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Crypto passes from animal to human


Diseases that can be transmitted from animals to humans are termed “zoonotic” diseases. One of the more common zoonotic diseases is that caused by the protozoan parasite cryptosporidium.

Over the past several weeks, I have heard from producers who have been infected by crypto or their children have been sick from it. One case involved several workers at the same dairy; the other case involved a small child who became sick after visiting the local community swimming pool. Both cases were diagnosed after the patients complained of diarrhea that persisted for several days.

Cryptosporidium infections start after the ingestion of feces-contaminated water or contact with contaminated objects. Many large outbreaks of this disease have been associated with community swimming pools or municipal water supplies. So often these crypto outbreaks are reported by newspapers as being caused by cattle infecting water supplies.

The fact is, there are many sources of infection that can be responsible besides the cow. The life cycle of cryptosporidium begins when an infective oocyst is ingested by either human or animal. Upon reaching the intestine, the oocyst sporulates and penetrates the cells of the small intestine.

Two types of oocysts are produced: a thick-walled oocyst and a thin-walled oocyst. The thick-walled oocyst has been known to survive in the environment for more than six months and is resistant to many disinfectants. The thin-walled oocyst can cause autoinfections, which can cause the disease to persist for several weeks. Shedding of the oocysts occurs when symptoms first appear and can last for several weeks after symptoms have subsided.

Because cryptosporidium is found in soil or water contaminated with feces, it can be spread easily to many different groups of people or animals. Individuals who handle cattle are just one group at risk for contracting the disease. Child-care workers, international travelers, swimmers and campers are also at risk because of potential exposure to contaminated material.

What are the symptoms?

Signs of the disease begin anywhere from two to 10 days after infection. The most common symptom is watery diarrhea due to the damage crypto causes in the absorptive surface of the intestine. Many people will complain of flu-like symptoms that include stomach cramps, nausea, vomiting and fever. Most of the time, these symptoms will last for one to two weeks.

People with weakened immune systems can have the infection develop into a chronic illness. Young animals tend to experience diarrhea and loss of appetite that can persist for more than a week. Dehydration is always the No. 1 problem during infection. Diagnosis of a crypto infection is done through a stool sample submitted to a laboratory.

Treatment of the infection is usually done by replacing the fluid loss due to diarrhea with electrolytes. This treatment is the same whether it is an animal or a human. Often a few days of electrolytes will help those affected by the parasite get over the symptoms. Concurrent infections or a poor immune system can lead to the need for more aggressive and long-term therapy.

Prevention and control of crypto infections begin with good hygiene. Always wash hands vigorously after contact with any potential fecal contamination. Small children on farms are susceptible because they tend to stick their hands into their mouths before washing them. Avoid swallowing untreated water from lakes, streams, swimming pools or shallow wells. If concerned about water, either filter it with an approved filter system or boil it to kill any potential cryptosporidium.

This article published in the October, 2011 edition of WISCONSIN AGRICULTURIST.

All rights reserved. Copyright Farm Progress Cos. 2011.


Coldwater Creek revival


Earlier this year, sampling in Coldwater Creek revealed about 2,500 brown trout per mile — a vast improvement from years past when no brown trout could be found in the creek.

Looking into the creek now provides a clear view of trout, a clean gravel bed and a variety of green-hued submergent vegetation.

True to its name, the cold, clear waters of Coldwater Creek flow through the undulating, cavernous landscape of Winneshiek County in northeast Iowa. Unknown to most passersby, beneath this farm lies Coldwater Cave. With more than 17 miles of passages, it is Iowa’s largest cave and designated a National Natural Landmark by the U.S. Department of Interior.

Thanks to this unusual topography, water in the creek bed can be elusive in certain stretches as it flows above- and belowground, depending on time of year and amount of rainfall. In one spot, Coldwater Creek emerges from beneath a large limestone face.

The beauty of the landscape makes it hard to believe that just six years ago, this creek was plagued by impairments all too common in waterbodies across Iowa: high bacteria counts coupled with excess nutrients and sediment. The Winneshiek County Soil and Water Conservation District took the lead and applied for funding to improve both Coldwater and neighboring Pine Creek, creating the Coldwater/Pine Creek Watershed Project.

In 2005, funding was secured from the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship’s Division of Soil Conservation, the Water Quality Protection Fund, and the Watershed Protection Fund, with the overall goal of reducing the environmental impairments.

