DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Iowa and Nebraska farmers say they’re still on track to get their corn planted despite cold, wet weather that slowed their start to the planting season. Numbers released Monday from the U.S. Department of Agriculture show 23 percent of Iowa’s corn crop has been planted. That’s up significantly from last week’s 15 percent planted.
The percentage likely will rise quickly this week, as farmers have several warm, dry days before rain returns to the forecast. Chad Hart, an Iowa State University agriculture economist, says it’s crucial for farmers to get their crop planted in the coming weeks. He says corn should be in the ground by late April to early May.
Nebraska is closer to completion, with 44 percent of its corn crop planted.
The Shelby County Emergency Management Agency has increased the County-wide Fire Danger category to “Moderate” this week, due to decreased humidity and strengthening winds. The current Fire Danger rating will be in effective through Thursday morning, at which time the situation will be assessed and the county fire danger status updated.
When the fire danger is “moderate” it means that fires can start from most accidental causes, but the number of fire starts is usually pretty low. If a fire does start in an open, dry grassland, it will burn and spread quickly on windy days. Most wood fires will spread slowly to moderately. Average fire intensity will be moderate except in heavy concentrations of fuel, which may burn hot. Fires are still not likely to become serious and are often easy to control.
The leader of a large Iowa farm group says the 2014 state legislative session, which wrapped up last Friday, was a successful one for agriculture and funded several much-needed programs. Brian Kemp of Sibley, president of the Iowa Soybean Association, says major victories included passage of energy legislation to boost biodiesel production as well as support for agricultural research. “We had an extension of the biodiesel producer tax credit and E-15 credit, that’s a 2% credit that’s extended for three years,” Kemp says. “They’re certainly showing their support with an increase of almost $1M in ag research to the ag experiment station.”
Legislators also funded the Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory at Iowa State University. He says an important ag program that received significant funding helps producers with technology. “The Iowa Soybean Association On Farm Network was also supported with $400,000 that will help producers do their own research with GPS technology on their own farms,” he says.
Kemp says he’s disappointed lawmakers failed to pass an increase in the state’s gasoline tax, which would have pumped new funding into the state’s fund for repairs to roads and bridges. “This is a very difficult year to get an increase in the fuel tax through, it’s an election year,” he says. “We’re very likely going to bring that back next year and spend some time promoting that through the legislature.” Kemp says House Ag Committee Chairman Josh Byrnes of Osage made great last gasp effort to get transportation needs funded but fell just a bit short as time ran out.
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) – Rain and wind is washing away enough of Iowa’s fertile topsoil to potentially reduce crop yields by $1 billion, so researchers are working to develop a better way to measure erosion. The Des Moines Register reports researchers think parts of Iowa could be losing up to 12 times more soil that government reports suggest.
Iowa State University professor Rick Cruse is leading a team developing a new method to measure erosion’s impact that could paint a grim picture. Some of the most severe erosion happens in western and southeastern parts of Iowa.
State Agriculture Secretary Bill Northey says erosion may be getting worse because conservation programs have been scaled back.
Wilderness officials say they plan to release a total of eight swans into two southern Iowa lakes this month, as part of a restoration effort. The Iowa Department of Natural Resources and the Adams County Conservation Board will release four trumpeter swans at east Lake Icaria boat ramp, located six-miles north of Corning on Highway 148 at 9-a.m. Tuesday, May 8th, and, four trumpeter swans will be released in Union County May 9th at Summit Lake, one mile west of Creston on Highway 25. Both events are open to the public.
The birds are being released as part of a statewide trumpeter swan restoration effort. Less than 70 trumpeter swans remained in the lower 48 states by the early 1930s. Both release events will feature a 20-minute presentation on the swans, which includes an opportunity to touch and view the birds up close. Trumpeter swans are the largest North American waterfowl. They can weigh up to 32 pounds with an 8-foot wingspan.
The Iowa Department of Natural Resources will release four trumpeter swans at Summit Lake, one mile west of Creston on Highway 25 at 10-a.m., on May 9th. The release site is the boat ramp on the south side of the road. The release is open to the public and will take place rain or shine. The event includes a 20-minute swan/wetland presentation, a unique opportunity to touch and view the swans up close, and a historic photo opportunity with the kids.
As the largest North American waterfowl, these magnificent all-white birds can weigh up to 32 pounds with an 8-foot wingspan.
Trumpeter swans were once common in Iowa, but were gone from the state by the late 1880s. By the early 1930s, only 69 trumpeter swans remained in the lower 48 states. The trumpeter swans being released are part of the DNR’s statewide trumpeter swan restoration effort.
A website and mobile application that provide an interactive map of bike trails in central Iowa is being released today (Thursday). The free app is being released by the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation (INHF) and spokesperson Hannah Inman says it’ll be expanded statewide in time for RAGBRAI in July. Inman says “This app is pretty neat because it’ll have all 1,800 miles of trails in the State of Iowa on it,” Inman says. “You’ll be able to geo-locate yourself and follow yourself on the trail, keeping track of your mileage, how fast you’re going, and what trails you’ve completed.”
The I-N-H-F is also working with local communities across the state to build “points of interest” into the app. “As we do that, you’ll be able to find the hidden gems, the great businesses along the trails, as well some cultural, historical, and natural resource information that are unique to the trails,” Inman says. Private donations and grants have helped pay for the development of the “Iowa By Trail” mobile app and website. Inman says it’s cost about $200,000 and there’s more to raise.
“We have fundraised for the marketing, the content creation, the Apple, and the website version. Now, all we’re doing is fundraising for the Android version and we’re hoping that will be completed and out this fall,” Inman says. The West Des Moines-based company Shift Interactive created the “Iowa By Trail” app.
(more info. at www.inhf.org/iowabytrail.cfm) (Radio Iowa)
Weather has the planting season off to a slow start. The U-S-D-A crop report says the rains have kept farmers out of the fields, but improved the soil moisture in most areas. Soil temperatures remain a concern for farmers planting in northern Iowa. The report says 15-percent of the projected state corn crop has been planted — which is 13-percent ahead of last year — but 18-percent behind the five year average. Some corn has started to emerge.
Soybean planting has yet to fully take off as there were just scattered reports of beans being planted last week.