve grasslands and wetlands in the Prairie Pothole region. Farmers, ranchers and conservation partners will have access to a mix of financial and technical assistance opportunities to restore wetlands and grasslands and help mitigate a recent regional trend of conversion to croplands. “This region of North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa and Mon-

t a n a p ro v i d e s c r i t i c a l breeding and nesting habitat for more than 60 percent of the nation’s migratory waterfowl,” Under Secretary for Natural Resources and Environment Robert Bonnie said of the Prairie Pothole region. The wetlands and grasslands that characterize the region provide vital water storage to reduce regional flooding, improve water quality, and have tremendous potential to store carbon in soils, which reduces the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, one of the leading greenhouse gases contributing to cli-

mate change. “Our goal is to help landowners manage their working lands in a way that’s compatible with agricultural production and good stewardship of the soil, water and habitat resources of the area,” Bonnie said. “So we are really talking about keeping working lands working.” The funding comes in a couple of pieces, including: • Environmental Quality Incentives Program: The agency’s largest conservation program will help producers with expiring Conservation Reserve Program contracts keep

their lands as working grasslands or haylands through implementation of prescribed grazing and other conservation practices. • Ducks UnlimitedNRCS partnership for carbon credits: NRCS is working with North Dakota, South Dakota and Montana to create a carbon credit marketing system for landowners who agreed to avoid tilling grasslands. This work started in 2011 in North Dakota as part of a Conservation Innovation Grant, but now it’s being expanded to the three states. Through this sys-

tem, interested landowners can keep their land in grass, continue grazing and haying, and generate verified carbon credits that place a conservation easement on their land. These credits can be sold or traded into existing voluntary carbon markets. NRCS also is providing additional technical assistance to complete certified wetland determinations, needed by producers to meet conservation compliance requirements first put in place in 1985. Additionally, the 2014 Farm Bill has expanded opportunities for conserving

grasslands and wetlands, including those in the Prairie Pothole region. USDA also recently solicited proposals for Conservation Innovation Grants. A previous USDA grant went to Ducks Unlimited and other partners to develop a carbon credit syst e m f o r N o r t h D a ko t a landowners in the Prairie Pothole region. For more information on these opportunities, visit a local NRCS field office or the NRCS website.

ducers and highlights the importance of the aid programs to help them rebuild. "Without those dollars coming back to help shore up some of those losses, this grazing season and 2014 could have a quadrupling effect on folks," he said. "Then if you throw on top of that, without any cash flow assistance, that would just be the fourth leg of the stool, so to speak, to pull out from underneath

these producers." Lentsch echoed Oedekoven's sentiments about the stories of neighbors helping neighbors after the blizzard and put an emphasis on the value that has in carrying ranchers through any economic losses. "In agriculture, we can value things," he said, emphasizing equipment, land and material values. "But there's something in our

rural areas that's called community. On the balance sheet, that has significant impact, but you can't put a number to it. But we are richly blessed. That generosity across the Midwest and across our state has been felt this last year."

Blizzard’s statewide impact Continued from page 4D and the USDA to highlight the need for expedited payLucas Lentsch, secretary ments. The program is available of the state Department of Agriculture, said eligible not only for producers afproducers can receive a fected by the October bliz2.75 percent interest rate zard, but for losses experit h ro u g h p a r t i c i p a t i n g enced in the 2013 spring lenders. The state program storms. Aid is available for opened in January with the losses experienced in 2012 reduced rate offered to and 2013 through the prothose in a 25-county area in gram, which will be administered through the Farm western South Dakota. Starting in April, pro- Service Agency. "That is absolutely going ducers can apply for fasttracked aid through the to be something that helps USDA's livestock indem- shore up the loss. It doesn't nity program. As part of the replace the loss, but it does newly authorized farm bill, help cushion it," Lentsch the disaster aid program said. "And it allows some of for livestock producers is these families to have a set to reduce the payment next chapter." For individual productimeline from up to a year to about 60 days. Lentsch ers, the support is necess a i d t h e d e p a r t m e n t sary in rebuilding, espeworked with the state's cially considering the timcongressional delegation ing of the October blizzard.

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Oedekoven says it couldn't have been at a worse time for producers, many of whom were close to selling their 2013 calf crop. "We had about as many animals out there in the pasture as what we possibly could have had," he said. "Both this year's calf crop and future years' calf crops got impacted." Lentsch also sees the domino effect of the 2013 losses on the future for pro-

