Challenges of Developing a Resilient Cropping System in a Semi-arid Environment
Agricultural crop production in water limited environments has extreme variability from year to year. The lack of precipitation requires crop producers to use increasingly complex and novel strategies to mitigate losses and become more resilient in the face of an ever changing climate.
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[00:00:00.790]The following presentation
[00:00:02.250]is part of the agronomy and horticulture seminar series
[00:00:05.840]at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
[00:00:09.910]Okay, I think we'll go ahead and get started.
[00:00:11.680]Welcome to today's agronomy and horticulture seminar.
[00:00:17.890]It is my pleasure to introduce Dr. Cody Creech,
[00:00:21.420]who is an associate professor here in the department.
[00:00:25.200]He received his bachelor of science
[00:00:26.800]in business operation management
[00:00:28.350]and master of science in plant science
[00:00:30.930]from Utah State University.
[00:00:33.350]And then he came here to UNL to earn his doctorate
[00:00:36.800]in agronomy, specializing in weed science.
[00:00:40.790]And then Cody joined the department as a faculty member,
[00:00:45.220]and dryland cropping systems specialist
[00:00:48.210]at the Panhandle Research and Extension Center
[00:00:50.140]in May of 2015.
[00:00:52.740]Cody leads a diverse team of research and extension program,
[00:00:57.880]programming that addresses wheat production,
[00:00:59.970]alternative cropping systems,
[00:01:01.220]soil and resource conservation,
[00:01:05.410]in dryland cropping systems in Western Nebraska.
[00:01:08.370]And he's also a faculty supervisor
[00:01:10.230]for the High Plains Agricultural Laboratory near Sidney.
[00:01:14.260]And leads a state variety testing program
[00:01:17.320]jointly with Amanda Easterly out in Sidney.
[00:01:21.140]And Cody, take it away.
[00:01:23.460]So I'm really excited to be here today
[00:01:25.820]and share some of the things that we've been working on
[00:01:27.460]out here at the High Plains Ag Lab
[00:01:30.329]and hopefully just share some of the way
[00:01:35.570]I think about things and why we do things
[00:01:38.660]the way we do out here.
[00:01:41.160]But I thought it would be important to first,
[00:01:44.810]the, talk about the High Plains Ag Lab.
[00:01:47.120]Because the High Plains Ag Lab is where we probably do
[00:01:52.760]70% of the work we do in my program
[00:01:55.560]is conducted at the High Plains Ag Lab
[00:01:57.190]near Sydney, Nebraska.
[00:01:59.120]It's located in Cheyenne County
[00:02:01.880]and that's a really neat facility from,
[00:02:05.390]I'm up in the Scottsbluff Panhandle Research
[00:02:08.890]and Extension Center up in Scottsbluff.
[00:02:11.000]And so the, this, the High Plains Ag Lab or HPAL,
[00:02:15.470]as we call it is located about an hour,
[00:02:18.570]20 minutes away from me south.
[00:02:22.869]And it consists of about 700 acres of dry land
[00:02:26.430]or crop production.
[00:02:28.850]It does have about 40 acres of irrigated ground
[00:02:31.410]that we use for some supplemental irrigation trials,
[00:02:34.030]where we can alter the amount of irrigation going on
[00:02:38.701]to look at different drought stress situations.
[00:02:44.604]And then it does also have 2200 acres of range land.
[00:02:50.058]And, so there's a lot of resources there,
[00:02:52.830]here in this building there's a farm manager
[00:02:55.650]that's based there as well as technicians
[00:02:58.050]for my program that's where Amanda Easterly is.
[00:03:02.110]And other technicians, graduate students are there,
[00:03:06.740]technician for the BQMS program
[00:03:09.540]and a technician as well for Dipak Santra.
[00:03:12.730]So a lot of folks are there,
[00:03:14.350]a lot of work is done there,
[00:03:15.750]and I would be remiss if I didn't mention
[00:03:19.330]the contributions of Charlie Fenster,
[00:03:21.850]who the, this building is named after.
[00:03:25.090]He was in my position back in the '50s and '60s
[00:03:29.821]and into the '70s and really impacted the agriculture
[00:03:34.560]in the Nebraska Panhandle and the surrounding states.
[00:03:40.560]So Charlie was a big proponent of soil conservation.
[00:03:46.610]He grew up in Kimball County
[00:03:48.080]in the Southern part of the Panhandle,
[00:03:50.350]lived through the dust bowl and saw firsthand the importance
[00:03:54.600]of having something on the soil surface
[00:03:57.900]to protect the soil from erosion
[00:04:00.320]and also to conserve soil moisture.
[00:04:03.590]And so he was a big proponent
[00:04:05.664]of what's called stubble mulch.
[00:04:08.810]And that's the idea of,
[00:04:10.780]and back when he was in this position,
[00:04:13.360]it was mostly wheat fallow.
[00:04:15.030]And so the idea was, we need to keep as much
[00:04:17.320]of that wheat residue as we can on the soil surface.
[00:04:20.340]And I was fortunate enough.
[00:04:22.930]Charlie passed away in 2016,
[00:04:24.680]but I was able to interact with him
[00:04:27.630]when I was first hired for about two years.
[00:04:31.110]He had a sharp mind and was always willing
[00:04:34.550]to share some advice and his insight.
[00:04:37.420]But he always emphasized almost every time
[00:04:39.470]I saw him the importance of growing crops,
[00:04:43.650]not only for the yield, but also for that residue.
[00:04:47.540]So we can grow crops the following year as well.
[00:04:52.110]So the High Plains Ag Lab was the start of it,
[00:04:56.370]officially in 1970.
[00:04:59.120]Again, I already mentioned
[00:05:00.130]it's about 700 acres of crop land,
[00:05:03.310]but it was really driven by the farmers in that area
[00:05:07.180]in Cheyenne County and those surrounding counties.
[00:05:12.380]And much like Clay Center,
[00:05:14.200]it was originally an army depot for ammunition.
[00:05:20.610]And so there was a, we just celebrated our 50th anniversary
[00:05:25.860]last year of 50 years of research and work done.
[00:05:30.600]But the thing that's really neat about
[00:05:31.990]the High Plains Ag Lab is still very much grower driven.
[00:05:35.790]They were the big drivers to get established and going,
[00:05:39.060]and it's still grower driven.
[00:05:41.830]On the back of the plow there is Ray Cruise
[00:05:44.530]and his son, Don Cruise,
[00:05:48.930]still serves on the advisory committee
[00:05:51.870]and we meet annually and they provide input
[00:05:54.780]on the research ideas and topics.
[00:05:57.170]And provide input on what they think we should be doing
[00:06:01.200]at the facility.
[00:06:03.560]So today we still have that advisory board
[00:06:08.870]that helps to lead what we do there,
[00:06:11.350]it's made of about 30 individuals
[00:06:13.630]ranging from area farmers, stakeholders,
[00:06:18.970]such as folks from banks or co-ops
[00:06:22.130]those who are involved in the Ag industry in many ways.
[00:06:24.600]Well, we have a pretty neat cross section
[00:06:27.150]that support us there.
[00:06:30.270]We already, I think Sabrina mentioned
[00:06:33.010]that we had the state variety testing program out there now
[00:06:35.440]with, within my program.
[00:06:37.980]Amanda Easterly, and I work that program
[00:06:41.500]and that's since 2019.
[00:06:44.940]So it's been a couple of years now so,
[00:06:46.950]that we've had it out there,
[00:06:48.660]and that's been really a beneficial move for us,
[00:06:51.270]especially as in regards to the wheat variety testing.
[00:06:55.500]I mentioned, we have a BQ amount,
[00:06:57.050]a BQMS location for biotechnology research.
[00:07:02.520]The High Plains Ag Lab, and that does have
[00:07:04.440]some irrigation available to it.
