Quoted: “Extended drought can lead to the total collapse of the photosynthetic machinery and it can take long time for the plants to rebuild their roots and internal mechanisms,” Vijai Pandian, a horticulture educator at the University of Wisconsin–Madison Division of Extension, told Newsweek.
“This can cause long term impacts … and the drought effect symptoms often continue for [the] next few years,” he said.
Quoted: John Hendrickson, farm viability specialist for UW-Madison’s Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems, helped develop the tool for the Grassland 2.0 project. Started in 2020 using a $10 million grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the collaboration between researchers from UW-Madison and other universities, farmers and agriculture industry leaders is working to encourage farmers to adopt the use of grasslands.
“We want farms to be financially viable and sustainable for the long term,” he said. “But of course the Grasslands 2.0 project also has this larger look at the entire landscape and climate change and soil erosion and what can we do to have a more sustainable agricultural system on the landscape.”
Linda spent her entire professional career in public broadcasting, beginning in the WHA Radio record library in Old Radio Hall, through her leadership of Wisconsin Public Radio and Television’s cultural programming. She initiated recording and broadcast of statewide festivals and concerts and helped found the popular series “Sunday Afternoon Live” from the (then) Elvehjem Museum.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture awarded UW-Madison Extension a $200,000 grant that will be used to study six different farmers’ markets in north central Wisconsin.
Although April has been cold and wet, University of Wisconsin-Madison agronomists say farmers shouldn’t start stressing out just yet.
“Despite the fact that we are about two weeks behind where we were a year ago, we are still on track for maximum yields for corn and soybeans,” says Shawn Conley, UW Soybean and Small Grains Extension Specialist.
According to Joe Lauer, UW-Madison Agronomy Professor, “last year we were earlier than normal – in fact, it was one of the earliest planting seasons on record.”
Noted: The virus’s spread has accelerated northward with the spring migration of many North American bird species, explained Ron Kean, a poultry specialist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Extension.
“We might have expected uncertainty about the pandemic and its effects on employment, income, healthcare, and safety to have stifled entrepreneurial activity. Entrepreneurship, which is already seen as risky, could have appeared even more so during the global COVID-19 pandemic,” wrote authors Hannah Julian, Ted Callon and Tessa Conroy in a report for UW-Madison Extension’s WIndicators series.
There is no doubt that farming can be extremely rewarding, yet also stressful and demanding. Various risk factors including weather, economic uncertainty, as well as, ever-evolving supply and demand changes, can take a toll on farmer’s mental health.
In order to address some of these issues, the University of Wisconsin–Madison Division of Extension will be offering virtual and in-person educational programs to help the Wisconsin agricultural community identify and respond to a variety of behavioral health challenges.
Quoted: Heather Schlesser is an agriculture educator for the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Division of Extension in Marathon County. She said the state has seen many producers transition out of dairy farming, which requires a lot of land for growing feed.
“They were transitioning out of dairy, making that decision to retire because they’re getting older. Or maybe they’re still younger, but they’re switching into beef production,” Schlesser said. “You can only do that for so long before you’re like, ‘You know what, I really don’t need this land. I don’t want to deal with the renters anymore. There’s no one new coming on the farm.’ And then they’re just deciding to sell it off.”
Intentional conversations around farm succession and developing future plans for the farm provides a better chance of transition success. University of Wisconsin-Madison Division of Extension will provide resources during the webinars to assist families in transition discussions and planning for the future.
Quoted: Matt Kures, a community development specialist with UW-Madison Extension, and Laura Dresser, a labor economist and associate director of UW-Madison think tank COWS.
Quoted: While other states brag big dairy and crop industries, Wisconsin’s insulation from fertilizer price spikes is thanks to having more cows per acre than corn per acre, according to Paul Mitchell, a professor in the UW-Madison department for Agriculture and Applied Economics.
“About a third of our nitrogen for corn comes from dairy manure,” Mitchell said. “And we have more cows per acre of cropland.”
However, manure isn’t easily accessible. It’s difficult to transport due to its high water content and therefore large volume, so it can’t usually go beyond it’s own farmland or crop farms neighboring dairy farms.
But it’s lack of transport ability shouldn’t dissuade you from seeking it out, according to Matt Ruark, a professor of soil science at UW-Madison and soil nutrient expert.
“We think of [manure] as a waste stream, but it is has relatively high nutrient value in terms of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. Those are big three nutrient inputs into our corn production systems,” Ruark said.
Jeremy Solin’s earliest memory from his family’s longtime syrup business is with his grandma, sitting at a kitchen table, pounding a nail through the top of a metal Folgers coffee can.
