Archive | December 2012

EPA Air Quality Changes Don’t Include ‘Farm Dust’

The Environmental Protection Agency on Friday announced changes to its national air quality standards for fine particle pollution, but retained proposed standards released earlier this year for coarse particulate matter, including “farm dust.”

Friday’s changes limit the health standard for fine particle pollution to 12 micrograms per cubic meter. The announcement will not affect the current standards for fine particles or coarse particles. It is, however, expected that all standards that cut PM2.5 from diesel vehicles and equipment along will prevent premature deaths, hospital stays and sick days from work.


Use 2012 Corn Stalk Nitrate Tests With Caution

From Fred Vocasek, senior lab agronomist:

The post-season corn stalk nitrate test has become popular in many areas. The test interpretations are based on an “optimum” nitrate level between 700 to 2000 ppm NO3-N. The test is not intended to precisely predict a nitrogen fertilizer recommendation. Rather it is a type of “post-mortem” to help judge if the nitrogen fertilizer rate was adequate for the yield that was actually produced.

Stalk nitrate levels below 700 ppm NO3-N suggest that yields may have been nitrogen-limited. Levels above 2000 ppm NO3-N suggest the corn plant was in the “luxury consumption” range. These high levels suggest that the nitrogen rate was excessive and could have been scaled back without sacrificing yield. Stalk nitrate levels between 700 and 2000 suggest the nitrogen rate was fairly well matched to the final yield.

The stalk nitrate result interpretations are not clear-cut, so should be used with care and coupled with soil nitrate and other information. The stalk nitrate test is affected by as many factors as affect corn growth itself. Soil moisture, yield potential, and length of grain-fill affect nitrogen metabolism and conversion of nitrate to plant proteins. For example, a long or late grain-fill period may give different results than an early or shorter grain-fill.

The 700 to 2000 ppm range is based on normal weather and production. The 2012 results are abnormally high because of the high temperatures, elevated stress, and the impact on corn growth and yield.

The test is intended for stalk samples collected during the two or three weeks after black-layer formation. Samples taken before or after this time frame are invalid. We have had a number of producers sending in stalk samples from harvested stubble to comply with CSP program provisions. Results from these samples are totally useless, except for checking off a box on a federal payment form.

One use for the stalk test may be to identify situations with high residual soil nitrate. The stalk sample results could help target profile nitrate sampling. Fields with stalk nitrates above 2500 to 3000 ppm NO3-N may be most likely to have high soil nitrates in the second and third foot. These fields should be deep sampled to verify nitrate carryover. Low stalk nitrates suggest that subsoil nitrates are likely to have been depleted, so would have low priority for deep sampling.

Keeping Small Towns Thriving

Good afternoon!

Earlier today we read an excellent story written by The High Plains Journal. The story is about how one rural Nebraska town is trying to keep its community alive by attracting both businesses and people to the area.

Here’s a link to the story.

From the story:

It takes more than just a positive tax structure or special financing to bring new businesses into communities like Gothenburg, Williams said. It takes personal contact and commitment from leaders in the city as well as buy-in from all sectors of the community.

“We also organized our county and towns–Dawson County, along with Lexington, Gothenburg and Cozad–into Dawson Area Development,” Williams said. “We put the entire county together and quit worrying who beat who in the Friday night football game, ending the jealousies, and got this organization going to work together for the good of the county.”

From that point on, it became more than a matter of offering money to companies to move into the area. Instead, Williams and Anderson said, quality-of-life issues came into play.