Tag Archives: K-State

In anticipation of calving season, the Kansas State University Department of Animal Sciences and Industry and K-State Research and Extension will be hosting a series of calving schools between November and January.

The program will outline the normal calving process as well as tips to handle difficult calving situations. A.J. Tarpoff, extension beef veterinarian, said the purpose of the event is to increase knowledge and practical skills and increase the number of live calves born.

Experts will also share tips on when and how to intervene to assist the cow and how those times may be different when dealing with young heifers. Presenters will also demonstrate proper use of calving equipment on a life-size scale.

“Our goal is for producers to leave better prepared for calving season,” Tarpoff said. “We will discuss timelines on when to examine cows for calving problems, and when to call for help if things are not going well. It’s an excellent program regardless of experience level.”

He added that several of the meetings will cover such topics as proper bull/heifer selection and EPDs; winter cow nutrition; and injection site management.

The list of meetings include:

  • Thursday, Nov. 15, 6 p.m.,Sherman County 4-H Building, Goodland. RSVP to Sunflower Extension District Office at 785-332-3171, or email Toni Belshe atmabelshe@ksu.edu.

  • Tuesday, Dec. 4, 6:30 p.m.,Oskaloosa City Hall, Oskaloosa. RSVP to the Meadowlark Extension District Office.

  • Tuesday, Dec. 11, evening,4-H Community Building, Yates Center. RSVP to theSouthwind Extension District Office

  • Thursday, Dec. 13, morning,Kingman County Expo Center,Kingman. RSVP to the Kingman County Extension Office.

  • Thursday, Dec. 13, evening,McPherson County 4-H Building, 710 W Woodside St. McPherson. RSVP by calling Terra at 620-241-1523.

  • Wednesday, Jan. 9, Dole Specter Conference Center, Russell. RSVP to the Midway Extension District Office.

  • Wednesday, Jan. 16, Hy Plains Education Center, Montezuma. RSVP to the Gray County Extension Office.

MANHATTAN, Kan. — In a consumer-driven business, the pork industry benefits from giving grocery shoppers what they’re looking for.

So meat scientists’ recent findings that consumers are routinely happy with larger cuts – and the resulting tenderness profiles – can be looked at as good news for pork producers.

“One of the results of increased genetics and improved nutrition is that the pork industry has been able to get pigs to heavier market weights a lot more efficiently,” said Travis O’Quinn, a meat scientist with K-State Research and Extension.

“When we harvest those animals at heavier weights, the resulting impact is that we end up with larger cuts that come off those animals, ultimately resulting in larger pork chops when consumers go to the grocery store.”

In taste-test panels conducted recently at Kansas State University, consumers rated pork from larger animals as more tender, and they actually preferred thicker cuts of meat in side-by-side visual comparisons with thinner cuts.

“We brought consumers in and fed them the pork chops and didn’t tell them anything about them other than that they were pork chops,” O’Quinn said. “The consumers’ (responses indicated) that the bigger the animal was, the more tender the product was. When we looked at flavor and juiciness and how much they liked their product overall, there was no difference. We were able to see in the heavier-weight pigs that we did have more tender products.”

Consumers also responded to questions related to packaging of pork. O’Quinn noted that larger cuts could mean that retail packages are larger, meaning that even though the price per pound remains the same, the overall price for larger cuts is higher compared to the overall price for thinner cuts.

O’Quinn said consumers mistakenly thought the price per pound was too high, rather than realizing that the overall price was higher due to the higher weight of the chops in the package.

“To our surprise, when we had the case with no information, the consumers generally liked the bigger chops,” said Emily Rice, a K-State graduate student who conducted the study under O’Quinn’s supervision. “But when we put the prices on there, there became a limit to how big those chops could actually be for the consumers to say they were willing to actually purchase them.

The study’s results will be presented during the K-State Swine Day, scheduled for Thursday, Nov. 15, at the K-State Alumni Center in Manhattan. The study was supported by the National Pork Board and Minnesota-based Holden Farms.