Page 6D - Saturday, March 15, 2014


Morris, Minnesota 56267

Minnesota farmer Curt Eischens of CHS honored as Co-op Director of the Year WASHINGTON, D.C. – The National Council of Fa r m e r C o o p e r a t i v e s (NCFC) has awarded its prestigious Director of the Year award to Curt Eischens, a farmer director of CHS Inc., the nation’s leading farmer-owned cooperative and a global energy, grains and foods company. CHS is a co-op member of NCFC. Eischens has served on the CHS board for 23 years, and in that time has become a highly respected leader, both in the boardroom and in the countryside. A corn and soybean farmer from Minneota, he also serves on the board of Farmers Co-op Association in Canby, and has chaired that board for eight years. “Curt is someone who

is respected widely across the farmer co-op community and this award is recognition of that fact. On behalf of NCFC and our members, I would like to congratulate him on his achievement,” said NCFC President and CEO Chuck Conner. “During his tenure on the CHS board, Curt has shown the leadership, good business judgment and dedication to cooperatives that has won him recognition from his peers across the country, far outside the CHS boardroom.” The Farmer Cooperative Director of the Year Award was established to recognize the outstanding achievements of a farmer cooperative director who takes the lead to help their board of directors make de-

cisions vital to their cooperative. The award was presented on Thursday, Feb. 13, 2014, at NCFC’s 85th Annual Meeting, which was held at the Roosevelt Hotel in New Orleans, La. Farmer Cooperative Director of the Year nominees were examined by a panel of judges representing the NCFC members and outside experts. In selecting the winners, judges looked at four broad criteria: how well the nominee understands his or her cooperative; the ability to provide leadership and be a team player; the possession of good business judgment; and the ability to communicate effectively. To honor award winners, the NCFC Foundation

food ingredients, along with business solutions including insurance, financial and risk management services. The company operates petroleum refineries/pipelines and manufactures, markets and distributes Cenex® brand reAbout CHS Inc. CHS ( fined fuels, lubricants, is a leading global agribusi- propane and renewable ness owned by farmers, energy products. ranchers and cooperatives About NCFC across the United States. Since 1929, NCFC has Diversified in energy, grains and foods, CHS is been the voice of America's committed to helping its farmer cooperatives. Our customers, farmer-owners members are regional and and other stakeholders national farmer cooperagrow their businesses tives, which are in turn through its domestic and composed of nearly 3,000 global operations. CHS, a local farmer cooperatives Fortune 100 company, sup- across the country. NCFC plies energy, crop nutri- members also include 26 ents, grain marketing serv- state and regional councils ices, animal feed, food and of cooperatives. Farmer provides a $5,000 donation to the scholarship fund of a land grant university chosen by the winner. Eischens has designated the University of Minnesota as recipient.

cooperatives allow individual farmers the ability to own and lead organizations that are essential for continued competitiveness in both the domestic and international markets. A m e r i c a ’ s f a r m e rowned cooperatives provide a comprehensive array of services for their members. These diverse organizations handle, process and market virtually every type of agricultural commodity. They also provide farmers with access to infrastructure necessary to manufacture, distribute and sell a variety of farm inputs. Additionally, they provide credit and related financial services, including export financing.

New farm bill provides permanent livestock disaster assistance programs The 2014 Farm Bill, formally known as the Agricultural Act of 2014, makes the Livestock Forage Program (LFP) and Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP) permanent programs and provides retroactive authority to cover eligible losses back to Oct. 1, 2011. LFP provides compensation to eligible producers w h o s u f f e re d g r a z i n g

losses due to drought and fire. LIP provides compensation to livestock producers who suffered livestock death losses in excess of normal mortality due to adverse weather and attacks by animals reintroduced into the wild by the Federal Government or protected by Federal law, including wolves and avian predators.

USDA is determined to make implementing the livestock disaster programs a top priority and plans to open program enrollment by April 15, 2014. As USDA begins implementing the livestock disaster assistance programs, producers should record all pertinent information of natural disaster consequences, including:

· Documentation of the number and kind of livestock that have died, supplemented if possible by photographs or video records of ownership and losses · Dates of death supported by birth recordings or purchase receipts · Costs of transporting livestock to safer grounds or to move animals to new

pastures · Feed purchases if supplies or grazing pastures are destroyed · Crop records, including seed and fertilizer purchases, planting and production records · Pictures of on-farm storage facilities that were destroyed by wind or flood waters · Evidence of damaged farm land Many producers still have questions. USDA is in the process of interpreting

Farm Bill program regulations. Additional information will be provided once the enrollment period is announced. In the meantime, producers can review t h e L I P a n d L F P Fa c t Sheets. The USDA is working diligently to put Farm Bill programs into action to benefit the farmers and ranchers of rural America.

