- Wood Ducks
- Understanding Honey Bees- Why Do Bees Swarm?
- Got Milk? June is National Dairy Month
- Pesticide Sensitive Crop Locator Now Part of Driftwatch
- Having Your Grass and Horses, Too
- Fly Control in the Poultry House
- Farm & Garden Workshops by Community CROPs
- Not All Thistles Are "Noxious"
- Nebraska Food Cooperative Connects Local Producers with Consumers
- Wildflowers Celebrated Statewide, June 2-10
- Protect Your Private Well From Stormwater Runoff
For a complete listing, visit the
Upcoming Events Calendar
- How to Start a Business, Norfolk, NE, Dec. 5
- Orchard Establishment & Management Workshop, South Sioux City, NE, Dec. 7
- Northern Grapes Project Webinar Series, Dec. 10
- Midwest Grape Growers Conference, St. Charles, MO, Jan. 4-6
- Nebraska Turf Conference, LaVista, NE, Jan. 7-9
- Great Plains Fruit & Vegetable Growers Conference, St. Joseph, MO, Jan. 9-11
- From Recipe to Reality, Lincoln, NE, Jan. 11
- Western Tree Care Workshop, McCook, NE, Jan. 14
- Western Tree Care Workshop, North Platte, NE, Jan. 15
- Great Plains Winter Conference, Lincoln, NE, Jan. 16-17
- 17th Annual Nebraska Winery and Grape Growers Forum and Trade Show, Kearney, NE, Feb. 27- March 1, 2014
By Jan Hygnstrom, UNL Acreage Team
The wood duck, Aix sponsa, is one of the most colorful waterfowl species you’ll find in Nebraska. The male has a shiny green head with white stripes, a chestnut breast, and tan sides. In spring, you may see them flying in search of nesting habitat. They nest along lakes, rivers, and vegetated wetlands in woodland areas. Like many animals, the largest threat to wood ducks is habitat loss. According to the NRCS, “By protecting and restoring floodplain timber, river oxbows and meanders, and other freshwater wetland and riparian habitats, landowners can assist in the continued success of wood ducks and other migratory waterfowl species that rely on similar habitats.”
Young ducklings feed on insects, aquatic invertebrates, small fish, and other high-protein animal material. After six weeks of age, their diet gradually switches to plants until eventually they eat about 90% plant material, consisting of aquatic plants including algae, watermeal, and duckweed.
Adult wood ducks have a more diverse diet, feeding on nuts and fruits, aquatic plants and seeds, and aquatic insects and other invertebrates. Insects and aquatic invertebrates with higher protein content are particularly important for adult hens when the lay eggs in the spring. Although wood ducks feed primarily in shallow water areas, they will feed on seeds, acorns, and nuts in forested areas.
Wood ducks are unusual in that they nest in natural tree cavities. They may even nest in abandoned woodpecker holes. Wood ducks prefer cavities in woodlands near rivers, ponds, and wetlands. The photo was taken by Arjan Haverkamp.
The Natural Resources Conservation Service has a 12-page pamphlet that includes plans for nest boxes.
Understanding Honey Bees- Why Do Bees Swarm?
By Marion Ellis, UNL Apiculture Specialist
What is a honey bee swarm?
Honey bee swarms are a favorite topic of people who make horror movies. Actually, they are one of the most beautiful and interesting phenomena in nature. A swarm starting to issue is a thrilling sight. A swarm may contain from 1,500 to 30,000 bees including, workers, drones, and a queen. Swarming is an instinctive part of the annual life cycle of a honey bee colony. It provides a mechanism for the colony to reproduce itself.
What makes a honey bee colony swarm?
Overcrowding and congestion in the nest are factors which predispose colonies to swarm. The presence of an old queen and a mild winter also contribute to the development of the swarming impulse. Swarming can be controlled by a skilled beekeeper; however, not all colonies live in hives and have a human caretaker.
