UNL CropWatch Podcasts

The University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension has been sharing the latest information on crop production and research through a resource known as CropWatch since 1992. CropWatch originally started as a printed newsletter, but the newsletter could only be released a few times per season because of the logistics of printing and mailing new issues.

Katy Moore, a communications specialist with the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, said that one of the missions of CropWatch is to share timely and relevant information with agricultural producers throughout the state. As such, the expansion of the internet was viewed as a tremendous opportunity, “CropWatch’s website was launched in 1996 to provide easier access so that farmers across the entire state could benefit from CropWatch’s resources,” said Moore.

While the website had the benefit of being easier to access, it also allowed for sharing information faster, “When farmers are dealing with a new or unknown crop issue, they need fast answers,” explained Moore, “Our goal is also to be as timely as possible.” Currently, the CropWatch website publishes a new issue of articles every week during the cropping season and shifts to every two weeks during the winter months.

Since its initial launch, the way that many consume information has changed. While reading articles is still an important way that many keep up with the latest information, many people now get their news from videos, podcasts, and social media. In fact, research from the Pew Research Center has shown that 23% of people at least sometimes get their news from podcasts.

To stay relevant, the university launched the Nebraska CropWatch Podcast in 2018. Now starting its fifth season, the podcast aims to highlight articles published on the website in audio form in a bi-weekly format. The host of the podcast, Nate Dorsey, interviews the authors of recent articles, often allowing them to share more information and stories than could be included in the original articles. “I try to keep the interviews as conversational as possible,” said Dorsey, “this hopefully makes the information and guests more relatable and easier to listen to.”

Podcasts are particularly useful in agriculture, said Dorsey, “Farmers and others in the agriculture industry spend a lot of time behind the windshield”, he noted, “whether that’s driving a truck or a tractor, podcasts are a great way to learn and stay up-to-date while working on other tasks.” Dorsey hopes that the podcast will be a valuable source of information to producers and others throughout the state.

 The Nebraska CropWatch Podcast can be found on most major podcast platforms, such as Apple’s Podcasts app, Spotify, iHeart Radio, and many others. A suggested best practice is to search for a show, in this case the Nebraska CropWatch Podcast, in your preferred application and click the subscribe or follow show button. This way, as new content is released, you can be notified of new episodes and have them download automatically to your device. Then, no matter where you are or what you’re working on, you can learn about the latest Nebraska crop production information.

Livestock, Programming

Cow/Calf College Beef Seminar

The 2023 Cow-Calf College Beef Seminar is set for January 19th at the Clay County Fairgrounds in the Activities Building. Registration starts at 9:00 am with programs scheduled from 9:30 am – 3:30 pm. This year’s program is focused on strategies to manage forage resources during drought, including eastern redcedar control and adjusting pasture stocking and rental rates. The hands-on format will allow participants to engage with specialists and peers throughout the day.

Dillon Fogarty, Program Coordinator for Working Lands Conservation will provide an in-depth look at eastern redcedar control and management. Woody plant encroachment by species like eastern redcedar threatens the productivity and profitability of Nebraska’s grasslands. Easter redcedar encroachment can result in up to a 75% reduction in forage production along with additional impacts to grassland resources. In the eastern redcedar control workshop, Dr. Fogarty will cover new guidelines for tackling woody plant encroachment. This will include the development of management plans, effective integration of management tools, and use of new rangeland monitoring platforms.

The afternoon workshop will be focused on 2023 Pasture Leases. Jessica Groskopf and Brent Plugge, Nebraska Extension Educators, will review the latest result from the Nebraska Farm Real Estate survey including cash rental rates and land values. They will also discuss leases, terminating verbal agreements, lease clauses, and landlord-tenant communication. Both landlords and tenants are encouraged to attend.

New this year: Lunch sessions will be comprised of three mini-workshops, including a Lunch and Learn with Dr. Becky Funk, GPVEC Extension Specialist, on calf resuscitation tips and an opportunity to practice assisting the cow during calving using a life-sized model. The Mobile Beef Lab will also be present, giving attendees the chance to reach inside the rumen of a fistulated steer and review the process of ruminant digestion.