[00:07:07.470]And on a normal year, we usually see about 40 experiments
[00:07:10.640]conducted at the High Plains Ag Lab
[00:07:12.380]ranging in from, anything from cattle grazing
[00:07:16.910]clear to variety testing and everything in between.
[00:07:22.500]And oftentimes, or we usually have two annual field days,
[00:07:28.110]sometimes more, sometimes less,
[00:07:29.660]depending on what's going on.
[00:07:33.500]So on that 700 acres,
[00:07:35.340]we've divided that up into about 27, 28
[00:07:38.920]different fields of about 30 acres in size each.
[00:07:42.640]And then we've taken those fields
[00:07:44.760]and we've developed a number of crop rotations
[00:07:47.360]that we feel are reflective of what
[00:07:51.770]a lot of the producers in the area might be doing.
[00:07:55.150]We try to be as current as we can
[00:07:57.750]with what other people are doing.
[00:07:59.590]So we remain relevant.
[00:08:02.250]And so we have nine rotations.
[00:08:03.840]And what you'll see as you look
[00:08:05.260]through this list of rotations
[00:08:07.270]is they all have one thing in common,
[00:08:10.380]and that is that they'll have wheat in their rotation.
[00:08:12.970]And we do believe strongly and firmly
[00:08:15.920]that wheat is the backbone of any dry land crop rotation
[00:08:20.010]in Western Nebraska.
[00:08:22.150]It's so important from the period of time
[00:08:26.640]in which it grows its water use efficiency,
[00:08:29.930]as well as the residue that it produces.
[00:08:32.240]It allows us to grow some of these summer annual crops,
[00:08:34.600]such as corn or sunflower the following year.
[00:08:38.530]So that's in all of our rotations.
[00:08:41.230]And then it, we might have anywhere
[00:08:43.660]from a two year rotation.
[00:08:44.800]That's just a simple wheat valor rotation,
[00:08:46.830]which is kind of our historical check
[00:08:50.340]to something that might be continuous crop rotation.
[00:08:53.410]Like you see in rotation number five
[00:08:55.280]where we have wheat, sunflower, proso millet
[00:08:58.570]and pea rotation.
[00:08:59.680]So a lot of variety and a lot of opportunities
[00:09:03.420]to do research and a lot of different scenarios.
[00:09:10.720]So if you're unfamiliar with where the High Plains Ag Lab is
[00:09:15.160]in Western Nebraska, it is here in Cheyenne County,
[00:09:19.810]just north of Sydney.
[00:09:22.570]And again, that's probably about five hours from Lincoln.
[00:09:27.600]And it really serves those producers
[00:09:31.410]in that Southern part of the panhandle
[00:09:34.060]down into West Central, Nebraska,
[00:09:35.870]and even in, up into the Northern Panhandle,
[00:09:38.180]who are those dry land farmers.
[00:09:40.160]And those are the folks that we try to serve.
[00:09:45.110]It's no surprise that Nebraska has a larger
[00:09:48.830]precipitation gradient across the state
[00:09:52.410]going from the Eastern corner up into the Panhandle.
[00:09:58.020]And it's about, there's about twice as much rainfall
[00:10:01.290]in Eastern Nebraska as there is in, up in the Panhandle.
[00:10:04.830]And so we do have some added challenges
[00:10:06.640]when we think about the types of crops we grow,
[00:10:10.930]as well as how, just how we approach things.
[00:10:15.690]It's a very different environment,
[00:10:17.510]but it also lends itself to do some really neat research
[00:10:20.510]from a perspective that we can add some
[00:10:25.170]supplemental irrigation to simulate
[00:10:30.730]a lot of different scenarios.
[00:10:31.960]And so we feel pretty fortunate to be able to do that
[00:10:37.360]when we don't get a lot of rain,
[00:10:40.110]it seems like whenever we do some drought type work,
[00:10:44.060]that's when we get our rain events.
[00:10:46.660]And so it doesn't always work out,
[00:10:48.490]but it, more often than not, we will be dry.
[00:10:53.770]So I wanted to kinda center this presentation
[00:10:56.640]around the idea of resiliency and what that looks like,
[00:11:00.139]in our cropping systems in Western Nebraska.
[00:11:03.090]And I really liked this quote or this definition,
[00:11:07.650]of the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties
[00:11:13.380]And as you look at a lot of these different words
[00:11:15.290]around this word resilience.
[00:11:18.790]Yeah, I think a lot of them really kinda just tie together
[00:11:23.130]and as I think about our cropping systems out here.
[00:11:26.930]I think we need all of these pieces
[00:11:29.670]to be able to be resilient.
[00:11:31.570]We just can't lean on a single crop,
[00:11:35.670]we can't lean on a single practice.
[00:11:37.890]And I hope that, that comes through
[00:11:39.370]as I continue to share my presentation.
[00:11:45.860]So it was mentioned that I came out here to Nebraska.
[00:11:49.200]I graduated with my PhD in 2015, my first summer was 2012.
[00:11:54.920]And that was probably the hottest, driest summer
[00:11:58.080]I've ever experienced.
[00:11:59.910]And if you look at the drought monitor
[00:12:01.700]from just January of 2013 there,
[00:12:03.580]that smaller map it shows that Western half of the state
[00:12:07.850]and just a severe drought
[00:12:10.370]compared to the one that was just released yesterday.
[00:12:12.670]Yes, we are still dry in Western Nebraska,
[00:12:15.470]but not like we saw back in 2012 and into 2013.
[00:12:20.970]And so I, every year for us is different,
[00:12:24.620]especially when we don't have the benefit of,
[00:12:27.910]or the ability to apply additional water through irrigation.
[00:12:37.580]And so we need to be smart in how we approach
[00:12:40.460]our cropping systems and crop rotations out here.
[00:12:44.540]So I mentioned historically, we had a wheat fallow rotation.
[00:12:48.680]This is typical of what would have been seen.
[00:12:51.500]In Western Nebraska you still see a lot of fields
[00:12:53.730]with these strips out here where they might still be doing
[00:12:59.390]a wheat fallow rotation.
[00:13:01.240]Or they might have these scripts into different crops now,
[00:13:05.910]but this was done as a effort to conserve the soil
[00:13:12.170]back when they were doing the wheat fallow rotation,
[00:13:15.783]they managed that fallow with tillage.
[00:13:18.690]And so in order to protect the soil or a field from blowing,
[00:13:22.770]when they were doing the tillage,
[00:13:25.070]they have these strips through there,
[00:13:25.967]and that helped to protect the soil.
[00:13:29.860]But a big change went through,
[00:13:32.112]in the late '60s to the '70s,
[00:13:34.340]with wheat production out here, where,
[00:13:37.860]and where yields increased about three fold.
[00:13:41.930]And that was, primarily I would argue because of two things.
[00:13:46.480]The first being that we started to move
[00:13:48.810]from those really tall weeds into those semi dwarf weeds
[00:13:54.300]that were a little bit higher yielding.
[00:13:56.980]As well as Charlie Fenster's efforts
[00:14:00.230]with conservation tillage and maintaining that soil
[00:14:05.280]or that crop residue on the soil surface,
[00:14:08.100]which conserved a lot of soil moisture
[00:14:10.270]and helped to boost those yields as well.
[00:14:13.040]So this is kind of what things looked like.
[00:14:16.160]And we'll talk, we'll kinda talk about
[00:14:19.220]why things have changed over the year since then.
[00:14:25.190]So the wheat fallow rotation was used,
[00:14:29.060]because it was pretty consistent as far as the wheat yield,
[00:14:34.470]because we were able to store some of that water.
[00:14:37.670]Over time though we quickly discovered that
[00:14:41.110]using fallow as a method to store water
[00:14:44.310]in the soil was highly inefficient.
