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Jon taught kids about hogs at a career day at a local elementary school in 2013. Courtesy photo


2 • Thursday, August 27, 2015 / Midwest Farm and Ag - Rock Valley Publishing

Hog farmer teaches kids about raising pigs in healthy ways By Emily Hanlin Ag Communications Intern Winnebago-Boone Farm Bureau

ROCKFORD — Jon Lang knows the definition of hard work. Lang, who is currently serving on the WinnebagoBoone Farm Bureau Board of Directors, was not raised with an agricultural background. He served on the Rockford Fire Department for many years before farming full time. Since Lang had a lot to

learn himself about the industry, he enjoys educating the public about what he now does as well. Lang currently works a farrow to finish hog operation that includes sows with piglets every two weeks. He has gone into classrooms on several occasions through the Farm Bureau Ag in the Classroom Program to educate young students about his hog farm and the ways of the industry. “There is such a small sector that is really involved

with agriculture today so you need to tell kids why we do things. When I explain the reason behind why we do things, most people don’t have a problem with it,” said Lang. “When I explain why we use farrowing crates to people I tell them it’s because the baby pigs survive and they understand that. “When you just see a picture of a sow in a crate you think, wow that looks uncomfortable for her yet, she’s got

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all the food and water she wants, and she has the ability to stand up and lay down but she avoids the tragedy of laying on and crushing her babies.” Lang also thinks it’s important to explain to people why it is important to vaccinate his pigs. “I tell people, you know I had my kids vaccinated when they were small,” said Lang “Why wouldn’t I do the same thing for the pigs when it can help them avoid viruses and diseases? Especially if it promotes better health in my livestock” There is a common theme among hog farmers to limit the amount of people exposure that their hogs receive. This is due to the potential of diseases spreading and the easily affected immune systems pigs have. If someone enters a new hog barn after being around different pigs, they can carry swine diseases on their shoes or clothing. “It has probably been around 15 years since we have bought any new sows or gilts to bring onto the farm just from a health standpoint,” said Lang “That is one of

the things I am very picky about is the health of the animals. If I go anywhere where there are other hog farmers, I always wear a different set of clothes just to try to keep the herd as healthy as we can.” Many people don’t understand why farmers have to keep their operations behind closed doors. But, as you can see, it is all done with the pigs’ best interest in mind. “There are not many people that I let come into the barns anymore, especially in the last couple years with some of the viruses out there,” Lang said. “If they have been on another hog farm, they usually don’t go near the barns.” Jon knows the importance of being in the agriculture industry and for him it is so much more than making a living. It’s a life style and “It’s been a good life” Lang said. “Somebody told me once that if you have a job you love to do, it’s really not work. I was lucky to have two jobs like that. The fire department gave me a standard of living; the farm gives me quality of life,” said Lang.

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Midwest Farm and Ag - Rock Valley Publishing / Thursday, August 27, 2015 • 3

Bill Clothier inducted into Wisconsin State Fair Hall of Fame B

ill Clothier, Clinton, was inducted into the Wisconsin State Fair Hall of Fame on Friday, Aug. 7, in the Swine Barn at the Wisconsin State Fair, in West Allis. Each year, Wisconsin Pork Association recognizes an outstanding individual who has demonstrated a long-time commitment to the Wisconsin State Fair in the open or junior shows, and to developing a quality breeding program, by inducting them into the Hall of Fame. Bill grew up on his family’s farm in South Beloit, Ill. He participated in 4-H and FFA throughout his youth, and upon graduating high school his interest in the hog industry continued to grow. Bill and his wife, Peggy, purchased their first farm in Clinton, Wis. and began raising and showing pigs. Bill purchased his first Durocs from Charles Schmaling and showed the breed until the late 1980’s. He then became interested in the Berkshire breed and for the last 28 years, Bill and his family have raised and shown “Berkshire gold” pigs. Bill first began showing “Clothier Durocs” at the Wisconsin State Fair in 1973 and in 1979 he won his very first big award, Reserve Senior Champion Duroc Gilt. After showing Durcos for several years, he then began showing Clothier Farms Berkshire and Tamworth hogs. Bill and his family have earned numerous awards at the Wisconsin State Fair, including the 1998, 1999, and 2000 Grand Champion Berkshire boar, 2010 Supreme Champion boar, 2011 Grand Champion Tamworth boar, and the 2014 Grand Champion Tamworth boar and gilt. Showing pigs and fair time has always been a special tradition for the Clothier family. Bill’s parents, Bob and Gerry, along with his sister, Cathy, were very fond of attending hog shows. Together, Bill and his son Jon operate Clothier Genetics and the family tradition of raising and showing Berkshire and Tamworth pigs continues to be enjoyed by the younger generations. Bill and his wife Peggy reside in Clinton and have seven children. Past recipients of this award are: 1992 – John Wollin, Lake Mills 1993 – James Walsh, Beloit 1994 – Lyle Nelson, Oregon 1995 – Don Lang, Beloit 1996 – Gerald McElroy, Pardeeville 1997 – Earl Skalitzky, Waterloo 1998 – Grenview Farms, Beloit

1999 – LaVern & Marilyn Weller, Dwight, Illinois 2000 – Schuster Brothers, Berlin 2001 – Ralph Wilson, Burlington 2002 – James Furlong, Jr., Watertown 2003 – William Schomberg, La Crosse 2004 – Mike & Donna Lindow, Chili 2005 – Wayne Fowler, Cuba City 2006 – George Holst, Trevor 2007 – Francis Fahey, Belleville 2008 – David Gill, Platteville 2009 – Gary Brewer, Albany 2010 – Paul George, Evansville 2011 – Alan Butts, Evansville 2012 – Erv Nuttleman, Bangor 2013 –Roger Guse, Whitehall 2014 – Dennis Jeffers, Poplar Grove, Ill.

