Monday, October 31, 2016

Seeing is Believing with On-Farm Research and Demonstration Test Plots

Sandra Wick - Crop Production Agent 

   K-State’s Research and Extension’s mission is to provide the citizens of Kansas with technical information and education that can enhance the economic viability and quality of life in our communities. One good way to do this is through well-planned and carefully-conducted demonstrations or “on-farm research” that serves as one of the most effective Extension education tools ever developed. Although complete demonstrations require considerable time and effort, the payback comes when producers readily adapt practices they perceive to be appropriate under local conditions. This is known as “seeing is believing.” Clients who observe demonstrations of the latest techniques or practices and then apply them to their own particular situations are our present and future Extension leaders. Demonstrations should illustrate the application of appropriate technology, that is, technology that fits the local set of conditions. When this occurs, the maximum learning will result from the resources invested.

The need for demonstrations was first recognized over a century ago by Seaman A. Knapp, an
Extension pioneer. Knapp’s theory was that farmers would not change their methods as a result of observing farms operated at public expense, but that demonstrations conducted by farmers themselves on their own farms under ordinary farm conditions were the answer. In Knapp’s words, “What a man hears, he may doubt; what he sees, he may also doubt; but what he does, he cannot doubt.” In 1903, Knapp proved his point through now famous demonstrations or on-farm research. The demonstration included a small farm in Texas that planted half in corn and half in cotton. The purpose was to illustrate the effects of using different seed varieties, fertilizers, methods of planting, and cultivation. The farmer made $700 more than might have been expected and the demonstration was a success. Then the opportunity came to use demonstrations on a broad scale in the weevil-infested areas of Texas and two adjoining states. Knapp demonstrated improved cotton growing methods. With a $40,000 budget, he directed more than 20 federal agents who worked with some 7,000 farmers to establish demonstration plots. This marked the beginning of demonstrations in the Cooperative Extension Service.

   Post Rock Extension District is very fortunate to have many producers who are willing to put in the extra time and effort for on-farm research or demonstration test plots. For this fall, we are fortunate to have four wheat demonstration plots across the district. Thanks to Calvin and Josh Bohnert, Marty Fletchall, Theron Haresnape, and Rick Mans as cooperators of the “on-farm wheat research for K-State Research and Extension and for the Post Rock District! Three of the wheat plots (Jewell, Osborne and Smith) include between 25-28 varieties, blends and population studies. The fourth plot (Mitchell) is a KSU replicated plot that is designed and was planted by the KSU NW Extension and Experiment Field staff.

   An additional sensor-based N fertility study (4th year) (Smith County) will be done in the Post Rock District addressing the application rates and dates for the most efficient nutrient uptake. Two
additional research plots have been collaborated with KSU Agronomy including a wheat phosphorus (P) study (Osborne County) along with a study looking at some of the newer urea type products such as ESN polymer coated urea, and NBPT coated urea (Mitchell County) to see if they offer any improvements in safety when placed with the seed. There are three urea sources and four different rates being used in the study.

“Knowledge for Life” continues to be our goal for K-State Research and Extension, so our educational programming provides research-based information from the university to the producers of our district.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Slow Cooking Season

Ashley Goudey - Nutrition, Food Safety and Health Agent

    It’s officially that time of the year, time to dust off the slow cooker to make meal prep a little easier! Everyone loves opening their front door and being welcomed with the aroma of beef stew or chicken noodle soup after a long day! A slow cooker can make life a little more convenient because by planning ahead, you save time later. Slow cookers also use less electricity than an oven, so it’s a win-win. Below are answers to common slow cooker questions. 

Can I put frozen meat into my slow cooker? NO. Always thaw meat or poultry before placing in a slow cooker. Play it safe and thaw your ingredients in the refrigerator.

I placed my meat in the slow cooker and then forgot to turn it on. It was off for 6 hours before I discovered it. Is it still safe? If I cook it, will that destroy any bacteria and make it safe? This meat is not safe, even if you cook it. Perishable food left in the “Danger Zone” (between 40ᵒF-140°F for more than 2 hours needs to be discarded even though if may look and smell good.

How much food can my slow cooker hold? Always consult your owner’s manual for suggested sizes of meat and poultry to cook in your slow cooker.

Is preheating necessary? Preheating the crock before adding ingredients or cooking on the highest setting for the first hour will ensure a rapid heat start and will shorten the time foods are in the temperature danger zone. This is highly recommended when cooking meat or poultry in a slow cooker.

What if the power goes out? You never know what kind of weather we will have in Kansas-and severe weather can lead to power outages. If you are not at home during the entire slow cooking process and the power goes out, throw away the food even if it looks done. If you are at home, finish cooking the ingredients immediately by some other means: on a gas stove, on the outdoor grill or at a house where the power is on. When you are at home, and if the food was completely cooked before the power went out, the food should remain safe up to two hours in the cooker with the power off.

Can I reheat leftovers in my slow cooker? Reheating leftovers in a slow cooker is not recommended. Store leftovers in shallow covered containers and refrigerate within two hours after cooking is finished. Cooked food should be reheated on the stove, in a microwave, or in a conventional oven until it reaches 165 °F.

How much liquid do I add? Water or liquid is necessary to create steam. When cooking meat or poultry, the water or liquid level should cover the ingredients to ensure effective heat transfer throughout the crock. Follow the manufacturer's recipes and directions for best results.