[00:14:47.217]That less than 25% of the precipitation that was received,
[00:14:51.100]over the fallow period was actually stored.
[00:14:54.010]The remainder was lost to usually evaporation
[00:14:59.180]or sometimes weeds or other things
[00:15:02.190]that are growing out there,
[00:15:03.040]but primarily evaporation.
[00:15:05.290]So in an area like we have out here
[00:15:07.100]where we have 16 inches of annual precipitation,
[00:15:09.677]and that means we're losing 12 inches of water
[00:15:12.500]over that fallow period.
[00:15:14.300]And for a place that doesn't have a lot of water,
[00:15:17.350]that's not a very good use of the limited water resources
[00:15:20.950]that we get on an annual basis.
[00:15:24.540]So, and that brings us to
[00:15:27.110]the precipitation storage efficiency question.
[00:15:29.470]So how can we take that precipitation that we receive
[00:15:32.650]on a limited basis and keep that in the soil?
[00:15:35.850]And I think Charlie Fenster was on the right track
[00:15:38.200]with the residue management.
[00:15:40.920]So if you think about how we went from
[00:15:45.660]a winter wheat fallow rotation, that was relied primarily
[00:15:50.926]on tillage for weed control
[00:15:54.120]and the precipitation storage, there was 20% to 25%.
[00:15:59.870]So not very good in that fallow period.
[00:16:02.900]Now, Charlie Fenster with the idea of stubble mulching,
[00:16:06.320]keeping that residue on the soil surface
[00:16:08.530]was able to increase that up to about 33%.
[00:16:11.750]It doesn't seem like a lot but that's a few inches of water
[00:16:15.360]that can really make a difference in a crop,
[00:16:20.714]in a given year.
[00:16:23.700]And then lastly, more recently in the last,
[00:16:27.910]20, 30 years or so,
[00:16:30.430]we've started to make that move into no till
[00:16:32.960]and really keeping that residue on the soil surface.
[00:16:35.740]A lot of producers out here now use stripper headers,
[00:16:39.360]which keep that wheat residue really tall
[00:16:42.470]and conserves even more soil moisture.
[00:16:46.400]So a lot of progress has been made
[00:16:50.060]with the idea of precipitation storage,
[00:16:53.970]just through managing our soils through,
[00:16:58.740]whether it's tillage or residue management.
[00:17:02.600]So the other thing that has changed today
[00:17:07.490]is that cropping systems have really intensified
[00:17:12.150]to some degree or varying degrees.
[00:17:15.560]Where we used to be traditionally in wheat fallow
[00:17:19.010]we've now gone to a lot of people have gone from,
[00:17:23.330]to a wheat summer crop of some kind,
[00:17:25.460]whether it's corn or sunflowers to a fallow,
[00:17:28.640]which is a three-year rotation
[00:17:30.260]where others have gone to a four-year rotation.
[00:17:33.170]And it, really in an effort to minimize
[00:17:36.210]the time spent in fallow,
[00:17:37.610]but also to be growing your crop
[00:17:39.340]when we are receiving the, most of that precipitation.
[00:17:45.810]So the, really the whole of the concept behind that is,
[00:17:51.490]is how can we grow crops when we are receiving
[00:17:55.540]that limited amount of precipitation that we grow?
[00:17:57.620]So it just doesn't evaporate, so we can capture it
[00:18:00.420]and find a way to use it.
[00:18:01.720]And the idea is to make sure that we're growing a crop
[00:18:04.910]that aligns with when that precipitation is received.
[00:18:11.500]So if we look at the distribution
[00:18:13.730]of the High Plains Ag Lab precipitation,
[00:18:15.940]the green bars being the 73 year average
[00:18:18.380]for the High Plains Ag Lab.
[00:18:20.690]You'll see that we, from April to August,
[00:18:23.230]we're receiving 73% of our total annual precipitation
[00:18:27.970]in those five months.
[00:18:30.820]This, the blue bars are from 2019 and 2020 rainfall.
[00:18:35.380]So you will see that we were short rain
[00:18:38.290]the end of last year, quite a bit.
[00:18:41.300]I think we've finished a year down about six or seven inches
[00:18:45.060]off our, off of our normal, which again for,
[00:18:52.460]while we're starting with just 16 inches of rain
[00:18:54.530]going down to 10 or nine inches
[00:18:57.070]can really reduce our crop yield, and it did.
[00:19:01.200]And so the question is, how can we align our crop rotations
[00:19:04.260]to better utilize at that precipitation pattern
[00:19:10.070]of 73% of our total coming in those few months?
[00:19:14.920]So when we kind of take a step back and think about,
[00:19:18.627]"Okay, we need to design a rotation."
[00:19:22.570]Oftentimes we need to consider,
[00:19:24.870]our access to a water precipitation,
[00:19:29.060]what we can do with soil health or soil fertility,
[00:19:32.700]we need to manage diseases and pests.
[00:19:35.217]And we also wanna use our resources efficiently.
[00:19:40.040]It would be ideal if we could accomplish all of those things
[00:19:45.665]to 100% but ultimately for this area,
[00:19:54.000]it's really all about the, these, the soil and water.
[00:19:58.510]And, it's really because a couple of things,
[00:20:02.130]we don't have a very large soil profile out here.
[00:20:06.100]It's very shallow.
[00:20:07.610]And so usually it's no more than about a meter of soil
[00:20:13.010]before we get down to pretty much a hard pan.
[00:20:16.780]And the, and it's pretty obvious
[00:20:21.640]that if you don't have water, you're not gonna have,
[00:20:26.220]things growing to help to manage that soil health.
[00:20:30.180]Disease management for us out here,
[00:20:31.710]is not a really big priority.
[00:20:33.360]We don't have enough moisture to,
[00:20:38.052]have a lot of disease issues.
[00:20:39.960]Generally, a lot of those disease issues
[00:20:42.240]will be under irrigation.
[00:20:45.080]So that's not as big of an issue for us,
[00:20:48.120]but it is something that we do need to be concerned about
[00:20:50.430]a little bit.
[00:20:54.260]So what can we do with our precipitation,
[00:20:58.633]or how can we better manage it?
[00:21:00.340]Well, we need to be able to either store it
[00:21:02.910]or we need to use it.
[00:21:06.770]This picture I really liked because
[00:21:08.580]we don't get a lot of our precipitation in the winter,
[00:21:11.570]but as I guess, as snow,
[00:21:15.520]but the snow we do get, it usually comes when it's blowing.
[00:21:20.750]And so it, if you don't have something on the field,
[00:21:24.030]that snow that we do get, it's gonna blow right off
[00:21:26.210]and go somewhere else.
[00:21:28.030]And so we really emphasize the need and importance
[00:21:32.410]to keep some of that residue on the soil surface
[00:21:35.550]to capture that snow.
[00:21:37.300]So that it will melt and be available
[00:21:40.840]to our crops and not to, down the road to our neighbors.
[00:21:44.300]Although that does sound like a neighborly idea.
[00:21:48.950]There's no question that no till has helped
[00:21:52.750]the whole equation of precipitation storage.
[00:21:55.820]This is just a old but a simple picture
[00:21:59.320]showing the differences of that third one there.
[00:22:03.740]It is the tilled ground
[00:22:06.110]that shows a lot of runoff that came off.
[00:22:09.380]So obviously if you think about the weather events
[00:22:13.070]that we get, when we do get a large rain storm
[00:22:17.900]to come through.
[00:22:19.100]We wanna try to make sure that, that rain we do get
[00:22:21.530]whether it's one inch or two inches or three inches
[00:22:24.190]in a short period of time,
[00:22:25.660]but that's going into our soil and not running off.
[00:22:29.390]And they're going down the route of,
[00:22:31.210]we gotta make sure that we're able to capture it.
