KJAN Ag/Outdoor

The Iowa Nice Guy is now pitching Iowa corn

Ag/Outdoor, News

January 9th, 2017 by Ric Hanson

The Iowa Corn Promotion Board is releasing a series of videos touting the state’s top crop featuring an actor known as the Iowa Nice Guy. Board president Larry Klever, of Audubon, says the videos are being posted on the Iowa Corn YouTube website. “We’re always looking for new ways to get our message out and we decided to team up with Scott Siepker and use his fun and energetic way of telling stories to help us out.”

Siepker made a name for himself several years ago with his snarky videos promoting the state of Iowa and catapulted onto national sports T-V programs with further commentary. Klever says the new videos will educate consumers about the different ways corn is used, from food to fuel. “We talk about what is E-15 and high-fructose corn syrup, how it’s similar to cane sugar,” Klever says. “Also, your lawns versus our fields, water quality and sweet corn versus field corn.”

There are five videos produced in the series so far. If they’re a success, Klever says there will be more coming.

(Radio Iowa)

Nishna Valley Trails: Connector trail update

Ag/Outdoor, News, Sports

January 6th, 2017 by Ric Hanson

Progress continues on the Nishna Valley Trails, Inc. (NVT) Troublesome Creek Connection Trail. Dave Chase, NVT President, says the trail projects are carried out in increments because of the costs involved, not to mention the engineering aspect of the entire project. Chase said donations help to make progress on the trail possible, including the recent funding from TS Bank in Atlantic, through their Community Support Program.

TS Banks provided a $7,500 donation, which will allow for the engineering and construction of a 150-yard section connecting existing trails. He said the Troublesome Creek Trail is basically done. The whole idea is to link up with the trail system at the Atlantic Municipal Utilities well head site. The TS Bank donation will allow for engineering and development of the trail along Olive Street that leads to the AMU trail, which will be hard-surfaced. When that’s completed, there will be a contiguous, 6-mile loop on the north side of Atlantic.

Chase says later this Spring, a kiosk will be set-up across the street from the KJAN Studios that will provide information about the area trails and their locations. So far, nearly two-miles of paved trail have been created to connect the two trails, including a 162-foot long pedestrian bridge that spans Troublesome Creek behind the KJAN Studios. The project began about 7-years ago, and is expected to be finished later this Fall.

If you’d like to contribute funds for the trails, send your checks to: Nishna Valley Trails, P.O. Box 496, Atlantic, IA 50022.  You can also contact Dave Chase (712-243-2444) if you’d like to donate or find out more about the trails project.

Rastetter raises concerns about ‘mega-mergers’ in ag industry

Ag/Outdoor, News

January 6th, 2017 by Ric Hanson

An Iowan who’s an agricultural advisor for President-elect Trump’s transition team is urging Trump to “block” some “mega-mergers” in the ag industry. Bruce Rastetter, of Alden, says the pending mergers of “agrochemical and seed giants” like DuPont and Dow Chemical will mean higher prices for farmers. “There will be bundling of services, so if they combine chemical and seed and only those seed traits can take a certain chemical sold by that company, it’s naturally going to increase costs,” Rastetter says.

Rastetter also cites the proposed merger of St. Louis-based Monsanto and Bayer, which was founded in Germany more than 150 years ago. “So concern about competition, concern about then the lack of innovation, lack of multiple companies we have and the concern for choice for farmers,” Rastetter says.

If Trump’s Administration doesn’t step in, Rastetter says the four largest seed and ag chemical suppliers in the country will become just two mammoth companies — controlling between 60 and 70 percent of the U.S. corn and soybean seed market. “Those two both start selling chemicals and seed, when they primarily did one or the other before and so the market share becomes very large, in a variety of different crops,” Rastetter says.

With two rather than four major companies, Rastetter says there will be less research to boost crop yields. He says smaller companies developing new plant varieties and traits are struggling to bring new products to market. “The root cause of this is government regulation. It costs $150 million to create a new seed trait. Think of that. How many small businesses can do that? And then, not only the $150 million, but an uncertain timeline for when or if the government’s ever going to approve it,” Rastetter says. “So if we really want to get serious about this, yes, the mergers shouldn’t go through, but we should to fix the government problem and I believe Donald Trump will do that.”

