2015 Agronomy Impact Reports Back »

Drier than normal conditions in the Western and Southwestern US could mean some shifting of agricultural land base to the Upper Midwest. When combined with increased pressure on water reserves and land base this could negatively impact our state’s agriculture. Less than optimum moisture also means less water replenished yearly in the state’s underground reserves. All this is happening while discussing the need to increase food production. It is estimated that by 2050 the planet will reach 9.1 billion people, 34 percent more than today. South Dakota needs to consolidate as one of the “food hubs” of the country. With more than 19 million acres of cropland and 23 million acres of rangeland, agriculture contributes $20.9 billion yearly, positioning the state in an ideal situation to accomplish this. Rather than choosing to view ourselves as the smallest Land Grant institution, SDSU Extension Agriculture and Natural Resources views itself as the most efficient contributor to US food security per capita. As a result we have prioritized profitable, highly productive systems that lead to societal stability and are at worst environmentally neutral. In addition South Dakota need to accomplish this without degrading its grasslands which are critical to the health of the state’s ecosystem.


SDSU Extension conducted Soil Health Events with the SD No-Till Association and NRCS.

Environmentally-responsible systems enhance crop production while maintaining soil health. SDSU Extension conducted Soil Health Events with the SD No-Till Association and NRCS which resulted in producers forming a No-till/cover crop group. Soil Fertility Programs provided best management practices for N application options for approximately 20,000 acres of winter wheat. These programs for crop consultants have: 1. determined nutrient recommendations for fields receiving waste water sludge from municipal waste water, 2. advised no-till growers on efficiency of N sources, 3. determined side-dress N rate using test results 4. developed a manure nutrient management case study exercise for SDSU ABS-475, 5. evaluated soil resources at various locations in eastern SD to assist in determining optimal placement of a large CAFO, 7. cooperated in a grass trial where N and P rates were applied to a long-term CRP field on a producer’s site with dramatic results incorporated by other producers.

SDSU Extension conducted wheat, oats, pea varieties summer tours at several locations with over 140 attendees. These variety trials offered farmers a chance to make informed purchasing decisions and also check-out how varieties grew and performed in their own geographical area.

SDSU Extension submitted a pre-proposal to the SD Soybean Research and Promotion Council to conduct cover crops research in 2015. One topic of interest among crop farmers is to investigate the possibility of growing either short-season or early maturity soybeans to have time to incorporate small grains (winter wheat) in the rotation. SDSU Extension has also been in contact with farmers for on-farm research on cover crops and soil salinity.

SDSU Extension Private Applicator Training (PAT), Commercial A. T. (CAT) and Row Crop Clinics during 2014 provided information for handling pesticides. Of the attendees 67% concluded their ability to manage seedling diseases of soybeans had improved. Of the PAT attendees 69% (491) now scout fields and ID pests before spraying and 71% use SDSU suggestions to make management decisions. Of the attendees 57% incorporated seed treatments in managing diseases, 39% now utilize resistant varieties, and 7% make changes in their date of planting.

2015 Watertown Crops Expo: Dennis Todey (former South Dakota State Climatologist & SDSU Extension Climate Specialist)

SDSU Extension also conducted Agronomy Short Courses on plant pathology for agricultural engineers in a “train the trainer” approach. Of those attending 78% stated knowledge increased and 67% that they were more likely to implement Integrated Pest Management (IPM). Plant health discussions led to one-on-one field visits with crop growers which covered varied topics. Farmers attending the SDSU IPM Field School and wheat walks gained up-to-date research based information on insect pests and their management options. They received knowledge about scouting techniques and economic thresholds; they also received knowledge on how to identify and distinguish insect pests from natural enemy parasites and predators.

SDSU Extension conducted a survey among 230 livestock producers to obtain data on forage issues and needs. Results showed large interest on the following: 1. Information on best alfalfa varieties for the area, 2. How to get the most out of alfalfa (quality wise), 3. How to increase alfalfa quality and tonnage, 4. Soil type alternatives, 5. Alfalfa variety hardiness; 6. Resistance to insects, nutritive value, and yield of different varieties. Results led to conclude there is a need for local alfalfa trials to determine varieties that perform better under specific conditions. Two research plots with 10 varieties are going to be established in April 2015 to evaluate yield and quality. A site for on-farm alfalfa research on saline soils has been identified in Redfield, SD.

SDSU Extension met with farmers frequently during the crop season to provide updates and forecasts of alfalfa caterpillars, weevils, blister beetles, lygus bugs and their natural enemies. Producers were able to make spraying decisions and select chemicals through unbiased information. A pilot project has been set up to understand alfalfa pest status and current practices followed by producers in Butte and Haakon Counties.

SDSU Extension has also worked in close contact with the SD Grassland Coalition (stakeholders include private landowners and federal/state/NGO partners including USFWS, SD GFP, NRCS, Pheasants Forever, World Wildlife Fund, etc.). Highlights included the Sustainable Beef meeting and tour, SD Grazing School, Alan Savory field day and Lecture, SD Bird Tour, etc.). In addition,

SDSU Extension works with NRCS staff through Extension crops and livestock teams on general outreach on soil health and water management, using range as our best examples of high-quality soils. Together with NRCS and Pheasants Forever through multi-partner Prairie Coteau Habitat Partnership, we delivered 3 NRCS/Landowner prescribed fire planning training courses in Lemmon, Rapid, and Winner. 

Impact Reports

Access the links below to view a complete impact report for each topic:

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