South Dakota Farm & Ranch December 2021

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Ag inspectors nip pests and weeds at the border

A warm and friendly handshake,

A happy smile or two... May that heartwarming holiday spirit

Reside with each of you. As we welcome another holiday season, we’d like to share our best wishes with all of the friends, neighbors and customers who make our community a home. We greatly appreciate your trust in us, and we look forward to serving you again soon in the New Year!

This holiday message is brought to you by these supportive businesses.

Thank you to our area Farmers and Ranchers!


Coop Service

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We offer propane, gas & diesel products

Meyerink Farm Service

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Farm Tire Service 720 N. Main, Mitchell 996-7709 1-800-529-0061

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Mike Fastnacht 605-350-0867

Appliance Sales & Service Heating & Cooling Services Electrical Wiring Generators

Mike Polancheck 605-770-6537 or 605-539-0236 Al Meier 605-770-9679


Business: 605-770-2957 Home: 605-449-4939

Emery, SD | Carl Nordwald


Excavation & Utility Construction of All Types

1140 Spruce Street PO Box 128 Alexandria, SD 57311 605.239.4513

Chris Nelson General Manager

Tony & Jodi Wolf, Owners 1004 South Ben Street PO Box 89 Parkston, SD 57366


36590 SD Hwy 44 • Platte, SD 800-477-2892 • 605-996-7516

Scott & Mary Tilberg,

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Farmers grapple with rising input costs...............6

All of us at Wolf’s Auto & Truck Repair would like to wish you Heartfelt Greetings of Love, Health, Happiness & Joy. We wish you a Blessed Holiday Season Tony & Jodi Wolf – Owners TONY WOLF — Owner/ Mechanic 41 years experience Certified ASE Master

JACOB MOEGE — Mechanic 9 years experience Certified ASE Master • Diesel certifiedtechnician

NICK COLLINS — USMARINE Mechanic 9 years experience

ALL MAKES OF VEHICLES CARS, PICK-UPS & DIESEL: LIGHT, MEDIUM, & HEAVY DUTYTRUCKS Brakes and Strut Work | Transmission and Engine Overhaul RV/Motor Home Repair | Full Line of Diagnostic Repair WE NOW OFFER AND SERVICE ALL TIRES -AUTO-PICKUP-SEMI-MOUNT & BALANCE


Soil.... ................................................. 4 One-women bean operation.............. 5 Nip pests and weeds.......................... 8

God Bless All Our Military Menand Women. God Bless the Farmers, Ranchers, & All Front line workers – We are here for you. 1004 South Ben Street •PO Box 89 • Parkston, SD 57366 605-928-7335 • 1-888-595-6717 ASE Master certified/ASE Master Diesel certified, DOT Inspection certified, AirConditioner certified.

Publisher JO N I H A R M S Editor L U K E H AG EN Advertising Director LO R I E H A N S EN Layout Designer JEN PH I L L I PS South Dakota Farm & Ranch is an agricultural publication dedicated to informing SD and Midwest area farmers & ranchers about current topics and news. This publication fits the niche of our unique farmers and ranchers of the Midwest, and the diverseness we have in our area. Although the Missouri River divides our state, we are all South Dakotans and thank the land for supporting us each and every day. Our readers may be livestock ranchers or row crop farmers, and everywhere in between, however, we all have a common goal in mind. We feed and support the growing population, and want the next generation to find that same love and support that agriculture can offer. We’re all South Dakota Farmers and Ranchers’ and when you advertise in South Dakota Farm & Ranch, you are immersing your company, product, and service into a growing community of dedicated farmers and ranchers. Welcome to South Dakota Farm & Ranch! To subscribe to this FREE publication, contact South Dakota Farm & Ranch.

