• Don McCabe

    Discover the biological action occurring in your soil

    Nebraska Notebook

     by Don McCabe
     on February 27, 2015

    Our preferences for off hours in this country usually center around "action" more so than relaxation. We like sports action and action movies, for instance. But those forms of entertainment pale in comparison with the biological activity occurring, or should be occurring, in the soil on our farms. It's a real jungle down there. And there's more of this live action in healthy soils than soils that are tilled and where limited rotations or monoculture occur. The concepts of…

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  • Don McCabe

    Rock Corral Maintained as Part of the History of Maddux Ranch

    Nebraska Notebook

     by Don McCabe
     on February 12, 2015

    I've always enjoyed reading and learning about Western history, through both fiction and non-fiction literature. It's not quite an obsession, although I have read at least 50 Louis L 'Amour westerns as well as western histories written by many other authors. Brave men and women settled the West, but not without great adventures, inevitable conflicts and hardships. Eventually, ranches, farms and towns were built in the rough and unforgiving region we call the American West. A big…

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  • Don McCabe

    Thanks to China, grain sorghum gains more respect as exports climb

    Nebraska Notebook

     by Don McCabe
     on January 28, 2015

    I grew up on a northeast Nebraska farm, not far from the Missouri River. It was a typical diversified farm of that region and era--corn, soybeans, alfalfa and oats, plus hogs and cattle. Grain sorghum was not a crop that we grew that far north in the state. So, I admit I don't know a bushel about sorghum, but as a writer on this magazine with a camera ready at the side, this crop's colorful heads--red, brown and tan--always drew my attention. Sorghum fields are photogenic. There's…

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  • Don McCabe

    For UAVs, the future is up and up

    Nebraska Notebook

     by Don McCabe
     on January 14, 2015

    The buzzing and whirring sounds you'll hear more frequently in the future represent a new era in agriculture--aerial remote sensing and crop scouting using unmanned aerial vehicles. It's an industry destined to soar. Image sending a squadron of UAVs each morning to your center pivot-irrigated fields, one rotor-based UAV assigned to one pivot to monitor nozzle performance and crop growth under the pivot, sending back real-time images as it flies down the pivot mainline. That's a…

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  • Don McCabe

    Anti-ag, Anti-meat Crowd Grows Even Louder

    Nebraska Notebook

     by Don McCabe
     on December 31, 2014

    As shopping goes, I'm pretty much a non-player. I don't mind tagging along with my wife to the grocery store, but the mall? Forget it. Huge crowds crammed our grocery store prior to Christmas. I never fail to be amazed at the endless choices consumers have in the way of food products in this country. Like you, my family and I received Christmas well wishes from friends and colleagues. As a member of the media, I also receive a daily stream of email notices and news releases from…

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  • Don McCabe

    Ag Students Beat Back 'Meatless Monday' Promotion

    Nebraska Notebook

     by Don McCabe
     on December 17, 2014

    Be forewarned if you try to promote "Meatless Mondays" at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. If you do, as did a committee on city campus earlier this month, students from the College of Agriculture Sciences and Natural Resources will come out in force and show you the error of your ways. It began when a committee of the Association of Students at the University of Nebraska, the student government body at UNL, proposed a resolution to spend $250 on an educational campaign promoting…

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  • Don McCabe

    Ag's dwindling voice in the Nebraska Unicameral

    Nebraska Notebook

     by Don McCabe
     on December 4, 2014

    Our family residence in the Capital City is not far from 27th Street. The street runs north and south through the city and is bordered by a large number of businesses and shops. The street also has symbolic significance for Nebraska agriculture and rural citizens. If you were to extend this north and south line through Nebraska, it becomes the dividing line for the state's population and political influence. East of this imaginary line to the Missouri River--a relatively short…

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  • Don McCabe

    In Midst of Big Magazines, We Took Some Very Worthwhile Time Off

    Nebraska Notebook

     by Don McCabe
     on November 24, 2014

    Time away from the job isn't easy to come by, especially this time of the year with bigger editions, more pages to fill and a seemingly endless schedule of conventions and conferences starting. Even so, my wife and I spent a week in St. Louis in mid-November, for pleasure not business. Pleasure because of the birth of our first grandchild, a boy. This is one of life's memorable events one cherishes, and that is certainly the case for my wife, Katie, and I. I'm not one to dote on…

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  • Don McCabe

    Consumers Give Out Mixed Reviews for Beef

    Nebraska Notebook

     by Don McCabe
     on November 4, 2014

    For beef producers, it all boils down to consumers, their diet preferences, perceptions about how cattle are raised and their lifestyles. In this country, while demand for your product is difficult to predict, the future holds some market hurdles. But the picture is brighter for overseas demand, particularly in China. I recently listened to John Paterson, executive director of education for the National Cattlemens Beef Association, as he examined our low cowherd numbers in the U.S. and what…