Rastetter is an entrepreneur who has made millions by raising pork and producing ethanol. His “Summit Agricultural Group” has partnered with a Brazilian company to build Brazil’s first corn-only ethanol plant. Rastetter says those experiences give him a platform to raise the alarm about these two agribusiness mergers. “As a businessman and as a farmer on two continents, in Brazil and the U.S., I have a unique perspective on it,” Rastetter says. “And also I have been concerned that commodity groups have been tentative about saying something on this situation.”

Rastetter says Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley shares his concerns about these mergers. Rastetter predicts Grassley will bring up the merger issue next week when Trump’s nominee for attorney general appears before the senate committee Grassley leads.

(Radio Iowa)

USDA Report 1-5-2017

Ag/Outdoor, Podcasts

January 5th, 2017 by Jim Field

w/Max Dirks.


Iowa awarded 115,000 acres in Conservation Reserve Program for water quality, pollinator, and wildlife habitat improvements


January 4th, 2017 by Ric Hanson

Iowa has received an additional 115,000 acres that can be enrolled in the Continuous Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) for critical wildlife and water quality efforts.
For landowners who have general CRP contracts expiring in 2017, this may be their only opportunity to re-enroll existing CRP back into the program. It is not clear whether there will be a general CRP signup in 2017.

The State Acres For wildlife Enhancement (SAFE) program is part of the continuous CRP program with the goal of restoring high-priority wildlife habitat tailored to specific need. SAFE practices can be used to restore habitat for threatened and endangered species, species that have suffered significant population declines or species that provide significant social or economic value to the community.

Iowa’s existing SAFE programs, Gaining Ground SAFE – targeted to grassland birds and pollinators, and Pheasant Recovery SAFE – targeted at restoring pheasant habitat, each received additional allocations of 50,000 and 25,000 acres respectively. In addition to soil erosion prevention and water quality improvements, both SAFE projects provide an excellent opportunity for landowners to enroll land into CRP to establish quality wildlife habitat.

The Iowa DNR has created a webpage for landowners to learn more about federal and state programs available to them. The webpage includes a list of DNR staff who are experts at connecting landowners with programs and writing land management plans that benefit the landowner, wildlife and improve water quality. There is also a link to FSA where landowners can find information about their local FSA office. The landowner assistance webpage is at www.iowadnr.gov/crp.

In addition to the existing Iowa SAFE project announcements, an all-new SAFE project, called Iowa Early Successional Quail Habitat, has been approved for 40,000 acres.

The Iowa Early Successional Quail Habitat SAFE project, in addition to soil erosion prevention and water quality improvements, is designed to restore early successional habitat across Iowa’s southern quail range where it will be the most beneficial for bobwhite quail. This new SAFE will also be tremendously beneficial to native pollinators and Monarch butterflies.

Landowners may begin submitting applications on Jan. 9 for Gaining Ground SAFE and Pheasant Recovery SAFE. Applications for the new Quail Habitat SAFE will be accepted later in January.

Cass County Extension Report 1-4-2017

Ag/Outdoor, Podcasts

January 4th, 2017 by Jim Field

w/Kate Olson.


Study: The sky’s the limit for Iowa’s wind energy industry

Ag/Outdoor, News

January 3rd, 2017 by Ric Hanson

Our region of the country is securing its popularity for renewable energy projects, according to a report from the Center for Rural Affairs. Lucas Nelsen, who authored the report “Link to Rural Development and a Renewable Future,” says 41-percent of the new energy generation projects that went online last year were specifically wind energy projects.

“It’s really important, primarily because of where that generation is being built,” Nelsen says. “That generation is most often built in the Midwest and Great Plains and especially near rural areas where there’s abundant resources and a lot of space to put those projects.” While the projects bring a host of benefits to rural communities, he says barriers remain to renewable energy.

“Those benefits can range from new tax revenue, new jobs in the community, new economic activity and some guaranteed income for landowners who host those projects,” Nelsen says. “There are some roadblocks to that development and one of those roadblocks has been new transmission infrastructure to connect those projects to the grid.” Nelsen says one key to solving those transmission problems lies in proper planning.

