KJAN Ag/Outdoor

From County extension to conservation to grain prices, we provide lots of information every day on KJAN.  Here is some of that information on the web too!  We hope you find it useful.

Iowa makes good progress on corn planting

Ag/Outdoor, News

April 30th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Iowa farmers are making good progress on getting the corn crop in the ground. The U.S. Department of Agriculture says farmers took advantage of dry weather early last week and now have planted 50 percent of the crop. That’s up from just nine percent the previous week. The five-year average is 32 percent. The USDA says in Monday’s weekly report that five percent of the corn has emerged, which is 10 days ahead of normal. Farmers have planted three percent of the soybean crop. The week ended with rain and cooler weather from Friday afternoon to Sunday, which put planting on hold. The statewide average rainfall for last week was .83 inch. The rain helped soil moisture, with topsoil at 92 percent adequate or surplus.

Spring brings increased farm equipment movement on roadways

Ag/Outdoor, News

April 30th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

Iowa’s warm winter and early spring have farmers more ready than ever to get into the fields for spring planting, meaning Iowa motorists will soon be sharing the road with farm vehicles. The Iowa Department of Transportation is urging motorists and farm vehicle operators to exercise caution during the movement of slow-moving equipment on Iowa’s roadways. Data for 2011 shows a total of 198 crashes involved farm equipment. Those crashes resulted in seven fatalities, 15 major injuries, 46 minor injuries and 55 other possible injuries. Of the 198 crashes, 119 resulted only in property damage.

Tips for motorists

  • Be alert and always watch for slow-moving vehicles, especially during planting and harvest seasons.
  • Be patient and do not assume the equipment operator can move aside to let you pass. The shoulder may not be able to support a heavy farm vehicle.
  • Slow down as soon as you see the triangular-shaped, red and fluorescent orange slow-moving vehicle emblem.

Tips for farm vehicle operators

  • Make your intentions known when you are turning by using signal lights or the appropriate hand signal in advance of the turn.
  • Drive slow-moving vehicles in the right-hand lane as close to the edge of the roadway as safely possible. Traveling partially on the shoulder may cause motorists to risk passing in a dangerous situation.
  • Avoid encouraging or signaling motorists to pass. Pull over where it is safe, and let the traffic go by.
  • Do not get trapped on the tracks; proceed through a highway-rail grade crossing only if you are sure you can completely clear the crossing without stopping. Remember, the train extends 3 feet beyond the tracks on both sides.

New group to promote & preserve Lewis & Clark Trail

Ag/Outdoor, News

April 30th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

A new non-profit group will be devoted to the famed Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail which cuts through Iowa and ten other states. The Lewis & Clark Trust is basing its national headquarters in Omaha. Spokeswoman Stephanie Ambrose-Tubbs says the organization’s mission is to help preserve and promote the historic 37-hundred mile trail. Ambrose-Tubbs says, “If we want it to remain sustained for future generations, we need to promote it, to teach it and to protect it.” One of the Trust’s primary goals will be to nail down funding for the eastern expansion of the trail, known as the Eastern Legacy. She says raising money will be coupled with raising awareness for the historic trail as the top priorities. 

“The Lewis and Clark Trust will focus a laser beam light on the trail through partnerships, educational programs and an outreach to the entire country and even beyond,” she says. Calling themselves the Corps of Discovery, the group led by Meriwether Lewis and William Clark took a two-year expedition from Illinois to what’s now the state of Washington. Their remarkable journey began in 1804 and is documented along what is now the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail. Ambrose-Tubbs says the trail is an important part of American history and the story — and the trail — need to be preserved for future generations.  “So that students are continually learning the lessons of the expedition, the ones that it teaches us about teamwork, leadership and enlightenment science,” she says. The trail stretches from St. Louis, Missouri to Oregon.

