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SATURDAY, SEPT. 22, 2012 | THE NORTH PLATTE TELEGRAPH


FARM SAFETY, FALL HARVEST

D2 SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 22, 2012

THE NORTH PLATTE TELEGRAPH

Farm safety: It’s everyone’s responsibility As harvest time arrives, local experts encourage farmers to take steps to prevent accidents By ANDREW BOTTRELL abottrell@nptelegraph.com

Safety is a top priority on the farm, especially for children. There are lots of things to remember when it comes to keeping harvest safe for you and your children, but awareness of your surroundings might be the most important. “There are decisions to be made,” said Brenda Aufdenkamp, extension educator with the West Central District Research and Extension Center in North Platte. “The more you pay attention, the more likely you’ll be safe. You have decisions when it comes to your safety — not always doing what your friends do, but what you think is best.” UNL extension is wrapping up its National Farm Safety and Health Week activities, but Aufdenkamp reminded people to be safe year-round. Farm hazards include large, slow-moving equipment, animals and water — including ponds, streams and wells. Sharry Nielsen, extension educator in Franklin and Kearney Counties, said it’s important to have a safe mentality around the farm or ranch. When it comes to safety with farm machinery, she said it’s a two-

way street. “On public roads, it is probably more dangerous because the flow of traffic is higher,” she said. “As motorists, we have to be aware that they are there and moving slower. As machine operators, they need to be aware that there are other motorists on the road. It’s a two-way street.” On the farm, it’s as important for the machinery operators to be aware of their surroundings as it is for children to know the safety rules about each piece of machinery, and during what times of the year certain machinery is used. “One of the things we recommend is a safe play area. That’s a place where the whole family and visitor’s know it’s away from traffic and work areas,” Nielsen said. It’s also important, Nielsen said, to keep farm and household chemicals separate from other household items. “The proper way is in a locked cabinet, or a locked shed, depending on the amount of the chemicals you have,” she said. “Any kind, it’s recommended that it be locked up. That’s to keep pets out, children out, as well as visitors. So no one has to guess what’s in that container.” Keeping a safe atmos-

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phere for everyone is also important on farms and ranches, because of the distance from both weather warning systems like tornado sirens, and because of the response time for emergency personnel because of the greater distances. One activity the Lincoln County Extension Center offers to remind all people about being safe on the farm is the Outdoor and Farm Safety Day at the Lincoln County Fairgrounds each April. This year’s event, which brings in all third-graders in Lincoln County, will be on April 4, 2013. Aufdenkamp said the day is not only a learning experience for the children involved, but also a reminder for the teachers and sponsors who attend the event, as well. “An annual reminder [of safety] is always good — the older you get, the more you take for granted that everyone knows this,” she said. “Are [children] aware of it?” The extension center works with all grade levels on various programs, teaching children about agriculture. Aufdenkamp said third grade is ideal for the safety portion of the program. “It’s a good time, because the kids are starting to be more independent and away from mom and dad a little more,” she said. “It’s good timing age-wise.” Events at the outdoor and farm safety day include an electrical safe-

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Telegraph file photo

An electrical worker demonstrates the danger associated with power lines during the Outdoor and Farm Safety Day at Lincoln County Fairgrounds in April.

ty demonstration by Dawson Public Power, which teaches children about the dangers of downed power lines, as well as electrical safety around the home, and on the farm. “That’s a fabulous

presentation,” Aufdenkamp said. In 2012, UNL extension also hosted the National Weather Service for kids to learn about weather safety, most notably wind and hail in the Midwest.

The event also teaches kids cold water safety, sun safety and safety around livestock. “If you’re not around livestock, you don’t realize how far away you have to stay [from them],” Aufdenkamp said.

A harvest safety check In the farmyard, check for proper storage of lawn and garden chemicals, power tools, and equipment. n Are chemicals in their original containers with labels and in a locked storage cabinet? n Are ladders and heavy gates or tires laying flat or fastened to a wall? n Are toys and tools stored separately? n Is unwanted debris cluttering mowing areas, workspace or driveways? Whether large tractors and machinery or small equipment, machinery can be hazardous if not maintained properly.

n Check to see that shields are in proper places, seatbelts and danger decals in appropriate spots, and that signage like SMV signs are on equipment. n Insist on a “no riders” policy for all small machinery — garden tractors, ATV’s, riding mowers, even the back of pick-ups. n Remove keys from all equipment when it is not in use. A safety check with livestock means: n Check to see that livestock areas fenced properly and gates locked. n Can you feed animals from outside their fenced area?

n Watering areas should have proper shut-offs and fencing to help prevent slips and falls. A personal check-up to see that family members and visitors are working and playing in safe ways will save headaches later on. n Check that everyone wears appropriate or protective clothing when doing hazardous chores. n Youth and new workers should be trained before beginning a new job or task, and then supervised as they gain skill and confidence. Teaching goes a long way toward safety.


THE NORTH PLATTE TELEGRAPH

FARM SAFETY, FALL HARVEST

SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 22, 2012

D3

Nebraska corn harvest moving along Region’s progress is far ahead of 2011’s schedule BY ROBERT PORE World-Herald News Service

GRAND ISLAND — A fast-maturing crop and good weather have allowed the state corn harvest to be nearly 25 percent completed compared to 2 percent at this time last year, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service, Nebraska Field Office on Monday. In NASS’s weekly weather and crop report for the week ending Sunday, corn maturity was estimated at 74 percent, compared to 18 percent last year and 17 days ahead of the 25 percent five-year average. And it is the tale of two crops, according to Kelly Brunkhorst, director of research for the Nebraska Corn Board. For irrigated corn, which comprises more than 60 percent of Nebraska’s corn crop, yields will be strong and preliminary indications show quality to be excellent, with test weights near 60 pounds per bushel. “What we are hearing are two different stories,” Brunkhorst said. “On dryland, test weights are down and yields are down, but the quality is good outside of test weights. It has dried down good, but it is just small kernels and light test weights.” This year’s drought conditions have played a huge role in the development of this year’s crop. Growing degree days mounted strong with the hot summer weather and precipitation was almost nonexistent. For example, Grand Island has only received about 38 percent of its normal precipitation so far this year. Kernel moisture for a lot of the corn crop is under 20 percent. While the warm weather started in March, corn planting varied across the state as some farmers took advantage of the early warm weather in planting their crop, while other waited for more traditional dates because of late spring frost concerns. But for the nearly 40 percent of the corn crop that’s dryland, it is a different story and the lack of water has impacted both quality and quantity. Brunkhorst said those yields are not as strong as NASS reported that dryland