“When we look at the results of this study, it really is a win-win situation,” O’Quinn said. “Producers know they are producing a high-quality product. If all trends continue in the industry, and we continue to get larger pigs in the next 10 to 15 years, we don’t have to worry about the quality being negatively impacted. If anything, we could improve the tenderness of the pork just by having these animals naturally get bigger as they will over time.”

He adds: “Overall, that’s good news for the consumer. They have the ability to know with confidence that the pork they are purchasing today will be just as tender, if not more tender, in the future as they continue going. So it really is a positive for consumers.”

The Wheat Breeding program at Kansas State University is about more than just developing new wheat varieties for Kansas. While the release of superior varieties is an end goal of the program, many other aspects benefit Kansas farmers. Many of the wheat varieties that are released, from both public and private entities, have pedigrees from K-State varieties.
A few of these benefits include the ability to develop future wheat breeders, perform long-term research and collaborate with a wider scientific community.
K-State has two wheat breeders: Dr. Allan Fritz runs the Manhattan program and develops hard red winter wheat varieties for eastern and central Kansas, and Dr. Guorong Zhang runs the Hays program and develops hard red winter and hard white varieties for central and western Kansas.
The programs are funded by Kansas State University, Kansas Wheat Commission and Kansas Wheat Alliance. The funding from wheat farmers is used for operation of the program, including staff time to plant and harvest in excess of 20,000 yield plots per year, equipment purchases and upkeep, and travel to plots across the state.
Develop Future Breeders
The public breeding program helps to develop the future of wheat breeders for the industry. The program employs graduate students and post-doctoral research assistants, who graduate and go on to work in other public and private breeding programs. These breeders will in turn shape the future of the wheat industry, but their roots will be firmly planted in their training in Kansas.
Long-term Research
New technologies are being used
Development of a new wheat variety is a long-term process. It takes about 12 years from the initial greenhouse cross until that new variety is available to farmers. With new technologies available, that development time is decreasing. These new technologies include high throughput phenotyping, genomic selection, doubled haploids, speed breeding and DNA markers.
“We’re really on the front edge of implementing these things and putting them into the breeding program and learning how to harness their power,” said Fritz.
Sequence of wheat genome
With the recent completion of the sequence of the wheat genome, the industry is on the forefront of additional technological advances. A genome sequence is like a map for wheat researchers. Think about going on a trip with no map. You will probably end up where you wanted to go eventually, but it will require extra time, wrong turns and headaches. The wheat genome sequence allows researchers to have a tool to guide them while experimenting with valuable traits for Kansas wheat farmers at a more rapid pace.
“It gives you some tools to really do some novel things. We’re really at the front edge of having the tools and knowledge to do some very interesting things and potentially revolutionary things with that kind of technology,” said Fritz. “So having these technologies is a part of making sure that we’re really providing the advantages for Kansas producers.”
Wild relatives
Because of the continued long-term investment in the program, breeders are able to work on projects that won’t provide a return on investment in the short term. One of these allows them to bring in the diversity of wild relatives of wheat.
While generations of cross-breeding have led to modern varieties with better yields and disease resistances, this has meant that other valuable traits found in wild wheat relatives have been left on the table. Wheat researchers are now on a treasure hunt to find those traits and breed them back into our modern varieties.
“The genetic diversity that we’re bringing in will benefit all of the wheat community.” Fritz said, “We can take some chances on some things that aren’t entirely appropriate for a private breeding program to do, things that wouldn’t make sense in terms of revenue projects.”
Broader Scientific Community
Another benefit of the public breeding program is the access to so many scientists and researchers and the ability to collaborate with other departments at K-State.  This includes other departments like entomology, plant pathology, agronomy and grain science, just to name a few.
“What’s really cool about being a wheat breeder at K-State is that you have all these resources around you to make your program better,” said Fritz. “The varieties we’re producing are really the product of not just the effort that’s in our program, but there’s all this other research effort that’s going on at K-State as well, that feeds information into that. We’re just really fortunate to have that infrastructure behind us. That’s a lot of the secret to our success.”
With these benefits, it only makes sense that the K-State breeding program only releases varieties that offer an improvement over the other varieties in the marketplace.
Fritz talks about varieties in comparison to a three-legged stool. First, there must be yield potential or farmers won’t grow it. Second, there must be a way to protect that yield through disease resistance, heat tolerance, insect resistance and all of the pieces that go into yield protection. And the final component is quality, which means that the variety will meet the industry standard for baked products.
Fritz says their release philosophy has always been relatively conservative, so they don’t release a wheat just so farmers have another choice to sort through. He says, “In general, we’ve really tried to make sure that when we bring something forward through KWA it is really what we think is a really good fit for production and has real value on acres.”

