North Dakota has millions of square feet of untapped potential for solar power.
That's one finding of a recent report, Solar on Superstores, which looks at how the unused rooftop space of big-box retailers could generate clean energy.
In North Dakota, that adds up to about 12 million square feet.
Report coauthor and solar program coordinator Bret Fanshaw with Environment America says if North Dakota stores re-purpose these flat, vacant areas, it could eventually have multiple benefits for the state.
"We could offset carbon emissions in North Dakota by 122,000 metric tons, and the businesses could save $11 million on annual electricity spending, every year," he says.
The report notes if all North Dakota stores converted their rooftops, the move would generate enough electricity to power 12,000 homes in the state.
But some retailers have been slow to adopt solar technology. They cite the equipment cost, and say it can be difficult to install solar arrays on rooftops that are already cluttered with other machinery, like air conditioning units.
Still, Fanshaw says big-box retailers like Target, which has at least four locations in North Dakota, can help lead the way.
"Target has started to make progress," says Fanshaw. "We're really excited they, last year, committed to putting solar on 500 of their stores by 2020. And we think the next step should be for them to commit to realizing their full potential and put solar on all their stores."
The report says if every retailer in the country converted to rooftop solar, it could reduce the same amount of pollution as taking about 12 million cars off the road.
The value of North Dakota’s 2015 field and miscellaneous crops is forecast at $6.69 billion, according to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. This is a 4 percent decrease from 2014.
The value of soybean production is expected to total $1.56 billion, down 19 percent from the previous marketing year. North Dakota’s soybean price is projected to average $8.40 per bushel, a decrease of $1.09 from the last marketing year.
The value of spring wheat production is expected to total $1.47 billion, down 7 percent from the previous marketing year. North Dakota’s spring wheat price is projected to average $4.60 per bushel, a decrease of $0.82 from the last marketing year.
Access the National publication for this release at: http://usda.mannlib.cornell.edu/usda/nass/CropValuSu//2010s/2016/CropValuSu-02-24-2016.pdf
Soil samples in North Dakota indicate decreased levels of overwintering wheat midge larvae (cocoons) for the 2016 season, according to Janet Knodel, North Dakota State University Extension Service entomologist. A total of 183 soil samples were collected from 20 counties in the fall of 2015 to estimate the regional risk for wheat midge in 2016. The distribution of wheat midge is based on unparasitized cocoons found in the soil samples. "No soil samples were found with economic population densities of wheat midge (greater than 500 midge larvae per square meter) this past year," Knodel says. "In fact, 74 percent of the soil samples had zero wheat midge cocoons. This is the lowest population of wheat midge ever recorded since we have been conducting the wheat midge larval soil survey, which started in 1995." Knodel adds, "This is good news for North Dakota wheat producers. It will reduce insecticide costs for wheat midge control in wheat in 2016." Wheat midge populations decreased by more than half from last year and ranged from zero to 429 midge larvae per square meter, with an average of 25 larvae per square meter in 2015. In 2014, wheat midge populations were higher, ranging from zero to 1,500 midge larvae per square meter, with an average of 61 larvae per square meter. In 2013, wheat midge populations were higher yet and ranged from zero to 3,285 midge larvae per square meter, with an average of 140 larvae per square meter. "The highest wheat midge numbers ranged from 200 to 500 larvae per square meter in small, localized areas in southeast Burke, northwest Divide, north central Renville, west central Sheridan and northeast Ward counties," says Knodel.
Wheat midge populations have declined sharply for several reasons, including multiple field reports of area wide insecticide-fungicide spraying for control of wheat midge and scab disease to minimize wheat losses, and the dry conditions when larvae dropped out of wheat heads in August, causing increased mortality. Knodel adds, "It is always good insurance to scout for the orange flies at night when temperatures are greater than 59 F and the winds are less than 6 mph. Scout during the heading to early flowering crop stages." The economic thresholds are: one or more midge observed for every four or five heads on hard red spring wheat, or one or more midge observed for every seven or eight heads on durum wheat. Producers also can use commercially available pheromone traps for monitoring wheat midge during heading. Traps should be placed at the height of the wheat heads during early heading. Use three traps per 160 acres of wheat. Traps are available for about $3 per trap. After three to five days of monitoring with pheromone traps, an economic threshold is reached when an average of more than 10 midge are captured per trap. Unfortunately, the parasitic wasp Macroglenes penetrans, which kills wheat midge eggs and larvae, also has decreased considerably from a 3.7 percent parasitism rate in 2015 to an 11 percent parasitism rate in 2014, according to Knodel. Ninety-one percent of the larval cocoons had zero incidence of parasitism in 2015, compared with 73 percent in 2014. "This is because the parasitic wasp populations are dependent on their host populations, the wheat midge," Knodel says. "So, when wheat midge declines, so does the parasitic wasp. This wasp plays an important role in keeping wheat midge controlled naturally."