corn, statewide, was rated 4 percent good or excellent, compared to 54 percent good or excellent for irrigated corn. Overall, the entire corn crop was rated 42 percent poor or very poor, 25 percent fair, 29 percent good and 4 percent excellent. Last week, NASS reported that based on Sept. 1 conditions, Nebraska’s corn crop is forecast at 1.32 billion bushels, 1 percent below last month, 14 percent below last year, and the smallest crop since 2006. The report said that yield is forecast at 145 bushels per acre, 2 bushels below last month’s forecast and the lowest since 2002. Area to be harvested for grain, at 9.1 million acres, is down 5 percent from a year ago. Brunkhorst said for Nebraska’s irrigated crop, “It is the same old story we hear year after year “ good quality and good test weights. And from what we are hearing, it is drier than what producers think it is.” Timing was a big factor for the irrigated crop as water was applied during critical times during the crop’s development and spells of cooler temperatures came at times that the crop is fill its ears and put a “little bit heavier kernel weight on.” The drying process could be speeded up as the National Weather Service in Hastings said patchy frost was possible late last might northeast of a line from Greeley to York. But with no rain in the forecast, the NWS in Hastings said critical fire weather will be possible across much of the area through Sunday. The NASS weekly weather and crop report also said that 5 percent of the soybean crop has been harvested. Overall, the condition of this year’s crop was rated 47 percent poor or very poor, 34 percent fair, 18 percent good and 1 percent excellent, which is well below last year’s 80 percent good or excellent. Last week, NASS reported that soybean production is forecast at 2.63 billion bushels, down 2 percent from the August forecast and down 14 percent from last year. Based on Sept. 1 conditions, yields are expected to average 35.3

World-Herald News Service

Kent Langemeier harvests corn in one of his fields northwest of Mead on Sept. 14. “I’m out here way early. Usually, I'm not starting until next week, but all of our corn will be done next week,” Langemeier said.

bushels per acre, down 0.8 bushel from last month’s expectations and down 6.2 bushels from last year. Sorghum harvest is just beginning in some areas of the state as sorghum maturity is lagging behind the fiveyear average. While some areas of the state last week received good rainfall amounts, fall rains are desperately needed for much of the state’s grassland, which was rated 66 percent very poor, 31 percent poor and 3 percent fair with no rating for good or excellent. The lack of subsoil recharge will put more pressure on pasture and rangeland this fall and winter and a repeat of warm and dry conditions next spring will be disastrous for cattle producers and their new spring calf crop. But the desperate plight of ranchers and dryland farmers impacted by drought and other natural disasters this year is still in the air as the House has abandoned passing a new farm bill containing disaster relief for producers, according to Roger Johnson, president of the National Farmers Union. “The 2008 Farm Bill expires on Sept. 30,” Johnson said. “Congress is well aware of its expiration, and sadly leadership has succumbed to political pressure and will leave with unfinished business. Aside from politics, there is no reason that the House doesn’t bring the farm bill to a floor vote. Leadership has chosen to cancel all votes in October. Johnson said the farm bill is a “critical

piece of legislation to all Americans.” “It affects 16 million jobs and is the single largest investment in rural America,” he said. “It is disappointing that leadership has chosen to leave us hanging because of political games.” Johnson said not passing a farm bill now will make it more difficult to get something done in the lame duck session. “Farmers need certainty, and without a farm bill in place, we lose that certainty,” he said. “The agriculture sector is willing to do its fair shar. However, we need certainty in order to make business and planting decisions for the coming year.” And because of the ongoing drought, dry conditions are a big concern as harvest equipment is out in the field and wildfires could be a problem. This week is National Farm Safety and Health Week. “As the long hours of harvest begin, we need to be safety minded to prevent an injury or fatality that could have been prevented by taking appropriate precautions,” said Tim Scheer, chairman of the Nebraska Corn Board and a farmer from St. Paul. “Precautions such as staying focused and resting regularly can keep things safe around the farm for everyone, including family members helping to bring the crop in.” This year’s focus for Farm Safety Week is the farm family, with the theme of Agriculture Safety & Health — A Family Affair. The National Education

Center for Agricultural Safety, which promotes National Farm Safety and Health Week, said there were 596 deaths and 70,000 disabling injuries attributed to agriculture in 2010. “Grain production and handling continues to be one of the most dangerous aspects of crop production,” Scheer said. “There are more than 1 billion bushels of on-farm storage capacity across Nebraska and grain bins and associated equipment are common on farms and deserve extra attention.” Scheer also cautioned motorists driving on rural roads during harvest. He said such roads see additional traffic during harvest, increasing the chances for accidents to occur between slower moving farm equipment and vehicles moving at highway speeds. In addition, he said rural intersections

will have heavier-thannormal travel and the dry conditions increase dust, which limits visibility, as can sun glare in the morning and evening. Standing crops in the field may also block a clear view of oncoming traffic. Some things to consider for farmers and farm workers while on the farm this fall: n Ensure that trained family members and employees are operating powerful equipment. n Develop a set of safety rules that everyone should follow — and enforce them. Also consider developing an emergency plan so everyone is on the same page. n Check that PTOs are well protected to avoid contact with clothing or people during operation. n Check to make sure safety shields are in place on all equipment every day. n Always be aware of power lines that can come in contact with moving equipment and augers around grain bins. n Grain bins deserve special attention and caution when grain is being loaded and removed. Safety measures should be put in place to avoid any risk of entrapment and suffocation. n Take periodic breaks to help avoid fatigue. Take a rest break for a few minutes, go for a short walk or check in with family members. n Use extra caution when backing equipment. It is easy to overlook something or more importantly, someone, especially a child. n Protective eye and ear wear is important in many situations. n Remind family members and workers that safe practices come


