Array of topics covered at Winter Series

Chamber member Larry Keltner serves Dan Thomason a bowl of chili
during the Winter Series Thursday evening.

By Kay Braddock

        Thursday’s cold, snowy conditions didn’t keep ag-minded producers and their wives from attending the annual Montana State University Extension Winter Series in Terry. About 30 people signed in for the four agriculture related series of talks held at the American Legion Hall, while 18 women took part in two food-related classes held at the Prairie Community Center. The two groups joined for a Chamber of Commerce sponsored dinner near the conclusion of the afternoon-long event.

The ag-related speakers for this year’s series of talks visited 9 different communities throughout southeastern Montana in the past week. 
Some of the topics covered challenged conventional thinking.
Classes with titles like “Healthy Grasslands” and “Crop Rotation” attracted a robust question and answer period. Although aspects of those talks may defy traditional practices, Prairie County Extension Agent Sharla Sackman believes most producers are able to come away with applicable ideas from the presentations offered.
“Usually there’s always a take-home message,” Sackman said.
Presenter Lee Manske, a North Dakota State University Range Scientist, gave the “Healthy Grasslands” talk and offered a different approach to grazing. Manske pointed to research that shows how a twice-over grazing approach in one season is actually beneficial to plant growth, increasing plant production above ground and nitrogen levels below ground, stimulating root development. It takes time to see the full impact from the twice-over grazing practice, according to Manske’s presentation.
The “Crop Rotation” talk by Roger Ashley, NDSU Area Extension Agronomist, also drew in several questions. Most questions dealt with soil temperatures. Tilled lands remain colder than land left with stubble-residue in the field, according to Ashley’s talk.
A “Water Quality” presentation focused on preventing water contamination while the concluding talk on “Beef Quality Assurance and Animal Welfare” offered consumer viewpoints regarding the beef industry.
Covering a wide range of subject matters for this year’s Winter Series was a bit of a change from previous years that have followed themes covering either beef or crop areas of interest.
“We had such a variety of topics this year,” Sackman said.  “I’ve had several people say how much they enjoyed the program.” Most pointed to the thought-provoking subject matters and the array of agriculture issues addressed. 
Although hearing the positive feedback is always good, Sackman noted seeing practices taught in previous Winter Series classes being implemented locally is the most rewarding response.
“That’s always really exciting when they do that.”

Published Jan. 25, 2012

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