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Agricultural Programs

Soybean Production in Nevada

Farmer standing on a tractor observes harvested soybeans being unloaded from the tractor into a large white canvas bag Cooperative Extension research shows that soybeans may have potential as a low-water-use alternative crop to alfalfa in Nevada. Photo by Steve Foster.

Extension researches soybeans to increase profitability and provide an alternative crop option for local producers


Alfalfa hay, alfalfa seed and small grains are the principle crops produced in Nevada’s Pershing County. Alfalfa hay remains by far the most important crop in terms of both acres harvested and value of production. Despite an 80 percent reduction in alfalfa seed acreage over the last nine years, it remains in second place, followed by “other hay” production. Small grains are grown as a rotational crop between the establishments of alfalfa crops. However, as Nevada is the driest state in the country, Nevada agricultural producers need to identify profitable low-water-use crops. Having faced a record-breaking drought 2012-2016, surface irrigation water supplies were greatly reduced, and groundwater levels are dropping in many locations. As a result, water resources are carefully managed and allocated. In Pershing County, the maximum water allotment from the Pershing County Water Conservation District is 3 feet of water per acre per year.

Response/What’s Been Done

To increase the profitability of local farmers and provide an alternative crop option that can grow with Nevada’s limited water resources, Extension began the Soybean Production in Nevada Program in 2012. Extension conducted research, including partnering with a Pershing County producer in 2017 to design and manage a test plot of three different soybean varieties at three levels of maturity to determine if soybeans would grow in the Pershing County area; which variety would grow best in the area; and if soybeans could be grown profitably. A curriculum was developed, presented and evaluated. It was used as part of an all-day educational program in 2017 to teach producers the recommended practices for growing soybeans in Nevada. There were 18 farmers from Pershing County at the program in 2017.

Results/Impact and Partners

Farmers who attended the program in 2017 were asked to rate the amount of knowledge they gained, on a scale of 1 to 5. The average rating in knowledge gained on all topics presented was 4.79. All 18 participants indicated that they would consider growing soybeans on their farming operations from the information provided during this training.

Results of the soybean test plots showed that soybeans may have potential as a crop in Nevada, and further research will be conducted again in 2018. The research showed that an earlier-maturing soybean performed better than the later-maturing varieties. After seeing the test plot results at Soybean Field Day, one farmer plans on planting 50 acres of soybeans. Extension was also contacted by another farmer for help in planting 15-20 acres of organic soybeans in 2018.

Research partners included the Nevada Nile Ranch and Nevada Soy Products.

After attending the program, participants believed they could increase their profitability by planting soybeans, in addition to their standard crops.


“I plan on planting 50 acres of soybeans after seeing the results of the Cooperative Extension test plots.”

— 2017 Soybean Field Day attendee

Contact: Steve Foster, 775-273-2923

Agricultural Programs

Programs Program Information

Cattlemen’s Update

Cattlemen’s Update is University of Nevada Cooperative Extension’s (UNCE) annual educational program offered for beef cattle producers to learn about issues affecting profitability and product quality in the Great Basin region.

Coffee Shop email helps ranchers make money

Nevada agriculture specialists have taken the traditional producer coffee-shop discussions into cyberspace. Cooperative Extension’s coffee shop is a national subscription email designed to provide a two-way communication network for livestock producers. The question-and-answer service provides answers to livestock production and marketing questions.

Federally Recognized Tribal Extension Program

The purpose of Nevada’s Federally Recognized Tribal Extension Program (FRTEP) is to improve the ability of Native American farmers and ranchers to manage their agricultural enterprises effectively, efficiently and profitably.

Herds and Harvest

Cattle grazing on a ranch

Integrated Pest Management (IPM) and IR-4 program

This program is to test potential pesticides necessary for producing forages in Nevada and submit requests for federal testing and registration from the IR-4 program, which is a federal cooperative program established in 1963 to help the producers of minor crops obtain clearances for pest control materials on those crops. The purpose of IR-4 is to work with farmers, agriculture scientists and Cooperative Extension personnel to carry out research and petition the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in order to obtain tolerances for specific pesticide uses needed by minor-crop producers.

People of the Land

Historically, American Indian agricultural producers and natural resource managers have not actively participated in programs sponsored by the U.S. Department of Agriculture — even though tribal leaders have indicated the need to strengthen agriculture on Indian lands. Meanwhile, federal professionals have described the difficulty they have reaching American Indian agriculture producers and natural resource managers on reservations. The situation is sometimes referred to as the "Indian situation." The goal of this program is to train agricultural professionals to better understand Indian culture and make them more effective in helping American Indian producers strengthen sustainable agriculture and natural resource management on the reservations.

Pesticide Safety Education Program

University of Nevada Cooperative Extension’s Pesticide Safety Education Program provides Web-based training for pesticide applicators seeking to apply restricted and general use pesticides safely, properly and according to the law. Pesticide licensure and certification is administered by the Nevada Department of Agriculture.

Processing and Marketing of Local Meat Products: A Feasibility Analysis

University of Nevada Cooperative Extension (UNCE) developed a feasibility study to find ways to improve financial stability for Nevada livestock producers through processing and niche marketing.

Risk Management

University of Nevada Cooperative Extension (UNCE) develops and delivers a comprehensive risk management education program to livestock and forage producers in Nevada.

Soybean Production in Nevada

Farmer standing on a tractor observes harvested soybeans being unloaded from the tractor into a large white canvas bag

Sustainable Agricultural Practices

University of Nevada Cooperative Extension conducts several sustainable agriculture programs including researching alternative crops, introducing sustainable biodiversity/multiple use of rangelands, and increasing the number of pest control materials labeled in and increasing the knowledge and implementation rate of IPM practices in Nevada.

Tef Crop Production

The purpose of this program is to introduce Nevada farmers to and help train them in the cultivation of tef, a small-seeded grain and forage crop that requires less water than alfalfa and can be more profitable. There is a strong market for tef seed, which is made into flour to make an Ethiopian flat bread known as injera, as well as for tef hay as a high-quality horse hay.

Weed Prevention and Management

Integrated weed management is based on economically viable and environmentally friendly weed management tactics that combine judicious use of herbicides with other control tactics, such as mowing, burning, tillage, grazing and revegetation. By taking steps to prevent weed invasion, land owners/managers and other stakeholders can avoid the economic and environmental impacts of noxious and invasive weeds.

Weed Warriors Invasive Weed Training

The Weed Warriors Invasive Weed Training Program is held several times a year, usually in late winter or spring. This eight-hour, two-day introductory-level training introduces participants to the principles of Integrated Weed Management and focuses on improving ability to identify noxious weeds of local importance. A small fee is charged for program materials, and the class can be videoconferenced to other locations upon request. Each year, several dozen people go through the training and become certified Weed Warriors. Pesticide applicators receive six Continuing Education Credits for attending this course. Each year in May during a community event in the Truckee Meadows, Weed Warrior volunteers help rid parks and riverfront areas of invasive thistles.

Youth for the Quality Care of Animals

4-H members showing pigs