Nebraskans are quite creative in developing successful endeavors, particularly in times of need. With a struggling farm economy and the unknowns of the spread of viral infections, there is special emphasis on cultivating new opportunities to improve the lives of Nebraskans. Personnel with Nebraska Extension are uniquely positioned to help provide knowledge to people to cultivate these new opportunities.
Husker Harvest Days (HHD) has traditionally provided a venue for Nebraska Extension to connect with Nebraskans to discuss new developments in agriculture. Even though the face-to-face program has been cancelled, the Farm Progress Virtual Experience will provide an opportunity to learn about these developments in a number of topic areas that may be accessed at www.huskerharvestdays.com. Nebraska Extension will be participating in this program with the theme: Knowledge that Helps Cultivate Opportunities and will be accessible at the Extension website.
Nebraska Extension has created several presentation teams that will highlight topics in beef production, cover crops relative to soil health, pest management, water use issues, precision agriculture, and agriculture economic issues. In addition to these topics, lifestyle topics such as home landscapes, leadership development, rural and mental health issues, youth programs in college and career readiness and choosing University of Nebraska agriculture education programs will be presented.
Agriculture Related Presentations
Several Nebraska Extension teams will be providing knowledge to help farmers increase the efficiency of farm production.
Increasing the performance of beef cattle is essential for the farmers and ranchers of Nebraska, “The Beef State”. The Beef Systems Team will feature a discussion of reproduction and nutrition strategies. Presentations will include considerations for synchronization protocols, how to be flexible in formulating lower cost rations, and alternative systems and feed sources such as small grain silage and crop residues.
Cover crops also provide an important source of feed for livestock. In addition to providing this resource, there are a number of benefits to the use of cover crops to increase soil health; i.e. erosion reduction, weed suppression, and improved grazing. The Cover Crop/Soil Health Team will feature the use of a tabletop rainfall simulator to compare and contrast soils where best soil health management practices such as the use of cover crops, manure applications, and no-till have been used to those that have not used the practices.
The use of cover crops is also important in reducing nitrate contamination of ground water thus, maintaining the availability of high-quality water, the driver of agricultural production. The Irrigation and Water Utilization Team will provide further discussion on how producers can make water management decisions that utilize conservation practices to reduce nitrate contamination and to protect the quality of our valuable water resources.
Exploration of water management and other production techniques can best be accomplished through review of research results. On-farm research is a great way to generate valuable and relevant information to guide future management decisions specific for each farm operation. Members of the Precision Agriculture Team will share how to utilize agriculture technologies on farms to support more data driven decisions which will likely improve farm productivity, profitability, and sustainability.
Technology on sprayers is one area where there has been considerable change. The Pest Management Team will help program participants sort through the options to increase their understanding of why coverage matters in making a good pesticide application. From technologies like pulse of width modulation, selecting the appropriate nozzles, to picking the best adjuvants, Extension experts can help make sense of it all — and ensure farmers get the most effective and economical pest control.
As being discussed by many of the HHD Extension teams, the best use of essential information to make essential decisions is important for all farm operations. The Agricultural Economics Team will help wrap together many of the production team’s topics by highlighting their new website, farm.unl.edu as a hub to equip decision-makers with information for successful operations. Information will also be provided to assist farmers and ranchers with financial education and analysis through the Nebraska Strong Financial Services program and the Know Your Numbers, Know Your Options workshops.
Quality of Life Related Presentations
While knowledge of production efficiency is one of the keys for successful farms, maintenance of the quality of life and planning for the future of agriculture are also important.
The environment in which one lives can have a significant impact on quality of life. Trees are important components of the landscape around homes and farms that improve the living environment. The Community Environment Team will provide information about the benefits trees provide for the environment, wildlife, and the people that enjoy them. They will also provide tips on tree selection, planting, and maintenance.
A good living environment can help maintain a person’s outlook on life. There are additional tools that can be used to help improve this outlook. Farmers, ranchers, and everyone in the agricultural community, including their families need to be equipped with mental health resources and tools to improve wellness and reduce stress. The Rural Family Stress and Wellness Team brings together individuals from a variety of disciplines with complementary knowledge sets to help rural communities in time of need. Information on how to recognize the symptoms of stress, resources on suicide awareness and prevention, and five steps to support your well-being will be highlighted.
Good community leaders are essential to help Nebraskans navigate life, particularly in difficult times. The Nebraska LEAD Program has been developing agricultural leaders for over 38 years. The program director of the Nebraska LEAD Program will provide information that highlights the importance of developing strong leadership skills.
Learning life skills is also important for younger students. Equipping Nebraska youth with the skills needed to succeed after high school and empowering them to make decisions about their future is the primary focus of the 4-H College and Career Success Team. The team will share decision making information for youth, in grades 4 through 12, and their parents, with the greatest reach being with high school youth. Program participants will learn how to be better prepared to make higher education and career decisions which increases their ability to positively contribute to their community.
To complement this information about developing the future of young Nebraskans, the College Recruitment Team, comprised of representatives from the UNL College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (CASNR) and the Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture (NCTA), will provide information about attending education programs on the Lincoln and Curtis campuses, respectively.
Even though COVID-19 has changed how we do things this year, we have made adjustments that will allow continued education by presenting high quality information in a virtual environment. It is the hope of the Nebraska Extension, CASNR, and NCTA Husker Harvest Days teams that the information being provided will help participants increase their knowledge to help cultivate opportunities and to develop strong solutions to the diverse issues that are facing rural Nebraskans. We invite Nebraskans to participate in the Farm Progress Virtual Experience at www.huskerharvestdays.com where the typical HHD exhibitors including Nebraska Extension will be found. A direct link to Nebraska Extension topics will be available at extension.unl.edu.