[00:22:33.750]And then lastly, to be able to reduce evaporation,
[00:22:39.410]and again, that soil residue on top
[00:22:41.860]makes it a really big difference in that regard.
[00:22:46.140]I really liked this example,
[00:22:47.420]and this is some work from Bob Klein
[00:22:51.080]over there in West Central.
[00:22:53.130]But these pictures are actually from the Grant Area,
[00:22:56.620]showing the stripper headed wheat on the left
[00:22:58.830]versus the wheat that was cut with a conventional head
[00:23:02.440]in some small plots.
[00:23:04.550]The, at this time, this was in April,
[00:23:09.990]the wheat with the, a lot of residue had nine inches
[00:23:14.210]of plant available water.
[00:23:15.890]Whereas the stuff on the right
[00:23:18.050]only had about half of that amount as available water.
[00:23:22.570]And so again, for our area, that's extremely important
[00:23:28.100]because that could essentially be,
[00:23:32.600]as Bob stated up to a 56 bushel per acre difference
[00:23:37.880]in that following corn crop,
[00:23:40.720]if the year turned out to be
[00:23:42.030]kind of an average precipitation year.
[00:23:45.790]So again, just the, that whole idea of being able to capture
[00:23:49.729]that to water, keep it from evaporating
[00:23:53.680]until we have another crop in there to use it
[00:23:56.070]is really important.
[00:23:57.420]Yeah, so a nine on the left,
[00:23:59.550]a four and a half on the right
[00:24:01.130]and the 56 bushel difference in years.
[00:24:05.790]So the idea of precipitation use efficiency.
[00:24:09.580]So if you think about the, a wheat fallow rotation,
[00:24:13.120]the crop uses around 14 inches of water,
[00:24:16.840]and that could be through crop use and some evaporation.
[00:24:23.100]If you think about the rain fall over two years,
[00:24:25.640]that's 33 inches that comes out to about 42%.
[00:24:31.520]And I like this figure on the right.
[00:24:33.460]It does show that, which is pretty consistent
[00:24:37.400]with what we've seen in Western Nebraska as well.
[00:24:40.340]The decline of fallow over time,
[00:24:44.440]again, really related to this concept
[00:24:47.490]that the fallow has really become well known
[00:24:51.780]that it's not a very good method of storing water
[00:24:55.990]or accumulating water for,
[00:24:57.660]to save for the following crop.
[00:25:01.940]So if we look at some different crop rotations,
[00:25:06.910]some different crop rotations and the percent of water,
[00:25:09.500]that's converted to crop yield,
[00:25:10.780]we already talked about
[00:25:11.670]the winter wheat fallow rotation at 42%.
[00:25:15.010]If we look at the wheat corn fallow rotation, that's 58%
[00:25:18.810]wheat, corn, proso millet fallow 63%.
[00:25:23.000]And if we go to a continuous cropping rotation at 75%,
[00:25:28.200]so you can see by intensifying our rotations,
[00:25:32.490]we are better able to utilize
[00:25:34.510]that precipitation we're getting.
[00:25:36.040]We're putting it through the plant
[00:25:38.620]rather than losing a bunch of it to the atmosphere.
[00:25:42.920]And we would much rather have that water
[00:25:46.160]going through the plant and making something of it
[00:25:49.380]and just losing that water.
[00:25:55.810]So if we think about the fallow period itself,
[00:25:58.890]wheat fallow, wheat grows for about nine months.
[00:26:01.810]It's planted normally in September and harvested in July,
[00:26:06.330]which would mean that over the course of that,
[00:26:08.310]those two years, we have nine months of wheat growing
[00:26:13.140]and 15 months of fallow.
[00:26:15.820]So that would mean we have 63% of those two years
[00:26:20.860]were spent in the fallow period where nothing was growing.
[00:26:27.800]So again, if we look at those other crop rotations
[00:26:30.660]where we have wheat corn fallow,
[00:26:34.120]it's at 61%, wheat, corn, proso millet, fallow is 65%
[00:26:39.500]and wheat, corn, sunflower, proso millet
[00:26:42.560]or a continuous crop rotation is at 56%.
[00:26:45.970]So you might be surprised to think that,
[00:26:49.160]well, we're intensifying our rotation,
[00:26:51.680]or we, on the last one, we have a continuous crop.
[00:26:56.410]But we still have nearly half the time 56%
[00:27:02.220]where we're not growing a crop.
[00:27:06.100]That land is just sitting idle.
[00:27:10.140]And, so, yes, these are all relatively close.
[00:27:13.880]We think about intensification going from wheat fallow
[00:27:16.490]to a three or a four year rotation
[00:27:18.750]that we would reduce that fallow a lot more
[00:27:21.300]or that percent of time that's in fallow a lot more,
[00:27:24.740]but it hasn't really changed.
[00:27:26.950]But the, what has changed is that period of time
[00:27:32.460]when it is fallow, and that's really important
[00:27:34.970]those months that it is fallow
[00:27:37.830]can really play an important role.
[00:27:40.670]And so if you think about,
[00:27:42.900]again, going back to when we receive our precipitation
[00:27:46.810]through April into September.
[00:27:49.650]We have, we use it, the bulk of its moisture
[00:27:51.980]from April to June,
[00:27:53.520]corn is kind of in that late summer period.
[00:27:57.720]Proso millet is also in that late summer period.
[00:28:00.890]Annual forages, depending on whether it's a cool season
[00:28:04.050]or a warm season, it can be about anywhere.
[00:28:07.330]And then the field peas are kind of an early spring.
[00:28:10.980]And so, and then lastly, the sunflowers.
[00:28:14.070]And so depending on where they kinda line up,
[00:28:16.700]they can be pretty much anywhere.
[00:28:19.340]And so it's kind of a puzzle to see
[00:28:22.360]how can we best fit these all together
[00:28:24.600]to best use this water resource that we are getting
[00:28:28.800]through that period of time?
[00:28:30.930]And so if you think back to that idea
[00:28:32.750]of wheat fallow system and how it didn't really change
[00:28:39.820]the percent of fallow compared to a three-year
[00:28:41.820]or a four-year rotation.
[00:28:43.520]But what it did change is we're not,
[00:28:47.528]the three and four year rotations are not fallowed
[00:28:50.520]when we're getting the bulk of that rainfall.
[00:28:52.840]It's, well we usually have a crop growing,
[00:28:55.160]then we're able to utilize on that moisture
[00:28:57.780]in a better manner.
[00:29:02.180]So I like to look at this as I think about
[00:29:06.260]precipitation over time.
[00:29:07.560]This is looking at precipitation over time,
[00:29:10.380]that one, clear out there on the right-hand side,
[00:29:13.500]that is 2012 when we had the severe drought,
[00:29:18.520]really just an, not even close to a normal event.
[00:29:23.540]And we hope it doesn't happen very often.
[00:29:26.260]But you can see that there's tends to be kind of a pattern
[00:29:30.190]where we go from a wet period to a dry period.
[00:29:33.180]And oftentimes we see producers out here
[00:29:36.510]that kinda have a few good years
[00:29:38.680]where they grow corn once and they get,
[00:29:41.510]relatively good year, yields.
[00:29:44.710]And they think, "Well, that was good.
[00:29:46.370]And I'll go ahead and grow corn again."
[00:29:49.770]And they might grow corn back to back,
[00:29:52.840]and it might work out for them
[00:29:54.290]just because they are in a year
[00:29:56.790]where we have good rainfall and it works.
[00:30:01.400]But then you have 012 come along and all of our corn,
[00:30:05.070]it looks like this.
[00:30:05.903]And, it didn't really matter what kind of practices you had
[00:30:09.260]at that time, whether it was no till
[00:30:11.337]or going in a fallow situation.
