Local Interest

Crops growing in the numerous small plots at the University of Nebraska Panhandle Research and Extension Center this summer will include the usual assortment of dry beans, corn, sugar beets, peas and various alternative crops. In their midst, one small plot has rows of plants that look like the dandelions in local yards.

In fact, they are dandelions of a different type. Their roots produce rubber, and this test plot is part of a multi-state collaborative project to see if rubber and biofuels can be grown and processed in the United States from dandelions. The project is titled Biofuel and Rubber Research and their Agricultural Linkages (BARRAL).

Scotch thistle (also known as Cotton thistle, Heraldic thistle, Scotch cotton thistle (Onopordum acanthium L.), introduced into the United States from Eurasia as an ornamental plant in the 1800s, is a non-native biennial forb from the sunflower family, but it can behave as an annual or short-lived perennial.

By Gary Stone, Extension Educator, Panhandle Extension District

Early Detection and Rapid Response (EDRR) is a concept to identify potentially invasive species prior to or just as the establishment of the invasive is taking place.  An Integrated Pest Management plan (IPM) can be developed to manage, contain and eradicate the invasive species before it can spread further.  This will avoid costly, long-term control efforts.

The devastation Nebraska has experienced these past few months is unimaginable. Communities and people’s lives have changed forever. Though not the highest priority, one item that should be addressed in the near future is the chance that invasive plants may show up in areas that have never had them before.

By Dave Ostdiek, Communications Associate
UNL Panhandle Research and Extension Center

As a growing population competes for available freshwater supplies, depletion of groundwater aquifers will be a growing challenge to water policy managers in the United States. Adopting policies to address this issue is a matter of understanding the causes and the local hydrology, then choosing a policy that fits water-management goals.

These are some of the lessons that emerge from a recent issue paper published by a national science policy group. The paper is based partly on experience and expertise from western Nebraska. It highlights a case study of what happened in the Panhandle when over-development caused aquifer depletion along a stream.

By Gary Stone, Extension Educator, Panhandle Extension District

Early Detection and Rapid Response (EDRR) is a concept to identify potential invasive species prior to or just as the establishment of the invasive is taking place. An Integrated Pest Management plan (IPM) can be developed to manage, contain and eradicate the invasive species before it can spread further.  This will avoid costly, long-term control efforts.

A native species that has become a major problem in Panhandle and Sandhills rangeland is Marestail or Horseweed, a native annual forb also known as Canadian horseweed and Canada fleabane.  

A research team at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Panhandle Research and Extension Center is developing a method of scheduling irrigation for dry edible beans that uses a sensor to remotely check the temperature of the crop canopy to determine when the crop needs water.

The method, known as infrared radiometry thermometer (IRT), has the potential to be cheaper and easier to install and manage than soil-moisture probes, according to Xin Qiao, Irrigation and Water Management Specialist at the Panhandle Center.

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