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The MonDak Ag Research Summit was held November 15th at the Richland County Event Center in Sidney. Agricultural scientists and researchers from the NDSU Williston Research Extension Center, MSU Eastern Agricultural Research Center, and USDA-ARS Northern Plains Agricultural Research Lab presented current and past research results.
The presentations included management strategies that can save both dryland and irrigated growers time and money. The topics presented at the MonDak Ag Research Summit were Planting Fusarium Headlight Contaminated Seed, Effect of Seed Treatments for Control of Rhizoctonia Root Rot of Sugarbeets, Biological Control of the Wheat Stem Sawfly, Microbial Control of Wheat Stem Sawfly, Update on Invasive Weeds and Biocontrol, Soil Health in Diverse Dryland Cropping Systems, Irrigated Cropping Sequence with Sugarbeets and Soybeans, Pulse Crop Variety Performance, Small Grain Varieties for Irrigated Production, Small Grain Varieties for Dryland Production, High Tunnel Vegetable Production, and Grasshopper Outbreak Prediction.
Audrey Kalil, Plant Pathologist at the Williston Research Center, talked about the effects of planting Fusarium-infected seed in a field. Some solutions for increasing yields of infected crops are to clean seed, check germination rate, treat with fungicide, adjust planting population based on germination of seeds, or avoid planting Fusarium-infected seed with high levels of Deoxynivalenol (DON).
Frankie Crutcher, Plant Pathologist at the Eastern Agricultural Research Center, discussed the effects of Rhizoctonia Root Rot on Sugarbeets and the effects seed treatments have on the disease. Rhizoctonia Root Rot is a disease caused by a fungus and is one of the most damaging sugar beet diseases nationwide that is common in the MonDak area. Crutcher's research included effects of planting date, maturity on disease incidence, and severity of durum in Eastern Montana. She also displayed posters that showcased information/research about the development of a non-destructive pulse seed DNA extraction methodology for disease diagnostic and breeding applications.
Tatyana Rand, Research Entomologist a part of the Pest Management Research Unit at the USDA-ARS Northern Plains Agricultural Research Lab in Sidney, presented a PowerPoint on biological control of the wheat stem sawfly. The wheat stem sawfly is known to be one of the most destructive pests in wheat production in Montana. The pest is responsible for an annual loss of an estimated $25 to $30 million. Rand discussed research on wheat stem sawfly and how to implement and evaluate management tactics against the pest to decrease crop losses. She also presented a poster board about the effects of grassland habitats on wheat stem sawfly infestations and biological control.
Don Tanaka, retired ARS scientist, spoke about soil health in diverse dryland cropping systems of the northern Great Plains. Tanaka presented information on how to increase organic matter of the soil, increase biomass production, maintain good soil cover, and how to use appropriate water use to different crop types. By maintaining low soil disturbance, cropping systems such as no-till will help sustain a soil cover, which will increase soil health.
Research Leader and Research Agronomist a part of the Agricultural Systems Research Unit at the USDA-ARS Northern Plains Agricultural Research Lab, Bart Stevens discussed irrigated cropping sequence with sugarbeets and soybeans and sugarbeet response to tillage and nitrogen management. Stevens also presented a poster that included research of sugarbeet response to seed position relative to fertilizer band in a strip tillage system.
Chengci Chen, Superintendent and Cropping Systems Agronomist at the MSU Eastern Agricultural Research Center, presented the topic, Pulse Crop Variety Performance in Eastern Montana and also sugarbeet response to tillage and nitrogen management. Chen showcased a poster with Abdelaziz Nilahyane, Post Doc at the MSU Eastern Ag Research Center, about spring wheat and durum yield and quality improved by micronutrients.
Austin Link, Agronomy Research Specialist, and Tyler Tjelde, Irrigation Agronomist from the Williston Research Center talked about small cereal grain varieties for irrigated and dryland production. The talk included durum, wheat, oats, and barley. Link also presented a poster that included research about the effects of cropping sequence, ripping, and manure on pipeline reclamation in Western North Dakota.
Kyla Splichal Horticulture Research Specialist, at the Williston Research Center presented a talk on high tunnel vegetable production. High tunnels are unheated greenhouses that help producers lengthen their growing season so that they can increase profitability and productivity of their crop. Splichal performed a research project on a Rimol high tunnel for vegetable and cut flower research. The goal of the research is to inform growers when to plant, what pest management issues to expect, and to develop a communication center for North Dakota high tunnel growers. Splichal also presented a poster at the event with the topic "Hope Selections for North Dakota".
Research entomologist at the USDA-ARS Northern Plains Agricultural Research Lab, David Branson discussed a grasshopper outbreak prediction and the understanding of grasshopper ecology at the event. Branson has been performing research on ways to prevent a grasshopper scourge by uncovering the ecology and biology underpinning grasshopper population surges. He is also researching ways to decrease the need for aerially sprayed pesticides that have been used to stop grasshopper outbreaks in the past.
During the event, lunch was served by the Meadowlark Brewing Company and sponsored by the Northern Pulse Growers Association. Throughout lunch, Brian Gion, Marketing Director of the Northern Pulse Growers Association (NPGA) talked about the 2017-2018 pulse updates on marketing and exporting of pulse crops. Dion also discussed how NPGA works as a trade association to increase pulse growers profitability through both international and domestic marketing, research, government relations, and education.
