The HAT Soil Health Podcast- Lyles Station & Legacy Taste of the Garden

To understand more fully how healthy soil affects our everyday lives, we can take a look at the results of connecting people to nutritious (and delicious!) food. Denise and John Jamerson do just that. From growing produce in Gibson County to delivering workshops in Fort Wayne, the Jamersons provide educational experiences on producing food, cooking delicious meals, and much more.

Hear from the Jamersons on Lyles Station, Legacy Taste of the Garden, and the Black Loam Conference, and find out why they’re known as the “people with the watermelons from down south.” That’s all on this episode of the Soil Health Podcast, hosted by Hoosier Ag Today and brought to you by the Conservation Cropping Systems Initiative.

FFA Pavilion Showcases Both Student Organization and the Ag Industry

The 2022-23 Indiana FFA State Officers working in the FFA Pavilion during the 2022 Indiana State Fair. From left to right: North Region VP, Mary Jones; Treasurer, Anthony Taylor; President, Seth Ariens; Sentinel, Jaden Maze; South Region VP, Jenna Kelsey; Secretary, Tobias Sturgell; Reporter, Gracie Lee. Photo: C.J. Miller / Hoosier Ag Today.

The FFA Pavilion at the Indiana State Fair showcases the accomplishments of FFA members and chapters from across the state. 

This year’s Indiana FFA State President, Seth Ariens, says that the building is not only a home for FFA members, it also demonstrates various aspects of agriculture.  

“Some other things you can find in the Pavilion are our Farm to Fork, which takes you through the entire process of how our food is grown; Dress for Success, it shows you different careers in agriculture and helps you find one that maybe fits you. We also have the Corteva Corner, and they do really fun experiments, mostly based around plants and seeds, and then we have an ag mech corner as well as the playgrounds, and our always infamous Putt-Putt course,” says Ariens. 

Visitors can also stop by the Country Market for jams, honey, maple syrup, and more products made in Indiana. 

“All the funds from that come back to Indiana FFA: scholarships and things that will fund our center and activities that we do throughout the year.”  

Ariens says that the Pavilion gives his team an opportunity to talk with others about the organization and the ag industry. 

“One of the reasons that we ran for FFA office, or state office, is because we love to advocate for agriculture and for FFA, and we do that every day at the FFA Pavilion,” says Ariens. 

The FFA Pavilion is sponsored by Corteva Agriscience and is open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Wednesdays through Sundays during the 2022 Indiana State Fair. 

Click BELOW to hear Hoosier Ag Today’s Elise Koning report on the FFA Pavilion at the Indiana State Fair and how it is showcasing both student organization and Indiana’s ag industry.

Forage Producers Thinking about Opportunities and Risks in Hay Harvest

Elysia Rodgers speaks to the Indiana Forage Council at the organization's 2022 annual meeting.
Elysia Rodgers (far left) speaks to the Indiana Forage Council at the organization’s 2022 annual meeting.

With green grass starting to appear, this year’s hay harvest will be on the mind of many forage producers. They’ll also be thinking about the opportunities and risks that accompany hay production. 

Elysia Rodgers, Indiana Forage Council president and Ag and Natural Resources Educator for Purdue Extension Dekalb County, produces hay for customers and raises dairy goats, dairy beef feeder calves, pastured hogs, and poultry.  

Rodgers and her husband sell about half of the hay they produce.  

“For us, obviously, being able to produce a quality forage in good quantity is important, to not just keep our own livestock fed, but those of our customers as well. We have customers that have been with us for years, so they kind of know what to expect from us.” 

Letting customers know ahead of time what changes occurring on the farm will affect them has been one key to maintaining good customer relations.  

“Last year, we went from an offset square baler, kind of the normal what you would see in the field, to actually an inline. So, it’s like a straight shot down the back of the tractor, and we’ve been able to produce much heavier bales. So, we had to obviously charge more for those. So just kind of letting our customers know that ahead of time, they’ve really come to appreciate, as well, just so they can budget differently. 

With higher input prices for many agriculture sectors, including fertilizer and forage seed, Rodgers says understanding how and when to produce quality hay, haylage and baleage can help producers mitigate risks.  

Soil testing is one step that can help producers know exactly how much fertilizer to put on their soils.  

“Soil tests will really tell you what’s in your soil, if you have a balanced pH, because most of our grasses like about 6, maybe 6.5 to 7.2 or so. Alfalfa is a little bit smaller window, about 6.7 to 7. So, knowing that you have a balanced pH is a really good starting point, knowing if you have the right balance of nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium in your soils.”  

Rodgers also says studying the weather and understanding the best timing for hay production can help manage risk.  

“They could be calling for 30% chance of rain and you get an absolute deluge. Could be at 80% and you get a few sprinkles. So, weather’s one of those that’s really hard to mitigate. But if you can kind of watch and kind of start to really understand what that weather is and kind of where it’s coming from, that can kind of help you a little bit as well.”

Hear the story with the audio link below.

Feed and Forage Testing Can Help Livestock Producers Shape Nutrition Program

Justin Waldrip. (Photo by Elise Koning / Hoosier Ag Today.)

Whether you feed a total mixed ration throughout the year or are preparing for summer grazing, you can take a proactive approach to livestock nutrition with feed and forage testing.