South Beloit native Bill Clothier, of Clinton, Wis., was inducted into the Wisconsin State Fair Hall of Fame on Friday, Aug. 7, in the Swine Barn at the Wisconsin State Fair, in West Allis.

Courtesy photos

Clinton farmer Bill Clothier was honored at the Wisconsin State Fair with this display and induction to the Pork Hall of Fame.

4 • Thursday, August 27, 2015 / Midwest Farm and Ag - Rock Valley Publishing

Midwest Dairy Associations awards Winnebago-Boone Farm Bureau members scholarship STATELINE — The Midwest Dairy Association announced the following scholarship recipients. Emily Irwin - Irwin is the daughter of Mark and Melissa Irwin. She attends Kaskaskia College, in pursuit of an associate of science degree. She plans to attend a fouryear university to major in animal science and hopes to be able to give back to the dairy community and the agricultural youth organizations from which she has learned numerous life skills. Irwin is a 2014 graduate of Belvidere High School and was active in 4-H, FFA, National Honor Society and bowling. She serves as president of the Illinois Junior Holstein Association and is also the reigning Illinois Holstein Dutchess. At college, she is involved in Agriculture Club, Post-Secondary Agriculture Students and the dairy judging team. Megan Opperman - Opperman is the daughter of Bob and Kathleen Opperman. She attends the University of Wisconsin - Madison, in pursuit of a bachelor of dairy science degree with a minor in agricultural business. At college, Opperman is active in Badger Dairy Club, Collegiate Farm Bureau, Association of Women in Agriculture and Badger Dairy Challenge. Opperman is a 2013 graduate of Rockford Lutheran Bonded High School and was active in National Honor Society, marchInsured ing band, basketball, soccer and


math team. She serves as president of the Northwest Junior Holstein Club and is active in Illinois Junior Holstein events. Scholarship applicants are evaluated on their participation in leadership and academic activities, reference letters, personal essays, and involvement in the dairy industry. Each of the $1,000 scholarships will be used at an accredited college or university. Winners are required to be from a family whose dairy contributes funding to Midwest Dairy Association.

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Rock County Farm Bureau to host annual meeting on Sept. 14 JANESVILLE — Members of the Rock County Farm Bureau will hold their annual meeting on Monday, Sept. 14, at 6:30 p.m. at the Rotary Botanical Gardens in Janesville. All Farm Bureau members are encouraged to attend this important meeting to help #104-015456 create policy resolutions and vote in elections for county

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board directors. Also being selected will be the county’s voting delegates for the WFBF Annual Meeting in Wisconsin Dells, Dec. 5-7. As a grassroots organization, it is Farm Bureau’s members on the county level who set the policy goals of the state’s leading farm organization. The Wisconsin Farm Bureau is often asked to get involved in issues affecting production agriculture and rural Wisconsin both in Madison and Washington, D.C. This fall, Farm Bureau members across the state will be crafting, discussing and forwarding policy recommendations on emerging ag issues including transportation funding, third party audits of farming practices, farmer-led water quality efforts and point source-nonpoint source pollution abatement collaboration. Made up of 61 county Farm Bureaus, the Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation is the state’s largest general farm organization representing farms of every size, commodity and management style. For more information, call Amy Blakeney at (866) 3557342.

Midwest Farm and Ag - Rock Valley Publishing / Thursday, August 27, 2015 • 5

The science of canning: water bath vs. pressure

For information about food preservation and other Nutrition and Wellness programs through the University of Illinois Extension, contact Laura Barr at or

Courtesy photo

It is critical to follow new guidelines to keep the canned product safe for consumption.

(630) 584-6166, or visit http:// dkk/. University of Illinois

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ST. CHARLES, Ill. — Just as there is an art to cooking, there is a science to food preservation. It is critical to follow new guidelines to keep the canned product safe for consumption. “With developing a dish or following a recipe, there’s wiggle room to add more of an ingredient you like or perhaps delete an optional component,” said Laura Barr, Nutrition and Wellness Educator with University of Illinois Extension. “Alternatively, in food preservation, not adding an ingredient can be a food safety issue. Case in point, when canning tomatoes, acid can be a crucial element in the science of the method.” Vinegar, lemon juice or citric acid must be added to tomato recipes when processing in a hot water bath. If not, a pressure canning method must be chosen to keep the final product safe, said Barr. “It is all about the pH of the produce, when determining the proper method of preservation,” explained Barr. “Fruits tend to be more acidic than vegetables, with an established pH of 4.6 or lower. This allows a water bath choice for preserving them. Tomatoes have a borderline pH and need added acid for the same method. This practice decreases incidence of potential food borne illness.” The products which are acceptable for water bath canning tend to be foods that are more acidic by nature, or are products that have added salt, sugar or acid, like pickles, jams and relishes respectively, Barr said. “Low-acid foods with a high pH, like vegetables and meat, need to be pressure canned to be safe,” she explained. This practice, based on University research, may be counter to some older recipes or past traditions. Home-canned goods can be a source of botulism, with an average incidence of 10 to 30 outbreaks annually. According to the Food and Drug Administration; the incidence of the food borne-intoxication is low, but the mortality rate is high, if not treated immediately and properly. “The offending bacterium is Clostridium botulinum which is comfortable in anaerobic

