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    Precision Agriculture: Food Security Without Overburdening the Environment

    It is estimated that by 2050 the US will have a population of 402 million, 25.2% greater than today (U.N. 2015). 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. Significant changes in any of these two parameters can accelerate or slowdown these trends.

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    Producer Feedback Sought on Wheat Varieties

    The South Dakota Wheat Commission is currently seeking information and feedback from farmers on wheat variety preferences and current production practices. Surveys have been mailed to producers across South Dakota (SD) with the goal of collecting information that can be used to guide researchers and breeders, so their work can better meet the needs of South Dakota producers and consumers.

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    Income, Computers and Internet Use in SD Farms

    Computer access, ownership, or lease increased in South Dakota farms by almost 9% between 2011 and 2013. This is very significant since between 2009 and 2011 there had been no changes. Computer use in state farms is currently nearly 6% greater than the average for the country.

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    Farms and Land in Farms: Defining our audience.

    South Dakota is clearly an agricultural state, farm size triples that of the rest of the US with one farm every 25 people compared to one every 154 for the nation. In 2014 the state had 31,700 farms in 43.3 million acres farmed with an average farm size of 1,353 acres.

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    Crop Variety Selection

    Farmers tend to be busy all year round. For crop growers, spring, summer and fall are times to get physically involved in the field whereas, winter is the time for in-depth planning and preparation for the subsequent three seasons. Taking time to plan on various aspects of crop production including variety selection will pay dividend at the end of the season.

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    Flexible Cash Lease Arrangements: Flexing on Cost of Production

    A flexible cash lease is a contractual arrangement between a producer and landowner in which the final rent payment is determined after the crop has been harvested. Depending on the type of flex lease, the rental payment is a function of crop yield, price, revenue, or cost of production. Often, a flex cash lease requires that the landowner accept the possibility of lower rent payments in poor production years in exchange for the opportunity to receive higher rent payments in good production years.

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    Flexible Cash Lease Arrangements: Flexing on Price and Yield Together

    A flexible cash lease is a contractual arrangement between a landowner and operator in which the rent payment is determined after the crop has been harvested. Unlike a fixed cash lease where the rent amount is determined prior to the beginning of field work, a flexible lease permits rent payment to adjust depending on final yield, commodity prices, cost of production, or some combination of all three. Flex lease arrangements have advantages and disadvantages for both landowners and operators.

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    Flexible Cash Lease Arrangements: Flexing on Crop Price

    A flexible cash lease is a contractual arrangement between a landowner and operator in which the rent payment is determined after the crop has been harvested. Unlike a fixed cash lease, the rent amount with a flexible lease adjusts depending on final yield, commodity prices, cost of production, or some combination of all three. Flex lease arrangements offer opportunities for landowners to benefit should commodity prices rise or better than expected yields occur.

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    Flexible Cash Lease Arrangements: Flexing on Crop Yield

    A flexible cash lease is a contractual arrangement between a landowner and operator in which the annual rent payment is determined after the crop has been harvested. Unlike a fixed cash lease, rent amount with a flexible lease adjusts for final yield, commodity prices, cost of production, or some combination of all three.

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    The Basics of Flexible Cash Lease Arrangements

    A flexible cash lease is a contractual arrangement between a landowner and operator in which the final rent payment is determined after the crop has been harvested. Unlike a fixed cash lease contract, where the per acre rent amount is agreed upon well before field work begins, the rent amount with a flexible lease adjusts depending on final yield, commodity prices, cost of production, or some combination of all three.

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    U.S. Drought Monitor Shows Drought Conditions Worsen

    The U. S. Drought Monitor, released April 30, 2015 shows drought conditions have continued to worsen across South Dakota - accompanied by substantial agricultural impacts.

    Read More »

    Spring Assessment of Winter Wheat Stands

    Spring assessment of winter wheat stands can be fairly difficult. The decision to replant or “wait it out” depends on various factors. First of all, assess the level of plant death. By this point in the spring, it is fairly easy to evaluate. Earlier in the spring, the bag test – uprooting plants and placing them in a ziplock bag indoors for a few days – can give some indication.

    Read More »

    Make Sure Your Commercial Applicator Certification is Up-to-Date for 2015

    If you are a new commercial applicator, or an existing applicator that needs to add new categories for 2015, now is the time to make sure your certifications are current and correct before you start to spray. Commercial applicators can check their certification status through the online Commercial Applicator Search.

    Read More »

    Producer Feedback Sought on Wheat Varieties

    The South Dakota Wheat Commission is currently seeking information and feedback from farmers on wheat variety preferences and current production practices. Surveys have been mailed to producers across South Dakota (SD) with the goal of collecting information that can be used to guide researchers and breeders, so their work can better meet the needs of South Dakota producers and consumers.

    Read More »

    Winter Wheat Outlook in Eastern South Dakota: Spring 2015

    Winter wheat planted in fall 2014 was observed in spring 2015 for field establishment in eastern South Dakota (SD). Fields located in Brookings, Codington, and Grant County that were planted after winter or spring wheat harvest have the plants in early tillering stage, whereas fields that were planted later in the fall had the seeds germinated or just starting to germinate (seed imbibition).

