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February 02, 2018

Extension educator Carlson recognized by corn growers as Friend of Agriculture

ST. PAUL, Minn. (Feb. 2, 2018)—University of Minnesota Extension crops educator Brad Carlson was recognized recently with the Minnesota Corn Growers Association’s annual “Friend of Agriculture” award.

Extension educator Brad Carlson with Minnesota
Corn Growers Association President Kirby Hettver
Carlson was honored at the Minnesota Ag Expo in Mankato for his commitment to helping Minnesota farmers build upon their land stewardship while maintaining productive operations. Carlson worked with the corn growers, leading development of the Nitrogen Smart program to elevate environmental care and crop productivity.

"Brad's commitment to research-driven programming is reflected in this honor. Nitrogen Smart combines the objectives of high yield and environmental stewardship that are essential to farming," said Jeff Gunsolus, Extension weed scientist and crops program leader.

Nitrogen occurs naturally in soil as organic matter, but supplementation of nitrogen fertilizer is necessary for optimizing yield and profit for corn and other crops. In the soil, nitrogen will naturally convert to the nitrate form, which can be lost to surface and ground water causing water quality concerns. Proper management is essential to minimize environmental risk while maintaining profitability.

Since its introduction in 2016, Nitrogen Smart has drawn nearly 600 corn farmers to 25 seminars offered throughout Minnesota. Following classes, farmers report they plan to reduce overall nitrogen rates on an annual basis by an estimated 319 tons.

“The Minnesota Corn Growers Association is very proud to work with Brad in bringing the Nitrogen Smart program to the state’s farmers,” said Paul Meints, the association's senior research director. “Brad’s excellent work making the program the success it is today is certainly worthy of this honor, and we look forward to the future as he continues to grow the nitrogen management curriculum.”

The 2018 Nitrogen Smart series begins in February. Carlson is also developing an online curriculum. Carlson is a regional crops educator based in Mankato; he has been with Extension since 1994.

More information is available at Extension’s nutrient management programming is available at


Media Contact: Allison Sandve, Extension news media manager,, 612-626-4077 (office) or 651-492-0811 (mobile)

For more news from U of M Extension, visit or contact Extension Communications at University of Minnesota Extension is an equal opportunity educator and employer.

December 07, 2017

Overindulgence and good hearts: Parenting during holidays and beyond

ST. PAUL, Minn. (12/7/2017)—If holiday shopping feels like being stuck in a pressure cooker, here are some good questions for families to ask and open a valve:

November 03, 2017

Wheat harvest shatters previous yield records

ST. PAUL, Minn. (11/1/2017)— Minnesota is on track to break its wheat harvest record and, for the first time in nearly 30 years, the number of acres planted with University of Minnesota-developed varieties edged over the 50 percent mark.

October 26, 2017

Frank Jewell named Distinguished Friend of Extension

Media Contact: Allison Sandve, University of Minnesota Extension, office 612-626-4077,

ST. PAUL, Minn. (10/13/2017)— St. Louis County Board Chair Frank Jewell has been named 2017 University of Minnesota Extension’s Distinguished Friend.

The award was announced by Extension Dean Bev Durgan, who cited Jewell’s “breadth of work to connect county residents with Extension and the University of Minnesota.”

Since election to the county board in 2011, Jewell has advocated for underserved parts of his community. He has shown particular support for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) Education as a pathway toward better health for county residents, as well as championing urban 4-H programming.
Frank Jewell

In accepting the honor at a recent Extension gathering, Jewell also cited his interest in broadening the connections between local foods growers and Extension, noting “there are a lot of people farming in St. Louis County.”

Jewell participated in Extension’s U Lead Advisory Academy, which helps inspire local leaders to bring about transformation in their communities in 2012. He serves on St. Louis County’s Extension Committee and is currently a member of the Association of Minnesota Counties Extension Committee.


For more news from U of M Extension, visit or contact Extension Communications at University of Minnesota Extension is an equal opportunity educator and employer.

