May 2012

Life Outside the City Limits

Collage of May Images

2012- The Year of Herbs
By Sarah Browning, UNL Extension Horticulture Educator

Image of SafeEach year the National Garden Bureau selects a flower, perennial and vegetable to showcase, with plants being chosen for their popularity, variety, ease of growth, wide adaptability and versatility. This year the "vegetable" chosen are herbs, which provide us with great scents, tastes and ornamental features. Herbs contribute to our lives everyday, such as mint in toothpaste, lavender in shampoo, tea and coffee. Defining exactly what is an herb can be difficult, but Holly Shimizu, director of the U.S. Botanic Garden defines them as "plants (trees, shrubs, vines, perennials, biennials or annuals) valued historically, presently, or potentially for their flavor, fragrance, medicinal qualities, insecticidal qualities, economic or industrial use, or in the case of dyes, for the coloring material they provide." Identifying herbs by their usefulness, instead of their appearance or botanical classification, means that trees like witch hazel and coffee, bulbs like onion and garlic, perennials like lavender, and annuals like basil, are all considered herbs.

Many culinary herbs are easy to grow, and provide such good flavor that the amount of salt required in dishes can reduced, and that's good for everyone's health! Popular fresh herbs for the home garden include basil, chives (common chives and garlic chives), cilantro, dill, mint and parsley. Herbs such as French tarragon (Artemesia dracunculus), oregano, rosemary, thyme (Thymus serpyllums is a common culinary thyme), sage and winter savory are satisfactory in both fresh and dried forms.

Plant herbs outdoors after the last day of frost in the spring to avoid losing plants to a late freeze. Typically that's approximately April 24th in the Lincoln area. If you've never planted herbs before, purchasing transplants can give you a quick start. When selecting herbs, be sure those you choose are meant for culinary uses. There are ornamental herbs, which often don't have as much flavor as the culinary types since they have been developed primarily for visual appeal.

In general, herbs require full sun and well-drained soil although individual requirements vary. For example, lavender and rosemary do best in very well-drained, gravelly soil. Do a little research before visiting your local garden center, and make sure the garden space you have available is suitable for the herbs you want to grow.

Many herbs are also suitable for container gardening as well as planting in a ground bed. Container gardening is an especially good option if you're limited on space. Place a few large containers near your backdoor, for an instant kitchen garden.

Be aware that some herbs can be thugs in the garden, spreading themselves riotously and becoming very difficult to control. One of the most notorious is mint. To keep mint controlled, plant it in a container at least 12 inches wide and deep (about a one- or two- gallon size container) without holes. Inexpensive plastic containers without holes are available at most nurseries or lawn and garden centers. Bury the container in the ground so an inch of the container is above ground level. This will contain the plant so it can't creep out the top or the bottom and will prevent it from spreading throughout the garden. You may need to water these plants more than other herbs that are planted normally and can send their roots farther into the ground.

Another herb that can easily become a nuisance is garlic chives. These plants reseed themselves with abandon, so be sure to cut off the fading flowers before they shatter and disperse seeds throughout your garden.

For more information on this year's featured plants, visit the National Garden Bureau.





May brings mayflowers and possibly a final frost. Our shows for the month will give you ideas about raising goats, container gardening, and graywater reuse. Enjoy!

Sara Ellicott, University of Nebraska Extension, explains that meat goats may be just the critter to raise on your acreage.


Container gardening beautifies a doorstep or garden area. Nicole Stoner, UNL Extension, gives us some ideas to explore.


Sharon Skipton, UNL Extension, explains that reusing graywater to irrigate a yard is possible, but probably pretty expensive if done correctly to protect human health and the environment.

Lilac Pests to Control in May
By Kelly Feehan, UNL Extension Horticulture Educator

May is the month for lilacs. These old fashioned favorites are in full bloom emitting their distinct scent. Just after blooming is a good time to prune lilacs and May is typically the time to control two common insect pests of lilacs.