[00:30:16.190]I don't think any corn out here
[00:30:18.610]was able to be harvested that year, if it was dry land,
[00:30:22.610]because we just did not have any moisture.
[00:30:25.530]It was way too hot,
[00:30:26.900]and this was how all the corn looked out here.
[00:30:30.850]So that brings back, if you think back
[00:30:35.570]when we were talking about the crop rotations
[00:30:37.880]at the High Plains Ag Lab,
[00:30:39.030]the idea of a flex crop rotation.
[00:30:41.870]And we need to be able to be flexible
[00:30:47.070]to the changing weather patterns from year to year.
[00:30:52.990]In Eastern Nebraska or other places,
[00:30:54.970]it's nice to be able to say,
[00:30:55.837]"Well, my rotation is corn soybean."
[00:30:58.300]And it doesn't matter which year it is,
[00:31:01.750]this field is corn this year, it's soybean next year,
[00:31:03.733]it's corn the next year and soybean the next year.
[00:31:07.130]It's a set rotation, it's been that way for
[00:31:09.590]who knows how long.
[00:31:10.423]And that's just what they do, rain or shine.
[00:31:13.970]But out here, I encourage our producers
[00:31:15.930]to be a little more flexible depending on the situation
[00:31:20.060]or the, whether that's the weather or the crop markets.
[00:31:28.910]And so some really neat work came out of Akron, Colorado
[00:31:31.940]with David Nielsen, looking at the correlation
[00:31:35.260]between available soil, moisture at planting
[00:31:37.780]of corn and other crops to their predicted yield.
[00:31:42.390]And he found it was really a high correlation
[00:31:46.480]that if we had so much plant available water
[00:31:50.070]at planting, of that corn crop out here in Western Nebraska,
[00:31:54.180]or Northeast Colorado,
[00:31:55.950]that we had a, this percent of a chance
[00:31:58.669]of obtaining a particular yield goal.
[00:32:04.430]And so a producer can use that information to kinda guide
[00:32:09.500]their decisions of which crop to grow
[00:32:13.850]or not to grow honestly.
[00:32:20.210]And we are fortunate that we have some flexibility out here
[00:32:23.490]growers are not afraid to plant different crops.
[00:32:27.460]Field peas are really nice out here
[00:32:30.770]'cause, because of their short growing season,
[00:32:32.860]we typically plant them in March
[00:32:34.840]and they're harvested in July, very cold tolerance.
[00:32:39.850]We can plant them early.
[00:32:41.090]Proso millet is a really great crop,
[00:32:45.420]a lot of folks like it because of its flexibility
[00:32:47.710]to it's kind of a good, it's a good pinch hitter I guess
[00:32:56.010]when we have wheat failure.
[00:33:00.680]For example, whether that's from a winter kill
[00:33:03.090]or dry conditions,
[00:33:05.470]folks will take that wheat crop out and plant proso millet.
[00:33:09.920]And that's planted in normally June
[00:33:13.240]and it's harvested in September.
[00:33:15.400]And a good example of that,
[00:33:18.200]because of the dry weather we had last year,
[00:33:21.850]all of our wheat that we planted at the High Plains Ag Lab
[00:33:24.750]behind field peas was so poor
[00:33:29.780]that we had to spread it all out this, at the spring,
[00:33:33.880]just because we, it just didn't rain.
[00:33:36.950]We had poor sand, poor grills,
[00:33:40.170]it wasn't gonna yield anything.
[00:33:43.050]And we were debating whether or not
[00:33:44.540]we should plant anything there, or just let it go to fallow.
[00:33:48.400]The problem was, is that
[00:33:50.900]again I could hear Charlie Fenster talking
[00:33:52.620]in the back of my head that we needed that residue.
[00:33:55.820]We didn't want to just let that ground sit idle
[00:33:59.320]and not do anything if we had the moisture to do it.
[00:34:01.670]And we're fortunate that we caught,
[00:34:03.310]just a couple of rainstorms.
[00:34:04.700]It wasn't much an inch here and an inch there
[00:34:07.170]that gave us the confidence
[00:34:09.240]to go ahead and plant proso millet
[00:34:11.600]into that failed wheat crop.
[00:34:13.670]And we just completed our harvest.
[00:34:16.500]The millet did fantastic, so now we were able
[00:34:19.259]to still harvest the crop where we otherwise wouldn't have.
[00:34:24.120]And we have some residue on that soil surface,
[00:34:28.040]that's gonna carry us forward in the next year
[00:34:29.960]that we, otherwise wouldn't have.
[00:34:32.680]So some flexibility is very much needed
[00:34:37.240]and proso millet and field peas and annual forages
[00:34:40.060]often provide that.
[00:34:43.050]So we have looked at some of the crops
[00:34:45.860]to see if we can't help increase our water use efficiency.
[00:34:50.800]Grain sorghum is a fantastic crop.
[00:34:53.280]It's well known for its drought tolerance
[00:34:55.180]and its ability to withstand
[00:34:59.460]just some pretty tough growing conditions.
[00:35:03.490]If you look at like, this is some work out Akron in Colorado
[00:35:07.570]in Northeast, Colorado, the USDA there with David Nielsen
[00:35:12.310]showing that green sorghum, the courses
[00:35:15.460]is the one of the best crops we can grow
[00:35:17.380]when it comes to water use efficiency.
[00:35:20.500]So it would make sense that,
[00:35:21.940]well, we should be growing grain sorghum, right?
[00:35:25.780]'Cause it's such a good, like a water use efficient crop.
[00:35:32.240]If you look at where the grain sorghum has grown in the U.S.
[00:35:36.672]the State of Nebraska grows about 4% of the nation's crop.
[00:35:41.920]And most of that is running along the Kansas border,
[00:35:44.520]not up in the Panhandle of Nebraska.
[00:35:47.860]But so you might say, "Well, why is that?"
[00:35:50.610]We, the Nebraska Panhandle we're dry.
[00:35:53.530]We, you think we would be a suitable place for that?
[00:35:59.170]Just for fun if you look at the grain sorghum harvested
[00:36:02.289]in the State of Nebraska, you see, it's really fallen off
[00:36:07.150]since the 1980s.
[00:36:08.067]And a lot of that was driven by the advances
[00:36:12.610]in corn genetics, that we had a lot better genetics.
[00:36:18.610]And the corn really took a lot of those acres,
[00:36:23.530]but there never has been a lot of sorghum producing
[00:36:27.010]in the Panhandle.
[00:36:29.040]Some work out of Kansas to compare grain sorghum to corn.
[00:36:32.900]And they found that grain sorghum
[00:36:36.780]would start to produce grain at seven inches of,
[00:36:40.650]after seven inches of water use.
[00:36:42.060]Whereas corn takes up to 11 inches of water
[00:36:44.530]before it'll start to produce grain.
[00:36:46.780]And then grain sorghum, of course,
[00:36:49.210]at 9.4 bushels per inch of additional water
[00:36:54.260]after that initial seven, whereas corn was 13.3
[00:36:57.760]after that initial 11.
[00:36:59.550]So again, grain sorghum has the edge,
[00:37:03.302]as it comes to water use efficiency.
[00:37:06.130]To a point if again, if there's enough water
[00:37:09.450]that corn is gonna be a resource
[00:37:11.170]and outrun grain sorghum any day
[00:37:14.970]with that ability to put on 13.3 bushels per inch,
[00:37:18.640]is gonna quickly take over that sorghum.
[00:37:22.580]So out of Texas, A&M
[00:37:25.920]if you look at the cumulative growing degree days
[00:37:28.940]needed for grain sorghum,
[00:37:30.530]it, they show both a short and a long
[00:37:34.460]for the Nebraska Panhandle.