A lunch will be provided to those who register, and the program will conclude with a coffee shop panel where participants can ask question directly to the specialists as well as the opportunity to win a variety of door prizes.

There is no cost for the event; however, early registration is highly encouraged to allow for proper planning. Pre-registration can be made by calling the Webster County Extension office at 402-746-3417 or online at go.unl.edu/frcollege.


New Year’s Resolutions

If you are like many nearly half of the American population, you probably have a New Year’s Resolution set for this year, while 38% of Americans absolutely never make New Year’s Resolution according to research by University of Scranton, 2016. A majority of those resolutions are self-improvement or education related resolutions (47%), weight related (38%), money related (34%) or relationship related (31%).  University of Southern California’s John Monterosso who is an expert on psychology and neuroscience of self-control offers insight on how to achieve setting those resolutions.

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Monterosso suggests thinking of a resolution as a special kind of plan and visualizing your future-self. If you have already made that resolution or still working to tweak it, he suggested keeping the following in mind:

  • Failed resolutions are not harmless. Most people don’t like to fail; in fact, it hurts our confidence and can actually lead to worse behavior. Keeping this in mind and accepting the fact that one might not have accomplished all that was planned is important. If you get off track, you can always start again and don’t have to wait until a new year.
  • Resolutions work by linking single decisions to a bigger picture. For example, if you have a goal of quitting smoking or eating unhealthy foods and let a craving lead to poor decisions, you might think, “it’s just one cigarette or just one meal of fried foods” which may or may not lead to the continuation of a bad habit. If one takes a resolution seriously, think about the health consequences and the potential “relapse” that could occur.
  • Consider being less ambitious in your resolutions. We tend to be overly confident when making a resolution and think we can change our behavior overnight. While it is good to be confident with your goals, be careful not to make overly ambitious goals. For example, if you plan to work out one hour/day every day of the week and have an already packed life with a career, community obligations and a family, consider starting at 20 minutes/day and work up to more minutes if time allows. Setting a good resolution requires being realistic.
  • Resolutions should not be vague. If you set a resolution of “eating healthier.”  What does that mean?  Does it mean drinking 64 oz. of water/day?  Does it mean to include a fruit or vegetable at every meal?  Write down a SMART goal that is Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-based.
  • The New Year is a fresh start. Setting resolutions/goals at the first of the year helps us “clean the slate” and put past failures away. It gives us a sense of confidence and optimism. Capitalize on that.
  • Even successful resolutions can be mistakes. If you set restrict your diet to the point of starvation or over-exercise to the point of hurting yourself, you must be able to adapt, know yourself and use common sense and wisdom to correct the resolution.

In summary, Monterosso suggests that done correctly, “resolutions play a role in great human achievements.”

Extension’s Help with Resolutions
As stated above, almost half of resolutions made include education or self-improvement. If you need any educational resources or materials on nearly any subject, Extension has resources. Whether it is information on a website, talking with an extension professional, utilizing an app from your smart phone, attending a face-to-face program, participation in a webinar or many other avenues, Extension works to solve complex problems for clients. If you haven’t been to Extension’s website recently, I encourage you to go to extension.unl.edu. There you will find an abundance of resources on topics such as food, nutrition and health, cropping & water systems, community vitality, community environment, learning child, beef systems and 4-H youth development. Consider attending a program or utilizing a resource to help you achieve a resolution or goal you may have.

For a list of extension programs in the area, visit our websites at fillmore.unl.edu or clay.unl.edu or call your local extension office.


Making Contributions During the Holidays

The holiday season gives youth and adults an opportunity to stop and reflect on events of the past year, one’s beliefs and values, and what gives life meaning and purpose. As 2022 draws to a close, it is a wonderful time to reflect and act in ways that provide contributions to others.

Research has found when we feel we have made a difference in the lives of others, it often gives our own life meaning and purpose. Even small acts of kindness can provide great life satisfaction. By serving others in a positive way, one can gain a deeper sense of perspective. When considering ways to contribute, make sure to ask a few questions. Does this opportunity align with my values, budget, and time capacity? Below are some tips to help you and the young people in your life make meaningful contributions this holiday season.  

