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Articles from 2013 In February

Sustainable Farming Association Honors Award Recipients

Sustainable Farming Association Honors Award Recipients

The Sustainable Farming Association recently honored three recipients at its 22nd Annual Conference at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum in Chaska.

Joel Rosen of Mahtowa was honored with the SFA Farmer Emeritus Award. Linda Meschke of Fairmont and Sue Wika of Ashby each received the SFA Distinguished Service Award. The awards are presented yearly at the Leaders Breakfast during the SFA Annual Conference.

John Mesko, SFA executive director, said the awards were implemented as a way for SFA's board of directors to recognize the efforts of Minnesotans committed to sustainable agriculture.

SFA honorees. (left to right) Linda Meschke, Joel Rosen and Sue Wika were honored at SFA’s annual meeting.

"Our organization is committed to providing a vision and a direction for the sustainable agriculture movement," Mesko said. "Our award winners have made a consistent long-term impact on the sustainability of our food and farming system. We are proud of our members' efforts and accomplishments."

Rosen, now retired, raised vegetables and livestock for many years at his farm. He spent more than a decade on the state SFA board of directors and has been a stalwart of the SFA Lake Superior Chapter. His nominator, Kelly Smith of Esko, said Rosen had been very generous in sharing wisdom about market gardening as well as preparing meals for events and organizing the Lake Superior chapter's annual Harvest Festival, which annually draws thousands to Duluth.

Meschke is the president and founder of Rural Advantage, a nonprofit interested in capitalizing on the interconnections between agriculture, environment and community. Nominator Kelly Firkins of Delavan said Meschke was a longtime supporter of sustainable agriculture, rural communities and the environment and is forward-thinking and action-oriented.

"Minnesota would not be where it is now in the sustainable community without Linda's leadership and passion for change," Firkins wrote.

Wika was instrumental in developing and coordinating the Sustainable Food Production Program at M State Fergus Falls, a one-of-a-kind program designed to equip and train the next generation of regenerative farm stewards, and has served on the SFA Central Chapter board. Her nominator, Kent Solberg, praised Wika for practicing what she preaches.

"Sue has implemented high-density grazing, permaculture and local food production on her own farm, Paradox," Solberg said.

SFA supports the development and enhancement of sustainable farming systems through farmer-to-farmer networking, innovation, demonstration, and education. For more information, visit

Ranchers: Pay Attention To Key Spring Dates On Grazing Calendar

Ranchers: Pay Attention To Key Spring Dates On Grazing Calendar

The amount of precipitation we've received so far this year tells us a lot about what might happen going into another grazing season, according to University of Nebraska Extension range and forage systems specialist, Jerry Volesky. Speaking to a group of ranchers at the Ranching for Profit workshop in Bassett recently, Volesky said that if it stays dry, ranchers should pay attention to key dates on the grazing schedule, and make their decisions about reducing their stocking rate on their pastures based on precipitation received by those dates.

Ranchers: Pay Attention To Key Spring Dates On Grazing Calendar

Dry conditions going into early April do not bode well for the upcoming season. Most ranches in central and western Nebraska have a combination of cool and warm season grasses. By May 1, when cool season grasses begin rapid growth, we'll know what kind of moisture we have in the soil profile, Volesky said. Most warm season grasses will kick in more rapid growth by June 1. By June 20, Sandhills pastures have normally already produced 50% of the growth they will experience during the season. "The other consideration is the temperature, especially if it warms up early," Volesky said. Precipitation in May, June and July is critical, he said.

Herbage production studies at the UNL Barta Brothers Ranch near Rose since 1999 proved that May, June and July in 2012 were the driest since the study began. However, because of good precipitation in previous years, last season's production was only second-worst, with 2002 production coming in as the low point.

In planning for the upcoming grazing season, Volesky suggested that pasture grazed from late May into mid-July last year should receive deferment priority this season. "You have to balance forage supply with demand," he said.

Supplies might include native range, meadows, seeded pastures, hay and crop residue. On the demand side, producers will have cows, yearlings, breeding heifers and bulls that need to be fed adequately. Volesky suggested looking back to 2012 grazing records to understand the time of grazing, last year's stocking rate and the amount of residual herbage left in pastures last fall.