October 19, 2017

Extension farmer training helps keep Minneapolis Schools meals safe

Media Contact: Allison Sandve, Extension news media relations manager,, 612-626-4077 (office) or 651-492-0811 (mobile).

Minneapolis, Minn. (10/18/2017)—Minneapolis Public Schools is committed to providing fresh, locally grown farm fruits and vegetables to serve students through its Farm-to-School program.
Its collaboration with University of Minnesota Extension helps make it possible.

September 21, 2017

300 U of M Extension volunteers expected to participate in National Public Lands Day

Media Contacts: Catherine Dehdashti, Extension PR manager, 612-625-0237,; Emily Dombeck, Extension forestry program coordinator, 612-624-6709,
group of people examining and taking notes in long grass

St. Paul, Minn. (09/21/2017)—University of Minnesota Extension’s Master Naturalist Program will lead service opportunities at 12 locations throughout the state for National Public Lands Day on Sept. 30. An annual day of service held across the country, National Public Lands Day is the largest, single-day volunteer effort for public lands.

September 11, 2017

Planting grass seed? Most Twin Citians water lawns way too much

Early fall may be prime time for planting grass seed, but a recent University of Minnesota Extension survey shows many Twin Cities residents who will be seeding could be grossly overwatering it. In fact, the study funded by the Metropolitan Council revealed more than sixty percent of people with irrigation systems regularly over-irrigate their lawns by watering on an automatic cycle.

“Don’t run your entire irrigation system to irrigate the ten percent of your lawn where you’ve planted seed over existing grass,” said Sam Bauer, an Extension educator who specializes in turf grass science. “We found that in the spring people set up their irrigation systems for watering every other day following their city’s odd-even watering ordinances. That’s way too often, and certainly unnecessary.” In the metro, monthly water use is nearly three times greater in the summer compared to the winter, mostly due to outdoor watering, according to the Metropolitan Council.

Extension researchers conducted the first survey of its kind in the Twin Cities last summer to evaluate the lawn irrigation practices of residents in the seven-county metro area. It’s part of a two-year study designed to help homeowners and communities save money and be more efficient with watering practices. “We learned there are opportunities to improve,” Bauer said.

What the survey showed

  • The survey of more than 900 metro area residents revealed:
  • More than 60 percent of respondents water on an automatic cycle—usually odd/even according to their city’s ordinance.
  • 75 percent of residents’ irrigation systems had one leaking sprinkler head, 27 percent had 5 or more.
  • The average resident irrigates 500 square feet of impervious surface such as streets, driveways, sidewalks, and patios.
  • 73 percent of lawns were made up of Kentucky bluegrass, which requires more water and care compared to low-maintenance fescue grasses.

“One of the most important findings is that at least half of our survey respondents did not have their irrigation systems audited (checked for efficiency),” Bauer said. He recommends giving your irrigation system a complete check once a year to make sure it’s running efficiently, no sprinkler heads are broken and leaking and the heads are not watering impervious surfaces.

How much should I water?

A good rule of thumb is one inch per week, Bauer says, which includes both watering and rainfall amounts. He recommends adding a smart irrigation controller which automatically adjusts to the amount of rainfall, the amount of water in the soil and the demands of the plant being watered. Every irrigation system installed after July 2003 in Minnesota is required by law to have a sensor that will interrupt irrigation during times of sufficient rainfall.

One-third of respondents said they did not know how much water they put on their lawns. But there are good reasons to monitor your irrigation system closely. Bauer says the more you water, the shallower your lawn’s grass roots system will be. Without deep roots, grass isn’t hardy enough to survive the stresses of summer and winter, or diseases, insects and weeds.

More importantly, he says water is a finite resource and a good first step towards conservation is to water less. “Your lawn’s going to look a lot better and you’ll save money on your water bill,” he said. “Your lawn will thank you for it.”

For more information on lawn care-water saving strategies, visit University of Minnesota Extension.

For more information on the study, visit 2016 Twin Cities Lawn Irrigation Efficiency Study.
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