Ash-lilac borer and oystershell scale have been causing dieback in lilacs in recent years. If a shrub has a number of dead stems and branches, inspect it for signs of these insects. If signs of either insect is found, control measures can be taken in May. This year, earlier may be better than later.

Ash-Lilac Borer
If borers are present, damage may be seen near the base of lilac stems as oval-shaped holes. Stems may break off easily if heavily infested. Ash-lilac borers overwinter in the pupae stage inside branches. In May and June, adults emerge to mate and lay eggs near the base of lilac and privet stems. They also attack ash trees.

Adults are clear-winged, day-flying moths. They resemble a wasp with red-brown wings and yellow bands across their bodies. After hatching, young caterpillars bore through the bark and into wood. Feeding in lilac and privet may cause leaves to wilt on infested branches as water movement is restricted.

Ash trees can tolerate much more injury by these borers. However, repeated infestations will weaken ash trees and make them more susceptible to other borers or diseases.

Infested stems in lilac and privet need to be pruned to the ground, removed and destroyed to reduce this borer. Annual pruning will also improve a shrubs appearance.

If insecticides are selected as a control measure, the first application is usually made around May 10 and a second three weeks later. Products containing Permethrin are recommended for homeowners to apply. Again, this year an earlier application may be needed.

Image of Oystershell ScaleOystershell Scale
Oystershell scale will also cause individual stems to die. On close inspection, scales can be seen attached to branch surfaces. Young oystershell scales are bronze in color and look like long, flat oystershells. Older scales are grayish.

Check lilacs now for oystershell scale. This insect overwinters in the egg stage beneath old scales and hatching usually begins around mid-May. Just after egg hatch, is the time to control scale insects.

Newly hatched crawlers appear as yellowish specks on new growth or on a piece of dark colored paper if a branch is tapped over the paper. Black tape can be loosely wrapped near the top of infested branches with the sticky side facing out. As scales hatch and move to younger growth, they stick to the tape.

Pruning and destroying infested branches will reduce scale insects. Horticultural oils or insecticidal soaps can be effective organic controls. Insecticides recommended for homeowner use are acephate or malathion.

Insecticides, organic or chemical, are most effective when scales are in the crawler stage. Once crawlers attach to a branch and grow a protective scale, insecticides become less effective. Make the first application when crawlers are present, usually starting in late May, and repeat in 7 to 10 days. Again, this timing is likely to be earlier this year.

There can be a second generation of scale in August. Monitor infested shrubs during this time for signs of crawlers and apply insecticides if needed.

Source: Insect Borers of Shade Trees and Ornamental Shrubs. UNL EC 1580




Leafy Spurge Management
By Brent Meyer, Lancaster County Weed Superintendent

Image of leafy spurgeWith the warm weather we've had leafy spurge is about 4 to 6 weeks earlier than normal. While most landowners are familiar with the noxious thistles in the area, most are not aware of the potential problems they face with leafy spurge. Because it is a soft leafed plant that doesn't poke you, most don't realize it is a noxious weed and required by law to be controlled by the landowner.

Leafy spurge (Euphorbia esula L.) is a perennial plant ranging in size from 1 to 3 feet in height. A native of Europe and Asia, leafy spurge emerges early in the spring and gets a head start on other vegetation in a race for space, sunlight, nutrients and water. Prolific seed production and an extensive root system give the plant a huge competitive advantage and make consistent, long-term control difficult. Deep roots - which can exceed 20 feet in depth - store reserves of nutrients to see the plant through hard times, while lateral roots form a network that enable it to rapidly reproduce and spread. And, perhaps worst of all, leafy spurge is highly adaptable and can thrive in a variety of conditions and situations.

Monitoring of areas with known or potential leafy spurge infestations is critical; adequate control is possible if management procedures are implemented in the early stages of infestation, before the root system gets fully established. 100% eradication of spurge is rarely achieved, but infestations can be reduced to manageable levels with the use of herbicides.