D4 SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 22, 2012

FARM SAFETY, FALL HARVEST

THE NORTH PLATTE TELEGRAPH

Farm Bill cutoff looms

Bridging the gap between farm, table Grassroots organization guides outreach between farmers and consumers

GOP, Dems wrestle over five-year bill

By HEATHER JOHNSON hjohnson@nptelegraph.com

Are farmers getting rich off high food prices? Are hormones in meat and milk leading to early puberty in kids? Are biotech foods safe to eat? A Nebraska organization has the answers, and it’s increasing efforts to get the information out to the public. Nine farmwomen have been selected to serve as liaisons between the people who grow food and those who buy it. All are volunteers for the program CommonGround, an organization dedicated to making sure consumers understand the truth behind American agriculture. “A lot of people have questions about where their food is coming from,” said Drew Guiney, consumer relations specialist for the Nebraska Soybean Board. “That’s where CommonGround steps in. Disconnectedness is becoming a big problem because people are getting more and more removed from the food process.” According to Guiney, the United Soybean Board and the National Corn Growers Association designed CommonGround. The organization took shape a little over two years ago and rolled out in Nebraska in the spring of 2011. “Nebraska was one of five pilot states the program was launched in,” Guiney said. The

By ANDREW BOTTRELL abottrell@nptelegraph.com

A Sept. 30 deadline is looming over the United States House of Representatives as Congress looks to renew the country’s Farm Bill. In June, the United States Senate passed its version of the bill, while the House has yet to take a vote on the five-year Farm Bill renewal. “We need to get a Farm Bill done. There are so many issues pending, the sooner we address the Farm Bill we can address other issues as well,” Nebraska Rep. Adrian Smith said. “Even if the House decided to pass the committee version of the bill, it would need to go to conference, and that would take some time. That would likely go beyond September anyway.” However, Smith did

The Associated Press

The American flag flies on the East Front of the U.S. Capitol on Capitol Hill on Sept. 11 in Washington. A Sept. 30 deadline is looming over the United States House of Representatives as Congress looks to renew the country’s Farm Bill.

note that the process is further, at this point in the game, than it was in 2007, saying a threemonth extension of the current Farm Bill might give the legislature the time it needs. “That would push us to accomplish the fiveyear Farm Bill,” he said. “I want to get a five-year farm bill because I think that’s necessary.” However, Nebraska Sen. Ben Nelson said he doesn’t want to see an extension. “There’s no good outcome other than the House passing the Farm Bill, or their version of it, and we take it to a

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conference committee, and we iron out the differences,” he said. Nelson said the Sept. 30 deadline is likely to come and go, because he doesn’t foresee the House voting on its version of the bill before the election in November. “It appears that the House is unwilling or unable to act on moving forward with the fiveyear Farm Bill. It’s market based,” Nelson said of the Senate’s version, passed in June. “An approach that would allow producers to pick the crop insurance that is in need for them.” He pointed to a number of rural organizations — 23 in the Nebraska including Farm Credit Services, Farm Bureau, the Nebraska Agri-Business Council and the Nebraska Cattleman — that are urging Congress to get a five-year plan finished, rather than any type of extension. Any long-term delay of passing a Farm Bill could be devastating to the industry, Nelson said. “If we don’t have a bill when we adjourn for the fall elections, how would you make your planning and planting decisions without knowing what the

plan is going to be?” he said. Nelson said not passing a Farm Bill could lead to the system reverting to the Agricultural Act passed in 1948 that relied on crop insurance payments up front to farmers for their crops at market prices, which he said would give farmers a lot of money, but would happen at the detriment to the government. Smith, However, pointed to a separate portion of the bill that concerns Republicans: the expanding food stamp and nutrition programs, which he said has gone from $18 billion four years ago to $85 billion in the Senate’s proposed version. “It’s more than doubled in just four years and quadrupled in eight years,” he said. “That’s not a sustainable path.” Some of the nutrition programs in the current bill, Smith said, automatically qualify some people for food stamps, even if those people aren’t in need of the program. Tightening that part of the bill up, he said, could save $25 billion. “Those reforms are necessary, because it can put it on a more sustainable path,” Smith said.

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others included Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky and South Dakota. Since then, a CommonGround presence has also been added to Colorado, Delaware, Kansas, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio and South Carolina. Guiney said CommonGround volunteers reach out to the public in a variety of ways. They blog, post information on websites and social networking sites and create YouTube videos based on their farm experiences. They set up at grocery stores, fairs, Taste of Home cooking shows and other food-related gathering places. The women can also be requested to speak at conferences and other events. “It’s all about starting a conversation,” Guiney said. “We’re not combative, but rather educational. We’re not telling people what they should or shouldn’t eat. We’re just trying to help them make wise food decisions and dispel misinformation.” He said the information presented is based not only on personal experiences, but also on science and research. The goal is to target women with women. “We did some market research, and it indicated that up to 85 percent of all purchases and 90 percent of all food purchases were made by women,” Guiney said.

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THE NORTH PLATTE TELEGRAPH

FARM SAFETY, FALL HARVEST

SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 22, 2012

D5

“Ninety to 95 percent of all farms in Nebraska are family-operated.” “We thought farm women would have the most in common with urban women because they make a lot of the same decisions when it comes to how they feed and care for their families.” Among other things, the volunteers emphasize good land stewardship and the fact that factory farms are not the norm in Nebraska. “We get a lot of questions about whether we are family farmers, and we say ‘Yes we are’,” Guiney said. “Ninety to 95 percent of all farms in Nebraska are familyoperated.” Dispelling misinformation can be difficult, which is partly why there’s such a strong push to present the agriculturalist point of view. “People see animal

cruelty videos that are widely available in the blink of an eye, and the damage is done, ” Guiney said. “They believe that’s a widespread practice, when it’s not. We want the public to know that the products we produce are done so humanely and safely and are approved by the appropriate governing bodies. We eat the same food and drink the same water everyone else does.” People can request specific speakers based on the topic they would like to have discussed. Guiney said some of the CommonGround volunteers might be more comfortable talking about hormones while others may be more familiar with raising hogs or beef production. Anyone interested in