They wound a piece of wire through the can so they could hang it from the spout on a tree.
“We just used whatever we had, right?” he said.
Solin is a fourth-generation syrup producer with a farm just north of Antigo. He’s the maple syrup project manager for the University of Wisconsin-Extension and he runs Tapped Maple Syrup in Stevens Point.
Quoted: Victoria Solomon is a community development educator for the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Division of Extension in Green County. She has studied women’s participation in local elected office and what barriers keep more women from running.
Solomon said one of the biggest factors affecting the number of women running for office is the fact that women are less likely to be asked to run for office.
“Having people who are thinking about who to ask to consider running for office, having those people think about starting with strengths and perspectives and experiences, and looking at diversity amongst those,” Solomon said. “We know that having diverse voices at the table helps build better decisions.”
A new program funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture will give youth in three Wisconsin counties the chance to work with the University of Wisconsin-Madison Division of Extension to explore post-high school educational and work opportunities.
“Having that meat thermometer is going to be really important for turkey, because it’s not going to cook as fast as chicken. And if you forgot to thaw it all the way and you pop it in the oven, there’s that possibility that some parts aren’t going to be done,” said UW Extension educator Heather Quackenboss.
Quoted: “About 31% of preventable transportation-related manure spills are due to operator error,” said Kevin Erb, University of Wisconsin-Madison Division of Extension conservation professional training program director. “An accidental spill is not illegal, but failing to properly report and clean it up is.”
Noted: Sugar does reduce water activity, and water is what lets microorganisms do their thing, said Barbara Ingham, professor of food science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a food safety specialist for UW’s Division of Extension. (“Just don’t eat raw dough,” she noted, since flour can be the subject of recalls for E. coli.)
Noted: This year in Wisconsin, a fall armyworm population is present unlike anything most entomologists have ever seen. The pests are doing damage to alfalfa, winter wheat and other cover crops around the state. Bryan Jensen, UW-Extension Pest Management Specialist, shares that this warmer fall weather has helped to create a perfect storm for fall armyworms to thrive. Fall armyworms are different from the normal armyworms seen during late spring. The good news, according to Jensen, is they will most definitely not over-winter here in Wisconsin: they are a warm weather species, and will not survive the winter
Noted: If you have a variable income, it’s best to base your budget on the lower end of how much you expect to be making so you can still over all your expenses in case your hours get cut or you get fewer tips than you were expecting, said MaryBeth Wohlrabe, a positive youth development educator who runs the Outagamie County Rent Smart program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Division of Extension in the county.
Quoted: Joe Lauer, an agronomist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, acknowledged that farmers are anxious about the dry weather, but said that he’s not concerned … yet.
“One of the characteristics of a record-breaking year (for corn) is a mini-drought during the months of May and June,” he said. Lauer explained that a dry spring allows farmers to plant without fighting wet fields.
If you are worried about your garden or lawn, horticulture educator Vijai Pandian from the UW-Madison Extension has some tips to mitigate drought stress on landscape and garden plants.
“For our future up here, broadband is the single most important thing,” said Christopher Starks, retired from the aerospace industry and now working with University of Wisconsin-Madison Extension.
Perhaps you are a person who works full time at another job but dreams of owning a small farm someday. Or maybe you already operate a farm but want to add another enterprise or start a side business. Whatever your aspirations may be, some of the first steps in making this goal a reality is to create a plan and secure funding.
That was the topic discussed in a University of Wisconsin Division of Extension webinar, titled “Your farm startup: where to begin and who can help?” One of the speakers was Andy Larson, the Farm Outreach Specialist for the Food Finance Institute at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. With personal experience as a banker, extension educator, and farmer, one of his first pieces of advice was to “get some dirt under your fingernails.”
“Try it first,” Larson said. “Only real-life, on the ground experience can tell you whether your passion stands up to the daily grind.”
The other free classes for Money Smart Week: “Personal Finance” hosted by the Global Financial Literacy Excellence Center; “Housing Protections and Resources” by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau; and “Budgeting” by the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Division of Extension.
Noted: Because the association wants to equip as many homes as possible with the Ring devices, leaders had to seek out grant funding to buy the equipment. Salb said Steve Chmielewski, a community educator with the University of Wisconsin-Madison Division of Extension Waukesha County, has helped facilitate that process, which involves Community Block Grant Funds.
Quoted: Whether a registration requirement complies with open-meetings statute has not been tested in the Wisconsin court system, said attorney Philip Freeburg, with UW-Madison Division of Extension’s Local Government Center.
