Nebraska Extension in Cheyenne, Kimball & Banner Counties

Registration Open for Nebraska Master Gardener Program

Kimball, Neb. – Nebraska Extension is offering Master Gardener training in Kimball this fall. The Extension Master Gardener (EMG) program is a horticulture-related volunteer training program that has been part of Nebraska Extension since 1976.

The EMG training program will be in Kimball on Thursday nights from Oct. 5 through Nov. 9 at the Nebraska Extension Office in Kimball-Banner Counties, 209 East Third St. from 5:30 to 8:00 p.m. Cost of the training is $40. For information on how to register, call (308) 235-3122 or Karen DeBoer, extension educator at (308) 254-4455, email, or check out the brochure.

The EMG training sessions are pre-recorded webinars. Participants watch the webinars, do hands-on activities and discuss topics with other Master Gardeners.

Oct. 5: Plant Diagnostics – What is wrong with this plant? Diagnosing plant problems can be difficult. There can be many different causes for a symptom. Participants will learn what questions to ask to narrow down possible causes and about diagnostics tools to use. There will be a review of last year’s plant issues and participants will practice diagnosing plant problems through role-playing.

Oct. 12: Turf Basics – What does it take to get a great lawn? This session will cover the basics of turf grass management along with proper fertilizer and irrigation application techniques in home lawns and public spaces. With hands-on activities of how to calculate fertilizer and irrigation amounts, participants will learn what it takes to have a great home lawn.

Oct. 19: Small Fruit Production – Participants will learn how to successfully grow small fruit crops including strawberries, grapes, and brambles in Nebraska. Information shared will include the various aspects of growing these crops including planting, training, and pruning. Other topics include efficient water and nutrient application, integrated pest management and the impacts on the success of these crops.

Oct. 26: Soil Basics – What are the components that come together to create soil? This session will cover the various aspects of soil particle structure and texture. Participants will also learn how to collect soil tests and interpret test results.

Nov. 2: Landscape Design – What are the secrets of quality landscape design for home and public landscapes across Nebraska? This session will cover the crucial elements of landscape design that maximize the resources available for those flourishing landscapes wherever one lives in Nebraska. With the principles of the good landscape in mind, participants will then design a landscape in a box. 

Nov. 9: Insect Physiology, Pesticides, and Pollinators – Insects feature body parts that have been adapted to the growing and reproductive needs of their respective species and insect orders. These adaptations influence the growth and function of insects in the landscape. This session will address how pesticides influence insect health in the landscape and environment. Participants will learn how to provide a variety of plant material in the landscape to support pollinators and beneficial insects.

Nebraska Extension faculty and staff train EMG volunteers in many horticulture-related topics. Volunteers contribute their time, working through their local extension office to provide horticulture-related information to their community. More specifically, they provide education about sustainable horticultural practices. Participants complete 40 hours of training and 40 hours of volunteer service during the first two years of their involvement in the program. They retain their certification through annual training and volunteering.

Innovation Makerspace Co-Laboratory in Sidney

Lincoln, Neb. — A new project led by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln will establish an Innovation Makerspace Co-Laboratory in Sidney, with the goal of building a network of makerspaces around the state in small towns and places they wouldn't normally exist.
The space will help advance an experimental model of interdisciplinary learning, educational connectedness and social innovation focused on rapid prototyping and making.

A makerspace is a site that provides hands-on, creative ways to encourage students to design, experiment, build and invent as they engage in science and engineering.
The project is expected to reach more than 75 youth and adults. The makerspace will allow experts from Nebraska Innovation Studio, Nebraska Extension and other potential partners to provide youth and adults with hands-on opportunities in electronics, textiles, computers, digital media creation, music technology and digital fabrication.
"Engaging and involving community members with the makerspace will build capacity and network local experts and resources to our young people while they learn new skills, create and innovate with the possibility of entrepreneurial start-ups," said Connie Hancock, community vitality extension educator.
The project is funded by a two-year, $300,000 National Science Foundation-funded Early-concept Grant for Exploratory Research.

“We are interested in supporting youth and adult makers by creating a permanent site at the Sidney Public Library," said Brad Barker, professor and 4-H youth development specialist who is leading the project. "Moreover, we are looking at ways to link Nebraska Innovation Studio with the Sidney site using technology like telepresence robotics and immersive 3-D learning environments."

