Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Test Your Home for Radon

Nora Rhoades- Family and Youth Development Agent

Governor Brownback has declared January 2017 Kansas Radon Action Month!

Winter is an ideal time for Kansas residents to test their homes for indoor radon gas concentrations, either for the first time or to make sure an installed radon mitigation system is adequately controlling indoor radon levels. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends actively reducing radon levels in homes when they are confirmed at or above 4 picocuries of radon per liter of air (pCi/L).

Radon is a natural, tasteless, odorless, colorless, radioactive gas produced from the decay of uranium found in nearly all soils. Radon gas moves from the ground under and around your home through cracks and other holes in the foundation. Current data indicates that one in four houses in Kansas may have elevated levels. In some counties this rate may be higher.

Radon is the leading cause of lung cancer among nonsmokers. Given the increased potential for lung cancer the radon hazard brings, Kansans should be asking themselves, “Have we tested our home for radon yet?”

Visit the Post Rock District’s website to connect with radon informational resources. Link:

You can purchase a low-cost radon test kit from the Post Rock District Offices in Beloit, Lincoln, Mankato, Osborne and Smith Center, Kansas.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Using AG Apps

Sandra Wick - Crop Production Agent

  The “technology age” continues to develop new tools! You rarely see a producer without their mobile device in their hands or on their hip! If a stock broker can check the market with the touch of
a button, why can’t a farmer check the moisture level in his soil? Well now you can! In recent years, several institutions have developed mobile applications (or “apps”) for tablets and smartphones with the goal of providing a service to all end users. The agricultural sector has taken a similar path, producing new apps for mobile devices (so called “Ag-Apps”) for agricultural consultants and producers with educational materials and support tools. There is an increasing interest in these “Ag-Apps” and the use of new technologies for increasing the efficiency in communicating and decision-making.

  Most of the apps mentioned are free to download, but before paying for any app, please check online reviews or consult with any specialist working with that app or someone familiar with the app
in order to understand its potential benefits and how it can assist you in your daily farming operation. As a general rule, an app needs to be “easy to use” and “intuitive.” Most apps do not come with a user guide or a manual. Take all these points into consideration before downloading and using apps.

  Ag-Apps are grouped into basically ten classifications with the goal of dividing apps by their different uses and purposes according to Dr. Ignacio Ciampitti, K-State Research and Extension Crop Production and Cropping Systems specialist. The ten classifications include:

  • D Apps: For identification purposes (weeds, insects, diseases, and nutrients) 
  • CALC Apps: For calculating purposes (nutrient removal calculations, tank mixes, volume to spray, etc.) 
  • SCOUT Apps: For scouting purposes or for geo-positioning (soil sampling, recording notes, soil types, etc.). 
  • ECON Apps: For checking grain prices, market evolutions, fertilizer price trends, news and finances. 
  • GUIDE Apps: For diagnosing crop production issues in the field, primarily related to field guides (crop management: insect, disease, weed, and more). 
  • LIVESTOCK Apps: Apps related to the animal side, nutrition, health, and information on markets. 
  • IRRIGATION Apps: Apps related to field crop irrigation and water application. 
  • MACHINERY Apps: Apps for associated with agricultural equipment preparation, inventory, providing information of the machine. 
  • GAG Apps: GAG (general Ag-Apps) for general use, weather-related, for meetings, for reading magazines, among several other Apps’ properties. 
  • NON-AG Apps: For general use from e-readers to calculators, email, calendar, picture editing, and more.
  I can’t begin to explain all of these, so let’s focus on the “Guide Apps” for diagnosing crop production issues in the field, at this time, primarily related to field guides with crop management dealing with insects, diseases, weed management and more. Below are links to these apps depending on your mobile device.
  • Ag-PhD Field Guide: FREE - This app allows you to browse weeds and insects by name and view photos. It also provides control recommendations. (iPhone and Android)
  • NDSU Pest Management: FREE - This app includes information from the North Dakota State University Extension Weed, Disease, and Insect Management Guides; including best pest management options. (iPhone and Android)
  • Purdue Extension Corn & Soybean Field Guide: ($12.99) This app provides information for corn and soybean production, presenting a very complete field guide. (iPhone)
  • NPIPM Soybean Guide (South Dakota State University): FREE - This app presents a field guide that provides management options for insect and other arthropod pests affecting soybeans. (iPhone)
  • Seed Guide (AgReliant Genetics): FREE - This app provides information on seed purchasing decisions for corn, soybean, and alfalfa. Searchable database, easy to search by name, maturity, or seed trait. (iPhone)
  • Field Guide (Oklahoma State University): FREE - This app presents nutrient removal values, a nutrient deficiency identification tool, and fertilizer calculations for most of the major crops. (iPhone)
  • MFA Agronomy Guide (MFA Incorporated): FREE - This app provides market information related to major crops (corn, sorghum, wheat, soybean, rice, cotton) and pastures. (iPhone and Android)
  In summary, there are several different Ag-Apps with diverse applications and unique features that can assist key stakeholders in the farming decision making process. For a more complete list of the Ag apps contact Sandra at 785-282-6823.

  For more information on AG technology, stop by or call me at any office of the Post Rock Extension District in Beloit, Lincoln, Mankato, Osborne or Smith Center.

  K-State Research and Extension along with Barton County and the Post Rock Extension District will be hosting two “Ag Technology Days” scheduled for February 9 and 10 in Great Bend and in Beloit. The Great Bend Recreation Center will be one site and the NCK Technical College will be the site in Beloit. RSVP is requested by Monday, February 6 to Barton County Extension or to Alicia Boor ( or to any of our Post Rock Extension District Offices in Beloit, Lincoln, Mankato, Osborne or Smith Center or to Sandra L. Wick ( Online registration is also available at for the Beloit location and for the Great Bend location.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Strength Training Opportunity for Older Adults

Ashley Svaty- Nutrition, Food Safety, and Health Agent

The loss of muscle mass can slip up on us without warning. At some point we realize we can’t do the things we used to, but also don’t know how to counter the process. K-State Research and Extension has launched Stay Strong, Stay Healthy, a strength training program to help older adults (60+) regain strength and improve balance and flexibility and overall health in the process.
Adults start to lose muscle mass, even as early as our 30s. And in our 50s it really starts to accelerate. But older adults are sometimes reluctant to start strengthening activities to counter the effects of aging on their bodies. The idea of going to a gym or not knowing the proper exercises to do at home can keep people from starting.
Participants in Stay Strong, Stay Healthy meet for one-hour sessions, twice a week for eight weeks. Activities include warm-up exercises, strengthening exercises with and without weights, and cool-down stretches. Class members are encouraged to do the exercises on their own once more per week. All equipment is provided on site.
There are many potential benefits to strength training including a decrease in arthritis pain, weight maintenance, and a reduction in the risk of diabetes, heart disease and depression. Stress management and improvement in sleep quality and overall physical vitality are other potential benefits. Learn more about this program at our Stay Strong, Stay Healthy Program site.
Registration is now open for strength training classes in Beloit and Mankato beginning February 21st and going through April 18thTo sign up for these classes please visit our upcoming events page or call our office in Beloit (785) 738-3597 or Mankato (785) 378-3174.