One of the great things about being president of Farm Bureau is the opportunity it gives me to travel Nebraska. And while there is great diversity in Nebraska, the one constant in my travels last summer and fall was the reality that the drought touched everyone in our state in one way or another. Water use restrictions, well problems and fires that ravaged parts of western Nebraska were making headlines more than any of us would like.
While southeastern Nebraska has been fortunate to receive much needed moisture, drought conditions continue to grip much of the central and western parts of our state. The most recent national weather service report predicts above normal temperatures and below normal precipitation for much of Nebraska in the months of June, July and August. The report is a stark reminder that when it comes to the drought, we are not out of the woods yet.
As a farmer, I tend to get questions about how I use water on the farm. Those questions are magnified in the height of a drought when water restrictions are being enacted on my non-farm neighbors living town. Enactment of emergency water restrictions in neighboring communities is not news welcomed by anyone, especially farm neighbors.
Regardless of drought, water conservation and efficient use of water is a goal farmers and ranchers share with their neighbors. Over the years farmers have aggressively worked to make changes to better manage how we use water. Those changes have been made to not only help us become better farmers, but a core belief that we share in the responsibility for preserving water resources for the next generation of water users, including those that don’t farm.
These on-farm changes are numerous and have required significant investments in new technologies, tillage practices and management strategies. From irrigation equipment to the very seeds we put in the ground, everything we do is now targeted to getting the most out of every drop of water.
Today we can measure a crop’s water use, water need and the existing soil moisture content; and do so in real time. Monitoring and data gathering allows us to make timely irrigation decisions conserving water and enhancing efficiency. Other new technologies in seed varieties, developed through research at land-grant universities like the University of Nebraska and private companies, have led to more drought tolerant seeds that allow farmers to use less water and still achieve optimum crop yields. Tillage practices, cropping rotations and adjusting plant populations are all management decisions farmers and ranchers now employ to save water.
The good news is that these strategies have been paying off. Data from the U.S. Geological Survey shows total water use for irrigation in Nebraska actually decreased from 2000 to 2005, despite a growth in the number of irrigated acres during that same time period. Moreover, the Middle Republican Natural Resources District located in southwest Nebraska, reports groundwater irrigators in the district used an average of 9.5 inches of water per acre from 2005-2012. To put that number in context, my understanding is the citywide average water use in Lincoln equates to roughly 12 inches of water per acre annually.
When sacrifices are made by our urban neighbors related to water conservation, we in agriculture don’t take them for granted. The water we use is critical to our ability to help raise food for the people of our state, nation and world. Despite all of our efforts, we can’t escape the reality that we can’t raise food without water. Having said that, we all have a role in managing Nebraska’s water resources. Preventing impacts to other water users is one of the many reasons farmers and ranchers continue to put their time, effort and resources into doing what’s right as water stewards. At the end of the day, conserving water is truly is a commitment that we all share.
–– Steve Nelson, president, Nebraska Farm Bureau Federation
- 3 tablespoons lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons canola oil
- 1 large onion, finely chopped
- 1-1/2 teaspoons dried thyme
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 2 pounds beef top sirloin steak, cut into 1-inch cubes
- 1 each medium sweet green, yellow, orange and red peppers
- In a large heavy-duty resealable plastic bag, combine the lemon juice, oil, onion, thyme, salt and pepper. Add meat; seal bag and turn to coat. Refrigerate for 6 hours or overnight.
- Cut peppers into 1-in. squares and thread onto metal or soaked wooden skewers alternately with meat.
- Grill over medium heat for 12-15 minutes or until the meat reaches desired doneness, turning often.
Yield: 6-8 servings.
Norman Borlaug was an American agronomist who won the peace prize for his research which was credited for saving more than a billion lives. He was recognized for these efforts by winning the Nobel Peace Prize, Presidential Medal of Freedom and Congressional Gold Medal among many other awards.
What did Borlaug do?
He created a type of wheat that could sustain drought better than those of the past as well as sustain disease without the need for insecticides or parasiticides all while producing a higher yield.
During the mid-20th century, Borlaug led the introduction of these high-yielding varieties combined with modern agricultural production techniques to Mexico, Pakistan and India.
As a result, he provided income for those countries and their people, and saved billions from starvation. While Borlaug is no longer with us, he remains a hero and his creation continues to save lives across the world.