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  • Don McCabe

    It's a New Era in Wheat Research for Nebraska

    Nebraska Notebook

     by Don McCabe
     on October 21, 2014

    Corn and soybeans dominate the cropping landscape across much of Nebraska. Sugarbeets and dry edible beans have a nice fit in the Panhandle and other parts of western Nebraska, but the state's grain sorghum acres have plummeted in recent decades, and wheat production has gradually lost ground to more corn and soybean acres. In 2014, Nebraska wheat growers grew the crop on 1.5 million acres, a far cry from the 5.13 acres of hard red winter wheat grown in 1938. While acreage isn't…

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  • Don McCabe

    Rescue Tube a Valuable Lifesaver for Grain Rescues

    Nebraska Notebook

     by Don McCabe
     on October 8, 2014

    I had the opportunity recently to attend an event in my hometown of Newcastle, in northeast Nebraska, and I gladly took advantage of it. A friend was presented with a grain rescue tube he won at this fall's Husker Harvest Days, in a drawing sponsored by the Nebraska Corn Growers Association and the Nebraska Corn Board. Ray Kneifl of Newcastle endured the cool, rainy conditions at HHD to sign up for the drawing. Bob Ziemba of Cedar Rapids was the other winner in the HHD contest. Kneifl, in…

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  • Don McCabe

    Four Nebraska Secretaries of Agriculture, Four New Statues

    Nebraska Notebook

     by Don McCabe
     on September 25, 2014

    The next time you're on UNL's East Campus, walk to the green space just north and east of Filley Hall. There you'll find newly erected, life-size bronze statues of four prominent Nebraskans who've made a lasting impact on agriculture in this state and nationally. Those statues are of four former secretaries of agriculture--J. Sterling Morton, Clifford Hardin, Clayton Yeutter and Mike Johanns. Johanns and Yeutter were on hand for a dedication ceremony at the location Sept…

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  • Don McCabe

    Let's Help a Hero Help Other Returning Military Veterans

    Nebraska Notebook

     by Don McCabe
     on September 8, 2014

    Military veterans who served in combat have a difficult time returning home and assimilating back into society, especially if they've been injured. The American public today, for the most part, appreciates what they've done to protect our freedoms and the freedom of other nations. That wasn't the case for most Vietnam veterans. A dismal job market makes their return even more stressful. I strongly applaud what one Nebraska Marine veteran is now doing to help other vets find their…

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  • Don McCabe

    Plenty to See and Do at the 2014 Edition of Husker Harvest Days, Sept. 9-11

    Nebraska Notebook

     by Don McCabe
     on September 2, 2014

    I haven't missed many days of Husker Harvest Days through the years. This is the 37th edition of the working farm show that Nebraska Farmer sponsors, and I've missed just one day in all those years. That's 107 days since the first show opened its gates in 1978, not counting the upcoming show. In fact, I've been to the Husker Harvest Days show site from 1977 on. In the fall of that year, I joined the Nebraska Farmer staff and my second trip out of the office was to the show site…

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  • Don McCabe

    Learning Something New At Three Field Days in Three days

    Nebraska Notebook

     by Don McCabe
     on August 26, 2014

    I made a "field day tour" last week. My journey began near Beaver Crossing on a Tuesday, then to the Sandhills north of Highway 2 near Whitman the next day and finally on to Brule next to the Colorado border on Thursday. Field days are a frequent destination for me, but I seldom cram three of them in three days across more than 900 miles. This is a fun part of this job--enjoying the diversity of Nebraska agriculture and geography. The drives are a little more tiring than they once…

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  • Don McCabe

    Put Nebraska's 'Sea of Grass' on Your Travel Plans

    Nebraska Notebook

     by Don McCabe
     on August 13, 2014

    The movie was about the conflicts between ranchers and homesteaders in the early days of New Mexico. But when the production manager of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer traveled thousands of miles in 1945 to find the ideal rangeland setting, he opted to shoot many of the scenes for the "Sea of Grass" in Cherry County on what was then Sam McKelvie's By the Way Ranch. McKelvie was a former publisher of Nebraska Farmer and served as governor of the state. The Nebraska Sandhills--there's no…

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  • Don McCabe

    Revisiting U.S.S. Midway Museum An Awesome Experience

    Nebraska Notebook

     by Don McCabe
     on August 5, 2014

    Summer is a whirlwind of activity in this job. Two to three field days a week to choose from, summer conventions and farm and ranch visits. This all occurs at the same time we're preparing our September pre-Husker Harvest Days issue, our largest of the year. Plus, there's that 100-page plus show program inserted in that heavy-weight issue. We don't often get to sneak away for even a short vacation in the summer months, but my wife and I managed to do so this summer, in mid-June…