booking a speaker can Leslie Boswell of do so by calling Guiney Shickley at 402-441-3240 or emailBoswell’s family has ing him at drew@nefarmed in the Shickley braskasoybeans.org. The nine farmwomen area since the 1800s. Their primary business include: is raising breeding hogs Shana Beattie of for worldwide sale. Their crops include corn Sumner and soybeans. Boswell’s Shana and Bart Beat- grandfather was Willard tie work the farm that’s Waldo, a three-term Nebeen in his family for braska senator. five generations near Sumner. Shana was Dawn Caldwell of raised on a multi-gener- Edgar ational farm in Florida. Caldwell, her husThe Beatties raise band, and her brother about 40,000 pigs for market a year. They own a farm near Edgar. also raise crops, prima- They use 800 acres of pasture for summer rily corn, for feed. grazing and another 700 acres for raising hay, Diane Becker of wheat, soybeans and Madison sorghum. Becker is currently the secretary of the Ne- Kristen Eggerling braska Soybean Associ- of Martell ation. She raises irriKristen and Todd Eggated corn and soygerling are involved in beans.

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the day-to-day operation of their family farm near Martell. Kristen’s family homesteaded the farm in 1873. Her father was an early pioneer in notill farming in the early 1980s. They raise cattle and crops to feed their livestock.

Chandra Horky of Sargent The family’s diversified farm combines crop and cattle production, irrigated and dry land corn, soybeans, wheat, alfalfa and prairie hay. Horky’s husband, Terry, is member of the Nebraska Soybean Board.

Hilary Maricle of Albion Hilary and Brian Maricle are the sixth generation to live and

work on their family farm south of Albion. They raise cattle, corn and soybeans and finish hogs.

Linda Schwarz of Bertrand

Schwarz and her husband operate an organic farm near Bertrand. Their crops this year include soybeans, popcorn, milo and alfalfa. Linda handles the bookkeeping, as well as many of field operations.

Joan Ruskamp of Dodge

Joan and Steve Ruskamp feed cattle and raise crops. Joan does “whatever needs to be done on the farm, from accounting and processing cattle to running for parts and landscaping.”


FARM SAFETY, FALL HARVEST

D6 SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 22, 2012

THE NORTH PLATTE TELEGRAPH

Adding ammonia to forage can increase protein By HEATHER JOHNSON hjohnson@nptelegraph.com

File photo

Producers looking for feed for their cattle are being faced with a two-fold problem this year. Forage is limited, and the feed that is available isn’t always the best quality. “Due to last year’s drought in Oklahoma and Texas, cane seed availability was much lower than the demand,” said Robert Tigner, extension educator for the University of Nebraska at Lincoln. “So, we have been planting other forages that are lower yielding. And then of course this year, we have had our own drought. Even some of the cane that was planted isn’t doing as well as we would like.” As a result, producers will have to find other sources of good quality forage. Tigner said some could be made better by adding anhydrous ammonia to it. “It’s not a new practice, it’s been around for a few decades, but until recently, it wasn’t really necessary,” he said. “Now it is, because we’re going to use a lot of forages that normally wouldn’t be fed to cattle.” According to Tigner, the ammonia raises protein levels and also improves digestibility by breaking apart cellulose bonds. He said it’s safe for ingestion, but can cause toxicity if fed with additional non-protein nitrogen

components such as urea or biuret. They, along with ammonia, are not proteins naturally, but can be converted into proteins by microbes in ruminant stomachs. He said people should avoid feeding ammoniated forage to cows with calves at their sides, because the calves can develop toxicity through the milk. Tigner also said there’s no point in offering ammonia-treated forage to steers because most end up in feedlots, where they have access to wet distillers grains and rations that include some non-protein nitrogen in them. “You’re going to just feed it to dry cows and pregnant cows so they can maintain body weight,” Tigner said. “Without higher quality forages, a lot of those cows might lose body condition. That wouldn’t be good for next year’s calving season and the lactating period.” He said several years of research at multiple locations indicated that protein can be increased by as much as 250 percent by using ammoniated forages. In wheat straw, the digestibility increases by nearly 25 percent. Not all of the added protein is useable so Tigner suggested discounting the increase by half. “The key is to make a big airtight pile of hay, add 60 pounds of anhydrous ammonia per ton of dry matter and let it react for a

period of time,” he said. “Exactly how long depends on temperature.” Tigner suggested stacking bales in a pyramid shape and inserting a pipe near the center and bottom of the pile. He said the bales should be covered with a plastic tarp that is big enough to extend onto the ground. Gravel or dirt can then be placed on the plastic lying on the ground to seal in the forage. Ammonia can be added through the pipe. “Don’t add it so rapidly that the plastic balloons,” Tigner said. “Check for leaks and repair with duct tape. Remove the pipe and seal the hole, then let the stack stand for at least one week — longer if temperatures are cool.” He said the process works best at higher temperatures. It could take eight weeks in temperatures near 40 degrees. Tigner recommended opening the plastic three to five days prior to feeding to release any remaining ammonia gas. He urged caution when handling the ammonia, because it can be dangerous if it comes into contact with skin or eyes. Chemical resistant goggles and gloves and heavy long-sleeved shirts or coveralls should be worn. Tigner said it’s possible to Please see FORAGE, Page D7


FARM SAFETY, FALL HARVEST

THE NORTH PLATTE TELEGRAPH

SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 22, 2012

D7

Hydroponics mean fresh feed available all year BY HEATHER JOHNSON hjohnson@nptelegraph.com

Farmers and ranchers now have the option of feeding their livestock fresh, green grass year-round — even during drought years. The secret is hydroponic growing chambers. David Oberst of Kalispell, Mont. is the founder of All Season Greens, a company that makes the chambers. He got the idea after spending years struggling with undiagnosed Lyme disease. While searching for a way to restore his health, he became a certified living foods lifestyle consultant. The deep understanding he gained about the nutritional and healing benefits of living foods became his inspiration for beginning All Season Greens. “I learned the details of sprouting food when I started growing wheat grass,” Oberst said. “The idea is century old. People have been growing seeds for ages, I just came across sprouting out of a necessity for my health.” Soon thereafter, he turned his thoughts toward using the same process to feed livestock. “The technology to do that was transitioning from Australia to the U.S.,” Oberst said. “After attempting to work with the folks who were trying to bring it to the U.S., I eventually decided to just start out on my own.” All Season Greens was launched in July of 2010. Its systems are designed based on the highest safety standards. Its plant production cycle is simple.