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    Responding to Field Fires

    There has been a rash of field fires over the last few dry years. Most of these have been in the central and western part of the State. The approach with dealing with field fires is three pronged: prevention, mitigation, and documentation.

    Read More »

    Crop Variety Selection

    Farmers tend to be busy all year round. For crop growers, spring, summer and fall are times to get physically involved in the field whereas, winter is the time for in-depth planning and preparation for the subsequent three seasons. Taking time to plan on various aspects of crop production including variety selection will pay dividend at the end of the season.

    Read More »

    Aphids and Yellow Dwarf Viruses of Wheat

    Bird cherry-oat aphids and greenbugs made the news this fall, with infestations in winter wheat fields reported across central and south-central South Dakota. Most fields planted in September had some level of infestation, and the dilemma was whether to apply an insecticide. The recommendation is to treat with insecticides if there are on average, 20 bird cherry-oat aphids per plant or 15 to 25 per linear foot of row from seedling emergence in the fall to heading stage of wheat the following spring.

    Read More »

    Producer Feedback Sought on Wheat Varieties

    The South Dakota Wheat Commission is currently seeking information and feedback from farmers on wheat variety preferences and current production practices. Surveys have been mailed to producers across South Dakota (SD) with the goal of collecting information that can be used to guide researchers and breeders, so their work can better meet the needs of South Dakota producers and consumers.

    Read More »

    Gluten and Health: The Connection Between Gut Health, Food Sensitivities and Allergies

    Over the past five years, gluten and the proteins in wheat have received intense attention from the media and consumers. There are several reasons for this. First, celiac disease once thought to be rare (1 in 3000) has been documented to be much more prevalent than medical science had previously known - even though new data shows that it affects only 1 percent (1 in 133) of the U.S. population.

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    SDSU Extension Hiring Towards Food Security

    It is estimated that by 2050 the planet will reach 9.1 billion people, 34 percent more than today. To be able to feed this population, food production must increase by 70 percent. Regardless of where this population growth happens we need to step up as a food-producing state and nation and contribute to reduce social unrests spurred by food shortages.

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    Deconstructing a Wheat Kernel

    Like all grains, wheat began as a wild grass, and may in fact have been the very first crop in history. Historians believe the wheat kernel originated in the “cradle of civilization,” the Tigris and Euphrates river valley, near present day Iraq. In their natural state growing in the fields, whole grains begin as a dry, one-seeded fruit commonly called a kernel.

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    Back to Breakfast: Breakfast on the Run

    If your household is like most in America, mornings are a busy time. You’re on the way to work, kids on the way to school, pets have to be fed, and plans made for the day. It’s busy enough on standard mornings, but throw in a little hiccup – a missed alarm clock, a car that won’t start, a sick child – and the whole day can suffer. But even on the most rushed of mornings, you still need to eat a nutritious breakfast.

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    Understanding Plant’s Disease Surveillance

    Plants detect pathogens and protect themselves from disease in a slightly different way than animals do. A plant has several lines of defense any intruder must pass through: physical barriers, chemical barriers, and proteins at the molecular level. If the intruder makes it past all of these defenses, the cell still contains the NBS-LRR (Nucleotide Binding Site-Leucine Rich Region) proteins, one of the five types of disease resistance proteins produced by each plant cell.

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    Cool Temperatures Slow Leafy Spurge Flea Beetles for Redistribution

    Normally the Leafy spurge flea beetles would start emerging on leafy spurge in the next two to three weeks. Mid June is the normal time of the year when we start collecting the flea beetles for distribution in South Dakota. The cooler than normal spring temperatures most likely will delay normal emergence of this bio-control agent because their life cycle is based on growing degree days much like plants.

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    Make Sure Your Commercial Applicator Certification is Up-to-Date for 2015

    If you are a new commercial applicator, or an existing applicator that needs to add new categories for 2015, now is the time to make sure your certifications are current and correct before you start to spray. Commercial applicators can check their certification status through the online Commercial Applicator Search.

    Read More »

    Private Pesticide Applicator Certification/Recertification Training

    Winter is the season for Private Pesticide Applicator certification and recertification. If you noticed that your license expired at the end of 2014 or if you need to obtain a license in 2015, there are many upcoming opportunities for you to do so. You need to be certified as a Private Pesticide Applicator if you plan to apply any pesticides to an agriculture commodity worth $1000 or more. This applies to all types of pesticide (herbicide, insecticide, or fungicide, etc.).

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    Scab-Infected Spring Wheat Seed

    Once again we have had an unusual growing season with cooler temperatures and in some areas more moisture during the wheat heading/flowering stage. Due to the moisture, we have seen some scab issues in the hard red spring wheat received so far. With over 170 samples of new crop spring wheat from SD and MN tested to date, over 37% has exhibited germination rates below 80%, and over 60% of the samples have below 90% germination.

