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Group of calves grazing in a fenced-in area.

Weaning Calves on Cover Crops

What do we do if it is time to wean calves, but the pen isn’t ready? That can be a real concern during wet fall seasons, such as 2019. Putting calves into muddy pen conditions is far from desirable, but holding calves on the cows deep into fall increases the risk of adverse winter weather and tends to pull body condition off the cows.

A patch of western wheatgrass with ergot fungus growing throughout.

Ergot in Western Wheatgrass and the Potential Effects for Winter Grazing

2019 has been a year fraught with challenges for ranchers across South Dakota. Abundant precipitation is usually a blessing, however, wet conditions coupled with a cool spring followed by warmer temperatures has caused another problem across the rangelands of South Dakota: ergot poisoning.

A large swine barn at the edge of a field.

Pork Producers and the One Health Movement: Actions at the State Level

The term “One Health” has been coined to describe the concept that the health of people, animals and their environment are inextricably linked. The most commonly considered examples of One Health in practice are zoonotic diseases. For pork producers, influenza strains that originate in pigs, but pass to people are a pertinent example.

A field with patches of soil exhibiting poor water infiltration.

Farm Practices That Improve Soil Health: Cover Crops and Crop Residues

Planting cover crops and returning crop residues (stover) to the soil both adds nutrients and improves overall soil quality. These practices are common with producers across South Dakota and have been recently studied by researchers to identify how they impact the release of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

A patch of switchgrass growing at the edge of a field.

Farm Practices That Improve Soil Health: Planting Switchgrass on Marginal Lands

Switchgrass (Panicum virgatum) is a tall, native, prairie grass that is often seeded on marginal lands in South Dakota. It has gained growing popularity over the past decade not only as a source of biofuel and feed, but also as a method to improve soil properties.

A green tractor planting seeds in a no-till field. Courtesy: United Soybean Board [CC BY 2.0] via Flickr

Farm Practices That Improve Soil Health: Crop Rotations and No-Till

Implementing diverse crop rotations and no-till practices are common suggestions to reduce erosion, control pests, and improve yields. These practices can also improve soil health through an increase in soil carbon levels.

A black, crossbred calf standing in a feedlot.

Choosing Beef Genetics for Use in Dairy Herds

Combinations of new technologies and economic challenges often usher in sweeping changes and opportunities. The use of beef genetics on dairy cows is the most-recent example.

Woman at a booth demonstrating beef sustainability.

New “AgriCulture” Event in Rapid City Connects Urban Families to Ag Community

Rapid City’s Main Street Square featured all-things agriculture on Saturday, September 21, 2019 allowing urban consumers an opportunity to meet the farmers and ranchers who produce their food and learn how they care for crops, livestock and rangelands.

Six black cattle grazing a field with patches of snow.

Considerations for Cull Cows

The last year was difficult to say the least, from a wet, muddy spring and late planting to an early, wet fall and difficult harvest. Unfortunately, for cow calf producers, the repercussions were seen during pregnancy detection this year, as the number of slaughter cows within the state were abundant due to open cows.

Left: Soil from long-term no-till field, exhibiting good soil aggregation through clumping and smaller pieces of soil. Right: Soil from conventionally managed field that included tillage and crop residue removal. Notice the soil is lighter brown, indicating lower organic matter, and the pieces of soil are in larger chunks with no visible indication of clumping or structure.

Organic Agronomy Starting to Impact

For decades scientists have known that a handful of soil contained more micro-biological organisms than the number of humans on earth. Science is just beginning to discover these organisms and learn about their functions and contribution to their soil ecosystem.