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TREATING PROBLEMS, NOT SYMPTOMS Conference brings soil experts to Aberdeen


oil health is the new hot topic in agriculture. It’s showing up everywhere from government policy discussions to industry initiatives, from news articles to documentary films. Why is it so important? “Soil health is the foundation of the whole food production system and life itself. Everything comes from the soil and returns to the soil,” South Dakota State University Extension Soils Field Specialist Anthony Bly said. “You may think that’s a biblical thing, but it’s reality. It’s truth.” Bly, along with several other speakers, will bring his soil management expertise to the Sixth Annual Soil Health Conference, Jan. 18-19, at the Best Western Ramkota Hotel in Aberdeen, SD. “We degrade our soil health, we degrade our soil, we degrade our food production system, and the scarcity of food increases, and it’ll change society,” Bly said. “If we want to maintain our free society and be able to make our own decisions, we need strong natural resources, and soil is probably the most important.” Burleigh County (North Dakota) Soil Conservation District Conservationist Jay Fuhrer agrees that the problem of degraded soils must be taken seriously. “If we look at our present resource concerns in the Northern Plains, we all kind of know what they are. It’s wind erosion. It’s water erosion. It’s salinity. It’s carbon deficient soils. We know this,” Fuhrer said. “It’s very similar to resource concerns that have been identified

since agricultural production was documented. These are a lot of things that brought down civilizations.” Fuhrer, who is an educator at the Menoken Research Farm near Bismarck, ND, worked for the U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service for 40 years. “I think really what we’re talking about here would be the difference between treating a symptom and treating a problem,” he said. Fuhrer said the first half of his career was spent treating the symptoms of degraded soils, and that frustration led him on “a quest for somewhat of a bigger picture in terms of what was happening and why.” As he learned more about soil health and how to improve it, he could begin to treat the real problem instead of just the symptoms. “My goal is real simple,” Fuhrer said. “My goal is to farm forever. When I have that as my goal, it helps me put a lot of other things in perspective.” Kris Nichols, senior soil scientist for the Food Water Wellness Foundation, said that unlike many other tools in agriculture that only address one issue, soil health management is “a consortia of activity that can have cascading impacts that could be beneficial.” Those beneficial impacts address a variety of issues, she said. “It isn’t just helping with nutrient cycling and nutrient availability,” Nichols said. “It can help with water infiltration rates and water holding capacity, can help with reducing compaction for

By Stan Wise SD Soil Health Coalition

better root growth, can help with aeration, being able to get good gas exchange between the soil and the surface.” One exciting benefit of soil health is the nutritional value of food, Nichols said. “I think one of the things that is really starting to occur is a lot of discussion around linking the soil microbiome to the gut microbiome of animals,” she said. “And so, as we start to gain more understanding of the soil functions to be able to provide all of those elements that we need for our own health as animals, we are really seeing how that soil microbiome is basically setting up what the gut microbiome needs.” Another major benefit of improved soil health is resilience to weather extremes. Steve Kenyon operates Greener Pastures Ranching, a custom grazing operation in Alberta, Canada. He uses regenerative grazing practices on roughly 3,500 acres which he uses to graze about 1,400 head of cattle. Those practices paid off this year. “Our growing season here, precipitation averages 15 inches per season. This year we were under four,” Kenyon said. This severe drought had only a minor effect on the land he has managed for 20 years. “We barely noticed it. Cattle didn’t go home early. We didn’t destock. We still grazed until the middle of October at least,” he said. “The land we’ve only been managing for three years? Yeah, it was severely affected by the drought.” ⊳