When do honey bees swarm?
The tendency to swarm is usually greatest when bees increase their population rapidly in late spring and early summer. In Nebraska, this would be in May and June.
Are honey bee swarms dangerous?
No - honey bees exhibit defensive behavior only in the vicinity of their nest. Defensive behavior is needed to protect their young and food supply. A honey bee swarm has neither young nor food stores and will not exhibit defensive behavior unless unduly provoked.
What should homeowners do about a honey bee swarm on their property?
When honey bees swarm they will settle on a tree limb, bush, or other convenient site. The cohesiveness of the swarm is due to their attraction to a pheromone produced by the queen. The swarm will send out scout bees to seek a cavity to nest in and will move on when a suitable nesting site is found. Rarely, swarms may initiate comb construction in the open if a suitable cavity cannot be found. You may want to call a local beekeeper to see if he would like to collect the swarm. Contact your county extension office or the Nebraska Department of Agriculture for a list of beekeepers in your area.
How does a beekeeper go about capturing a swarm of honey bees?
A swarm is looking for a new nesting site. A beekeeper can capture a swarm by placing a suitable container, such as an empty beehive, on the ground below the swarm and dislodging the bees at the entrance to the hive. The bees will begin to move into the hive which can be removed several days later to the beekeeper's apiary. You can observe the bees scent-fanning at the entrance to signal the entrance to the new nest as the bees march into their new home. If for some reason the queen does not go into the new hive, the bees will abandon it and form a cluster where she lands.
What type of nesting sites will honey bees seek?
Honey bees are cavity nesters and will seek a cavity of at least 15 liters of storage space. Hollow trees are a preferred nesting sites. Occasionally, bees will nest in the hollow walls of buildings, under porches, and in other "man-made" sites if they can find an entrance to a suitable cavity.
What can be done if a honey bee swarm establishes itself in an undesirable place?
Honey bees are beneficial pollinators and should be left alone and appreciated unless their nest are in conflict with human activity. If honey bees nest in the walls of a home, they can be removed or killed if necessary; however, it is advisable to open the area and remove the honey and combs or rodents and insects will be attracted. Also, without bees to control the temperature, the wax may melt and honey drip from the combs. After removal, the cavity should be filled with foam insulation as the nest odor will be attractive to future swarms. You may want to seek the assistance of a professional beekeeper or exterminator. Nests should be removed promptly from problem sites. After several months, they may have stored a considerable amount of honey. You can prevent swarms from nesting in walls by preventive maintenance. Honey bees will not make an entrance to a nest. They look for an existing entrance, so periodic inspection and caulking is all that is necessary to prevent them from occupying spaces in walls.
Got Milk? June is National Dairy Month
By Lisa Franzen-Castle, UNL Extension Nutrition Specialist
Only 30 percent of Americans meet their recommended intake of calcium, and the U.S. Surgeon General’s office predicted that by 2020, half of all Americans older than 50 will be at risk for fractures from osteoporosis and low bone mass. June is National Dairy Month and dairy foods can help close the gap; they supply not only calcium, but also potassium, magnesium and vitamin A, nutrients that most Americans don’t get enough of. Current recommendations state that children 2 to 3 years old should get 2 cups of dairy foods daily, children 4 to 8 years old should get 2 ½ cups daily, and males and females 9 years and older should get 3 cups daily. This includes low-fat and fat-free milk, as well as cheese and yogurt, since these foods are also valuable and tasty sources of essential nutrients.
Tips for & benefits of getting 3 cups of dairy daily:
- Dairy and bone strength. About 85-90 percent of adult bone mass is acquired by age 18 in girls and 20 in boys. Building strong bones during childhood and adolescence can help prevent osteoporosis later in life.
- Healthy weight. Research supports that enjoying 3 cups of low-fat and fat-free milk, cheese or yogurt each day as part of a balanced diet may help maintain a healthy weight. At least forty-five observational studies exploring eating patterns and body weight found dairy foods played a positive role in healthy weight.