Sonny Perdue, U.S. secretary of agriculture, will be the next speaker in Kansas State University’s Landon Lecture Series. Secretary Perdue’s speech, “Leave It Better Than You Found It: Lessons in Public Service I Learned on the Farm,” will be at 10:30 a.m. Thursday, Nov. 1, in McCain Auditorium.

The lecture is free and the public is invited. Please note that for security purposes, no backpacks and large personal bags will be allowed in the auditorium. A bag check will be available in the McCain foyer.

“As a leader in global food systems research, Kansas State University welcomes the opportunity to bring the nation’s top agriculture official to campus,” said Linda Cook, chair of the Landon Lecture Series and the university’s chief of staff and director of community relations. “Secretary Perdue joins a long list of secretaries of agriculture who have participated in the Landon Lecture Series and shared their vision on issues facing an industry that is vital to this university, Kansas, the nation and the world.”

The secretary’s life was shaped and fashioned growing up on his family’s farm. His lecture will focus on the lessons that he learned from family, school, church, sports and caring for the land and animals that formed a foundation of serving others. He has applied the lessons he learned while growing up on the farm to transform the culture of public service to focus on serving the citizens.

Nominated by President Trump, Perdue has been serving as the nation’s 31st secretary of agriculture since April 25, 2017, and brings a strong background in agriculture, public service and agribusiness to the post. He grew up on a dairy and diversified row crop farm in rural Georgia. As a young man, he served in the U.S. Air Force, rising to the rank of captain. After his military service, he went on to earn his Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from the University of Georgia and worked in private practice in North Carolina.

Perdue pursued a political career next and served as a Georgia state senator for 11 years. He also was elected president pro tempore by his senate colleagues. As a state senator, he was recognized as a leading authority on issues including energy and utilities, agriculture, transportation, emerging technologies and economic development, and for his ability to grasp the nuances of complex problems.

Elected to two terms as governor of Georgia, from 2003-2011, Perdue was credited with transforming a budget deficit into a surplus, dramatically increasing student performance in public schools, and fostering an economic environment that allowed employers to flourish and manufacturers and agricultural producers to achieve record levels of exports. He was named Public Official of the Year in 2010 by Governing magazine.

The secretary followed his public service with a successful career in agribusiness, focusing on commodities and transportation in enterprises that have spanned the southeastern U.S. He also has served as a board member for the National Grain & Feed Association and as president of both the Georgia Feed and Grain Association and the Southeastern Feed and Grain Association. Perdue has long-standing, close relationships with the leadership of the American Farm Bureau and has been recognized by the Georgia 4-H and FFA programs, among others, for his leadership in agriculture.

One of the most prestigious lecture series offered at a U.S. college or university, the Alfred M. Landon Lecture Series was instituted in 1966 by former Kansas State University President James A. McCain. The series is a tribute to Alfred M. Landon, who served as governor of Kansas from 1933-1937 and delivered the first lecture in the series, “New Challenges in International Relations,” on Dec. 13, 1966. Perdue will be the 179th speaker and 11th secretary of agriculture to take part in the lecture series.


MANHATTAN, Kan. — Officials say that a partnership between Kansas State University and a global company that provides precision agriculture technology is likely to benefit farmers in the state and across the country.

Several company representatives from Topcon Agriculture were in Manhattan Oct. 4 to announce that they have established an office in the K-State Office Park, located next to the KSU Foundation on the north side of campus.