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Saturday, March 15, 2014 - Page 7D

Group feeding calves for dairy production systems Brad Heins University of Minnesota, West Central Research and Outreach Center Dairy replacement feeding and management syst e m s h a v e u n d e rg o n e major evolution in the last 25 to 30 years. As herd sizes increased, individual hutches were introduced to protect calves from cont a m i n a t e d a n d o v e rcrowded environments. Recently higher levels of milk feeding are recommended to promote early growth, and now some farmers are adopting extended suckling until calves are weaned. Group calf rearing offers opportunities to reduce labor and to aid in socializing calves, but performance of groupmanaged calves in enlarged hutches is not well documented in dairy production systems. Maintaining the health and growth of dairy calves

is very important in their first few months of life. For the University of Minnesota's dairy, whole milk from high somatic cell cows as well as bulk tank milk is fed to calves in enlarged hutches. By using whole milk, the casein in milk will clot and provide nutrition throughout the day for calves fed once per day, which has been our management style for many years. Successful group feeding of dairy calves is enhanced with aggressive suckling during infancy and early consumption of high quality calf starter. We have an ongoing research study at our dairy to evaluate the growth, health and, most importantly, the economic performance of dairy calves fed once per day and weaned at different ages. At our 240-cow dairy in western Minnesota, calves are separated at birth from their dams, housed in-

doors in individual pens, and fed 2 L of colostrum per 90 lb of body weight two times per day for two days. Calves that are healthy and aggressive are moved to group housing at 3 days of age after the morning feeding. The pens or super hutches for group housing included an indoor area (12×20 ft) bedded with wheat straw with an outside access space that measured 12 × 20 m. Groups of calves are fed with a 10-calf Skellerup peach teat feeder with 61 L liquid volume capacity, which is washed and disinfected after each feeding. Calves are fed 6 L of milk per calf per day, and are fed a calf starter beginning on the third day of age. Water is provided free choice from 3 days of age with Ritchie water fountains, and hay is provided free choice at three weeks of age. There are advantages

and challenges of feeding dairy calves in a group feeding system. Advantages are: 1. labor for feeding calves is reduced, calves are socialized for group living, 2. group learning occurs (especially for early starter consumption), 3. calf growth is equal to individual housing, 4. adequate growth of 1.0 to 2.0 lb per day may be achieved depending on milk feeding level, and 5. calves are easier to bed and super hutches are easier to clean than individual hutches. Challenges include: 1. calves must be aggressive drinkers when they are grouped, 2. weak calves must be separated, 3. calf attendant must be a good observer, 4. if age spread is large, the oldest calves will have

delayed weaning or youngest calves will be weaned too soon, 5. contagious disease may affect more calves, and 6. it is more difficult to provide individual attention. Tips for feeding dairy calves in a group management system: 1. Separate newborns from fresh cows ASAP and hand-feed colostrum. 2. Train calf to drink from a firm nipple in an individual pen during colostrum feeding period. 3. Do not add a new calf to a group until it is a fast aggressive sucker. Most are ready by the third day. Consider calves less than 65 lb to be at risk and to require careful observation, especially during winter. 4. Feed at least 1.5 percent of birth weight of high quality milk. Calves fed >2 percent may have loose

manure initially. 5. Restrict range of age and size within a group when possible. One week range works well; more than three weeks increases milk feeding cost for the group as weaning is based on the youngest calf in the group. 6. A super hutch works well for 8 to 10 calves. 7. L eave the nipple feeder with the group so they suck the nipple instead of each other. 8. Provide abundant water, bedding, and an outside exercise area. 9. Wean when group average starter intake is 2.0 lb per day for three consecutive days. 10. Calves should be fed at the same time each day and preferably early in the day.

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Page 8D - Saturday, March 15, 2014


Agriculture secretary announces $3 million for a new program to improve pollinator health S T PA U L , M I N N — USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service will provide close to $3 million in technical and financial assistance for interested farmers and ranchers to help improve the health of bees, which play an important role in crop production. The funding is a focused investment to improve pollinator health and will be targeted in five Midwestern states, Michigan, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wisconsin. “Beekeepers in Minnesota are losing unprecedented numbers of honey bee hives each year,” Minnesota State Conservationist Don Baloun said. “Honey bee pollination is estimated to support more than $15 billion worth of agricultural production and commercial production of more than 130 fruits and vegetables that are the foundation of a nutrious diet in the United States. Not only do bees pollinate the crops that produce much of America’s food

supply, but they are an important part of the rural ecosystem.” Funding will be provided through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) to promote conservation practices that will provide honey bees with nutritious pollen and nectar while providing benefits to the environment. Recent studies have shown that beekeepers are losing approximately 30 percent of their honey bee colonies each year, up from historical norms of 10 to15 percent overwintering losses experienced prior to 2006. This assistance will provide guidance and support to farmers and ranchers to implement conservation practices that will provide safe and diverse food sources for honey bees. For e x a m p l e , a p p ro p r i a t e cover crops or rangeland and pasture management may provide a benefit to producers by reducing erosion, increasing the health of their soil, inhibiting invasive species, providing quality forage and habitat

for honey bees and other pollinators, as well as habitat for other wildlife. Midwestern states were chosen because from June to September the region is the resting ground for over 65 percent of the commercially managed honey bees in the country. It is a critical time when bees require abundant and diverse forage across broad landscapes to build up hive strength for the winter. Applications are due March 21, 2014. Since 2006, when heightened numbers of honey bee colony losses were first reported, significant progress has been made in our understanding of the factors that are associated with Colony Collapse Disorder and the overall health of honey bees. The USDA is actively pursuing solutions to the multiple problems affecting honey bee health. For more information on this program, visit a local USDA service center or the NRCS website.

