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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.

    Read More »

    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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    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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    Tips for Reducing Conflict During Agriculture’s Busy Time

    For those involved in the day-to-day workings of agriculture you know things are getting busier and busier as we move into spring. Calving season is in full swing meaning late night checks or even a 3 a.m. wake up call to make sure all is fine. Those involved in crop production are preparing equipment and making the necessary final seed orders to be ready to hit the field as soon as possible. The result is long days ahead for agricultural producers, their employees and families. In times like these, stress builds, tempers can get short and adequate communication can oftentimes fall by the wayside.

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    The South Dakota Wetland Exchange

    According to the South Dakota Farm Bureau, a proposal currently under review by the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) may soon create the framework for South Dakota’s first agricultural wetland mitigation bank. Wayne Smith, Wetlands & Land Use Specialist with the SD Farm Bureau, explained that the process began in 2014 when the Bureau received a SD NRCS Conservation Innovation Grant (CIG) to create the framework under which a mitigation bank would operate. That product was turned back over to SD NRCS in September 2015, which has since been elevated to Washington D.C. for review and approval.

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    Ag Employees First Day on the Job vs. Employee Retention

    Many employers complain, including those in agriculture, that they can’t keep people around. Statements such as “we just get them trained and they leave” are common. If this statement is all too familiar, you may need to take a look at your “onboarding” program. Many have heard that statement that “first impressions are lasting impressions”, this is also true when it comes to retention of employees.

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    Northeast South Dakota: 2016 Potential Crop Profitability

    An analysis of the potential profitability of crops for 2016 for Northeast South Dakota was performed. This study examined returns given modified South Dakota State University Extension crop budgets for central & east mid production areas that include estimates for both direct and fixed costs.

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    East Central South Dakota: 2016 Potential Crop Profitability

    An analysis of the potential profitability of crops for 2016 for East Central South Dakota was performed. This study examined returns given modified South Dakota State University Extension crop budgets for central & east mid/high production areas that include estimates for both direct and fixed costs

    Read More »

    Southeast South Dakota: 2016 Potential Crop Profitability

    An analysis of the potential profitability of crops for 2016 for Southeast South Dakota was performed. This study examined returns given modified South Dakota State University Extension crop budgets for central & east mid/high production areas that include estimates for both direct and fixed costs.

    Read More »

    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.

    Read More »

    Obtaining Private Applicator Certification or Recertification in S.D.

    Certification courses and exams are available for new and existing private pesticide applicators. Individuals needing to become certified or recertified are encouraged to attend one of the 3-hour private applicator sessions hosted throughout the state. The dates and locations of these sessions can be found in this article.

    Read More »

    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.

    Read More »

    “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. 

    Read More »

    What Makes Winter Wheat a “Winter Wheat”?

    For most of us wheat is wheat; however there is a distinct difference between spring and winter wheat, even though the vegetative characteristics of these two wheat types are very similar. Winter wheat can withstand freezing temperatures for extended periods of time during the early vegetative stage and requires exposure to freezing or near freezing temperature to trigger reproductive stage. In other words, if winter wheat does not go through a period of cold temperatures, then it will not produce seed. Two things needed for winter wheat to perform at optimally and produce good yields are- cold acclimation and vernalization. 

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    Herbicide History Determines Seed Purchases

    Although 2016 row-crop harvest is still underway, many seed suppliers have started promoting ‘early bird’ incentives on next year’s seed purchases. We all like a good deal when we see one, but it’s important to keep track of field history, and think about your future crop rotation before making decisions.

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    Winter Cereals Provide Nesting Habitat

    Winter cereal grains, such as wheat and rye, can offer an alternative option for producers seeking to improve bird nesting habitat on cropland within their operations. Although they cannot replace the higher quality habitat provided by perennial grass stands, a study by South Dakota State University researchers found that winter wheat can provide favorable surrogate nesting and brood-rearing habitat for pheasants.

    Read More »

    Generator Preparedness

    Tis the season for… power outages? Unfortunately, there is some truth to that statement when you live in the Midwest. The power outages that plagued northeast South Dakota over the Christmas weekend can confirm how real this scenario can be. 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.

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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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    Agricultural Generational Communications: Part 1

    Since generational operations are primarily family members, we assume we know all there is to know about each other, right? On the surface we probably do know some key characteristics or preferences of family members, but is that the same as knowing them at a level of working alongside or reporting to them on a daily basis.

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    Holidays: A Time for Generations

    The holiday season is time for family. It’s an opportunity to celebrate the holidays, reunite and spend time together due to busy schedules throughout the year or who may be spread many miles apart. Historically, in agriculture farm families make up the greatest percentage of business ownership, many of which are generational family operations, two or three generations of family working side-by-side daily to produce agricultural products.