Soil-saving practices used

The funds allowed the Winneshiek SWCD to begin working with area landowners to implement conservation practices throughout the 22,213-acre watershed. With a variety of practices available at 75% cost-share, these efforts have been extremely successful.

Project coordinator Corey Meyer says a combination of 16 practices were applied, including nutrient management on 2,000 acres, 12 manure management systems, 75 acres of grassed waterways, 24.5 acres of critical area seeding and nearly a mile of terraces.

More than two miles of the creek were fenced off from livestock, helping to reduce direct deposit of bacteria into the stream. More than 80 acres of woodland were enhanced with Resource Enhancement and Protection funding.

The landscape presented some challenges, one of which yielded an unusual but effective best management practice: sinkhole filter strips. Meyer explains, “The karst landscape in this area means sinkholes are prevalent. Sinkholes provide a direct route for pollutants to reach groundwater, so it’s vital that the sinkholes are protected.”

The grassy strips do just that, acting as a buffer for the sinkholes by slowing down and filtering any runoff from the surrounding farmland. Trees dot the strips, which tell the locations of the sinkholes, says Meyer.

Keep sediment out of creek

The upland work, sinkhole filter strips and all, has helped keep well over 6,000 tons of sediment each year (the equivalent of more than 400 truckloads) out of Coldwater and Pine creeks. Less sediment means improved water quality and a cleaner streambed, much to the satisfaction of the trout that now spawn in Coldwater Creek’s gravel streambed.

The population of brown trout is now naturally reproducing and self-sustaining, according to Bill Kalishek, fisheries biologist with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.

He says brown trout have not been stocked in the creek since 2002. Yet, an early-October sampling of the stream produced several fingerling brown trout, providing evidence of the natural reproduction that’s boosted the population.

The creek is being stocked with rainbow trout for catching, which Kalishek says has helped protect the brown trout population.

More work is done

On top of the upland work in the watershed, funds from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service were used to improve fish habitat and stabilize the streambank. A portion of eroding streambank was regraded, and hides were installed, giving fish 2 feet of shade and shelter off the main channel.

Pleased with the results of all the work completed, Kalishek makes sure to praise all the efforts. “It’s not just the instream work we’ve done,” he says. “It’s the farmers who have adopted conservation practices on the land that has really improved the watershed.”

Jim Gillespie, interim director of IDALS’ Division of Soil Conservation, had the opportunity to take part in the recent sampling with the Iowa DNR. Seeing for himself the end results of a successful watershed project, he notes, “Landowners in the Coldwater and Pine Creek watershed should be commended for their commitment to protecting this stream and the watershed that drains into it.”

Giving credit

The leadership of the Winneshiek Soil and Water Conservation District is also recognized for providing the needed technical resources and financial assistance to implement practices in the watershed that made the largest impacts on water quality.

“This project is a prime example of how landowners and farmers can implement good land stewardship and remain sustainable in their farming operations,” adds Gillespie.

Partners of the $1.4 million project also included the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service in Iowa, Northeast Iowa Natural Resource Conservation and Development Council, the Upper Iowa River Watershed Alliance, Izaak Walton League, the Driftless Area Trout Unlimited chapter, and Pheasants Forever.

Asberry is a program planner with the Division of Soil Conservation at IDALS.


This article published in the December, 2011 edition of WALLACES FARMER.

All rights reserved. Copyright Farm Progress Cos. 2011.


Windrowed forage cuts down on waste, saves money on feed


Glenn Shewmaker, University of Idaho Extension forage specialist, says you can expect 5% to 25% weathering loss in standing grasses (and more for alfalfa) over winter, and snow may mash down standing forage. It’s harder for cows to dig down and eat it than for them to find windrows under snow.

Windrow grazing is most efficient if you ration them by moving electric fence across the field. “A two- to three-day allocation of forage is a good compromise of labor and harvest efficiency, making cows clean up one section before letting them into the next.”

He says the best way to move temporary fence if snow covers the windrows is to put it crosswise, perpendicular to windrows, rather than going the same direction. “If snow is deep or crusted, cows know where the windrows are from eating them in the previous strip. The snow is broken.”

Key Points

• Windrow/swath grazing enables cows to harvest their own fall and winter feed.

• Windrow grazing is most efficient if moving electric fence to ration grasses.

• Only a few producers in the Northwest use this method of grazing.


