KJAN Ag/Outdoor

USDA: Indiana bird flu outbreak is believed contained, Iowans can relax

Ag/Outdoor, News

January 20th, 2016 by Ric Hanson

Poultry producers in Iowa are on high alert as an outbreak of avian influenza is being dealt with in Indiana. At least ten turkey farms in a single Indiana county are reported infected. T-J Myers, an administrator at the U-S-D-A’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, says the outbreaks appears to be contained. “There’s been a lot of good work to increase our preparatory efforts at the federal side, the state side and the industry side,” Myers says. “Industry and poultry producers have been doing a lot to strengthen their biosecurity so we are hopeful that as we respond very quickly to this virus that we can get it contained.”

The Indiana situation is being closely monitored and Myers says the agency is not calling for vaccinations. “Our vaccination policy is to only use it if we feel that it would be an important adjunct to our stamping out policy,” he says. “At this point, we are not looking to do any sort of vaccination.” While the bird flu outbreak appears to have spread to multiple farms in Indiana, they are all in close proximity within one county and officials believe the spread has been halted.

Given that, vaccinations shouldn’t be needed. “That’s something that we would only use if we felt that it was necessary to assist us in containing a spreading virus,” Myers says, “which we are not looking at right now.” A total of 77 poultry operations in Iowa had bird flu outbreaks last spring and more than 31-million chickens and turkeys were wiped out in Iowa, which was by far the worst-hit state.

Losses in Iowa alone from the outbreak may total one-billion dollars. No new cases of bird flu have been reported in Iowa since last June and the final quarantine was lifted on December 1st.

(Radio Iowa)

Heifer Development 3: Breeding & Selecting for Longevity & Profit


January 19th, 2016 by Ric Hanson

Longevity will be the key to profitability when it comes to replacement heifers that entered the herd over the past few years. Identifying, managing, and breeding for females that will maintain themselves well into the future can be a daunting task.

To help producers manage achieve more longevity from replacement females, the Iowa Beef Center is partnering with the Iowa Cattlemen’s Association (ICA), ABS Global, Accelerated Genetics, Select Sires and Merial to conduct a series of seven educational workshops across the state titled, “Heifer Development 3: Breeding & Selecting for Longevity & Profit.”

This is the third installment of the heifer development series, building on our 2011 and 2014 programs on yearling and first-calf heifer best management practices, respectively. The focus of this year’s series is on current genetic and phenotypic selection tools that can be utilized to improve cow longevity and enhance lifetime productivity. A meal will be served at each site and cost is $20 when preregistered three days prior to event. Walk-in registration is $25 per person with no guarantee of meal. Dates and locations (all will be held from 5 to 9 p.m.) are as follows:

Feb. 1, Cass County Community Center, Atlantic
Feb. 2, Western Iowa Tech Community College, Cherokee
Feb. 3, Carpenter’s Hall, Chariton
Feb 9, Washington Co. Extension Office, Washington
Feb. 10, Muse Norris Conference Center at NIACC, Mason City
Feb. 11, Jones Co. Extension Office, Monticello
March 2, Hansen Ag Student Learning Center, Ames

See session information and registration details on the Iowa Beef Center website. Or contact your regional Extension beef specialist for details on a site near you. We hope to see you at one of these sessions.

Atlantic Parks & Rec Dept. funding requests see progress

Ag/Outdoor, News

January 19th, 2016 by Ric Hanson

Atlantic Parks and Recreation Director Roger Herring Monday evening updated the Parks & Rec Board on the status of fundraising efforts for Schildberg Recreation Area and other park improvements. With regard to a Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP) grant, Herring said progress “Is movin.” Herring said they have authorization from the Feds and State to go ahead with the design phase of the Schildberg Lake #2 trail, and he hopes to have bid letting in July. Completion is expected to occur later this fall.

Herring said there was a delay in getting the grant approved, due to red tape with regard to “coding.”

Proposed additional trail around Lake #2 at the Schildberg Rec Area.

Proposed additional trail around Lake #2 at the Schildberg Rec Area. (File photo from Feb. 2015)

Part of the trail is in the City limits, but since the original request was to have it outside the City limits, the powers that be had to re-evaluate the whole process. In other news, Roger Herring said he and Assistant Parks & Rec Director Seth Staashelm have been putting together a grant request from the Cass County Community Foundation that has to be turned-in by no later than May 31st. The application will be for anywhere from $15-to $20,000, for upgrades to some City Parks.

