City Girl to a Show Girl

Brittani hogs

Growing up I was never the person who wanted anything to do with livestock. I was more of the type who didn’t know anything about agriculture. In fact the only tie that I had to the agriculture community was my uncle’s farrowing farm. While growing up I spent a lot of time with my uncle in his pig barns. Being around the pigs, and livestock in general spiked an interest in the livestock. As time went on, I came to the conclusion that this community had many opportunities for me to succeed.

Brittani sheepWhen presented with the opportunity to show at the Knox County Fair, I was a little hesitant. After numerous hours training my animals, I was finally in the ring and knew that I was developing a passion for the agriculture industry. Showing at the Knox County Fair has taught me more than winning trophies. I have gained responsibility along with integrity. It takes someone with a huge amount of responsibility to get up every morning to go feed his or her livestock. Additionally, it takes someone with a huge amount of dedication to be the one working with his or her livestock year round. But, the most important concept that I have taken away from the Knox County Fair, that means the most to me, is integrity.

Brittani cattleI believe that everyone loves winning, but it takes grit to be the person that shakes everyone else’s hand and congratulates him or her when you are not the person winning. As hard as it is, winning is not everything. The lifelong friendships that have been made along with the character that has been built makes me truly thankful for the opportunity I received to show at the Knox County Fair.

 

Brittani Pospisil is a senior at Creighton High School in northeast Nebraska. After graduation she plans on attending Kansas State University to become a veterinarian. Brittani has a deep passion for agriculture and loves connecting with people who share the same love for agriculture.  

 

 

Youth in Agriculture

Wyatt_1

Agriculture is the driving force for the Nebraskan economy. With one fourth of our great state’s jobs being involved in agriculture, youth involvement has become crucial in keeping this industry thriving. In July, over 200 Nebraska students were able to network and meet with countless industry professionals at the 47th annual Nebraska Agricultural Youth Institute. The institute is free of charge thanks to many generous donations, allowing young ag minded people to network and gain friendships with like-minded people across the state. “The opportunity to network and share idea with people from all over the state that have the same passion for agriculture as me.” Emily Zimmer, a Pleasanton senior said about her experience.

 

The average age for a farmer in the United States is 58.3 years, growing by 8 years in the past 30. Nebraska needs young farmers and ranchers and thanks to the many programs offered around the state youth have been able to find their path back to the farm. When asked how being involved with NAYI helped him make his decision on his future, Mikael Harrop, a recent graduate of Ansley Public Schools said “NAYI helped me choose what major I wanted to go into and pushed me to do things I thought i would never do.”

 

For myself, I have been involved with production agriculture my whole life. Growing up on a small cattle ranch and being involved in 4-H, but it wasn’t until my high school began an FFA chapter that I then myself into the field head first. Through my past advisor, a Nebraska Agricultural Youth Council Alumni, I was introduced to this program. Through my involvement I was able to find a career path that I have a true passion for, Agricultural Education and Beef production. Kate Cooper, a recent Waverly graduate said that for her “agriculture is about combining the tradition and innovation to provide healthy, high quality products for the world”.

 

Wyatt_2In an ever-changing industry, currently exploding with new technology, having the means to work with others from different backgrounds has been incredibly important for myself and many others. Major changes are coming our way, one being ethanol. Ethanol production in the United States displaced 560 million barrels of crude oil last year alone. This is just one of the many changes that the coming generation of agriculturalists will experience. KAAPA Ethanol was able to educate youth at NAYI about how this new change will positively affect our industry and future.

 

Youth across Nebraska are showing more and more passion and drive to become involved in agricultural careers. With the opportunities available and various social media platforms youth are staying connected and making connections across the state. Young people are not just the future, we are the present. Being involved in various agricultural groups I have seen how youth are changing, and will continue to change this industry to feed the world. I hope the world is ready for the change that is coming.

Nebraska Farm Bureau sponsored the 2018 Nebraska Agricultural Youth Institute held in Lincoln July 9-13.

 

Wyatt Hubbard

Wyatt Hubbard is a graduate of Elm Creek High School and is attending the University of Nebraska-Lincoln this fall double majoring in Animal Science and Agricultural Education. While in high school Wyatt was extremely involved in nearly every activity especially 4-H and FFA. Wyatt hopes to be able to expand his impact on social media while in The Crew and spread awareness for ag related issues and events. 

 

What’s a typical day like on your farm?

noe 5My family has been farming in Spring Bay, Illinois since 1875. Over the years, the farm has seen quite a few changes in which crops are grown and how they are raised. Currently, we raise corn, soybeans, wheat, hay, hogs, cantaloupes and watermelons. Since the farm is so diversified, each day is different throughout the year. The spring season consists of working ground, planting corn and soybeans, starting the melons in the greenhouse and then transplanting them into the field.