- Reduce chronic disease risk. Studies show dairy foods, when consumed as part of a healthy diet, improve overall diet quality and may help reduce the risk of osteoporosis, hypertension, obesity, colon cancer and metabolic syndrome.
- Lactose intolerance. If you avoid milk because of lactose intolerance, there are still several ways to get calcium in your diet. You can choose alternatives lower in lactose or lactose-free such as cheese, yogurt, or lactose-free milk, or consume the enzyme lactase before consuming milk products. There are also calcium fortified juices, cereals, breads, soy beverages, or rice beverages available in stores.
- What counts as a cup? In general, 1 cup of milk, yogurt, or soymilk (soy beverage), 1 ½ ounces of natural cheese, or 2 ounces of processed cheese can be considered as 1 cup from the Dairy Group.
This June start a trend of getting 3 cups of dairy every day. There are several ways to include dairy foods into your diet. Try including fat-free or low-fat milk as a beverage at meals. If you usually drink whole milk, switch gradually to fat-free milk, to lower saturated fat and calories. Try reduced fat (2%), then low-fat (1%), and finally fat-free (skim).
Dairy foods also make great snacks, such as eating fat-free or low-fat yogurt by itself or using it to make a dip for fruits and vegetables, or making fruit-yogurt smoothies in the blender. Another option would be to use shredded low-fat cheese to top casseroles, soups, stews, or vegetables. There are lots of options when it comes to getting your 3 cups of dairy. Check out www.food.unl.edu for more food, nutrition, and health information.
Pesticide Sensitive Crop Locater Now Part of Driftwatch
By Craig Romary, Nebraska Department of Agriculture Environmental Programs Specialist
The Nebraska Department of Agriculture (NDA) is pleased to announce that the system for locating pesticide sensitive crops in Nebraska is now Driftwatch, a national service maintained by Purdue University. This system provides more benefit to commercial growers and pesticide applicators alike. The main advantages are as follows:
- Applicators can register a “business area” and receive e-mail notifications when new locations are added in that geographic area.
- Growers are able to draw their own property or field boundaries, leading to more accurate and informative locations.
- Driftwatch uses Google Maps TM technology, which is easy to use and becoming more familiar to a large number of people. A map view, satellite view, and combination view are available.
- County, section, and township boundaries can be turned “on,” if desired.
- In addition, aerial applicators or other applicators doing business in more than one state, can access those states, if available, from the same web site.
- This system will be easier to administer for NDA.
- New information and technologies may be available as need warrants.
NDA is hopeful this will greatly expand in the next few months as word gets out, and encourages all applicators to use this resource and plan your pesticide applications accordingly to reduce pesticide drift, crop damage, and potential liability.
Nebraska’s data can be seen at this link: http://nebraska.agriculture.purdue.edu/. All states in the system can be accessed at http://www.driftwatch.org/.
Having Your Grass and Horses Too: A Managed Grazing System for Small Acreages
By Dave Kehler, Kansas State Research and Extension in Butler County
The questions go something like this: “How many horses can I have on 5 acres?" or "What can I spray the weeds in my pasture with?” After I ask my questions to determine the situation that I am dealing with, I often find that the situation involves horses that are grazing 24 hours a day, 7 days a week on a limited acreage of grass. For this type of grazing, we should be allowing 8 to 10 acres for each mature horse from May 1 until November 1 on native grass, and 5 to 6 acres if it is brome. These are only estimates. Proper stocking calculation will depend on the size of the horses, length of the grazing season, and the type of forage we are producing.