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  • Become a Volunteer – This requires giving your time, talents, and energy to a cause without receiving money. Volunteering can be an individual or family activity. It can be a great way to meet new people and strengthen existing relationships. Taking the initiative to address a need in your community can give you a sense of accomplishment. Depending on the task, volunteering can help you or a young person build self-confidence and improve one’s physical health. This holiday season, look for places to volunteer like a food pantry, school, animal shelter, or a youth program like 4-H Youth Development.
  • Raise Funds – Raising money can build momentum around a cause in your community. It is important to support something that aligns with your values. Many organizations rely on the generosity of others to assist them in their work through financial contributions. These funds go toward needed items, services, and programs. Raising funds for others can teach children, youth, and you to appreciate what you have and understand that at any age you can share your resources with others.
  • Be an Advocate – By bringing awareness to a topic you are passionate about helps other people learn more about an issue which, in turn, can lead to additional support now and in the future. For example, you might want to raise awareness about issues of hunger and poverty in your community or highlight the need for safe places for children and youth to gather. 
  • Express Gratitude – Gratitude is expressing a feeling of appreciation for something or someone that has added goodness to your life. It costs nothing and the advantages can be life changing. The benefits of gratitude can bring us happiness, reduce anxiety and depression, and strengthen our immune system. It can help us to sleep better, be more resilient, and strengthen our personal relationships. Showing appreciation can have a lasting impact on others. Take time to say “thank you” to a friend, neighbor, or family member for all they have done this past year.

Contributing this holiday season can lead to meaningful events throughout your life and have a lasting impact on you, your family, and your world. Remember to always ask the question, what can I do to contribute to others and in my community now and in the future?  

More information and resources about youth social-emotional development can be found on Nebraska 4-H’s Supporting Young People page or by contacting local county Nebraska Extension offices. 

Article written by Dawn Lindsley, Nebraska Extension Educator 

Crops, Livestock

Ag Today: New Era of Prosperity or Temporary Opportunity

Recently at a Farmers & Ranchers College program, Dr. David Kohl emphasized the importance of maintaining working capital or cash for businesses and families, among other important business principles. As always, his global knowledge of events and how they impact U.S. agriculture is fascinating.

One of the mega-trends for producers to pay attention to is the increased focus on healthy soil and water. Healthy soil and water quality creates healthy plants, animals, humans, and environment. Likely there will be paid incentives for producers who excel in these areas. Continuing to reassure consumers where and how food is produced, processed, and distributed remains important. It is also crucial to know your cost of production to plan best, average, and worst-case scenarios. Kohl also recommends overestimating capital expenditures by 25%.

His “Rule of 78” caught the attention of a lot of participants. When most people reach 78 years of age, usually health starts to decline unless you practice 8 habits. Those eight habits to have a quality of life included taking care one oneself physically by drinking water, exercising regularly, eating healthy and getting enough sleep.  Mentally, people should have a support network, life purpose, engage in mental activities such as reading or meditating and practice your faith/spiritual life.  He emphasized the importance of allowing oneself 2 hours per day with no technology.

Farmers and ranchers should also manage things that can be controlled and manage around those that cannot be controlled. He reinforced the idea that for a successful operation, you must plan, strategize, execute, and monitor. Examine monthly or at least quarterly financials to ensure you are on track. Those with a written business plan are four times more profitable than those without a plan. Also, the mental health of those with a business plan have two times the mental health as those without a written plan.

Kohl reminded participants of his business IQ exercise that ANY business should forgo. The areas in the business IQ included cost of production knowledge, cost of production by enterprise, goals (business, family, personal), record keeping system, projected cash flow, financial sensitivity analysis, financial ratio/break evens, those who work with an advisory team/lender, those whom have a marketing plan and execute, those whom have a risk management plan and execute, modest lifestyle habits, strong people management plan, transition plan, those whom attend educational seminars, and their attitude.

To determine what your cost of production is, a hands-on training will be held at the Fillmore County Fairgrounds on Thursday, December 15th from 1-3:00 p.m. This program is free, but registration is preferred for planning. Register at cap.unl.edu/abc/training. Attendees are encouraged to bring their own laptop or tablet to the workshop.