The control of well-established leafy spurge stands must be considered a long-term management program. A landowner must develop a persistent annual program that will prevent the spread of larger stands, eliminate smaller infestations, and prevent the spread of leafy spurge to uninfested areas. The extensive leafy spurge root system allows the plant to regrow from depths of 15 feet or more for several years. No single treatment will eradicate this weed. A consistent annual treatment program can provide long-term control. Do not skip a year, leafy spurge reinfests rapidly and in a very short time you will have lost any benefits from previous treatments. This is a common and costly mistake. Once you have achieved a high level of control, remaining isolated patches can be spot-treated, resulting in a less costly control program. Be vigilant in your spray program. Environmental conditions that favor leafy spurge can result in a resurgence of the weed and require you to resume a more aggressive control approach.

Chemical Control
The key to controlling leafy spurge is early detection and treatment of the initial invading plant. Because the weed is difficult to eradicate, a persistent management program is needed to control top growth and to gradually reduce the nutrient reserve in the root system. A key identifying factor is the latex sap that run's throughout the entire plant. If you aren't sure it's leafy spurge, break the plant apart and the sap will immediately appear. Follow the control recommendations in the University of Nebraska's EC130 Guide for Weed Management.

Image of milky stem sap in leafy spurgeMechanical Control and Grazing
Tillage, digging, mowing and grazing with sheep or goats will control the top growth but does not kill the roots. Cattle will NOT graze on leafy spurge. Even with continuous tillage, the top growth may not be seen but when tillage is stopped the leafy spurge reappears.

Contact Information
We need everyone's help, so if you would like more information on leafy spurge or would like to report an infestation contact the Lancaster County Weed Control Office, or your local County Weed Control Superintendant.  Email: or phone 402-441-7817.




Rural Homeowners May Need To Control Hoppers
By Jim Schild, UNL Extension Horticulture Educator

Image of differential grasshopperRural homeowners who remember grasshoppers devouring their gardens last year, or causing other problems, are likely to experience hopper issues again this year, according to University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension Educator Jim Schild.

Their best line of defense, Schild said, is spraying perimeter areas surrounding the "green zones" around homes while the pests are still young.

Grasshopper infestations are most likely at rural acreages or farmsteads surrounded by grassy areas where hoppers laid eggs last year, Schild said. "We suspect that with the dry conditions that the survival rates of those eggs will probably be strong, and the potential for high numbers is looking more favorable with the dry conditions."

"As rangeland dries up the grasshoppers will key on green areas, and farmsteads and rural acreages are prime targets for grasshopper invasion. The best option is if you have control of surrounding areas to spray some of the rangeland before it totally goes dormant, to control hopper numbers in that area."

Schild said the key is controlling grasshoppers when they're young and small, before they are fully developed: "When you see them small, that's the time to treat."

Control methods depend on the area sprayed, according to Schild. For trees and ornamentals, a number of systemic insecticides have been labeled for use. But repeated applications will likely be necessary.

"With vegetable gardens, chemical control is pretty limited since we're also eating the products that grasshoppers are eating," he said. Systemic insecticides are not an option, so contact insecticides must be used. They are generally not as effective as systemic products, so Schild said applying Sevin bait around the perimeter of a garden may be another option.

A non-chemical means of control is keeping chickens or other fowl that will go after grasshoppers.
In any event, Schild said homeowners should keep safety in mind. Those who have chickens should avoid using chemicals nearby. And when using chemicals, always read and follow label instructions.

People who live in towns and villages aren't likely to have as severe grasshopper problems as rural residents. But Schild said spraying gardens also is an option for them.




Common Weeds in the Home Lawn
By Nicole Stoner, UNL Extension Horticulture Educator

There are many different types of weeds that seem to infest our lawns each spring and summer. Some of these can be a real nuisance to get rid of. No matter how difficult a weed is to get rid of, or how easy, they are still something that we all desperately work all spring and summer to control, sometimes with minimal success.

Nutsedge is a horrible weed in some lawns. It is a sedge, which is similar to a grass but it has triangular shaped stems. Nutsedge is typically found in areas of the lawn that are poorly drained and it tends to spread from that original location. Nutsedge is easy to find in lawns because it grows faster than the turf, so it will stand taller than the grass a few days after mowing, and it is a lighter green color than traditional grasses.