How it works Seeds are spread onto a tray, where they are watered periodically by an overhead

FORAGE from Page A1

ammoniate many different types of forage, including wheat, dry bean and soybean straw as long as the moisture levels are assessed ahead of time. They should be above 10 percent for the best results. “It’s best to treat soon after harvest so that moisture levels don’t drop,” he said. “People

spray irrigation system. An electronic controller maintains the temperature range inside the chamber, by either heating or cooling the air as needed. Sequenced lighting ensures that plants reach the maximum growth they’re capable of and develop optimal nutritional levels. Oberst said it takes most seeds only about 24 hours to germinate. Once they do, the trays they are in are pushed down the racks and more trays full of new seeds are added in their place. After plants make it all the way down to the harvest end of the chamber, which takes about six days on average, they can be removed from the trays and fed immediately to livestock. At that point, according to Oberst, the greens are typically six to seven inches tall. The trays they were in can then be rinsed, re-seeded and loaded back into the start position in the racks.

The health benefits Oberst said the finished product is more nutritious than pasture grass, primarily because animals are able to consume the sprouted seed and root mass in addition to the plant body. “The moisture content is also higher,” he said. “It’s 85 percent, and 60 percent of that is protein. The moisture isn’t just water, it’s the juices inside the living greens. One ton of greens is nutritionally equivalent to two tons of high grade alfalfa.” Oberst said because of that, the plants are also less expensive to feed. “We can produce our stuff for $120 per ton, compared to about $800 for two tons of alfalfa,” he said. “With the growing systems, farmers

Courtesy All Season Greens

can produce 1,000 pounds per day of 90 percent digestible greens with a relative feed value over 300.” Systems can be customized based on how many animals producers need to feed and the body weight and energy needs of those animals.

The expense The cost of each system is $60,000, according to Oberst. He said delivery fees to travel to Nebraska from the manufacturing facilities in Texas would be about another $2,500. According to him, each system consists of a seamless, insulated fiberglass shell that’s 22.5 feet long by 8.5 feet wide and over 10 feet tall. “It’s more resilient than metal,” he said. “But, we still don’t promote it to be outdoors except to people in a few regions of the country.” He said some choose to place the system inside a

Quonset or old barn. Heating and cooling units, lighting, specialized water tanks, 120 trays and irrigation equipment are part of the systems, which Oberst said work best on cement pads. All Season Greens also sells seeds.

Exhibits A goodwill educational system has been set up in Clarkson to give farmers and ranchers a chance to view it. It’s one of many that travel around the nation. Oberst said an Iowa pig farm that uses the system would also be featured on a Travel Channel food show Dec. 10 if anyone is interested in learning about the operations on television. “We’re committed to helping producers stay in business in a sustainable way,” Oberst said. “That’s the most important reason I started this company.”

Testimonials

Rick Dake, a dairy farmer in Norwood, Mo., has been feeding his dairy cattle a diet of living greens for more than a year and said the nutrition is off the charts. “My cows absolutely love it,” he said. “I have had excellent breed back rates since I started with living greens and the cattle have no health problems at all. No mastitis, no foot problems, the milk has just been excellent.” Carl Blake, owner of Rustik Rooster Farm, a specialty swine farm in Ionia, Iowa, agrees. “With the price of corn, my feed costs were out of control and getting worse,” he said. “Now that I have a couple of ASG 1000 systems, I can survive the drought, feed my pigs better than ever and at a cost that is about half of what I used to pay.”

Sargent Irrigation Co. may want to bale early in the morning, late in the evening or at night to increase moisture content.” As for the cost, Tigner said the best calculation is that it’s just under $50 per ton of forage. According to him, treated low quality forage bought at $85 per ton would yield one pound of protein at 78 cents per pound and one pound of total digestible nutrients at 16 cents per pound.

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D8 SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 22, 2012

FARM SAFETY, FALL HARVEST

THE NORTH PLATTE TELEGRAPH

Renewable fuels touted at Harvest Days By ROBERT PORE World-Herald News Service

GRAND ISLAND — Over the last 25 years, Nebraska has seen its ethanol industry develop into the nation’s second-biggest producer at 2 billion gallons from 24 ethanol plants. Gov. Dave Heineman declared September as Renewable Fuels Month last week at Husker Harvest Days. Heineman said renewable fuels are important to Nebraska. “But we are also very aware of the challenge we face with the drought,” Heineman said. “Some of the input costs for your livestock producers are high, but we are all in this together.” The drought is taking a toll on both corn and soybeans, according to a U.S. Department of Agriculture report on Wednesday.

The USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service, Nebraska Field Office, reported that, based on Sept. 1 conditions, Nebraska’s corn crop is forecast at 1.32 billion bushels, 1 percent below last month, 14 percent below last year and the smallest crop since 2006. The report said that yield is forecast at 145 bushels per acre, two bushels below last month and the lowest since 2002. Area to be harvested for grain, at 9.1 million acres, is down 5 percent from a year ago. The report also said that soybean production in Nebraska is forecast at 200 million bushels, down 7 percent from last month and 23 percent below last year. Yield is forecast at 40 bushels per acre, a decrease of three bushels Please see FUELS, Page D9

World-Herald News Service

As a sign behind him encourages quick passage of the Farm Bill, Gov. Dave Heineman declares September Renewable Fuels Month in Nebraska on Sept. 12 at the Husker Harvest Days site west of Grand Island.

