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    Field Studies: Replicated Comparisons vs. Side-by-Side Comparisons

    The season is upon us and producers are heading out to the field to get their crops planted and established. Producers are interested in knowing what works best, yields the most, and especially what is most profitable during these tight economic times. Some may want to compare products or practices on their own farm or look at information from other farms or industry studies.

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    The Ethics of Decision Making

    Leaders often make challenging decisions. In your leadership role, you agreed to take on the responsibility that comes with the role and your actions are constantly being viewed by others. How you choose to make decisions will impact the type of leader you are and how followers like employees, committee members or volunteers will respect you. Will they view you as a leader with integrity or not?

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    Insuring Corn and Other Spring Crops

    With producers evaluating marketing strategies and the looming March 15 insurance sales deadline, several trends are emerging. By monitoring these trends, producers may be able to refine their marketing plans for corn, soybeans and spring wheat. New crop futures prices are tallied during February and their average during the month determines the projected price for insurance purposes.

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    USDA Provides New Cost Share Opportunities for Organic Producers & Handlers

    In recent times, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has shown increased interest in organic agriculture. As a result, on December 21, 2016, the USDA announced that starting March 20, 2017, organic producers and handlers will be able to visit over 2,100 USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) offices across the country to apply for federal reimbursement to assist with the cost of receiving and maintaining organic or transitional certification.

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    Yield Goal… Truly Defined

    Whether it’s over a cup of coffee in December or back in the combine at harvest, yield is on the producer’s mind. In the spring, goals are set, plans are made, and crops are planted. Although plans are carefully drawn, we never know what might happen during a given growing season. Having measurable, specific goals for your business is always a good idea, and one of the most important goals is maximizing yields.

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    Estimating Corn Yield in the Field

    As a result of inconsistent weather conditions, we have observed much variation between corn fields across South Dakota than in previous years. While the Western and Northeastern part of the state faced persistent water deficit conditions, Southeastern S.D. saw high rainfall early in the season which delayed planting across this region. Even on high productive land, it is expected for corn yields to vary significantly across the state. Estimating corn grain yield prior to harvest can help growers make management decisions, especially storage and marketing.

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    Chopping Corn for Silage is on its Way

    Dry conditions are still affecting forage production throughout the state of South Dakota. Dealing with drought conditions when feeding dairy and beef cattle can bring serious challenges to production including a short or unavailable hay supply in Western areas of the state.

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    2016 South Dakota Oral Leases Renew September 1st

    On September 1, 2016, all oral leases for agriculture ground in South Dakota will automatically renew. The automatic renewal includes all the current terms and conditions in the existing lease, including but not limited to: who the land is rented to, when payment is due, the per acre rate, stipulations for grazing, hunting or other land use restrictions, and any weed control or fencing agreements, etc.

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    Heat Exhaustion & Stroke: Protecting yourself and your employees

    For those whose livelihood depends upon working outdoors or in less than favorable conditions, the coming weeks look to be quite difficult with higher than normal temperatures and humidity predicted. For example, cows still need to be milked and fed, barns are not air conditioned, even though there is emphasis on cow comfort through ventilation and cooling, we sometimes get lax on also protecting ourselves and employees from the effects of heat.

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    Maximize Your Best Asset – Your Employees

    There never seems to be a slow time around a farm or ranch. The to do list is always there, and as a result farm owners and managers who oversee employees and or work alongside family members sometimes can overlook how important it is to allocate time to enhance the skills and abilities of those who work for you. There are great opportunities year round, such as tours, field days and seminars employers can take advantage of as continued educational opportunities for your employees.

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    Summer Season Climate Outlook 2017

    The long-range outlook for the summer climate was released on Thursday, May 18. With the recent rains and transition to cooler temperatures, will this trend last for a while? The last couple of weeks of May are more likely to stay on the cooler side of average, according to NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center. Rainfall is also projected to taper off this weekend, and South Dakota will turn drier again for the rest of the month.

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    Fate of Soil Applied Herbicides in No-Till

    Most soil-applied herbicides are stable under longer than desired periods of weather with no adequate moisture and not broken down by UV sunlight. Those herbicides in the site of action group (SOA) 8 (butylate, cycloate, triallate) and SOA 3 (trifluralin, ethalfuralin, pendimethalin) are volatile and susceptible to degradation by UV light. In no-till, these herbicides are not widely used because of the need for mechanical pre-plant incorporation.

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    Can my crops take these cold temperatures?