noe 4Summer is our busiest season. In the early months, we finish transplanting melons and begin to cultivate and hoe them to keep the weeds out. In July, we cut wheat, bale straw and hay and begin to pick cantaloupe. We will usually handpick about 300-400 cantaloupes on a daily basis. In the middle of the season, it’s not unusual for us to pick 800-1200 cantaloupes each night. We deliver truckloads to local grocery stores in addition to selling them at local farmer’s markets six days a week. The watermelons are usually ready in mid-August. We pick them about three times a week and continue to go to farmer’s markets and grocery stores. On a typical summer day, you can find my family up and working by 6:30 a.m. loading pickups, picking flowers and produce to go to the farmer’s market, and doing hog chores. One of us will go to the market and sell until noon. When we come home, we unload the leftover produce, eat lunch, and relax. Then we go out to pick more cantaloupes, reload pickups, eat supper, and make sure everything is ready to go for the next day.

noe 3September is an in-between month for our farm. The cantaloupe and watermelon season winds down and my dad and brothers start preparing the combine and equipment for harvest. We usually begin cutting beans and picking corn in the first week of October. Once harvest starts, my family spends a majority of the day in the fields or on the road moving equipment and hauling the grain to the elevator for storage. Mom takes breaks from driving the trucks to pack lunches and make supper for the crew. Harvest is an exciting and stressful time for the whole family. There never seems to be enough time in the day to get everything done and the weather just never seems to cooperate. There have been numerous times when Dad combined through the night to get a field done before an early snow or to get an extra load up to the elevator before it closed for the evening. Despite the stress, breakdowns, and disappointments, it’s very easy to love the harvest season. It’s an exciting time you spend out in the field working with your family and bringing in the crops that you started way back in the spring.

noe 2By early November, we are usually finished with harvest and begin to prepare the equipment for the next season. Once the crops are harvested, everything starts to slow down. The winter months are mundane compared to the rest of the year. From December to March, we work to repair the things that broke during the spring, summer, or fall that we didn’t have time to fix in that season. This is also the time that we get to work on fun projects, hobbies, and finish taxes and other book work. When it gets cold and starts snowing, we use skid-steers to clear snow off our driveways and out of the hog pens. We also have to put straw in the outdoor hog pens to help them keep warm in the cold weather.

noe 1Although we’re busy throughout the year with our crops and melons, the hogs are an additional year-round occupation. Every morning and evening, we have to feed the hogs in the indoor and outdoor pens. We also have to move any pregnant sows into the farrowing house, wean piglets and give them shots, and move sows out of the farrowing house and back into the pens with the boars so they can be rebred. Once the pigs have reached market weight, we arrange shipments and send them off on the semi to become pork chops, bacon, sausages, and pork burgers.

Our farm is an exciting place to be and there’s always plenty of work to be done. Through our family farm upbringing, my brothers and I learned what it takes to run a successful business and have built a lot of character through the work that we did. One of the benefits of farming is that the job changes every few months and each day is different from the day before. It can be overwhelming at times, but it’s a very rewarding career in the long run.

Rachel Noe bio pic

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Improving Zoning Laws in Nebraska for Livestock Operations

Livestock farmers seeking to expand or start new livestock operations and the county officials tasked with approving them would both benefit from changes to the local permitting process as proposed in legislation introduced in Nebraska. Livestock farmers and county officials have long recognized the importance of livestock agriculture, but establishing clarity for both parties in the local approval process hasn’t always been easy.

“Livestock farming is a huge part of Nebraska agriculture. It’s critical that we have processes in place that works for farmers seeking local approval and for county officials who are charged with representing the interests of the county. Sen. Watermeier’s bill is a step in the right direction to giving both sides greater clarity in the process,” said Mark McHargue, Nebraska Farm Bureau first vice-president and a pork producer from Central City.   See how livestock zoning as affected Mark’s operation in the video below.

Pilot Project Uses New Technology To Capture Energy from Hog Manure

Hog farmer Mark McHargue is pilot-testing a small scale, home-built methane biodigester – and new digester technology – on his farm near Central City to see if it’s a cost-effective way to capture the energy contained in the manure his hogs produce.

Methane digesters are a proven technology for larger pork operations but their $250,000 and up price tag makes them impractical for small- to medium-sized hog farms.

McHargue, who serves as first vice president of Nebraska Farm Bureau, built his digester in his farm shop for about $5,000, after extensive research that ranged from scientific papers to YouTube videos.

“A methane biodigester is essentially a wastewater treatment facility,” McHargue says. Manure slurry is piped into the digester, which uses part of the methane produced by the manure to fire a boiler. It heats the tank, which enables fast-growing bacteria to break down the manure into a thin liquid. The remaining methane can be used for heat in his barns or to run a generator to produce electricity.

McHargue’s digester uses new technology called “fixed film digestion.” Plastic media inside the tank provide more surface area for the bacteria to grow. With conventional digester technology, he would need a tank five times as large to process the same amount of manure.

The digester also will enable McHargue to change how he applies manure to his crop fields.  He plans to apply the effluent from the digester through his center pivot systems, which will save time and money compared to spreading it on his fields.

“We normally could not pump straight out of the barn through the pivot because of the odor,” he explains, but another benefit of the “digested” product is that the bacteria neutralize the odor in the solids. “It has very little odor and it’s not offensive; it kind of smells like dirty dishwater,” he says.

“Using this process is one thing we can do as good neighbors. We’re considering building new facilities to finish pigs and we hope this (odor reduction) will allow us to be a better neighbor.”

McHargue will collect data from the digester this summer. He’s hopeful his experiment will be successful and transferrable to other small hog producers.

Learn more about McHargue’s biodigester here.