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ONE-WOMAN BEAN OPERATION By Melinda Lavine Duluth News Tribune MOOSE LAKE, Minn. — Britt Johnson sorts a mound of shiny, white beans speckled with burgundy, as they lightly rattle against a metal screen. Bit by bit, she discards any that are chipped, discolored or shriveled. “Oh I missed one. Farmer bean,” Johnson says, grabbing the tiny legume with her thumb and forefinger. Larger farms have technology that does this; Johnson does it by hand. She’s behind Polish Farmer, Moose Lake’s onewoman heirloom dry-bean and produce operation. It’s Johnson’s second year on her 40 acres. “COVID has shown that supply chains don’t always work out. As a society, we’re realizing we should stick close to home when it’s something as important as our food,” Johnson said. You grow up thinking there’s limited types of bean — pinto, kidney, black — but many have more flavor and a lot of characteristics that aren’t sought after in largescale agriculture because they don’t hold well or they don’t have as high of yield, Johnson said. She chooses hers based on their natural beauty and flavor. In Johnson’s shop sat bags of Jacob’s Cattle, a bean with lively maroon with white splotches; and Dalmation-like Calypso, with black and white spots. Arikara, Marfax and Tiger’s Eye are also among the 10 varieties Johnson grows. Some varieties she grows can be traced to Indigenous tribes in North America and South America. Farmers are fortunate to be able to grow these beans that other generations have taken the time to preserve, she said. Johnson graduated from college with an elementary education degree. She then signed up to teach English abroad, and moved to Kazakhstan for six months. “Everyone around me has a garden, everyone around was raising an animal for their meat, and I brought that home and started a garden in my mom’s yard,” she recalled. She then began farming internships in southern Alaska and Wisconsin before eventually working at Food Farm and Stone’s Throw Farm in Wrenshall, Minnesota. Originally from St. Paul, she lived in Duluth for five years before buying her Moose Lake farmstead. Catherine Conover, co-owner of Stone’s Throw, connected her community-supported agriculture members to Polish Farmer for beans.

BEANS: Page 9




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As area farmers begin ordering seeds, fertilizer and equipment over the next few months in preparation for 2022, many producers are facing some of the highest input prices yet. For Dimock farmer Collin Gronseth, the increase in fertilizer

prices alone has him staring down some of the highest input costs he’s ever experienced in his two decades of producing crops. “I’ve never seen fertilizer jump so quickly. The inflation and supply chain problems are also making other input costs go up,” he said. “It’s like the perfect storm.” Mike Bodewitz, manager of Aurora Cooperative in Mitchell, said several popular crop fertilizers like urea nitrogen have tripled in price over the past year. Since 2020, Bodewitz said urea fertilizer prices have jumped from around $275 per ton to roughly $900 per ton. Breaking down input costs on a per bushel basis, Bodewitz forecasts corn producers will likely be looking at $7 to $8 inputs in 2022, while making roughly $6 per bushel if commodity prices maintain. That’s

a stark contrast from last year. In 2020, Bodewitz said many producers were able to sell corn at about $5 per bushel with roughly $3 to $4 input costs. “I’m bullish on corn prices, and hopefully we see them continue to rise to help offset these input costs,” Bodewitz said. “A lot of guys have been conservative with all the swings in the market.” According to recent figures in the World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, input costs for corn production have increased by $1 per bushel in the past year. And a lot of that increase is being driven by fertilizer costs. As someone who has been in the

agriculture fertilizer industry for nearly a decade, Bodewitz has seen prices fluctuate. The recent spike has drawn parallels to the spike in fertilizer prices in 2008 when many fertilizers went up as high as 200%. According to recent USDA reports, Urea prices have risen 105% compared to the same time frame in 2020, along with potash fertilizer jumping 115%. was largely driven by rising crop prices. While a myriad of factors have caused fertilizer prices to exponentially rise in recent months, Bodewitz pointed to the scaling back of natural gas production in China and trade tariffs as the biggest reasons behind the increases. “This recent jump in fertilizer prices is different from 2008 because there have been some recent tariffs on Russia and production issues with China that kind of started causing phosphate prices to go up,” he said. “In 2008, the fertilizer prices were driven by corn prices, whereas now we are seeing outside influences like tariffs and natural gas production slowing way down.” After China recently implemented a ban on phosphate and urea exports until June 2022, it’s had perhaps the most profound impact on the global agricultural fertilizer industry. Considering China is the largest exporter of urea nitrogen fertilizer, producing about a third of the global supply, Bodewitz said the scaled back production of urea at many of China’s facilities has caused prices to skyrocket near all-time record highs.