Windrow grazing varies in effectiveness according to climate. “If it’s warm and wet, there’s more spoilage, especially if cows have access to the whole field (trampling and disturbing all the windrows) rather than strip grazing. Windrow grazing works best in arid climates, where it’s cold rather than humid,” says Shewmaker.

“Windrow grazing works with alfalfa, but leaves may be lost in weathering. Any single species won’t preserve as well as mixed species, such as grass and legume. The windrow formed stays more erect and won’t mat down as much.” This aids initial curing and retains more nutrients with less spoilage.

“Leave at least 3-inch stubble when cutting to keep the windrow up off the ground for better drying, and less spoilage on the bottom from ground moisture,” he says.

Only a few producers in the Northwest windrow graze. “There may be more trying it this year, because we were late in hay harvest with the slow spring. In many areas, the growing season was shortened by two weeks. If there’s not enough late crop to economically cut for hay, windrowing would be a way to preserve it for fall grazing.”

Annual vs. perennial forages

“With annuals you don’t have to worry whether the plants are trampled or damaged, since a new crop will be planted next year,” says Shewmaker.

Most producers plant annuals mid-June to mid-July to grow adequate yield and maintain most of the quality when cut.

“It should be cut at whatever stage of maturity fits the planned use for the feed and class of animals that will graze it. The earlier cut, the more total nutrients in the plant. All forage plants decline in quality as they mature.”

Alberta research showed cereal forage in windrows loses 6% quality between September and November, and 14% between September and April. “Oat/pea and barley/pea mixes produced the best combination of yield and forage quality, but peas can mold.

If you’re grazing dry cows, you can supplement with protein (such as a little alfalfa hay) if needed and allow the crop to grow longer for better yield — without letting it get so mature that it’s like straw,” says Shewmaker.

“Tall fescue preserves well after being cut; it has a stiff waxy leaf that sheds water.” It won’t weather as badly as orchardgrass.

The terms swath grazing and windrow grazing are used interchangeably. In earlier times a swath was the hay laid down by a hand scythe or mechanical mower — to be later raked into a windrow.

When machines that cut hay were modernized to put hay into a windrow as it was being cut, many of them were called swathers. This is probably how the reference to swath grazing came into being. Whether called swath grazing or windrow grazing may depend on what part of the country a person lives in.

Smith Thomas writes from Salmon, Idaho.


This article published in the December, 2011 edition of WESTERN FARMER-STOCKMAN.

All rights reserved. Copyright Farm Progress Cos. 2011.


John Deere tractor cab attachments: alternative to buying new tractor

If you want to take advantage of some of the new cab features offered this year, but you can’t quite swing buying a new tractor, dealer-installed attachments may be your answer. Want to make your early-model John Deere tractor feel like new? Here are John Deere’s most popular attachments that provide the latest in creature comforts. For more information, see your local John Deere dealer or visit

Rural health care progresses


Just as Iowa leads the nation in producing food to help feed the world, the state is also a leader in its commitment to providing rural residents with quality health care options.

There are more than 120 health care hospitals in Iowa serving the state’s 3.1 million residents, including 82 critical access facilities providing services in rural areas. Only Kansas has more rural-based hospitals than Iowa.

“Iowans continue to work hard to ensure all residents have access to the health care options they need, especially those living in rural areas and communities,” says Bill Menner, USDA Rural Development state director in Iowa. “Access to quality health is a critical element as we continue to build rural Iowa’s foundation.”

Key Points

• Access to health care builds a foundation for the future in rural areas of Iowa.

• Significant amount of investment required to keep up with changing technologies.

• Iowa is working hard to ensure residents have access to health care options.


Maintaining this high level of service does, however, require a significant amount of investment to keep up with ever changing technologies. During the past three years, USDA Rural Development provided a total of $109 million in loans and grants to 20 rural hospitals around the state, helping them make needed facility and equipment improvements.

For instance, in Belmond, a town of 2,500 residents in Wright County in north-central Iowa, an extensive hospital expansion and renovation project started in August 2010, thanks to $24 million in USDA loan assistance, a majority of which was made possible by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

When completed, the hospital will add 55,000 square feet and include a new entrance, emergency room, surgery area, acute care area, therapy area and helicopter pad. The remodeling will add additional clinic and office space.

Updating health care technology

“We are bringing state-of-the-art health care technology to rural Iowa,” says Nancy Gabrielson, CEO and administrator at the Belmond Medical Center. “The hospital will have two additional operating rooms, infection control suites with negative air pressure, two sleep labs, a new cardio pulmonary area, and will be wired for electronic health record implementation.”