[00:37:35.710]We'd only be looking at the short,
[00:37:38.030]but they suggest that it needs about 2,600
[00:37:41.530]growing degree days to have a successful crop.
[00:37:45.950]So if you look at the High Plains Ag Lab,
[00:37:48.020]the past few years, only once 2016,
[00:37:52.010]did we ever get above that target of 2673
[00:37:55.840]growing degree days.
[00:37:57.320]Usually we fall short of that
[00:37:58.660]and that's primarily because of our elevation out here.
[00:38:03.180]If we look at some of our recent research
[00:38:05.420]that we've done with grain sorghum out here.
[00:38:08.900]In 2018, we had our growing degree days in Banner County
[00:38:12.260]was 2284 up to Banner and Rushville area,
[00:38:17.800]up in the Northern Panhandle was about 2100.
[00:38:21.700]And then Grant was at,
[00:38:23.810]which is to the east of us was almost 2,900.
[00:38:29.160]So from each HPAL, which was 2200 to Grant,
[00:38:32.700]that same year was 2,900.
[00:38:34.690]So almost about, a 600 growing degree day difference there.
[00:38:43.190]Some work from Akron found that,
[00:38:48.498]a lot of these early maturing hybrids,
[00:38:51.180]they say are normally around 60 to 65 day
[00:38:57.130]hybrids that, at least that's what the company say.
[00:39:00.110]But when we plant them in Western Nebraska or Colorado,
[00:39:03.670]we don't get to 50% bloom until much later,
[00:39:07.690]usually a difference of seven up to 30 days,
[00:39:11.170]depending on the hybrid.
[00:39:12.830]And in this case, the average was 21 days.
[00:39:15.660]So although we might get a good example,
[00:39:19.340]is that DKS 2805 on top, the company said it's a 57 day,
[00:39:26.920]days to bloom.
[00:39:29.330]And there in Akron, Colorado, it was anywhere from 66 to 78.
[00:39:35.370]Because of the lack of growing degree days,
[00:39:38.480]it just really slows up the maturity down.
[00:39:42.700]I mentioned 2019 in Grant, Strahinja
[00:39:46.150]did a sorghum trial there
[00:39:47.600]where they had growing degree days of almost 2,900.
[00:39:52.150]And if you look at his yields here
[00:39:53.670]for 15 inch and 30 inch rows,
[00:39:56.340]he was up to 132 bushels per acre,
[00:40:02.090]which was fantastic.
[00:40:04.250]And then we planted a lot of those same hybrids
[00:40:07.210]in Sidney, Nebraska that same year.
[00:40:09.470]And not more than, just a little bit down the road,
[00:40:14.280]from a city in the Grant's only about a,
[00:40:17.260]it's no more than an hour drive.
[00:40:18.680]It's probably 45 minutes and our yields,
[00:40:22.774]were not even in the same ballpark.
[00:40:26.420]We maxed out at about 20 bushels per acre
[00:40:29.810]with those same hybrids and just did not finish at all.
[00:40:34.739]And if you look at our, that same trial up to Rushville,
[00:40:37.600]again, max out at 24,
[00:40:40.490]just did not get the yield that Strahinja had down in Grant.
[00:40:46.690]Again, we had pretty good moisture,
[00:40:49.160]but it was primarily driven by the lack of heat that year.
[00:40:52.860]It was an extremely cool year.
[00:40:57.490]The other crop that we've done a lot of work in
[00:40:59.360]is yellow field peas.
[00:41:02.200]They've been grown out here for a number of years,
[00:41:04.120]but didn't really take off until 2012,
[00:41:06.060]when some markets were developed out here
[00:41:09.210]when farmers had a place to take them.
[00:41:11.310]And then the acreage is bounced around that
[00:41:14.000]40,000 to 50,000 acres per year mark.
[00:41:18.400]We did some work looking at using peas in place of fallow.
[00:41:23.970]And this is a good picture showing that,
[00:41:26.670]where we left some strips of fallow.
[00:41:28.960]And then we came back and we planted wheat afterwards
[00:41:32.290]to see what that impact was.
[00:41:36.530]This was in 2018 and 2019.
[00:41:39.870]Unfortunately both of those years
[00:41:41.430]were above average on our precipitation.
[00:41:44.870]And so we actually saw no difference in our wheat yield
[00:41:50.950]in Sydney or North Platte.
[00:41:54.512]So again, well, we were kind of surprised by that,
[00:42:00.540]but when we looked at the soil water content data,
[00:42:03.130]we did see that gray line on top was the fallow.
[00:42:06.860]It had more water there initially compared to that red line,
[00:42:13.540]which was the field peas.
[00:42:15.280]But we had some, after that field pea harvest there in
[00:42:21.780]it was, in July, we actually had some rain afterwards
[00:42:27.650]to kind of helped to close that gap.
[00:42:29.090]So that when we started to plant wheat,
[00:42:31.480]there was very little separation again.
[00:42:34.410]So that kind of made sense
[00:42:36.780]that we just didn't have enough separation,
[00:42:40.700]or we got that rain and it kinda came back together again.
[00:42:46.062]And if we look at the soil characteristics
[00:42:48.580]of organic matter, nitrates and release.
[00:42:52.590]The only thing that really stood out to us
[00:42:55.830]was the fact that pea in the end release per year
[00:43:01.180]was a little bit greater than fallow.
[00:43:03.280]But overall, there was not a lot of a difference
[00:43:08.090]when we compared the field pea plots to the fallow plots.
[00:43:14.930]I will mention this just briefly.
[00:43:16.560]We did also do a project with Alex Rosa
[00:43:19.520]in Eastern Nebraska, looking at the using field pea
[00:43:22.270]as a double crop option.
[00:43:24.190]And then we came behind and planted corn, soybean,
[00:43:27.430]sunflower, grain, sorghum, proso millet,
[00:43:32.510]there in Eastern, well I, and along with some forages
[00:43:37.110]and cover crops behind the field peas
[00:43:40.810]and had really good success out there in Eastern Nebraska.
[00:43:44.130]There it mean, had some high yielding grain sorghum
[00:43:50.080]that I would say did well.
[00:43:52.610]The corn and soybeans did not do as well,
[00:43:56.240]but the grain sorghum and the forages
[00:43:59.900]actually did really well.
[00:44:00.940]And so there, field peas have a lot of flexibility,
[00:44:04.140]even outside of Western Nebraska.
[00:44:08.500]So to kind of, I guess, pull it together
[00:44:12.980]in a way that makes sense to me.
[00:44:17.181]We have looked at cover crops in the, in this area.
[00:44:24.860]Alex Rosa did a lot of cover crop workout here,
[00:44:27.640]my predecessor Drew Lyon did a lot of work out here
[00:44:30.610]with David Nielsen down in Akron.
[00:44:33.840]And overall, I guess some of their conclusions that is that,
[00:44:39.460]cover crops are pretty effective at reducing weed density
[00:44:43.820]and biomass out here.
[00:44:45.960]There are a good alternative for grazing.
[00:44:48.750]However, they can't be a host for wheat curl mite
[00:44:50.800]we do grow wheat out here.
[00:44:52.570]And anytime you have a cover crop,
[00:44:56.720]it might serve as a host.
[00:44:58.490]And if you plant wheat nearby in the fall,
[00:45:01.261]it could be infected.
[00:45:05.310]And I have seen some fields
[00:45:07.770]that were planted adjacent to a cover crop field
[00:45:11.090]that were pretty much wiped out by a wheat curl mite.
[00:45:15.610]So it's something to be, to consider.
[00:45:20.700]Cover crops grown in fall seem to be best
[00:45:23.790]'cause it gives just, us more time in the spring
[00:45:25.990]to recharge that soil.
[00:45:28.410]However, just 'cause we wanna grow them in the fall,
[00:45:31.330]doesn't mean we will.