Fabio Isaia, the company’s chief executive officer, noted that the partnership includes conducting research and innovations that farmers want to use; opportunities for K-State faculty and students to work with new technologies; and interacting with farmers through the state’s extension service.

Isaia noted that Topcon has similar agreements with universities in Europe, China, the United Kingdom, Moscow, Tokyo and Italy, “but none of these have the extent and the depth of what we’re trying to develop here.”

“We believe this is going to be different, not just because we are in the heart of the agricultural business in North America, but because this is Kansas,” Isaia said. “Due to weather conditions and soil variability, Kansas is the place where we can develop studies and validate our solutions on so many crops that we will be able to utilize not only in North America, but all over the world.”

Brian Sorbe, Topcon’s vice president of sales and marketing in North America, called his company the “new kids on the block” in precision agriculture.

“But over the past 12 years, we have built a very robust catalog of technology solutions for farmers,” he said, noting that the company has other university partners which have strengths in field management, animal science or other specific areas. “When we came to K-State, it really has a nice meld of all of those things. We wanted to be part of this atmosphere which is already rooted deep in ag DNA, as we call it.”

Ajay Sharda, an assistant professor of biological and agricultural engineering at K-State, said the partnership will include work with such precision technologies as crop sensors, rate controllers, GPS technologies and more.

“(K-State faculty) have come a long ways in precision agriculture over the last four to five years,” Sharda said. “We have a great start to our research program with numerous collaborative research projects with multiple industry partners. We are continuously getting newer opportunities to work on more relevant and high impact projects both from industry and federal agencies.”

Sharda noted that he doesn’t expect Topcon to be the last precision agriculture company to find a home at K-State: “This will ultimately start to put ourselves in the lead to establish similar (partnerships) with other industry partners to realize what we have envisioned of a research park on the K-State campus.”

Topcon’s Manhattan office will include a lab and classroom in which K-State faculty and students will conduct research with many of the newest technologies that the company has to offer. The company is also donating equipment and technology to the university’s Agronomy North Farm.

“What it really represents for us is an intersection between academia and innovation within our organization,” said Jared Ochs, Topcon’s customer support manager. “But we also want the university to gain some key components. We have worked with department heads to inject new things into curriculum that will give students a leg up in their careers and against other schools that offer precision agriculture.”

Topcon Agriculture is a division of the Topcon Positioning Group, which has its U.S. headquarters in Livermore, California. The global headquarters for Topcon Agriculture is in Turin, Italy. The company expects to have 20 employees in its Manhattan office.

African swine fever virus threatens to devastate the swine industry and is positioned to spread throughout Asia. The virus has spread throughout the Caucuses region of Eastern Europe and was reported in China in August. It recently was detected in wild boar in Belgium.

Kansas State University researchers and the Biosecurity Research Institute have several projects focused on African swine fever. Their research topics vary, but they share the same goal of stopping the spread of African swine fever and preventing it from reaching the U.S.

If African swine fever enters the U.S., it could cause billions in economic losses to swine and other industries, animal disease experts say. It would devastate trade and international markets.

There is no vaccine or cure for the disease, which causes hemorrhagic fever and high mortality in pigs. It does not infect humans.

“African swine fever’s introduction into China, poses an increased threat to the U.S.,” said Stephen Higgs, director of the Biosecurity Research Institute. “Introduction of African swine fever virus into the U.S. would have an enormous impact on our agricultural industry. Research, education and training at the Biosecurity Research Institute help to improve our understanding and preparedness for this threat.”

In 2013, the Biosecurity Research Institute became the first non-federal facility to be approved for work with African swine fever virus, Higgs said. The university projects at the Biosecurity Research Institute are part of research that can transition to the National Bio and Agro-defense Facility, or NBAF, once it is fully functional. African swine fever is one of the diseases slated to be researched at NBAF, which is under construction adjacent to Kansas State University’s Manhattan campus.

The African swine fever projects at Kansas State University are funded in part by the $35 million State of Kansas National Bio and Agro-defense Facility Fund and also have received support from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the pork industry.