Manure Field Day for Small- and Medium-Size Dairies and Open Feedlots PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Agribusiness
Written by Joy Venhorst   
Thursday, 07 July 2011 12:29

Iowa State University (ISU) Extension and the Iowa Beef Center (IBC) will host a manure management field day on July 13 at the Mike Bettin feedlot in Sac County. The field day, which is set for 1 to 4 p.m., will provide information on manure management issues and offer alternative manure handling options for open feedlots and dairies with less than 1,000 animal units. ISU Extension beef program specialist Beth Doran said there’s a lot of confusion about the definition of a medium-sized concentrated animal feeding operation (CAFO) and who might need a permit.

“ISU Extension agricultural engineering program specialist Shawn Shouse will present information on the definition of a medium CAFO and how feedlot operators can work with the definition,” Doran said.

Other topics at the field day include manure storage and handling, technical assistance and cost-share opportunities, and using a manure analysis in the cropping system.

“Feedlot and dairy producers can no longer discharge feedlot effluent into a road ditch, so this year’s field day features a demonstration of an economical way to pump feedlot effluent from the solids settling system,” ISU Extension agricultural engineering program specialist Kris Kohl said. “There also will be a demonstration on how to calibrate a manure spreader to achieve the correct application rate.”

The Bettin feedlot is located 2¼ miles north of the intersection of Hwy 175 and Hwy 71. The specific address is 3087 Hwy 71, Odebolt, and the field day will be held at the north feedlot.

Attendance is free, thanks to a grant from IBC. For more information, contact Doran by phone at 712-737-4230 or by email at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or Kohl by phone at 712-732-5056 or by email at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . A flyer is available on the Iowa Manure Management Action Group website.


Agricultural Marketing Resource Center Assists Producers Applying for USDA Value-added Grants PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Agribusiness
Written by Joy Venhorst   
Thursday, 07 July 2011 12:24

AMES, Iowa — The Agricultural Marketing Resource Center (AgMRC) is assisting producer groups gathering information to use in applying for the USDA Rural Business and Cooperative Service (RBCS) value-added producer grants, announced in the Federal Register June 28, 2011.

AgMRC is a virtual library of agricultural value-added opportunities, business development and consulting resources for producers, located at

“There is a direct link on the home page of the site to take producers directly to the federal notice of solicitation of applications, grant templates and a directory of consultants and service providers,” said Ray Hansen, director of the center. “Additional resources for producers to develop their business or to find a new market opportunity for an existing business also are available.”

Producers can investigate specific commodity information on many different niche opportunities and locate specific laws, consultants and individual contacts within their individual state to assist them in the grant application process.

“The consultant database available on the website includes specific commodity consultants, business development consultants and those consultants specializing in grant writing,” Hansen said.

RBCS announced the availability of $37 million in competitive grant funds for fiscal year 2011 to help independent agricultural producers enter into value-added activities. The grant will fund one of the following two activities:

Developing feasibility studies or business plans (including marketing plans or other planning activities) needed to establish a viable value-added marketing opportunity for an agricultural product; or
Acquiring working capital to operate a value-added business venture or an alliance that will allow the producers to better compete in domestic and international markets.
Value-added products are defined as follows:

A change in the physical state or form of the product (such as milling wheat into flour or making strawberries into jam);
The production of a product in a manner that enhances its value, as demonstrated through a business plan (such as organically produced products);
The physical segregation of an agricultural commodity or product in a manner that results in the enhancement of the value of that commodity or product (such as an identity preserved marketing system).
Value-added also includes using any agricultural product or commodity to produce renewable energy on a farm or ranch.

Applications must be completed and submitted no later than August 29, 2011.

Located at Iowa State University, AgMRC is a national center for value-added agriculture resources. For more information, visit or call toll-free at 866-277-5567.




Yard and Garden: Sweet Corn PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Agribusiness
Written by Joy Venhorst   
Thursday, 07 July 2011 12:22

One of the pure pleasures of summertime in Iowa is eating sweet corn fresh from the garden or farmers' market. Gardeners have questions when it comes to getting the ears from field to plate. ISU Extension specialists offer answers to those questions; to have additional questions answered, contact the experts by emailing or calling the ISU Extension horticulture hotline at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or 515-294-3108.

When should I harvest sweet corn?

Sweet corn should be harvested at the milk stage. At this stage, the silks are brown and dry at the ear tip. When punctured with a thumbnail, the soft kernels produce a milky juice. Over-mature sweet corn is tough and doughy. An immature ear will not be completely filled to the tip and the kernels produce a clear, watery liquid when punctured.

The harvest date can be estimated by noting the date of silk emergence. The number of days from silk emergence to harvest is approximately 18 to 23 days. Prime maturity, however, may be reached in 15 days or less if day and night temperatures are exceptionally warm. Most hybrid sweet corn varieties produce two ears per plant. The upper ear usually matures one or two days before the lower ear.

Harvest sweet corn by grasping the ear at its base and then twisting downward. Use or refrigerate sweet corn immediately after harvest. Optimum storage conditions for sweet corn are a temperature of 32 F and a relative humidity of 95 percent.

