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 Soil field Day


Excellence in Agriculture Celebrated During 45th Annual Harvest Bowl

The success, dedication and hard work of outstanding agriculturists in 53 counties in North Dakota and eight counties in Minnesota were honored during the 45th annual Harvest Bowl program at North Dakota State University, on November 2.

Traill County’s Outstanding Agriculturist this year was Curt Zerface along with his wife Julie. Curt and Julie Zerface live in Hillsboro.

Curt has worked in the Hillsboro field office of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) for 31 years. He has been responsible for administering many conservation-related U.S. farm bill programs. He also has been involved in a number of SCS projects, including administering the construction and contract cost sharing for large animal feeding operations, analysis of irrigation low-pressure systems, and fencing and watering systems for grazing. Curtis is a 1984 NDSU graduate.

Before joining the SCS, he worked for KT Irrigation and the Farmers Home Administration. He received the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Certificate of Merit for Sustained Superior Performance in 1989 and 1990, and the Certificate of Appreciation for CRP (Conservation Reserve Program) Administration in 1997.

Julie, a 1985 NDSU graduate, is a music teacher for kindergarten to grade six at Hillsboro Public School. She also is a U.S. Department of Agriculture/Natural Resources Conservation Service volunteer, helping plant and stake trees. In addition. she is secretary for the St. Rose of Lina Parish Church Council and St. Rose Altar Society, third-grade Confraternity of Christian Doctrine teacher, church organist and accompanist, and accompanist for elementary and high school regional and state music contests. They have two children.

November 15 Private Pesticide Certification

Traill County Extension is excited to offer a fall training opportunity for private pesticide applicators who need to recertify or initial certify for pesticide application licenses. The cost of the recertification is $30.00. Checks should be written to the Traill County Treasurer and can be paid the day of the training.

The date and location of the class are: November 15th, 1:00 - 4:30 p.m. – Traill County Courthouse Community Room, Hillsboro Pesticide licenses will be mailed out after January 1st, 2019.

Private Pesticide Certification for First Time Certifications or Expired Certifications.

For first time certifications or those who have allowed their certification to lapse in 2018 or earlier, you must attend a certification session and stay for further instruction and to take a 30 question exam.

Preregistration is required. You are required to preregister for the training by calling the office at 701-636-5665 or emailing NDSU.Traill.Extension@ndsu.edu on/or before November 13th to register for the November 15th training.

Cash Rents – More than just a Number

Questions that I receive at the office this time of year often pertain to cash rent. For this week’s article I will be sharing how I address these types of questions and other information regarding this topic.

The National Agricultural Statistics Service has a survey each year asking what the cash rent you are paying or receiving. This is only a snapshot and they get some low responses and some high responses but usually not the top rents in the county. The information in the survey is based on the returns and it includes the best land and the poorest land in the county. We receive a lot of absentee landowners calling from all over the county and country. I always make it my priority to give everyone the same information.

I will not tell any landlord or renter what the rent dollar amount should be. We discuss the averages and their options. I always mention that there are other factors to consider besides the actual dollar amount. For example; is the renter or landlord good, does the renter take good care of the land, is the landlord or the renter improving the land by improving drainage or fertilizing properly? Is the renter a local farmer and somebody that will be farming for many years to come or are you going to take the high rent and maybe they will be farming the land for a year or two?

The farm economy is also a consideration because the better the farm economy the greater the competition for the land. When crop prices are high and good yields the competition for the land increases and cash rents increase. When crop prices are low and yields are low the cash rents stabilize. The bottom line is that I relay information from the current year’s survey, give the person who is calling variables to consider and from there on it is up to the parties involved to negotiate.

Attracting Songbirds

It’s cold outside and birds need some food to keep them warm. Now is theCardinal
perfect time to attract them to your home for winter. Bird feeding grows in popularity every year and it is easy to understand why. Songbirds provide us with entertaining sounds, bright flashes of color, and curious movements that are enjoyable to watch.

Select the Best Feeder
A sturdy, comfortable perch is important for many birds. A traditional wooden feeder mounted on a post will work well. If you can only afford one feeder, this is the one to choose. Hanging feeders are preferred by nimble birds, such as chickadees and goldfinches. Some birds prefer to eat insects and meat, rather than seeds. Nylon covered wire cages filled with suet will attract woodpeckers, nuthatches and chickadees. A combination of all these feeders will give you the most bird feeding activity.