conditions like canned foods,” Barr said. “It produces a heatresistant toxin and spores. The pressure canner brings food to temperatures above boiling, which is essential to kill botulism spores.” The Centers for Disease Control and Protection recommend pressure cooking vegetables at home, because the food reaches temperatures above boiling, which is necessary to kill botulism spores. “Time and temperature control of food is necessary in both food preparation and preservation,” said Barr. “The process of extending the shelf-life of foods involves using tested recipes to ensure safety of consumers.” University of Illinois Extension and the National Center for Home Food Preservation (NCHFP) can provide the latest news on home food preservation. For more on the NCHFP, visit


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6 • Thursday, August 27, 2015 / Midwest Farm and Ag - Rock Valley Publishing

Alpaca farmer discusses details of daily care of herd By Dennis Pace Owner of Pacesetter Alpacas


fter 20 years of raising alpacas, our herd has grown from the original two animals to a herd

of 43. In this edition, I thought I would share with its readers what is involved with raising and caring for alpacas. My biggest concern starting out, with my limited livestock experience, was that the animals shouldn’t suffer because of my lack of knowledge. This may be a very short story as alpacas are actually pretty simple to care for. Alpacas are known to be disease resistant and because of that, we have very few health issues. Farm visits by our veterinarian usually involve drawing blood for DNA registration of our crias (baby alpacas) or ultrasounds to confirm pregnancies in our bred females. Alpacas are members of the camelid family which make them cousins to the camel, llama, vicuna and guanaco. They are ruminants, which means that they chew a cud much like a cow. And to answer the most asked question….yes, when provoked, they do spit! Alpacas have a very low protein diet and require only grass hay. We will A group of alpacas roam in the pasture at Pacesetter Alpacas farm. supplement their hay with a pelletized though they have something against a do have to be trimmed. Some 2-3 times grain which contains the vitamins and clean barn. The same holds true for the a year, but some only once a year. minerals they need to promote good pasture. There is an area, usually in the In the past 20 years, we have had health and good fiber growth. But, the center of the pasture, where they make many crias born on our farm. The averforage will make up more than 80% of their dung area. They will not graze in age gestation has been 345 days. This their diet. this area unless the rest of the pasture is is a long time to wait for a baby cria We feed between two to three pounds totally eaten. This behavior helps with but well worth the wait. There are few of dry forage per head, depending on parasite control as they are not ingesting things more fun then to watch a group pasture condition and one cup of grain shed parasites. Speaking of parasites, of crias interacting and playing with supplement per head per day. You as with any grazing animals, alpacas are each other in the pasture on a summer could feed 7 alpacas for what it would susceptible to intestinal parasites. We day. take to feed one horse for a day. As do check regularly for parasite load and An annual event on our farm is shearwith any livestock, a constant supply of treat accordingly. ing. This is usually done at the end of fresh clean water is very important to Alpacas have a padded foot similar April or first of May to allow plenty of the well being of our alpacas, especially to a dog, but with two toes on each time for their coats to re-grow before in the hot, humid summer months. foot. Because it is not a hard hoofed winter sets in. We have a professional Alpacas share a community dung pile. animal, alpacas are more gentle on the shearer perform this task with our help Where one alpaca goes, they all go. pasture. When they get playful and run and the help of several friends. A qualAnd that usually happens seconds after around, they do not tear up the pasture. you have cleaned the barn. It seems as Depending on the animals, the toe nails

An adult alpaca and cria spend a lazy afternoon in the field. The mother will be pregnant for nearly a year before it’s born.

Courtesy photos

ity shearing job is essential to the value of the shorn fleece and the health of the animals as it keeps them cooler in the hot months to come. Another annual event is the Alpaca Farm Days open house. This year the event will be held Sept. 26 and 27. The public is welcome to come see fiber processing and spinning demonstrations along with meeting the alpacas up close and personal. Kids activities and food are available. This is also a fundraiser for Friends of Noah, an animal rescue group. Hours are Sat. Sept. 26, 9am4pm and Sun. Sept. 27, 12pm-4pm. Please watch for the next issue when I will talk about the alpacas very special fiber.

Kids enjoy the gentle nature of the alpacas.

Midwest Farm and Ag - Rock Valley Publishing / Thursday, August 27, 2015 • 7

Balancing the roles of road commissioner, community volunteer and part time farmer By Emily Hanlin Ag Communications Intern Winnebago-Boone Farm Bureau

WINNEBAGO — Barry Palm of Winnebago, Ill., could very well be described as a

modern day farmer. Palm has been a member of the Illinois Farm Bureau for 30 years and has served on the Winnebago-Boone County Farm Bureau Board of Directors in the past.