Morris, Minnesota 56267

Commissioners of Commerce and Agriculture remind farmers: Crop insurance may be the best defense for Minnesota's extreme weather SAINT PAUL, MN – Agriculture Commissioner Dave Frederickson and Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman are encouraging Minnesota farmers to consider purchasing crop insurance ahead of this year’s growing season. The standard deadline for purchasing crop insurance is right around the corner. Farmers must finalize a crop insurance plan for corn, soy bean, and wheat with their insurance agent by March 15. “Minnesota’s extreme weather has made predictions increasingly difficult – It is important for all farmers to review their crop insurance needs this month,” said Commissioner Rothman, the state’s top insurance regulator. “Now is the time for Minnesota farmers to consider the wisdom of crop insurance for risk management this growing season.” The threat of drought is real again this year. Accord-

ing to the National Weather Service drought conditions across most of west central and south central Minnesota will either improve or dissipate altogether throughout the spring. However, Minnesota’s volatile weather may provide additional trouble besides the threat of drought. “Crop insurance is an important tool for managing risk,” said Commiss i o n e r F re d e r i c k s o n . “There are many options for farmers to consider and I encourage them to discuss their needs with their crop insurance agent.” According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Risk Management Agency (RMA), before purchasing crop insurance farmers should consider how a policy will work in conjunction with their other risk management strategies to ensure the best possible outcome each crop year. Crop insurance

agents and other agri-business specialists can assist farmers in developing a good management plan. A l i s t o f c ro p i n s u r a n c e agents by county can be found on the RMA website. RMA provides policies for more than 100 crops. Crop insurance policies typically consist of general crop insurance provisions, specific crop provisions, policy endorsements and special provisions. Minnesota farmers are encouraged to review RMA's county crop program listings for more information about crop policies available in their home county. Policies are available for most commodities. Farmers with questions about crop and livestock insurance are encouraged to visit the Minnesota Department of Commerce website.

Farm Census: This is who we are The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s recently released 2012 Census of Agriculture generally shows bigger, fewer and more prosperous farms. And while there are more young farmers, the average age of producers continues to rise. By Jonathan Knutson Forum News Service When Devin Jacobson finished his college studies, he left North Dakota to work at a Colorado ski lodge. “I figured I was leaving for good,” he says now. He was wrong. A year later, missing the Crosby, N.D., area, where he grew up, Jacobson returned home and began farming with his family. For the past three years, he’s raised durum, green peas and lentils near the Canadian border. Jacobson, now 26, reflects one of the most encouraging findings of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s 2012 Census of Agriculture, released in late February. The number of farmers aged 25 to 34 has risen, a welcome change in an economic sector where, by all accounts, more young blood is needed. Nationwide, the U.S. had 109,146 farmers aged 25 to 34 in 2012, up from 106,735 in 2007. Complete 2012 census results, including county-level and commodity data, won’t be available until this spring. But preliminary results of the survey — conducted every five years — indicate that farms, on average, are bigger, fewer and more prosperous. It also finds that despite the influx of young farmers,

the average age of farmers continues to rise. U.S. farmers averaged 58.3 years of age in 2012, compared with 57.1 in 2007. In contrast, the average age of all U.S. workers is 41, according to government figures. The census reflects the great run of prosperity that American agriculture, at least on the crop side, has enjoyed in recent years. U.S. farmers had total ag sales of $394.6 billion in 2012, about $97 billion more than in 2007. Crop sales accounted for $67 billion of the increase, livestock sales for $29 billion. One measure of how good things have been on the crop side: In 2007, the value of U.S. livestock sales was $13 billion greater than the value of crop value. In 2012, in contrast, the value of crop sales was $30 billion greater than the value of livestock sales. Few, if any, in agriculture expect crop farming to remain that profitable. Andrew Swenson, farm management specialist with the North Dakota State University Extension Service, says 2012 was “probably the apex” of farm prices and farm profitability. The census also shows that American agriculture has become more “bipolar,” as Swenson puts it. The census finds increased emphasis on both big and small operations, with fewer mid-sized farms.

