KJAN Ag/Outdoor

Soiree with the swans set for Jan. 7, 2017

Ag/Outdoor, News

December 20th, 2016 by Ric Hanson

Join Cass County Conservation Staff at Atlantic’s  Schildberg Recreation Area- Lake 4 on Saturday, January 7th 2017.  Staff will be giving ten-minute presentations regarding the Trumpeter Swans every half-hour beginning at 11:00 a.m. with the last one being presented at 2:00 p.m.  There will also be time to view the swans through spotting scopes and witness random swan feeding sessions.

Hot chocolate, cookies, grilled hotdogs, and other snacks will be provided free of charge with donations being accepted (for swan care). The Schildberg Recreation Area is located on the northwest edge of Atlantic, Lake 4 is on the north side of Highway 83. 

IF THE WEATHER IS “BAD” OR THE SWANS ARE NOT AT THE PARK…the program will be held at the Atlantic Public Library from 12:00 p.m.-1:00 p.m. with a light lunch available. This event is being sponsored by the Cass County Conservation Board, Atlantic Parks and Recreation, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, and the Atlantic Public Library.

(Cass Co. Conservation Dept. News Release)

Head of Iowa Farm Bureau discusses wish list for next farm bill

Ag/Outdoor

December 20th, 2016 by Ric Hanson

Congress is expected to begin work early next year on the next farm bill. Iowa Farm Bureau president Craig Hill says maintaining a strong crop insurance program is his group’s top priority. “What we hear from our producers is, ‘don’t touch my crop insurance program. We like the crop insurance program,'” Hill says. “It gives us the ability to farm another year. It’s revenue protecting. We don’t want to go to Congress with a request for a disaster bill if we have a drought or other problem. We want to rely on a good insurance program.”

Iowa’s crop insurance participation rate exceeds 90 percent. Hill is also hoping the next farm bill will help farmers with conservation efforts. “We’re hearing that across the state. We want to do better and we’re going to need assistance in terms of technical advice and engineering, but also in cost sharing and fundamentally assisting us in doing what we can best do as stewards,” Hill says.

Congress passed the last farm bill in 2014.

(Reporting by Ken Anderson, Brownfield Ag News)

Sunnyside Ice Skating Rink Grand Opening set for January 2017

Ag/Outdoor, News, Sports

December 19th, 2016 by Ric Hanson

The ice skating rink being prepared at Sunnyside Park will have its Grand Opening sometime during the first week in January. The exact date will be announced later. Parks and Rec Director Seth Staashelm told the Atlantic Parks and Rec Board during their meeting Monday evening, that the heavy duty liner covering the basketball court was installed Friday thanks to volunteer help, and fits like a glove.

They’ve put in two-inches of water and will need to make sure the ice is at least four-inches thick before it can be used. That’s also the reason he hasn’t set a specific grand opening date. Staashelm said they want to make sure the ice is smooth and ready for use. The 90-by-120 foot rink will likely be open he said, before the Grand Opening event.

Staashelm said there is a lot of excitement about the skating rink. He said ice skates are not being made available to users, so you’ll have to bring your own. Staashelm said also, he has e-mailed the Aksarben Curling Club (www.curlaksarben.com) to see if they have any interest in using the facility once its open. He hopes to eventually have a night designated specifically for curling.

LED rope lights are installed on three of the four sides. Additional electrical and illumination issues are currently being addressed. A snow fence will enclose the area, with one designated entrance. Patio heaters are also planned for the area so people can warm up once they’ve been on the ice for a while.

In other business, Staashelm confirmed the streets in Sunnyside Park are closed for the season for safety reasons (they don’t want to have vehicles sliding off the roads and hitting buildings, property or pedestrians). The park itself is still open for foot traffic and events.

Seth said also, reservations for the shelter houses at Sunnyside Park will not be accepted until January 1st. He says he will be updating the Parks and Rec website to reflect reservation dates for 2017.

Study finds wind turbines have impact on farm fields

Ag/Outdoor, News

December 19th, 2016 by Ric Hanson

The impact of wind turbines on the state’s energy production is well documented, and now an Iowa State University study is trying to determine the impact they may have on  Iowa’s crops.  I-S-U Distinguished Professor of agronomy, Gene Takle set out to find out if the relatively new giant rotating blades made an impact on a variety of conditions in nearby farm fields.

“Differences in micrometeorlogical conditions, differences in temperature, wind speed, wind direction humidity,  carbon dioxide levels — these are some of the things that we measure up wind and down wind of turbines,” Takle explains. ” And the simple answer is yes, we can measure some differences.”

While the early research shows some changes, Takle says it’s only a small part of the research right now. “The more complicated question as to whether these have an impact on biomass production, plant size, plant yield, those are more difficult and we haven’t found anything out about those yet,” Takle says.

He says they set up a tower to measure the changes in the air over the fields “We found that in general the landscape downwind of the turbines is slightly warmer at night and slightly cooler during the day. The amount of that is maybe a one-degree warming at night, and maybe a  half-degree celsius cooling during the day — so it isn’t a large effect,” according to Takle.

One result of the changes could be less dew forming on the plants. “Which would be generally a good thing because dew promotes growth of fungus and mold and some pathogens that crops are generally affected by,” Takle says. He says they found the turbines slowed the wind over the fields. “And this in meteorological terms that leads to a surface convergence. And that means that by laws of physics that there must be an upward motion over the windfarm,” Takle says.   “..and it could have significance in that it could affect fog and cloudiness or rainfall if it is on a large enough scale.”