Usually nutsedge becomes a problem in lawns in the summer, usually in May and June but it is early this year. Control for nutsedge can be done with a product called Sedgehammer. Typically this is recommended for use in June prior to the summer solstice, June 21st, to reduce the amount of tubers that are formed. However, this year, since it germinated so soon, we are recommending that it should be applied anytime now and then again in June just prior to the summer solstice.

Image of yellow nutsedge

Image of triangular stem of yellow nutsedge

Dandelions are another pesky weed that most people are familiar with. This is the broadleaved plant that blooms yellow in the early spring and turns to white seedheads later in the spring. Best control will be achieved if you spray broadleaf weeds in the fall with two to three applications during the September and October time frame. Control can also be done during the spring of the year, but the herbicides do not move as well throughout the plant and therefore don't lead to as good of control. Either time of the year when you treat for dandelions, you can use general broadleaf controls such as 2,4-D, MCPP, and Dicamba. Combination products give better control than a single chemical alone.

Image of dandelions

Image of ground ivy Creeping Charlie or Ground Ivy is a very horrible weed. It is very hard to control. Creeping Charlie is a perennial broadleaf weed, meaning that it comes back every year. This plant is the one that has scalloped leaves, like a seashell, and has a small purple flower. It also has square stems and smells like mint when you mow over it because it is a member of the mint family. This weed is also best controlled in the fall with 2 or 3 applications in September and October. For a homeowner, broadleaf herbicides containing Triclopyr as the active ingredient will have the best control on this weed. One application will not kill the weed. This is also a weed that takes several years to fully control.


Crabgrass is a troublesome weed that is found in almost all yards every year. Most people control crabgrass with a preemergent herbicide in combination with their first fertilizer treatment of the spring.  A crabgrass preemergent application will also control many other grassy weeds, including annual bluegrass, foxtail, goosegrass, and others. Crabgrass preemergent herbicides need to be applied before the crabgrass germinates in the spring, which is when the soil temperatures have reached 55-60 degrees Fahrenheit for three or more days. This year crabgrass germinated quite early. Preemergent controls were needed in mid-March for good control. At this point you can use herbicides containing Dithiopyr for some post and some preemergent control for crabgrass if you haven't applied anything this year.




What Is A Drilled Well?
By Sharon Skipton, UNL Extension Water Quality Educator

Image of well drillToday, most drinking water wells in Nebraska are drilled. A drilled well that meets Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services regulations can help provide protection to the water source while meeting your daily water needs.

To install a drilled well, a hole is first bored into the ground using a drilling rig with special bits to penetrate soil and rock. Hopefully, a water-bearing zone will be found in the soil profile. A water-tight casing is installed in the upper part of the borehole. The casing prevents the collapse of the borehole walls and helps prevent surface contaminants from entering the water supply. The casing also provides a housing for a pumping mechanism and for the pipe that moves water from the pump to the surface. The annular space (the space between the outside of the casing and the borehole wall) is filled with grout. The water-tight grout prevents surface contaminants from running down the annular space into the water supply.

Image of well drill bitThe intake through which water enters the well is in the lower portion of the borehole. It consists of a screen attached to the bottom of the casing, or slits in the casing itself. The borehole around the screen is packed with gravel to allow water to flow into the well screen and the water well.

Once the well is completed, it is bailed or pumped to develop the well and determine the yield. After proper disinfection, the well is capped to provide sanitary protection. A well cap has an air vent to equalize the air pressure between the inside of the casing and the atmosphere. The vent must be shielded and screened to prevent foreign material such as insects from entering and possibly contaminating the well.

Adapted from an article by the National Ground Water Association.




Nebraska Grape and Winery Board Seeks Grant Proposals

Image of grapevinesThe Nebraska Grape and Winery Board is seeking grant proposals from individual growers, farm wineries, organizations, industry groups, or academic institutions that aim to assist in the betterment of Nebraska's grape and wine industry. The Board's goal is to fund meaningful projects that have the highest likelihood of significant, positive impact on grape and wine production in Nebraska.