    It has been unseasonably cold and snowy…now what? There are a few things to keep in mind as Mother Nature temporarily brought back the wrath of winter. Many farmers in Southeastern South Dakota began corn planting within the last two weeks. According to the USDA NASS, 7% of corn and 2% of soybean was planted across the state of South Dakota as of May 1.

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    Compared to What? Interpreting Research Results

    In this information age, farmers may find it challenging to identify trustable sources. There are many companies trying to sell products attached to claims that may or may not be true. It is important for farmers to find a path through the hype and be able to determine if a product will benefit them or not. Statistical analysis is one way to separate fact from fiction.

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    Crop Planting Guide: Soil Temperature & Germination

    Successful crop production to maximize profitability starts at planting. Selecting the best cultivar, preparing seed bed, maintaining optimum crop nutrient needs, and seeding at appropriate rates, date, and time are just a few variables a farmer considers during each planting season. Regardless of where you are located, it is hard to go out and plant on a pre-determined date because of year-to-year weather variability.

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    Proper Laundering: Insecticide-contaminated clothing

    Individuals working with insecticides must take important steps to prevent exposure to themselves and others. This includes reading the label, wearing proper personal protective equipment (PPE), exercising caution when mixing and applying insecticides, disposing of used PPE, and laundering potentially contaminated clothing.

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    Insecticide Safety: What gloves are right for the job?

    When handling insecticides it is important to wear the proper personal protective equipment (PPE). Insecticide labels provide the minimum PPE requirements that must be worn when handling containers, spraying, mixing, loading, or conducting maintenance on the sprayer. Chemical resistant gloves are listed as required PPE for almost all insecticide related activities. Wearing the proper gloves when handling insecticide products prevents exposure to the skin on the hands. Insecticides can penetrate skin on different parts of the body to varying degrees.

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    Fumigant Safety: The difference between life and death

    Fumigants are used to manage insect pests in agricultural fields, grain storage facilities, and residential environments. These products are considered restricted use. Individuals must have a valid South Dakota commercial or private applicator license to purchase and apply restricted use products. It is important to remember that fumigants are toxic chemicals – in addition to killing the intended pest, they can harm humans if used improperly.

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    It’s time to start scouting for black cutworms in corn.

    There are several important early season insect pests that can severely injure corn while it is in its early vegetative stages. One of the more destructive of these pests is the black cutworm. Black cutworms are migratory moths that migrate into South Dakota during the early spring from the Southern U.S. Although black cutworm caterpillars may injure corn by feeding on leaf tissue, the serious damage occurs when the caterpillars feed around the base of young corn plants.

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    Fate of Soil Applied Herbicides in No-Till

    Most soil-applied herbicides are stable under longer than desired periods of weather with no adequate moisture and not broken down by UV sunlight. Those herbicides in the site of action group (SOA) 8 (butylate, cycloate, triallate) and SOA 3 (trifluralin, ethalfuralin, pendimethalin) are volatile and susceptible to degradation by UV light. In no-till, these herbicides are not widely used because of the need for mechanical pre-plant incorporation.

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    Pre-Emergence Herbicide: Why use it?

    It is always good to start with a pre-emergence chemical to help prevent weeds from becoming resistant. Usually this is a different chemistry than what you are using post-emergence. It also will buy you time on doing a post if the pre-emergence is activated. With the wet cool spring, some weeds may now have germinated before the pre-emergence product is applied after planting.

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    Don’t guess what’s causing your plants to be sick—we can help!

    Effective plant disease management starts with proper disease diagnosis. Several plant diseases, nutrient deficiency or toxicity, and other disorders can elicit similar symptoms. It is therefore important to be absolutely sure what is causing the problem before making a decision on the management strategy.

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    Palmer Amaranth: Threat to South Dakota agriculture

    Annual weeds are threat to many cropping systems in South Dakota. Palmer amaranth is a newer threat in the state depending upon your geographical location. Confirmed sightings in a few counties in South Dakota include Potter, Sully, Hughes, Lyman, Bennett, Buffalo and Douglas. These are confirmed sightings and there could be other counties as well that could have Palmer amaranth in the state. Most Palmer plants found in South Dakota originated from a contaminated source, such as contaminated machinery, seed or manure. Palmer is an invasive annual plant originally from the southwestern U.S. with male and female plants.

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    Proper Laundering: Insecticide-contaminated clothing

    Individuals working with insecticides must take important steps to prevent exposure to themselves and others. This includes reading the label, wearing proper personal protective equipment (PPE), exercising caution when mixing and applying insecticides, disposing of used PPE, and laundering potentially contaminated clothing.

