When children, parents, families and child-care providers sit around a table together at mealtime, passing bowls and serving themselves, children learn to recognize when they are full better than when food is pre-plated for them, reports a new University of Illinois study of feeding practices with children.

"Family-style meals give kids a chance to learn about things like portion size and food preferences. When foods are pre-plated, children never develop the ability to read their body's hunger cues. They don't learn to say, OK, this is an appropriate portion size for me," said Brent McBride, director of the U of I Child Development Laboratory and lead author of the study.

Obesity in school-age children is a large concern nationwide.

Asking the right questions can help children listen to their hunger and satiety signals. Instead of asking "Are you done?," ask, "Are you full?" Or say, "If you're hungry, you can have some more."

If a child doesn't eat at one meal, he'll compensate for it over a 24-hour period. Making kids eat when they aren't hungry is probably the worst thing you can do. It teaches them to ignore their body's signals.

Developing leadership in youths

All youth need opportunities to develop leadership skills. By learning to interact with others and becoming engaged members of their communities, youth learn they can make a difference.

Leadership education prepares youth to manage time, work as a team, set goals, start conversations, facilitate meetings, solve problems, make effective presentations, and appreciate learning and education.

The development of leadership contributes greatly to the positive development of young people and their communities. Promoting youth leadership development is a great way to promote positive life skills and learning. Participation in leadership can promote or extend a youth's understanding of career paths and opportunities, which opens doors in the future.

Helping youth develop life skills as competent, capable and productive members of society is the goal of most youth programming. Youth who successfully develop these skills will help create a more qualified workforce. They will have the necessary background to make positive impacts both economically and socially in their communities. Helping youth learn more about themselves, lead groups and become engaged community members helps to build an environment that promotes success.

For 4-H inquiries, call Barbara Addison at 272-3670 or email

Upcoming events

* 4-H/FFA Beef Tagging: 5:30 p.m. Friday at the Finney County Fairgrounds

* 4-H Family Consumer Science Judging: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. March 17 to 21 at the Finney County Extension Office.

National Nutrition Month

During the month of March there's a nutrition education campaign to focus attention on the importance of making good food choices, health and physical activities.

Also, Kansas State Research Extension promotes the Walk Kansas program, which promotes a healthy, active lifestyle.

Walk Kansas is almost here. If you have not registered yet, there's still time to join the eight-week challenge It is a team-based walking program that begins Sunday and continues until May 10. The program leads to a healthier life by being more physically active, making better nutrition choices and dealing with stress more effectively. Gather six people, form a team (including yourself) and be more active with friends and family, make better nutrition choices and walk away your stress.

Information about this program is available from the K-State Research & Extension — Finney County Office, 501 S. Ninth St.

Submit your registration materials before the deadline and join us for Walk Kansas 2014.

Healthful breakfasts

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Breakfast eaters do better and stay more alert during the day. Facts can be remembered more quickly. Nutritious foods power up the brain and the rest of the body. Look for options that are high in fiber and other nutrients, but low in added sugars.

People of all ages who skip breakfast aren't likely to make up for the nutrients they missed eating in the morning. On average, breakfast eaters get more calcium, dietary fiber and protein each day than people who do not eat breakfast.

Do your best to provide healthy food choices at home each morning. Encourage all members of your family to eat breakfast and get a healthy start.

Any questions or concerns, call LĂ©hisa de Fornoza at 272-3670 or email

Top-dressing nitrogen on wheat

Some wheat has begun to green up, so this is a good time to start planning for top-dressing nitrogen on wheat. Feekes 5 is the stage when head size is being determined. This begins about two weeks before jointing. Nitrogen in top-dress applications needs to move into the root zone by precipitation well before jointing. With fairly small wheat in some fields due to late planting, plus concerns over stands, winter survival and dry soils, there are several key elements that need to be considered: timing, application method and nitrogen source.

The most important factor in getting a good return on top-dress nitrogen is usually timing. It's critical to get some nitrogen on early enough to have the maximum potential impact on yield, by producing adequate numbers of tillers and large heads. Some producers like to wait until spring just prior to jointing to top-dress, but this can be too late in some years, especially when little or no nitrgen was applied in the fall. For well-drained medium- to fine-textured soils, the odds of losing much of the nitrogen that is top-dress-applied in the winter is low, so top-dressing can begin any time now.

For wheat grown on sandier soils, earlier isn't necessarily better. On these soils, there's a greater chance that nitrogen applied in the fall or early winter could leach completely out of the root zone if precipitation is unusually heavy. Waiting until closer to spring green-up to make initial top-dress nitrogen applications on sandier soils, and following that with a second top-dressing later helps manage this risk.

Most top-dressing is broadcast applied. In high-residue situations, this can result in some immobilization of nitrogen, especially where liquid UAN is uniformly distributed across the soil surface — as when nitrogen is combined with a herbicide application. If no herbicides are applied with the nitrogen, producers can get some benefit from applying it in a dribble band spaced no wider than 15 to 18 inches. This can help avoid immobilization and may provide a more consistent crop response.

The typical sources of nitrogen used for top-dressing wheat are UAN solution and dry urea. Numerous trials by K-State have shown that both are equally effective. In no-till situations, there may be some slight advantage to applying dry urea since it falls to the soil surface and may be less affected by immobilization than uniformly broadcast liquid UAN, which tends to get hung up on surface residues. Dribble (surface band) UAN applications would avoid much of this tie-up on surface crop residues as well. But if producers plan to tank-mix with a herbicide, they'll have to use liquid UAN and broadcast it.

Some of the new, controlled-release products such as polyurethane-coated urea (ESN) might be considered on very sandy soils prone to leaching. Generally a 50:50 blend of standard urea and the coated urea — which will provide some nitrogen immediately to support tiller and head development, and also continue to release some nitrogen in later stages of development — works best in settings with high loss potential.

If you have any questions about top-dressing wheat or any other concerns, call David Coltrain at 272-3670 or email