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Virtual Water and Crops Field Day set for Aug. 27

Tyler Harris Irrigation equipment in field.
GOING VIRTUAL: The Water and Crops Field Day, hosted by the West Central Research, Extension and Education Center, will be held in a virtual format this year.
Keynote speaker Michael Horsch will discuss robotics, automation and the future of digitization in agriculture.

This year, virtual events are becoming the new norm. In-person events must follow social distancing measures and are limited to a certain number of people. But that doesn't mean University of Nebraska Extension isn't holding its usual field days this year — those field days will be held in a virtual format.

One of these field days, the Water and Crops Field Day hosted by the West Central Research, Extension and Education Center in North Platte, will be held virtually Aug. 27.

"We have had a number of COVID-19 cases here in Lincoln County, and with the attendance we've had in the past, we don't want to bring that many people together and risk the general public and UNL employees," says Chuck Burr, Nebraska Extension educator and organizer of the event. "We felt we could still have a good program and bring good information to growers — it will just look a little different this year. It will be about three hours long, starting at 9 a.m., with a keynote and then will break into concurrent sessions."

After opening remarks at 9 a.m. from Kelly Bruns, WCREEC director, the field day will start with a keynote presentation at 9:15 on "The Reality about Digitization in Farming: A Look at Robotics, Automation and the Future of Agriculture," by Michael Horsch of Horsch Equipment.

On the agenda

At 10 a.m., concurrent sessions will kick off, with sessions on using technology in pest management, and using technology in water and nitrogen management.

The first concurrent session, on using technology in pest management, will include:

  • "The Imprecision of Using Drones for Precision Pesticide Applications," by Greg Kruger, UNL weed science and application technology specialist
  • "Insect Pest Monitoring: From Simple to Smart Traps," by Nebraska Extension entomologists Julie Peterson and Jeff Bradshaw
  • "The View From Up Is Great — Drones & Remote Scouting in Pest Management," by Ian MacRae, University of Minnesota Extension entomologist

The other session, on using technology in water and nitrogen management, will include:

  • "Crop Water Sensing of the Future," by Kendall DeJonge, USDA Agricultural Research Service agricultural engineer
  • Brian Arnall, Oklahoma State University professor, will present on nitrogen management in sorghum and wheat.
  • Jason Bode, a grower from Hershey, Neb., will discuss nitrogen and water management.

Both concurrent sessions will be followed by a live Q&A session.

"The presentations will be prerecorded, but we will provide time for an open discussion afterward," Burr says. "Presenters will be available for Q&A discussion for about 10 to 15 minutes."

From 11 a.m. to noon, three breakout sessions will take place discussing University of Nebraska-Lincoln research.

The first breakout session on Nebraska On-Farm Research includes:

  • Ron Seymour, Nebraska Extension educator, will present on the value of participation in on-farm research for farmers.
  • Sarah Sivits and Laura Thompson, Nebraska Extension educators, will discuss the Nebraska On-Farm Research Network and Ag Leader down pressure studies in corn.
  • Todd Whitney, Nebraska Extension educator, will present on reducing nitrate leaching with manure applications.
  • Joe Luck, UNL associate professor of biological systems engineering, will present on applying precision ag technologies to enable variable-rate soybean population studies.

The second session, which will cover research at the Stumpf Research Center in Grant, includes:

  • Strahinja Stepanovic, graduate assistant at UNL, will present on this year's spring wheat trials.
  • Stepanovic will present on a soybean population and fertility study.
  • Daran Rudnick, Nebraska Extension agriculture water management specialist, will discuss "Irrigation x Hybrid x Population Study."
  • Julie Peterson, Nebraska Extension entomologist, will discuss western bean cutworm and corn rootworm studies.

The third session will include:

  • Robert Tigner, Nebraska Extension ag economist, will present on "Cash Flow Management: COVID-19 and Survival."
  • Matt Stockton, Nebraska Extension ag economist, will present on hybrid return on investment.
  • Nebraska Extension educator Kat Kaswell will discuss eastern red cedar tree control.
  • Brian Arnall will discuss potassium and soybeans.

The event is free to attend, but registration is required by Aug. 25 to receive a Zoom link to attend the event. Participants will be able to choose which concurrent sessions they want to participate in, and they will be assigned a specific Zoom meeting room.

To register, visit

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