The project should finish by August and will result in an additional 24 permanent hospital staff positions.

USDA Rural Development also assisted Community Memorial Hospital in Sumner in northeast Iowa with an $18 million loan to help with construction of a new facility. The new hospital will replace the community’s existing one, which was built in 1950.

The new 52,000-square-foot facility at Sumner will offer improved patient accessibility, expanded rehabilitation services, an outpatient specialty clinic and ambulatory surgery.

Construction began on the new facility in October and is scheduled to be completed in January 2013. Around 100 construction workers will be on site throughout the project, with an additional 20 people providing off-site architectural, engineering and construction management services.

Improving care of patients

The new facility will improve patient care through larger, private rooms and expansion of the hospital’s rehabilitation services, outpatient clinics and ambulatory surgery. The Community Memorial Hospital Medical Clinic will also be housed in the new facility.

“Building a replacement facility was determined to be the best plan for both the short term and long term, and will allow us to continue providing quality health care to the Sumner community and surrounding areas for many years to come,” says Kyle Teeling, community relations and development manager for Community Memorial Hospital.

Community Memorial Hospital is a critical access hospital that provides 24-hour emergency services to residents in Bremer, Chickasaw and Fayette counties.

“We are pleased to be assisting with so many hospital building projects that will not only help expand health care services across the state but will also help save, maintain and create jobs,” says Menner. “For many rural towns throughout Iowa, the local hospital is one of the community’s largest employers.”

Since 2009, loans and grants from USDA Rural Development have assisted rural hospitals in Iowa with such things as the purchases of new ambulances; medical, surgery and information technology equipment; dialysis units; hospital beds; and defibrillators, as well as complete replacement hospitals and extensive hospital renovation projects.

For more information about USDA Rural Development, call 515-284-4663 or visit

Leach is public information coordinator with USDA Rural Development in Iowa.

New hospital in southwest Iowa


Iowa’s newest hospital is opening in Clarinda in January. The Clarinda Regional Health Center, which has provided health care services in southwest Iowa for more than 70 years, is opening a replacement critical access hospital thanks to a nearly $19 million loan from USDA Rural Development.

The project created more than 400 construction jobs over an 18-month period and will ensure continued employment of the 170 hospital staff.

“This new hospital will allow us to continue our mission and grow our organization so that we can meet the changing health care needs in rural Iowa,” says Chris Stipe, chief executive officer of Clarinda Regional Health Center. “The hospital is built so we can expand or add on very easily. We had growth in mind as we designed this facility.”

The new Clarinda Regional Health Center will have updated equipment, a larger surgery suite, more comfortable patient rooms, waiting areas and care areas, and will support paperless medical records. “We hope this facility gets people excited about their personal wellness and health, and reconnects them with their doctors,” Stipe adds.

The final construction-related costs for the hospital building projects in Belmond, Sumner and Clarinda are expected to be more than $72 million, with USDA Rural Development contributing $60.9 million of this total through direct and guaranteed loans.


This article published in the December, 2011 edition of WALLACES FARMER.

All rights reserved. Copyright Farm Progress Cos. 2011.


Consider plants, property goals in brush control


There are so many combinations of ways to control brush it is mind boggling. But hold on — think it out before you start.

Charles Hart, Texas AgriLife Extension range specialist, Stephenville, challenged the many attendees at the Biennial Big Country Beef Conference in Abilene to first ask themselves two basic questions before they get after brush: “Why do you want to kill a plant?” and “What are your goals on your property?”

Key Points

• Landowners should decide goals before brush control work.

• It is vital to know what plants you want to remove or keep.

• Many methods for brush control are available to landowners.


He said the answers may largely depend upon whether you are primarily a livestock producer, strictly a wildlife operation, or some of both. That will influence how you manage brush.

Hart travels a lot, and he hears reasons like the following from producers on why they want to control brush:

• gain more grass

• save water

• keep brush out of fences

• maintain aesthetics and tradition (Dad and Granddad liked it that way.)

• easier accessibility to property

• perception of an increased land value

The feedback he gets goes on and on. But those are some of the main reasons why people desire to do some brush work.

Of course, Hart also hears from folks who tell him the reasons they don’t have a brush management program:

• Brush control is too expensive.

• Chemical brush work would be too close to cropland like cotton.

• Landlords may not want to go along with brush control.