Rotational grazing will work best this upcoming season to protect grass resources. Volesky said that pastures should probably only be grazed once from turnout to killing frost. "The greatest number of cow-days per acre will be gained when pastures are not grazed until plants have completed most of the growth for the year," he said.

If you'd like to learn more about grazing timing this season, contact Volesky at 308-696-6710 or email
New App Tracks Insect Problems

New App Tracks Insect Problems

An upgraded online pest management program could help agricultural growers and consultants track insect populations to better control crop damage caused by pests and reduce the amount of insecticides released into the environment.

"Safely controlling insect populations is one of the biggest dilemmas facing crop growers and agricultural consultants," says Johnny Park, president and CEO of Spensa Technologies Inc., a Purdue Research Park-based company that developed the online tool "In the U.S. in 2010, crop growers lost $20 billion to insect damage and spent $4.5 billion on insecticides."

BUG CATCHER: The online application shows insect data collected in agricultural fields and an aerial map of the fields so growers and consultants can electronically manage insect numbers. (Purdue Research Park image) enables growers and consultants to manage insect trap data and pesticide records on a secure website by entering data through a smartphone or Web browser. The application is available as an online subscription service through

" provides tools to make insect trap data collection more efficient and accurate and allows real-time access of the data collected," says Park, who also is a Purdue research assistant professor in electrical and computer engineering. "Ultimately, growers and consultants can make more insightful and timely pest management decisions. The program provides aerial field images taken from satellite cameras and places the insect data over the image of the fields so growers can see the insect population data of the fields."

Allan Fetters, director of technology for Simplot Grower Solutions, a full-service agricultural retail organization based in Boise, Idaho, says his company tested last year.

