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Forum staff reports , Published September 06 2013

Ag calendar (Sept. 6)

NDSU Extension to hold new shepherds clinic

Anyone interested in starting a sheep-production operation will be able to learn more about it at a workshop the North Dakota State University Extension Service is hosting Sept. 21 at NDSU’s Hettinger Research Extension Center.

The new shepherds clinic begins at 10 a.m. Mountain time.

“Sheep are a good livestock enterprise for youth, families with off-the-farm jobs or existing livestock enterprises seeking diversification,” says Reid Redden, NDSU Extension sheep specialist and one of the clinic’s organizers.

“New sheep operations are attractive because individuals can start small and build as they go,” he said. “Plus, sheep operations don’t require large startup capital or amounts of land, or expensive facilities and equipment. Within a few years, new shepherds can expand their flock rapidly and build a sustainable production system.”

The clinic will provide new shepherds with educational material to help them manage their sheep flocks. Topics to be covered are:

• Sheep production

• Sheep nutrition

• Lambing barn management

• Shepherding equipment

• Animal-handling techniques

Also, participants will be able to tour the Hettinger Research Extension Center’s sheep facilities. The workshop is free, and the registration deadline is Sept. 17. For more information or to register, contact Redden at (701) 231-5597 or reid.redden@ndsu.edu.

Participants will be able to purchase lunch. The Hettinger center and the North Dakota Lamb and Wool Producers Association also are hosting the clinic.

NDSU Extension activities set for Big Iron show

The 2013 Big Iron show set for Sept. 10-12 in West Fargo will include exhibits, ask-the-expert sessions, presentations and demonstrations by North Dakota State University Extension Service specialists and researchers.

The field demonstrations will focus on innovations in planting equipment.

Vendors will use colored seed with row-crop planters, air seeders and precision planting equipment.

The field demonstrations are scheduled from 1-3 p.m. daily, beginning with a 30-minute educational session by NDSU Extension crop and soil specialists discussing aspects of planting corn, soybeans and cereal and pulse crops.

Following the education session, participating industry representatives will discuss their equipment and conduct demonstrations. Each company will have five to 10 minutes to talk about their equipment and then have an opportunity to demonstrate their planter or air seeder.

The second part of the daily field demonstrations will focus on NDSU’s newly formed soil health initiative. Six NDSU researchers and scientists who conduct soil health research and Extension Service efforts will use a soil pit as an aid to discuss the importance of managing land to improve soil health. They will discuss crop and range management strategies land managers can use in adapting to changes in climate, cropping systems and environmental situations.

Those involved in the soil health initiative include Ann-Marie Fortuna, research soil health assistant professor; Abbey Wick, Extension soil health assistant professor; Chris Augustin, area Extension soil health specialist; Naeem Kalwar, area Extension soil health specialist; Jasper Teboh, soil scientist; and Ben Geaumont, wildlife and range science research assistant professor.

The NDSU Bison Pullers, a student group in the Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering Department, will demonstrate its quarter-scale tractor in a pulling contest. The Bison Pullers builds a quarter-scale tractor each year and competes with similar groups at the Annual International 1/4-Scale Tractor Student Design Competition, sponsored by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers at the Expo Gardens in Peoria, Ill.

The NDSU Extension displays will be in the entry of the Ag Building and will include agricultural displays staffed by NDSU and University of Minnesota Extension personnel.

Display topics include subirrigation; horse bedding; telematics; optical crop sensors; handling late-season, high-moisture grain; and processing of energy beets.

NDSU Extension Ag and Biosystems Engineering specialists will conduct a “visit with the engineers” session daily from 10 a.m. to noon. The individuals who will be available to answer questions and their topics are: Igathi Cannayen, front-end processing of energy beets, infield bales collection strategies and economics, and biomass feedstock processing; Ken Hellevang, grain drying and storage, structures and building environment including energy efficiency, moisture and indoor air quality; John Nowatzki, agricultural machinery and precision agriculture; Shafiqur Rahman, animal waste management, animal bedding and composting; and Tom Scherer, irrigation systems, drainage, individual home sewage systems, and farm water supply and treatment equipment.

NDSU Extension offers free soil testing at Big Iron

North Dakota State University Extension Service soil health specialists will test producers’ soil for salinity on Sept. 11 at the Big Iron farm show at the West Fargo Fairgrounds.

Producers can bring a soil sample to the NDSU Extension table for the free test.

“Salts are native to North Dakota’s glaciated mineralogy,” says Chris Augustin, area Extension soil health specialist at NDSU’s North Central Research Extension Center near Minot. “The past 20 or so wet years have moved these minerals to the topsoil. Water then evaporates, leaves salts behind and creates the white spots that reduce crop yields.

“Salinity management is water management,” he adds. “We need to dry down soils so salts move below the root zone. Farming practices that do this include cover cropping, perennial cropping, no-tilling and subsurface drainage.”

To provide soil for the test, take samples from a handful of spots in a field, mix the soil and take a sample of the mixture. That sample should contain about a cup of soil. Place the sample in a small dish on a sunny windowsill for a few days to allow the sample to dry. Then place the sample in a zip-top plastic bag and bring it to Big Iron.

“The test will take only a few minutes,” Augustin says. “We see white scars across North Dakota and know that salts are lowering crop yields. We hope this quick test gives our farmers an idea of how bad it is and that they know we are here to help them fix these issues.”

NDSU master gardener classes begin Sept. 27

North Dakota master gardener training is more convenient and flexible than ever, said Esther McGinnis, the North Dakota State University Extension Service master gardener coordinator.

The core master gardener course will be offered online and in a traditional classroom setting. If weekday morning classes conflict with an individual’s schedule, the classes can be watched online. Also, all assignments will be online.

The traditional classroom training will be conducted at several locations in the state, including Ashley, Bismarck, Cooperstown, Devils Lake, Dickinson, Fargo, Grand Forks, Minot, Napoleon, Wahpeton, Watford City and Williston.

The online and classroom sessions will run for eight weeks from Sept. 27 to Nov. 15. The training sessions will be held every Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. (CDT).

The cost is $150 for those wishing to become a certified master gardener and $300 for those just interested in taking the class. Computer knowledge and Internet access is required. All handouts will be available online for participants to access and print.

For more information, contact your local NDSU Extension Service office or McGinnis at (701) 231-7406.

To register, go to www.ag.ndsu.edu/mastergardener. All registration is done online and payment is by credit card or electronic check only. The deadline for registration is Sept. 13.