Nationwide, the number of farms fell 4 percent from 2007. The decline would have been greater if not for a substantial increase in the number of very small farms. And while there are more young farmers, there are more farmers 55 and older, too. But there are fewer farmers in their 40s and early 50s. The ‘middle’ suffers The decline in mid-scale farms and mid-career farmers concerns many in agriculture, including Traci Bruckner, senior associate for agriculture and conservation policy with the Center for Rural Affairs in Lyons, Neb. Typically, mid-scale farms support families, and fewer such farms means fewer opportunities for family farms, she says. The decline in farmers in their 40s and 50s partly reflects what happened years ago, she says. Because agriculture was difficult financially in much of the 1990s and early 2000s, relatively few newcomers began farming in that period. As time has passed, that relatively small group of farmers has aged and advanced from the 25 to 34 and 35 to 44 age groups into the 45 to 54 group. Continued on page 10D

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Morris, Minnesota 56267

Saturday, March 15, 2014 - Page 9D

USDA finalizes changes to the WIC Program, expanding access to healthy fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat dairy for women, infants, children WASHINGTON, D.C., Feb. 28, 2014 – The U. S. Department of Agriculture today finalized changes to the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) to further improve the nutrition and health of the nation's lowincome pregnant women, new mothers, infants and y o u n g c h i l d re n . T h e changes – which increase access to fruits and vegetables, whole grains and lowfat dairy – are based on the

latest nutrition science. The announcement marks the completion of the first comprehensive revisions to the WIC food packages since 1980. "The updates to the WIC food package make pivotal improvements to the program and better meet the diverse nutritional needs of mothers and their young children," said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. "The foods provided by the WIC program, along with education that focuses on

fants to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables instead of jarred infant food if they choose, and; give states and local WIC agencies more flexibility to meet the nutritional and cultural needs of WIC participants. The revisions reflect public comments submitted in response to the first major changes in more than 30 years that were published as interim requirements in December 2007, which updated regulations governing WIC foods to align them more closely with updated nutrition science, recommendations of the National Academies' Institute of Medicine and the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 218-773-3633 the Federal government's benchmark for healthy eat• Minnesota Dry Edible ing and nutrition. Bean Research and PromoWIC provides low-intion Council One position (each): District 3, District 4 Contact: Timothy Corneya, Executive Vice President 50072 E. Lake Seven Road Frazee, MN 56544 218-334-6351

the critical role of breastfeeding and proper nutrition, help to ensure that every American child has the opportunity to grow up healthy and strong." Along with a more than 30 percent increase in the dollar amount for children's fruits and vegetables purchases, the changes also: expand whole grain options available to participants, provide yogurt as a partial milk substitute for c h i l d re n a n d w o m e n , allow parents of older in-

Minnesota agricultural councils seek candidates Canola, Dry Edible Bean, resenting growers in their Area One Potato and Sun- region. flower • Minnesota Canola ReST. PAUL, Minn. – Four search and Promotion Minnesota agriculture re- Council search and promotion One position (each): councils are seeking candi- District 3, At-Large posidates for their board elec- tion tions. Positions are open on Contact: Beth C. W. Nelthe board of directors for son, Executive Director the Canola, Dry Edible 4 6 3 0 C h u rc h i l l S t . , Bean, Sunflower and Area Suite 1 One Potato councils. St. Paul, MN 55126 Farmers interested in 651-638-9883 running in the election must contact their respec• Minnesota Area One tive commodity council by Potato Research and ProFriday, April 4, 2014. Can- motion Council didates should be producTwo open positions ers of the commodity they Contact: Diane Peycke, represent, be active in the Executive Secretary industry, knowledgeable Box 29 about promotion initiaEast Grand Forks, MN tives, and interested in rep- 56721

come pregnant, breastfeeding, and postpartum women, infants, and children up to age five with nutritious, supplemental foods. The program also provides nutrition and breastfeeding education and referrals to health and social services. Over 8.5 million participants receive WIC benefits each month. Recent research by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has identified changes to the WIC food packages as a contributing factor in the decline in obesity rates among low-income preschoolers in many States. More information about the changes and the WIC program can be found at USDA's Food and Nutrition Service administers 15 nutrition assistance

programs. In addition to the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, these programs include the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, National School Lunch Program, and the Summer Food Service Program which together comprise America's nutrition safety net. For more information, visit

• Minnesota Sunflower Council One position (each): District 1, District 2 Contact: Lerrene Kroh 2401 46th Ave SE Suite 206 Mandan, ND 585544829 701-328-5107

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Page 10D - Saturday, March 15, 2014

Morris, Minnesota 56267

Who we are Like most other states, South Dakota gained young farmers, with the number in the 25 to 34 group rising from 2,113 in 2007 to 2,631 in 2012. “The 2000s have been pretty good for ag country,” Soren says. “Farmers in general aren’t as pessimistic as they had been. More parents are encouraging their children to come back to the farm.” Like many in agriculture, he hopes recent farm prosperity also will boost the long-term outlook for mid-scale farmers. “We might see a comeback of those mid-size farms,” he says.

