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Corn growers’ program awards good resource stewards. Don McCabe

Published on: Jan 5, 2005

Husker Farm (Farmers Advocating Resource Management) is an environmental assessment program started by the Nebraska Corn Growers Association (NeCGA). Husker FARM involved 205 willing farmers in 2004, says Don Vogel, who has been hired by NeCGA as program coordinator.

The top 5% of those going through the program each year are Husker FARM winners and are recognized at Husker Harvest Days. Nebraska Farmer is a supporting sponsor, providing the winners free admittance to the show.

You still have time to take part in Husker FARM. There is no charge. “Call the NeCGA office and ask for a best management practices review by a trained agronomist or crop consultant,” Vogel says. “You’ll receive a free drinking water analysis.”

Participating farmers work with crop consultants on a checklist, or score card, of the farm’s best management practices for using fertilizers, ag chemicals and livestock wastes, for protecting and conserving water, and for complying with environmental rules.

These are just some items on the list are:

  • Surface and groundwater protection;
  • Irrigation scheduling;
  • Sealing abandoned wells;
  • Following pesticide labels;
  • Proper ag chemical storage, handling and mixing;
  • Sprayer calibration
  • Pesticide safety, including product lockup;
  • Use of recommended thresholds for pesticide application rates.

While selecting winners each year is rewarding for sponsors and farmers alike, that’s not the number one goal.

“We want to not only reward good stewards, but help corn producers enhance their best management practices,” says Scott Merritt, NeCGA executive director. “A lot of the farmers score in 60 to 70% range on the checklist. Our goal is to move participants up to the 80% range by showing them additional practices they can use.”

Two big supporters are Bayer CropScience and the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality. To find out more about the Husker FARM program, call (888) 267-6479.