Parasitism rates ranged from zero to 100 percent across the state, with the higher rates occurring in areas where midge populations have been high during the past few years, such as Burke and Divide counties. "We need to continue to conserve parasitic wasp populations when possible by spraying insecticides only when wheat midge populations are at economic threshold levels, and avoiding any late insecticide applications to minimize the negative impacts on parasitic wasps that are active at that time," Knodel says. NDSU Extension Service agents collected the soil samples. The North Dakota Wheat Commission supports the wheat midge survey.
The Walsh County Spelling Bee was held on Thursday, February 18, 2016 in the Farmers Room at the Walsh County Courthouse in Grafton. The spelling bee lasted ten rounds, and students spelled words such as schnitzel, languish, and denture correctly.
Vanessa Cooper, daughter of Joey Cooper and Rebeca Carr, representing Fordville-Lankin School, placed 1st. Vanessa is coached by Mr. Larry Grossman. Anna Zikmund, daughter of Keith and Helen Zikmund, representing Minto School, placed 2nd; and Karley Gudajtes, daughter of Tony and Vicky Gudajtes, representing Minto School, received Honorable Mention. Minto students are coached by Miss Ashley Hesby.
Other participants representing Walsh County schools ranging from grades 5 – 8 included: Bella Dreger, Megan Gebro, Jose Rodriguez and Sydnee Ebertowski representing Grafton Middle School; Makenna Fenner and Seth Robinson representing Minto School; and Lilly Bina and Julia Sveen representing Park River Area School. Grafton students are coached by Mrs. Tracy Forbord and Park River Area students are coached by Miss Haley Ulland. Pronouncer was Dana Tisdale; judges were Mary Rudnik and Claudia Thompson, and bee coordinator was Lori Zahradka.
The top two spellers from Walsh County are eligible to participate in the State Spelling Bee on March 21 in Bismarck. The North Dakota Association of County Superintendents sponsors the State Spelling Bee. The State Bee is affiliated with the Scripps National Spelling Bee which will be held near Washington, DC, May 25-26, 2016 and to which the sponsor will send the state winner.
March 15, 2016 is the date low and moderate income homeowners seeking assistance with health and safety-related repairs on their homes have until to complete an application and submit supporting income documentation. The Cavalier Housing Rehabilitation Project assists qualifying low and moderate income families and individuals with home repairs. The goal of the program is to bring homes into compliance with federal health and safety standards, as well as state and local building codes. In addition, the program helps preserve and improve the structures to increase longevity and value in the community. There is no cost to eligible homeowners.
The Red River Regional Council (RRRC) is managing the project on behalf of the city and is currently seeking applicants before the March 15 deadline. A total of 15 homes have been identified and rehabilitation is complete or in process on these homes. Approximately $400,000 in grants from three sources has been secured with additional funds for project administration secured from the City of Cavalier and the Pembina County Job Development Authority. Common repairs include roofing, windows, doors, plumbing, heating, electrical, and safety items. Federal funding sources also require lead paint, floodplain, and historic preservation issues be addressed. It is anticipated an average of $12,000 will be invested in each home. There is a graduated claw back provision in the program for repayment of grant funds if homeowners sell their home within five years of project completion.
The Cavalier Housing Rehabilitation Project is being led by the Cavalier Housing Committee, which is chaired by Drew Olafson. Other members of the committee include Tom Ford, Darold Johnson, Rachel Morrison, Wayne Puppe and Corene Vaughn. RRRC staff Lori Estad and Stacie Sevigny work closely with the housing committee to establish policies to manage the project, oversee implementation, and award construction bids. Interested residents are encouraged to apply now as applications are currently being reviewed and accepted in the order in which they are received.
To apply, a two-page application must be completed. The application is available on
the RRRC website at www.redriverrc.com. Applications can also be picked up at the
Cavalier Administration Building located at 301 Division Avenue North. In addition,
applicants must provide:
• A copy of 2015 property tax statement to prove ownership. If homeowners have paid
2015 taxes, a copy of the receipt should be included. Homeowners must be current on
their taxes and have no outstanding debt with the city in order to be considered for
• A copy of 2014 income tax statement, if applicable. If applicant did
not file personal income tax then the most recent two months of personal bank
statements must be provided.
