In response to flooding in Nebraska, USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service is announcing the availability of more than $4 million to fund conservation easements in Nebraska counties damaged by flooding and other natural disasters.

Funds are available through the floodplain easement component of the Emergency Watershed Protection Program – Floodplain Easements. NRCS field offices are accepting applications through Oct. 31.

Through this program, eligible applicants voluntarily agree to sell a permanent conservation easement to the United States through NRCS. Compensation is based on the value of the easement as determined by an appraisal or market analysis. These easements may occur on private agricultural land damaged by flooding and natural disasters. NRCS will work to restore the easement to its natural floodplain condition.

Nebraska landowners are encouraged to contact their local NRCS field offices to apply or learn more about floodplain easement opportunities. Visit the Floodplain Easement Program website at for more information.

Cairo resident named to NRD Hall of Fame

Jim Nelson of Cairo, a 47-year member of the Lower Loup Natural Resources District Board of Directors, has been named to the NRD Hall of Fame. The announcement was made at Husker Harvest Days near Grand Island on Wednesday, Sept. 18.

Nelson was nominated for the honor by the LLNRD. He retired in August as the last NRD director in the state to serve from the first day of the Natural Resources District system.

Through his nearly five decades of service, Nelson served as board vice-chairman and on the Governor’s Water Policy Task Force, representing surface water users in the Loup River system. He also served on various NRD committees.

Following the announcement, Nelson said he felt stewardship of the Earth’s water and soil was essential. He thanked his wife, Marilyn, and their family, for the work they did at home which allowed him to participate in the activities of the LLNRD.

He was previously a member of the Howard County Soil and Water Conservation District. That district merged with other county SWCDs and agencies when NRDs were implemented in 1972.

Nelson, 80, is a life-long farmer, who along with his son and grandson, are working land in Howard County first purchased by his great-grandfather, five generations in all. LLNRD General Manager Russ Callan said that Nelson’s knowledge of the Loup River is “unmatched.” He said Nelson’s passion for and commitment to natural resources conservation has been a tremendous asset to the District.

Noecker retires after 40 years with Central Platte NRD

Sandy Noecker, data and compliance officer with the Central Platte Natural Resources District, has retired after 40 years of service to the Central Platte NRD.

Noecker began her employment as secretary in 1979 and has held several positions over the last four decades. In 1987, after the NRD purchased new computers, Noecker was promoted to data network specialist for the water quality and water quantity programs. Her title was changed to data and compliance officer in 2003 to better describe the work she was doing.

Noecker said the accomplishment she’s most proud of is the NRD’s Groundwater Quality Management Program. The board implemented the phased program in 1987 to address high nitrates in the groundwater and went to online reporting in 2015. The Nitrogen and Irrigation Management Demonstration Project, initiated in 1984, is the longest-existing demo project in the nation and has utilized more than 400 demonstration sites on producers’ cornfields to research nitrogen management. Average nitrate levels have decreased from 19.4 parts per million in the 1960s to 13 ppm in 2018.

Noecker said, “Our management program has been a model for other NRDs in the state and entities nationwide who are looking to address water quality problems in their areas.”

Nebraska wheat production up 12 percent from 2018

Winter wheat production is estimated at 55.3 million bushels, up 12 percent from last year, according to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service.

The area harvested for grain totaled 970,000 acres, down 4 percent from 2018. Planted acreage totaled a record low 1.07 million, down 3 percent from a year earlier. The yield is a record high 57.0 bushels per acre, up 8 bushels from last year.

Oat production is estimated at 1.13 million bushels, down 25 percent from 2018. Area harvested for grain, at 18,000 acres, is down 18 percent from last year. Planted acreage totaled 120,000, down 4 percent from a year earlier. Average yield is 63.0 bushels per acre, down 6 bushels from 2018.

Nebraska hog inventory up 9 percent on Sept. 1

Nebraska inventory of all hogs and pigs on Sept. 1 was 3.75 million head, according to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. This was up 9 percent from Sept. 1, 2018, and up 1 percent from June 1, 2019.

Breeding hog inventory, at 450,000 head, was up 5 percent from Sept. 1, 2018, but down 2 percent from last quarter. Market hog inventory, at 3.30 million head, was up 9 percent from last year, and up 2 percent from last quarter.

The June - through August 2019 Nebraska pig crop, at 2.21 million head, was up 6 percent from 2018.

Sows farrowed during the period totaled 190,000 head, up 3 percent from last year. The average pigs saved per litter was 11.65 for the June - August period, compared to 11.30 last year.

Nebraska hog producers intend to farrow 205,000 sows during the September - November 2019 quarter, up 8 percent from the actual farrowings during the same period a year ago.

Intended farrowings for December 2019 - February 2020 are 200,000 sows, up 8 percent from the actual farrowings during the same period a year ago.

Sorghum board starts Nebraska Grains Education Collaborative

The Nebraska Grain Sorghum Board has announced the creation of the ‘Nebraska Grains Education Collaborative. This working group, made up of educators from many of the state’s community colleges, universities and high schools, and the Nebraska Department of Education, will meet twice annually in order to encourage inter-institutional collaboration and promote versatility in teaching Ag practices, cropping systems, and industrial uses of Nebraska grains.

The first meeting of the Nebraska Grains Education Collaborative is set for 7 p.m. Friday, Nov. 15, at Central Community College in Grand Island.

“Nebraska’s educational institutions excel in regard to providing a robust secondary, community collegenand university education within the grain sector of the agriculture industry,” said Nate Blum, executive director of the Nebraska Grain Sorghum Board. “Our grain commodity programs also have developed excellent educational resources.”

He said the board believes that facilitating the informal working group will bring greater inter-institutional collaboration and support diverse and robust education that reflects the myriad opportunities that Nebraska grains and surrounding industry provides.

If you are an educator, or industry representative, and would like to participate in this informal working group, please email:

For additional information, producers are encouraged to contact the Nebraska Grain Sorghum Board at (402) 471-4276 or by email at

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