Know your plants

Hart said before brush work, know your plants and what you want to kill and why. And identify the plants you want to save. Good brush control involves identifying goals, taking inventory, implementing and evaluating.

He advised knowing your main objectives, but also having second-priority areas. Brush control can be mechanical, chemical, biological or a prescribed burn. Many seasons aren’t appropriate for a controlled burn due to severe drought conditions or a lack of rangeland fuel to support a fire.

Reclamation fires, which are very hot, are aimed at significantly changing the land and plants. A maintenance burn is a cooler fire targeted at cleaning up range and pastures.

Brush control can also be carried out by many mechanical methods. Tree shears, like those attached to the front end of a Bobcat, have become a popular method. Some equipment complements the shears by also chemically spraying the stump.

Mechanical mulching is common on juniper (aka cedar) brush. But you can sometimes get too much mulch for the ground.

Grubbers are popular for mechanically removing trees from the ground. Some rigs are very big, while others work from the back of tractors, such as hydraulic attachments.

Roller choppers can be effective on prickly pear when combined with herbicide. There are many different kinds of roller choppers.

Chaining and disking are more prevalent in some parts of Texas than others on tough brush.

Root plowing remains the old, reliable way to get brush — root and all — but it’s not cheap.

This article published in the December, 2011 edition of WESTERN FARMER-STOCKMAN.

All rights reserved. Copyright Farm Progress Cos. 2011.


Boggs paragon of lake protectors


Joe and Joanie Boggs of Weldon were selected as Rathbun Lake Protectors by the Rathbun Land and Water Alliance several years ago for their actions to protect Rathbun Lake, the water source for 80,000 people in southern Iowa and northern Missouri. They continue to help carry out the mission of saving soil and protecting water quality.

The annual award recognizes landowners in the lake’s watershed who participate in the alliance’s Protect Rathbun Lake Project for their past, present and future soil and water conservation work. The Boggs’ partnership with the alliance began in 2006, but they practiced soil conservation many years before, being recognized as Rathbun Lake Protectors in 2007.

Key Points

• Rathbun Lake is the water source for a large rural water system in southern Iowa.

• Landowners are encouraged to practice soil conservation to protect water quality.

• Protect Rathbun Lake Project works with farmers and landowners in this effort.


The couple has farmed in Decatur County for 43 years. Joe was a 14-year-old high school freshman when he rented his first 40 acres from family members. Joanie brought three head of cattle to the marriage when they started out years ago. Since then, their farm has grown from those first 20 acres of corn and 20 acres of soybeans to 300 acres of each today. They also maintain a cattle herd they graze on 100 acres of pasture.

Bigger is not always better

Bigger doesn’t always mean better in terms of size of farm operation. Joe started farming with his father and continued to do so until his dad’s passing earlier this year. “We farm five farms: two in Decatur County and three in Clarke County.

Families were living on all of them when we started, but now it’s just us,” says Joe. “We decided instead of growing larger and renting more ground we would rather improve the land and make what we already had more productive.” Joanie agrees, “We’ve lived and farmed in the same location long enough to see the damage soil erosion does.”

Velvet Buckingham is an environmental specialist with the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship’s Division of Soil Conservation. DSC coordinates the Protect Rathbun Lake Project and says the nearly 9,000 feet of terraces installed by the Boggs family through the project reduces sediment delivery to the lake by 160 tons of sediment and 720 pounds of phosphorus per year.

“Since the project began in 2004, the action taken by landowners in the watershed has reduced the annual sediment delivery to Rathbun Lake by 31,000 tons,” says Buckingham. “We are a third of the way to the project’s goal of treating 30,000 acres of priority land, and it’s just not possible without the partnership of landowners like the Boggs.”

To date, participating landowners have contributed $3 million through their portion of the funds needed to install the soil-saving practices. The 75% cost share offered through the Protect Rathbun Lake Project is attractive, but Joe says the installed terraces offered something even more valuable: time savings.

“Not having to go back and fix ditches every year is a big time saver,” notes Joe. “Plus, it’s easier to farm the terraces than it is to farm grassed waterways, although there is certainly a need for both depending on a farm’s conservation plan. It’s a good feeling to see properly installed and well-maintained terraces and grassed waterways working the way they should. The soil doesn’t run downstream anymore.”

Joe bought his first dozer 20 years ago, about 14 years before being involved in the Protect Rathbun Lake Project. He says he’s been using it to make improvements to his land every year since. “I usually try to do one land improvement every year.”

