Skip to main content


Register now for "Cover crops - Matching your management strategies and goals"

By Liz Stahl, Extension educator – crops, and Phyllis Bongard, Content development and communications specialist

There are a number of important considerations to address when deciding which cover crops fit best with your operation. In this presentation, we will discuss U of MN research to help match cover crop management strategies with your goals. Research results on potential benefits and limitations will be highlighted, with a particular emphasis on impacts on cash crop yield and nutrient management.

Join us for “Cover crops - Matching your management strategies and goals”, the third session in the NEW Strategic Farming – Optimizing Management for 2020 webinar series with speakers Axel Garcia y Garcia, Agronomist - Sustainable crop systems, and Paulo Pagliari, Extension nutrient management specialist. Tune in live Wednesday, January 29, 2019, from 12:00 to 1:00 p.m. To register, visit
How the webinar series works Once you register for a webinar in t…
Recent posts

Blister beetles in alfalfa hay

Krishona Martinson, Equine Extension specialist;  Jared Goplen, Extension educator; Bill Hutchison, Extension entomologist; and Roger Moon, Professor emeritus

The shortage of horse quality hay in Minnesota has many owners purchasing hay from outside Minnesota and the Midwest. Along with this comes the risk of purchasing alfalfa hay infested with blister beetles. While rare, beetle-infested hay can cause health problems and death in horses and other livestock.

Blister beetles are black elongated beetles that are attracted to and feed on the flowers, pollen, and leaves of blooming alfalfa and weeds. Although not uncommon in Minnesota, blister beetles tend to be more numerous in alfalfa produced in arid southern states and plains states where grasshoppers are problematic because developing beetles feed on grasshopper eggs.
Pay attention to production details When buying hay, owners should learn as much as possible about its production, including who produced it, where it was produced, an…

New land lease? How to incorporate conservation practices

Anna Cates, State soil health specialist

Farming rented ground is a reality for most Minnesota producers. When there’s interest in implementing conservation practices on rented ground, renters and owners will need to come to an agreement. As land leases are finalized for next year, it’s a good time to think about incorporating land stewardship practices into those agreements.

Sometimes the renter drives the change to reduce costs by reducing tillage or sometimes the owner may want to see more residue or winter cover crops to reduce soil erosion. Either way, it may take several conversations, over more than one season, to come to an agreement that makes both parties happy.
Consider a longer-term lease Since conservation practices promote long-term benefits and require multiple seasons to implement, it may also be a good time to consider a longer-term, written lease rather than an informal one-year agreement. In order for a renter to qualify for multi-year conservation programs with th…

Why I invested in drainage

By: Lindsay Pease, Extension nutrient management specialist

This past fall, I made the decision to invest in a new subsurface drainage system at the Northwest Research & Outreach Center (NWROC) in Crookston.

Over the next several years, I will be taking northwest Minnesota farmers on this journey with me as I evaluate my investment. Like any major financial investment, there is some amount of risk involved in this decision. Times are hard right now, and not everyone can take on the risk of installing a new subsurface drainage system. We are doing this to help you decide whether investing in drainage is right for your farm.

I was willing to take this on because I do not believe that installing drainage is that much of a risk. I invested in drainage because I believe it will improve the profitability of our operations.

Previous drainage research conducted at NWROC from 2001 to 2004 indicates that we should look beyond grain yield as the only way to profit from subsurface drainag…

Gopher Coffee Shop podcast: A visit with Tom Rothman - voice for Minnesota ag

In this installment of the Gopher Coffee Shop podcast, Extension educators Ryan Miller and Brad Carlson sit down with Tom Rothman, Director of Agriculture Stakeholder Outreach with the University of Minnesota Extension. Tom Rothman started the Minnesota Farm Network in 1983 and is a well-known farm broadcaster in Minnesota. In this podcast we learn about how Tom got his start in agriculture and how Extension, media and technology have changed over the years. Enjoy!
Listen to the podcast The Gopher Coffee Shop Podcast is available on Stitcher and iTunes.

For a chance to read about various crop management topics, please see our
Minnesota Crop News blog: up to receive Minnesota Crop News: For more information, visit University of Minnesota Extension Crop Production at

When You Inherit the Farm from Your Children

Like many of you, I too grew up on a farm, albeit in the Netherlands. To this day, I am more likely to refer to myself as a farm kid (who happens to work in agricultural research and extension) rather than as a scientist (who happens to work in agriculture).  Like many of you, our farm operation was multi-generational; while my grandfather was still very much involved in the day-to-day operations, a pint-size version of me was already helping with feeding calves, thinning beets, or pulling wild oats by hand. It must have been during those early years that this sense of obligation/duty to the farm developed.  The best way I can describe that sense is to argue that you do not inherit the farm from your parents but from your children. I only say this to illustrate that while your parents, like mine, may have actively tried to dissuade you from entering the operation, you decided to farm anyway.

My parents succeeded. I did not take over the farm right after I finished my Ph.D. in 1995.  A…

Is ETgage an effective tool for irrigation management?

By: Vasudha Sharma, Assistant Extension professor - irrigation

Determining crop water use, or evapotranspiration (ETc), is the most important component of irrigation scheduling. Weather data is key to calculating crop water use, but growers may not have a weather station nearby, and regardless, weather conditions can vary dramatically from field to field. Irrigators in Minnesota are looking at new tools, such as ETgage, that can provide the field-level data they need to calculate crop water use. This past year, we tested ETgage in Minnesota in order to see how accurate it is compared to a weather station.
Calculating crop water use In general, a two-step approach is used to calculate crop-specific water use, as per the following equation:

ETc = ETref x Kc

In this equation, ETref is reference evapotranspiration, the evapotranspiration of the reference crop (usually grass or …