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How irrigation management impacts nitrate leaching and groundwater quality

Groundwater is the major source of drinking water in Minnesota and provides almost all water used for irrigation purposes, making it a key area of focus for natural resource, agriculture, and public health officials. Groundwater contamination (due to agricultural nitrate leaching) and decreased water levels in lakes and streams (due to high groundwater withdrawals for irrigation) are two critical environmental problems in the central sands region of Minnesota.

In a new webinar hosted by the North Central Region Water Network, Assistant Extension Professor Vasudha Sharma talks about irrigation management's relationship with groundwater quality and her on-going research projects aimed at addressing irrigation-induced groundwater quality issues in Minnesota. Her presentation includes some preliminary data from the 2019 growing season.

Watch the webinar on YouTube:



You can also download the presentation slides.

In addition to Sharma, the webinar features Troy Gilmore (University of …
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MN Cover Crops “Recipes” now available

Anna Cates, State soil health specialist, Liz Stahl, Extension educator and Axel Garcia y Garcia, Assistant Professor

Wondering how to do cover crops? UMN Extension, in collaboration with the Midwest Cover Crops Council (MCCC), has produced cover crop “recipes” for two scenarios: Post corn, going to soybean and Post soybean, going to corn.

The recipes are intended to provide step-by-step guidance to some of the lowest-risk starting points for cover crops. They don’t cover the whole spectrum of possibilities, but they can help beginners get most pieces in place to incorporate cover crops into a farm operation. The two recipes were developed to address Minnesota’s most common crop cropping system, the corn/soybean rotation.

The “Post corn, going to soybean” recipe suggests cereal rye, which provides an overwintering ground cover. Soybeans often thrive when planted into standing dead or living cereal rye residue. The “Post soybean, going to corn”recipe suggests oats, which will winte…

Haney soil test webinar available

Liz Stahl, Extension educator and Anna Cates, state soil health specialist

The Haney test, a test for soil health, is being used to assess biological activity in the soil.  Growers are using these tests to qualify for programs, explore their soil health, and in some cases, plan crop fertility needs. However, many questions remain about interpreting Haney test information, especially for Minnesota soils.

Dr. Anna Cates, state soil health specialist and Liz Stahl, Extension educator in crops, discuss the Haney test in this webinar recorded by the State of Minnesota Board of Soil and Water Resources.

Dr. Cates discusses the various measurements and calculations, while relating results to conditions in Minnesota. Stahl discusses U of MN research comparing results from standard soil testing procedures to the Haney test, and the implications if one were to use the Haney test in determining fertilizer needs.
Watch the Haney test webinar For more information, see “Can soil health tests dete…

Managing frosted forage crops on prevent plant acres

Jared Goplen, Extension educator

Temperatures in much of the state have already been below freezing, or will be soon. If you are still planning to graze or mechanically harvest forage on cover crop acres it is important to keep forage species in mind as some species can have toxic effects on animals.
Is my forage crop safe? There is not an issue with grazing or feeding forage of most frosted forage crops. Alfalfa, clovers, peas, small grains, and common pasture grasses have little to no concern of being toxic to livestock. There may be a slightly increased risk of bloat with frosted legumes but these crops do NOT produce toxic compounds like prussic acid following a frost. Typical bloat management will alleviate any issues with grazing legumes.
Sorghum species are primary concern If you are planning to graze or harvest sorghum, sorghum sudangrass, or sudangrass alone or as part of a species mixture, special precautions are needed to prevent health concerns for livestock. Risk is grea…

Fall fertilizer economics: What to know this year

In this episode of the Nutrient Management Podcast, we discuss fall fertilizer economics. How early is too early when planning nitrogen applications? Are we looking at a year where farmers should be considering inhibitors? What makes the most sense economically for all fertilizers this fall?  Listen to the podcastView the podcast transcript Subscribe to the podcast and never miss an episode on iTunes or Stitcher!

For the latest nutrient management information, subscribe to Minnesota Crop News email alerts, like UMN Extension Nutrient Management on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, and visit our website.

Support for the Nutrient Management Podcast is provided in part by the Agricultural Fertilizer Research & Education Council (AFREC).

Field tour highlights cover crops, integrated weed management, robots and beyond

Please join us on Monday, October 21st at the Rosemount Research and Outreach Center (RROC) for cover crops, integrated weed management, robots, and beyond. Farmers, ag professionals, government agency personnel and the public are invited to attend.

The University of Minnesota, Forever Green Agricultural Initiative (FGAI) and Rowbot™ are sponsoring the research field tour and demonstration that will include:
An overview of the Forever Green Agricultural Initiative.PRE and POST emergence herbicide options for cover crops in a corn and soybean production system.Cover crop establishment methods utilizing robots within corn production systems.New crops, and new opportunities: A discussion on supply chains and potential of enhanced profitability. Field tour detailsWhen: Monday, October 21, 12:00 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.Where: Rosemount Research and Outreach Center located at 16085 Alverno Ave, Rosemount, MN 55068Registration and cost: Registration is free, but pre-registration is requested to sec…

Weather challenges corn harvest

By Dave Nicolai, Liz Stahl, and Jared Goplen, Extension educators in crops

The development of Minnesota’s corn crop is highly variable this year, due to numerous weather challenges and wide ranges in both planting dates and hybrid relative maturities. The rain and snow this week added even more challenges, requiring corn growers to prioritize fields for harvest and to make difficult grain-drying and storage decisions. There are several important points to consider when making these decisions.
Did the corn reach maturity before a killing frost? Corn physiological maturity is often determined when a black layer is formed at the kernel tip. At this point, kernels have reached maximum dry matter accumulation and grain moisture will typically range from 28 to 35%. If corn is not mature before being killed by frost, a black layer will form prematurely, but grain moisture will often be greater than 35%.
Yield, test weight and quality impacts Dr. Mark Licht at Iowa State University pro…