• A copy of 2016 social security benefits statement, if
• If employed, copies of pay stubs for the past three months.
All of the information is necessary in order to determine eligibility for the
program. Interested Cavalier homeowners can call RRRC staff members Stacie Sevigny
or Lori Estad at 701-352-3550 to seek information on eligibility or reach out to any
of the members of the housing committee. March 15, 2016 is the final date to apply
for this project in Cavalier.
EQIP Special Initiatives
Applications for three Environmental Quality Incentives Program Initiatives must be in by this Friday January 19th to be considered for funding in 2016. Special Initiatives are usually regional funding pools that address specific resource concerns.
HBP Effort: The Honey Bee Pollinator Initiative is intended to increase the strength and reduce the winter mortality of the declining honey bee population. Applicants need to be within 1 mile of a hive/aviary. Applicants stand the best chance of funding if they plant perennial vegetation that contains at least 25% honey bee forage plants. Season-long cover crops or perennial field borders are also eligible, but must meet thresholds of pollinator species in the mix. Practices that support grazing distribution may also be eligible.
Best use of HBP: Landowners/operators who are willing to seed a cropland area to perennial vegetation and whom take an active interest in wildlife observation. Odd areas that have some crop history and are within 1 mile of a hive make ideal sites.
PPWGRP: The Prairie Pothole Wetland and Grassland Retention Project is intended to restore wetland and grassland habitat that was lost or is vulnerable to conversion to cropland. This is similar to HPE in that the emphasis is on increasing habitat with a perennial vegetative planting. Practices that support improved grazing distribution or delayed haying may also be eligible.
Best use of PPWGRP: Converting expiring or recently expired CRP to a long term rotational grazing use system.
RRBI: The Red River Basin Initiative in North Dakota, Minnesota and South Dakota continues to try and find ways to incentivize water retention in the Red River Valley. Unfortunately, the best solutions to retention - such a small temporary water retention dams are difficult to implement without some additional state or local long-term compensation for landowners. The payment rates, limits to supporting practices such as tile drainage and the long term maintenance of gated structures are large obstacles to the intent of this initiative. Still, the Initiative in the past has funded some medium and lower priority practices such as grassed waterways and cover crops in Walsh County.
Best use of RRBI: Obtaining a Drainage Water Management Plan (DWMP) Landowners/operators that apply for a DWMP are placed in a high priority status for funding. Approved applicants work with a Technical Service Provider to obtain a plan that evaluates the design and feasibility of water control structures. For example, a plan may include an inline water control structure for an existing or proposed tile system. Once a DWMP is obtained, an applicant may be eligible in subsequent years to apply for financial assistance on the installation of the planned structures.
CSP – Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP)
A batching deadline of March 31, 2016 was recently announced for the CSP program. CSP offers five year contracts to award famers for their existing conservation activities and to add additional conservation enhancements. Key to this program are the current adoption of tillage reduction practices, diverse crop rotations, routine soil testing and controlling water erosion - i.e. keeping water courses in a grassed condition. Also, control of the land for five years is essential; if you are considering land reconstitutions and/or changing your farming entity, those decisions should be in place by March 31st. More information can be found online at: www.nrcs.usda.gov. Information more specific to ND can be found on the NRCS State Websites link, or call for an appointment if you wish to discuss the program in detail: 701-284-7466 ext3.
North Dakota NRCS has recently placed a higher priority on Conservation Planning for all of our financial programs and technical assistance. A plan is the first step to evaluate resource concerns and discuss conservation alternatives that work for you.
Please contact the local NRCS office, located in the Farm Service Center in Park River to request planning assistance or program applications.
Cavalier and Pembina with 1 reported case each so far this season, 3 in Walsh county and 4 in Ramsey county
The spread of influenza in Minnesota is listed as regional by the state department of health.
In Manitoba there is Increasing flu activity. People below the age of 65 years, especially young children, are affected more by influenza this season.
National Influenza Surveillance (CDC) Viral Surveillancein the United States:The most frequently identified influenza virus type reported by public health laboratories during week 4 was influenza A,
In partnership with the City of Park River, the Red River Regional Council (RRRC) is currently seeking interested homeowners for a potential housing rehabilitation project for owner-occupied homes within the city limits of Park River. Applications are being accepted until March 1, 2016 in order to meet grant funding deadlines.
