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November 24, 2015

Star Tribune: Cover crops provide benefits but are a tricky proposition for Minnesota farmers

Star Tribune reporter Tom Meersman reported on cover crops in a Nov. 22 business-section cover story. Cover crops can improve soil and reduce erosion during the many months between fall ­harvest and spring planting, according to Jill Sackett Eberhart, University of Minnesota Extension educator in Mankato. Read story

November 23, 2015

5 ways to 'shop smart' during the holidays

Media Contact: Allison Sandve, University of Minnesota Extension, office 612-626-4077,; Mary Jo Katras, University of Minnesota Extension, mobile 612-203-6403,

ST. PAUL, Minn. (11/23/2015)--Families can come through the holiday shopping season with their finances intact by approaching their purchases with simple guidelines.

“For many people, shopping and Black Friday are customary fun with family and friends,” said Mary Jo Katras, University of Minnesota Extension family resiliency program leader. “It’s important for families to remember that the basics of family finances are just as relevant during the holidays as they for the rest of the year.”

Here are five shopping-savvy tips to help keep holidays affordable and less prone to stress:

1. Go into holiday spending with a budget and stick to it. It may seem obvious, Katras said, but ignoring a budget is a common – and guaranteed – way to wind up with regrets. (This information also is available at

2. Do your homework. Reading the fine print on coupons can help prevent exasperation and an unintended hit on the pocketbook. Compare costs before leaving home. Ask yourself: Is the time I’ll be spending in line worth it?

3. Just as budgeting isn’t solely a holiday task, talking with youth about financial decision-making shouldn’t be a holidays-only conversation. Use holiday spending as a way to start the “money conversation.” Honest discussions also can help manage expectations. (This information is also available at

4. Spend cash only. Setting a fixed amount – and sticking with it – helps families stay within budgets. Or, only use a debit card for holiday gifts and budget a set amount.

5. Be tech-safe. We’re more vulnerable to online theft during the holidays. For instance, internet thieves take advantage of busier online traffic by using “sniffing” technology, allowing them to steal credit card information being used on unsecured sites or wi-fi connections. Follow simple steps to keep information safe online. (This information is also available at

“When it comes to gift-giving, it really is the thought that matters for most people. The holidays can be a great time for families to make gifts together or start or renew a family tradition that focuses on something other than spending,” Katras says.


For more news from U of M Extension, visit or contact Extension Communications at

Media Contact: Allison Sandve, U of M Extension, (612) 626-4077,

University of Minnesota Extension is an equal opportunity educator and employer

Minnesota's help sought in herbicide resistance survey

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

ST. PAUL, Minn. (11/9/2015)—A multi-state team of university researchers needs help from Minnesota farmers to better understand the spread of herbicide-resistant weeds.

Surveys will be sent by email Nov. 20 to recipients selected for diversity of farm size, crops grown and geographic location. About 10,000 surveys will be distributed nationwide. Researchers aim to gain deeper insights into herbicidal resistance in corn, soybean, sugarbeets and cotton—its causes, consequences and strategies used to cope with it.

Field of waterhemp
Waterhemp in Jackson County field

“Farmers are the front lines of herbicide resistance. The information they can provide will be essential to help build an effective response to the growing problem of herbicide-resistant weeds,” said University of Minnesota Extension agronomist Jeff Gunsolus, who represents Minnesota on the research team, along with Terry Hurley, University of Minnesota professor of applied economics. “The survey will help the research team better understand the human dimensions of herbicide resistance as well as how these weeds are spreading.”

While herbicide resistance has existed for decades, the number of weed species resistant to glyphosate and other herbicides has risen dramatically in recent years. As a result, more time and money is spent on weed control; farmers face the likelihood of lower yields and profits unless changes in their weed management are implemented. In addition, some conservation gains made with reduced or no tillage systems may be reversed by herbicide-resistant weeds.

“The survey will take between 30 and 45 minutes to complete and individual farmers responses will remain confidential. This is a critical effort and we believe the survey will be part of an effort that benefits farmers both here in Minnesota and across the nation for years to come,” Hurley said. The email will include instructions on completing the survey on paper for those who wish to do so.

The research is supported by an Agriculture and Food Research Initiative grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The team of weed scientists, economists and sociologists is led by Mike Owen, associate chair of the agronomy department and Extension specialist at Iowa State University. In addition to Gunsolus and Hurley, scientists on the team represent Michigan State University, Portland State University, North Carolina State University, the University of Arkansas, the University of Arizona and Mississippi State University.


For more news from U of M Extension, visit or contact Extension Communications at

Media Contact: Allison Sandve, U of M Extension, (612) 626-4077,

University of Minnesota Extension is an equal opportunity educator and employer

November 12, 2015

Video: 4-H Rube Goldberg Challenge gets kids excited about STEM!

Minnesota 4-H’s annual Rube Goldberg challenge is getting youth excited about science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). Rube Goldberg machines are overly complex contraptions that can do a simple task using everyday items in whimsical ways that interact in a series of chain-reactions. The annual 4-H Engineering Design Challenge helps youth develop 21st century learning and innovation skills – critical thinking, communication, collaboration, creativity – and science and engineering skills through a fun, hands-on contest. Learn more

November 03, 2015

Brainerd Dispatch: Convocation talks climate change, featuring Mark Seeley

The Brainerd Dispatch reported on the "Climate Generation: A Will Steger Legacy" meeting that took place on Nov. 2 at Central Lakes College to discuss the effect of climate change on the Brainerd area—and what to do about it. Read story

Extension's Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships have planned approximately a dozen climate change adaptation convenings in Greater Minnesota, providing venues for Extension Climatologist Mark Seeley to provide region-specific climate information. Partners from multiple agencies and local organizations have provided important perspectives and information that can aid in community decision making.

The purpose of these convenings is to inform Minnesotans of the consequences of climate change, and to learn what innovations and strategies they are considering and deploying at the household, farmstead, and community level to adapt to a changing environment.

What drives Matt Russell to think trees need technology to survive?

The forest products industry contributes 60,000 jobs and more than $9 billion in value to Minnesota’s economy. But we need forests for something else: absorbing the carbon that is warming the earth’s climate.

Carbon is emitted through industrial manufacturing, transportation, and other activities. But 16 percent of it gets “grabbed” by forests and wood, which can use it for new growth. That drives the work of Matt Russell, a U of M Extension forest resources specialist. Read story

What drives Dan Larkin to save our lakes, rivers and streams?

Nothing says “Minnesota” like water—we have the license plates to prove it—so the threat of invasive species to our precious lakes, rivers and streams grabs our attention like stepping on a zebra mussel.

Daniel Larkin works to protect and restore the health of our waterways. Read story
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