(Matt Kelley/Radio Iowa)

Bike and Trails Expo this evening in Atlantic

Ag/Outdoor, News, Sports

April 30th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

A Bike and Trails expo is being held this evening, in Atlantic. Dave Chase with the Nishna Valley Trails group says it’s an opportunity for the public to learn about bike trail development in the area, along with the potential for economic development as a result of progress on the trails, and wellness benefits. The evening begins with a guest speaker. Mark Wyatt, Executive Director of the Iowa Bicycle Coalition (http://iowabicyclecoalition.org.) will speak with regard to bike trails throughout the state, and bicycle safety. Chase says Iowa is one of the leading states for mileage of recreational trails in the country, due in large part to the enthusiasm for bicycling, with RAGBRAI sparking a great deal of interest in the sport.

Chase says the Iowa Bicycle Coalition was developed to promote those types of activities, and to establish legislation designed to enhance those types of projects, along with safety education.” He says an update will also be made available during the expo, on the status of extending the bike trail from the Schildberg Recreation Area to the trail head just west of Highway 71, northeast of Atlantic. The public is invited to provide input on those plans, as well. Chase says it’s hoped the expo will reach those persons whose bikes may have been idle for a long time, to show them what trails are available in the area, that they are safe, and how to ride safe. He says they don’t encourage people to ride on the county roads and highways, unless they are experienced riders. Chase says that’s also why it’s important to develop safe routes. 

The expo will feature displays, refreshments, door prizes…including the giveaway of two bikes…and displays of unusual bikes. It takes place at the Cass County Community Center in Atlantic, beginning at 7-p.m.  There is no charge for admission.

Expect more meat, baked goods at farmers markets

Ag/Outdoor

April 28th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — For fresh food connoisseurs May means the opening of farmers markets and with an early spring this year some produce may be ripe and ready ahead of normal. Iowa’s biggest farmers market is in downtown Des Moines, where nearly 40,000 people attended opening day last year. Manager Kelly Foss says this year’s opening on May 5 should equal or better that turnout. The market has grown to about 20,000 visitors each Saturday morning May through October. Foss says she sees a surge in interest in meat producers and makers of gourmet cupcakes and muffins. Nationally, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reports the number of farmers markets has climbed in the last decade to more than 7,000. The Iowa Department of Agriculture lists more than 240 farmers markets in the state.

Iowa reviews energy SynGest exec’s background

Ag/Outdoor, News

April 27th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

IOWA CITY (AP) — Iowa economic development officials are reviewing whether to continue a $2.5 million investment in a startup company pitching a groundbreaking fertilizer technology in Menlo, after learning jurors once found its chairman had misused investor money in another energy project. Court records reviewed by The Associated Press show SynGest Chairman Serge Randhava was found in 2008 by a jury in Illinois to have committed civil racketeering and fraud with associates in connection with $500,000 invested to develop a fertilizer technology. A judge vacated the verdict in 2009 when the case was settled. Randhava denied wrongdoing and said the case was one part of a messy, high-stakes business litigation. Two Iowa Power Fund Board members who voted to invest in SynGest say they were unaware of the case and would have investigated the details.

In January, Iowa economic development leaders notified Syngest that it won’t get a $2.5 million grant unless it successfully lands investors in a proposed $130 million biomass-to-ammonia plant to be located in Menlo. The company seeks to make fertilizer using corn cobs and other corn residue. Company leaders promised huge returns: hundreds of jobs in Menlo, a new revenue source for farmers selling corn cobs and cheaper, more sustainable fertilizer. Eventually, they envisioned 20 such plants in Iowa.

The California-based company had pledged to attract $3.5 million in investment in the plant by Oct. 1st, 2011 in the plant, but by Jan. 17th, 2012, had failed to do so. The company cited difficulties attracting investors amid a slow economy. In January, state officials gave SynGest 30 days to raise the money or lose the aid. SynGest soon said it had the funds, and provided proof of their deposit in a bank account. SynGest says it will soon begin engineering and design work and start asking for reimbursement from its state aid, although it hasn’t yet.