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Palmdale Farms has been in Palm’s family for more than 50 years and has been passed down through three generations. Palm began working in the dairy industry after college, milking cows for his farther. Then, in 1990, Palm and his brother, Marty, bought their father’s herd of Holstein dairy cows. However, after nearly three decades milking cows, Palm sold his portion of the farm to his brother and decided to focus on his community. In January of 2007, Palm took over as the Winnebago Township Highway Commissioner. Being involved in work off the farm gave Palm new experiences, including serving on the Winnebago School District when his three children, See FARMING, Page 8

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8 • Thursday, August 27, 2015 / Midwest Farm and Ag - Rock Valley Publishing

Farmers markets promote smart, active choices ST. CHARLES, Ill. — Combine shopping with health and nutrition, by adding a trip to the Farmers Market to your summer bucket list. “In addition to picking up extra ‘steps,’ you can walk away with some fresh, local produce to use for your next snack or to plan your week’s meals,” said Jessica Gadomski, University of Illinois Extension SNAP-Ed Educator and registered dietician. “Farmers markets also are a great way to support local agriculture, and your community, as well as learn about what you eat, where it comes from, and what to do with it,” she said. “Farmers want to meet and talk with you, and what better source to find out how to incorporate a new or favorite food into your meal plan, than from those who grew it?” Gadomski offers consumers a few tips to help ensure a successful market visit: Know what’s in season “Not only does seasonal produce taste better, but it also provides the most cost effective option,” she said. “In addition, it also will help you know what to expect at the market and what to include when planning meals.” For a comprehensive list of produce in-season for Illinois,


visit dkk/localfoods.html Get the whole family involved Do you have picky eaters at home or admit you could do better with your fruit and vegetable intake? Remember fruits and vegetables should make up half of the plate at every meal, according to the USDA MyPlate food model. “Engaging the family in the selection process increases the likelihood of them eating more fruits and vegetables, and of trying something new,” said Gadomski. “For example, let each child pick a favorite produce item and a new one, tak-

ing turns each week. You could even have them rate it and keep track of your choices all season.” For family activities and recipes, visit the “Fruits and Vegetables” link at Be adventurous, try something new! Kohlrabi, for instance, may look strange, and many may be unsure of how to peel it, but its fresh, crisp taste may bring a pleasant surprise and texture to your palate and meals, said Gadomski. “Kohlrabi is a vegetable I just tried for the first time at a farmers market a few years back,”

she confessed. “After speaking with a farmer on what it was and how to eat it, we now incorporate it in our meals regularly.” Other non-traditional options to keep an eye out for at Illinois Farmers Markets include: artichoke, eggplant, horseradish, kale, leeks, okra, rhubarb, Swiss chard and turnips. Choose wisely When selecting, avoid bruised or damaged produce. Keep in mind the amount you want or can use in a week, so purchases do not spoil, or consider pre-

• Farming

serving them for later in the year. Add to your healthy choices by looking for other MyPlate recommendations, such as whole grains, proteins and lowfat dairy products as well. Know where, when to go To find out more about your local farmers markets, visit Take note of the days, times and locations, and also mark your calendars for National Farmers Market Week, which begins August 2. Many markets do accept the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) or WIC f/v vouchers. If you are a market manager interested in accepting the SNAP benefit via EBT at your market, contact University of Illinois Extension for assistance. If you would like to learn more about INEP programs in your county, call Gadomski at 630-584-6166 or visit web. University of Illinois Extension provides educational programs and research-based information to help Illinois residents improve their quality of life, develop skills and solve problems.

(Continued from page 7)

Jessica, Layne, and Heather, were going through school. Palm also volunteered as the wrestling coach for the youth K-5, middle school and high school wrestling programs in Winnebago for 18 years and also is very involved at Heartland Church. “When you talk about a small community, you generally can’t afford to hire everything done that you could in maybe a big city,” Palm said. “You need volunteer help, and I’ve always enjoyed that. Especially with coaching, I always really enjoyed the kids.” Palm found himself very busy after deciding not to farm full-time. However, he still finds time to come back to the farm and help out. Since the Palm’s family raises corn, soybeans and alfalfa each spring, he helps out with planting and with harvest every fall. Even though Palm may not be as hands on as he was before, he is still a big part of Palmdale Farms. “I still have coffee with my dad and brother probably three or four times a week and they keep me up-to-date with what’s going on with the farm,” Palm

said. “And with me being involved with the community, I’m able to pass on some information there as well.” One thing that remains very important to Palm, no matter how involved he is with his family farm or in his community, is advocating for agriculture. Since he now works off the farm, he has many opportunities to do just that. And Palm’s children have the same opportunity. “My daughter worked for me on the farm,” Palm said. “Her experiences are different than mine because she goes to school where she meets people from a very wide variety of backgrounds and some of them have never been on farms.” Balancing the roles of road commissioner, community volunteer and part time farmer can be a little stressful, but Palm makes it work because he is so passionate about all of his commitments. “I’m sure I will always be involved with the farm,” Palm said. “But for now, I will stay where I am and continue getting involved with my community and supporting agriculture in different ways.”