Couple ensures land stays prairie

FAIRBURY (AP) — Although corn, soybeans and the occasional wheat field dominate the scenery of much of southeast Nebraska, one portion of land in Jefferson County will remain the same old prairie it’s always been. And the owners wouldn’t have it any other way. The development rights of the section of more than 1,000 acres of land were recently acquired by the Northern Prairies Land Trust to ensure the pasture land maintains its heritage. Jim and Ann McCord own the land, which is about 4 miles south of Fairbury, which cattle graze on. In July, the McCords granted a perpetual conservation easement for the 1,043 acres that prohibits cropping and development, while maintaining the property as a working cattle ranch. Kent Pfeiffer, program manager with Northern Prairies Land Trust, said it’s important to preserve the land in an area where most ground is used for crop production. “Most of the progress prairie in eastern Nebraska has been converted to agriculture land or been developed,” Pfeiffer said. “Only 2 to 3 percent of [prairie ground] remains, so it’s a dwindling resource. We’ve been working about 10 years to improve how people use and maintain these areas.” The McCords will continue to raise cattle on the ground, while the Northern Prairies Land Trust will ensure the land is preserved

Please see PRAIRIE, Page D9


THE NORTH PLATTE TELEGRAPH

FUELS from Page D8

from August and the lowest since 2002. Area for harvest, at 5 million acres, is up 4 percent from a year ago. Despite the challenges, Heineman said, agriculture has helped Nebraska’s economy. “Because of agriculture, we are in a much stronger financial position economically than the rest of the country, and renewable fuels are an important ingredient,” he said. Nationwide, corn production is forecast at 10.7 billion bushels, down less than 1 percent from the August forecast and 13 percent from 2011. That’s the lowest production in the United States since 2006. According to the USDA, based on conditions as of Sept. 1, yields are expected to average 122.8 bushels per acre, down 0.6 of a bushel from the August forecast and 24.4 bushels below the 2011 average. If realized, the USDA said it will be the lowest average yield since 1995. Soybean production is forecast at 2.63 billion bushels, down 2 percent from August and 14 percent from last year. Based on Sept. 1 conditions, yields are expected to average 35.3 bushels per acre, down 0.8 of a bushel from last month and down 6.2 bushels from last year. “Farmers are facing many challenges, especially this year with the drought,” said Tim Scheer, Nebraska Corn Board chairman and farmer from St. Paul. He said farmers went into the planting season expecting to grow one of the largest crops on record. “But we have experienced one of the worst droughts in the last 50 years,” Scheer said. He said a saving grace this year for Nebraska agriculture is irrigation. Last year, Nebraska harvested 8 million acres of irrigated corn and soybeans with irrigated corn production at 1 billion bushels and irrigated soybeans at 136 million bushels. “Between the number of acres planted and irrigated, we will still

FARM SAFETY, FALL HARVEST produce a substantial crop, and we thrive to meet the needs of both the ethanol and livestock industries,” Scheer said. He said ethanol production provides a major economic impact to Nebraska’s rural communities. “It provides jobs, tax revenues, by-products for livestock producers, and it produces a homegrown, renewable fuel that displaces foreign oil,” Scheer said. Also, Scheer said a number of Nebraska gas stations with blender pumps will begin to offer E15 for cars and trucks made after 2001 later this month. “E15 provides additional horsepower, is better for the environment and is cheaper than regular gasoline,” he said. Scheer said farmers and ranchers across the state “are willing to continue their support of their local economy, educate consumers and promote ethanol and work to bring energy independence to our nation.” Also speaking was Greg Greving of Chapman, chairman of the Nebraska soy checkoff board. He said another renewable fuel is biodiesel, which is made from soybeans. “Biodiesel can be made from a variety of feedstocks, including soybeans grown right here in Nebraska,” Greving said. Last year, Nebraska was the nation’s fourth-leading soybeangrowing state with cash receipt value of $2.6 billion. “Soybeans have a positive economic impact here at home,” Greving said. He said the Nebraska soybean checkoff board has launched a partnership to promote the use of soybean oil in home heating fuel in the northeast part of the United States, including New York City. “When New York City activates its 2 percent blending mandate for bioheat, it will consume more biodiesel than the entire state of Iowa, which is the third-leading state in biofuel consumption,” Greving said. “Renewable fuels bring many economic and environmental benefits to the state of Nebraska and to the country.”

SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 22, 2012

D9

Proposal would pay some Neb. farmers to not irrigate in 2013 Water-short year designation would force state conservation and augmentation measures By LORI POTTER World-Herald News Service

ALMA — Officials of the Nebraska Department of Natural Resources and three Republican Basin natural resources districts are considering plans to ensure adequate river flows to Kansas if 2013 is designated as a watershort year. Thursday, the Lower Republican NRD board approved a proposal from DNR to pool state and local funds to pay some farmers with wells close to the river, which have the greatest immediate effect on streamflows, not to irrigate next year. LRNRD General Manager Mike Clements told the Hub the proposal is for a one-year program for which $3 million would come from the Nebraska Water Contingency Cash Fund. The Lower, Middle and Upper Republican NRDS would combine resources to provide an additional $2 million. In the Lower Republican, there are 588 such wells within 21/2 miles of the river that irrigate 46,700 acres. The proposal is to not use some of those “quick-response” wells in each of the three NRDs in 2013. Clements said no possible payments have been discussed and his board members want assurances that the LRNRD’s money would go to Lower Republican irrigators if the program is implemented.

PRAIRIE from Page D8

through maintenance including prescribed burns to protect water resources, native prairie and wildlife habitat. Prairie land in Jeffer-

Although NRDs oversee groundwater use in Nebraska, it’s the surface water irrigation supply in Harlan County Lake that determines water use in the basin for compliance with the 1943 Republican River Compact and a lawsuit settlement with Kansas. Water-short year administration measures are triggered when there is less than 119,000 acre-feet of water in the lake for the downstream Nebraska and Kansas Bostwick Irrigation districts. Clements and others in the basin have said the 2012 drought could result in a water-short year in 2013. Water-short year administration uses a two-year average of water use compared to available supplies, instead of the usual five-year average. The two years considered this fall will be 2012 usage and the forecast for 2013. If by Nov. 15, Harlan County Lake levels indicate short water supplies for 2013, DNR officials will look at the twoyear average and could declare 2013 a compact-call year. The final declaration would be made before Jan. 1. Clements has said LRNRD management actions could include leasing surface water or groundwater, other streamflow augmentation, and/or additional groundwater pumping restrictions districtwide or within the rapidresponse region close to the river and its tributaries. He said this morning that his board has started talking to officials of upstream and downstream irrigation districts about possibly leasing their surface water in 2013 to augment river flows.

son and Thayer counties has been diagnosed as high priority areas for conservation work under the Nebraska Natural Legacy Plan, an effort to address the issue of declining wildlife. Pfeiffer said the 1,043 acres are a significant

Please see IRRIGATE, Page D10

portion of land to preserve. “It’s a good way to protect against future development pressure,” Pfeiffer said. “We all want to makes sure the land remains at what it is right now, which is prairie and pasture.”


