Agriculture & Natural Resources

A nutrient management plan helps protect the environment and run efficient operations 

Sources: Tammy Barnes, UK extension associate, and Amanda Gumbert, extension water quality specialist 

As producers, it is important for us to not only produce the best possible product but to be good environmental stewards. Nutrient management plans help us do that. 

These plans describe how you use fertilizer and/or generated manure in your operation while simultaneously meeting regulations, protecting local waterways and preventing soil erosion. The University of Kentucky recommends that all producers who use fertilizer or manure on their farms develop a nutrient management plan for their operation. These plans can help you reduce fertilizer costs, increase your soil’s organic matter and micronutrients, improve soil structure, increase water filtration and reduce runoff, in addition to protecting Kentucky’s waterways. 

You are required to develop a nutrient management plan if you store or stack animal manure, if you plan to sell manure or litter produced on your farm, or if you apply manure, litter or fertilizer to your crops. This plan is in addition to the Kentucky Agriculture Water Quality Plan. 

Two types of nutrient management plans exist. The Kentucky Division of Water requires producers who confine animals or use fertilizer to develop a Kentucky Nutrient Management Plan. These plans are also a requirement for the obtainment of a Kentucky No Discharge Permit, which is mandatory for any producer who stores and handles liquid manure or stacks uncovered manure or litter. You can write your own Kentucky Nutrient Management Plan using the UK Cooperative Extension Service publication, ID 211: KY Nutrient Management Planning Guidelines,, or by using the calculator on the UK Department of Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering’s website at 

You should develop a Comprehensive Nutrient Management Plan if you plan to apply for financial assistance with the Natural Resources Conservation Service for a manure handling practice. A NRCS technical service provider can write a Comprehensive Nutrient Management Plans for you for a fee. 

To develop a nutrient management plan, you need to have the following information handy: 

· the number of animals you have 

· type of operation 

· manure handling and storage procedure 

· total number of farm acres 

· soil sample analysis 

· manure sample analysis 

· crop rotation 

· crop yields 

· list of fields receiving manure and the acreage of each of those fields. 

More information on nutrient management plans is available at the Whitley County office of the UK Cooperative Extension Service, your local conservation district or by contacting Tammy Barnes, UK Nutrient Management Planner at 859-221-1940 or 

Educational programs of the Cooperative Extension Service serve all people regardless of economic or social status and will not discriminate on the basis of race, color, ethnic origin, national origin, creed, religion, political belief, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expressions, pregnancy, marital status, genetic information, age, veteran status, or physical or mental disability. 

Asian longhorned tick found in Kentucky

Asian longhorned tick. Photo by Anna Pasternak, UK entomology graduate student.
The Asian longhorned tick will attack wild and domestic animals and humans. Photo by Anna Pasternak, UK entomology graduate student.
July 21, 2020 | By: Katie Pratt
Lexington, Ky.

The Asian longhorned tick, which preys on a variety of hosts including humans and wild and domestic animals, has been found in Kentucky. This new tick is known to attack animals in large numbers and will be a concern to livestock producers, wildlife enthusiasts and pet owners.

“This tick is an aggressive biter and frequently builds intense infestations on domestic hosts that can cause stress, reduced growth and severe blood loss,” said Jonathan Larson, UK extension entomologist in the College of Agriculture, Food and Environment. “One reason for their rapid buildup is that the female ticks can lay eggs without mating. It only takes a single fed female tick to create a population of ticks. Potentially, thousands can be found on an animal.”

The tick has been found in small numbers on elk in Martin County and black bear in Floyd County. It was found in large numbers on a bull in Metcalfe County in the south-central part of the state.

“The Metcalfe County ticks were submitted by a veterinarian who answered a call about a bull so infested that it was showing signs of severe fatigue,” said Anna Pasternak, UK entomology graduate student who manages the Kentucky Tick Surveillance Program. “The tick samples that the veterinarian submitted for identification to the UK Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory contained Asian longhorned ticks.”

 Pasternak and Monica Cipriani, a student in the UK College of Public Health, sampled the Metcalfe County field and found more Asian longhorned ticks.

“With the first two findings being in Eastern Kentucky, the Metcalfe County finding is particularly troubling as it means the tick may have already spread farther across the state,” Pasternak said.

A native of Asia, the tick was first found in 2017 in the United States. In addition to Kentucky, it has been confirmed in Arkansas, Delaware, Connecticut, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee and West Virginia. In addition to cattle, black bear and elk, it preys on deer, raccoons, opossums, cats, dogs, coyotes, foxes, sheep, goats, groundhogs, horses, Canada geese, chickens, cottontail rabbits, red-tailed hawks and skunks. As it gets further established in the state, the tick is expected to have adverse effects on the state’s deer and wildlife population. Humans also are a host.

The tick is small and reddish-brown with no distinctive markings to make it easy to identify. Making detection more difficult, unfed Asian longhorned adults are smaller than other common adult ticks found in Kentucky. It is also a known or suspected vector of several important livestock viral, bacterial and protozoan agents. Scientists are conducting tests on ticks collected in the United States, and it is likely that some ticks will contain germs that can be harmful to animals.

