Better Kansas – Ideas for Living, Growing and Succeeding

Tag: pork production

Better Kansas – June 25, 2020

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In today’s Better Kansas, we explore insects, counting change, Alzheimer’s, garden topics, a weed survey and a swine nutrition study. 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

Better Living, Better Communities

A COUPLE OF BEES HAVE BEEN VISITING SPIREA BUSHES IN MY BACK YARD LATELY, but my granddaughter is afraid of them. I tried to explain how they were just going about their business flitting from one flower to the next gathering nectar and pollen, but she wasn’t convinced. There’s probably a reason I didn’t become a teacher! Fortunately, there are good entomology specialists and extension agents across the state who ARE good teachers. They routinely give presentations and write articles for homeowners, gardeners, farmers and ranchers about those tiny insect creatures who are patient enough to share their world with us. Plus, they give us bug jokes! Q: How do police departments control bugs? A: With their SWAT teams! Check out the latest Kansas Insect Newsletter. And for more in depth information, take a look at Household Pests of Kansas.


REMEMBER WHEN THE GROCERY STORE CASHIER COUNTED YOUR CHANGE BACK after a purchase? Some may be surprised to know that cash registers didn’t always tell store clerks how much change they were to give back. Instead, they counted the change back rather than hand you a wad of bills, pennies and nickels. That ensured to both buyer and seller that the amount of money coming back was accurate. I came across Counting Change the Old-Fashioned Way and thought you might want to give it a try with your kiddos or just give yourself a refresher. This brings back great memories of one of my first jobs … at a western store where I learned such valuable lessons! With debit cards and other ways to pay, it may be a moot point, but I still think it’s good to exercise that gray matter sometimes! An audio version of this information is also available.


MANY OF US HAVE BEEN AFFECTED BY ALZHEIMER’S DISEASE … MAYBE A FRIEND, AN UNCLE OR A NEIGHBOR. Incredibly, one in every 10 people over the age of 65, and a total of 5.5 million Americans, has this dreaded disease. Some of the signs MAY BE memory loss that disrupts your daily life, challenges in solving problems, difficulty completing familiar tasks at home or work or new problems with words in speaking or writing. If you have any question at all about your own health, it’s best to be checked by your medical provider. Whether the disease has touched your life or not, it’s good to know more about it. Alzheimer’s 101 provides basic information, including what you can do to stay as healthy as possible at any age.


Better Farming, Ranching and Gardening

SOMETIMES, OUT OF BAD THINGS COME REALLY GOOD THINGS. Because of COVID-19, we haven’t been able to attend garden tours and lectures in person this year, but a great alternative was created for us to learn from the comfort of our homes. K-State Garden Hour webinars have proven extremely popular and more topics have been added to the lineup this summer, including identifying garden insects, managing pesky weeds, nuisance wildlife, growing hydrangeas and more. For those who can’t participate live, the webinars are recorded, so you can go online any time to catch some good information, ALL FOR FREE! So much good stuff.


A BATTLE FARMERS FACE EVERY YEAR IS HOW TO MINIMIZE THE IMPACT OF MOISTURE- AND NUTRIENT-ROBBING WEEDS IN THEIR CROPS. And compounding the problem is the fact that even as herbicides are developed to keep weeds out of farm fields, the weeds adapt to resist those herbicides. At stake are billions of dollars in economic losses in North America alone, according to a seven-year study conducted by the Weed Science Society of America. To help researchers determine which weeds pose the most serious threats to Kansas farmers and what they are doing currently to manage the problem, K-State scientists are asking producers to complete a short online survey. The information gathered will help guide research on innovative, cost effective and integrated weed management practices and to further improve outreach programs across the state. For more information on the WSSA study, take a look at a 2016 news article on the subject.


TEMPORARY CLOSURES AND SLOWDOWNS IN THE PORK PROCESSING INDUSTRY linked to the new coronavirus left a lot of hog farmers with market-ready animals and no place to take them for a time. But those animals still needed to be fed while producers waited for a time to take them to market. Any disruption to the marketing pipeline like that, even at a single processing plant, can cut into a producer’s bottom line and result in overweight animals. Listen in to a new Agriculture Today podcast featuring swine nutritionists as they describe a new K-State feeding trial aimed at keeping pigs healthy while slowing the rate of growth to manage backlogs of market-ready hogs. Other topics covered include nutrient management for grain sorghum, wheat harvest update, “Milk Lines” and a promising new method to reduce deer-vehicle collisions.