D10 SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 22, 2012

FARM SAFETY, FALL HARVEST

THE NORTH PLATTE TELEGRAPH

New grain elevator to open near Anselmo BY KRIS WILLIAMS World-Herald News Service

ANSELMO — The Andersons’ new 3.8 million bushel capacity grain elevator facility near Anselmo will begin receiving grain Monday. It is the first elevator the Andersons has constructed in Nebraska and is the largest in Custer County. It is located along the Burlington Northern Railroad mainline and has both train and truck loading capabilities. “Constructing the new facility in Custer County fits well with our strategy to provide

service to customers west of our traditional Eastern Corn Belt market,” said Chief Executive Officer Mike Anderson in an October 2011 press release. Groundbreaking for the facility was Nov. 11. Jim Cripe, regional director for The Andersons Grain Division added, “We received an outstanding reception by the community leaders and residents in this area, which was one of the several sites we considered for this project. We are looking forward to establishing a longstanding relationship in this progressive agriculture community.”

On the company’s Nebraska website at experiencetheandersons.co m, it says the company doesn’t jump quickly into new markets, but spends a lot of time and resources deciding if one can truly be an asset to business. When it does expand into a new area, the Andersons considers it a new home. “That is especially true to Nebraska,” the website says. “With a strong farming background and a network of close-knit communities, we knew this was an ideal fit for The Andersons and how we do business.”

Melissa Garcia, president of Custer Economic Development Corp. said a facility like The Andersons is a “tremendous addition” to the region that will have a direct effect on ag producers and a trickle-down effect to all area businesses. “We are lucky to have this facility and a company whose mission statement so (closely) matches the mentality of our area,” she said. In an email, Erin Lampe, senior account representative for The Andersons Nebraska Grain division, wrote, “The Andersons has a strong commitment to serving the communities in which we have operations.” That includes generously sharing time, talents and financial resources on solutions to social problems and in support of other worthwhile community endeavors, Lampe wrote. The elevator has both an inbound and outbound scale, four 500,000-bushel bins, two receiving pits at 50,000 bushel per hour, a 2 mil-

lion-bushel ground pile, a 100,000-bushel wet bin and a 7,500-bushel-perhour grain dryer. The Andersons facility has a loop track for 100-car unit trains and will be able to load out by rail at 60,000 bushels per hour. Staff expects only a six- to sevenminute lapse from when a grain truck weighs in full until it weighs out empty. The county road in front of the facility has been upgraded and concreted for safe access of customers and employees. A grain marketing staff is on site. Lampe said the corn received at the facility will go to the best market, but she anticipates it will flow south or west by rail. “While we realize this year’s crop is challenged due to the drought, we believe the accessibility we provide to a variety of outlets, as well as our many services will provide added value to area farmers during this year and well into the future,” Mike Anderson said last month.

Regional operations manager Chris Reed said the facility at this location has the newest technology, fast receiving systems and a lot of storage for local farmers that bring their commodity there. With the addition of this elevator near Anselmo, The Andersons Grain Group now has capacity of nearly 113 million bushels throughout Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Ohio and Nebraska. The Andersons has recently expanded its operations in Nebraska to nine locations, both through acquisitions and merchandising agreements. It also has a presence in Kearney, Riverdale and Paxton. “We are looking forward to the added value this facility will bring to all our customers, and are looking forward to the future of The Andersons in Nebraska,” Lampe said. For bids, delivery times or to discuss the markets, the Andersons team can be reached in Kearney at 308-236-8438.

IRRIGATE

port for Sept. 20’s board meeting, Clements said the special master serving as judge in last month’s Kansas v. Nebraska lawsuit trial in Portland, Maine, hasn’t indicated when he might give his ruling. Clements hopes it will be by the first of the new year. He said both states then will have the option to seek oral arguments before the U.S. Supreme Court, and he’s sure that will be requested. That means it could take at least two years for the issues to be settled. The core argument by Kansas is that Nebraskans used more than their share of Re-

publican Basin water in 2005 and 2006 as allocated by the compact and earlier lawsuit settlement. Also Sept. 20, the LRNRD board approved the property tax levy for fiscal year 2013 at 3.25 cents per $100 valuation, which compares with nearly 3.7 cents in FY2012. The property tax dollars required were unchanged from last year, at $760,100. The taxable value of land within the district — all of Furnas, Harlan and Franklin counties and parts of Webster and Nuckolls counties — increased from $2,064,885,613 to $2,335,204,227.

from Page D9

Two weeks ago, LRNRD officials said they’re considering using occupation taxes — the rate is $10 per irrigated acre this year — on a longterm water augmentation project in Kansas that would increase the irrigation supply in Lovewell Reservoir. The goal would be to divert natural flows from the river, through the Courtland Canal and into Lovewell during winter months, which Clements said would allow for a more sustainable water supply at Harlan County Reservoir. In his manager’s re-


THE NORTH PLATTE TELEGRAPH

FARM SAFETY, FALL HARVEST

SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 22, 2012

D11

Neb. company creates tough, green pivot tires By ANDREW BOTTRELL abottrell@nptelegraph.com

A west-central Nebraska company is rolling out a new pivot tire that they say can withstand all of Nebraska’s wild weather extremes. Dawson County Tire and Wheel in Gothenburg has designed the RhinoGator tire, a plastic irrigation tire for pivots, which won’t go flat, no matter the weather or the use. “It has been specifically designed and engineered to overcome the daily rigors of pivots,” said Kacie Morrie, marketing manager for Dawson County Tire. “We’ve tested it all summer, in a lot of different conditions – it’s had thousands of hours of testing – just to make sure it stands up to the weight and the environmental problems.” The bright green-colored tire is made up of a specially designed plastic material that will be released this month by the company, based in Gothenburg.