Most of the time, I find that there are not enough acres of forage available to graze the number of horses that are on it. The result is a weak grass stand and “grubbed out” areas that will not compete with the weeds. We have to remember that nature does not like bare soil. Nature is going to cover that soil with weeds by allowing those seeds to germinate. The best weed control measure is “Good grass management”. We have now come full circle. The only thing we will do by spraying those weeds is to kill the weeds that are currently growing. If we do not address the management changes that are needed, the weeds will be right back and there is nothing to show for the money that was spent on spray. I am not saying that chemicals are not an important tool in grass management, but they need to be used with other measures, not as a cure all.
One of the changes that could be made is to reduce the number horses to match the resources that are available. However, not too many people are anxious to do this.
Evaluate Current Forage Production
One of the first steps in establishing a managed grazing system for horses is to evaluate the current forage production. Knowing the type of forage that is present is important. Whether it is a cool or warm season grass will dictate the time of year that we will be able to graze. Grass owners need to understand and employ the best agronomic practices to maximize the production of the forage that is present. Recognizing how forage production is influenced by the environment and soil type is needed to be realistic with the yield potential of that forage. The final step in evaluating the current situation is being able to admit, if needed, that the current forage has reached the “point of no return”. If this is the case, the opportunity is available to establish the forage type that will best suit the needs of the grazing program being established.
Estimating Forage Production Potential
The second factor, after determining the forage type and maximizing production, is to realize how much of the forage can be removed and some management strategies that can increase this. The most important rule of thumb for grazing management is “take half, leave half”. This means that at the end of the grazing season, at least one half of the grass that was produced is left behind. This is needed to insure that the plant has adequate leaf area for the plants to collect sunlight and transfer energy to the roots. The rule of “take half, leave half” DOES NOT mean that we can let the animals eat 50% of the production. We have to realize that animal trampling, disease, and animal waste can account for a loss of up to 25% of the grass produced. This means that our target for animal consumption is no more that 30%.
Here is one example: healthy native grass will produce about 1 ton (2000 lbs) per acre. At 30% consumption, that means 600 lbs for the animal to eat. A 1200 lb horse will consume about 2 % of their body weight, or 24 lbs per day. That one acre of native grass is going to provide approximately 25 days of grazing, which creates the need for 7.2 acres for a 6 month grazing season. You can see why 2 horses grazing on 5 acres on a year round basis results in a less than desirable grass stand.
Increase Forage Production
We may be able to increase production by changing the forage type and making improvements to agronomic practices such as fertilization, but research has shown that we can significantly increase the amount of grass that we can utilize by:
- Reduce non-grazing forage loss, and
- Reduce spot grazing.
The easiest way to reduce the non-grazing forage loss is to manage the number of hours that the horses are allowed on the pasture. I would suggest that a horse will consume its daily forage needs in 10 - 11 hours of grazing. Keeping the horses in a dry lot for the other 13 - 14 hours will greatly reduce the amount of trampling and animal waste on the grass. People have been successful with having a dry lot where the shed, feed bunk, and water supply are located.
We refer to the area around sheds and feed/water areas as “sacrifice areas. Since those areas will always be trampled, it is important to have no more than one. A gate to the grass is opened in the morning and the horses are brought in each evening.
One of the ways to reduce spot grazing is to divide the pasture into paddocks. This will provide rest and recovery for grass during the growing season and it will help promote uniform grazing. The size of these paddocks will be influenced by the number of horses, the amount of total acres, type of forage, and the current situation.
Knowing the amount of forage available in your pastures and developing a grazing management plan to best utilize that forage are the keys to a productive pasture and healthy horses.
Fly control should be an integral part of every poultry producer’s management program. Flies spread disease and filth, are a nuisance to employees, and can become problems for nearby farms and residences. As the number of producers decrease and the size of remaining poultry operations increase, larger units may provide the opportunity for flies to concentrate and therefore create even larger problems.
Farm and Garden Workshops
By Warren Kittler, Community CROPS
Do you have a garden or small farm? Are you looking for practical tips to improve your soil, boost your yields, and encourage biodiversity?