Do-it-yourself conservation

“Joe represents a growing number of landowners who have their own earth-moving equipment so they can do their own soil conservation work, installing and maintaining practices as their time and farming schedule permits,” says Buckingham. When you do it yourself, “you can make sure the job gets done in a timely fashion.”

Jerry Parsons, a soil conservation technician with the Decatur County Soil and Water Conservation District, designed nearly all of the soil-saving structures for the Boggs’ farms, and Joe completed his own construction work. “One of Joe’s first dozer projects was the pond he built 18 years ago that’s right outside our house,” says Joanie, with pride.

Buckingham says the Boggs plan to construct nearly 2,000 more feet of terraces.

Chester writes for the Rathbun Land and Water Alliance.

The Rathbun Lake watershed is located in the six southern Iowa counties of Appanoose, Clarke, Decatur, Lucas, Monroe and Wayne, and covers 364,000 acres.

The Protect Rathbun Lake Project has worked with 500 landowners to complete conservation practices since 2004. For more information, visit the Rathbun Land and Water Alliance at


This article published in the December, 2011 edition of WALLACES FARMER.

All rights reserved. Copyright Farm Progress Cos. 2011.


New for ’12: trend-adjusted yield


You’ll have another choice to make when you sign up for crop insurance on or before March 15. The Trend-Adjusted APH Yield Endorsement for both corn and soybean insurance policies has been approved by the Federal Crop Insurance Corporation Board. This option is available in all of Iowa’s counties and most of the major crop production regions in the Corn Belt beginning with the 2012 crop.

Basically, this new endorsement will convert your actual APH, which is the average yield over past years, into your new approved yield for 2012. Corn yields trend upward about 1.5 bushels per year, and soybean yields trend upward about 0.4 bushels per year.

Yields have been trending upward because of improved production practices and improved crop genetics. However, crop insurance policies have based the indemnity payment not on what your trend yield would have been, but on the average of the past 10 years of crop yields on that farm. Thus, indemnity payments are calculated on the past and not the present.

Key Points

• Trend-adjusted APH yield endorsement is a new option for crop insurance in 2012.

• Endorsement is available for both corn and soybean crop insurance policies.

• Trend-adjusted APH will improve yield accuracy; talk to your insurance agent.


This new trend-adjusted endorsement has not had premiums rated yet. The higher approved insured yield will prove more relevant than the historic yield average. With competitive premium rates, insured farmers might look at increasing their coverage or moving to a lower level of percentage coverage to save on the premium, yet with a higher approved APH at minimal cost.

Intent of this new option

When you meet with your crop insurance agent, be sure to ask about the Trend-Adjusted APH Yield Endorsement.

The new endorsement is available for all APH-based yield and revenue options, and is elected and applied to a county and the corn and soybean crop. Policies will be available over 820 counties for corn and over 880 counties for soybean policies nationwide. The intent of the new endorsement is to improve the accuracy of the estimate of future insured yields, and to allow accurate coverage elections to be made against expected crop production.

In its simplest form, a farmer’s APH is the average of at least four and up to 10 years of actual historic yields. The APH then serves as an estimate of future yields, and the farmer elects insurance coverage annually on a portion of the expected yield to indemnify either expected yields (using a yield protection insurance product) or expected revenue (revenue protection products).

Many farmers feel that the APH yields used for crop insurance coverage do not accurately reflect their current yield potential. The main reason is due to improved seed and management practices. This new endorsement provides a factor for each crop and each county. This factor is equal to the estimated annual increase in yield based on county average yields compiled by USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service each year.

Yield accuracy will improve

With this new trend-adjusted option, the yield reported for the farmer’s APH history is adjusted upward by the trend adjustment factor for each year the farm’s yield surpassed the county’s yield. If a farmer has substituted a yield in any of the years in their APH history equal to 60% of the county trend yield, the trend adjustment is applied to the substitute yield.

An example would be a farmer who has 10 years of yield history for corn in one insurance unit. Assume the trend adjustment factor in the county where the unit is located is 2 bushels per acre per year. So 2 bushels are added to each yield for every year since the APH yield history was recorded. In this example, corn was planted continuously over 10 years (2002-11), which is not always true for many units.

Note that the adjustments in the table range from 2 bushels for the past year to 20 bushels for a yield that was recorded 10 years ago. The adjusted APH yield is now the average of the adjusted yields, 174-bushels-per-acre average instead of 163-bushels-per-acre reported yield. By electing the Trend-Adjusted APH Yield Endorsement in 2012, the yield of 174 bushels per acre will be used to determine crop insurance coverage.