Norman Borlaug created a healthy and nutritious variety of genetically modified wheat.
Please take some time and learn the facts about genetically modified organisms below, originally posted by Common Ground –
- What are GMO foods?
- The World Health Organization (WHO) defines genetically modified organisms (GMOs) as organisms in which the genetic material (DNA) has been altered in a way that does not occur naturally. It allows selected individual genes to be transferred from one organism into another, including between nonrelated species. Such methods are used to create GMO plants – which result in GMO food crops. This technology is called biotechnology.
- Farmers and gardeners have been creating plant hybrids for as long as they’ve been growing plants. Biotechnology simply serves as a more technologically advanced method.
- The U.S. Dept. of Agriculture (USDA) says that while particular biotech traits may be new to certain crops, the same basic types of traits are often found naturally in plants and allow them to survive and evolve.
- What do we know about GMO food safety?
- Every plant improved through the use of food biotechnology is examined by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for potential health risks. Tests are done on plants before entering the food and animal feed supply. The WHO reports that current foods containing biotech ingredients have passed human health risk assessments. In addition, the WHO says no effects on human health have been shown as a result of the consumption of biotech foods.
- What are the benefits of food biotechnology to agriculture?
- Growing food with GMOs can result in better-tasting fruits and vegetables that stay fresh longer and are naturally resistant to insects. Plant breeding also results in crops better able to withstand the environmental challenges of drought, disease and insect infestations.
- By developing special traits in plants, biotechnology allows for more food to be grown in more places using fewer chemicals and fewer natural resources.
- This increased availability of crops provides significant economic gains to farmers in developing countries.
- An Iowa State University study shows that without biotechnology, global prices would be nearly 10 percent higher for soybeans and 6 percent higher for corn.
- Biotechnology also benefits the environment. A Council for Agricultural Science and Technology report says biotech soy, corn and cotton have decreased soil erosion by 90 percent, preserving 37 million tons of topsoil. Biotech crops also provide a 70 percent reduction in herbicide runoff and an 85 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.
- According to USDA, biotech crops may provide enhanced quality traits such as increased levels of beta-carotene in rice to aid in reducing vitamin A deficiencies and improved oil compositions in canola, soybeans and corn. Crops with the ability to grow in salty soils or to better withstand drought conditions are also in the works.
- USDA also says research on potatoes, squash, tomatoes and other crops continues in a similar manner to provide resistance to diseases that otherwise are very difficult to control.
– Kassi Williams is a proud farmer’s daughter growing up on a cow/calf and grain farm in Iowa. She earned a Bachelor of Science from Iowa State University, majoring in both animal science and public relations. She has been involved with agriculture from birth, working in multiple facets of the industry including the USDA and Extension. Kassi relocated to Nebraska in 2010 to work for a marketing communications agency for a multitude of agriculture clients.
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 1/2 cups chopped pecansFruit Sauce Ingredients
8 cups fresh or frozen unsweetened peach slices
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
2 tablespoons cornstarch
Dash of salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 cup milk
2 teaspoon lemon juice
1 1/4-1 1/2 cups flour
2 teaspoons sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butterDirections
1. If frozen peaches are used, thaw, but don’t drain.
2. For praline filling, stir together brown sugar and melted butter. Toss in pecans. Mix and set aside.
3. Preheat oven to 400º F.
4. In a Dutch oven combine peaches, 1 cup sugar, water, cornstarch, salt and cinnamon. Cook and stir until thickened and bubbly. Cover and keep warm.
5. In a small bowl, combine milk and lemon juice; set aside.
6. For dough, in a small bowl stir together flour, 2 teaspoons sugar, baking powder, soda and salt. Cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
7. Make a well in center; add milk mixture. Stir just until dough clings together.
8. Turn out dough onto lightly floured surface. Knead gently for 10-12 strokes.
9. Roll dough into 8”x12” rectangle; spread with pecan filling.
10. Starting from one of the long sides, roll up dough into a spiral; cut into 12 1-inch wide pieces.
11. Transfer hot peach mixture to an ungreased 9”x13” baking pan.
12. Place dough pieces, cut sides down, on top of the peach mixture.
13. Bake 25 minutes or until golden brown. Serve warm.
Yield: 12 servings
Recipe source unknown. Photos from Lois Linke, wife of Karl Linke, Nebraska Farm Bureau district director of member services for the southeast.