Agronomic

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Midwestern Hemp Database

As a “new” crop to the North Central region, best management practices and performance of high cannabinoid industrial hemp (Cannabis spp.) varieties are still being investigated. Despite tremendous interest across the region, the lack of university-published resources greatly increases the risk of hemp production relative to conventional crops and threatens to undermine the nascent hemp industry.    […]

Heritage Grains for Craft Brewing

With support from SARE, a Minnesota farmer learned that Conlon barley, Paul hulless oats, and Red Fife wheat could be malted with good flavor for prize-winning beers.

From Fallow to Field Peas

As farmers in western Nebraska face higher cash rents and property taxes, many want a more profitable, sustainable alternative to fallow for crop rotation. Strahinja Stepanovic, a University of Nebraska Lincoln Extension educator, received a SARE grant to find suitable crops for the mix. “Farmers in the semi-arid regions of western Nebraska (14–19 inches of […]

Spring-Grazing Cover Crops with Nebraska’s Knuth Farms

When a fourth-generation farm in Mead, Nebraska began to diversify their primarily cash crop operation in 2012, they gave some thought to cover crops and livestock. Knuth Farms didn’t want to buy cattle or become beef producers, but they did want to diversify their income stream, capture some of the soil benefits of cover crops, […]

Illinois Farmer Builds Precision Seeder to Maximize Cover Crop Advantage

Ralph “Junior” Upton is no novice when it comes to no-till and cover crops. His grain farm in the northeast corner of Hamilton county Illinois is 100% no-till with 1,800 acres of corn, beans, and wheat, and approximately 1,200 acres in cover crops. Upton has been farming more than 50 years, and the farm has […]

Traditional Fertilizer, Modern Applications for Iroquois White Corn

Farmers have long relied on liquid fish fertilizers because they are a source burn-free nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. Traditional Native American growers were well aware of the benefits that decaying fish could bring to their soil; they buried fish under mounded soil and planted the 3 Sisters (corn, beans, and squash) directly on top of […]

Building Resilience and Flexibility into Midwest Organic Potato Production

When Maria Carter’s parents emigrated to America from the Netherlands in 1956, they brought along a knowledge of growing seed potatoes. Shortly after they put down roots in North Dakota, they put down tubers to start their new seed potato farm. They knew potato growers needed healthy seed potatoes, and they knew how to grow […]

Ohio Farmer Develops Mobile Hops Dryer

In a state that boasts 300 craft breweries, David Volkman is among many craft beer enthusiasts in Ohio. But Volkman, with 12 acres of land in Warren County, is not only supporting Ohio’s craft brewing industry through consumption; he’s also contributing to its production. In 2012, he and his wife, Nina, started transitioning some of […]

Building a Mobile Hops Dryer

With support from an NCR-SARE Farmer Rancher grant, David Volkman of Ohio Valley Hops built a mobile hop dryer that incorporates best drying practices for small-scale hop growers. 

Does Open-Pollinated Corn Have a Place on Today’s Organic Farm?

On 205 acres near the picturesque bluffs of the Mississippi River, Stanley Smith raises beef cows and grows organic corn in southeastern Minnesota. He grew up on this small farm in the rolling hills of Winona County and worked in partnership with his dad until his dad retired. Smith and his wife, Vickie, purchased the […]

Iowa Farmers Seek Sustainability with Cover Crops and No-Till

In 2002, a $6,500 SARE grant funded an idea for a new tool at the Rodale Institute in Kutztown, Pennsylvania. The tool was a roller-crimper, a steel drum with blades that was mounted to a tractor and used to roll down cover crops. The idea was that the mat of dead cover crops would act as mulch, which researchers hoped no-till farmers […]

Evaluating the Roller-Crimper for Cover Crops in Corn and Soybean Terraced Ground

The beauty of the rolling hills in Northwestern Missouri can be downright dazzling. But these rolling hills, which captivate with their natural grace, also present a unique set of challenges for the producers who live and work there. Many farmers utilize a practice known as terracing to prevent erosion and surface runoff in their fields. […]

Big Bluestem Management Using High Density/Short Duration Grazing

Big Bluestem is a warm season, perennial bunchgrass with blue-green stems four to eight feet tall. It has been referred to as “ice cream for cows.” Leslea and Brad Hodgson own and operate Root Prairie Galloways, where they raise Galloway beef cows and have big bluestem pastures that they want to protect from the encroachment […]

Integrating Host Plant Resistance and Insecticides for Soybean Aphid Management

Soybean aphids (Aphis glycines Matsumura), are a major pest of soybean in the Midwest. Insecticides, such as pyrethroids and organophosphates, are used to suppress soybean aphid outbreaks to prevent yield loss. Another management tactic is host-plant resistance. In 2013, University of Minnesota graduate student Anthony Hanson, received a $9,938 Graduate Student grant to determine if […]

New Buckwheat Varieties for Greater Sustainability

Buckwheat is a speedy short-season cover crop. It establishes, blooms, and reaches maturity in just 70-90 days and its residue breaks down quickly. Buckwheat can suppress weeds and attract beneficial insects and pollinators with its abundant blossoms. It is easy to kill, and reportedly extracts soil phosphorus from soil better than most grain-type cover crops. […]