Grassley welcomes move to drop farm labor rules

Ag/Outdoor

April 26th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley is welcoming the U.S. Labor Department’s decision to withdraw a much-criticized proposed rule designed to protect children who work on farms. Grassley released a statement Thursday evening expressing relief at the Labor Department’s decision to abandon what he called “ridiculous regulations” that could have hurt farm families. In announcing it was dropping its proposed child labor rules Thursday, the Labor Department noted it would not pursue the matter during the duration of the Obama administration. The agency says it will work with groups such as the American Farm Bureau Federation and Future Farmers of America to reduce accidents involving young people. Federal officials earlier had argued new rules were needed because farming is one of the nation’s most dangerous occupations.

Cass Co. Board discusses ditch maintenance issues

Ag/Outdoor, News

April 26th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

As Cass County officials consider the role its secondary roads crews play in the removal of trees from roadside ditches and the clearing of ditches near County Right-of-Ways, to allow for better water flow and fewer obstructions along the roadways, the Board Supervisors were told by County Attorney Dan Feistner, Wednesday, that the County has the responsibility to handle the task, but the costs to do so can be levied against the property owner. Feistner cited Iowa Code Section 311.32, which pertains to the Administration and maintenance of roads in spelling out the County’s role. The Code says the fact that a right-of-way is donated by property owners for the establishment of a road or a portion of the cost of a road improvement is paid by property owners, does not preclude the Board of Supervisors from exercising its responsibility over the roads as secondary roads.

Questions have recently been raised recently over the responsibility private property owners have in clearing roadside ditches, versus what the County’s responsibility is, and whether or not the County can assess the costs to the affected property owners. Supervisor Chuck Rieken said when the County has cleaned the ditches in the past and removed trees, there was an understanding it would also take care of the initial spraying for noxious and obstructive weeds. Rieken says from that point on, the County intended for the property owner to take responsibility for taking care of the ditch. If the property owner allows re-growth of trees and weeds, he says it should be their responsibility to take care of it.

Rieken says the same thing applies to soil erosion. The County, he says, has never assessed individual property owners for the cleaning-up of soil erosion that fills ditches and creates problems, but it might need to take a look at that, as well. He says in previous years, the County has forked over up to $200,000 per year to clean-up the ditches on a recurring basis, because some landowners aren’t taking care of the problem. He says it would be nice if people would take care of their own ditches, and lessen the burden on their fellow taxpayers. Supervisor Frank Waters said part of the problem is with absentee land owners and their tenants, who don’t feel it’s their responsibility to clean the ditches.

Feistner says more research needs to be done on what ordinances other counties may have in place to deal with the ditch issues, before any action is taken in Cass County.

USDA Report 04-26-2012

Ag/Outdoor, Podcasts

April 26th, 2012 by Chris Parks

w/ Max Dirks

Play

Volunteers wanted for “Spring Park Blitz”

Ag/Outdoor, News

April 26th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources is calling on volunteers to help cleanup a dozen state parks this weekend. Ashley Anderson, with the DNR, says Iowans will be asked to perform a variety of tasks to prepare the parks for another busy summer. The work will include trail cleanup, collecting litter and trimming of trees and bushes. The DNR has been relying more on volunteer help in recent years to maintain state parks as the agency’s budget has declined. The so-called “Spring Park Blitz” scheduled for this weekend is organized by DNR AmeriCorps members.

“The volunteers will work right along side our AmeriCorps members,” Anderson said. “The AmeriCorps members will be there to supervise or manage the volunteers.” In the event of inclement weather this weekend, some of the park cleanup events could be postponed to a later date. Iowans who are interested in volunteering are encouraged to contact Anderson by phone at 515-281-8300 or email: ashley.anderson@dnr.iowa.gov

Area “Spring Park Blitz” times/locations:

April 28th -

Lake Anita State Park: 9-11 a.m.
Lake of Three Fires State Park: 10 a.m.-noon

(Pat Curtis/Radio Iowa)