Sources:, USDA, and University of Minnesota Extension

Friday, October 21, 2016

Prepare for Health Insurance Decision-Making

Nora Rhoades- Family and Youth Development Agent

    The fall season is a popular time to make health insurance decisions. Many employers, the Health Insurance Marketplace, and some public programs, such as Medicare, utilize the fall as the one time each year you can change or renew insurance coverage.
    Generally, you can only buy health insurance coverage during annual open enrollment periods. It is difficult to change coverage if you don’t experience a qualifying life event, so it’s best to take advantage of the open enrollment period. If you experience a qualifying life event, such as losing job coverage, getting married, or having a child, you can change your health insurance outside of the open enrollment period in a special enrollment period.
    Delays in enrollment, coverage, and penalties may apply if the consumer doesn’t enroll at the appropriate time. While there are a few exceptions, the Affordable Care Act requires that you are insured for at least nine months out of every year, or you will have to pay a penalty at tax time for being uninsured.
    Medicare open enrollment is October 15, 2016 through December 7. Medicare Open Enrollment is an annual opportunity for individuals with Medicare eligibility to make changes to Medicare Advantage or Medicare prescription drug coverage for the following year. You can get free, un-biased health insurance counseling from a SHICK (Senior Health Insurance Counseling for Kansas) Counselor. To identify a SHICK Counselor in your area, contact the Post Rock Extension District or the Kansas Agency on Aging office in your area.
    Open enrollment through the Kansas Health Insurance Marketplace for 2017 coverage will begin November 1, 2016. December 15 is the last day to enroll or change an insurance plan through the Marketplace for coverage to start January 1, 2017. January 31 is the last day to enroll in or change a 2017 health plan. After this date, you can enroll or change plans only if you qualify for a special enrollment period. Cover Kansas Navigators are trained, un-biased volunteers who can assist you with making decisions in the Marketplace. To identify a Navigator in your area, call the Marketplace at 1-800-318-2596 or contact the Post Rock Extension District.
    Contact your local Post Rock Extension District Office to access resources that can provide non-biased assistance as you work through the health insurance decision-making process.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Nitrates and Prussic Acid

Neil Cates, Livestock Agent

Many of you have already or are preparing to swath or graze your fall forages such as, oats, millets, forage sorghums and sorghum sudan grasses. We have had great moisture to allow these forage crops to thrive. Even with the plentiful moisture, I have still tested several forages that have produced toxic levels of nitrates. Be sure to test your forages before you graze or feed them this fall and into the winter. This is a service offered by the livestock program of the Post Rock Extension District.

Another concern this time of year is the risk of prussic acid poisoning. Sorghums, sudan grasses, sorghum-sudan grass crosses, and closely related species are most commonly associated with prussic acid poisoning. Most sorghum and sudan grasses contain a prussic acid precursor (dhurrin) in their epidermal cells. Dhurrin in itself is not toxic, but the plant contains an enzyme that under certain conditions (periods of stress), converts dhurrin to prussic acid. 

Grain sorghum generally has higher concentrations of dhurrin than forage sorghums or sudan grass. Dhurrin concentrations are usually low under normal growing conditions. Problems occur in young plants, new regrowth, and following rapid regrowth after a period of stunted growth, such as rapid growth of drought-stressed plants following a rain, or regrowth following a frost or freeze. These conditions cause concern for high concentrations of dhurrin resulting in livestock poisoning.

So what can be done to prevent prussic acid poisoning?

-Do not graze these prussic acid accumulating places unless they are tested first. 

-If plants have been damaged by herbicides or frost, defer grazing until they either are well recovered from injury or after a killing freeze. After a killing frost, wait at least 7-10 days or until the frozen leaf tissue has completely dried out before grazing to allow the released hydrogen cyanide gas to dissipate.

-Do not graze plants in the sorghum family until they are 2 to 3 feet tall and be cautious of grazing regrowth.

-When turning livestock into new pastures containing prussic acid accumulating plants, don’t turn in on cloudy days, or early in the morning.

-Feed grain or hay before releasing the animals to pasture.

On the bright side, prussic acid dissipates from plants properly cured for hay. However, in hay baled early at high moisture or plants chopped for immediate feeding, the prussic acid may not have had a chance to dissipate. Under these conditions or grazing, the best assurance is to test your feed stuffs for prussic acid.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

A Club for Kids and the Whole Family

Aliesa Woods - District Extension Director and 4-H Youth Development Agent

   Looking for an activity that involves the whole family? Do you want your children to learn leadership, communication skills, and cooperation? Then 4-H could be for you! 4-H teaches kids from all backgrounds how to become well rounded individuals.
     Enrollment is now open for kids ages 7-18. Clubs are groups of families and volunteers who meet monthly. At meetings, members share their projects, plan community service activities and learn to make decisions.

   4-H is built in a belief in the power of young people, that every child has valuable strengths and real influence to improve the world around them. The organization provides the kinds of experiences to grow into true leaders. 

   In Kansas, more than 86,000 youth participate in the 4-H program through hands-on projects in areas like science, health, agriculture and citizenship. 4-H clubs have evolved to include special interest (SPIN) clubs focusing only on a particular project, in-school enrichment programs and after-school programs.

   There are 16 clubs in the Post Rock District. To find one near you visit