Ag Conservation Easement Funding Announced

Cindy Zimmerman Leave a Comment

acepAgriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Natural Resources Conservation Service chief Jason Weller today announced the availability of $332 million in financial and technical assistance through the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP).

“Conservation easements are an important tool to help these landowners and partners voluntarily provide long-term protection of our nation’s farmland, ranchland, wetlands and grasslands for future generations,” said Vilsack.

“What’s great about these easements is that you can also have permanent protection of vulnerable habitat…but these are also working land conservation easements,” Weller added. “The easements are a critical tool for us.”

The 2014 Farm Bill consolidated three previous conservation easement programs into ACEP to make it easier for diverse agricultural landowners to fully benefit from conservation initiatives. ACEP applications may be submitted at any time to NRCS; however, applications for the current funding round must be submitted on or before May 15, 2015.

USDA NRCS easement program funding announcement
Audio, Conservation, NRCS, USDA

2015 World Backup Day

Chuck Zimmerman Leave a Comment

World Backup DayHey AgNerds when was the last time you backed up your computer? Your phone? Your tablet? