Better Kansas – Ideas for Living, Growing and Succeeding

Tag: K-State Research and Extension

Better Kansas – Aug. 20, 2020

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In today’s Better Kansas, we touch on financial planning for the holidays, 2020 Census, SNAKES, corn and soybean status and crop irrigation research and outreach. This is a small glimpse of what K-State Research and Extension across the state has to offer. Share on social media and subscribe! – Mary Lou Peter mlpeter@ksu.edu

Better Living, Better Communities

IT’S ONLY AUGUST, BUT THIS MAY BE THE BEST TIME OF YEAR TO ASK THOSE WE HOLD NEAR AND DEAR FOR holiday gift suggestions. The thinking is that we can spread shopping (and the expense) out over a few months rather than wait until the last minute. Sometimes it doesn’t work, but it’s worth a try. We don’t really know what December in the time of COVID-19 will look like, but some things probably will not change – gift giving, gatherings (of people at least in your bubble) and possibly travel. Christmas Spending: Planning Ahead Matters gives us things to think about. Maybe we can buffer a little holiday stress by planning ahead.

 

A K-STATE RESEARCH AND EXTENSION SPECIALIST this week pointed out that one in three Kansans still have not responded to the 2020 Census. If you haven’t already, please take a few minutes (I promise, it’s no more than that) to go online or call 844-330-2020 OR dig out that paper form you may have received months ago, fill it out and mail it back. It truly is shorter than I remember from previous census forms and the stakes are huge. The results determine congressional representation, how billions of dollars in federal funding are allocated and other decisions that will impact every one of our communities. Decisions about where to build new schools, new roads, where to offer grants for community mental health, and much more are based on this data. Read about the census in Kansas, plus a Wichita Eagle newspaper article sheds more light on implications for the state. You may have to sign up for an account to read it, but it’s free.

Better Farming, Ranching and Gardening

I WAS IN CENTRAL KANSAS RECENTLY ON A FRIEND’S FARM and I admit, I was keeping a watchful eye out for snakes. With so many of us spending time outdoors right now, reading up on the myths, habitat, control and benefits (yes, there are some), is a good idea. Some of the common poisonous types we have in Kansas are cottonmouth, Copperhead, Massasauga and Timber Rattlesnake. But not all snakes are poisonous and we have many in Kansas that are not. To learn more, including how to tell a poisonous from a non-poisonous, check out Snakes: Urban Wildlife Damage Control.

 

SOYBEANS AND CORN ARE IMPORTANT CROPS IN KANSAS and this year’s crops are coming along but there are always challenges, including diseases. Southern rust, gray leaf spot, stalk rots and an interesting disorder called lesion mimic have shown up in some Kansas corn. Soybean fields have exhibited signs of (love this name) frogeye leaf spot, as well as Septoria brown spot and bacterial blight. Take a look at Status of disease pressure in corn and soybeans for pictures and descriptions of what to look for and potential ways to manage them. The Kansas corn crop was rated 15% excellent, 48% good, 25% fair, and 12% poor to very poor as of Aug. 16, according to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. Soybeans were rated 19% excellent, 50% good, 25% fair and 6% poor to very poor. Data for weekly reports is contributed by USDA’s Farm Service Agency, K-State Research and Extension, and other reporters across the state.

 

WATER IS NECESSARY FOR LIFE OF ALL KINDS and in areas where it’s scarce, it’s even more important to get the most out of every drop. Making crop irrigation as efficient as possible is at the heart of the water management research program at the Southwest Research-Extension Center in Garden City and other research centers. Check out current projects and learn about Water Technology farm outreach efforts through K-State Research and Extension collaborations with the Kansas Water Office and privately-owned farms in western and southern Kansas, and other agencies and organizations. Through the vision and generosity of those farmer-collaborators, the public is able to view how new irrigation technologies and management techniques work on real-world farms.

