Extension and Ag Research News


NDSU Extension Service: Agriculture and Natural Resources Fundamental to N.D.’s Success

NDSU Extension supports North Dakotans’ efforts to produce the food and fiber that are essential to the state.

Charlie Stoltenow, Assistant Director of Agriculture and Natural Resources

NDSU Extension Service

North Dakota exists because of its agriculture and natural resources. The state is blessed with productive soils from border to border. Because of that, many people, including my ancestors, came here to farm and ranch.

Some may consider our climate a bit on the harsh side, but the seasons of the year set a natural rhythm, resulting in an abundant production of food and fiber for the state and the world.

North Dakota routinely leads the nation in the production of about 10 different commodities. This is not by accident. North Dakota is very fortunate to have special people who work the land and care for the animals. The men and women of the NDSU Extension Service’s Agriculture and Natural Resources (ANR) program have been working alongside these special people for the past 100 years and will continue to do so for the next 100 years.

This year, NDSU Extension celebrates the 100th anniversary of the signing of the Smith-Lever Act, which created the national Cooperative Extension System. As part of that celebration, we are focusing on how we extend knowledge and change lives.

For example, Extension ANR is helping producers stay on the cutting edge of crop production through precision agriculture. One of the latest efforts involves testing and demonstrating the effectiveness of in-field sensing for determining when and where to apply fertilizer.

A crop sensor mounted on a fertilizer applicator shines red, green and near infrared light at plants to see how much light reflects back. The amount of reflected light indicates how well the crop is growing. That data goes into a computer in the tractor, which lets producers adjust their fertilizer applications. This allows producers to apply the right amount of fertilizer exactly where the crop needs it, saving them money and reducing the potential for chemical runoff.

The explosive growth of the “oil patch” in western North Dakota has created opportunities and challenges for the people who live there and their animals. Early in the summer of 2013, Extension ANR conducted a pilot study to assess the feasibility of obtaining baseline water quality data in six counties in and adjacent to the oil patch. This study was initiated in response to an increase in water samples sent to the NDSU Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory during the 2012 drought and some producers’ concerns about oil field development impacts on their water quality.

Crops, range and livestock all depend on soil. Managing soil is complex. To help producers and landowners better understand the complexities and interactions of multiple management practices, we created the Soil Health and Agriculture Research Extension (SHARE) Farm. It is a collaborative project involving a private land owner, NDSU and commodity groups.

The SHARE Farm is in Richland County. It provides a location for integrated, whole-system program development to allow long-term research and Extension activities across multiple disciplines to take place.

Extension ANR is not engaged only on the farm or ranch, but in the cities of North Dakota as well. Gardens in North Dakota produce an estimated $56 million worth of vegetables each year. But the simple production of vegetables does not tell the whole story.

Extension ANR has a Master Gardener program that trains people so they can, in turn, train others. Extension ANR also has a Junior Master Gardener program for youth. Through these programs, people become engaged in agriculture, develop an affinity for the land and its resources, and educate our youth as to where their food comes from.

We are seeing a growing separation in knowledge between modern agriculture producers and the food-consuming public. In response, Extension ANR has been involved in a collaborative outreach program designed for the consumers of North Dakota. It’s called BBQ Boot Camp.

Developed in 2009, BBQ Boot Camp has educated more than 5,000 people across North Dakota and surrounding area about the importance of agriculture in everyone’s life through the production and consumption of food.

BBQ Boot Camp educates participants on food safety, proper food preparation, different methods of cooking, best utilization of differing types and cuts of meat, and use of rubs and spices. Also contained in the educational message are where the meat comes from, how it is produced, what livestock stewardship is, and who the people are who raise these livestock to be consumed as meat.

People need food and fiber. Food and fiber are produced through the management and use of agricultural and natural resources. Extension ANR is proud to be part of a system that is so vital and fundamental to North Dakota’s success. The NDSU Extension ANR program also is committed to continuing to create learning partnerships that help adults and youth enhance their lives and communities.

NDSU Agriculture Communication - April 10, 2014

Source:Charlie Stoltenow, (701) 231-7171, charles.stoltenow@ndsu.edu
Editor:Ellen Crawford, (701) 231-5391, ellen.crawford@ndsu.edu
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