Individuals who find a usually large number of ticks on their pet or livestock should contact their local veterinarian. Those who find single ticks they think might be an Asian longhorned tick should work with their county extension agent for agriculture and natural resources to submit the sample to UK entomologists for positive identification.

Additional information on tick bite prevention and proper tick removal is available in UK entomology’s ENTFACT 618: Ticks and Disease in Kentucky. It is available online at or by contacting a local extension office.

Ranunculus (buttercup) risk in pasture and hay


Worldwide, there are approximately 600 species of Ranunculus, commonly known as buttercup or crowfoot. According to the current USDA PLANTS database, nearly 30 different Ranunculus species are found in Kentucky. Fresh Ranunculus leaves, flowers, and stems have a sharp, pungent taste and are usually avoided by grazing livestock. Some Ranunculus species contain varying quantities of ranunculin, a compound hydrolyzed to protoanemonin when plants are damaged – for example, by grazing or mowing. Protoanemonin is a vesicant, causing blistering of the skin, mouth, and digestive system on contact. Ranunculus species with high ranunculin concentrations are the most toxic. Dried Ranunculus is expected to lose toxic potential fairly rapidly, although specific research has not been published to confirm this. Protoanemonin forms a non-vesicant compound, anemonin, upon drying.

Ranunculus ingestion can cause mouth pain, blisters, drooling, oral and gastric ulcers, colic, and diarrhea. Clinical signs can be severe if large quantities of Ranunculus are ingested, but the acrid taste usually deters further grazing in horses and cattle. Clinical signs are typically seen only when other forage is unavailable and animals are forced to consume Ranunculus. Sheep may be more likely than other grazing animals to eat the plants, particularly immature stages. Horses are probably the most sensitive species to the gastrointestinal effects of Ranunculus. One anecdotal report has suggested a possible association between presence of Ranunculus in pastures and abortions in cattle. Another suggests the same possible association in horses. Attempts to reproduce the disease have not been successful in either horses or cattle, and the hypothesized association remains unconfirmed.

A review of UKVDL records over the last 13 years found no cases of livestock deaths attributable to Ranunculus ingestion. It is possible that cases of colic or diarrhea have been caused by Ranunculus ingestion but were never attributed to the plant. Because animals avoid grazing Ranunculus when possible, it proliferates in overgrazed pastures. Overgrazing is prevented by maintaining appropriate stocking rates. Ranunculus poisoning is most likely in starving animals. The risk in Kentucky is minimal as long as plenty of other forage is available; unpalatable fresh plants are generally avoided when possible, and dried plants are less toxic than fresh.


Dr. Megan Romano, DABVT

Clinical Toxicologist

Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory

University of Kentucky



Update: a recording of this webinar is available by clicking HERE.

A short video covering the cattle market and a short intro on CFAP payments is HERE.

Are you interested in applying for Direct Payments through the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program but aren’t sure how?


The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) and Farm Service Agency (FSA) will host a webinar on Thursday, May 14, 2020, at 1 p.m. ET, for farmers, ranchers and other producers interested in applying for direct payments through the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP).

#UKAgPrograms  #UKAgriculture


To register:


For more information:


Try a small-scale garden this year

Source: Rick Durham, UK extension professor

People living in urban areas might not think they have the space to garden, but that is not the case. A University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service publication, ID-248: Gardening in Small Spaces, shows you how you can garden in a small area. Besides space, an issue that may limit gardening is sunlight. Most vegetables require full sun, meaning six or more hours of direct sunlight each day. If you have an open yard free of tall trees or a south-facing sunny patio, you should have sufficient light. If you only get four hours or so of light, try lettuce, spinach and radishes for the spring garden, or Swiss chard, cucumbers or winter squash for the summer garden. Gardening with limited space is best done in raised beds in the yard or containers for the patio. Beds can be made of many materials such as wood, plastic, vinyl or concrete blocks. Kill or cover any existing grass within the bed area and add 6 to 8 inches of amended soil. Amended soil includes 25% garden soil and 75% organic matter such as a mixture of peat, humus and compost. Little fertilizer should be needed if the mix contains at least 25% compost. For patio gardening, use pots or other containers to grow vegetables. These containers should be filled with potting soil, not garden soil. Use containers large enough to provide soil for good plant root growth. Plants in containers will need occasional fertilizer. Consult the fertilizer label for specific instructions. Larger pots will need less frequent watering than small pots, although container vegetables may need water once a day in the heat of summer. Make sure there are drainage holes to allow excess water to escape the pot. A five-gallon bucket is the perfect size for a tomato, while a 10-inch pot will hold a hot pepper plant. The Gardening in Small Spaces publication includes information on plant spacing for beds and containers. A companion publication, ID-128: Home Vegetable Gardening in Kentucky, provides information on planting dates and care instructions for most vegetables. Both publications are available online.

Gardening in Small Spaces is available at

Home Vegetable Gardening in Kentucky is at

You can also contact your Whitley County office of the University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service for a copy of either publication or for additional gardening information.