"We tested the desktop and mobile app with crop advisers and found strong effectiveness in monitoring data electronically compared to what has traditionally been a long, tedious handwritten process," Fetters says. "Not only was the collection of insect data greatly expedited, we noticed greater accuracy because the data is input electronically in the field. The traditional process would have required our crop advisers to collect the data in the field and then transfer it to a computer or ledger at a later time."

~~~PAGE_BREAK_HERE~~~Fetters said another advantage is that the data collection is in real-time, which enables growers to make more accurate decisions in their pest-management programs. 

The app allows consultants to combine data from multiple geographic growing regions and track insect population trends.

"Tracking insect trends is important, particularly with the global exchange of products and services. can help growers and consultants manage multiple fields in large geographic regions so they can better identify global trends and control insect populations in those fields," Park said. "Understanding what is happening in a particular area is important, but understanding of how insects are moving across a larger region can help growers and consultants better plan for future needs."

The upgraded app provides a secure data share site where growers and consultants can easily communicate with each other.

"The users of can now grant other people to view insect population data in their fields. Consultants may want to share the data with their clients or other consultants. Grower may want to share the data with Extension folks to get a second opinion," Park says.

Another new feature of is "lure tracking," which reduces the number of times a grower needs to manually check the lure levels in insect traps.

"Often growers forget to replace trap lures. Obviously, they need to keep the lure fresh if the traps are to be effective," Park says. " keeps track of the timespan a lure works at its optimum level and alerts the growers when it is time to replace a lure."

The online application can be used to collect insect data affecting any crops including corn, green beans, soybeans, apples, oranges, pears and grapes. It also stores data over time so growers can identify insect trends, access their pesticide data online and analyze past data while planning for future growing seasons.

For more information on starting a subscription, visit

Win By Leasing Cattle

Win By Leasing Cattle

Leasing may be the new reality in the cattle production industry, says John Dhuyvetter, area Extension livestock specialist at North Dakota State University's North Central Research Extension Center near Minot

Top things to keep in mind about leasing:

Own or lease? Leasing cows may a food move for beginning producers.

Most cow leases have been on a share basis. Financial experts recommend an equitable split of calves that is in proportion to contributed costs. For example, the owner contributes cow ownership costs (interest on investment, normal death loss, depreciation) and the operator provides all the operating costs (feed, yardage, care and health). A budgeting spreadsheet is available through the NDSU Extension Service. This spreadsheet can help document costs and calculate contributions.

Lately, cow owners seem to be using cash leases. Under these leases, the operator agrees to pay the owner an annual cash payment per cow for a set period (usually one to three years). The operator is expected to provide all care and inputs, and he or she earns the calves produced to market them in a way that returns the best profit possible.

Win-win or lose-lose
"The possibilities for a win-win situation exist," Dhuyvetter says. "The young rancher gets started in the business using someone else's cows while conserving his borrowing ability for other needs. Provided costs can be controlled and the income of cattle great enough, sufficient revenue is generated to leave a return to his labor and management. The retiring or absentee cow owner earns a retirement income, continues to have some involvement and creates alternatives to phaseout."

Leasing can turn into a lose-lose situation because of factors such as improper cow management, poor production, high death loss, excessive costs and low market prices, he warns.

Other problems can include inequitable leases in which the operator or owner feels unfairly treated.

"Communication of expectations is critical," Dhuyvetter says. "For the most part, the devil is in the details, and to be successful, the lease should address cow care, animal identification, death loss, culling, replacement, marketing, etc., in addition to terms and rates."

Keys to successful leases
While a cow lease may be whatever two parties agree on and will be unique to a particular situation, here are some suggestions for developing a successful lease agreement:

Plan and budget to explore equitability and feasibility.

Make sure the person you're working with is a good fit.

Put the terms of the lease, including termination date and procedure, in writing.

Specify how animals will be identified (include brand) and annually inventoried.

Leave bull ownership to the operator and keep breeding dates standard.

Allow the operator to cull as needed up to a limit, with culling income as part of the owner's return.

Develop or purchase replacements externally from the lease.

Create a separate contract for leased land, machinery or special services, as calf backgrouding.

The owner accepts a normal death loss with compensation for excess.

Provide for notification when issues arise and opportunities for inspection.

Source: NDSU Extension Service
Top Colorado Ag Lenders Donate More Than $1 Million To CSU

Top Colorado Ag Lenders Donate More Than $1 Million To CSU

Four of Colorado's top agricultural lenders have joined together to donate more than $1 million for construction of a modern Center for Agricultural Education at Colorado State University that will train new generations of teachers and leaders.