    Read More »

    Insecticide Safety: What gloves are right for the job?

    When handling insecticides it is important to wear the proper personal protective equipment (PPE). Insecticide labels provide the minimum PPE requirements that must be worn when handling containers, spraying, mixing, loading, or conducting maintenance on the sprayer. Chemical resistant gloves are listed as required PPE for almost all insecticide related activities. Wearing the proper gloves when handling insecticide products prevents exposure to the skin on the hands. Insecticides can penetrate skin on different parts of the body to varying degrees.

    Read More »

    Fumigant Safety: The difference between life and death

    Fumigants are used to manage insect pests in agricultural fields, grain storage facilities, and residential environments. These products are considered restricted use. Individuals must have a valid South Dakota commercial or private applicator license to purchase and apply restricted use products. It is important to remember that fumigants are toxic chemicals – in addition to killing the intended pest, they can harm humans if used improperly.

    Read More »

    Agricultural Water Testing Project

    Subsurface drainage water can look clean to the eye when coming out the end of a pipe. However, it doesn’t always mean it is. Tile water can carry with it high concentrations of dissolved nutrients such as nitrate-nitrogen which can contribute to the eutrophication of surface water. Eutrophication can be defined as the enrichment of a water body with nutrients; stimulating the growth of aquatic plants and depleting the dissolved oxygen content of the water as the plants decompose.

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    Soil Health Principles

    Soil health is a very important natural resource concern; however, knowledge of how to build soil health is not widespread. The principles of soil health should be addressed as often as possible. At a recent South Dakota Soil Health Challenge meeting in Mitchell, Jay Fuhrer (USDA-NRCS) presented his five principles of soil health: 1. Soil Armor,  2. Minimizing Soil Disturbance, 3. Plant Diversity, 4. Continual live plant root and 5. Livestock Integration.

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    Soil Testing Labs

    Crop Producers, agronomists, gardeners, homeowners and anyone else who is thinking about taking soil samples this fall or next spring need to be aware that South Dakota State University no longer offers commercial testing. (Effective Oct, 2011). Below is a list of nearby state or private laboratories that can be used for crop production fields, gardens and lawns. The private laboratories are not necessarily recommended or endorsed, however many will give university recommendations when asked. Crop producers, agronomists, gardeners, and home owners with questions on sample submissions, analysis charges and recommendations should contact the laboratory of interest.

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    Cover Crop Adoption: Farmers’ perceived benefits & barriers

    Cover crops are generally defined as crops planted between cash crops to cover and protect the soil. Some demonstrated benefits of cover crops include: reduced soil erosion, increased soil organic matter, increased biological diversity, increased nitrogen supply, and weed control. Depending on the farmers’ objectives, different species of cover crops can be planted. For example, if a farmer’s main objective is to increase nitrogen supply, then legume cover crops best suited to the farm area should be selected.

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    Gypsum Misconceptions

    The consideration of gypsum as a soil amendment has become a popular topic in crop production agriculture. However, correctly understanding the chemical function of gypsum and lime in soil is needed to properly place this amendment. Gypsum, which is calcium sulfate after applied to the soil and dissolved in the water it disassociates into calcium and sulfate.

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    New SDSU Extension report provides status of native grasslands & woodlands in Eastern S.D.

    SDSU Extension, in partnership with a variety of non-government, state, and federal agencies, has recently released a public report on the status of native plant communities in Eastern South Dakota. The report is based on a comprehensive look at the Eastern South Dakota landscape that incorporated the use of field and tract-level historic Farm Service Agency (FSA) cropland history, coupled with high resolution aerial photographs provided through the USDA National Agriculture Imagery Program (NAIP).

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    “Tighty Whities”

    Soil is probably our most important natural resource. It is the foundation or factory for producing food. Without healthy soil, the system eventually fails; many civilizations in history have risen and fallen with the over-exploitation and demise of their soil resources. Soil offers several services for plant and animal production that include providing an anchor for healthy plant roots, offering essential plant nutrient uptake, supplying water storage, and cycling and storing carbon and other nutrients for improved and sustained plant growth in future years. 

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    Soil Health Farming Practices: “Merit or Myth”?

    No-till farming practices, diverse crop rotations, cover crops and integrating livestock into crop production require a different kind of management when compared with conventional farming.  Although most crop and livestock producers have a good idea of the desired outcomes that center on improved soil health, achieving these is not always easy. Somewhere, in most producers’ history, practices such as no-till that favor improved soil health may have been attempted.