COSTS: Page 10

Carolyn Lange / Forum News Service

Joe Pierce took advantage of perfect spring weather Tuesday afternoon to apply fertilizer and complete tillage on a field in northern Kandiyohi County. | (605) 995-5059

Craig Dodds

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The incredibly strong land market of 2020 is continuing into 2021 in South Dakota. The current market is rewarding landowners choosing to sell at an impressive rate. I would love to talk to you about how you can take advantage of the current market. CURRENT LAND MARKET CONDITIONS • Strong buyer activity driven in part by historically low interest rates. • Rise in commodity prices has increased interest in income producing land. • Stable land values for hunting, farmland and rural homes. • Low available land inventory due to increased demand.


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9/3/21 1:43 PM


Thankful for protection Ag inspectors nip pests and weeds at the border By Jef Beach AgWeek PEMBINA, N.D. — They lie hidden on shipping containers or inside trucks at the U.S. border, threatening to undermine the American way of life. They are the likes of the khapra beetle, twirler moth and noxious weeds like hogweed. But thanks to the work of agriculture specialists with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, many are stopped before they can cross into the United States. They also make sure that load of hay isn’t hiding some marijuana. “When they go over to do inspections, it’s basically manual labor,” said Kristi Lakefield, a spokesperson for Customs and Border Protection in Portal, North Dakota, where inspecting containers shipped by rail is the primary duty. Lakefield said the crossing at Portal is the fifth busiest railyard in the country when measured by number of containers. The crossing at International Falls, Minnesota, is

the busiest. During fiscal year 2020, the International Falls Port of Entry cleared approximately 800,000 containers. During that same time, Portal cleared approximately 310,000 containers. At Pembina, North Dakota, about 500 trucks might pass through from Canada on an average day. On a busy Monday, it may be closer to 1,000. The ag specialists look at pallets, at the bottom of containers and elsewhere for possible stowaways. Inspectors also look to see if a product matches what is listed on a shipping manifest. On Nov. 15, a truckload of grass seed from Germany was pulled into the inspection area at Pembina. An inspector cut open a bag to look for noxious weed seed. “We find something about every other day,” said Neil Halley, a Customs and Border Protection agricultural specialist at Pembina. Halley taught ag education in St. John, North Dakota, before joining the CBP. To be an ag inspector, you must have a four-year degree in a science field such as biology, and then undergo special training with the U.S. Department of Agriculture.


If something suspect is found, Lakefield said a photo can be sent to a pest identifier for confirmation within the same day. Sometimes the physical sample needs to be sent for positive identification, which may require about a week to complete. Meanwhile, the suspect containers are pulled off the train or truck to wait at the border. Sometimes a container may be able to be fumigated and can then continue south. Other times, they are sent back into Canada and to the country of origin. Some examples of the finds that ag inspectors make at the border include: Pembina: Halley said inspectors have twice found the khapra beetle, what he calls one of the 10 most wanted insects in the world and which feeds on stored grain. An express courier shipment contained seeds of the giant hogweed, a noxious weed. Also found in the were cucurbit (gourd), brassica (cabbage), and buckwheat seeds. The shipment did not have the required seed certificates to enter the United States. International Falls: Inspectors there intercepted a container with cerambycidae (longhorn beetle) and

gracillarioidea (leaf blotch miner moth) and imperata cylindrica, a federal noxious weed. The container was re-exported to Taiwan. Portal: Gelechioidea, a twirler or curved-horn moth, was found within a shipment of steel wheels from Vietnam and the container was sent back there. The steel shipment from Vietnam shows that it is not just ag shipments that can be suspect. Lakefield said containers, pallets or products stored outside before coming to Canada and the U.S. can carry weeds and pests. Used equipment or heavy machinery may be carrying infested clumps of dirt. Lakefield said many of the containers have come through British Columbia in Canada before crossing the U.S. border. “A lot of goods are from the Pacific Rim,” she said. “When looking at a long chain of railcars crossing the countryside, “you don’t really know the back story.”

