Bruce Anderson has been making hay with the Hay and Forage Minute radio program, which airs on stations across Nebraska, since February 1991. Over nearly 30 years, Anderson, a Nebraska Extension forage specialist, has written and recorded more than 3,000 radio shows on warm-season grasses, forage quality for hay and pasture systems, and forage-livestock systems.
Anderson, who grew up on a small dairy farm in south-central Minnesota, started his first job out of college at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln on Sept. 7, 1979. He never left.
“I never saw any opportunities that would provide me something that I could accomplish more there than I could here,” Anderson said.
When the Hay and Forage Minute first started, it aired only on KRVN, which soon found a sponsor for the program.
“It became a no-brainer after a while,” Anderson said. “I knew it was something that could really fit and nobody else was doing it.”
In its second year, the program expanded from the KRVN station in Lexington to stations in West Point and Grand Island. Since then, as many as 50 Nebraska radio stations pick up the program weekly.
Anderson is set to retire on June 30, during National Forage Week.
He said his work on the program has been rewarding.
“I think that it’s easy to discuss challenges that producers have — Nebraskans are good at asking questions,” Anderson said. “They recognize that there’s nothing to be ashamed of about talking about things that aren’t going well or that they want to try. I think I’ve been able to effectively encourage them to do so and be comfortable in the discussions. That has been the rewarding thing about the whole business.”
The foundation and following Anderson has built will continue in a slightly modified program called the Pasture and Forage Minute, a Nebraska Extension production.
Daren Redfearn, Nebraska Extension forage systems specialist, who began his graduate program at Nebraska in the early ’90s when Anderson first kicked off the Hay and Forage Minute, is one of four extension professionals who will succeed Anderson.
“We wanted this to continue with the primary forage flavor, if you will,” Redfearn said. “When we need to step across the discipline lines, we are able to do that, as well. We hope to not leave anybody out, and we hope to draw some new folks in.”
The other voices of the Pasture and Forage Minute will be Ben Beckman, beef systems educator; Megan Taylor, cropping systems specialist; and Brad Schick, beef systems educator. Along with Redfearn, they will produce three Pasture and Forage Minute programs per week.
In Nebraska, the forage, pasture and grassland industry is worth $2 billion annually.
The Pasture and Forage Minute will continue with its well-known radio spots but will expand to include an in-depth podcast to reach agricultural businesses, producers who are livestock-based with some forages, and crop producers who raise forages without livestock.
“The thing that makes Nebraska unique is that we’ve got an awful lot of grassland in the state, in addition to alfalfa and grass hay production,” Redfearn said. “I think that’s going to open up our audience quite a bit just because of the diversity of forage management systems that we have in Nebraska.”
As for Anderson, he will custom graze cow-calf pairs on the farm this summer and garden.