Grant proposals will be considered on a competitive basis. Interested parties wishing to receive funds must submit a detailed proposal for review and approval by the Nebraska Grape and Winery Board. Proposals must clearly explain how the money will be used and how it will enhance the competitiveness of Nebraska's grape and wine industry. The Board anticipates funding proposals during the upcoming fiscal year (July 1, 2012 - June 30, 2013). Funding for projects will be subject to the availability of funds.

Applications can be submitted electronically on or before Monday, May 14, 2012, to Applications submitted by U.S. Mail must be postmarked on or before Saturday, May 12, 2012, and sent to Ruth C. Anderson, 1011 Road O, York, Nebraska 68467.

Eligible projects must enhance the competitiveness of Nebraska's grapes and wines and may focus on research, promotion, marketing, trade enhancement, education, "buy local" programs, improved efficiency and reduced costs of distribution systems, product development, developing cooperatives, and other opportunities. Proposals should be initiated by individual growers, farm wineries, organizations, industry groups or academic institutions, or should involve collaboration or partnerships between producers, industry groups, academics, or other organizations. Grant proposals must show how the project will benefit the entire grape and wine industry, and not a particular business venture. Any and all outcomes and records, resulting from a funded project, must be available for examination upon request by members of the public. Two - five year project proposals will be considered, subject to annual review and re-authorization.

Grant proposal guidelines and application information can be found at For more information, contact Casey Foster at the Nebraska Department of Agriculture at 800-422-6692 or Ruth C. Anderson, Nebraska Grape and Winery Board Services Contractor at



National Women's Health Week Encourages Simple Steps to a Healthier Life
By Lisa Franzen-Castle, UNL Extension Nutrition Specialist

Image of women exercising in poolEach May the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Office of Women's Health coordinates a weeklong national observance for women. The purpose of this observance is to encourage women to make their health a top priority. Most often women are the caregivers for their children, spouses, and parents and tend to let their health issues go by the wayside.

However, research has demonstrated that when women take care of themselves, their family's health also gets better. National Women's Health Week begins on Mother's Day, May 13, 2012 and ends on May 19, 2012. The theme for this year is "It's Your Time," and the initiative encourages women to take simple steps for a healthier, longer, and happier life.

Simple steps to improve the quality of your health include:

  • Staying active: Adults should get at least 2 hours and 30 minutes (150 minutes) of moderate-intensity aerobic activity (i.e., brisk walking) every week and muscle-strengthening activities on 2 or more days a week that work all major muscle groups. 150 minutes may sound like a lot, but you don't have to do it all at once. You can spread it out over the week and can break it up into smaller bouts (at least ten minutes) throughout the day. Check out for information and tips on being active.
  • Eating smart: Eating right doesn't have to be complicated, start with the basics. A healthy eating plan emphasizes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat or fat-free dairy and includes lean meats, poultry, fish, beans and nuts. It is also low in saturated fats, trans-fats, cholesterol, salt and added sugars. Check out for more nutrition information and tips for healthy eating.
  • Getting regular check-ups: Scheduling medical appointments when you're feeling fine may seem like a waste of your time. But the old saying 'prevention is better than cure' is very true. Regular medical check-ups will pick up any potential problems, allowing you to take steps in either preventing them or beginning early treatment. Check the guidelines to find out about important screening tests for women.
  • Tossing tobacco: Did you know that cigarette smokers are two-to-three times more likely to die from coronary heart disease than non-smokers? Don't waste time when it comes to quitting smoking. Within a few years of quitting your risk of stroke and coronary artery disease are similar to non-smokers. Visit for an on-line quit guide, tools to help you quit, free resources, and learn about the many benefits of quitting.
  • Focusing on mental health: It is important to keep up your mental health by managing stress and getting enough rest. Set aside time to relax in your daily schedule. Do something you enjoy every day, whether it is playing the piano, going for a walk, calling a good friend, or reading a book. With regards to sleep, the Harvard Women's Health Watch suggests that scrimping on sleep can negatively impact learning and memory capabilities, metabolism and weight, safety, your mood, cardiovascular health, and impair immune function. Go to for more information on the importance of sleep and health.

