Tag Archives: Water

Lawmakers from Lower Missouri River states this week penned a letter urging the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to provide additional funding for navigation projects along the river.

The lawmakers say many farmers, industries and small businesses in the Midwest rely on the Missouri River to transport goods. High water levels and record flooding in 2019 have prevented the Corps of Engineers from completing repairs on water infrastructure projects, which has led to dangerous accidents that have significantly disrupted commerce on the river.

The lawmakers write, “there is a critically dire situation related to navigation challenges in several areas along the Missouri River where serious barge traffic accidents have occurred.” The Corps’ Kansas City District has received $20 million in emergency supplemental funds to conduct work along the navigation channel. However, the lawmakers estimate the need at $200 million.

The Corps estimates that high water in the last three years damaged 50-75 percent of the 7,000 river training structures that make up the Bank Stabilization and Navigation Project.

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.

 

 

MANHATTAN, Kan. – Nearly two dozen Kansas 4-H members have taken it upon themselves to educate residents in their local communities about their role in protecting nearby waterways.

Their message: Many things we do in our yards and businesses affect the quality of water in our community.

“It’s been eye-opening for these kids to see how industry and homeowners in cities can implement practices to help with runoff coming off our parking lots and streets or coming out of a factory,” said Cheri Nelsen, a Kansas 4-H youth development agent in the Wildcat Extension District in southeast Kansas.

In late 2019, Nelsen and representatives from six other states landed a grant from the National 4-H Council and Bayer Corporation to lead a project called the 4-H Ag Innovators Experience. In February, she and a volunteer accompanied three Kansas team leaders to training at Iowa State University, where they were given a challenge to reach 1,000 youth with a program titled ‘Water Connects Us All.’

“They showed us all of the various watersheds across the United States,” Nelsen said. “We live in the largest watershed in the country, the Mississippi watershed. All of that water from north to south runs to the Gulf of Mexico.”

Nelsen said the youth learned that pollutants from runoff can cause hypoxic zones in waterways, or conditions where the concentration of oxygen is so low that very few organisms can survive. These areas are also called ‘dead zones.’

Armed with their new knowledge, and a curriculum to match, the youth had plans to bring the message to their communities and their peers. Then, the COVID-19 pandemic hit.

“We were ready to go out and teach after-school programs and had all these things ready to do this spring and summer, and then we couldn’t do anything,” Nelsen said.

So far, the youth have given a virtual presentation during the 4-H Discovery Days in late May, and recently taught part of their curriculum at county fairs in Wilson and Crawford counties. A few youth have created videos teaching parts of the program. They hope to offer after-school programs this fall, and to take advantage of field days hosted by local conservation groups.

“The big thing we want to get across is that soil is like a sponge,” Nelsen said. “With a wetland project, if you have certain types of soil, it will act like a sponge to collect nitrates and other pollutants to prevent them from getting into our water.”

The lessons include teaching about such pollutant-absorbing engineering techniques as building a bio-reactor, bio-swails, saturated buffers or a rain garden.

“The rain garden, in particular, is something any of us can do in your yard at home to help with runoff coming off your lawn,” Nelsen said.

Rain gardens rely on plants or a naturally-engineered soil or medium to retain stormwater and filter pollutants – such as fertilizer or weed chemicals — carried by water runoff.

“These are the types of things all of us can do, even though we are just one person, to protect somebody down the line – or down the stream, you might say. The kids have really enjoyed learning about that.”

The 4-H Ag Innovators Experience was developed to help youth apply critical thinking and STEM skills to a real-world agriculture challenge. In recent years, Kansas 4-H members have taught lessons on improving the habitat for Monarch butterflies, and the importance of native bees as pollinators and their relationship to agriculture and the food we eat.

Learn more about opportunities available through Kansas 4-H online.