What if an insured field doesn’t have actual yield records for each year?

In some cases the land in the insurance unit may not have an actual yield for every year, perhaps because no production records were available or a variety of other factors. The unit must have an actual yield for at least one year out of the last 12 to be eligible for the Trend-Yield Adjustment Endorsement. If actual yields are available for fewer than four years in the last 12, the annual trend adjustment factor is reduced.

For example, if a farmer has three years of actual yields, the adjustment is increased by only 75% of the trend factor; for two years of actual yields, yield potential is increased by 50% of the trend factor; and for one year of actual yields, the adjustment is for only 25% of the trend factor.

If the yield adjustment factor for the county is 2 bushels per acre, the actual adjustment would be only 1.5 bushels when only three years of actual yields are available, 1 bushel when two years are available, and 0.5 bushel when only one year of actual yields is available.

The premium impacts for 2012 will depend on the projected price and volatility factors determined next February. Final base rates are being determined by USDA’s Risk Management Agency, but base rates per bushel will not be affected by the trend endorsement.

Johnson is an Iowa State University Extension farm management specialist.

• For farm management information, go to ISU’s Ag Decision Maker at and ISU Extension farm management specialist Steve Johnson’s site,



This article published in the December, 2011 edition of WALLACES FARMER.


All rights reserved. Copyright Farm Progress Cos. 2011.


Advice to consider when lodged corn is problem at harvest


Ron Meyer, Colorado State University Extension agent for Kit Carson County, believes tips on harvesting lodged corn offered by Mark Hanna, Iowa State University agricultural engineer, are applicable for growers farther west.

With larger-than-average areas faced with lodged or downed cornstalks in some Colorado fields this year, “it’s a good time to review steps to take when faced with harvesting significant areas of lodged corn,” says Meyer.

Key Points

• Harvesting lodged corn is slower and means the right mental attitude.

• Lodged corn left in the field can be costly to growers.

• Lodged fields should be harvested as soon as they are ready.


The only way to evaluate whether any harvesting aid or technique is helping is to measure harvest losses. Each ¾-pound ear on the ground per 436 square feet equals a loss of 1 bushel per acre, he notes.

Hanna offers these tips for machine operation to cut losses:

• Set gathering chains for more aggressive operation with points opposite each other and relatively close together. Adjust deck plates over snapping rolls only slightly wider than cornstalks so that they can hold stalks, but not so narrow that stalks will wedge between plates.

• Operate the head as low as practical without picking up rocks or significant amounts of soil.

• Single-direction harvesting against the grain of leaning stalks may help. Evaluate your losses before spending large amounts of time dead-heading the field.

Limited field research suggests a corn reel may not help limit machine losses. A reel likely allows greater travel speed and improves productivity, however. Losses may be similar comparing harvesting at 1 mile per hour without a reel and 3 mph with a reel, but harvest progresses much faster. Spiral cones mounted atop row dividers or the addition of higher dividers on each end of the corn head are potential after-market harvest aids.

If harvest speeds are significantly reduced, the amount of materials going through the combine is reduced. Fan speed may need to be reduced to avoid blowing kernels out of the combine. Rotor speed may need to be reduced to maintain grain quality. Check kernel losses behind the combine and grain quality to fine-tune cleaning and threshing adjustments.

As important as anything, be in the correct frame of mind and keep the right mental attitude, says Hanna. Realize harvest speeds will be slower. Communicate these expectations with others. Take the time necessary and don’t allow an accident to compound harvest problems.

“Stalk rolls pull in crop at about 12 feet per second, much faster than reaction time to release the grip on the stalk,” he adds. “Do not attempt to unplug stalks from the corn head before disengaging power to the head and stopping the combine engine.

“Remove the operator’s key if there is any chance that another person will be in the cab. Take time to have a safe and efficient harvest. Rushing through activities, particularly early in the season before any weather-related pressures have developed, can be counterproductive.”

Among your preharvest concerns is whether your machinery and workers are up to the job of combining lodged corn, notes Hanna.

Generally, he says, lodged fields should be harvested when they are first ready to avoid increased lodging by further stalk disease development or windstorm.


Help from East: Tips from Iowa could help deal with lodged corn in Colorado.

This article published in the November, 2011 edition of WESTERN FARMER-STOCKMAN.