During National Women's Health Week it is important for women to recognize that their health is important and not only impacts them in a significant way, but also those around them. Take time to encourage the women in your life, whether it is a wife, daughter, grandmother, aunt or friend, to make their health and well being a priority. Check out for more information on activity planning resources, health resources, to join the challenge, and take a pledge to sign up for National Women's Checkup Day.




Nebraska 4-H Extension Receives Improving Teacher Quality Grant
by Bradley Barker, UNL Extension Science & Technology Specialist

Nebraska Blast! Logo ImageNebraska 4-H Extension, UNL's Department of Mechanical & Materials Engineering, Nebraska Department of Education, Nebraska NASA Space Grant Consortium, and the University of Nebraska at Omaha are teaming up to provide four science, technology, engineering and mathmatics (STEM) based workshops (Earth and Space Science, Robotic Engineering, Aeronautics and Aviation and High Altitude Ballooning) that will be delivered to teachers during the summer of 2012 through the Nebraska Blast! program.

The goal of Nebraska BLAST! is to help teachers and afterschool educators serving students in out-of-school time, who participate in Nebraska BLAST! related professional development opportunities, to increase both confidence and competence in teaching STEM subjects. For teachers seeking graduate credits, UNO will offer an opportunity to enroll in graduate credit for each theme. It is expected that teachers will implement their newly acquired skills and knowledge in their classrooms as well as in the after school programs. Through the grant, teachers are encouraged to work closely with after school staff to implement the STEM-based activities.

"The Nebraska Blast! project is unique in that it specifically targets teachers that work with youth in underserved and underrepresented Nebraska populations. Research shows that these populations are also underrepresented in STEM careers fields." said Bradley Barker, Associate Professor with 4-H Extension.

This program is intended for certified teachers (school day and afterschool), 21st CCLC project directors, site coordinators, and other afterschool staff. All are invited to attend two days of summer training delivered by Nebraska BLAST! educators from NASA, NASA Nebraska Space Grant, and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension. Certified teachers from the classroom and from the out of school time learning environments who participate in Nebraska BLAST! professional development opportunities, will have a deeper level of knowledge in a particular STEM concept area (earth and space science, robotics engineering, aeronautics and high-altitude ballooning) and will be competent in the specialized teaching methods needed for the delivery of effective STEM content. Research has identified that teachers are the single most important factor in preparing and inspiring youth in STEM (PCAST, 2010). According to the National Research Council (2010), there are strong indicators that a teacher's knowledge and skills impact student achievement. Highly successful teachers have been shown to possess a deep understanding of STEM content enabling them to provide thoughtful explanations to students. Teachers with a deep understanding of STEM content can better provide an inquiry-based learning environment that encourages students to develop strong critical thinking skills.

Each year, the Coordinating Commission awards Improving Teacher Quality State Grants to Nebraska's innovative leaders in education. Grants are not awarded to individuals, but to partnerships formed by local, high-need educational agencies and a Nebraska college or university. These partnerships design and produce professional development activities to improve the skills of teachers, paraprofessionals, and principals. To receive a high-quality education, a student must have a capable teacher; that is why the federal government created the Improving Teacher Quality State Grants.

Registration for these trainings is available online. For more information about this project, contact Kim Larson, Coordinator of Professional Development 21st Century Community Learning Centers Program by email at or by phone at 402-471-4824.

The grant is led by Drs. Bradley Barker Associate Professor with 4-H Extension, Carl Nelson, Associate Professor in the Department of Mechanical & Materials Engineering, Neal Grandgenett, Dr. George and Sally Haddix Community Chair of STEM Education in the Teachers Education Department at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, and Mrs. Kim Larson, Coordinator of Professional Development 21st Century Community Learning Centers Program at the Nebraska Department of Education, and Mrs. Michaela Lucas, Associate Director of the NASA Nebraska Space Grant. Funding for the program was awarded through the Improving Teacher Quality States Grants provided by the U.S. department of Education and coordinated through the Nebraska Coordinating Commission for Secondary Education.