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    Creative Tillage

    In a number of tilled fields this fall there appears to be an attempt to improve soil health. Creative or recreational tillage has been applied to certain upland areas of some fields to possibly control rill and gully erosion while drainage ways were not tilled. The thought process behind the tillage pattern used in the picture assumes that water will run-off the steeper slopes and the absence of tillage in the waterways will slow or prevent gully erosion. This is only a Band-Aid approach to solving a bigger problem with water infiltration into the soil on hill slopes and waterways.

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    Keep Carbon in the Picture: Modifying the cut and carry system

    After a recent trip to Ethiopia, I began thinking about how farming on the steep, terraced hillsides of the rural highlands there might relate to agriculture across the rolling plains of South Dakota. As part of the Farmer-to-Farmer Program, jointly sponsored by USAID and Catholic Relief Services, I had the opportunity to speak with nearly 300 smallholder farmers about fertility and soil health.

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    Field Studies: Replicated Comparisons vs. Side-by-Side Comparisons

    The season is upon us and producers are heading out to the field to get their crops planted and established. Producers are interested in knowing what works best, yields the most, and especially what is most profitable during these tight economic times. Some may want to compare products or practices on their own farm or look at information from other farms or industry studies.

    Read More »

    The A, B, Cs of Food Production: Almonds, Bees, and Cooperation

    According to 2015 UN estimations by 2050 the U.S. will have a population of 402 million, 25% greater than today. In order to feed this population and sustain the country’s economy through commodities’ exports, agricultural output needs to increase by a similar amount by that year. These figures are projections based on current population and food production dynamics. One critical component of this equation is going to be the presence of enough pollinator activity. Pollinators are crucial to maintain global food production and a healthy ecosystem.

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    Four Feedback Foes

    As a supervisor you should set time aside at least once a year, to conduct formal performance reviews for your employees. The value in doing so will definitely outweigh the time it will take out of your busy schedule to conduct this important management element. Annual reviews should be a productive time to have an open discussion with employees, share your thoughts about their work and performance progress, discuss their future with your farm/ranch or agri-business, and allow for focused discussion without distractions.

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    Five Tips on Time Management

    Have you ever heard anyone say they are not busy? I am guessing not. No matter how much technology we have at our finger tips or improved ways to complete an agricultural related task, you won’t find many people saying they don’t have their plate full or even over-flowing. Heavy workloads, and the feeling of being overwhelmed or stressed does not may our days very enjoyable. Is the reason for always seeming busy a time management issue? and learning some important tips to help your organize your time and help with focus.

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    Three ways to understand difficult people

    Managers and supervisors have many challenges to deal with daily in order to strive to help their company reach goals, be productive, and profitable. One of these challenges is dealing with difficult people. Their ability to lead difficult employees, which create an unproductive working environment and shift the employee into a high performing worker is an important skill for managers.

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    Compared to What? Interpreting Research Results

    In this information age, farmers may find it challenging to identify trustable sources. There are many companies trying to sell products attached to claims that may or may not be true. It is important for farmers to find a path through the hype and be able to determine if a product will benefit them or not. Statistical analysis is one way to separate fact from fiction.

    Read More »

    Four Steps to Clear Communication

    The greatest challenge with communication is remembering to do so! Busy times around farms, ranches and agri-business companies, lend us to often forget to actually communicate with those we work with. We think— I’ll just send a text and they will know what project I’m working on. A text can definitely provide an update, but when communication calls for a face-to-face discussion, how can one build an environment conducive to effective communication?

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    Agricultural Generational Communications: Part 2

    As we continue with the series on ‘Agricultural Generational Communications’, we introduced you to a mock farm called “ABC Farm” consisting of senior generation, 71-yr-old (John) who started the farming business, his son (Tom) a 51-yr-old, farming alongside his dad for nearly 25 years, and grandson/son 24-year old (Brandon) who returned to the farm after completing college. This farm example will be used to provide tips on working across generations in agriculture.

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    Generator Preparedness

    For many homeowners a power outage may be viewed as just and inconvenience with some potential repair cost associated with it. But for a lot of livestock operations, a power outage has the potential to be a very costly event. Although we are not able to control the weather, there are things we can do to be prepared when we are struck with a power outage. If you don’t have a generator but are thinking you would like to have one for when the power goes out, don’t wait till the power goes out to purchase one.

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    Do as I say and not as I do…

    How many times have you heard this? In regards to our communities and agricultural development we all need to remember that we are all under public scrutiny. Our actions whether a small or large producer can have monumental impact as we move forward with agriculture being the forefront of an economic base within communities and the state.

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