Nebraska Innovation Studio will support the makerspace via innovative technology. The makerspace on Nebraska Innovation Campus opened in 2015. Projects there include art, woodwork, 3-D printing and furniture. Several startup companies have used the 3-D printer and molds to support their businesses. Established local businesses such as The Mill have used the studio to create ceramic plates, planters and other items.

"We want to find ways to integrate this technology into our 4-H program and into classrooms throughout the county in addition to reaching an adult audience," said Cynthia Gill, 4-H extension educator for Cheyenne County. "

Other collaborators include faculty from the Nebraska Extension office in Cheyenne County; Neal Grandgenett, the Dr. George and Sally Haddix Community Chair of STEM Education in the College of Education at the University of Nebraska at Omaha; Shane Farritor, professor of engineering at Nebraska and director of Nebraska Innovation Studio; Jennifer Keshwani, assistant professor and science literacy specialist at Nebraska; JoAnn McManus, grants coordinator/federal aid administrator for the Nebraska Library Commission; John F. Cabra, senior personnel and associate professor at the International Center for Studies in Creativity at Buffalo State College; Dagen Valentine, Nebraska Extension educator; and Craig Lefteroff, technology innovation librarian at the Nebraska Library Commission.

The local partnership includes Nebraska Extension Cheyenne County, Sidney Public Schools, Sidney Public Library, Cheyenne County Chamber of Commerce, Cheyenne County Economic Development and ESU #13. This partnership will make the project successful!

For more information on Nebraska http://makerspaces and locations, click here

Making decisions about fertilizing and mowing lawns

 By Jim Schild and Gary Stone, Extension Educators, UNL Panhandle Research and Extension Center

Fertilizing a turf grass lawn is a lot more than just buying a bag of fertilizer and spreading it all in the spring.

There are several decisions to make. One is how much fertilizer to apply; another is when to apply it. And spring is not the best time to apply most of the year's fertilizer. 

The goal of a good fertilizer program is to keep growth at a minimum while maintaining a good, thick, dense, well-colored lawn. To reach the goal, at least two-thirds of the fertilizer should be applied during the fall to thicken the turf and help the grass recover after the summer stress.

      A light application of nitrogen is recommended in early May, using fertilizer containing slow-release nitrogen. This will produce a slow growth rate over the summer. Additional fertilizer can be applied in early September to help thicken and stimulate root growth.

      The amount and timing of fertilizer application, especially nitrogen fertilizer, will dictate the growth pattern of the grass season-long. Kentucky bluegrass has its peak growth in the spring months of April and May and then a secondary peak during September. Fertilizer applied prior to those peak months stimulates growth and can encourage excessive grass growth and excessive lawn growth means more watering and mowing.

Total N (nitrogen) applied during an entire growing season should not exceed 4 pounds per 1,000 square feet for the typical lawn, and a low-maintenance lawn typically should be fertilized at 1 to 1 ½ pound of N per 1,000 square feet during September, with another ½ pound applied with crab grass preventer applied the first of May.

The amount of nitrogen applied can be calculated by using the three numbers on every bag of lawn fertilizer. They indicate the amount of nitrogen, phosphate and potash (N, P and K) respectively, expressed as the percent of total weight. The remainder of the bag's contents consist of inert material.

To apply 1 pound of nitrogen, using a bag of 20-5-5 fertilizer, apply 5 pounds of product. That is 5 pounds of material, of which 20 percent (1 pound) is nitrogen.

      A homeowner using the low-maintenance fertilizer regimen in western Nebraska would routinely mow about every five days. A homeowner who applies 4 pounds per 1,000 square feet and uses a mulching mower would typically need to mow every three days.

Following recommended mowing practices also is important. The rule of thumb is never to remove more than one-third of the grass blade at once. Otherwise the grass becomes stunted, goes off color, and requires energy from the root system to initiate regrowth.

Grass height can affect turf health. The recommended blade length is 3 to 3 ¼ inches.  Grass cut to a length of 2 inches increases soil evaporation and also allows sunlight to penetrate into the soil. The sunlight will allow more weeds to germinate. For example, crab grass is more likely to be a problem when turf is mowed at 2 inches than at 3 ¼ inches.

The more a lawn is fertilized and mowed, the more water it will require. In real simple terms, the more you fertilize the more you have to mow. The more you mow, the more you have to water (to recover from the mowing).


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