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Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Grazing Management Field Day

Source: Rod Greder, Extension Educator

University of Minnesota Extension, NRCS and Thousand Hills Cattle Company are hosting a FREE grazing management field day on August 18th from 5pm-8pm. See attached flyer for more information on topics, speakers and activities.

More information is available at the following link: http://z.umn.edu/augustgrazing

Benefits of attendance include:
·        Hear from successful graziers
·        Walk pastures and see best practices firsthand
·        Learn techniques to improve production
·        See demonstration of several tools to measure forage quality
·        Improve animal gains while improving soil health

Please call 763-682-7381 if you have questions.

Wild Parsnip


Source: Nathan Winter, University of Minnesota Extension

Wild parsnip (Pastinaca sativa) continues to spread throughout Minnesota. This plant is considered an invasive species and the Minnesota Department of Agriculture considers it a prohibited noxious weed on the control list. Prohibited noxious weeds must be eradicated or controlled in accordance with the Minnesota Noxious Weed Law (MN Statues 18.75-18.91). This law defines a noxious weed as an annual, biennial, or perennial plant that the Commissioner of Agriculture designates to be injurious to public health, the environment, public roads, crops, livestock, or other property. This weed is on the same prohibited noxious weed list as Canada thistle (Cirsium arvense (L.) Scop.).

According to eXtension.org, the Minnesota Department of Agriculture, and the Ohio Perennial and Biennial Weed Guide, wild parsnip is a biennial/perennial herb that can grow up to 5 feet in height.  Most often this plant is a biennial and is typically 3-5 feet tall. Leaves are alternate (1 leaf per node), compound (5 to 11 leaflets), and branched with jagged teeth. Leaflets are yellowish-green, shiny, oblong, coarsely-toothed, and either mitten- or diamond-shaped. Flowering occurs from May to June, when hundreds of yellow flowers develop. Flowers are arranged in an umbel. Fruits are dry, smooth, slightly winged, and flattened on back. Fruits each contain two seeds, which are dispersed in the fall. Wild parsnip reproduces through seed. Wild parsnip is native to Eurasia and occurs in sunny areas with varying degrees of soil moisture.  Typically, this plant is found in ditches and in perennial non-cultivated landscapes. Some similar species that look similar include golden alexander and giant hogweed.

According to the University of Minnesota Extension Wild Parsnip publication regarding toxins and toxicity, wild parsnip may contain chemicals called furanocoumarins. There is toxicity during all growth stages of the plant, when eaten fresh or dried in hay. High concentrations of furanocoumarins have been founds in the seeds as well. The toxic dose of wild parsnip is not known. The toxic dose of other plants known to accumulate furanocoumarins has not been established either.  The publication continues:

Severe sunburn (photosensitivity) occurs in people and animals ingesting furanocoumarins if they are exposed to UV light after ingestion. Sunburn occurs after ingestion due to the furanocoumarin circulation in the blood vessels just below the skin. The UV light exposure is almost always from the sun. Severe sunburn occurs on the white or other light skinned areas, but not the black, brown, or other dark skinned areas, because melanin in the dark skin absorbs the UV light and prevents it from reacting with the furanocoumarins. Consequently, severe sunburn in livestock ingesting furanocoumarin-containing plants is reduced if the livestock are shaded from the ultraviolet sunlight.

Problems can also occur when in contact with wild parsnip. Sap contact with the skin in the presence of sunlight can cause a rash that often leads to blisters and discoloration of the skin (phytophotodermatitis). Be sure to wear gloves, long sleeves, and pants when in contact with wild parsnip.

The University of Wisconsin Extension Wild Parsnip publication highlights some of the control strategies and effectiveness in season and following season after treatment. Pulling or cutting the root out 1-2” below the surface is 90-100% effective in season and 70-90% the following year. Mowing after the emergence of flower heads, but before the seeds enlarge is 90-100% effective in season and 50-70% the following year. Prescribed burning in the spring is 50-70% effective in season and less than 50% the following year. Grazing during the midseason is 50-70% effective in season and less than 50% the following year. Remember that grazing can cause photosensitivity if they consume large amounts of wild parsnip.

Foliar herbicides can be applied directly to plants or broadcast across an infested area. The University of Wisconsin Extension suggests the following herbicides for control of wild parsnip: 2, 4-D, aminocyclopyrachlor + chlorsulfuron, chlorsulfuron, dicamba + 2, 4-D, glyphosate, and metsulfuron. Remember to read and follow the label for proper application and use. Some herbicides are selective and others are non-selective in regards to the control of weed and desirable plants. Typically, herbicides are going to be the most effective when utilized in the spring and fall on smaller plants. Wild parsnips is a biennial/perennial and they will typically be a smaller (6”) in the rosette stage. Control during this stage will help alleviate the number of larger mature plants the following year. Be sure to follow the label if you intend to hay or graze areas that have been treated with an herbicide. Some restriction periods may apply.

Desired weed control can be achieved over time and it will probably include a combination of non-chemical and chemical control. Plan a strategy to control these weeds for more than one year. Once under control, continue to watch for new problem areas.




Photo Credit:
Schaefer, Kristine. Wild Parsnip. N.d. Iowa State University Extension Integrated Crop Management Image Gallery. Wild Parsnip | Integrated Crop Management. Web. 29 July 2015. 