The donations come from Denver-based CoBank, AgCredit of Greeley, Colo.; Farm Credit of Southern Colorado in Colorado Springs, Colo., and Premier Farm Credit of Sterling, Colo. All are members of the Farm Credit System, a nationwide network of lending institutions specifically chartered to serve ag and rural America.

Teaching students at Colorado State University about the state's vast agricultural industry will be the mission of a new Center for Agricultural Education to be built near Fort Collins.

Lenders of the Colorado FFA Foundation, CSU College of Agricultural Sciences and donor partnership unveiled details of the gift during a Colorado Agriculture Hall of Fame celebration in Denver on Valentine's Day.

"CSU has a distinguished history as a center of knowledge, research and education in agricultural sciences," says Robert B.Engel, president and chief executive officer of CoBank, which has launched a $5 million ag research and education funding initiative.

"We are delighted to be joining with American AgCredit, Farm Credit of Southern Colorado and Premier Farm Credit in support of this exciting initiative, which will deliver meaningful, long-term benefits to agriculture and Colorado's rural economy."

The Center will be built at the CSU research farm north of Fort Collins when the university and Colorado FFA Foundation have fulfilled a $3 million fund-raising goal.

The campaign already has generated more than $2 million in donations from companies, industry associations and individuals who understand the vital role of agriculture in the economy and society, says Dale McCall, chairman of the Colorado FFA Foundation board of directors.

The foundation has helped spearhead project planning and fund-raising.

"The gift from CoBank and its Farm Credit partners will provide an opportunity for students at CSU to be fully trained and effective when they go out to be agricultural education teachers and FFA advisers in schools throughout the region," he adds.

"This wonderful gift allows us to get closer and closer to our goal of a center that will influence students for generations."

New Jersey's Compton Named Outstanding Young Farmer

New Jersey's Compton Named Outstanding Young Farmer

On Wednesday, the New Jersey State Board of Agriculture presented Meredith Compton of Pittstown with the 2013 New Jersey Outstanding Young Farmer Award. Compton, a top 10 finalist in the National Outstanding Young Farmer competition, owns a successful multifaceted business called Peaceful Valley Orchards with husband Jeremy.

Peaceful Valley Orchards features pick-your-own, community-supported agriculture, retail market, educational tours and charitable pursuits – all the result of hard-working first generation farmer, Meredith Compton. 

PEACEFUL, BUT BUSY: Compton's Peaceful Valley Orchards draws more than 1,000 volunteer workers in addition to fresh produce customers.

Compton's career in agriculture began when she earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Agronomy and Environmental Science from Delaware Valley College of Agriculture. After graduating, she worked for Rutgers Extension as a tree fruit pest management specialist, spending 10 years at Snyder Research Farm. 

After three years of farming on her own while working at Rutgers, she and Jeremy decided to pursue farming full-time at Peaceful Valley Orchards, the 150-acre preserved farm they lease. Winter cover crops are planted on sloped fields. Contour strips are utilized in the orchards. Conservation strips are in place throughout the farm. Mulch film and drip tape are used to conserve water.

Peaceful Valley Orchard is a founding member and the main farm for America's Grow-A-Row, a non-profit organization established in 2002 to provide people in need with fresh and nutritious produce. More than 1,000 volunteers help plant, pick and deliver the fresh produce they grow.

This unique model heightens awareness of the importance of local farms, says Jim Giamarese, president of New Jersey's State Board of Agriculture. It also exposes volunteers to the hard work it takes to grow our food and teaches people the value of feeding their struggling neighbors.

Contribution to agriculture and service to her community are important to Compton. She serves on the New Jersey Horticultural Society and America's Grow-A-Row Board of Directors and is Vice President at the New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station. She previously served on board of the New Jersey Farmers Direct Marketing Association, the New Jersey Museum of Agriculture, and the Foodshed Alliance. She was a 2007 graduate of the New Jersey Agricultural Leadership Development Program.

Hillsdale County Couple Named MSU's Dairy Farmer Of The Year

Hillsdale County Couple Named MSU's Dairy Farmer Of The Year

Bruce and Jennifer Lewis, of Jonesville, are the 2013 Michigan State University (MSU) Dairy Farmer of the Year Award winners. The award recognizes their efforts to strive for quality, push limits and engage with the community.

The Lewis operation, Pleasant View Dairy, consists of 2,200 acres of corn, alfalfa, soybeans, wheat and sorghum in addition to the 600-head Holstein dairy herd. The herd produces an average 30,623 pounds of milk annually and has received quality awards for several years.

Hillsdale County Couple Named MSU's Dairy Farmer Of The Year

Bruce and Jennifer have one daughter, Brittany, and two sons, Adam and Conner. The family actively participates in a variety of community organizations, including the Jonesville FFA chapter, Hillsdale County Farm Bureau, Hillsdale County Dairy Promoters, Greenstone Farm Credit State Board, Michigan Farm Bureau State Board of Directors and Hillsdale County 4-H. Additionally, the family has hosted several open houses at their farm.

"It's important that consumers understand where their food comes from," Jennifer says. "It's our job to show them how we take care of our animals and the land to produce safe, wholesome milk for them. We want to leave them with a good impression of Michigan agriculture and show we take pride in what we do."