That includes Harl-Holt Park at 17th and Olive Streets, behind the old YMCA building. Staashelm says they would like to upgrade equipment at the park, including replacement of the basketball court at the park. Instead of replacing the concrete, they could install something called a “Versacourt,” Which is a plastic tiling outdoor system. The Parks and Rec crew can assemble and secure the system themselves, which would save on costs. Another benefit is different types of recreational lines can be placed on the court, including basketball and pickelball, to name but a few. The product has a 15-year warranty.

They also hope to update or replace some playground equipment at the Harl-Holt Park, and retrofitting the swing. Roger Herring said they are also working on a Vision Iowa grant application. Currently, they are soliciting Letters of Support for the grant application. That includes revisiting previous persons or entities that have supported prior grant applications, and a Resolution of Support from the City and others.

The goal is to submit the application by April 14th. In other business, Staashelm and Herring received approval from the Parks and Rec Board to have a special Online Reservations program created so that people can check to see what City Park shelters are available, and make reservations for the use of those shelters. The computer program and services would cost around $700. It would save Herring and Staashelm countless hours in scheduling and confirming shelter house reservations.

Weather patterns may be changing for the worse, especially for farmers

Ag/Outdoor, News, Weather

January 18th, 2016 by Ric Hanson

Iowa’s corn crop and many other key commodities would be threatened by hot, dry conditions if certain weather patterns continue to develop. U-S-D-A meteorologist Brad Rippey says even though the El Nino pattern is still strong over the entire country right now, there are likely changes on the horizon.

“If you look at all of the moderate-to-strong El Ninos we’ve had over the last 75 years or so, they are almost always followed by a fairly quick transition to La Nina,” Rippey says. “It’s almost like there’s a boomerang effect.” We’re now experiencing the third “super El Nino” weather pattern since the early 1980s and if the pattern holds, a La Nina pattern could emerge soon and bring drought conditions.

“We’re pretty confident and even the two-dozen or so models that try to forecast the ocean and atmospheric states looking ahead to the summer,” he says, “we’ll be in either neutral or La Nina conditions by the latter part of 2016.” Rippey says the La Nina pattern in 1998 never reached Iowa or other Midwestern states but it had an impact on the southern tier of states, bringing very dry conditions that had a major impact on crops. Signs point to a repeat, according to Rippey.

“In 1983, we saw a very wet spring nearly coast-to-coast, but in July and August, as we quickly transitioned into La Nina, we saw a very hot, dry weather pattern develop across the Midwest,” he says. “It led to significant yield declines in crops, including corn.” It’s still too early to pinpoint exactly where the hot, dry conditions will land but he says farmers need to be aware.

(Radio Iowa)

Atlantic Parks and Rec Board to meet Monday evening

Ag/Outdoor, News

January 17th, 2016 by Ric Hanson

Members of the City of Atlantic’s Parks and Recreation Department Board of Directors will meet Monday evening in the City Council’s Chambers at City Hall, beginning at 5:15.

On the agenda are updates on: the 2017 Budget proposal; the Kiddie Korral at SunnysidePark; Boat ramp project near the Schildberg Rec Area; The Bull Creek/Schuler Elementary School Trail; A Transportation Alternatives Program grant for Lake #2 at the Schildberg Rec Area; a Cass County Community Foundation grant request; Vision Iowa grant; and an update on On-line Shelter Reservations.

Old business will cover an update on the Nishna Valley Connector Trail. And, in his report to the Board, Parks and Rec Director Roger Herring is expected to talk about the parking lot installation at the Dog Park in the Schildberg Rec Area, as well as remind the public Sunnyside Park remains open to sledding, disc golf and walking. The gates to the park remain closed to vehicle traffic, however.

Shelby County Conservation Board announces cabin online reservations

Ag/Outdoor, News

January 15th, 2016 by Ric Hanson

The Shelby County Conservation Board has announced persons interested in reserving cabins at the Nishna Bend Recreation Area or Manteno Park, can do so online. Two cabins are available at Nishna Bend, and one is available at Manteno Park.