Select a Good Location
Place your feeder where you can comfortably watch the birds. Feeders should be placed fairly close to trees or shrubs. This will provide birds with nesting sites, sanctuary from predators, and protection from winter winds. The feeder should be at least five feet high to discourage cats and squirrels. Place your feeder at least ten feet away from steps, rooftops, or sturdy tree limbs. Cats use these objects as launching pads to get at birds.

Provide Good Food
Sunflower seeds are the favorite food of cardinals and several other popular birds. Sunflower seeds, especially the solid black oil-type, are loaded with calories that keep birds warm over winter. A mixture containing sunflower seeds, white proso millet and cracked corn is a good economic value. Don’t be cheap. Bargain mixes often contain large amounts of wheat, milo, peanut hearts, hulled oats, and rice. Bargain mixes are not attractive to popular birds. They also create a mess around the feeder since birds pick through the seed mix. Rather than buying bargain mixes, save money by purchasing good quality seed in bulk.

Herb GardenGrowing Herbs Indoors

Now is a great time to start growing herbs indoors. You can enjoy fresh herbs in your holiday meals or grow pots of herbs to share as gifts with fellow gardeners. Dig small clumps or take cuttings of rosemary, chives, thyme and sage from your garden. Sow seeds of basil, parsley, dill and cilantro. Use potting soil mix. Small (3–4 inch) pots work well on a windowsill. Larger pots can be used with plant stands. Fertilize monthly. Set near a sunny (south) window with at least 6 hours of sun per day. “Grow light” tubes are another option. Keep them on for at least 12 hours daily and set lights close (6–15 inches) to plants. Room temps will work well. Winter homes are dry. Set pots on a tray filled with gravel and then add water to the tray. A humidifier and misting can help.

Colder Weather Moves In – Helpful Tips on Mouse
Keeping the Rodents Out

The house mouse and Norway rat are two of the most destructive pests in the United States. Both rodents can be a problem in the home, but the rat is the more serious problem in warehouses, urban areas and agricultural buildings. They both eat a wide range of foods and do considerable gnawing to wear down their continuously growing incisors. The reproductive potential of a single pair of rats or mice is staggering, thus, you should control an infestation quickly.

To control a rodent infestation, your primary goal is to reduce the population. You can do this by trapping, or through the use of rodenticides (poisons). Trapping with the right size common wooden base snap traps for rats or mice can be very effective, but requires some effort and skill.

Some helpful tips are: (1) use plenty of traps, 1 every 10 feet or so is enough; (2) use bait the rodents are already eating, if at all possible. Otherwise, rolled oats in peanut butter makes good bait; (3) put the baited traps out but do not set them for a few days to let the rodents get used to them; and (4) place the traps near a wall or obstacle with the trigger next to the wall.

Rodenticides fall into two categories, multiple-dose anticoagulants and single-dose poisons. The anticoagulants are much less dangerous to humans and are available in ready-to-use bait formulations. The rodents need to eat them for several days to get a lethal dose. Several new anticoagulants do not require multiple feedings. The single-dose rodenticides are more dangerous and are generally unavailable to the public without training and certification. Any infestation severe enough to justify use of single-dose rodenticide is best handled by a professional pest control operator.

Some tips on the safe use of rodenticides include keeping them away from children and pets, keeping the bait fresh, and using covered or protected bait stations in places rodents frequent. After you reduce the population, clean up and sanitize the infested area. Remove all potential food. As a last step, rodent-proof the home or building by sealing all access points such as cracks, utility openings or broken windows. Clean up and rodent-proofing are done last to avoid disturbing the rodent's environment, which can make them very wary and more difficult to remove.

Traill County Courthouse


NDSU Extension/Traill County
114 Caledonia Ave. W.
Box 730 (mailing address)
Hillsboro, ND 58045
Phone:  701-636-5665   
Fax: 701-636-5666

Office Hours:
8 a.m. - 4:30 p.m., Monday-Friday
Summer Office Hours:
(Memorial Day - Labor Day)
7 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.,  Monday-Thursday
8 a.m. - Noon, Friday

Related Links:
NDSU Extension
North Dakota Department of Agriculture

Traill County
City of Hillsboro
Cities of Mayville-Portland
City of Hatton

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