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For more resources and activities, contact the K-State Research and Extension office in your area. Check out our other blogs and subscribe to our weekly emails here: https://www.ksre.k-state.edu/news/blogs/

Better Kansas – Aug. 13, 2020

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In this week’s Better Kansas, we touch on putting together advance directives, costs and benefits of home gardening, chiggers, western Kansas field days, chainsaw safety and a new ag research effort. This is a small glimpse of what K-State Research and Extension across the state has to offer. Share on social media and subscribe! – Mary Lou Peter mlpeter@ksu.edu

Better Living, Better Communities

THERE ARE SOME CONVERSATIONS WE’D RATHER NOT HAVE, RIGHT? Like what happens to Mom’s jewelry when she’s gone? Or Uncle Bill’s sweet ’57 Chevy? Those may be decisions that can be put off to another day. One thing none of us should put off is making sure our wishes are clear if we can’t speak for ourselves in case of a medical crisis. It may sound morbid to say, but a pandemic will bring these conversations to the forefront like nothing else will. Without advance directive documents, decisions can be made for you that may be inconsistent with your wishes. Until I looked into this, I didn’t know the difference between “durable power of attorney for health care” and “living will” or “pre-hospital do not resuscitate” directives. They’re all considered advance directives and each is simply explained in Advance Health Care Planning in Kansas. Take a look for that information and more.

 

ACCORDING TO PEOPLE WHO KNOW ABOUT THESE THINGS :), NOW’S A GOOD TIME TO PLANT A FALL SALAD GARDEN. Many people cite cost savings as a reason to grow their own fruits and vegetables rather than buy them. To “dig” a little deeper, a new resource Gardening 911: Costs and Benefits of Home Gardening walks us through whether it’s more cost effective to grow our own produce than to buy it. It gets into the dollars and cents but also less obvious benefits: stress relief and mental health. Plus, there’s just something rewarding about growing … anything! I’ve had some successes with zucchini and cantaloupe but was a failure with strawberries. Surely it was the variety I chose?! Or the weather??

 

LIKE MANY OF YOU, I’VE BEEN OUTDOORS A LOT LATELY and am reminded that we share the great outdoors with many, many others. In this case I’m talking about chiggers. In looking through resources to learn more about those tiny little creatures, I’ve discovered that we have at least 46 SPECIES of chiggers right here in Kansas. And I so want to call them blood suckers, but in fact I also learned that they are no such thing. Take a look at Pests That Affect Human Health: Chiggers to learn more.

Better Farming, Ranching and Gardening

COVID-19 HAS CERTAINLY ALTERED OUR DAY-TO-DAY ROUTINES, but agricultural research goes on! To share research findings in western Kansas with farmers, ranchers and related businesses, K-State is having two virtual field days in late August. The Western Kansas Virtual Fall Field Day-Hays is Aug. 26 from noon to 1:30 and the Southwest Research-Extension Center Virtual Fall Field Day is Aug. 27 from noon to 1:30 p.m. The free events cover a variety of topics, including:

Aug. 26: New Herbicide-Tolerant Crop Traits and Weed Control Strategies in Western Kansas; The Role of Temperature in Insect Population Dynamics; Dual Use of Cover Crops for Soil Health and Forage in Dryland Systems; and Sorghum Hybrids for Early and Normal Planting.

Aug. 27: Alfalfa and Corn Insect Management Strategies Update; A Decade of Dryland Cover Crop Research in Western Kansas; Expanding Cotton Recommendations; and Bee Diversity in Edge Habitat of Active Croplands in Western Kansas.

Click here to register, or for more information contact the K-State Western Kansas Agricultural Research Center at Hays 785-625-3425 or the Southwest Research-Extension Center in Garden City 620-275-9164.

 

IS IT WEIRD THAT I GOT A RUSH FROM USING A CHAINSAW YEARS AGO? Under the watchful eye of my neighbor, Bill, of course. It was his chainsaw after all, and he knew I was a rookie. But wow, it made short work of some pesky tree branches! Anyone who’s used one or seen one in action knows that like much machinery, they can be hugely helpful and very dangerous. Those of you planning a project might want to review Chain Saws – Safety, Operation, Tree Felling Techniques. I always associated the term “kickback” with bribery. Chainsaws give it a whole different meaning.

 

ANYONE WHO THINKS FARMING IS THE SAME AS IT WAS EVEN 10 YEARS AGO might be surprised at the ever-increasing ways technology is being used to make growing the world’s food supply more efficient and sustainable. And many research efforts looking into ways to do that involve partnerships between universities and individual farmers. Read about one of the newest collaborative projects involving high speed precision seeding. As is the case with many research projects, K-State students will have the opportunity to work with the latest technology on the project.