“The main thing about open meetings is to provide open access,” he said. “If you’re putting up barriers to that, I think you may be at some risk.”
Among other recommendations in the report, the commission also called for the creation of government programs designed specifically for rural communities; the easing of local levy limits to give local governments greater flexibility to fund innovative programs; and boosting state funding for the county-level education programs of the University of Wisconsin-Madison known as the Division of Extension
The Extension Dairy Program at the UW Division of Extension thrives on working in-person with farming communities across the state of Wisconsin. When the pandemic hit, the program addressed pandemic-related issues in the dairy industry while transitioning to online programming.
The class is open to individuals 12 years old and up. Wisconsin law requires that youth under age 1 complete a tractor and machinery certification course before driving tractors on public roads.
Former Wisconsin 4-H Youth Development Director Greg Hutchins was inducted into the 4-H National Hall of Fame.
John Shutske is a health and safety specialist for the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Division of Extension. He said there have been some anecdotal reports of outbreaks among workers at a few large farms in the state, but there hasn’t been good data available to understand the extent of the problem.
Quoted: “It’s kind of like a family that’s involved with their children in sports,” said Richard Halopka, a University of Wisconsin-Extension agent from Clark County.
“Not having the state fair would be a big letdown. But, unfortunately, this year it’s a sign of the times,” Halopka said.
Nick Baker, agricultural agent for University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Division of Extension in Rock County, said that likely influenced producers to get an early start this spring.
Karl Martin, who is serving as interim dean and director of the UW-Madison Division of Extension since June 2018, has been chosen to serve as the permanent dean and director of the division, the university announced Tuesday.
Quoted: “I think a lot of that first buying was people loading up and now I think that demand has decreased,” said Ronald Kean, a University of Wisconsin Extension poultry specialist. “Some of our large egg producers sell a lot of liquid eggs, but that has dropped off because that’s mostly used by restaurants and schools.”
Mindful Money Moments will cover topics like dealing with a drop in income, managing money in tough times and options for paying back student loans, among other things.
The agency worked with the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Division of Extension to create a program called “Unexpected Tomorrows,” where farmers can learn stress management techniques and share their experiences with depression, anxiety and loss. They also created a Farm Couples Weekend with workshops on improving communication.
Gail Huycke is a community development specialist with the University of Wisconsin-Extension. Huycke, who focuses on broadband access, lives in Phillips in the northern part of the state. Her internet runs slowly, about 8 to 10 megabits per second.
Kevin Jarek is the agricultural agent for University of Wisconsin-Extension in Outagamie County. He said some farmers are worried about another late planting season this year because the National Weather Service has reported precipitation numbers that are above average.
Kevin Jarek, agricultural agent for University of Wisconsin-Extension in Outagamie County, said some farmers were forced to harvest crops in wet conditions, leaving major ruts in their fields or compacted soils which will complicate planting this year.
Though Dodge and Sauk counties have farmer-led conservation groups, Columbia County currently does not. However, George Koepp, agriculture agent with the University of Wisconsin-Extension Columbia County, said that may soon change. In March he and county conservation officials plan to meet with a variety of local farmers, which includes Schoepp, to discuss creating a farmer-led organization.
One of the proposals from the task force would create a new Office of Water Policy within the Wisconsin Geological and Natural History Survey, a part of the University of Wisconsin-Extension. The office would be tasked with “coordinating efforts to manage, conserve, protect, and enhance the productivity of the state’s water resources,” according to the task force’s official report.
Among the thousands of voters flagged to be possibly removed from Wisconsin’s voter rolls are two state lawmakers, a cabinet secretary, a Milwaukee County supervisor and a former University of Wisconsin chancellor.
Election officials in October asked more than 230,000 people to update their voter registrations because they believed they had moved. The letters triggered an ongoing legal battle over whether the recipients should be quickly taken off the rolls.
Among those who were targeted were Rep. Mark Born, R-Beaver Dam; Rep. David Crowley, D-Milwaukee; Workforce Development Secretary Caleb Frostman; Milwaukee County Supervisor Sequanna Taylor and former UW Extension Chancellor Cathy Sandeen.
“It can be very difficult for a smaller farm to afford this technology because you need, you know, a larger operation to spread those expenses across,” said Liz Binversie, an agriculture educator in Brown County for the University of Wisconsin extension office. She said she knows of one farm that went out of business because it couldn’t find enough workers and could not afford a robotic milking system.
Gerald Whitburn, who served for nearly 10 years across two terms on the University of Wisconsin System’s Board of Regents, resigned Thursday, effective immediately.