Ag Notebook: New legislation for water storage, Ogallala in trouble |

Ag Notebook: New legislation for water storage, Ogallala in trouble

Gardner Announces New Legislation for Water Storage

Rep. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., announced this month that he would be introducing new legislation when Congress returns from its summer work period.

“Water is one of the main drivers of economic growth in Colorado, and every industry in the state relies on this vital resource,” he said. “I wish the federal government fostered a regulatory environment in which tours like the one I led this morning were not necessary, but that is simply not the case. The federal government has continued to stall important projects … because of a permitting process in Washington, D.C. that creates bureaucratic regulatory barriers.

Gardner said his bill would require regulators to approve or deny permits for reservoir projects within 270 days after a governor sends a letter to the federal government supporting a project.

Rural Colo. schools win grants to bolster math, science programs

Three rural Colorado school districts were chosen as a recipient of a 2013 America’s Farmers Grow Rural Education grants.

Announced Tuesday, winners were awarded grants of up to $25,000 to enhance their math and science programs.

Eaton Re-2, and Campo School District No. Re-6 each won $10,000 grants, and Re-1 Valley School District in Sterling, which was awarded a $25,000 grant.

Nationwide, 181 rural school districts were chosen to receive grants.

In total, $2.3 million was distributed.

The program, sponsored by the Monsanto Fund, gave farmers in 1,271 eligible counties the opportunity to nominate school districts for a grant to enhance math and science education. More than 73,000 farmers submitted nominations.

Study: The Ogallala Aquifer is in trouble

The life of the Ogallala Aquifer could be extended several decades, but only if water usage is reduced, a four-year study by researchers from Kansas State University found.

The aquifer yields 30 percent of the nation’s irrigated groundwater, the study said.

But that would reduce agriculture production to the levels of 15 or 20 years ago.

Kansas alone pumped 1.3 trillion gallons in 2011, more than enough to fill Lake Okeechobee, the huge lake in Florida.

The study determined it would “take in the neighborhood of 500 to 1,300 years to recharge the aquifer” in western Kansas, Steward said.

The aquifer first began declining in the 1960s because of irrigation needs.

At the current rate, the aquifer will be 70 percent depleted by 2060, according to the study.

Early freeze could nip crops

The majority of the Corn Belt escaped the pollination period unscathed, but late planting in some patches leaves corn and soybean crops highly vulnerable to an early freeze this fall.

Crop maturities are delayed by an average of two to four weeks.

Satellite maps measuring biomass show that the regions farthest behind are southeast Minnesota, north-central Iowa and eastern North Dakota.

“This late acreage will be relevant once we get to mid-September and early October, when there is potential for early freezes,” said Jeffrey Doran, a senior meteorologist with Planalytics, at an agribusiness weather seminar in St. Louis.

The dominant weather pattern, Doran said, is a cold front pushing down from Alaska, through Canada and into the Midwest.

Cooler temperatures are also resulting from high volcanic activity in Asia.

Eruptions pump more volcanic particles into the jet stream, reducing solar radiation.

Despite the potential danger, Planalytics’ satellite-derived forecast currently indicates a corn yield of 152.4 bu. per acre, only 3.1 below USDA’s June estimate of 156.5 bu.

Planalytics’ soybean estimate of 42.3 bu. per acre is only 2.2 bu. below the June USDA estimate.

However, there is concern that drought might be spreading from the West.

Weld County horse tests positive for West Nile virus

A horse in Platteville, Colo., recently tested positive for West Nile virus and there have been several human cases in Weld County.

As of Thursday, Weld alone had 12 confirmed human West Nile virus cases, and more are being investigated, according to Dr. Mark Wallace, executive director for the Weld County Department of Public Health and Environment.

Horses infected with the West Nile virus are not an infection risk for other horses, animals or humans, according to Colorado State University experts

However, the same Culex mosquito bites that infect horses are also a risk for humans.

Recommendations to reduce mosquitoes near homes and animals include:

A West Nile virus vaccine for horses is available.

There are no medications to treat or vaccines to prevent West Nile infections for humans.

About one in five people who are infected will develop a fever with other symptoms.

Less than 1 percent of infected people develop a serious, sometimes fatal, neurologic illness.

If someone develops symptoms, they should contact their health care provider immediately.