[00:45:32.250]A good example is a project we're dealing with
[00:45:34.960]Umberto and Sabrina.
[00:45:36.640]We planted cover crops last fall,
[00:45:38.630]and it never rained, nothing it never came up.
[00:45:43.960]And so, although you might want to grow cover crops,
[00:45:46.310]it might always, it might not always work.
[00:45:50.430]And in the Alex's project where he was growing cover crops
[00:45:53.650]behind wheat, it did reduce nitrogen availability for corn.
[00:45:57.140]It consistently reduces corn yields.
[00:46:00.180]Drew Lyon's work consistently reduced his wheat yields,
[00:46:04.450]and even just the act of going through
[00:46:06.400]and planting that cover crop
[00:46:08.810]damages that existing crop residue
[00:46:11.010]and that we're trying to protect.
[00:46:14.330]And so there's that balance to think about as well.
[00:46:17.390]So cover crops do grow out here,
[00:46:22.790]whether we get the benefit that is seen in
[00:46:26.220]other more human environments that could be argued.
[00:46:32.270]So some of our biggest threats
[00:46:34.760]to developing a resilient cropping system out here
[00:46:37.080]in Western Nebraska is the ever-changing climate.
[00:46:42.400]We get some really large moisture events that,
[00:46:46.140]we only get so much precipitation a year.
[00:46:49.420]A lot of it comes in some pretty big buckets
[00:46:51.250]once in a while, and we need to be able to capture those
[00:46:54.680]large events and keep that moisture in place
[00:46:57.500]and not let it run off.
[00:46:59.550]We do have some hot temperatures that when we're,
[00:47:03.440]we have crops, like wheat or field peas
[00:47:05.450]that are trying to flower in June,
[00:47:08.030]it can be really detrimental to the crop.
[00:47:11.840]Wheat stem sawfly has been a really big pest for us
[00:47:15.110]that has caused a lot of folks
[00:47:17.390]to move away from growing wheat.
[00:47:19.020]When, again, as I mentioned earlier,
[00:47:21.700]wheat is the backbone of what we do out here
[00:47:25.020]in our crop rotations.
[00:47:26.180]And so it's hard to see folks move from wheat
[00:47:30.670]because of that.
[00:47:32.830]'Cause we really do need that residue that we get from wheat
[00:47:36.340]to produce our other crops.
[00:47:38.580]And so, oftentimes those producers
[00:47:42.640]might have success for a few years.
[00:47:44.650]And then when they get to that dry spell,
[00:47:46.910]that's where it usually catches up to them.
[00:47:51.570]We have a lot of producers that
[00:47:54.580]just are not willing to be flexible and to change.
[00:48:00.240]And I think that's a, that can be hard,
[00:48:05.990]it's hard to try new things.
[00:48:07.670]But we need producers to be open to flexible rotations
[00:48:15.780]and the new crops and things like that.
[00:48:20.070]So that they can take advantage of markets or conditions.
[00:48:25.650]When we have a dry period, like 2012,
[00:48:28.410]it's perfectly okay to fallow your field that year,
[00:48:31.580]if it's just too dry.
[00:48:33.050]I know we want to grow a crop,
[00:48:35.160]we want to have something growing all the time,
[00:48:37.520]but it doesn't necessarily mean that we should,
[00:48:41.970]if it's not gonna finish for us.
[00:48:44.380]Then lastly, herbicide resistant weeds like anywhere else
[00:48:47.410]continue to crop up out here.
[00:48:50.290]Unfortunately, because of the value of the crops
[00:48:53.693]that we grow, where we don't have super high yields,
[00:48:59.680]a lot of growers are not willing to invest
[00:49:01.922]in a really diverse or complex herbicide program.
[00:49:06.990]They like to keep it simple, keep those costs down.
[00:49:10.150]And so that really lends itself to developing resistance
[00:49:13.990]over time and they won't spend that extra money.
[00:49:19.240]And so a lot of folks have gone back to using
[00:49:21.370]some form of tillage,
[00:49:22.940]which we've made all this progress to move away from.
[00:49:26.200]And now we're slowly slipping back into that old way
[00:49:30.630]of using tillage.
[00:49:33.950]So for us out here, soil water management
[00:49:37.670]is still the most critical factor that we face.
[00:49:41.940]We need to be able to store our water efficiently
[00:49:44.580]and we need to plant our crops in a way
[00:49:46.300]that best utilize that moisture
[00:49:50.140]again, especially before it can evaporate.
[00:49:53.080]So for us, it's best to have a crop growing
[00:49:56.390]when that rain is falling,
[00:49:59.240]but it doesn't always mean that, that's gonna work out
[00:50:01.220]the best for us.
[00:50:02.090]And I mentioned the last few years have been really dry,
[00:50:05.600]our field pea yields out here
[00:50:06.997]have been about 10 bushel per acre.
[00:50:09.630]When we come back in,
[00:50:10.463]we try to plant our wheat behind that.
[00:50:13.400]We have that crop failure,
[00:50:15.650]even though we were trying to be, avoid that fallow period,
[00:50:19.910]we ended up with crop failure.
[00:50:23.670]And then the idea of just being flexible
[00:50:25.840]in our crop rotations.
[00:50:27.040]We need to be able to alter our crops depending on
[00:50:30.090]the environment, our soil moisture.
[00:50:33.200]And just because we said we were going to,
[00:50:37.210]we said we were, that we were planning to grow corn.
[00:50:40.290]Doesn't mean we should,
[00:50:41.670]if we don't get that, those spring rains,
[00:50:43.610]and we might consider growing a proso millet
[00:50:45.400]or something in its place later on in the year.
[00:50:50.490]A lot of talk has been about getting rid of fallow
[00:50:53.330]that we are trying to intensify our rotations.
[00:50:55.900]And yes we are, but fallow still has a place
[00:50:59.440]in Western Nebraska depending on the year.
[00:51:03.200]And although I would prefer not to see very much fallow,
[00:51:06.670]but when we have dry periods,
[00:51:09.040]fallow is still extremely important.
[00:51:11.130]If we're gonna get that weak crop established
[00:51:14.320]in a dry year.
[00:51:16.110]And we need to be able to use all of our tools
[00:51:19.930]and just be flexible, whether it's weather forecast,
[00:51:23.200]crop market, soil moisture.
[00:51:24.950]We need to understand what's going on
[00:51:26.810]and adapt to those ever-changing scenarios.
[00:51:31.500]So I don't have, I guess, all the answers to
[00:51:35.060]how we're going to have a resilient crop system out here.
[00:51:38.240]Because of we're really at the mercy of the weather,
[00:51:45.030]but there are things we can do to protect ourselves
[00:51:47.863]and the soil.
[00:51:50.580]And with that, I thank you for your time.
[00:51:52.870]And I guess Sabrina, if we have time for questions,
[00:51:55.253]I'll take those.
[00:51:57.100]All right, well thank you, Cody.
[00:51:59.350]You can go ahead and put your questions
[00:52:01.540]in the chat or use the raise your hand option.
[00:52:07.000]While you are doing that
[00:52:09.240]Cody, I have a question for you.
[00:52:12.560]Can you talk a little bit health about how forages
[00:52:16.140]might fit into that flex tight rotation?
[00:52:20.660]Yeah, so there's been a lot of work done
[00:52:23.650]with my predecessor, Drew Lyon and David Nielsen
[00:52:26.110]looking at forages.
[00:52:29.070]Because we are able to grow some pretty
[00:52:33.100]water use efficient forages,
[00:52:34.760]whether it's different types of millet or sorghum,
[00:52:37.947]sudangrass, we've even grown.
[00:52:41.030]I've had good success, even growing some grain sorghum
[00:52:43.710]or not grain sorghum, some forage sorghum out here.