Land Leasing Strategies for Ag Women

The Power of Negotiation and Communication: Land Leasing Strategies for Midwestern Ag Women is coming to Geneva in January. The Nebraska Women in Agriculture program, in conjunction with Women in Agriculture programs at Purdue University and Kansas State University, will host a four-part extension workshop on the basics of land management, leasing, and conservation for landlords and tenants.

“The Power of Negotiation and Communication: Land Leasing Strategies for Midwestern Ag Women” will begin on January 18 at numerous sites in Indiana, Kansas, and Nebraska. The series will focus on writing agricultural lease agreements, landlord-tenant relationships, negotiations, and conservation practices. Workshops will be held on January 18, January 25, February 1, and February 8.

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The workshop costs $50 per person and participants should plan to attend each session. A virtual option is available for those unable to attend a workshop site for $75 per person, although in-person attendance is highly encouraged to better network with other attendees and interact with speakers and includes a meal.

According to Department of Agriculture census data from 2017, there are over 90,000 women producers and over 51,000 female landlords in the three states.

“Women represent an important and growing demographic in agricultural land management and this workshop series will teach essential management information while providing women the chance to ask questions, connect with each other and share their experiences,” said Jessica Groskopf, director of the Nebraska Women in Agriculture program.

Each state will host several satellite workshop sites with local extension personnel. Keynote speakers will be simulcast to each location and each site will provide additional speakers and hands-on activities.

Groskopf said the program’s structure is intended to strengthen networks of women in rural areas, which can provide opportunities for building trust and sharing information. “Connections are so important to women farmers,” she said. “We have seen the benefits that come from knowing your peers, having a place to share difficulties and mitigate the isolation that so many of us in agriculture often feel.”

These workshops seek to help participants increase their awareness of local land values and cash rental rates and the factors that influence them. They will also cover the importance of having a written lease and the items that should be included in it to ensure an equitable agreement for all parties. Participants will learn negotiation strategies as well as best practices to improve relationships between landlords and tenants.

Conservation programs will also be covered, so that participants will have a greater understanding of compliance requirements and increase their awareness of voluntary conservation programs that are available to them.

Registration is required by January 13th. 

2022-23 Farmers & Ranchers College Schedule

  • December 8th -“Ag Today: New Era of Prosperity or Temporary Opportunity” featuring Dr. DaveKohl. Registration will start at 12:45 p.m. and the program will start at 1:00 p.m. at the Opera House in Bruning, NE.
  • December 15th – A hands-on training workshop will teach producers about Extension’s Agricultural Budget Calculator. This program will be held at the Fillmore County Fairgrounds in Geneva from 1-3:00 p.m.  Re gister by December 13th at cap.unl.edu/abc/training.
  • January 19th -Cow/Calf College Registration will start at 9:00 a.m. and the program will start at 9:25 until 3:30 p.m. at the Clay County Fairgrounds in Clay Center.

Questions on the Farmers & Ranchers College can be directed to the Fillmore County Extension Office at (402) 759-3712. To participate and register, go to the website: go.unl.edu/farmersrancherscollege.


Agriculture Today: New Era of Prosperity or Temporary Opportunity?

The 2022-23 Farmers & Ranchers College will kick off December 8th featuring Dr. Dave Kohl. Registration will start at 12:45 p.m. and the program will start at 1:00 p.m. at the Opera House in Bruning, NE. The program is titled, “Ag Today: New Era of Prosperity or Temporary Opportunity.” The business and economic landscape of agriculture can be described in one word as “anxious.”  Global trade uncertainty and the shift from fossil fuels to the green movement coupled with inflation and supply chain bottlenecks are only a few o the challenges.  However, with these headwinds, opportunities exist for those who manage the business proactively despite all the economic megatrend shifts. 

The decade of the 2020s will be one of economic and financial divide. Stimulus checks from the government along with rising commodity prices in some industries have presented profits not seen since the Great Commodity Super Cycle.  Extreme volatility and uncertainty created by geopolitics present an economic roller coaster environment for most businesses. These factors coupled with inflating costs, a shift from fossil fuels to the green movement, consumer and technology trends, and supply chain bottlenecks are only some of the challenges.  Visionary CEOs must strategically analyze the challenges and opportunities.  They must conduct both an industry and business SWOT analysis to identify strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats in their business plan, and a pathway to remaining on the positive side of the ledger.  Don’t miss out on this engaging session that applies the big picture variables to your business, family, and personal life.   