The program assists low income residents with health and safety issues in their homes at no cost to the homeowner. Common repairs include roofing, windows, doors, plumbing, heating, electrical, and other safety items. Federal funding sources also require lead paint, floodplain, and historic preservation issues be addressed. When complete, all homes must meet Section 8 Housing Quality and Safety standards.
The RRRC is currently seeking interested homeowners to apply for the potential project in Park River. Similar projects were recently completed in Grafton and Drayton. The RRRC is currently working with the City of Cavalier on a housing rehabilitation project in that city.
Determining the potential number of applicants will assist in developing a possible funding package for the potential project which will include several federal grant funding resources. If grant applications are successful, any potential applicants will need to provide updated income documentation at that time, likely in the fall of 2016. The project would likely start fall of 2016 or early 2017.
In order to be eligible for this program, homes must:
· Be located within the city limits of Park River
· Be single-family
Potential Park River Housing Rehabilitation Project
· Be owner-occupied (no rentals)
· Mobile homes are not eligible
· Have no outstanding debt/taxes with the City of Park River
To be eligible, total gross household* income must be less than:
1 person $24,650
2 people $28,200
3 people $31,700
4 people $35,200
5 people $38,050
6 people $40,850
*Household is defined as anyone living in a household full-time. Income of anyone age 18 or older is included in household total.
How to Apply
To apply, a two-page application must be completed. Applications are available at the Park River City
Office (514 Briggs Avenue) or by contacting the RRRC at 701-352-3550. Applications are also available on
the RRRC website: www.RedRiverRC.com
In addition to the application, potential applicants must provide the following income documentation:
· A copy of 2015 property tax statement to prove ownership.
· A copy of 2014 income tax statement. If applicant did not file personal income tax, then the
most recent two months of personal bank statements must be provided.
· A copy of 2016 social security benefits statement, if applicable.
· If employed, copies of pay stubs for the past three months.
Updated income documentation will need to be provided once grant funding sources are secured, likely this fall. Potential applications and supporting documentation are currently being accepted until March 1, 2016 in order to determine the number of interested and eligible homeowners when securing grant resources for the potential project.
For more information about the project or how to apply, please contact Lori Estad or Stacie Sevigny at
the RRRC by calling 701-352-3550 or Park River City Coordinator Jolene Halldorson at 701-284-6150.
Agricultural producers have until March 1, 2016, to file their 2015 income tax returns without penalty if they have not made estimates. "Producers have until April 15 to file without penalty if they have paid their estimated tax by Jan. 15, 2016" says Ron Haugen, North Dakota State University Extension Service farm economist. Items to note for 2015 income tax preparation: * The 179 expense election for 2015 is $500,000. Generally, the 179 expense election allows producers to deduct up to $500,000 of machinery or equipment purchases for the year of the purchase. There is a dollar-for-dollar phase-out for purchases of more than $2 million.
The 179 expense election of $500,000 is now in permeant tax legislation. * The additional 50 percent first-year bonus depreciation provision is in effect for 2015. It is equal to 50 percent of the adjusted basis after 179 expensing. It only applies to new property that has a recovery period of 20 years or less. This provision is scheduled to be phased out. * The standard deduction is $12,600 for those who are married and filing jointly. The deduction is $6,300 for singles. * The personal exemption amount is $4,000. * Long-term capital gains and qualified dividend income is taxed at a 0 percent rate for individuals in the 10 or 15 percent tax brackets and at 15 percent for those in the 25 to 35 percent brackets and 20 percent for those in the top income bracket. * The annual individual retirement account contribution is $5,500 for 2015 or $6,500 for individuals 50 or older. * The annual gift tax exclusion for 2015 remains at $14,000. * The 2015 Social Security wage base is $118,500.
* The business mileage rate for 2015 is 57.5 cents per mile.
* Crop insurance proceeds, if received in 2015, may be deferred to 2016 if you qualify. You must use cash accounting and show that, under normal business practices, the sale of damaged crops would occur in a future tax year.
* A livestock deferral can be made by those who had a forced sale of livestock because of a weather-related disaster.
* Remember that qualifying farmers can elect to compute their current tax liability by averaging, during a three-year period, all or part of the current year's elected farm income.
This is done on Schedule J. North Dakota farmers who elect to use income averaging for federal purposes also may use Form ND-1FA, which is income averaging for North Dakota income tax calculations. Information on agricultural tax topics can be found in the "Farmers Tax Guide," publication 225. It is available at any IRS office or can be ordered by calling (800) 829-3676.