“The best thing people can do is make sure they’re helping to improve these projects, that they’re finding out what a project might mean for their area, that they’re looking at maps at community meetings with developers and pointing out areas of concern they want the developers to avoid,” Nelsen says, “and making sure that the process runs smoothly.” Nelsen says the report shows “wind turbine technician” is the fastest growing profession in the country and the Department of Energy estimates the wind industry could support up to 380-thousand jobs by 2030. The wind industry employs some seven-thousand Iowans.

(Radio Iowa)

Man killed while repairing tractor, Iowa authorities say

Ag/Outdoor, News

January 3rd, 2017 by Ric Hanson

DURANGO, Iowa (AP) – Authorities say one man was killed and another injured while repairing a tractor in Dubuque County. The accident occurred around 2 p.m. Monday at a farm in rural Durango. The Dubuque County Sheriff’s Office says the tractor slipped into gear during the repairs and ran over the two men.

One man was pronounced dead at the scene. The other man has been taken to University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics in Iowa City. Their names haven’t been released.

Iowa ag group leaders sets goals for 2017


January 3rd, 2017 by Ric Hanson

The priorities for Iowa Farmers Union members next year include improving water quality, addressing the problem of ag concentration and passing a workable farm bill. Incoming president Aaron Lehman, of Polk City, says farmers have much to offer in meeting those challenges. “On the federal level, we’re very worried about concentration in agribusiness with the recent wave of mergers going on,” Lehman says. “Of course, we’re going to have a new farm bill that will be very important to have some big improvements there to help our farm economy.”

Lehman says his group favors a voluntary approach when it comes to improving the state’s water quality. “We really need to make sure the proper incentives are there and we’re monitoring properly,” Lehman says. “So, what practices are going to give us the biggest bang for buck in Iowa and are we seeing those improvements in water quality? Those are going to be major questions for the state.”

Lehman says his group wants to see more diversification of agriculture in Iowa and will be working with state legislators on that after the first of the year.

(Radio Iowa)

ISU researcher to expand look at wind turbines on farm fields

Ag/Outdoor, News

January 2nd, 2017 by Ric Hanson

An Iowa State University researcher studying the impact of wind turbines on Iowa crops hopes to win funding to expand on the initial work he has done. Gene Takle has already found some differences in conditions such as temperature and humidity in fields near turbines. That funding is running out in the next year. “We have written one proposal to the National Science Foundation for additional funding and we’re in the process right now of writing a proposal — if it were funded — would bring researchers from several institutions to focus on this problem,” Takle says.

Takle, a distinguished professor of agronomy and geological and atmospheric sciences, says there are many other researchers who are interested in taking part. “Scientists from Purdue, from the University of Illinois, from the National Center for Atmospheric Research, from the University of Oklahoma, the National Laboratory for Agriculture and the Environment — which is a U-S-D-A lab — is interested in coming and bringing instruments. And we also have interest from the Finnish Meteorological Institute and the University of Helsinki that are interested and want to participate in the analysis of any data that we get in,” according to Takle.

Takle says his research is different from what has been done by others. “There have been researchers who have looked at two aspects. They have looked at conditions upwind and downwind of winds farms, but they haven’t measured conditions inside a wind farm,” Takle says. Other researchers have examined satellite images of wind farms. “They’ve looked at Iowa and they’ve looked the landscape over Texas, where there is a lot of wind farms,” Takle explains, “and they see a consistent pattern that at night the satellite pictures show that there is a very slight warm spot associated with each of these wind farms.”

He says that warm spot is similar to heat islands seen on satellites near cities. Takle says there is more to learn more about why the heat island is created. “These researchers have not been down on the ground to say ‘well it’s because it was an irrigation region around this area or cattle were grazed there, or crops were managed differently of for some other reason other than the turbines creating it,'” Takle says. “So we are the first to measure inside a wind farm and concurrently outside a wind farm so we can actually measure the differences.”

Takle says all these other variables will make it harder to find answers to the causes of the impact on farm fields near the turbines.

(Radio Iowa)