Continued from pg 8D

Minnesota has big farm loss Many states lost farms from 2007 to 2012, but Minnesota suffered a bigger percentage loss than most states. Minnesota had 74,537 farms in 2012, a decline of 8 percent from 80,992 in 2007. That drop is twice the national rate. Another unfortunate statistic for Minnesota: The state had fewer young farmers in 2012 (4,490) than in 2007 (4,517), bucking the national trend. Explaining the big loss in farms and the small decline in young farmers will be easier when the full census is The larger number of farmers who were in the 34 to released later this spring, says Dan Lofthus, Minnesota 44 and 45 to 54 groups, in turn, have aged and advanced state statistician who works for National Agricultural Statistics Service, the USDA agency that conducted the into older groups. Bruckner says she realizes that farmers advancing survey. into older age groups accounts for much of the decline Contributing factors in the number of farmers in their 40s and early 50s. A combination of factors probably is responsible for Even so, the decline is troubling, she says. the unusual Minnesota numbers, says Ron Dvergsten, dean of the farm business management program for Million-dollar farms in ND North Dakota reflects most of the major national Northland Community and Technical College in Thief River Falls, Minn. trends found in the 2012 census. He hadn’t seen the census findings when he talked The most remarkable statistic might be the number of North Dakota farms with gross revenue of at least $1 with Agweek. Minnesota is a major dairy state and was hit hard by million. The number rose from 1,278 in 2007 to 3,334 tough times in the dairy industry, he notes. in 2012, an increase of 162 percent. Many small dairy farms have gone out of business, Nationally, farms in the category rose 42 percent from reducing farm numbers. And the lack of profitability 2007 to 2012. North Dakota’s big increase reflects a combination of discouraged young would-be dairy farmers from enterhigh crop prices and generally good yields in 2012, ing agriculture, he says. Minnesota also has many more small farms than Swenson says. Farmers in the state also enjoyed a good year finan- states such as North Dakota and South Dakota. Those cially in 2007, but “2012 was about as good as it gets,” small operations may not generate enough income to justify investment in modern technology, discouraging he says. The 162 percent increase in million-dollar farms may young would-be farmers from buying them, he says. Dvergsten suggests that Wisconsin, another big dairy also reflect, in part, the longstanding trend of big farms state, might be a better comparison for Minnesota than becoming even bigger, Swenson says. In other words, some farms that were close to the $1 the Dakotas. In fact, the census finds some important similarities million mark in 2007 might have gotten bigger, helping between Wisconsin and Minnesota. them exceed that level in 2012. Like Minnesota, Wisconsin suffered a big decline in Census results released so far, however, don’t have enough information on big farms to justify that conclu- farm numbers from 2007 to 2012. Also like Minnesota, Wisconsin lost farmers in the 25 sion, he says. to 34 age group from 2007 to 2012. S.D. gains farms Livestock and Mont. South Dakota, bucking the national trend, gained The 2012 census finds that Montana reflects the most farms, adding about 800 from 2007 to 2012. A big increase in the number of farms with fewer than 50 acres important national trends, including more young farmers and increased farm profitability. caused the overall number to rise, as well. “It’s a generational thing,” Greg Wichman, a Hilger, Small operations raising produce for farmers markets probably explains at least part of the increase, says Mont., sheep and cattle producer, says of the increase Wayne Soren, a Lake Preston, S.D., farmer and vice pres- in young farmers. Even so, Montana farmers, on balance, remain relaident of the state Farmers Union. “Even smaller (population) areas can have a farmers tively old by national standards. The average age of Montana farmers in 2012 was market. The access to fresh fruits and vegetables might 58.9, higher than the national average of 58.3. be an up-and-coming thing,” he says.

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Five years earlier, Montana farmers averaged 57.8 years of age, higher than the national average of 57.1. Wichman and others note that the 2012 census doesn’t fully reflect tough times for many Montana livestock producers. Drought and high feed prices made turning a profit difficult, if not impossible, for many livestock producers in 2012. In 2007, livestock accounted for about 53 percent of all Montana ag sales. In 2012, livestock accounted for only 36 percent of total ag sales in the state. “It’s gotten better now, though,” Wichman says of the outlook for livestock producers. Things to keep in mind NASS cautions that the census numbers are only estimates. Further, for purposes of the census, a farm is defined as “a place that produced and sold, or normally would have sold, $1,000 or more of agricultural products during the census year.” Ag officials who talked with Agweek say that definition doesn’t provide a representative view of modern agriculture. (NASS says it’s using Congress’s definition of a farm.) Also, preliminary results provide much more information on small operations than big ones. For instance, the findings released so far lump all farm operations of more than 1,000 acres into a single category. That limits the report’s usefulness in the Upper Midwest, where farms of more than 1,000 acres are common. In any case, the census provides the most comprehensive look available at farm profits, numbers and operators. Area farmers received the census in late 2012 and returned it to NASS in early 2013. The agency analyzed the forms before releasing its preliminary findings Feb. 20. Young farmer Jacobson helped out on the family farm near Crosby before going to the University of Mary in Bismarck. He played football and basketball there, graduating with a degree in athletic training. He then spent a year working as a lift attendant at a Vail, Colo., ski lodge. But he realized while working in Colorado that he wanted to return to North Dakota and farm. “I just missed the area. I knew this is what I wanted to do. I figured it out,” he says. Crosby, a town of about 1,100, is in northwest North Dakota. The desire to return home, not higher crop prices, motivated him to begin farming, he says. His friends in Colorado didn’t exactly understand his reasoning. “They said, ‘You’re leaving here to go farming?’” he recalls. Like most involved in modern agriculture, Jacobson stresses that would-be farmers need connections to get started. Access to land and equipment can be difficult, if not impossible, without help. “It’s tough to get into it if you don’t have a tie to it. I’d be nowhere if I didn’t have my father (Lynn) to help me,” Jacobson says. He says he understands that recent farm prosperity won’t last. He notes the 1997 drought almost drove his father out of farming. “He’s definitely told me his troubles,” Jacobson says of his father. Becoming a farmer, especially in a rural area, isn’t for everyone, he says. “You’ve got to love it.”


