This year, farmers and ranchers are turning to NDSU Extension’s online tools to help them cope with the drought.
Most often used are the FeedList, Livestock Forage Program (LFP) payment calculator, corn value calculator, farm budgets and NDSU Grazing Calculator app.
The FeedList website connects farmers and ranchers who have feedstuffs for sale or to donate with those who need it. The LFP payment calculator calculates estimated Livestock Forage Program payments. The Corn Silage Decision Tool spreadsheet helps producers determine a fair price for a standing corn crop. Crop budgets provide an estimate of revenues and costs for selected crops. The Grazing Calculator app calculates range and forage production, which helps producers estimate livestock carrying capacity and set initial stocking rates.
Farmers and ranchers also are turning to Extension for help in getting their crops and livestock water tested. Agents are advising producers to get their crops tested for nitrates if they plan to let cattle graze the crops, or they are harvesting and baling the crops for livestock feed. Crops such as drought-stressed corn and small grains can accumulate nitrates, and high levels of nitrates can lead to nitrate poisoning.
“It’s not a matter of if you have nitrates this year,” says Scott Knoke, an Extension agent in Benson County. “It’s a matter of the level of the nitrates.”
Agents also are testing producers’ livestock water sources for sulfates and total dissolved solids (TDS), which are high this year because of the drought. High levels of TDS and sulfates can be toxic to livestock. Agents have screened more than 1,000 livestock water sources this year.
“It was very helpful to have a county agent come out to the ranch and check the water supply,” producer Erika Kenner of Leeds says.
As a result, the Kenners have moved stock to water sources with better quality water. They also set up additional water tanks and are using well water.
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Miranda Meehan, 701-231-7683, firstname.lastname@example.org