Midwest Farm and Ag - Rock Valley Publishing / Thursday, August 27, 2015 • 9

Facts about Illinois Agriculture

of other state highway make trucking of goods fast and efficient. Chicago is home to the largest rail gateway in the nation, connecting eastern and western United States. The state boasts some 1,100 airports, landing areas and heliports, including Chicago’s O’Hare International, through which more than 65 million travelers pass annually. Illinois’ 1,118 miles of navigable waterways, including the Illinois and Mississippi rivers, make barge traffic an excellent option for shipment of grain to the Gulf of Mexico. Are many of Illinois’ agricultural products exported to other nations? Illinois ranks third nationally in the export of agricultural commodities with $8.2 billion worth of goods shipped to other countries. Exports from Illinois account for 6 percent of all U.S. agricultural exports. Illinois is the nation’s second leading exporter of both soybeans and feed grains and related products. Approximately 44 percent of grain produced in Illinois is sold for export. The Illinois Department of Agriculture promotes items produced, processed or packaged in Illinois through international and domestic marketing exhibits, trade missions, industry tours, publications, the Illinois Product Logo program and an electronic database for trade leads.

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sales. Most of these companies are located in the Chicago metropolitan area, which contains one of the largest concentrations of food-related businesses in the world. Illinois’ agricultural commodities also provide the base for such products as animal feed, ink, paint, adhesives, clothing, soap, wax, cosmetics, medicines, furniture, paper and lumber. Each year, 274 million bushels of Illinois corn are used to produce more ethanol than any other state -- about 678 million gallons. Illinois also markets other renewable fuels, including soybeanbased biodiesel. How does agriculture benefit from the state’s geography and climate? Illinois measures about 400 miles from its northern border to its southernmost tip. Temperatures generally vary by 10 to 12 degrees from one end of the state to the other. Cold, fairly dry winters and warm, humid summers with ample rainfall allow the land to support many kinds of crops and livestock. Much of Illinois is comprised of fertile flat loess, left behind by glaciers and wind millions of years ago. About 89 percent of the state’s cropland is considered prime farmland, ranking the state third nationally in total prime farmland acreage. Prime farmland is important because it provides an environmentally sound base for crop production. The central three-fourths of the state are especially well suited for growing crops, while hilly areas in the northwest and south provide excellent pasture for livestock. Who farms? Although Illinois’ food and fiber industry employs nearly 1 million people, there are only 75,087 farm operators, down from 164,000 in 1959. During the same time period, the average farm size more than doubled as sophisticated technology made many aspects of the industry less labor-intensive. Illinois farmers are generally more than 50 years old. Fortynine percent hold jobs off the farm and consider farming their secondary occupation. Family farms still dominate, though some of these have incorporated. What are other reasons for Illinois’ agricultural success? Illinois has a competitive edge over many other states due to its central location and superior transportation system. More than 2,000 miles of interstate highway and 34,500 miles


What agricultural goods are produced in Illinois? Illinois is a leading producer of soybeans, corn and swine. The state’s climate and varied soil types enable farmers to grow and raise many other agricultural commodities, including cattle, wheat, oats, sorghum, hay, sheep, poultry, fruits and vegetables. Illinois also produces several specialty crops, such as buckwheat, horseradish, ostriches, fish and Christmas trees. What are the characteristics of a typical Illinois farm? Illinois’ 74,300 farms cover nearly 27 million acres -- about 75 percent of the state’s total land area. The large number of farms, coupled with the diversity of commodities produced, makes it difficult to describe a typical operation. However, statistics provide some indication about what it means to farm in Illinois. The average size of an Illinois farm, including hobby farms, is 358 acres. Most farm acreage is devoted to grain, mainly corn and soybeans. Nearly 10 percent of Illinois farms have swine. Beef cows are found on about 23 percent of farms, while about 3 percent have dairy cows. Some farms produce specialty crops and livestock, including alfalfa, canola, nursery products, emus and fish. Many farming operations also support recreational activities such as hunting and fishing. How does agriculture benefit Illinois’ economy? Marketing of Illinois’ agricultural commodities generates more than $19 billion annually. Corn accounts for 54 percent of that total. Marketing of soybeans contributes 27 percent, and the combined marketings of livestock, dairy and poultry generates 13 percent. The balance comes from sales of wheat and other crops, including fruits and vegetables. Billions more dollars flow into the state’s economy from agrelated industries, such as farm machinery manufacturing, agricultural real estate, and production and sale of value-added food products. Rural Illinois benefits principally from agricultural production, while agricultural processing and manufacturing strengthen urban economies. How are Illinois’ agricultural commodities used? With 2,640 food manufacturing companies, Illinois is wellequipped to turn the state’s crops and livestock into food and industrial products. In fact, the state ranks first in the nation with $180 billion in processed food

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10 • Thursday, August 27, 2015 / Midwest Farm and Ag - Rock Valley Publishing

USDA invests nearly $208,000 in 19 rural Wisconsin renewable energy projects Nationally USDA supports 265 renewable energy projects to create jobs and promote energy independence