Lean Finely Textured Beef: Separating Facts From Fiction
Lindsay Chichester, UNL Extension Livestock Educator,
and Kellie Chichester, University of Wyoming Extension Educator

Image of beef cattleLean Finely Textured Beef (LFTB) came to the forefront when media outlets caused mass hysteria by reporting "pink slime" was being used in hamburger or any ground meat product. "Pink slime" was a moniker used by former USDA employee Gerald Zirnstein in an internal memo and was not meant to cause a global sensation. Consumers were quick to judge and condemn this product before they knew anything about it. Many media outlets and personalities added fuel to the fire, often sharing half-truths.

Beef Products Inc. (BPI) created the technique of mechanically removing all meat protein from beef animal trimmings. To do this by hand would be very time-consuming and expensive. This technique takes relatively high-fat beef trimmings, combines them with low-temperature rendering and centrifugation which softens/melts the fat and separates it from the lean. Lean Finely Textured Beef is approximately 94-percent lean (6 percent fat).

The pink color comes from the presence of myoglobin, which is the protein responsible for the color of meat. The product may appear "slimy," which is to be expected, as it is primarily water and protein with some fat. This is very similar to yogurt, sour cream, and even oatmeal. This technology was first used in the poultry industry and then in red meats.

Lean Finely Textured Beef is treated with a small amount of ammonium hydroxide (a gas that quickly dissipates), which is added to maintain proper pH and eliminate bacterial growth - making the product safer!

Ammonium hydroxide is ammonia (NH3) and water, which is food grade (safe for human consumption) and was declared safe by the Food and Drug Administration in 1974. Ammonium hydroxide is common and naturally found in the environment - in soil, air, and water, as well as in all plants, animals, and humans. Ammonia is a source of nitrogen - an essential element for plants and animals. In the human body, beneficial bacteria live in our intestines and produce ammonia. In addition, ammonia helps maintain the body's pH balance.

Did you know many of the foods we consume daily have more parts per million (ppm) ammonia than what is put into LFTB? Ground beef: 101 ppm; grapefruit: 166 ppm; gelatin: 342 ppm; ketchup: 352 ppm; peanut butter: 489 ppm; beer cheese: 917 ppm; and domestic blue cheese: 1,389 ppm. In addition, ammonium hydroxide is also found in baked goods, chocolate, and pudding. Since ammonium hydroxide is used in the production of each of these foods as a processing aid and not as an ingredient, it is not labeled on any of these food items.

There has been much discussion over the labeling of ammonium hydroxide in LFTB. Lean Finely Textured Beef has never been labeled in the past because it is just beef - plain and simple. In early April 2012, there were reports of several companies that plan to voluntarily label beef products containing LFTB. Aaron Lavallee, communications coordinator for USDA's Food and Nutrition Service, reported that processors may soon incorporate labels into their packaging. Further, a USDA news release says packages could be approved to contain wording such as:

  • Contains Lean Finely Textured Beef
  • Contains Finely Textured Beef
  • Contains Lean Beef Derived from Beef Trimmings

The elimination of LFTB from the food supply would have far-reaching impacts, economical concerns, and does nothing to sooth unemployment concerns. More than 1.5 million additional beef animals would need to be raised to replace the amount of meat that would be lost by not using LFTB. This could be problematic with concerns over the nation's shrinking cowherd. Approximately 8 to 9 percent of all ground beef products come from LFTB. To replace that amount of LFTB, the U.S. would have to import an additional 50 percent more cattle. In addition, without the use of LFTB in the food system, consumers will see a rise in the price of ground beef; either more beef will have to be imported or more lean beef will have to be ground from the chuck and round, thus impacting the new value added cuts developed by industry. Finally as news of "pink slime" hit the airwaves, operations were temporarily shut down at three plants: Garden City, KS; Amarillo, TX; and Waterloo, IA - which impacts approximately 650 persons. Time and product demand will determine if these persons will be able to return to their jobs, or if they will have to seek employment somewhere else.