Through the help of MSU Extension, Pleasant View Dairy has been able to grow and improve its management practices to maintain excellence in the future.

"We're always thinking of our kids," Jennifer says. "We ask ourselves how the farm should look when it's time for them to take over; we're always thinking 10 years down the road and constantly updating and upgrading our equipment and facilities."

The Lewis' also utilize the input and expertise of their employees to help make important management decisions for the farm. They encourage employees to work as a team and take ownership in what they do to obtain their target goal.

This year's MSU Dairy Farmer of the Year Award was presented Feb. 8 at the Michigan Dairy Industry Recognition Night program held during the Great Lakes Regional Dairy Conference (GLRDC) in Frankenmuth.

Land Value Conference Is March 14 In Bloomington

Land Value Conference Is March 14 In Bloomington

The annual Illinois Land Values Conference sponsored by the Illinois Society of Professional Farm Managers and Rural Appraisers will be held in Bloomington on Thursday, March 14, and will be open to the public.

"The conference will be an all-morning event and will be packed with useful information for Illinois farmers and landowners," says Dale Aupperle, AFM, ARA, chairman of the event. "We are focusing on statewide land values, current leasing trends, and the many global influences in today's agriculture."

Land Value Conference Is March 14 In Bloomington

Aupperle says these are golden years for agriculture. "Farmland values have extended their double digit annual increase through 2012!" he notes. "Our prime farmland is approaching $13,000 per acre, on average, up from $10,500 a year ago. And the rising tide is floating all boats as every class of Illinois farmland increased in value during the past year."

The Conference will be held at the Parke Hotel and Conference Center, 1413 Leslie Drive in Bloomington.

The program will open with a review on the status of the Farm Bill, presented by Nicholas Paulson, assistant professor at the University of Illinois. That will be followed by a look at the world agricultural economy and how it is affecting commodity prices and the trickle-down to land values. This will be presented by Steve Elemore, Global Economics Director with Dupont Pioneer.

"Our keynote for the morning will be John Blanchfield, from the American Bankers Association," Aupperle notes. "John is senior vice president of the ABA Center for Agriculture and Rural Banking and will be talking about the availability of money in rural America. He will also give us an overview into the goings-on in Washington, D.C."

The last element of the half-day program will be the release of the 2013 Land Values and Lease Trends Survey results, which will be covered by Aupperle and U of I's Gary Schnitkey.

"We have been doing this survey for many years and this will be the 2013 edition," Aupperle notes. "Everyone attending will receive a complimentary copy of the Land Values and Lease Trends Report." Valued at $15, the report this year is 100 pages in size, the largest ever, he explains.

Registration for attending the event is $65 which is payable at the door. More information on the agenda is available at

Workshop Focuses On Reproductive Efficiency On Dairy Farm

Workshop Focuses On Reproductive Efficiency On Dairy Farm

Are you a dairy producer, veterinarian, or consultant interested in learning about the latest innovations in dairy reproductive programs to improve reproductive efficiency and profitability? If so, make plans to attend the University of Wisconsin-Extension Reproducing Profitability workshop on March 14 in Readstown.

This solution-oriented workshop provides practical ideas that will be able to be applied immediately on a farm. UW-Extension/Madison experts will share proven methods and decision-making tools to help producers manage reproductive programs and make the right decisions.

Speakers and topics include:

Workshop Focuses on Reproductive Efficiency on Dairy Farms to be Held in Readstown March 14

Paul Fricke: Update on Reproductive Research at UW-Madison. Dr. Fricke will provide an update on reproduction research at UW-Madison.

Pamela Ruegg: Subclinical Mastitis. Dr. Ruegg will discuss how subclinical mastitis is a silent disease that can reduce reproductive performance.

Amy Stanton: Eliminating Road Blocks to Getting Your Heifers Pregnant. Dr. Stanton will discuss the impact of early calf health and rearing on fertility and time to first calving.

Randy Shaver: What's New with Nutrition and Reproduction?

Connie Cordoba: ReproMoney and How It Can Help You Increase Your Net Income. Dr. Cordoba will talk about this free program offered to all Wisconsin dairy farmers. She will explain how the program can increase your net income by enhancing your herd's reproductive efficiency.

The workshop will be held at the Kickapoo Inn, 827 W. Kickapoo Street, Readstown and runs from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The registration fee for the program is $15 which includes program materials, refreshments and lunch. The registration deadline is March 11. To register, please contact the UW-Extension Crawford County office at 225 N. Beaumont, Suite 240, Prairie du Chien, WI 53821.

For more information about this workshop or the ReproMoney program, please contact Connie Cordoba at 608-265-9746 or  or visit the ReproMoney website at

Source: UW-Extension


Heart Check mark approved for use by Mississippi peanut organization

The American Heart Association has approved the use of its Heart Check mark by the Mississippi Peanut Growers Association. "This gives our product a positive image for heart health, and we are excited to be able to promote this with our Mississippi peanuts,” says Malcolm Broome, the organization's executive director.