Friday, July 10, 2015

University of Minnesota Extension Small Farm Survey Results 2015

Thank you to those that provided feedback on the University of Minnesota Extension Small Farms Survey!

The University of Minnesota Extension Small Farms Team developed this survey in order to better understand the needs and interests of our audience. The goal of this effort is to utilize the feedback to strategically plan educational events and team activities on a local and statewide level.

The 314 responses help us focus our efforts on what small farmers in Minnesota are doing and where help is needed. Following is a link to the University of Minnesota Extension Small Survey Results: http://z.umn.edu/sfresults15.


Be sure to let me know if you have any further questions regarding the survey results or about the University of Minnesota Extension Small Farms Team.

Small Farms U hosts a Pasture Walk on the St Paul Campus

Source: Wayne Martin, Extension Educator, Alternative Livestock Systems

On Tuesday evening, August 4, 2015, Small Farms U at the University of Minnesota will host a pasture walk on the St Paul Campus. A small flock of sheep are grazing on a field just east of the Dairy Barn. The pasture needs to be renovated, and planning in August can help prepare for that activity in the fall.

Tom Gervais, MN NRCS Grazing Specialist, will lead the discussion on the current state of the pasture forage, and what can be done to improve it in the coming fall. He will also address a number of topics on pasture management, including but not limited to the following:

Pasture Management 6:00-8:30 p.m.
  •  Rainfall simulator
  • Evaluating pasture condition
  • Improving pasture condition
  •  Useful products for pasture management
  •  Importance of weed management
  • Financial and Technical assistance – where and how to get it

Discussion led by Tom Gervais - MN NRCS Grazing Specialist. Registration is from 5:30-6:00. Please rsvp so that we know you plan to attend. Cost of the workshop is $10/adult, $15/couple or business partners, and $5/student. Please contact Wayne Martin at marti067@umn.edu, or (612) 625-6224.


Meet in the parking lot at the Beef Barn, corner of Gortner and Buford Avenues.

Subsurface Drip Irrigation (SDI) Field Day

Source: Rod Greder, Wright County Extension Educator

University of Minnesota Extension and NRCS are hosting a FREE subsurface irrigation field day on July 22nd from 10-2. See attached flyer for more information on topics, speakers and activities.

More information is available at the following link:

Benefits of subsurface drip irrigation include:
• Water application efficiency
• Energy savings
• Yield increases
• Less nutrient movement


Please call 763-682-7381 if you have questions.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Sheep/Lamb Management Workshop

The Annual Spring Sheep & Lamb Management Class is on Saturday, April 4, 2015 from 9:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

Registration begins at 9:30, and the workshop will begin at 10:00 and end around 3:00 p.m. Lunch will be provided. Pre-registration is needed in order to plan for food and handouts.

The following topics will be discussed:

  • Sheep industry overview

  • Breed selection

  • Facilities

  • Lambing

  • Reproduction/genetics

  • Disease

  • Marketing

In the afternoon participants will gain hands-on experience with giving shots, trimming hooves, tail docking, inspecting ewes for health status.

Location: St. Paul Campus Beef Barn, Corner of Buford and Gortner.

To register, contact Wayne Martin at 612-625-6224, or at marti067@umn.edu.
$20/adult, $30/couple or business partner, $10/students.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Fly Control for Livestock

By: Mike Boersma, Extension Educator & 4-H Program Director, Murray & Pipestone Counties

I am sure you have noticed the abnormally high insect populations this summer. High populations of biting insects are not only a nuisance-and sometimes a health risk-for humans, they can also lead to reduced weight gain and feed efficiency and increased incidence of diseases like pinkeye in livestock.

There are a variety of fly control options available and the preferred method will vary from one producer to the next. The most effective method depends on livestock species, livestock numbers, facility design/pasture size, availability of working facilities, and a variety of other factors. Often, finding a combination of control measures that work well for your management system will be the most effective way to control flies.

Insecticide-impregnated eartags are a popular option for cattle producers looking for season-long control. While these eartags can work well, it is important that producers insert tags in early summer and remove them by early fall to help avoid insect resistance to the insecticide. Also, varying the brand of tag and insecticide used will help to reduce insect resistance.

Back rubbers and dust bags also work well but they must be placed in an area that the livestock will pass through on a regular basis. This could be an open gate, doorway, or some other structure that animals must pass through. Locations adjacent to feed, water, or other areas that livestock visit regularly are the most effective.

There is a long list of pour-on insecticides for producers to choose from as well and these can be very successful. However, their effectiveness on outdoor livestock can be short-term, especially during rainy periods.

Finally, many feed companies offer mineral supplements or lick tubs that can also aid in fly control. Many of these are designed to control fly larvae in manure but may not be effective against adult insects.

Any of these options, as well as many more, can be effective in certain situations and it is important for producers to evaluate the management system that will work best for them. Regardless of which option is chosen, producers should remember to wear gloves and other protective clothing when handling pesticides.

Also, some insecticides may have a withdrawal time for certain livestock. Finally, remember that variation among different control options and different insecticides will help minimize insect resistance and will lead to continued effectiveness in future years.

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