You can reserve your cabin online at mycountyparks.com. On the website, there’s an interactive calendar where you can see what dates are available up to 24 months in advance. You can then reserve any open dates and pay for the cabin securely, using a credit card.

Signs will be erected on the camping cabins reminding park users of the reservation system.cabin reserve snip

Cass County Conservation crews deal w/vandalism

Ag/Outdoor, News

January 13th, 2016 by Ric Hanson

Cass County Conservation Dept. personnel are dealing with vandalism that has taken place over the past month. Conservation Director Micah Lee, during his quarterly report, told the Cass County Board of Supervisors, Wednesday, that the incidents have taken place along the T-Bone Trail, where people have been run over posts designed to prevent vehicles from entering the trail, at the trail heads.

He says someone is breaking off the two-by-two, 1 ½ inch square tubing. They’re snapped off near the ground, which makes it very difficult for crews to replace. Supervisor Chuck Rieken suggested they use solid railroad-type beams to make it more difficult for vehicles to break the posts. Lee agreed it would cause more damage to the culprits’ vehicle(s) and maybe dissuade them from causing more damage. Micah says other than garbage that’s occasionally being dumped in that area, that’s the first real case of vandalism perpetrated to the T-Bone Trail.

In other news, Lee said the main thing they’re working on during the off-season, is renovating the inside of their offices near Lewis. At the West Nodaway Recreation area near Cumberland, they’ve removed some Cedar Trees in hopes of bringing back some native grasses in the future. And, there are plans for the Outdoor Classroom shelter near Massena to be expanded to include running water, thanks to donations and grants secured from a non-profit Friends group.

No County funds will be used for the upgrades. The Conservation Board gave its blessing to the project, which will include a mini-kitchen and wildlife/nature-related resource library. The improvement’s he said, will add somewhere from 300-to 500-feet to the shelter.

Cass County Extension Report 1-13-2016

Ag/Outdoor, Podcasts

January 13th, 2016 by Jim Field

w/ Kate Olson.


Legal questions over Iowa farm drainage headed to high court

Ag/Outdoor, News

January 12th, 2016 by Ric Hanson

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — A federal judge says the Iowa Supreme Court should settle legal questions about whether farmland drainage districts can be held liable for water pollution downstream before a lawsuit filed by a Des Moines water utility can proceed. Questions such as immunity for drainage districts and which constitutional protections might apply to parties challenging drainage systems have not been decided by state or federal courts in Iowa. The drainage districts have been around since the late 1800s.

Judge Mark Bennett said the novel legal issues deserve the attention of the state’s highest court. The decision comes in the lawsuit that Des Moines Water filed last year against three northwest Iowa counties that oversee 10 agriculture drainage districts. Farm drainage district attorneys say Iowa’s constitution has long protected them from legal liability.

3 new projects focus on expanding use and innovative delivery of water quality practices

Ag/Outdoor, News

January 11th, 2016 by Ric Hanson

Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey announced today (Monday), that three projects focused on expanding the use and innovative delivery of water quality practices have been selected to receive $1.92 million in funding through the Iowa water quality initiative over the next three years. In addition to the state funds, the three projects will provide over $2 million in matching funds to support water quality improvement efforts as well as other in-kind contributions.

Among the projects, is the Taylor County Water Quality Initiative. The $1.58-million  project received a $611,705 grant award. Project partners AgSolver, Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, Iowa Cattleman’s Association, Taylor County Cattlemen, Southern Iowa Forage and Livestock Committee, USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service, will work with farmers in Taylor County by promoting alternative land management practices on farmed areas identified to be marginal or unprofitable.

The project will work with producers on an individual basis to evaluate the specific production levels and goals within their farming operation by utilizing several tools to evaluate current farm scale profitability combined with conservation practice and land use alternatives. Rather than focus on the entire field, the project will demonstrate which areas of a field should be considered for alternative forms of production, thus making them more profitable and more sustainable.

In addition to the three new projects, 29 demonstration projects are currently located across the state to help implement and demonstrate water quality practices. This includes 16 targeted watershed projects, 4 projects focused on expanding the use and innovative delivery of water quality practices and 9 urban water quality demonstration projects. More than 100 organizations are participating in these projects. These partners will provide $16.72 million dollars to go with the $11.11 million in state funding going to these projects.