Many in the area are very familiar with Dr. Kohl, but if you are not, here are some details about him. Dr. Dave Kohl is an academic Hall of Famer in the College of Agriculture at Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA.  Dr. Kohl has keen insight into the agriculture industry gained through extensive travel, research, and involvement in ag businesses.  He has traveled nearly 10 million miles; conducted more than 6,500 presentations; and published more than 2,250 articles in his career. Dr. Kohl’s wisdom and engagement with all levels of the industry provide a unique perspective into future trends.

The following week on December 15th, the Farmers & Ranchers College will be hosting a hands-on training workshop that will teach producers about Extension’s Agricultural Budget Calculator. This program will be held at the Fillmore County Fairgrounds in Geneva from 1-3:00 p.m. Participants are encouraged to bring a laptop or tablet to the workshop but if they are unable to do so, they are still welcome to attend. Please register by December 13th for this program at cap.unl.edu/abc/training.

Questions on the Farmers & Ranchers College can be directed to the Fillmore County Extension Office at (402) 759-3712. To participate and register, go to the website: go.unl.edu/farmersrancherscollege.


Happy Thanksgiving

The American Farm Bureau Federation annually calculates the cost of a Thanksgiving meal to serve 10 people with plenty for leftovers. This year, with a traditional Thanksgiving meal, Farm Bureau estimated a meal total of $64.05 which is an increase from $53.31 last year. This is a 20% increase in last year’s cost. The turkey price is up about $1.81 per pound compared to last year which is a 21% increase from last year. Included in the meal is a 16-lb. turkey, bread stuffing, sweet potatoes, rolls with butter, peas, cranberries, a relish tray of carrots and celery, pumpkin pie with whipped cream and beverages of coffee and milk. You can thank our American farmers and ranchers who are able to provide us the bounty of safe and affordable food. Another interesting fact about Thanksgiving include that 88% of Americans are expected to be feasting on turkey for Thanksgiving this year (National Turkey Federation).

Now let’s talk trivia:

Q: Why are turkeys raised?   A: Because of their excellent quality of meat and eggs

Q: What is a male turkey called?  A:  Tom

Q: What is a female turkey called?  A:  A Hen

Q: What sound do turkeys make?  A: Only tom turkeys gobble; the female makes a clucking sound.

Q: How many feathers does a turkey have at maturity?  A:  3,500 feathers

Q: How big was the heaviest turkey ever raised?  A: 86 pounds, about the size of a large dog

Q: Which gender of turkeys are usually consumed whole?  A: Hens (females) are usually sold as whole birds. Toms (males) are processed into turkey sausage, turkey franks, tenderloins, cutlets and deli meats.

Q: How long does it take a turkey to reach market size?   A: Hens usually grow for 16 weeks and is 8-16 lbs. when processed while tom usually takes 19 weeks to reach market weight and weighs 24 lbs. Large toms (24-40 lbs.) are a few weeks older.

Regardless of what you do this Thanksgiving, remember to be thankful for what really matters.

If you need tips or resources to help you prepare a turkey or any other food for Thanksgiving, go to Nebraska Extension’s Food Website at https://food.unl.edu/article/thanksgiving-central.


Gratitude Improves Health & Well-Being

During the month of November, many people think about Thanksgiving. The word “thanksgiving” means the act of expressing or feeling thankfulness. If you are a parent like me, how many times do you tell your children to “say thank you” after receiving something from someone?  When my kids automatically say, “thank you”, it brings joy to my heart. By teaching youth to automatically say those two small words, my hopes are that it will lead to writing thank you notes and expressing warm words of gratitude to those around them.

The art and practice of handwriting “thank you notes” can sometimes get lost with all the electronic methods of communication.  When I receive a hand-written thank you that really brings gladness to my heart, I put those in a special file folder in my desk.  Some of those thank you notes are from 4-H’ers, 4-H Alumni, interns, coworkers, etc.  As I write this, I even have a thank you note displayed on my desk from a summer adult 4-H volunteer. As the receiver of a thank you note, I can say it is nice to receive meaningful mail, rather than bills or advertising, but writing thank you notes also brings happiness to my heart. 