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    Three Steps to Modeling Leadership

    Are you interested in learning practices you can implement to improve your ability to serve in a leadership role? Maybe you recently have been appointed or found yourself willing to serve in a leadership role or you aim to someday serve in a leadership capacity. Despite the situation, research has indicated there are three steps you can practice to help build your initial leadership abilities. Remember leadership is learned and ultimate leaders continue to practice their craft.

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    How am I doing?

    Not only is it important to give feedback to followers such as employees, but it is important for leaders to do receive feedback in their role. In order to measure the effectiveness of your actions or commonly referred to in leadership, you are “doing what you say you are doing”, feedback from your followers is key.

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    Leaders Ask Questions With Purpose

    An additional step in building one’s credibility as a leader focuses on the questions a leader asks. Research has established the foundation of leadership is credibility and a leader’s ability to build credibility can occur through many steps. One of these is their ability to ask questions with a purpose.

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    Setting the Example

    The foundation of leadership is credibility, and leaders gain credibility when they are able to set the example. Leadership is a learning process, leaders are always learning new skills and abilities to achieve their status. Therefore, to become the role model, there are ways a leader can set an example and create a culture where others want to align themselves with.

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    Credibility: The foundation of leadership

    If you were asked, ‘What is the foundation of leadership?’ What would say? Oftentimes, a common answer is communication. Communication is an important element in leading people. Developing ones’ communication skills is always helpful and positive to the growth of an individual. Research however has shown credibility is the foundation of leadership.

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    Obtaining Private Applicator Certification or Recertification in S.D.

    Certification courses and exams are available for new and existing private pesticide applicators. Individuals needing to become certified or recertified are encouraged to attend one of the 3-hour private applicator sessions hosted throughout the state. The dates and locations of these sessions can be found in this article.

    Read More »

    Managing Wheat Curl Mite

    Wheat curl mite is one of the more difficult pests to manage in wheat. This is in part due to the limited options available for preventing populations from infesting a field and rapidly reproducing. Other pests can often be managed through the use of insecticides or miticides. However, due to the wheat curl mite’s small size and tendency to inhabit protected areas of the wheat plant, chemical management is often impractical.

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    Is That a Cutworm Caterpillar?

    We recently received a very interesting sample that originated from field of wheat stubble. At first glance we thought it may have been a cutworm species, however, there were many characteristics that were missing. There were also some traits present that did not match up with the description of any cutworm species. After some sleuthing, the mystery larva was determined to be that of a crane fly.

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    Scouting Winter Wheat for Mite Pests

    Winter wheat planting is underway in South Dakota. After wheat emergence, it is important to scout for brown wheat mite and wheat curl mite populations. These mites are capable of reducing wheat yields through direct feeding, and wheat curl mite is also a vector of Wheat streak mosaic virus. Although scouting can be used to successfully manage brown wheat mite populations, wheat curl mites are best managed through pre-planting preventative measures.

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    Preventative Measures for Stored Grain Pests

    As harvest rapidly approaches, it is time to inspect grain storage facilities and conduct pre-harvest bin maintenance. These preventive measures can prevent insects and other pests from infesting the new crop of stored grain during the fall. Although the majority of scouting for insect pests occurs during the summer, it also must continue until the grain is marketed and delivered.

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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).

    Read More »

    “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. 

    Read More »

    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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    Weed Control & Soil Health Go Hand-in-Hand

    Most people would not combine soil health and weed control. South Dakota Soil Health Coalition put on a soil health soil in Aberdeen, SD on September 21 through 23. Many farmers, ranchers and area agronomy professionals attended the meeting. This event is growing each year. Make sure to attend next year or visit the South Dakota Soil Health Coalition website for up-to-date information.

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    Winter Cereals Provide Nesting Habitat

    Winter cereal grains, such as wheat and rye, can offer an alternative option for producers seeking to improve bird nesting habitat on cropland within their operations. Although they cannot replace the higher quality habitat provided by perennial grass stands, a study by South Dakota State University researchers found that winter wheat can provide favorable surrogate nesting and brood-rearing habitat for pheasants.

    Read More »

    Saturated Buffers for Drainage Water Treatment in S.D.

    Saturated buffers can be an effective technique for removing nitrates from tile drainage water before they are released into waterways. A saturated buffer is essentially a perennially-vegetated riparian buffer with a raised water table. To raise the water table, drainage water is diverted through drainage tile that is placed parallel to the stream and below the riparian buffer.

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    Cover Crops in a Dry Year: To plant or not to plant?

    With small grain harvest wrapping up across the state, many growers are considering cover crop options. Mild to severe drought conditions across much of the state are causing many concerns including cover crop planting and establishment. Cover crops are planted for a variety of reasons across South Dakota but two of the most prominent purposes include long term soil health benefits and fall forage grazing opportunities.

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