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:

Better Kansas – June 20, 2019

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Welcome to Edition 3 of the Better Kansas blog from K-State Research and Extension, written by yours truly, Every week we’re shedding light on a few events, resources and other information designed to make Kansans’ lives, businesses, communities and state better. This is new for us, so be sure to scroll through weeks 1 & 2 also. For many more resources and activities, check with the K-State Research and Extension office in your area.

Better Living, Better Communities

YOU’RE CRUISING DOWN THE MEAT AISLE AT YOUR LOCAL GROCERY STORE, looking for dinner inspiration. We’ve all been there. The label on this package says it’s “Natural/Naturally Raised” and another package says “Raised Without Antibiotics” and yet another says “Grass-Fed.” Really, what does all of this mean?! The Meat Product Labeling and Marketing: What Do All Those Words Really Mean factsheet explains these and a lot more. 

REMEMBER WHEN YOU WERE PRESCRIBED THAT STRONG PAIN MEDICATION AFTER SURGERY? Or maybe it was your neighbor managing pain from aching chronic arthritis? Or your niece’s soccer injury? Opioids are a class of drugs that include powerful prescription pain relievers, which can be an important part of medical treatment. They also carry a significant risk, however, for addiction and overdose because of the euphoria they create and a human’s tolerance that occurs after repetitive dosing. Many of us don’t realize we have some of these medications in our own homes. Approximately 115 Americans die every day from an opioid overdose, and many more are at risk. Learn more with the fact sheet The Opioid Crisis: What You Need to Know and video.

WORKING WITH KANSANS ACROSS THE STATE TO IMPROVE MENTAL AND PHYSICAL HEALTH is the plan behind a K-State Research and Extension effort called the Culture of Health. The goal, part of a nationwide effort, is for extension to do for mental and physical health what extension has done for agriculture for years. Extension offices across the state have always offered classes and resources aimed at educating the public about ways to live healthier lives. The Culture of Health initiative, however, sharpened the focus and is providing extension agents with more tools to support mental and physical health programs.

The initiative kicked off in 2018 when K-State Research and Extension brought together 250 representatives of health departments, health coalitions and other stakeholders with extension staff in seven locations around Kansas to identify existing resources and challenges. Among the most significant concerns were:

  • obesity
  • diabetes
  • cancer
  • heart disease
  • addictions
  • farm stress
  • suicides
  • access to health care
  • access to healthy foods

Read more about how extension agents and specialists are enhancing resources in Kansas communities.


Better Farming, Ranching and Gardening

KANSAS RANKS 10TH IN HOG AND PORK PRODUCTION, AND GROWING THE NEXT GENERATION of producers and other industry professionals is imperative to keep the industry moving forward. Many in that next generation will participate in the 2019 Dr. Bob Hines Kansas Swine Classic June 28-29 at CiCo Park in Manhattan. This is not your run-of-the-mill competition for Kansas youth and their animals. Educational workshops, a photo contest and a skillathon are built into the agenda, along with showmanship and the Prospect Pig and the Barrow and Market Pig shows. And this year a family pork cook-off has been added! Oh, by the way, in 2018 Kansas producers sold 3,505,878 market hogs, feeder pigs and seedstock with a gross market value of more than $471 million.

MANY OF US LOVE THE BELOW-AVERAGE TEMPERATURES; THE WHEAT CROP, NOT SO MUCH. We all need certain conditions to grow and thrive and that’s true for wheat, too. This spring’s below-average temperatures slowed the Kansas wheat crop’s development, which may cut the amount of grain coming out of those fields. And don’t get me started about the rain. Much more detail is included in the June 10 Agronomy eUpdate. What’s at stake? Kansas is typically the No. 1 wheat producing state, in recent years averaging about 328 million bushels from an average 8.5 million acres. Nearly one-fifth of all wheat grown in the United States is grown right here in Kansas. And we help feed the world: About half our wheat is exported to other countries.

SIDEDRESSING, DEADHEADING AND SUCH … FLOWERS, THAT IS: Abundant spring rainfall kept many of us from having to water flowers much early on, but those lovely flowers still need TLC and a drink when they get dry. Modern annual flowers are bred to flower early and over a long period of time. Recent K-State Horticulture Newsletters dig into – pun intended 🙂 – such topics as sidedressing annual flowers and when it’s helpful to remove old, spent flowers, an activity also known as deadheading … and when it’s not. This has me thinking about the other Deadheads, as in fans of the Grateful Dead, but again, I digress! The newsletters contain a trove of information on horticulture topics from how short to mow the grass to pests in vegetables (and how to excuse them from your garden) to tree diseases and way more.