Justin Waldrip works in Feed and Forage Technical Support and Sales for SureTech Laboratories in Plainfield. He says that feed and forage sampling can help shape your feeding or grazing program.

“A livestock producer should test forage just because it’s good to know what you’re feeding your animals. I think it can save you some money as well as being able to let you allocate your forages to based on your animals’ needs.”

Alfalfa and corn silage are the two most popular feed and forage samples SureTech analyzes. The lab also tests soil, manure, tissue, fertilizer, and water.

Waldrip says after sending a sample to a certified lab, you’ll receive a detailed report.

“It’s going to have your dry matter analysis as well as your as-tested. So you’ll get your fibers, fats, moisture. The customer can also request digestibility data, as well as we do provide some reference materials based on like nitrates, with some ranges for folks.”

Once you’re ready to interpret those results, you can talk to several different specialists for assistance.

“Talking with a nutritionist that you trust, I think that can be a resource prior, you know, to interpret some of those. I do some interpreting here at the lab, very basic stuff. But I think a nutritionist is a good approach. Extension and/or university would be a good approach as well.”

And feed and forage testing isn’t only for planning out your feeding program. Waldrip says that testing also can be a proactive approach to preventing problems.

“One of the things that I think the livestock industry has been very reactive in the past, you know, trying to find the problem once the animals either down in or dead, where I think testing can be a proactive approach to prevent problems before they do become a problem, a much more expensive problem.”

Click below to hear the full report. To find a testing lab near you, visit

From Ag Secretary’s Speech, Opportunities for Value-Added Products and Domestic Fertilizer Sources Resonate

After Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack’s speech at Commodity Classic on Friday, two Indiana representatives discussed the ideas presented with HAT farm broadcaster Eric Pfeiffer. 

Developing value-added products and a circular economy were just two of the themes that Matthew Chapman, board member for the Indiana Soybean Alliance, and Mike Beard, board member for the Indiana Corn Growers Association, resonated with.  

Matthew Chapman, board member for the Indiana Soybean Alliance.

Chapman says that Vilsack’s discussion of the constant changes in the world economy led to a discussion on how the U.S. can improve food security. 

“Administration is striving towards what they termed as a circular economy, where we can try to keep as much of that value-added products and proteins here in the States, in the Midwest, in the U.S. And along with that, the jobs stay here, the money stays here, the investment stays here.” 

The results of those products staying in the States can be impactful, Chapman continues.

“Any time we can keep those value-added products here, we don’t rely on our neighbors or the uncertainty around the world to keep us in business. And it also comes from a security standpoint: if we have food security, that’s one less thing we have to worry about from a global perspective.” 

Mike Beard, board member for the Indiana Corn Growers Association.

Domestic fertilizer sources could provide some of that security. Beard says that he’s interested to see what happens with the opportunity Vilsack discussed.  

“We’d all be excited to be able to source fertilizer right here in the U.S. The fact that we are so short on fertilizers and other inputs has been a major topic of discussion, and those of us that have it, and those of us that don’t have it yet.” 

Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities is another opportunity that Beard says caught his interest. Introduced on February 7, this initiative allots up to $1 billion to projects that develop market opportunities for farm, ranch, or forest products produced with climate-smart practices such as no-till, nutrient management, agroforestry, or prescribed grazing.  

“[Vilsack]’s asked all of agriculture to submit ideas and programs that would enhance the value of the crops that we grow. For us here, it’s corn, soybeans, wheat, and sorghum. But it can be nuts and berries and other fruits and tree fruits and other things that we can add value to here in this country and certify that they are climate proven, if you will.” 

Beard says he’s interested to see the results of the program.  

He and Chapman spoke with Pfeiffer in New Orleans. Hear that full interview by clicking the play button below.   

Ashley Davenport has more on Secretary Vilsack’s speech in this report.  

Soy Checkoff Projects Return $12 for Every Dollar Invested

Cass County farmer Kevin Wilson, a board member for the United Soybean Board, will be talking with farmers from around the country during Commodity Classic in New Orleans.  

One thing he’ll be showcasing is how the USB has invested checkoff dollars into several projects, including research and infrastructure.  

“For about every dollar that we’ve invested, we’ve put about $12 back into their pocket or a little bit more. Our goal is to continue to add zeroes onto all the dollars that the checkoff is trying to reinvest for them,” Wilson says. 

One of the USB’s projects is promoting high oleic soybeans and the benefits of soy oil from those beans. Wilson says the organization’s goal is to increase the number of acres planted with high oleic soybeans by 200,000 this year.  

“What we’re trying to do now is make sure that we’re working with all avenues to increase the availability of seed to more and more farmers across the Midwest so that they all have different opportunities to continue to raise because what we’re finding out is we’re getting more and more now from companies that are asking, and they’re wanting more information about the benefits of high oleic.”  

This will be the eighth year that Wilson has raised them on his farm. Wilson says they’re working both on production of and markets for high oleic soybeans across the Midwest.  

He says it’s good to be back at Commodity Classic after the event was canceled for the last two years.  

“It’s great to get all the commodities back together and see people out and get to work with, seeing companies and new technology that’s coming out. And it’s just a good feel to be able to be here again.”  

Wilson spoke with HAT farm broadcaster Andy Eubank in New Orleans. Hear that full interview by clicking the play button below.