Courtesy photo

Dawson County Tire and Wheel in Gothenburg has helped designed the RhinoGator tire, a plastic irrigation tire for pivots, which is designed never to go flat, and to withstand the rigors of Nebraska’s extreme weather conditions.

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“We have one on display in our showroom, and we also are starting to get our inventory of them,” Morris said. The company says the tire was also engineered to have maximum ground-gripping traction for wet soils, and can also go up inclines easier than a standard, rubber pivot tire. The tire comes in three standard sizes, and can also be installed in combination with rubber tires on a pivot system.

Courtesy photo


FARM SAFETY, FALL HARVEST

THE NORTH PLATTE TELEGRAPH

Study aims to make tractors safer for kids CORALVILLE, Iowa (AP) — Researchers who hope to prevent children from dying in tractor accidents are turning to a state-of-theart driving simulator to help determine when kids can safely operate farm equipment. Teens are at least four times more likely to die on a farm than in any other workplace. The U.S. Department of Labor tried to address the problem earlier this year with rules that would have limited their ability to operate farm equipment. But the Obama administration dropped the proposal after farm families and groups denounced it as overreaching and an attack on their way of life. With regulation off the table, scientists at the University of Iowa and the Marshfield Clinic in Wisconsin are trying to attack the problem from a different angle. They’re looking at how children of different ages process information and make decisions while driving tractors in a first-of-itskind study of cognitive development skills. The research results eventually could be used to revise voluntary guidelines for parents and employers about when teenagers are ready to perform a variety of farm tasks, from mowing along a fence line to using a manure spreader, researchers said. “Our goal is to try to develop knowledge that makes it easier to prevent these accidents,” said Tim Brown, a University of Iowa researcher who helps run the National Advanced Driving Simulator in Coralville. Operating farm equipment, including tractors, is the leading cause of death and a top cause of injury among children who work in agriculture, one of the nation’s most dangerous occupations. Government data dating back to the 1990s shows that two dozen or more children die each year

NEWS AT A GLANCE ▼

D12 SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 22, 2012

USDA plans meetings to about drought

The Associated Press

In this Aug. 27 photo, Mark Gregoricka, 12, operates a tractor simulator in Coralville, Iowa. Scientists at the National Advanced Driving Simulator at the University of Iowa in Coralville this month started what they hope will be a pioneering years long research project that aims to learn how cognitive development affects youth driving performance in tractors.

in tractor accidents, but researchers say the lack of a central database makes it harder to be more precise and up-todate. Barbara Marlenga, a researcher with Marshfield Clinic’s National Farm Medicine Center, said farmers want to hang on to longstanding traditions, such as allowing children to hop on tractors at a very young age. But she said the number of deaths and injuries shows children are being exposed to situations that aren’t safe, and the National Advanced Driving Simulator is the perfect place to study them without risk. Eighty-eight farm children with tractor experience will hop in the cab of a commonly used John Deere tractor to take a virtual drive within the next month. A movie screen wraps around the tractor, projecting life-like images of their surroundings. The children, ages 10 to 17, will mow fields, navigate hills and maneuver around buildings, people and vehicles. They’ll drive along gravel roads in traffic,

merge, stop at intersections and pass cars. All the while, software will record their every move, including speeds, use of brakes, acceleration and eye movements. A control group of 10 adult farmers also will participate. The pilot study, funded by the National Institute for Occupational and Safety Health, aims to determine whether the simulator can pinpoint small differences in the children’s performance. If successful, it could lead to a longer and much larger study, Marlenga said. Joe Gregoricka, 16, said the John Deere used in the study had a different feel than the older tractors he drives on his family’s goat farm near Springville and the sweet corn farm where he works. He said the roads were “very realistic,” although he joked the drivers in the simulator wouldn’t pass him on a rural road when he waved. Gregoricka said he’s aware of the dangers of farm equipment, including a wagon that he

backs up to a conveyor belt to sort corn. It could trap somebody if operated incorrectly. But he said he feels like he’s “pretty good” since he’s been driving farm equipment for years. His mother, Karen Gregoricka, said that she “can’t stand to watch” Joe and his brothers, 12-year-old Mark and 14-year-old David, operate farm machinery, but they do so with their father’s strict supervision. She said they started driving small skid loaders when they were about 10 and began using tractors in limited situations at 12. “I’ve always worried about kids and tractors. It’s a scary thing,” she said. “It’s hard to know when they are ready.” Parents looking for guidance now find a confusing array of recommendations that Marlenga said are based on expert consensus, but not science. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends children be 16 before operating farm equipment, but federal rules allow workers as young as 14 to drive

tractors if they pass a certification course. The North American Guidelines for Children’s Agricultural Tasks, released in 1999, say 12-year-olds can perform simple tractor work on their parents’ farms, 14-year-olds can operate power equipment and 16-year-olds can drive tractors on public roads. “The information from a scientific study like this can help to either support some of these guidelines or say, ‘Maybe these should change a little bit,”‘ Marlenga said. “That’s the impetus for our study.”

DENVER (AP) — The U.S. Department of Agriculture plans regional meetings with local officials to learn more about impacts from this year’s drought and to discuss how to leverage existing resources to speed recovery efforts. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on Thursday said the four regional meetings will be held in Nebraska, Ohio, Colorado and Arkansas to address existing and emerging drought recovery issues. Details will be announced later, but the first meeting is already scheduled for Oct. 9 in Omaha. The U.S. Drought Monitor shows about one-fifth of the contiguous U.S. remains in extreme or exceptional drought, representing the report’s two worst categories of dry conditions.

Drought hurts rural economy in 10 states OMAHA (AP) — The economy in rural parts of 10 Midwest and Western states continued to look weak in September as the drought weighed down agricultural businesses. A new survey of bankers in the region released Thursday showed that the overall economic index remained in negative territory at 48.3 in September. That was slightly better than August’s 47.1 and July’s 47.9, but any score below 50 on the 1-to-100 index suggests that the economy will contract in months ahead.

Farm Safety 2012  

Publication dedicated to safe farming.

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