Community CROPS may have the solution for you. CROPS is offering farming and gardening workshops this summer on a wide variety of topics. Workshops with Community CROPS are $12 pre-registered, $15 at the door. You can register by calling the Community CROPS office at (402) 474-9802 or registering online at www.communitycrops.org/workshops
Here are some classes for the month of June:
Birding at Sunset Community Farm (free, but pre-registration required)
Sunday, June 3, 7:30am-9am with John Quinn at Sunset Community Farm (SW 40th and F Street)
Please join us for a morning birding workshop exploring the community of birds at Sunset Farm. We will focus on identifying locally nesting species and discuss why sustainable and urban farm habitats are key to preservation of some of our most important, yet common, Nebraska bird species. The workshop is appropriate for beginning or advanced birders, and anyone who wishes to explore the intersection of birding, urban agriculture, and community.
Small Engine Selections, Use & Maintenance
Tuesday, June 5, Justin Jones, Sunset Community Farm (SW 40th and F Street)
Are you tired of taking your tiller or mower to the shop every spring? Sunset's Site Manager, Justin Jones, will share basic maintenance and troubleshooting tips for various small engines, including tillers, mowers, weed whips, and more.
Pinching, Trellising, Pruning & Mounding for Vegetable Crops
Wednesday, June 13, Evrett Lundquist & Ruth Chantry, Common Good Farm
Do you trellis or cage your tomatoes? Do you hill your potatoes or just let them go? Ruth and Evrett will discuss pros and cons of various plant management techniques, and will demonstrate a variety of methods commonly used on market farms.
Introduction to Permaculture
Saturday, June 16, 9:30am-12pm, Location TBD
Permaculture is a system for living sustainably. Ingrid Kirst, CROPS Executive Director, will demonstrate how, by learning from natural ecosystems, we can create growing systems that require less outside inputs and left effort to produce abundant foods. From this introduction, you will be able to put permaculture principles into action.
Organic Pest Management
Tuesday, June 19, 9:00 am- Sarah Browning, UNL Extension and Sunset Community Farm
Did your squash plants wilt overnight? Is something munching on your tomatoes? Are you tired of finding green caterpillars inside your cabbage heads? UNL Extension Educator Sarah Browning will share about common vegetable pests and diseases, and she will suggest tips to control them using organic methods.
Not All Thistles Are “Noxious”
By Brent Meyer, Lancaster County Weed Superintendent
Did you know that there are 10 different species of thistles in Nebraska? Thistles, in general, get a bad rap whenever the word “thistle” is mentioned. However, not all thistles are bad for the environment or agriculture.
Out of the 10 species identified in the state – 5 of these occurred in North America before settlement by Europeans. The other five are considered “nonnative,” or “introduced” thistles. Out of the 5 nonnative thistles, three are considered “noxious”; musk thistle, plumeless thistle and Canada thistle, and are required by state law to be controlled by the landowner.
Canada thistle has been on the Noxious Weed List since 1873. Landowners and homeowners realized this plant was a serious problem and needed to be controlled. It wasn’t until 1959 that the rapid infestation rate of musk thistle brought out the public concern of thistles in Nebraska.
Other thistles that can be found in Nebraska that are not noxious include: Platte thistle, flodman thistle, yellowspine thistle and Scotch thistle. (A few counties have added some of these thistles as a county noxious weed, but are not on the statewide noxious weed list.)
Control methods vary from one thistle to another. Some may be controlled by mechanical methods and others may require herbicide applications. Several control measures should be used at the same time to improve results.
Proper pasture management is the most cost effective and productive of all control measures. This involves improved grass stands and rotational grazing to ensure healthy forage for livestock. Proper pasture management also improves water quality and wildlife habitat.
Biological control is another tool, but it should never be the only control measure utilized. It needs to be incorporated with other control measures to ensure success. Herbicides have been used for many years. They can be effective, but application timing is critical to receive optimum control.