Educational programs of the Cooperative Extension Service serve all people regardless of economic or social status and will not discriminate on the basis of race, color, ethnic origin, national origin, creed, religion, political belief, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expressions, pregnancy, marital status, genetic information, age, veteran status, or physical or mental disability. 

Composting basics

Source: Rick Durham, extension professor

Composting is a great way to add valuable organic matter to your soil while reducing the amount of yard and food waste that ends up in landfills. It’s also something that nearly everyone can do.

Compost is the result of a natural process where decaying organic substances, such as plants, are broken down by microorganisms. This produces a nutrient-rich, organic material that you can apply to your lawn or garden, much like you would a commercial fertilizer.

You can start a compost bin or pile in your backyard. You can purchase a bin or make one using inexpensive, leftover materials like pallets or chicken wire. The bin can be as big or small as you want, but for most rapid composting, a pile that is at least 1-yard tall and 1-yard wide and 1-yard long is best. Make sure you place your compost in an area that is flat and well-drained.

Once you have defined a compost area, collect yard waste and food scraps. Yard waste includes twigs, shrub trimmings, grass clippings, leftover straw and leaves. Most fruit, vegetable and grain scraps are compostable as are coffee grounds, herbs, nuts and egg shells. Avoid meat scraps, oils and dairy products. Remember, you need to have a mixture of “brown” material (dried leaves, straw, twigs, coffee grounds, even cardboard) and “green” materials (fresh grass clippings, vegetable scraps, other fresh plant materials) for the composting process to work. Mix or turn the pile once a week to help speed the breakdown of organic materials. If the compost pile is extremely damp, turn it more often. If it is dry, add some water or fresh plant material. It can take four to six months to complete the composting process. You will know it’s finished when the compost is dark brown, crumbly and smells like soil.

Compost can be used in the vegetable garden or spread around ornamental plants in the landscape, but be careful not to use too much. A 1-inch layer of compost, worked into the top few inches of soil, will feed plants for several months.

More information on composting or other gardening tips is available at the Whitley County office of the University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service.

Educational programs of the Cooperative Extension Service serve all people regardless of economic or social status and will not discriminate on the basis of race, color, ethnic origin, national origin, creed, religion, political belief, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expressions, pregnancy, marital status, genetic information, age, veteran status, or physical or mental disability.


Want to grow hemp in 2020?

Here are some things you need to know

Source: Doris Hamilton, hemp program manager, Kentucky Department of Agriculture

There is an astronomical amount of interest for growing hemp in Kentucky, yet many new growers may not realize that applying to participate in Kentucky’s program is an involved process that requires fairly significant leg work on their part.

To grow hemp in Kentucky, you must submit an application and receive a license from the Kentucky Department of Agriculture. The application deadline to grow hemp this year is March 15. Here are some tips to help you with that process.

  • Before you do anything, KDA asks growers to assess their financial risk before entering the industry. The hemp marketplace is still in its infancy. The supply chain is still developing; hemp varieties are unpredictable and many regulatory issues remain unresolved at the federal level.
  • To be considered for the program, you must get the background check application from KDA’s website and submit it to the Kentucky State Police. Once you receive the results, you can upload them to your KDA grower application. Background checks are required for individual applicants and key participants within a business. These must be completed 60 days or less from the time the application is submitted to KDA. The program only approves applicants who have not been convicted of a felony or a drug-related misdemeanor in the past 10 years.
  • Each field must be at least a quarter of an acre, and producers must be able to plant 1,000 plants. You cannot grow hemp in your yard or within 1,000 feet of a school or public park.
  • Know where you want to grow. You must provide KDA with a growing location for your hemp. If you change your growing location after submitting an application, you will be charged a $750 site modification fee. All growing locations must have a Kentucky address. If the property doesn’t have an address, you must estimate one. The online application software includes a mapping feature that enables the applicant to identify hemp fields, greenhouses and storage areas.
  • The KDA has a Summary of Varieties List that includes more than 200 tested varieties to help educate farmers about their THC testing history. This tool helps producers select varieties that are likely to test below the legal limit of 0.3%. If you want to grow a variety that is not on that list, after obtaining your license, you must submit a “New Hemp Variety or Strain Request Form” along with a certificate of analysis that shows the variety has a total THC not more than 0.3%. The KDA does prohibit some varieties due to their THC testing history in Kentucky, where they consistently test above the legal limit.
  • You must secure your own seeds and a buyer for your product. You should read these business contracts carefully and be comfortable with their requirements.
  • Hemp is eligible for crop insurance in 2020. Contact your local crop insurance agent for more information before the crop insurance sales closing date of March 15.

Once approved for the program, keep copies of your grower license within easy access and near hemp materials. You may be required to display it for KDA officials or law enforcement.

More information and the hemp grower application is available on the Kentucky Department of Agriculture’s website, More information on UK’s hemp-related agronomic and economic research is available at or by contacting the Whitley County office of the University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service.

Educational programs of the Cooperative Extension Service serve all people regardless of economic or social status and will not discriminate on the basis of race, color, ethnic origin, national origin, creed, religion, political belief, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expressions, pregnancy, marital status, genetic information, age, veteran status, or physical or mental disability.