Friday, November 8, 2019

Flights Above the Mississippi Alluvial Plain to Continue Aquifer Mapping

New Phase of USGS Low-level Surveys Begins

A low-flying airplane will soon be visible to residents in the multi-state area comprising the Mississippi Alluvial Plain (MAP), marking the beginning of the next stage of the U.S. Geological Survey’s high-resolution airborne survey project to map aquifers.
Coordinated by USGS scientists to map the properties of aquifers throughout parts of the MAP, the low-level flights are intended to provide critical data needed by state and local decisionmakers to evaluate and manage groundwater resources in the region.
Beginning in early November and lasting for 2-3 months, an airplane contracted by the USGS and operated by CGG Airborne of Ontario, Canada, will make low-level flights over more than 20 million acres and seven states within the MAP. Experienced pilots specially trained and approved for low-level flying will operate the aircraft. All flights are coordinated with the Federal Aviation Administration to ensure accordance with U.S. law. The flights will be based out of Greenwood-Leflore Airport in Mississippi for the first three weeks. Follow the planned flight lines here.
CGG Airplane Contracted by USGS
Airplane that will conduct low-level flights. Beneath the plane, a "bird" receiver sits and will be towed behind the aircraft during the survey. Operated by CGG under contract to the USGS. Photo courtesy CGG.
(Public domain.)
The first segment of regional survey flights completed in early 2019 have provided unique and previously impossible views of the MAP’s shallow aquifer system. In this second phase, the survey will acquire data from the subsurface up to 1,000 feet below ground, or 2-3 times deeper than previous flights.
Instruments on the airplane will collect information about the geology in shallow aquifers of the region. When the data analysis is complete, resulting state-of-the-art maps will help USGS researchers understand the aquifer system that supports groundwater resources at depths up to about 1,000 feet underground.
This survey will be flown mainly east-west at an altitude of 400 feet along lines spaced approximately 4 miles apart. The airplane will have an attached electromagnetic instrument housed in a small receiver that is towed 300 feet behind and about 150 feet beneath the aircraft. All survey flights will occur during daylight hours.
Residents and visitors should not be alarmed to witness a low-flying aircraft with a small towed sensor behind it. The airplane will also carry scientific instruments including a magnetometer and a gamma-ray spectrometer. None of the instruments pose a health risk to people or animals, and flights will not occur directly over populated areas.
The survey is being conducted by the USGS Water Availability and Use Program as part of the MAP Regional Water Availability Study. More information about the MAP project can be found online.
Map of Planned Flight Lines
Overview map of planned flight lines for upcoming Mississippi Alluvial Plain aerial survey. Map is also available online
(Public domain.)
Additional resources:

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Grazing program, buck sale on tap Oct. 17 in Ky.

Sustainable Agriculture Workshop
"Third Thursday Thing"

October 17, 2019

Harold R. Benson Research and Demonstration Farm
1525 Mills Lane — Frankfort, Kentucky — (502) 597-6325

Dr. Marion Simon, State Specialist
Small Farm and Part-time Farmers
e-mail address:

College of Agriculture, Communities and the Environment
Harold R. Benson Research and Demonstration Farm, Center for the Sustainability of Farms and Families

1525 Mills Lane, Frankfort, KY (4 miles south of I-64, off US 127)

Directions:  From I-64 Exit 53, take US127 South toward Lawrenceburg to the 4th stoplight, turn left onto Mills Lane, the KSU Farm is 1.5 miles on the right.

10:00 - 10:15 am
Welcome and Announcements – Dr. Marion Simon, Kentucky State University
10:15 – 10:50 am
“Goats in an Integrated Whole Farm Management System”
Shawn Lucas, KSU
11:00 – 10:50 am
“Evaluation of Different Grazing Intensity for Goat Production”
Ken Andries and Emily Clement, KSU
12:00 – 1:00 pm
Farm Crew
1:00 – 1:50 pm
“Isoflavones in Forage Legumes to Promote Weight Gain and Alleviate Fescue Toxicosis”
Michael Flythe, ARS Forage Lab, Lexington, KY
2:00 – 2:50 pm
“Practical Evaluation of Pastures for Improved Grazing”
Krista Lea, UK Forage Extension
3:00 – 3:50 pm
“Tour of Grazing Research Area and Discussion of Implications”
(weather permitting)
There will also be the sale of a few KSU Buck Kids depending on Performance

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Small ruminant ranch tour taking Arkansans to Texas in October

By Abbi Ross
U of A System Division of Agriculture

Fast Facts:
  • The small ruminant ranch tour will be held in San Angelo, Texas
  • The cost to attend ranges from $400-565
  • Deadline to register: Oct. 4
  • The event will be held Oct. 28-31

    FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — A visit to sheep and goat ranches, feed mills, a livestock auction and more are all on the agenda for a small ruminant ranch tour for Arkansas producers in October.
    The tour is being hosted by the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture department of animal science and will be held Oct. 28-31 in San Angelo, Texas, for producers who are interested in small ruminant production. The cost to attend is $400 for a single occupancy room and $565 for a double occupancy room and includes lodging, meals and transportation.
    “It’s an awesome opportunity for producers to see what other producers are doing, especially in more small ruminant focused areas of the United States,” said Chelsey Kimbrough, assistant professor and small ruminant specialist for the Division of Agriculture’s Cooperative Extension Service. 
    Producers will get the chance to visit sheep and lamb operations, show goat operations, feed mills, livestock auctions, research centers and more, Kimbrough said.
    One of the unique opportunities available on the tour is being able to attend the goat and sheep livestock auction, something that is not as common in Arkansas, Kimbrough said.
    “Participants also get to see other operations, and learn things that they may be able to implement on their farms,” Kimbrough said.
    The deadline to register is Oct. 4. For more information on the event contact Chelsey Kimbrough or by phone at 501-503-6592. Registration for the event can be found at
    To learn about Extension Programs in Arkansas, contact your local Cooperative Extension Service agent or Follow us on Twitter at @UAEX_edu.


Monday, September 9, 2019

USDA Resources Available for Farmers Hurt by 2018, 2019 Disasters

Signup Begins Sept. 11 for More Than $3 Billion in Aid
WASHINGTON, D.C., Sept. 9, 2019 – U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue today announced that agricultural producers affected by natural disasters in 2018 and 2019, including Hurricane Dorian, can apply for assistance through the Wildfire and Hurricane Indemnity Program Plus (WHIP+). Signup for this U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) program will begin Sept. 11, 2019.
“U.S. agriculture has been dealt a hefty blow by extreme weather over the last several years, and 2019 is no exception,” said U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue. “The scope of this year’s prevented planting alone is devastating, and although these disaster program benefits will not make producers whole, we hope the assistance will ease some of the financial strain farmers, ranchers and their families are experiencing. President Trump has the backs of our farmers, and we are working to support America’s great patriot farmers.”
More than $3 billion is available through the disaster relief package passed by Congress and signed by President Trump in early June. WHIP+ builds on the successes of its predecessor program the 2017 Wildfire and Hurricane Indemnity Program (2017 WHIP) that was authorized by the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018. In addition, the relief package included new programs to cover losses for milk dumped or removed from the commercial market and losses of eligible farm stored commodities due to eligible disaster events in 2018 and 2019. Also, prevented planting supplemental disaster payments will provide support to producers who were prevented from planting eligible crops for the 2019 crop year.
WHIP+ will be available for eligible producers who have suffered eligible losses of certain crops, trees, bushes or vines in counties with a Presidential Emergency Disaster Declaration or a Secretarial Disaster Designation (primary counties only). Disaster losses must have been a result of hurricanes, floods, tornadoes, typhoons, volcanic activity, snowstorms or wildfires that occurred in 2018 or 2019. Also, producers in counties that did not received a disaster declaration or designation may still apply for WHIP+ but must provide supporting documentation to establish that the crops were directly affected by a qualifying disaster loss. 
A list of counties that received qualifying disaster declarations and designations is available at  Because grazing and livestock losses, other than milk losses, are covered by other disaster recovery programs offered through USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA), those losses are not eligible for WHIP+.
General Eligibility and Payment Limitations
WHIP+ is only designed to provide assistance for production losses, however, if quality was taken into consideration under federal crop insurance or the Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program (NAP) policy, where production was further adjusted, the adjusted production will be used in calculating assistance under this program.
Eligible crops include those for which federal crop insurance or NAP coverage is available, excluding crops intended for grazing. A list of crops covered by crop insurance is available through USDA’s Risk Management Agency (RMA) Actuarial Information Browser at
Eligibility will be determined for each producer based on the size of the loss and the level of insurance coverage elected by the producer. A WHIP+ factor will be determined for each crop based on a producer’s coverage level. Producers who elected higher coverage levels will receive a higher WHIP+ factor.
The WHIP+ payment factor ranges from 75 percent to 95 percent, depending on the level of crop insurance coverage or NAP coverage that a producer obtained for the crop. Producers who did not insure their crops in 2018 or 2019 will receive 70 percent of the expected value of the crop. Insured crops (either crop insurance or NAP coverage) will receive between 75 percent and 95 percent of expected value; those who purchased the highest levels of coverage will receive 95-percent of the expected value.
Once signup begins, a producer will be asked to provide verifiable and reliable production records. If a producer is unable to provide production records, WHIP+ payments will be determined based on the lower of either the actual loss certified by the producer and determined acceptable by FSA or the county expected yield and county disaster yield. The county disaster yield is the production that a producer would have been expected to make based on the eligible disaster conditions in the county.
WHIP+ payments for 2018 disasters will be eligible for 100 percent of their calculated value. WHIP+ payments for 2019 disasters will be limited to an initial 50 percent of their calculated value, with an opportunity to receive up to the remaining 50 percent after January 1, 2020, if sufficient funding remains.
WHIP+ benefits will be subject to a payment limitation of either $125,000 or $250,000 per crop year, depending upon their verified average adjusted gross income. As under 2017 WHIP, the payment limitation for WHIP+ factors in the person’s or legal entity’s income from activities related to farming, ranching, or forestry.  Specifically, a person or legal entity, other than a joint venture or general partnership, cannot receive more than $125,000 in payments under WHIP+, if their average adjusted gross farm income is less than 75 percent of their average adjusted gross income (AGI) for 2015, 2016, and 2017.  The $125,000 payment limitation is single total combined limitation for payments for the 2018, 2019, and 2020 crop years.  However, if at least 75 percent of the person or legal entity’s average AGI is derived from farming, ranching, or forestry related activities and the participant provides the required certification and documentation, the person or legal entity, other than a joint venture or general partnership, is eligible to receive, directly or indirectly, up to $250,000 per crop year in WHIP+ payments, with a total combined limitation for payments for the 2018, 2019, and 2020 crop years of $500,000.  The relevant tax years for establishing a producer’s AGI and percentage derived from farming, ranching, or forestry related activities for WHIP+ are 2015, 2016, and 2017. For information regarding the payment limitation that applies to WHIP+, please contact your local USDA service center or visit
Future Insurance Coverage Requirements
Both insured and uninsured producers are eligible to apply for WHIP+. But all producers receiving WHIP+ payments will be required to purchase crop insurance or NAP, at the 60 percent coverage level or higher, for the next two available, consecutive crop years after the crop year for which WHIP+ payments were paid. Producers who fail to purchase crop insurance for the next two applicable, consecutive years will be required to pay back the WHIP+ payment.
Additional Loss Coverage
The Milk Loss Program will provide payments to eligible dairy operations for milk that was dumped or removed without compensation from the commercial milk market because of a qualifying 2018 and 2019 natural disaster. Producers who suffered losses of harvested commodities, including hay, stored in on-farm structures in 2018 and 2019 will receive assistance through the On-Farm Storage Loss Program.
Additionally, the disaster relief measure expanded coverage of the 2017 WHIP to include losses from Tropical Storm Cindy, and peach and blueberry crop losses that resulted from extreme cold.
Enhanced Assistance Through Tree Assistance Program (TAP)
TAP traditionally provides cost-share for replanting and rehabilitating eligible trees. WHIP+ will provide payments based on the loss of value of the tree, bush or vine itself. Therefore, eligible producers may receive both a TAP and a 2017 WHIP or WHIP+ payment for the same acreage.
In addition, TAP policy has been updated to assist eligible orchardists or nursery tree growers of pecan trees with a tree mortality rate that exceeds 7.5 percent (adjusted for normal mortality) but is less than 15 percent (adjusted for normal mortality) for losses incurred during 2018. 
Prevented Planting
Agricultural producers faced significant challenges planting crops in 2019 in many parts of the country. All producers with flooding or excess moisture-related prevented planting insurance claims in calendar year 2019 will receive a prevented planting supplemental disaster (“bonus”) payment equal to 10 percent of their prevented planting indemnity, plus an additional 5 percent will be provided to those who purchased harvest price option coverage.
As under 2017 WHIP, WHIP+ will provide prevented planting assistance to uninsured producers, NAP producers and producers who may have been prevented from planting an insured crop in the 2018 crop year and those 2019 crops that had a final planting date prior to January 1, 2019.
Other USDA Disaster Recovery Assistance
When major disasters strike, USDA has an emergency loan program that provides eligible farmers low-interest loans to help them recover from production and physical losses.
Livestock owners and contract growers who experience above normal livestock deaths because of specific weather events, as well as from disease or animal attacks, may qualify for assistance under USDA’s Livestock Indemnity Program. Producers who suffer losses to or are prevented from planting agricultural commodities not covered by federal crop insurance may be eligible for assistance under USDA’s Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program if the losses were from natural disasters.
USDA’s Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees and Farm-Raised Fish Program provides payments to producers of these commodities to help compensate for losses because of diseases (including cattle tick fever) and adverse weather or other conditions, such as blizzards and wildfires, that are not covered by other disaster programs.
USDA also provides financial resources through its Environmental Quality Incentives Program for immediate needs and long-term support to help recover from natural disasters and conserve water resources. Additionally, the Emergency Watershed Protection Program helps local communities immediately begin relieving imminent hazards to life and property caused by floods.  In addition, the Emergency Conservation Program provides funding and technical assistance for farmers and ranchers to rehabilitate farmland damaged by natural disasters and help put in place methods for water conservation during severe drought. 
For more information on FSA disaster assistance programs, please contact your local USDA service center or visit For all available USDA disaster assistance programs, go to USDA’s disaster resources website.