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  • Don McCabe

    Nebraska agriculture is in good hands

    Nebraska Notebook

     by Don McCabe
     on July 22, 2014

    These are exciting times in agriculture technology and research. I'm fortunate to be an agricultural journalist who's been able to report on some of the recent-year advances in crop and livestock production. Nebraska, with its innovative farmers and ranchers and University of Nebraska-Lincoln scientists and Extension educators throughout the state, is in the midst of many of these new ideas and technologies. I sense the excitement and energy of UNL specialists at field days I attend…

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  • Don McCabe

    Send up prayers for Nebraska's storm victims

    Nebraska Notebook

     by Don McCabe
     on July 10, 2014

    It's been one of the strangest seasons so far based on my travels across Nebraska to farms and ranches and to various field days. Higher than expected rainfall, in most areas of the state, although not all, has left the field and grassland landscape lush green. Ranchers hosting tours this spring were upbeat, even in southwest Nebraska, which has been dry for several years. But, alas, it is not lush green in fields and communities hammered by this spring's storms and tornadoes. The…

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  • Don McCabe

    Can you hear me now?

    Nebraska Notebook

     by Don McCabe
     on June 27, 2014

    My 15 months on aircraft carriers, including one 7-month "cruise" working on the flight deck, was an adventure, and a noisy one at that. Before that, growing up on the farm and driving cabless tractors with the radio blaring on the fender didn't do my hearing any good, either. I've never had a hearing test, but I'm pretty sure there is some hearing loss. At least my wife says so. It's estimated that farming ranks as the second noisiest industry, resulting in…

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  • Don McCabe

    Nebraska Homestead Act Records Can be Searched Online

    Nebraska Notebook

     by Don McCabe
     on June 13, 2014

    Earlier this month, I found out more about my great grandfather and the settling of our family farm in northeast Nebraska. He homesteaded in 1873 in Dixon County. The farm earned a Pioneer Family Farm Award in 1973. I knew those facts. But I didn't realize his homesteading documents were 20 pages in total and that he had to bring two witnesses to the county court to vouch that he made the necessary improvements, like a home, outbuildings and the plow and planting of crops. I've been…

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  • Don McCabe

    A pat on the back for Sen. Mike Johanns

    Nebraska Notebook

     by Don McCabe
     on June 3, 2014

    Nebraska agriculture will lose a dedicated defender of agriculture when Sen. Mike Johanns, R-Neb., leaves office at the end of the year. Replacing him will be either Ben Sasse, Republican, or David Domina, a Democrat. I appreciate how Johanns has consistently pushed back against the overreach of federal agencies into agriculture. His efforts late last year forced the Department of Labor's Occupational Health and Safety Administration to back off from overstepping its grain storage…

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  • Don McCabe

    Cornhusker State is 'Cattle Country'

    Nebraska Notebook

     by Don McCabe
     on May 20, 2014

    Nebraska is a large state, geographically, but small in population--1.8 million. We like our open spaces. Cattle reside on much of that open space. Cows and calves harvest the 24 million acres of grass--rangeland and pastures--that cover nearly half the state. Indirectly, they are harvesting the solar energy and water that nurture the grass. According to the Nebraska Beef Council, there are 1.9 million beef cows in the state, plus 4.7 million head of calves fed here annually. The total…

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  • Don McCabe

    CS-CASH Generates Valuable Farm Health and Safety Information

    Nebraska Notebook

     by Don McCabe
     on May 7, 2014

    Over the years, I've witnessed the shrinking focus on farm health and safety programs at land-grant universities, including UNL. Few, if any, have Extension farm safety specialists anymore. But all is not lost. Right here in Nebraska, at the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha, is a major outreach and research program to improve the health of farmers, ranchers, ag workers and their families. I'm fortunate to serve on an external advisory board for CS-CASH, which stands for…

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  • Don McCabe

    Nebraska FFA Growing, But More Ag Teachers Needed

    Nebraska Notebook

     by Don McCabe
     on April 29, 2014

    I had the privilege of judging proficiency contests at the recent Nebraska State FFA Convention in Lincoln. It was rewarding to view entries for the ag communication proficiency contest which Nebraska Farmer sponsors. I also helped judge agriculture processing and agriculture education proficiency projects. That experience afforded me the chance to see and hear Nebraska's next-generation of agriculture leaders. You not only get to review first-hand the work they put into their projects…

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