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For more resources and activities, contact the K-State Research and Extension office in your area. Check out our other blogs and subscribe to our weekly emails here: https://www.ksre.k-state.edu/news/blogs/

 

 

 

 

 

 

Better Kansas – Aug. 6, 2020

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In today’s Better Kansas, we address the hazards of sitting, food waste, empty nesters, lawn irrigation, 2020 wheat variety performance and a sheep and goat survey. This is a small glimpse of what K-State Research and Extension across the state has to offer. Keep the ideas and feedback coming and subscribe! – Mary Lou Peter mlpeter@ksu.edu

Better Living, Better Communities

FOR VARIOUS REASONS, MANY OF US HAVE BEEN SITTING … A LOT! That doesn’t mean we’re lazy. It’s just that a lot of us spend hours every day at a computer. And for those of us still working from home, we’re not even getting into our vehicles to go to and from work or walking into buildings, climbing the stairs at the office or other activity involved in our normal day-to-day lives. In fact, normal is beginning to feel like a distant memory. That’s why the article Are We Sitting Ourselves to Death? really resonated with me. The article references the K-State Research and Extension Walk Kansas program which won’t kick in again until next spring, but that doesn’t mean we can’t get out there and start moving on our own – even if it’s 15 minutes at lunchtime.

IT’S KIND OF SHOCKING, BUT WE WASTE A LOT OF FOOD – to the tune of $1,500 a year for a family of four on average. In total, 133 billion pounds or 30% to 40% of edible food is wasted each year, worth an estimated $161 billion in the United States alone. I’m as guilty as the next person when it comes to buying something that sounds good at the time, only to find it hidden behind the milk and orange juice in the fridge, covered with a fine layer of mold. Or remember that can of sweet potatoes you bought in 2012? For a whole lot more on this topic, read Working Together to Reduce Food Waste. It includes suggestions for ways to avoid food waste as well as productive ways you can still use food even if it’s not okay to eat.

 

EMPTY NEST? When the last of the kiddos flies the coop or is about to, it can trigger a range of emotions for parents, including excitement, relief, anxiety and more. If they’re leaving because they’re off to school … or to a new job (would benefits be too much to ask?), it’s quite a moment. And what will day-to-day life be like without them? An article, What Happens Now? The Children are Gone has been around awhile, but how we feel and react to this part of life hasn’t changed much. This brought back my own flood of memories from when the first of my three went off to college and the reality that the dynamics of our family were changed forever. And wow, when the other two left, the house was SO (too) QUIET!

 

Better Farming, Ranching and Gardening

THOUGH EARLY AUGUST BROUGHT WELCOME RAIN AND A BREAK IN TEMPERATURES for some of us, plenty of counties in western and southeast Kansas are still dry. Wherever we are, irrigating lawns may make sense this summer. But even if you’re watering three times a week, do you know how much moisture your grass is getting? One of the best (and amazingly simple) suggestions I’ve heard is to place empty cans in various places around your yard, so you can measure just how much water gathers in them. That suggestion and a whole lot more information is available on the Turfgrass Irrigating page.

 

MAKING DECISIONS – ESPECIALLY THOSE WITH BIG FINANCIAL, TIME AND EFFORT IMPLICATIONS, is difficult, but Kansas wheat growers have help as they determine what varieties to plant this fall. The Wheat Variety Disease and Insect Rating 2020 publication shows how different wheat varieties fared around the state in the 2019-20 growing season with regard to disease and insect challenges. The information, used in combination with data available in the K-State Winter Wheat Performance Tests report, offers growers powerful tools to assist in making planting decisions.

 

NOT LONG AGO I DISCOVERED HOW MUCH I LIKE GOAT CHEESE, so was happy to learn that the sheep and goat industry across Kansas is growing. In 2018, Kansas was home to nearly 74,000 sheep, 43,000 goats raised for meat and 6,000 goats raised for dairy. To help determine the economic impact of that industry, K-State Research and Extension and the Kansas Department of Agriculture are asking producers to take the Sheep and Goat Survey. The results will be used to help guide education, marketing, research and outreach efforts and will shed light on sheep and goat inventories in particular parts of the state.