All rights reserved. Copyright Farm Progress Cos. 2011.


A livestock legal update


There have been several important court cases in the past year or two involving Iowa livestock producers. This column will focus on a few of those situations and, hopefully, shed some light on how livestock producers can avoid similar legal issues and subsequent litigation.

• Court looks at language in liability insurance policy. A recent case involved the death of hogs due to the release of carbon monoxide fumes in a hog confinement facility. In recent years, Iowa courts have been faced with the issue of whether a general farm liability insurance policy containing a “pollution exclusion” clause excludes coverage for death of animals or humans caused by release of carbon monoxide fumes inside a confinement facility.

To date, the majority of courts have said carbon monoxide is a pollutant covered by such an exclusionary clause. Here, the plaintiff entered into a contract feeding agreement with a hog supplier. Though the hog building was equipped with a ventilation system to allow manure gases to escape when pits were pumped, nearly 800 hogs were killed when the ventilation system malfunctioned.

The plaintiff properly notified his liability insurance provider of the loss. However, the insurer denied coverage. When the hog supplier sued the plaintiff to recover damages for the dead hogs, the plaintiff sued the insurer, asking the court to order the insurer to defend them under the policy and indemnify them for the loss.

The trial court looked at the policy and found that carbon monoxide poisoning was a “pollutant” within the scope of the pollution exclusion clause. The insurer had also claimed that even if the pollution exclusion did not apply, the “business pursuits” clause contained in the policy would have barred coverage. But that point was moot once the trial court determined that the pollution exclusion clause applied.

On appeal, the court examined the “business pursuits” exclusion and did not even address the pollution exclusion clause.

The insurer argued based on the policy that said a “business” does not include “custom farming performed by an insured, where the gross annual receipts for all such activities do not exceed $3,000,” and where “custom farming” was defined as “any farming operation performed by you for others for a charge under any contract or agreement, written or oral.”

The policy defined “farming” as “the process of investment, management or labor to produce agricultural products.” Based on that policy language, the appellate court agreed that the insurance company was not obligated to defend and indemnify the plaintiff.

What’s the moral of this story? Always read and discuss the terms of your farm liability insurance policy with your agent. It is important to understand the terms. Depending on the policy, you may need to purchase additional coverage to fully protect your farming operation from liability.

• Defective cow waterer leads to litigation. In another case, a dairy farmer decided to expand his operation and contacted a contractor who designed a customized system for water storage. After installation of the water system, the farmer consistently experienced problems.

Apparently, the water storage system had contamination problems allowing organisms to build up in the system. The farmer noticed a steady decline in the herd’s health and milk production, and testified that he ended up having to bypass the entire system and immediately saw a positive change in the health of the heard.

The farmer sued for negligence and breach of implied warranty of fitness for a particular purpose for the damages he sustained. The trial court awarded him nearly $440,000 in damages. The contractor appealed, arguing that the farmer never established a causal link between the water storage system and his losses.

The appellate court first addressed the issue of whether the storage tanks and contamination led to the farmer’s damages, and the court found it was “reasonably probable” the water storage system was the direct cause of the farmer’s problems. The court also addressed the issue of whether the system was “fit” for the particular purpose of use on a dairy farm. In Iowa, a buyer of goods may recover damages if the goods are not fit for the particular purpose that the buyer needs.

To recover under this type of action, the buyer must show the seller knew or should have known the buyer’s particular purpose, and the seller knew the buyer was relying on their good skill or judgment to furnish suitable goods. Here, the appellate court found that the contractor knew or should have known that the system was to provide safe and “potable” water for the herd.

What can we learn from this case? When a livestock owner hires a contractor and safety of the herd is at issue, communication is important. Make sure your expectations are clear and keep good written records of the work to be performed.

Herbold-Swalwell is an attorney with Beving, Swanson and Forrest in Des Moines. Reach her at eherbold@

Column continues


Erin Herbold-Swalwell has written this Legal Issues column in Wallaces Farmer starting in 2009. She began the column as staff attorney for Iowa State University’s Center for Agricultural Law and Taxation.

This past summer she left CALT to join the law firm of Beving, Swanson and Forrest. She continues to write this column each month in Wallaces Farmer and suggests those interested in keeping up with legal issues in agriculture regularly visit the CALT website at


This article published in the December, 2011 edition of WALLACES FARMER.

All rights reserved. Copyright Farm Progress Cos. 2011.