Morris, Minnesota 56267

Saturday, March 15, 2014 - Page 11D

High quality maize for food and feed Abdullah A. Jaradat, Walter Goldstein and Jana Rinke USDA-Agricultural Research Service, Morris, Minn., and Mandaamin Institute, Elkhorn, Wis. Food crop studies by the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization suggest that people in at least 13 countries in the developing world do not consume adequate levels of essential amino acids because they depend largely on cereals as a major source of protein. Improving essential amino acids, protein levels, and other nutrients in food and feed crops will significantly increase their nutritional benefits for people and livestock, as well as increase their value as cash crops. Currently maize, a worldwide staple crop, contributes over 50 percent of the dietary protein for human and livestock. But low levels of three essential amino acids—lysine, methionine and cystein—greatly reduce its nutritional benefits as a food crop. Because of these deficiencies, the protein efficiency ratio for maize is about 40 percent (in comparison, the protein efficiency ratio of milk casein is 100 percent). The lack of lysine is more of a problem in maize when maize is the primary di-

etary component, while the lack of methionine is more of a problem when people eat a diet based on corn and beans. Both amino acids are also important nutritional components in the feed of livestock, which in turn are important sources of these nutrients for many people around the world. Maize breeding programs can address these deficiencies by developing varieties that maintain nutritional qualities while breeding for other agronomic traits or by enhancing nutritional qualities by improving levels of essential amino acids and other key nutrients. Developing maize varieties with these characteristics will provide farmers and the food and feed industries with highyielding maize varieties with improved nutritional and industrial qualities. One of the challenges facing breeders is developing high-yield, hard-kernel maize varieties that also have high levels of protein and lysine. Historically, plant breeders attributed the difficulty of improving grain protein and essential amino acid levels to two genetic factors: the traits were not easily transferred from one variety to another, and modern crop cultivars did not contain a range of natural genetic variation.

To support maize breeders in developing more nutritious varieties of maize, a scientific team at the Soils Lab and Mandaamin Institute evaluated 1,348 maize collections from 13 populations for their protein content. These populations were derived from crossing exotic, high quality maize landraces with Corn Belt stiff and non-stiff stalk groups. The researchers wanted to determine if breeders would be able to select for desirable traits for essential amino acids and how these traits might be linked to one another, which could complicate breeding outcomes. The team found significant links between lysine and methionine and identified maize varieties and types with high levels of both amino acids. They also identified genotypes with the highest levels of both amino acids regardless of the endosperm type. These results indicate that it will be possible to breed and select maize varieties with translucent endosperm and high levels of both amino acids. This information will help select appropriate maize lines for further improvement and to develop lines that meet quality and yield requirements of farmers and industry.


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Page 12D - Saturday, March 15, 2014

