SDSU focuses on profitability at Dakotafest

SDSU focuses on profitability at Dakotafest South Dakota State University will focus on profitability at Dakotafest 2004.

The ninth annual Dakotafest takes place just south of Interstate 90 in Mitchell from Aug. 17-19.

SDSU's blue and white tent will again feature scientists and specialists from the SDSU College of Agriculture and Biological Sciences � as well as free ice cream manufactured by SDSU's dairy science students.

SDSU Extension Program Coordinator Ralph Matz said the university's focus will be offering unbiased, science-based information. Here's a closer look:

* Commercial growers and homeowners can stop by the horticulture/forestry booth for profitability tips for growing and marketing fruit and vegetable and other specialty crops in South Dakota. Specialists from the SDSU Horticulture, Forestry, Landscape and Parks Department, as well as South

Dakota Cooperative Extension Service educators and Master Gardeners, will be on hand to answer questions and diagnose plant samples.

* Seed Certification will be back with SDSU's recommended winter wheat varieties and trial results.

* Using dried distillers grain is a topic producers can take up with SDSU's Dairy Science and the Animal and Range Science Departments. Specialists will be available to explore the makeup and costs of different rations, cost effectiveness and potential gains.

* SDSU's Department of Rural Sociology will be on hand to provide data on your county make-up.

* Plant Science, Master Gardeners, Water Resources Institute, and the Olson Biochemistry Labs, Analytical Service Laboratory will be available to identify and analyze plants, insects, soil, feed and water samples at the tent site.

In addition to on-site testing for nitrates and hardness in water, scientists will explain how water quality can affect profitability if the problem is not addressed.

People also can drop off samples for testing back at the SDSU laboratory on campus. This includes forage (hay) samples for quality testing and for nitrate testing, and feed samples. Producers dropping off forage samples for testing back at the lab are entered into a drawing for a hay probe.

People are encouraged to save postage and drop off water samples for livestock suitability, household use, or lawn and garden use. Those dropping off water samples for testing at the lab are entered into a drawing for a KELO-Land Rain Gauge. In addition, a daily drawing will be held for $50 in testing services.

* SDSU's Biology/Microbiology booth will have a display comparing various bio-based products versus their petroleum-derived counterparts.

* SDSU's Economics Department will focus on profitability through price risk management, financial risk management, and the management of other risk inherent to the farm or ranch business. Information on pricing strategies, land rents and values, financial management, business risk, and other topics will be available from SDSU Extension specialists and educators.

* SDSU's Ag and Bio Systems Engineering Department will demonstrate the state climate and weather Web site with its up-to-the-second weather data. The department also will show results from sprinkler testing, crop water use and irrigation management.

In addition, the Water Resources Institute will demonstrate a rainfall simulator that is being used to study how applying manure to the soil affects phosphorus in runoff.

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