The ears on my sweet corn are poorly filled. What are possible causes?

Poorly filled ears are often the result of poor pollination. Hot, dry winds and dry soil conditions may adversely affect pollination and fertilization and result in poorly filled ears. Water sweet corn during pollination if the soil is dry. Improper planting may also affect pollination. Corn is wind pollinated. Plant sweet corn in blocks of four or more short rows to promote pollination.

How can I keep raccoons out of my sweet corn?

The most effective way to prevent damage to the sweet corn crop is to encircle the area with an electric fence. A two-wire fence with one wire 4 to 6 inches above the ground and the other at 12 inches should keep the raccoons out of the sweet corn. Mow or cut the vegetation beneath the fence to avoid electrical shorts. To be effective, the electric fence should be installed about two weeks before the sweet corn reaches the milk stage.

Are there special corn varieties that are grown to produce “baby” corn?

The small size of “baby” corn suggests that it’s a special variety. However, most baby corn is actually grown from regular sweet and field corn varieties. The ears are harvested when they are 2 to 4 inches long and one-third to one-half inch in diameter at their base. Most corn varieties reach this stage one to three days after the silks become visible. While many sweet and field corn varieties are suitable for baby corn production, there are a few varieties, such as ‘Babycorn’ and ‘Bonus,’ which are grown specifically for the miniature ears.


Iowa Learning Farms to Host ‘Conservation Conversations on the Prairie’ Event PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Agribusiness
Written by Joy Venhorst   
Thursday, 07 July 2011 12:21

AMES, Iowa — Harold and Kay Whipple, along with Iowa Learning Farms, will co-host "Conservation Conversations on the Prairie" at the Whipples' farm in rural Lacona on Tuesday, July 19, beginning at 3 p.m. The event is free and the public is invited to attend, but registration is required. The Warren Soil and Water Conservation District is a sponsor for the event as well.

The evening will offer an opportunity for area residents and conservation organization representatives to network with one another and explore new partnerships and projects to enhance conservation in Iowa. The Iowa Learning Farms Conservation Station will be on site to aid in the discussion of why quality soils and clean water are so important to Iowa’s future. Also, the Whipples will conduct walking or riding tours of their recently restored prairie. There will be a time for discussion of ideas for working together to improve and enhance conservation practices in Iowa prior to a complimentary dinner.

The Whipples have worked — and continue to work — to create a diverse, productive and sustainable property. They have put in a pond and windbreaks, 25 acres of prairie, thousands of trees and shrubs, as well as some corn and soybean acres used mainly for wildlife food plots. Their land includes hundreds of plant species, which draw a diverse collection of birds, mammals and insects. They are very proud of the increased bluebird population since their work began.

To register for this event, contact Harold or Kay Whipple by email, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , or phone, 641-534-3039, by July 12. The Whipples' farm is located at 22307 Highway S23; one-half mile north of the intersection of G76 and S23 in Lacona. Look for the “Bluebird Family Farm” sign.

Iowa Learning Farms (ILF) is building a Culture of Conservation, encouraging adoption of residue management and conservation practices. Farmers, researchers and ILF staff are working together to encourage farmers to implement the best in-field management practices that increase water and soil quality while remaining profitable.


Iowa Learning Farms to Host July 13 Field Day Near Elkader PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Agribusiness
Written by Joy Venhorst   
Thursday, 07 July 2011 12:20

AMES, Iowa — Iowa Learning Farms (ILF) is sponsoring a field day at the Craig Embretson farm in Clayton County on Wednesday, July 13, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. The field day will include a complimentary lunch, information about strategies for no-till and also cover crop management. The event is free and the public is invited to attend.

Pat Schaefers, Clayton County Natural Resources Conservation District (NRCS) District Conservationist, will share information about no-till and farmer Craig Embretson will share his experiences from 20 years of no-till crop management. Field day attendees will see no-till corn following corn, no-till corn following soybean, and no-till soybean following corn. Tom Kaspar, plant physiologist with the National Laboratory for Agriculture and the Environment, will discuss the potential of fall-seeded cereal grain cover crops to reduce soil erosion, improve soil quality in corn-soybean rotations and provide early spring grazing feedstocks for cattle. Laura Christianson, Ph.D. candidate in the Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering department at Iowa State University, will discuss bioreactors and other techniques to limit nitrate transport to water bodies.

Farmers and non-farmers are encouraged to bring their families to the field day to see the Iowa Learning Farms’ Conservation Station. The Conservation Station is a mobile learning lab that teaches audiences of all ages about soil conservation and ways to protect quality of our soil and water resources. The back of the Conservation Station houses a rainfall simulator, demonstrating the effects of rainfall on undisturbed soils with a variety of land covers, showing both surface water runoff as well as subsurface drainage. At the front is a learning center with hands-on displays and tools to learn about soil, water and wetlands.

Craig Embretson’s field day site is located at the intersection of County Road X16 (Gunder Road) and Eagle Avenue (southeast corner of intersection), approximately six miles north of Elkader.


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