Morris, Minnesota 56267

The Taste of Sweet Success: Day-neutral strawberry season extension using low-tunnel production systems dence of bacterial and fungal diseases, fewer weeds and Steve Poppe and Esther Jordan, University of Minnesota West Central Research and Out- reduced water use. reach Center, Morris, MN Construction and Maintenance The first step in creating our low tunnel system was Introduction Availability of locally grown strawberries is extremely to construct a series of raised beds six inches high and limited in the Upper Midwest, primarily due to the short two feet wide, allowing for 17,500 plants per acre. Dorgrowing season. Fruit is an important part of a healthy mant day-neutral cultivars were planted in white on diet, and while there is an expressed interest in having black plastic mulch in a staggered row with drip irrigagreater access to locally grown strawberries, lack of suit- tion. Using steel rods, black poly stoppers, clear plastic able varieties and production systems has prohibited and twine, a low growers from being able to fulfill this need in our region. t u n n e l s y s t e m As part of a 2013 USDA Minnesota Specialty Crop Block was constructed grant, and funding provided by the North American for each of the Strawberry Growers Association, researchers at the Uni- raised beds, reversity of Minnesota (UMN) Department of Horticul- sembling a “covtural Science and the West Central Research and Out- e re d w a g o n . � . reach Center (WCROC) in Morris, embarked on a new See photo 1. Throughout project, one that would not only study newer day-neutral strawberry varieties in a low tunnel system to extend the the early part of season, but also to improve fruit quality and reduce in- the season, flow1. Day-neutral strawberry plants ers and runners Photo puts. grow vigorously under the low-tunnel Comparative field trials were established on UMN re- w e re re m o v e d system, shown here. search land and on grower cooperator land. If successful, from the plants. this new method of growing long-season strawberries This allows the plant to establish and have leaf surface may help increase the number of strawberry growers in to support later fruit production. We also closely monithe Upper Midwest, increase yields and therefore avail- tored strawberry plants for insects; specifically, the tarability of locally grown strawberries from June through nished plant bug (TPB) and spotted wing drosophila (SWD). Using an integrated pest management apOctober. proach, we routinely checked for the TPB since it is one of the more prevalent insects to affect strawberry fruit. Goals of the Project 1. Determine if newer day-neutral cultivars grown on One of the newest pests to threaten quality strawberry raised beds differ in yield and plant growth characteris- fruit production is the SWD. As a precautionary measure, tics when grown under low tunnels compared to open we placed several SWD traps near our strawberry plants. While the SWD has been identified in numerous areas field. 2. Use our research and innovative growing tech- in Minnesota, we did not detect any SWD females in our niques to contribute to an increase in the number of strawberry plots at our Morris site. strawberry growers in the upper Midwest. Harvesting and Yield Data 3. Contribute to improved nutrition among conHarvesting traditional June-bearing strawberries in sumers by offering fresh strawberries during a non-traMinnesota typically begins in mid June, and is usually ditional time. completed by early July. Our day-neutral low tunnel strawberry plants began producing berries beginning Why day-neutral strawberries? Traditionally, the most successful varieties for field the third week of July 2013, and continued until midproduction in our region are June-bearing types. Newer October 2013. Traditional June-bearing strawberry varieties in Minday-neutral strawberry varieties, coupled with novel production methods, may offer growers the option of a nesota have a baseline yield of 5,500 pounds per acre longer harvest season using environmentally responsi- (lb/A). As shown at right, lb/A of each of the six cultivars in the low tunnel and non-low tunnel surpassed this ble methods. baseline. Data from both trial sites (WCROC and St. Paul) are included. Preliminary data from USDA low tunnel trials in Beltsville, Maryland, calculated yields for day-neutral varieties varying between 8,600 lb/A to 19,000 lb/A. Yield data from the Morris site for the first year under low tunnels exceeds this benchmark for all cultivars and all systems.

Day-neutral strawberry varieties produced using a low tunnel system.

Day-neutral strawberry varieties produce flowers and fruit continuously when temperatures are optimal for plant growth. Recent USDA research on day-neutral strawberry varieties grown under low tunnels has resulted in increased yields of high quality fruit when compared to open-field-grown plants, with reduced inci-

low tunnel treatments. For comparison, we randomly took brix readings in the June-bearing variety trial between late June and early July; the average brix level was 7.7. In 2013, day-neutral cultivars were just as sweet as June-bearing cultivars commonly grown in Minnesota. Looking Ahead Since the hardiness of these new day-neutral cultivars has not been determined for Minnesota, we are growing the day neutral varieties as annuals. We removed all plants and the low tunnel system plastic from our research land. This project is scheduled for another year of production. For step-by-step instructions on constructing a low tunnel system for strawberry use, or for more information on the project, please visit our low tunnel strawberry b l o g a t t h e U M N C o m m e rc i a l Fr u i t w e b s i t e , w-tunnel-strawberry/. You can also look for the release of Cold Climate Strawberry Farming in June 2014, an UMN interactive eBook designed to offer commercial strawberry growers with successful growing practices in the Upper Midwest. Cold Climate Strawberry Farming offers information on innovative marketing techniques, cultivar recommendations, and video segments of particular techniques. The eBook will be free of charge and may be accessed on any PC or mobile device. Its release will be announced on the blog, on Facebook (, and Twitter (@coldclimestrawb). Steve Poppe can be contacted at

Pounds per Acre Data was also calculated to determine the average number of pounds per plant over the duration of the harvest season. The range of commercially acceptable lbs./plant for day-neutral cultivars is 1 to 1 1/2 lbs. Dayneutral cultivars grown under low tunnels averaged 1.45 lbs. per plant at the Morris site and .90 lbs. at the St. Paul site, while on plastic in the open field 1.02 lbs. per plant were recorded at the Morris site and .89 lbs. at the St. Paul site. During the late summer/fall picking season at the WCROC site, we tasted a noticeably sweeter strawberry. We randomly chose berries to analyze sugar content by LT = Low Tunnel, raised bed with plastic ; PL = open field, raised measuring brix levels. The average brix level was 7.6 be- bed with plastic; SM = straw mulch, raised beds, no plastic tween late July and early October in both low and non-

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