The research was done behind a couple of rows of turbines. “We have not gone to look at the regional scale say of 150 or 200 turbines, the impact that might have,” Takle says. “But that is an very interesting question and one that we are pursuing, because it could have some significance.”

He says it’s going to  be much harder to find those answers because of all the other factors at play in a field — such as variations in soil quality or precipitation. It was announced earlier this year that from July of 2015 to July of 2016 35-point-eight percent of Iowa’s electricity was generated by wind.

(Radio Iowa)

Atlantic Parks & Rec Board to meet Monday

Ag/Outdoor, News

December 18th, 2016 by Ric Hanson

Members of the City of Atlantic’s Parks and Recreation Board of Directors will hold their regular monthly meeting Monday evening, at City Hall, beginning at 5:15. During their session, the Board will receive updates from Parks and Rec Director Seth Staashelm, with regard to: The Sunnyside Pool Steering Committee; An Enhance Iowa grant application; the Schildberg Rec Area Campground, and Sunnyside Park Ice Rink.

Staashelm is also expected to report Sunnyside Park streets are closed for the season, and that Shelter House reservations for 2017 will be accepted beginning Jan. 1st, 2017.

Farmers Business Network continues to grow

Ag/Outdoor

December 18th, 2016 by Ric Hanson

A relatively new organization is bringing farmers together to share data and lower input costs. In less than two years, the Farmers Business Network (FBN) has grown from a concept developed by some farmers in Illinois to a network of thousands of farmers across the U.S. Analyzing and sharing crop data is the major focus, but F-B-N also allows farmers to share pricing data on agricultural inputs. F-B-N’s Sarah Mock says they want farmers to be treated fairly in a marketplace where there’s growing consolidation.

“Farmers don’t always get a fair deal and we don’t believe in that,” Mock says. “So we’re using our data to help farmers make decisions. We’re using the collective power of the network to help farmers stay independent financially.” Mock is a researcher with FBN. “A lot of what I do is with the data science team. We look at the enormous data set that we’ve built at FBN with our farmers and look for the most interesting thing things to share to help them find ways to be more profitable on their farm everyday. I also spend a fair bit of time out in the field talking to farmers,” Mock says.

FBN is also launching a new crop marketing program, which Mock says will give farmers marketing information and opportunities to market their crops. Mock spoke with Brownfield Ag News this week at FBN’s Farmer2Farmer conference in Omaha.

(Reporting by Ken Anderson, Brownfield Ag News)

Conservation Report 12/17/2016

Ag/Outdoor, Podcasts

December 17th, 2016 by Chris Parks

Bob Bebeensee and DNR Conservation officer Grant Gelle talk about all things outdoors including the final run of Shotgun Deer Season.

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ISU economist: better days ahead for livestock producers

Ag/Outdoor

December 16th, 2016 by Ric Hanson

There is a wide range of opinions on which way cattle and hog prices will go in 2017. One of the more optimistic outlooks comes from Iowa State University Extension farm management specialist and livestock economist Shane Ellis. “I’m not saying it’s going to be an easy-go year or we’re going to make lots of money, but I do see some improvement and possibly we could get back into the positive for the year in 2017,” Ellis says. “Two-thousand-eighteen should be even better. I see this being kind of a slow recovery, but I do see a recovery coming.”

One of the reasons for his optimism, Ellis says, is the strengthening U.S. economy. “As folks are more secure in their employment and wages are going up, incomes are going up, we’ll tend to spend more money on the higher-end protein sources, such as American-grown beef and pork,” Ellis says.

Continued strong exports of beef and pork should also contribute to the price recovery, according to Ellis.

(Reporting by Ken Anderson, Brownfield Ag News)

Coalition ramps up effort to increase Iowa sales tax for natural resource & outdoor rec improvements

Ag/Outdoor, News

December 15th, 2016 by Ric Hanson

Representatives of Iowa’s Water and Land Legacy coalition are traveling around the state this week, making their case for a three-eighths cent increase in Iowa’s sales tax to fund natural resources initiatives. Randy Munson of Ankeny is State Council Chairman for Ducks Unlimited.”We could generate anywhere from $150 million to $180 million that would be constitutionally protected,” Munson says. “That money, once it’s in the (trust fund), cannot go into the state’s general fund.”

In 2010, 63-percent of Iowa voters backed the creation of the Natural Resources and Outdoor Recreation Trust Fund. Six years later, the fund remains empty because it requires the three-eighths of a cent sales tax increase. A large chunk of the fund would support clean water initiatives, something Munson says farmers would welcome as they apply pieces of the state’s Nutrient Reduction Strategy. “Farmers want to participate in that program, but there is an added cost to that. Forty-percent of the funds allocated (to the trust fund) would go into cover crops and bumper strips to work on nutrient reduction,” Munson says.

On Wednesday, the coalition released a study that identifies over $673 million worth of “fully planned projects” that could be completed with money from a three-eighths penny sales tax increase. Munson says many of those projects would improve parks, hiking and biking trails, and other outdoor recreation areas statewide — and provide a boost to rural communities. “You look at the money being spent in restaurants, gas stations, and local stores…it’s an opportunity for small town Iowa to recapture tourism and strengthen economic development within their communities,” Munson said.

The Iowa Land and Water Legacy coalition held meetings on Wednesday in Mondamin and Cherokee. Meetings are scheduled for today (Thursday) in Le Mars (8am), Sioux City (9:30am), and Mason City (3pm) — and tomorrow (Friday) in Cedar Rapids (9:30am) and Davenport (3:30pm).

(Radio Iowa)

USDA Report 12-15-2016

Ag/Outdoor, Podcasts

December 15th, 2016 by Chris Parks

w/Max Dirks.

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