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Banking in agriculture [a banker’s perspective for Nebraska beef cattle operations]

What does a bank and a commercial laboratory have in common with your cattle operation? The answer is family values. Dr. Ray Ward founded Ward Laboratories, Inc. on honesty, integrity, and the vision to rebuild and support rural communities. Mr. Jon Schmaderer, president of Tri-County Bank, expressed in an interview that their organization also shares […]

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Understanding protein fractions on a forage report

Forage analysis is the first step to understanding animal protein supplementation requirements. Most producers are familiar with crude protein and understand how this value compares with livestock needs. However, forage reports also show different fractions of the crude protein. Understanding these fractions allows us to adjust animal diets for heat damage, or the protein associated […]

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Soil Carbon [Carbon Pools, Carbon Farming and Quality Organic Matter]

Carbon is probably one of the most well-known elements today. There is a global emphasis on carbon dioxide emissions and carbon capture. In terms of agriculture, much of this focus has centered on capturing carbon by increasing soil organic matter. Organic matter encompasses all organic materials present in soil (living microorganisms and undecayed residues). Roughly, […]

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A new tool to measure soil health

In February 2022, Ward Laboratories, Inc. introduced a new tool to measure soil health. The Soil Health Assessment (SHA) is made up of four analyses. There are two biological, one chemical and one physical measurement to evaluate soil health. Biological The first biological test is the 24-hour CO2 soil respiration measurement. We take 40 grams […]

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CRP Hay Quality [Can we optimize conservation reserve program forage quality and improve wildlife habitat?]

One objective of the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) is to convert cropland into grasslands and preserve wildlife habitat. During periods of drought these lands are opened up to emergency haying and grazing to relieve livestock producers during forage supply shortages.  CRP lands are only opened up to haying and grazing after primary nesting season. Therefore, […]

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Pond Water Quality During Drought [5 concerns for livestock consuming pond water]

Typically, we advise livestock producers to monitor pond water quality as temperatures rise and pond water levels drop. However, when we are in drought and starting the grazing season with low water levels and concentrated water sources. Here are five considerations for pond water quality: 1. Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) This is a measure of […]

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Total Nutrient Digest Analysis [What is the value of this test?]

The Total Nutrient Digest (TND) analysis accounts for all minerals from sand, silt, clay and organic minerals in the soil. This total represents the plant available and non-available mineral nutrients. The textbook definition of a soil is that there is about 45% mineral content.  Therefore, about 750 tons of all different minerals. The TND analysis […]

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Fertilizer Application on Frozen Ground

Winter Fertilizer Application During my winter travels with Ward Laboratories, I frequently observe dry fertilizer application on frozen ground. This is generally an ill-advised practice. In Nebraska, the “Bomb Cyclone” event of March 2019 is a well-documented example of why we advise to avoid amendment application on frozen or snow-covered ground. In this event, large […]

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