STEVENS POINT, Wis. — U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development State Director Stan Gruszynski announced that USDA is investing nearly $208,000 in grants for 19 renewable energy projects in rural Wisconsin through its Rural Energy for America Program (REAP). “USDA has a long history of supporting the research and development of renewable energy resources and is deeply involved in, and committed to, the Nation’s mission toward energy independence,” said Gruszynski. “By helping agricultural producers and rural small business owners save energy and foster renewable energy creation, Rural Development is not only improving the bottom line but also helping to reduce pollution, creating jobs, and promoting economically vibrant rural communities.” For example, in Maiden Rock, WI, Vino in the Valley has been selected for a $13,125 grant to purchase and construct a new15 kw solar array system. The array is expected to generate enough electricity each year to save the winery an estimated $2,300 in annual electrical use, an offset of 38 percent of their current use. In addition, Glacier Ridge Organics, of Friendship, WI, is receiving a $7,650 grant to install a 13 kw grid tied, ground mounted electric system. When operational the system will generate energy to power 100 percent of the small organic business. Nationwide, USDA is investing $63 million in loans and grants for 265 renewable energy and energy efficiency projects nationwide. These projects are expected to generate and/or save 207 million kWh of energy— enough to power more than 13,600 homes for a year. Eligible agricultural producers and rural small businesses may use REAP funds to make energy efficiency improvements or install renewable energy systems, including solar, wind, renewable biomass (including anaerobic digesters), small hydroelectric, ocean energy, hydrogen, and geothermal systems. Funding for the projects announced today is contingent upon the

recipients meeting the terms of the grant agreement. The next application deadline for REAP grants is November 2, 2015. USDA will issue a notice of available funding with more details on how to apply in the coming weeks. REAP was created by the 2008 Farm Bill and was reauthorized by the 2014 Farm Bill. Since the start of the Obama Administration, USDA has supported more than 9,600 renewable energy and energy efficiency projects nationwide through REAP, providing more than $291 million in grants and $327 million in loan guarantees to agricultural producers and rural small business owners. President Obama’s plan for rural America has brought about historic investment and resulted in stronger rural communities. Under the President’s leadership, these investments in housing, community facilities, businesses, and infrastructure have empowered rural America to continue leading the way—strengthening America’s economy, small towns, and rural communities. CAMPO DI BELLA LLC, $7,993, Mt. Horeb, Dane - Assist in the purchase and installation of a 9.75 kW Solar PV System producing over 12,000 kwh annually. CHRISTENSON, MARK, $9,873, Chippewa Falls, Chippewa - Purchase and install a solar pv system producing and replacing over 12,000 kwh. CROSSROADS COMMUNITY FARM, LLC $16,510 Cross Plains, Dane - Purchase and installation of a 14.85 kw Solar PV System producing 18,090 kwh a year/saving $3,256. COMMON HARVEST FARM, $4,806, Osceola, Polk - Assist in the purchase and installation of a solar PV system producing over 10,128 kwh annually. DRUMMY, NEIL, $5,754, Waupun, Dodge - Purchase and installation of a 6.6 kw grid tied solar electric system for a small grain farm in southern Wisconsin. Project will generate 8,195 kwh annually. GLACIAL RIDGE ORGANICS, $7,650, Friendship, Adams - Install a 13.86kw grid tied, ground mounted electric system which will generate energy to power the small organic business. HOMESTEAD REVISITED, LLC, $8,007, Stevens Point, Portage - Install an 8.25kw ground mounted solar electric system. Projected annual generation is 10,331 kwh, which will provide approximately 80% of energy usage for the business. LONELY OAK FARM, LLC, $10,575, Milladore,

Wood - Install a 12.1 kw ground mounted solar electric system. Projected annual generation is 15,000 kwh, which will provide approximately 100% of energy usage for the business. MICHAELSON, LARRY, $14,421, Balsam Lake, Polk - Purchase and install a new grain dryer. MIDWEST ICONIC SERVICES, LLC, $9,625, Newburg, Washington - Purchase and installation of a11kw grid tied solar electric system that will produce approximately 13,038 kwh annually. NEW DIRECTIONS GUEST HOUSE, $9,824, Thorp, Clark - Purchase and installation of a solar pv system producing over 9,000 kwh annually OERTEL, CLARENCE, $12,517, Marshfield, Marathon - Purchase and installation of a 15.56 kwh grid tied solar electric system for a small automotive repair business in central Wisconsin. The system is anticipated to offset 100% of the business’ annual electrical consumption with the sale of excess electricity to Marshfield Utilities PROPOSAL DEVELOPMENT SPECIALISTS, LLC, $7,834, Eau Claire, Eau Claire - Purchase and installation of a solar PV system producing over 9,000 kwh’s annually S&S CUSTOM FARMING, LLC, $19,128, Chippewa Falls, Chippewa - Purchase and installation of a new energy efficient grain dryer saving over $8,000 a year, and is 60% more efficient. SPRING HILL COMMUNITY FARM, $7,900, Prairie Farm, Barron - Purchase and installation of a solar PV system producing over 10,000 kwh’s annually. TRANEL, MYRON J., $12,257, Platteville, Grant - Purchase and installation of a Solar PV System producing over 30,000 kwh annually. VESPERTINE GARDENS, LLC, $9,888, Vesper, Wood - Purchase and installation of a 9.9 kwh grid tied photovoltaic solar electric system for a small community supported agriculture (CSA) farm in central Wisconsin. The system is anticipated to produce 11,553 kwh of electricity, offsetting 100% of the farm’s annual electrical consumption. VINO IN THE VALLEY, LLC, $13,125, Maiden Rock, Pierce - Purchase and construct a new 15kw ground mounted solar array system saving this winery an estimated $2,314 in annual electrical use an offset of 38% of current use. WALSH FAMILY FARM, LLC, $20,000, Beloit, Rock - Purchase and install a new grain dryer.