Scanning tools

As vehicles funnel through the Pembina Port of Entry, the drivers and passengers may not know it, but all are scanned for radiation. Any shipment that rises about a certain threshold will be inspected. Some materials, such as potash, have a naturally occurring level of radiation and can still continue south.

PESTS: Page 11

BEANS From Page 5

Johnson has been working Conover’s land for five years, and she is her only employee during the season. “The first few times she worked for me, I realized she was going to be faster than me at just about everything, and I was OK with that,” Conover recalled. “She’s a really dedicated hard-working person … I’m super proud of her.” Conover connected Mary Dragich to Johnson’s farm. Dragich of Duluth prefers to support local farmers; the practices are more sustainable and “I love keeping money in the community,” supporting the folks doing the work, knowing who they are and how the food is grown, she said. Dragich has grown beans in her own garden, and it was a trying task. The work you put in for 2 cups of beans is a lot, and it doesn’t go very far. “To have 7 pounds of beans from Britt is ‘wow,’” Dragich said, adding: “It’s great we have this opportunity to buy a protein source from somebody down the road.” The name of her operation is an homage to her family’s agricultural history. Her mother’s family emigrated from Poland to Minnesota in 1881. “A lot of people relate to farming in their history,” she said. Johnson’s Moose Lake homestead is a former ’70s small-scale dairy operation that saw more cattle and hay than vegetables. She shares the shop with her partner, and there are bits of in-progress woodwork about, intended for the farmstead, along with beekeeper suits for their so-far single hive. Her plots are surrounded by an electric fence, and she has plans to update her irrigation system.

Johnson has cultivated about an acre and a half, and plans to continue building up the soil. Beans themselves are pretty light on the soil, she said. They fix their own nitrogen. They’re not very heavy feeders, and they don’t have to be fertilized much. Bean farming is a bit different than farming veggies. What seeds aren’t saved from the previous year, Johnson gets from Iowa or Vermont. They’re planted in June. Come September when the plants are brown and a bit dried out, she can begin harvesting; they won’t be ready to sell until October. After pulling them out by hand, the bean plants dry for a couple of days in a pile. Johnson then throws bundle after bundle into her modified wood chipper, which threshes and separates the seeds. She winnows the plants by putting them through a large screen and dropping them into buckets in front of a boxed fan for additional drying. Then the sorting, and more sorting, to remove the split, discolored beans to prepare them for market. The drought didn’t affect her crop as much as the wet September, which led to her covering and moving her beans inside and out to allow for ample dry time. “If I let them sit too long with moisture, they’ll split in the wood chipper,” she said. Johnson harvested about 500 pounds this year. “Farming is a personal challenge. Anything’s possible, it’s just a matter of how much energy and time you can put into it. Can you keep going for that other hour, even in that rainy, soggy, weather. What can keep you going and motivated. “The end product is what does.” ⊳

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“To make anhydrous fertilizers, which is used to make urea and liquid nitrogen, you have to use natural gas,” he said. “Fertilizer is really influenced by China’s production.” Fertilizer isn’t the only input that’s on the rise. Gronseth said farming equipment is “becoming more costly by the day,” as steel prices also jump. The supply chain disruptions brought on by the pandemic have also made it “very challenging” for Gronseth and producers to acquire any agriculture equipment on a timely basis. At some implements, he said there’s been a halt on new orders until manufacturing picks back up enough to start meeting demand. The “perfect storm” of surging input costs has prompted Gronseth to become more resourceful by working with the aging equipment he has on hand rather than upgrading. “When you can’t put an order in and know what kind of costs you’re looking at, it’s nearly impossible to predict what it will be in say a month or two down the road when they start taking an order because of inflation,” he said. “When I did get an order in recently, it came about six months late. I’m having to work with what I got for now because it’s really my only choice to keep rolling.”