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For more resources and activities, contact the K-State Research and Extension office in your area. Check out our other blogs and subscribe to our weekly emails here: https://www.ksre.k-state.edu/news/blogs/

Better Kansas – July 30, 2020

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In today’s Better Kansas, we get into changes in food labels, supporting rural communities, pesky squirrels, estimating corn yields and how and why calibrating sprayers is better for a farmer’s bottom line and the environment. This is a small glimpse of what K-State Research and Extension across the state has to offer. Share on social media and subscribe! – Mary Lou Peter mlpeter@ksu.edu

Better Living, Better Communities

IF YOU’RE A LABEL READER YOU MAY HAVE ALREADY NOTICED that improvements have been made to food labels to help us know better what’s in the food we eat. The enhancements start with larger print so we can actually SEE how many calories or fat are in one serving. Heck, we can now SEE how much one serving really is! To read up on some of the other improvements, take a look at this story: Nutrition expert says new food label is a ‘win’ for consumers. Talk about reading labels, I was a little surprised to learn the bag of chopped “salad kit” in my refrigerator was 3-1/2 servings. Wasn’t I supposed to eat it all in one sitting? And who eats 1/2 a serving of salad? At least now I know.

 

HELPING KEEP RURAL KANSAS COMMUNITIES VIBRANT is a goal of the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development, so it highlights success stories in rural communities. By producing the weekly Kansas Profile blog and the weekly Kansas Profile radio feature (about four minutes), we learn about individuals, businesses and organizations that are making their communities better places to live and work. These reports out of rural communities such as Ottawa, Pomona, Ellinwood and Courtland are a great way to learn about people and groups that are contributing to their regions and making the entire state that much better. They’re an inspiration every week.

Better Farming, Ranching and Gardening

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NEW NEIGHBORS MOVED IN BEHIND MY HOUSE and they are SO nervy. They lounge on my patio furniture, help themselves to my food and generally don’t respect my space! OK, the food is for the birds, but still! This pair of squirrels pushed me to look for information on … let’s just say … a relocation. Not great photos, I know, but when I asked these two to come back when the light was better, they scampered off like a couple of excited teenagers to meet up with friends. Notice the leg hanging off the chair. Now that is true relaxation! If you have such critters sharing your space, take a look at Tree Squirrels, which has information about the species of squirrels we have in Kansas, plus links to mini-videos about relocating them. Have to admire their athleticism, if nothing else.

 

AFTER THE PLANTING, GERMINATING AND NO SMALL AMOUNT OF STRESSING about precipitation (or lack of), corn growers can get an idea how their crops will yield and it’s not just guesswork. Once the plants tassel, silk and pollinate, there’s a way farmers can calculate how much corn they’ll be able to harvest. Check out Learn how to estimate corn yield potential in the latest Agronomy eUpdate. I remember using a method much like this years ago on a crop tour. It was all going smoothly until a grain buyer lost our rental car keys … in a corn field…. in the middle of Iowa. Amazingly, after 30 minutes or so, he found them! Those of you who have ever lost ANYTHING that small in a corn field know that it felt like a mini-miracle.

 

WITH PESTICIDE COSTS AND ENVIRONMENTAL IMPLICATIONS BEING WHAT THEY ARE, using the correct amount of pesticide on a farm field to manage those yield-robbing weeds and insects is critical. For detailed information about sprayer calibration, including simple equations that can help with the calibrating process, see the fact sheet Calibrating Boom Sprayers. More information about programs, processes and educational opportunities in biological and agricultural engineering is available on the website.

 

 

SEVERAL READERS SENT MESSAGES THAT THE LINK TO THE MORNING GLORY ITEM in last week’s post was problematic, so I’m reposting with a link to the Agronomy eUpdate newsletter it came from in hopes this works better. Fingers crossed!

SURELY NOT! HOW CAN SOMETHING SO BEAUTIFUL BE SO DESTRUCTIVE? I’m talking about morning glories, known to scientists as Ipomoea spp. Their pretty purple, blue, pink or white flowers can be a gardener’s dream, right? But the vining, invasive plants spell trouble for farmers. Once they wind their way through corn, soybean or other farm fields, they can cut the amount of grain farmers harvest and can choke harvest equipment. Take a look at World of Weed: Morning glory for details, including management options.

For more resources and activities, contact the K-State Research and Extension office in your area. Check out our other blogs and subscribe to our weekly emails here: https://www.ksre.k-state.edu/news/blogs/