State Master Gardener conference set for Sept. 17-19 URBANA, Ill. – Registration is now open for the 2015 University of Illinois Extension State Master Gardener Conference to be held Sept. 17-19 at the Regency Conference Center in O’Fallon, Ill. The public is invited to join Master Gardeners and Master Naturalists from Madison, St. Clair, and Monroe counties for three days of tours and classes celebrating the 40th anniversary of Illinois Master Gardeners. “This is a great educational opportunity for anyone interested in the environment and/ or gardening,” said Monica David, U of I Extension Master

Gardener coordinator. “We have outstanding nationally recognized speakers and some great tours planned that would be interesting for everyone.” The deadline to register for the conference is Sept. 1. No late or onsite registrations will be accepted. The keynote speaker will be Rosalind Creasy. Creasy is an internationally known garden and food writer, speaker, and landscape designer. Her first book, The Complete Book of Edible Landscaping, won the Garden Writers Quill and Trowel award and coined

the term “edible landscaping.” Creasy will talk on edible landscaping and heirlooms. The Saturday general session will feature a presentation by Mike Jeffords on exploring nature in Illinois. Breakout sessions on Friday and Saturday will feature four tracts including plant materials, natives, elements of design, and edibles. The plant materials tract will feature talks on hostas by Mark Zilis; grafting fruit and nut trees by Kansas State University Extension specialist William Reid; roses by David Gunn; and amaryllis by Jason Delaney, both from the Missouri

Botanical Garden. The natives tract will include talks on garden invasives by Chris Evans from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources; dragonflies; native landscaping; and more. The third tract—elements of design—will emphasize downsizing your garden; planting for birds; rain gardens; woodland gardens; and aesthetics and hardscapes in the garden. A fourth tract—edibles—will feature talks on horseradish, culinary herbs, fruit trees, heirloom seeds, and more. Tours will include: Full-day tour 1 - six Master

Gardener and Master Naturalist projects Half-day tour 1 - Gordon Moore Park (hosta garden and rose garden) and the Riverlands Audubon Center Half-day tour 2 – Eckert’s Farm, St. Louis Composting, and Heimos Nursery Hands-on garden craft classes will also be offered at the same time as the tours. Register at ?registrationID=12221. Visit https://web.extension.illinois. edu/mg/conference2015/index. cfm for more information.

Midwest Farm and Ag - Rock Valley Publishing / Thursday, August 27, 2015 • 11

Does corn still need rescuing in Illinois?


Brenden Schultz named 2015 Conservation Teacher of the Year SPRINGFIELD — The Association of Illinois Soil and Water Conservation Districts (AISWCD) named Brenden Schultz, 2015 Conservation Teacher of the Year for grades 9-12, at the organization’s 67th Annual Meeting in Springfield. In commending Mr. Schultz for his outstanding teaching skills, Jerry Snodgrass, AISWCD Education Committee Chair stated, “Brenden is one of those teachers who make a lasting, positive impression on their students, he is a dedicated conservationist and an exemplary teacher of our children.” Brenden teaches agriculture business management/agriculture sales, veterinary technology, introduction to agriculture and horticulture at Pecatonica High School in Pecatonica. Thomas Hoffman, Program Director at Torstenson Youth Conservation Education Center has this to say, “Mr. Schultz takes very seriously his duty to educate his students, not only in the field of agriculture, but the responsibility they have as citizens in the community, stewards of the land and caretakers of the environment.” “Mr. Schultz has shown a desire to improve his curriculum which has in turn benefitted the students in his classroom,” states Todd France, principal of Pecatonica High School. Brenden states, “my strongest education is my involvement in the agriculture industry from my continued experiences in farming and my role as a seed dealer.” In his style of teaching, Mr. Schultz, believes the best manner of which to make an impact is to become as hands on as possible.

URBANA, Ill. – The 2015 Illinois corn crop continues to develop on schedule, with 75 percent of the crop having reached silking by July 19. But the crop condition rating continues its steady downward trend, with the good plus excellent percentage now at 55 percent, down from its high of 79 percent at the end of May, said a University of Illinois crop scientist. “Virtually all of this decline is due to standing water, past or present,” said Emerson Nafziger. “Rainfall frequency and amount has moderated some, but parts of western Illinois have received more than 6 inches so far in July.” Nafziger added that growing degree accumulations since May 1 are running close to average for the whole state. “With planting a little ahead of normal this year, we can expect the crop to reach maturity beginning in early September or even late August,” he said. Soil samples taken at tasseling at several sites from a nitrogen tracking project (funded by the Illinois Nutrient Research and Education Council) show that soil nitrogen levels have fallen considerably in recent weeks to levels at or below 50 lb nitrogen per acre in the top two feet of soil. For the crop that is well past pollination, the number of kernels developing per ear is an indicator of maximum yield potential. According to Nafziger, crops with badly damaged root systems have, in most cases been showing