Source: The Thistles of Nebraska
Nebraska Food Cooperative Connects Local Producers with Consumers
By Sarah Browning, UNL Extension Educator
Increasing numbers of consumers like buying locally grown foods, and getting to know their producers. But connecting consumers with producers outside the traditional grocery store system can be difficult. The Nebraska Food Cooperative is one way to make the connection, through their year-round, online farmers market and food distribution system. Find them online at http://www.nebraskafood.org.
Their mission is to foster a local food community and promote a culture of stewardship by cultivating farmer-consumer relationships, promoting the enjoyment of healthful food, increasing food security through diversity, and enhancing overall rural sustainability.
Become a Purchasing Member
Anyone is welcome to become a member, and have access to a wide variety of locally produced food, including eggs, cheese, meat, organic flour and popcorn, baked goods, herbs, and fresh produce. Choose from Hereford, longhorn or jersey beef, buffalo, pork, lamb and poultry, often either organic, all natural, or grass-fed. Shop from multiple producers to compare prices, types, and the production practices used by each producer to find a product that meets your needs. You will gain access to conventionally grown foods, as well as those free from growth hormones, antibiotics, pesticides, herbicides, and genetically modified organisms. The choice is yours.
Food is delivered to your home or a nearby drop point one delivery day each month. Producer and consumer member volunteers from various geographic areas work together to bring products to the central sorting location in Lincoln where they are sorted into individual customer orders. Once sorting is complete, the producer and consumer members return to their location and transport orders for customers in their area back with them. Orders are either home delivered for an additional charge or dropped off at a convenient pick up location.
Several membership levels are available.
Become a Seller
Producers are also welcome, and the Nebraska Food Cooperative offers a great way to reach consumers within a marketing area with over 1,000,000 consumers. You will be working alongside consumers and other producers from across the state to increase the awareness, availability and quality of local food.
Becoming a seller with the Nebraska Food Cooperative is a great way for acreage owners, or other small producers, to begin marketing their products and reach an established audience.
Each producer retains their own farm and product identity, so that while the cooperative may offer for sale tomatoes from 12 different farmers the consumer chooses from whom they are going to purchase their tomatoes based upon quality, price and/or customer-farmer relationship.
A page on the cooperative’s website is available to each producer, allowing them to tell their story and detail their production practices. Each producer enters their own information and products into the website, and although the process provides a very user-friendly interface there is assistance available if producers need help. Specify inventory amounts and product descriptions; as product is ordered the inventory declines. When all available product is sold the customer cannot place a new order.
A small charge (as a % of sales) is deducted from producer sales invoice, to cover the expenses of the cooperative. For example, on a $100 order with a 10% sales and handling charge, the consumer would pay $110, the producer would receive $90, and the cooperative would receive $20. The goal of the cooperative is to provide a sustainable food marketing and distribution service for consumers and producers; thus it strives to break even on its operating costs.
For more information about the Nebraska Food Cooperative, visit their website http://www.nebraskafood.org. A full listing of currently available products is available, along with additional information for buyers and sellers.
Wildflowers Celebrated Statewide, June 2-10
By Bob Henrickson, Nebraska Statewide Arboretum
Inspired by a similar national event, Nebraska Wildflower Week is a celebration of wildflowers and native plants in the wild and in the landscape through events and activities across Nebraska. In 2012, it will be observed June 2-10, when many of Nebraska’s prairies and gardens are at their prime.
Nebraska Statewide Arboretum serves as coordinator for Wildflower Week activities, bringing together organizations and individuals across the state who recognize the value of wildflowers—not only for their beauty but also for what they imply and symbolize. “Where wildflowers are thriving, it is a sign that the environment is healthy,” said Bob Henrickson, whose nursery production work with the Arboretum concentrates on native and regionally-appropriate plants.