All consumers have the right to know what is in their food and how their food is processed. Often being able to separate the facts from the fiction is challenging, especially in this day with so much information available online. As a consumer, remember to get your facts from reliable sources that have science and research to back them up; or call your local Extension Office which can help answer questions or point you in the right direction. Misrepresentation of facts leads to hysteria and a damaged industry that could take decades to recover from the ill effects of a misnomer of a safe and edible food product.




Meat Goat Video Resources
By Sara Ellicott, UNL Extension Livestock Educator

Image of GoatMeat Goats are still considered a relatively new enterprise in Nebraska. While some producers have been at this awhile, there are still others who are new to meat goat production, or even other acreage owners who may be considering it. Why don't we take a look at eXtension (pronounced e-extension, found at This site can provide some great resources for those with an interest.

What is eXtension?
eXtension is an interactive learning environment delivering the best, most researched knowledge from the smartest land-grant university minds across America. eXtension is unlike any other search engine or information-based website. It's a space where university content providers can gather and produce new educational and information resources on wide-ranging topics.

If watching a video to learn how to do something suits you, then this list may be of great benefit.

Goat Videos and Resources
There are some great video resources on this website, plus many, many Extension publications to review. Here is a list of the videos currently available:

Animal Behavior
Animal Behavior

Kid Management
Bottle Feeding a Goat Kid
Tube Feeding a Goat Kid
Hand Milking a Doe with Udder Problems

Goat Basic Hoof Care
Body Condition Scoring
Making Money with Meat Goats
Mortality Composting

Selling and Raising Meat Goats

Predator Control
Problem with Coyotes

There are also numerous publications to browse. You can search for a specific word or topic, view publications or "ask an expert". You can send an expert your question, and then receive a timely response to the question.

There are many ways to find information on the internet, but this site provides non-biased, research based information from Extension systems across the nation. If you have an interest in learning how to improve your meat goat enterprise, or how to get one started, there are a lot of great resources to start the process.




Fire Prevention Header Image
Creating a Fire-Safe Landscape
By Bob Vogltance, Nebraska Forest Service Fire Prevention Resource Manager

To create a fire-safe landscape, remember the primary goal is fuel reduction.  Zone 1 is the closest to the structure; Zones 2-4 move progressively further away.

Zone 1: This well-irrigated area encircles the structure for at least 30 feet on all sides, providing space for fire suppression equipment in the event of an emergency. Plantings should be limited to carefully spaced fire resistant species.

Zone 2: Fire resistant plant materials should be used here. Plants should be low-growing and the irrigation system should extend into this section.

Zone 3: Place low-growing plants and well-spaced trees in this area. Remember to keep the volume of vegetation (fuel) low.

Zone 4: This furthest zone from the structure is a natural area. Thin selectively here and remove highly flammable vegetation.


  • Leave a minimum of 30 feet around the house to accommodate fire equipment if necessary.
  • Carefully space trees you plant.
  • Take out the "ladder fuels"; vegetation that serves as a link between grass and tree tops. It can carry fire to a structure or from a structure to vegetation.
  • Give yourself added protection with fuel breaks such as driveways, gravel walkways and lawns.

When maintaining a landscape:

  • Keep trees and shrubs pruned.
  • Prune trees 6-10 feet from the ground.
  • Remove leaf clutter and dead or overhanging branches.
  • Dispose of cuttings and debris promptly aStore firewood away from the house.
  • Be sure the irrigation system is functioning properly.
  • Mow the lawn regularly.
  • Use care when refueling lawn and garden equipment. Maintain lawn equipment regularly.
  • Store and use flammable liquids properly.
  • Dispose of smoking materials carefully.
  • Become familiar with local regulations regarding vegetative clearances, disposal of debris and fire safety requirements for equipment.
  • Follow manufacturer instructions when using fertilizers and pesticides.

For more information, view the Fire Prevention Newsletter.