Producers from around the MonDak area that attended the event had opportunities to interact one-on-one with the local scientists and agronomists. Group discussions were held and local producers asked questions about their operation and about crop diseases. A total of 31 posters were showcased that contained information about current and past research projects performed by the agronomists. The event featured a collaboration of agricultural growers in the community that came together to familiarize themselves with the impact scientific research conducted at local research labs has on modern agriculture.
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December 6, 2017 at 09:17AM
Driving those trucks, a few overlooked harvest workers are just trying to make it in the world doing what they love — all while working toward a degree that will one day help them do just that.
By Emma Vatnsdal | WDAY
How they got started
For Adam Meister, a senior majoring in agricultural systems management (ASM) from Hanover, Minn., working during harvest while going to school full time is nothing new. He has worked for B&B Farms in Kindred, N.D., for two harvest seasons, but he doesn't stop there.
"I worked there all summer-long," Meister said. "I pretty much am a hired hand and do what I am told. I helped with spraying activities, work in the shop. During harvest now, I just help where I can."
Many students who work for area farmers during harvest work jobs similar to Meister. However, some students find their time to shine after the crops come out of the ground.
Adam Walter, a senior also majoring in ASM from Centerville, Minn., has found his niche the past two harvest seasons at the CW Valley Co-op in Comstock, Minn.
"I talk to farmers, dump (the grain) trucks, take care of the shipping process mainly, and keep up on maintenance," Walter said.
The mounds of sugar beets that pile up between Canada and South Dakota need someone to haul them. Jeremy Rhines, a senior general agriculture and agriculture economics student from Sidney, Mont., is the man for the job.
Working for Ackerman Farms in Hillsboro, N.D., Rhines gets his turn driving many different crops to the elevators.
"I usually drive tractor and truck. Beets, soybeans, corn, barley, stuff like that," Rhines said.
Many of the NDSU students who work as hired hands on farms during harvest grew up in agriculture or, at the very least, have a background in it.
"I grew up on a decent-sized farming operation," said Rhines, who works on his family farm in Sidney, Mont., during the summer.
For Meister, the farm experience he gained before finding himself in this job came from a small, family operation. "We helped out a lot around my uncle's farm, but I haven't learned or done as much as I have done here," Meister said.
Juggling a busy schedule
Most college students spend some of their free time after class doing what interests them—working out, hanging out with friends or going out downtown. But for these young men, when class dismisses, it's only the beginning of the day.
"Usually I put in at least 10 hours (a day). I start at 11 and work until midnight, usually after classes are done. I guess that is more than the average farmhand, but I get my stuff done," Meister said, and that is just the three days a week he works after classes.
On the weekends the real work gets done. While many NDSU students are gearing up for Bison football games and tailgating, Meister has already been working for a few hours.
"Usually on the weekends, if we start at 8, we usually go until 11 at night. We usually put in 13- to 15-hour days, I guess." Meister said.
For a full-time student, working that many hours per week can be draining.
"I would guess (I work) maybe 60 hours a week. I only sleep around 4 hours a night," Meister said.
While 60 hours per week is on the extreme side of the spectrum, for Rhines and Walter, seeing a 40- to 50-hour workweek is common. For Rhines, a 12- to 14-hour workday is typical during beet season, and that doesn't include his commute from Fargo to Hillsboro.
How harvest affects them
Working between 30 and 60 hours a week doesn't come without consequences, though.
"I would say the biggest commitment that I give up is sleep. And my personal life," Meister said. "I have no time to go out with friends and stuff like that. And that is 60 hours a week not working Tuesdays or Thursdays."
Megan Ratke, an NDSU freshman and Meister's girlfriend of two years, worries that with Meister working so much, he is going to miss out on much more.
"I just feel like there is no time for him to have fun in college. And I feel like he is working his college years away," Ratke said.
Even though all girlfriends of young farmers know what they are signing up for when harvest rolls around, the demanding schedule these young men keep can be a major strain on even the strongest relationships.
"I know it is his job, and it is something that he loves, but you have to do what you can," Ratke said. "There is no time for dates or anything. Trying to hang out with him after work is usually a no-go because he is tired and the only time he is home is when he is sleeping. Plans are always changing, so that is hard, too ... but he loves his job so I can't really get mad at him. You can't get mad for working."
Haley Stephenson, Walter's girlfriend of two years, agrees.
"Oh yeah, you get put through the ringer," said Stephenson, a sophomore at Northland Community College in East Grand Forks, N.D. "The little things become huge that really don't need to be. Little things build up until they're World War III."
The young men aren't oblivious to the situation.
"It affects my relationship big time," Walter said. "It is hard to see each other, plus Haley lives two hours away from me ... you end up staying up later to finish schoolwork and trying to finish stuff while I am working, too. "
Why they do it
Although they deal with challenges that would make many want to throw their hands up and quit, the work ethic these young men have, coupled with the work that they do, has positives, too.
If they were to work only during harvest, their earnings could potentially carry them through the whole year. However, many work year-round to keep their pocketbook padded when it comes time to pay the bills.
"If I just did straight harvest, I would be able to pay the bills. If I needed it to, I could easily make it. I do work year-round, though, so I never feel like I am behind when I have to pay bills and stuff," Walter said.
Although the money they make working like this is nice, it isn't the only motivator. A lot of it has to do with getting out of the city and having a little peace in nature.
"I really like being out in the field," Rhines said. "The rural farm area and the fields. Also the thought that I am feeding the world."
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November 6, 2017 at 10:03AM
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September 5, 2017 at 11:55AM