pale or yellow leaves, death of lower leaves, and stunting, and either show no ears at all or have very low numbers of kernels. “Their yield potential is low and can’t be improved,” he said. In some cases, Nafziger said that the crop is only now starting to show loss of green color or yellowing, including lower leaf firing that may be moving up the plant. Some of this is occurring in parts of Illinois that have started to dry out where crops are expected to start recovering. This still seems to be occurring mostly in lower parts of fields, where water may have stood temporarily, perhaps several weeks ago, he noted. “It seems logical to think that nitrogen deficiency developing now in fields where standing water hasn’t been a big concern is due to loss of nitrogen finally showing up as the plant continues to take up nitrogen,” Nafziger said. “There certainly might be some of that happening.” Another possibility, he added, is that limitations of the root system from earlier damage are only now showing up, especially as surface soils start to dry and roots start to draw water from a little deeper in the soil. Can we know which is the case, and is there anything we can still do about it? “Either of the situations might mean the crop could respond to nitrogen applied to the surface, as long as the nitrogen can get

into the plant. “Before spending the equivalent of about 10 bushels of corn to apply urea by air, though, it would be good to try to assess the yield potential and to try to figure out if the crop is in good enough condition with enough kernels to make a return on the investment likely,” Nafziger said. “There’s no sure indicator of the potential of the crop to respond, but as a start, it should have most leaves still intact and around 450 to 500 kernels developing per ear.” If a decision is made to apply more nitrogen to a field, the rate should be restricted to no more than 40-45 lb and the nitrogen should be applied as soon as possible, he added. “Protecting urea with Agrotain should help reduce volatility, but if urea stays on the surface long enough (without enough rain to move it into the soil), it is not going to get into the plant to do much good anyway.” Foliar nitrogen is another possible source of nitrogen. The lower rate of nitrogen applied (usually 10 lb per acre or less) might be enough to carry the crop until its roots can take up more nitrogen from the soil, Nafziger explained. “With any source, the idea is to keep deficiency from advancing. The amount of green leaf area is closely tied to grainfilling rate. Dribbling UAN could work, but getting it into tall corn without delay in fields with wet spots might be difficult.”

Even if temporary nitrogen deficiency can be relieved by supplemental nitrogen applied this late, Nafziger added that nitrogen will not prove to be the most limiting factor in most fields. “Yield prospects will depend mostly on the ability of the root system to continue to take up water, and along with it some nitrogen, through the next month to 6 weeks,” he said. “Some of the developing nitrogen deficiency that we are seeing now may be the result of root systems that are damaged more than we think. In that case, even moderate stress as surface soils dry out might send plants into a downward spiral. “There’s no good diagnostic for root system intactness, but pulling a few plants might provide a hint. If root systems seem small, shallow, or have darkened areas and dead root tips, the prognosis isn’t great,” he added. “Things are looking better in parts of the state or fields where water hasn’t stood recently and where roots are getting some oxygen. Aside from the downpours, the weather continues to be good, without high temperatures so far. More lowhumidity days would help, but humid days with sunshine are still helping the crop,” Nafziger said. “It’s not 2014, when temperatures this time of year were well below normal. But kernel set should at least be normal in undamaged parts of fields. That means they have the potential for good yields at least.”

Nygren seeking volunteers for Fall Prairie Harvest Day Collecting seeds helps the natural environment ROCKTON — Fall Prairie Harvest Day is set for Saturday, Sept.12, at Nygren Wetland Preserve, 3190 W. Rockton Road, Rockton, Ill., from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. It is FREE and open to the public. Natural Land Institute invites all ages of individuals, families, scout troops, 4-H clubs, service clubs and employee teams to play a part in this day of community service. Boy Scout and Girl Scout troops will find this stewardship activity useful for working towards a variety of nature themed badges. Volunteers will be taught how to identify the various native grasses and wildflowers and how to pull the seeds from the stems and flower heads. Participating in the Fall Prairie Harvest

Day benefits the natural environment by gathering seeds from native wildflowers and grasses such as Round Headed Bush Clover, Grey Headed Coneflower, Big Bluestem, Little Bluestem, Indian Grass, and Side Oats Gramma, which will be dried, stored and planted in the spring in the prairies at Nygren Wetland Preserve. This is a very important process in the ongoing restoration and management of Nygren Wetland, the largest (721-acres) preserve owned by Natural Land Institute and the largest restoration project of the land conservation organization. Participants may come and go between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. and collect seed as long

as desired during this time. Refreshments will be provided and weather permitting, there will be a bonfire. Sturdy shoes, long sleeves, pants and gloves are recommended. Registration is requested. Call (815) 964-6666 or email Kim Johnsen at to register and for more information.

About the Natural Land Institute The Natural Land Institute is a 501(c)3, non-profit land trust and conservation organization based in Rockford, Illinois, which has protected more than 16,000 acres of natural land in Illinois since 1958. NLI’s current service area covers 12counties in northern Illinois. NLI’s mission is to create an enduring legacy of natural land in northern Illinois for people, plants and animals. The President of the Board of Trustees is Dan Williams. For more information and to donate:

12 • Thursday, August 27, 2015 / Midwest Farm and Ag - Rock Valley Publishing


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