Commodity prices minimize soaring input costs

The high crop commodity prices have lessened the financial impact of soaring fertilizer prices and input costs, but Bodewitz said he still expects to see profit margins take a hit. As of early December, corn prices in the Mitchell area were sitting around $5.60 per bushel, marking an increase of about $1.40 from 2020. Soybeans have seen increase as well, as prices per bushel in the southeast portion of the state are nearly $2 above where they were in December 2020. “I’m bullish on corn still, and hopefully we see corn prices continue to tick up,” he said.

Although the historically high crop prices the market is seeing as of now have been a glimmer of hope in a dismal time for producers, Gronseth said if fertilizers and other input costs continue to rise and grain prices stay flat, it will lead to a significant drop in planting. Gronseth said he knows many farmers who are planning on scaling production back in 2022 due to the surging fertilizer prices alone. “Crop prices are good right now, and that’s great. But when your input costs are so high that you can’t hit decent profit margins, you look at ways of scaling back,” he said. “I think you are going to see a lot less planting next year if the fertilizer prices don’t move much.”

Technologically innovative solutions

Thanks to technological advancements in the agriculture industry, Bodewitz said there are ways farmers can lessen the damage on profit margins amid the rising input costs. “I think soil testing and grid sampling is going to be very important, and doing variable rate fertilizing will be a great tool producers can use to help,” he said. Ethan area producer Matt Bainbridge has embraced those types of innovative farming techniques and found success in cutting overhead costs, while maximizing his fertilizer through a piece of machinery known as a variable rate fertilizer. Since different areas of his crop fields have varying yield potential, Bainbridge will do a soil sample to determine what the fertility level is in those areas. He then uses the software of the variable-rate fertilizer to make a map that tells him how much fertilizer is needed to spread in the sampled soil areas. “We can manage the sections of the field that we know aren’t going to be as productive as the good ground and soil will be, helping cut down on costs. We don’t need to use as much fertilizer in some of the areas in the field that are really high in fertility,” Bainbridge said.. “So that helps reduce excess fertilizer that can lead to runoff as well.” ⊳


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Gene Stehly’s planter sits along his farm in southeast South Dakota near Mitchell. Rising costs of fertilizer will likely have a big impact on many farmers planting decisions in 2022.

PESTS From Page 11

The border agents also have another scanning tool available — a gamma ray scanner that functions something like a giant X-ray machine. Some trucks are pulled into a metal building to be scanned. The driver exits the vehicle to a waiting area while scanners on tracks on either side go down the length of the truck, sending images to inspectors. Pembina Assistant Area Port Director Christopher Misson cited an example from the spring of 2021 when a load of hay came through in a container. The gamma ray scanner detected what he called an anomaly in

the back third of the load. Upon closer inspection, that anomaly turned out to be marijuana. The case was then handed over to local law enforcement for prosecution. Some trucks are pulled in for scanning at random and other times because inspectors, through training and experience, have become suspicious. “Some things just jump out,” said Misson, a Detroit Lakes, Minnesota, native.

Meat and livestock

After an initial screening at the Pembina Port of Entry, trucks hauling livestock are sent to USDA veterinarians before they can continue south on Interstate 29.

Mike Stepien, of the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, said animals headed for slaughter have a less rigorous inspection process at the port because they will have further inspections by USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service, typically within a day or so of being imported. Animals imported for breeding purposes will be more rigorously scrutinized because it is expected these animals will become part of the U.S. herd, Stepien said. In addition to ensuring the animals are in general good health and aren’t exhibiting any signs of disease, Stepien said there are checks to make sure that required tests have been performed. To ensure traceability, the livestock

must also meet the identification requirements for importation. Vesicular lesions in swine, cattle being of an age to be at risk of bovine spongiform encephalopathy and farmed deer that don’t meet the brucellosis test requirement are common issues in livestock, Stepien said. Halley said fresh meat is sent to an inspector in the town of Pembina, but that packaged meat is inspected by his staff. He said inspectors have sometimes found “bush meat” from Africa that is prone to carrying disease. “These agriculture seizures show the significant priority Customs and Border Protection places on our agriculture inspection program at our ports of entry,” Misson said. ⊳

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