Opportunities for wildflower enthusiasts across the state include guided tours, presentations on wildflower plantings, etc. Events, photos and more information can be found at http://arboretum.unl.edu/wildflower. Take part in the wildflower ID quiz June 2-11 at https://www.facebook.com/NeArb.
Maybe you have dreamed of creating a small wildflower garden in your landscape? If so, a great place to start is with an dryland prairie garden. Not too tall, but full of color and wildflowers! Just make sure the site you chose is in full sun- to perform at their best these plants require full sun at least 6 hours or more a day.
Creating a Dryland Prairie Garden
Upland prairies are always well-drained and are the driest prairies in this area. Upland prairie plants are usually knee-high or less. This garden should always have a base planting of little bluestem (Schizachrium scoparium), sideoats grama (Bouteloua curtipendula), prairie dropseed (Sporobolus heterolepis) or blue grama (Bouteloua gracilis). Cool-season grasses, such as needlegrass, (Stipa spartea) and our native fesque sedge (Carex brevior) should also be considered. When planning a border using plants native to dryland soils it is essential to improve the drainage of your site by raising the soil above the original grade by several inches or more. I use a mixture of ½ topsoil and compost.
I use a 1-2” layer of grass clippings or wood chips mulch on my dryland garden for topdressing: to provide a nice, uniform cover; xeric plants like to reseed in this mulch; weeding is easy by cutting the young weeds with a hoe just under the mulch. Be careful not to apply to much mulch, excessive wood chips can hold too much moisture for these plants and they can develop crown rot.
Recommended Plants for the Dryland Prairie Garden
Early spring blooming gems include:
Mid-spring to early summer beauties include:
Great plants for late summer to fall color include:
Short-Lived Prairie Plants For Re-Seeding
These wildflowers are nice additions to the prairie garden and although they are short-lived (1-3 years) they should still be included in your design. These beauties perpetuate in the garden by reseeding themselves. You can gather or order seed and sow it where you want it or let them seed out on their own and the garden becomes unpredictable, just like a real prairie. The following plants are all dryland species and are best sited in well-drained soils. They love seeding in gravel mulch!
- Combine Brown-Eyed Susan (Rudbeckia triloba) with Sand Lovegrass (Eragrostis trichoides)
- Try Wild Larkspur (Delphinium virescens) with Lance-leaf Coreopsis (Coreopsis grandiflora)
- Plant Prairie Junegrass (Koelteria pyramidata) with Prairie Ragwort (Senecio plattensis) and Blue Flax, (Linum perenne)
- A hot summer combination of Plains coreopsis, (Coreopsis tinctoria), Scarlet Rocket (Ipomopsis aggregate) and bitterweed (Helenium amarum)
- Combine Shell-leaf Penstemon (Penstemon grandiflorus) with Whorled Milkweed (Asclepias verticillata)
Protect Your Private Well From Stormwater Runoff
By Sharon Skipton, UNL Extension Water Quality Educator
Do NOT stand out to observe runoff during lightening or severe weather.
Next time it rains, go outside and notice how the rainwater moves from roof areas, driveways, and other paved surfaces. Make sure this water is not flowing toward your private drinking water well.
As stormwater flows over the land, it can pick up debris, bacteria, chemicals, soil, and other pollutants and carry those toward your well. Sources of contaminants on an acreage might include paint, wood-sealants, solvents, used motor oil, and other products leaked or poured onto the ground. Fertilizers and pesticides applied to lawns and gardens can wash off with stormwater. Pet and animal waste are additional sources of contamination. Research shows that drinking water wells that have been inundated with stormwater runoff are likely to be contaminated with bacteria. Other pollutants also may have entered the well.
To reduce the risk of contamination from runoff, make sure your well casing extends above the ground at least 1 foot. Make sure water cannot pond around the well area. If stormwater flows toward your well, re-grade and/or landscape the area so stormwater flows away from the well. See the NebGuide “Protecting Private Drinking Water Supplies: Runoff Management” for more information.