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    Aphids and Yellow Dwarf Viruses of Wheat

    Bird cherry-oat aphids and greenbugs made the news this fall, with infestations in winter wheat fields reported across central and south-central South Dakota. Most fields planted in September had some level of infestation, and the dilemma was whether to apply an insecticide. The recommendation is to treat with insecticides if there are on average, 20 bird cherry-oat aphids per plant or 15 to 25 per linear foot of row from seedling emergence in the fall to heading stage of wheat the following spring.

    Read More »

    Aphids in Winter Wheat: What to do in case of fall infestations

    Aphids infesting winter wheat made news last week in South Dakota. It appears that the populations are higher in the central and southern counties and aphids are starting to build up in the western counties as well. Two possible reasons that could explain aphid infestations this fall are 1) warm fall weather conditions and 2) early planting of wheat. Mixed populations of the two aphid species were identified in infested wheat fields. Most of them are bird cherry-oat aphids (BCOA) and less frequently greenbug aphids.

    Read More »

    Computer-Based Commercial Applicator Testing Now Available

    The South Dakota Department of Agriculture (SDDA) recently launched a new way for commercial applicators to take their category exams. Exams are now available via tablet computer at all of SDSU Extension’s eight Regional Centers. The commercial web training (CWT) offers clients the advantage of being able to see whether or not they passed the exam immediately upon completion. Previously, completed score sheets would be mailed to SDDA for grading and clients would receive their results by mail.

    Read More »

    U.S. Drought Monitor Shows Drought Conditions Worsen

    The U. S. Drought Monitor, released April 30, 2015 shows drought conditions have continued to worsen across South Dakota - accompanied by substantial agricultural impacts.

    Read More »

    Spring Assessment of Winter Wheat Stands

    Spring assessment of winter wheat stands can be fairly difficult. The decision to replant or “wait it out” depends on various factors. First of all, assess the level of plant death. By this point in the spring, it is fairly easy to evaluate. Earlier in the spring, the bag test – uprooting plants and placing them in a ziplock bag indoors for a few days – can give some indication.

    Read More »

    Soil Moisture Levels

    Most everyone is recognizing the lack of precipitation during the winter and early spring in the northern plains and South Dakota. The impact of precipitation events on soil moisture is often unknown because we don’t know how much of the moisture enters into the soil. This is a very important factor which influences potential crop and forage production capacity.

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    Soil Health Events Held Across South Dakota Can Now Be Viewed Online

    The South Dakota No Till Association, in cooperation with SDSU Extension and the USDA-NRCS, hosted many soil health workshops and field days across South Dakota throughout 2013-15. If you would like to hear the presentations from the soil health workshops, either because you could not attend the workshops or because you would like to listen to them again, the presentations can now be accessed on line at the NRCS’s Soil Health You Tube channel.

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    Responding to Field Fires

    There has been a rash of field fires over the last few dry years. Most of these have been in the central and western part of the State. The approach with dealing with field fires is three pronged: prevention, mitigation, and documentation.

    Read More »

    Soil Testing Labs

    Gardeners and homeowners who are thinking of taking a soil sample this fall or next spring need to be aware that South Dakota State University will no longer be offering commericla testing after October 22, 2011. A list of nearby state or private laboratories that can be used for garden and lawn samples is given below. The private laboratories are not necessarily recommended or endorsed. Gardeners with questions on sampel submissions, analysis charges and recommendationss hould contact the laboratory of interest.

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    Black Snow Shows Loss of Nutrients and Soil Particles

    It seems that black snow or “snirt” (snow + dirt) as some would call it, is a regular appearance in South Dakota this winter as well as last. While driving around the state to and from winter meetings, the regularity of viewing snow drifts covered with soil is very apparent next to fields with minimal crop residue cover and tillage practices. Why is blowing soil a problem? It really is an indication of poor soil health not to mention that the blowing soil comes from the surface that most always has the highest concentrations of nutrients and organic matter (carbon).

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    Managing Saline Soils in South Dakota: Part 1

    A soil has been described as a porous medium consisting of minerals, water, gases, organic matter, and microorganisms. The largest component of soil is the mineral portion, which makes up approximately 45% to 49% of the volume. Some of the mineral portion consists of primary mineral particles. These are the sand and silt particles.

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    Grassed Waterways for Erosion Control

    Grassed waterways have been installed on many fields in the past to prevent erosion on the bottoms of drainage channels. Since the use of glyphosate has boomed in the state, many of these grassed waterways have been sprayed out and farmed over. In most years this has proven profitable with the addition of croppable acres, however heavy rain this spring has shown how delicate many of these drainages are.

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    South Dakota Surface Water Quality

    South Dakota has about 9,726 miles of perennial rivers and streams and 86,660 miles of intermittent streams. The state also has about 572 lakes and reservoirs with designated aquatic life and recreational beneficial uses. Over the past five years (Oct 2008 - Sept 2013) the South Dakota Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has assessed these surface waters, as required under the Clean Water Act, and has found 94 different streams or stream segments and 72 lakes that are impaired, meaning that they don’t meet their intended beneficial uses.

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    • 2014 Variety Trial Results & Crop Performance Testing Data