[00:52:47.240]And so we often think about cropping systems
[00:52:50.250]as grain cropping systems.
[00:52:53.720]But those forages are, a lot of them
[00:52:56.620]are barely water efficient crops.
[00:53:00.130]If you think about the sorghum sudangrass
[00:53:02.098]or forage sorghum.
[00:53:04.310]That although maybe sorghum,
[00:53:06.260]we can't finish a grain sorghum crop very well out here,
[00:53:10.920]we can grow forage sorghum.
[00:53:12.550]It doesn't have to produce grain.
[00:53:15.330]And so it's a little bit lower risk,
[00:53:18.270]but as long as we have a place to take it,
[00:53:20.800]that's usually the thing that gets a grower hung up
[00:53:23.740]is they might not have the equipment to harvest the forage,
[00:53:26.690]or they might not have a market readily accessible.
[00:53:31.610]But if they can overcome those things,
[00:53:33.270]I really liked forages just for the diversity
[00:53:37.230]that they offer and how efficient
[00:53:40.780]some of those crops can be.
[00:53:44.960]Great, thank you.
[00:53:47.320]There's a question here from Chuck.
[00:53:48.870]We did not hear much about sunflowers.
[00:53:50.880]Is it still mostly a problem of distant markets?
[00:53:55.190]Yeah, so sunflowers are still grown
[00:53:58.670]in the Panhandle.
[00:53:59.510]There's usually about 50,000 acres a year
[00:54:03.270]and markets are still probably the primary barrier
[00:54:08.183]to growing sunflowers out here.
[00:54:12.260]Most producers in the Southern Panhandle
[00:54:14.300]handled them, grow them, take them to Pennington Seton
[00:54:17.630]in Sydney, which is a bird seed distributor.
[00:54:22.300]There used to be a market in Burlington,
[00:54:25.240]not Burlington in, down in Kansas.
[00:54:32.510]I just lost it.
[00:54:34.380]But down in Western Kansas,
[00:54:35.940]there was a place there that would take oil sunflowers.
[00:54:40.060]And that actually just closed last year.
[00:54:42.180]And so the closest one we have now
[00:54:44.750]is down in Lamar, Colorado,
[00:54:46.830]which is pretty far for sunflowers.
[00:54:49.990]If you know anything about some flowers,
[00:54:51.540]they're a very light crop, in that you can fill a semi
[00:54:56.120]up to the brim and you don't ever have to worry
[00:54:58.440]about being overweight.
[00:55:00.140]And so folks don't like to ship them
[00:55:02.750]'cause it's like, you're shipping air.
[00:55:05.120]So it's either take them down to Colorado
[00:55:09.900]or take them up to the Dakotas.
[00:55:13.090]And so that is an issue for us.
[00:55:15.650]Okay, another question from Todd,
[00:55:17.720]what soil moisture levels might shift a plan
[00:55:20.280]from corn to grain sorghum or field peas?
[00:55:24.660]So for me again, I,
[00:55:28.360]I'm still not to a point where I'm comfort,
[00:55:30.550]where I'm really comfortable suggesting
[00:55:32.970]a grower in the Panhandle plant green sorghum.
[00:55:35.200]Although we have a number of them doing it,
[00:55:38.100]and it's just too big of a risk for me to suggest that.
[00:55:44.290]But to me, it comes down to, the field peas would only go
[00:55:51.860]for us when we do that, the flex rotation,
[00:55:54.180]whether it's fallow or flex.
[00:55:56.740]If we have good winter precipitation, good winter snow
[00:56:01.580]and we feel like we have adequate soil moisture come March,
[00:56:05.200]we'll put that field pea crop in.
[00:56:08.990]Whereas I think the grain sorghum,
[00:56:12.700]or even proso millet it might be where
[00:56:15.120]you thought you were gonna plant corn.
[00:56:18.300]It was just too dry,
[00:56:19.210]but maybe later on you cut your rain and you think,
[00:56:21.447]"Actually we got a little bit rain now,
[00:56:23.100]I think we can put something in."
[00:56:24.780]And then dropping that proso millet crop in or something
[00:56:27.890]can really pay off like it did for us this year
[00:56:30.530]behind that field wheat crop.
[00:56:33.030]So you kinda have to just kind of go with the flow.
[00:56:35.520]We don't have an exact amount of a plant available water,
[00:56:39.670]but if you're flexible and you just kind of pay attention,
[00:56:44.370]you should have a pretty good feel for it.
[00:56:46.950]Okay, another question from Chuck.
[00:56:49.480]Dryland farmers in Western Montana,
[00:56:51.210]have had good luck with organic lentils and chickpeas,
[00:56:54.770]any potential for us?
[00:56:57.760]Yeah, so, or, the lentils and chickpeas.
[00:57:01.194]We haven't really got too far into lentils.
[00:57:04.990]I haven't done any research on lentils yet.
[00:57:07.150]They have been grown in Western Nebraska.
[00:57:10.340]The chickpeas are a viable option.
[00:57:14.173]They had more acreage in the mid 2000s
[00:57:19.390]but they dropped off hard
[00:57:22.580]due to acid kind of blight problems.
[00:57:26.550]But through breeding efforts,
[00:57:28.340]that's largely been overcome recently.
[00:57:31.960]The problem with those is that they have a little bit longer
[00:57:35.720]growing season compared to the, just the regular field pea.
[00:57:39.770]And so, although they are, they can be grown here
[00:57:45.540]and they, there's no reason they can't
[00:57:48.820]that extended growing season,
[00:57:51.300]especially where a lot of our growers
[00:57:53.350]like to go to wheat behind those makes them less desirable.
[00:58:00.000]A lot of those chickpeas are coming out here in September,
[00:58:05.270]and that's just too tight of a turnaround
[00:58:07.080]to go into that wheat crop.
[00:58:09.530]So you'd have to just kinda figure out
[00:58:11.660]the rotation to make it work.
[00:58:14.290]Another question from Chuck.
[00:58:15.310]Does crude grade white sorghum have export potentials?
[00:58:18.850]How about pearl millet?
[00:58:22.780]Yeah, so that's something that is
[00:58:25.440]being looked at more and more.
[00:58:27.700]We have a few of the food grade type grain sorghum
[00:58:30.750]in our trials this year with the variety testing.
[00:58:34.260]And then the, not necessarily the pearl millet,
[00:58:38.680]but the proso millet has some desirable food qualities.
[00:58:45.730]There's a, there, there's a waxy millet that is exported
[00:58:50.430]a lot to Asian countries.
[00:58:52.020]And that has really grown it in the popularity
[00:58:57.360]actually the last few years with those countries.
[00:58:59.290]And so we're actually shipping quite a bit
[00:59:01.730]in containers from the Western Nebraska
[00:59:04.430]to those countries in the last few years,
[00:59:06.520]that's our growing opportunity.
[00:59:09.040]But both of those, I would say both of those markets
[00:59:12.640]are very much emerging markets
[00:59:14.160]and I would expect them to continue to grow as the,
[00:59:19.320]they're both, gluten-free,
[00:59:20.350]they both have a lot of qualities that people like.
[00:59:22.840]And I would see those continuing to grow,
[00:59:24.880]which is going to be needed because the proso millet market
[00:59:29.080]is very small now, it fluctuates crazy.
[00:59:36.190]The grain stores really well.
[00:59:37.870]So people will store it for five, 10 years
[00:59:41.210]until the price peaks.
[00:59:43.530]And so we definitely need a more consistent market
[00:59:47.730]for proso millet and any food grade crop
[00:59:51.900]like field peas, or proso millet or grain sorghum.
[00:59:55.500]Thank you, Cody for presenting today.
[00:59:59.880]No, thank you for having me.
[01:00:00.960]It was a pleasure.
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