Two researchers from Indiana University, Drs. Brown and Wong (2017) researched an authored an article that provides the following psychological benefits of practicing gratitude.

  1. Gratitude unshackles us from toxic emotions. When you write about how grateful you are to others and how much other people have blessed your life, it might become considerably harder for you to ruminate on your negative experiences.
  2. Gratitude helps even if you don’t share it. The mere act of writing a thank you letter can help you appreciate the people in your life and shift your focus away from negative feelings and thoughts.
  3. Gratitude benefits take time. If you participate in a gratitude writing activity, don’t be too surprised if you don’t feel dramatically better immediately after the writing. You might have that quick “rush” of feeling thankful, however the bigger benefits of gratitude might take time to kick in weeks after your gratitude activity.
  4. Gratitude has lasting effects on the brain. Their research suggested that brain activity was distinct for those who felt more grateful, than those who only performed an act of gratitude related to guilt. Those who were more grateful showed greater activation in their medial prefrontal cortex.

University of Southern California (2019) also found evidence that gratitude can have profound health benefits and provided suggestions on how to practice gratitude. Some of the most effective approaches include maintaining a gratitude journal, writing personal thank-you notes and regularly expressing gratitude to others in person. One might also practice guided meditation, call someone to express thanks or write a note to a friend.

It can be easy to get down with all the negativity on social media, the news or being around negative people, but reminding oneself of the many things one should be thankful for can help improve one’s wellbeing.  I am thankful for all of you who read my weekly column and support Nebraska Extension!  

Upcoming Area Ag Programs:

December 8, 2022 – Dr. Kohl Presents Agriculture Today: New Era of Prosperity or Temporary Opportunity, 1-4:00 p.m. at the Opera House in Bruning, NE. This Farmers & Ranchers College program is free. For more information, call the Fillmore County Extension office at 402.759.3712.

December 15, 2022-ABC’s of Cost of Production Workshop, 1:00 to 3:00 p.m at the Fillmore County Fairgrounds in Geneva, NE. There is no fee to attend the workshop, however pre-registration is required by December 13. Click here to register online: cap.unl.edu/abc/training or call the Fillmore County Extension office at 402.759.3712.


Cost of Production Workshop

Figuring crop cost of production – it’s as easy as ABC with the new Agricultural Budget Calculator (ABC) Program!

In collaboration with the Farmers & Ranchers College, the University of Nebraska Lincoln’s Center for Agricultural Profitability has scheduled a hands-on workshop from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m. on December 15, 2022, at the Fillmore County Fairgrounds, 641 N 5th Street, Geneva, Nebraska. This program is for ag producers, farm managers, bankers and anyone interested in learning more about utilizing the free online Agricultural Budget Calculator (ABC) for enterprise budgeting.

The Agricultural Budget Calculator is a free enterprise budgeting and decision-making tool that is designed to assist agricultural producers in determining their cost of production and projected cash and economic returns for various farm or ranch enterprises. 

As base or foundational budgets are prepared, producers and ag managers can utilize additional program features to help in their risk management and decision-making while using ABC, according to Glennis McClure, an extension educator and farm and ranch management analyst with the Center for Agricultural Profitability. “With the changing cost of inputs and our capital investment in farming, now more than ever, figuring your true cost of production as you budget for the new production season is important,” she said.

McClure, who works closely with the ABC tool and has been involved in its development, will facilitate the workshop. During the first part of the workshop, participants will learn how to use the ABC program to create and/or update crop budgets for their farms or fields on their owned and/or rented ground and create their own cost of production and anticipated return reports. Part two will provide details and hands-on demonstrations of combining enterprise budgets using the “whole farm” component of the program and more on using other features, including breakeven, crop comparison and risk analysis. Visit cap.unl.edu/abc for more information on the ABC program.  

There is no fee to attend the workshop, however pre-registration is required by December 13. Click here to register online: cap.unl.edu/abc/training or call the Fillmore County Extension office at 402.759.3712. Workshop attendees are encouraged to bring their own laptop or mobile device to get started working on their own budgets with the program. Mobile lab computers will be available as needed for the in-person workshops.