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Purdue Extension targets 4 areas this fall, winterPurdue Extension targets 4 areas this fall, winter

Jason Henderson outlines major areas where Extension hopes to assist Indiana agriculture over the next few months.

Tom Bechman 1

October 27, 2016

3 Min Read

The ink will be red on many budget bottom lines this year. Jason Henderson, Purdue University Extension director, says his staff, both at Purdue and in every county across Indiana, is focusing on four key areas that they think could make a difference in helping farmers and farm families make it through a tough stretch in agriculture.


The four areas cover a wide range of topics. That’s because Indiana agriculture is diverse, and even typical corn and soybean producers are looking for other ways to generate more revenue, Henderson says.  All four areas of current focus may not help any one person. At the same time, everyone should be able to benefit from one or more of the areas that Extension will emphasize in programming over the next few months.

Here are the four areas where Purdue Extension hopes to make a difference.

1. Increase knowledge about nutrient management.

Programs are already underway to help farmers and others become more efficient at using nutrients, Henderson says. Nutrient efficiency helps in several ways. Applying fertilizer where it’s not needed is a cost that could be avoided. Putting fertilizer in the right places could return more revenue for the same or fewer dollars invested in the fertilizer. At the same time, the environment wins because fewer nutrients wash or flow into surface waters

2. Help producers understand new food safety rules.

New federal rules about food handling in food production enterprises will roll out soon. “Our staff is gearing up to help producers understand the new rules, and implement necessary practices,” Henderson says. “There is a lot of interest in local food production in the state. Some 250 people attended a local food summit in Indianapolis earlier in the fall.”

He notes that it’s not just smaller-scale producers who are interested in the local foods movement, and who need to understand what’s involved in meeting the coming new regulations. Larger farm operations are also looking at this area as a way to help reduce revenue risk.

3. Provide information to potential growers of alternative crops.

Requests coming into Extension offices for information about alternative crops are increasing, Henderson notes. Some people are inquiring about how to raise crops like barley and hops, which would largely be used in the rapidly growing craft-brewing industry in Indiana.

“There is interest in other possible crops, too,” Henderson explains. “Indiana has a unique climate and other advantages which fit raising certain types of niche crops.

“Where Extension comes in is in helping people find the information they need to explore these possibilities,” he adds.

4. Develop programming to provide information and tools to assist those managing in tough times.

Purdue's Center for Commercial Agriculture will be at the forefront of developing tools and arranging meetings throughout the winter to help producers attempting to manage their farms in a very tight financial climate, Henderson says.

The center will introduce updated financial tools to help calculate cash rents and crop budgets, he notes. You can also look for meetings on various topics related to financial management to be held around the state.

About the Author(s)

Tom Bechman 1

Editor, Indiana Prairie Farm

Tom Bechman is an important cog in the Farm Progress machinery. In addition to serving as editor of Indiana Prairie Farmer, Tom is nationally known for his coverage of Midwest agronomy, conservation, no-till farming, farm management, farm safety, high-tech farming and personal property tax relief. His byline appears monthly in many of the 18 state and regional farm magazines published by Farm Progress.

"I consider it my responsibility and opportunity as a farm magazine editor to supply useful information that will help today's farm families survive and thrive," the veteran editor says.

Tom graduated from Whiteland (Ind.) High School, earned his B.S. in animal science and agricultural education from Purdue University in 1975 and an M.S. in dairy nutrition two years later. He first joined the magazine as a field editor in 1981 after four years as a vocational agriculture teacher.

Tom enjoys interacting with farm families, university specialists and industry leaders, gathering and sifting through loads of information available in agriculture today. "Whenever I find a new idea or a new thought that could either improve someone's life or their income, I consider it a personal challenge to discover how to present it in the most useful form, " he says.

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