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COL Special tax break for some purchases

If you had a high income in 2001 and purchased machinery or equipment after Sept. 11, 2001, you may be able to reduce your tax bill with bonus depreciation, says Pat Kearney, Kandiyohi County (Minn.) Extension educator. The new economic stimulus package recently signed by President Bush allows 30 percent depreciation on property having a recovery period of less than 20 years.

"Details are very sketchy as this time,'' said Erlin Weness, University of Minnesota Extension farm management educator. "But if you bought a new piece of machinery, equipment or a single-purpose agricultural structure after Sept. 11, 2001, you may be eligible for the 30 percent bonus depreciation.''

Reduced-tillage planter adjustments

One of the best investments in any crop year is to take the time to properly prepare, maintain and adjust planters, says Mark Hanna, Iowa State University Extension ag engineer.

"Planter maintenance is especially important for producers in no-till and reduced tillage systems,'' he said, "since most of the physical responsibility for manipulating the soil, placing seed, and getting the seed off to a good start rests on the planter.''

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The key, he said, is to understand that reduced-tillage growers aren't planting in a prepared seedbed.

"The planter in a conservation tillage system is used to create the seed furrow at the right depth, place the seed uniformly in the furrow and establish adequate seed-to-soil contact, all through a layer of crop residue,'' Hanna said.

Seed identity tool is available

New seed technologies and special grain production opportunities are giving Midwest corn and soybean producers the chance to produce consistent, high-quality grains and oilseeds.

A new tool is available to help farmers protect the identity of these specialty crops during the planting process. Iowa State University Extension, Pioneer Hi-Bred International and the Iowa Grain Quality Initiative have teamed up to develop the "Planter Clean-out Procedures for Corn and Soybeans'' video.

The video was produced on one of ISU's research farms. The guides outline specific clean-out procedures for the planter types featured in the video. The video and guides will be available through ISU Extension offices this month.

Dry spring may change tillage

A dry spring means that conditions are right for moisture loss from normal spring tillage operations, says Wayne Schoper, Brown County (Minn.) Extension educator. Without sufficient topsoil moisture, seed germination could be impaired.

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Other drought-related risks include increased insect infestation, low resistance to plant disease, and the possibility of wind erosion on highly erodible soils where crop residue is minimal, he said.

The good news is that soil moisture can be partially managed with tillage, even in a dry year. If moisture has been low since harvest, or if your area is in that 5 percent that may experience drought, consider modifying spring tillage management plans.

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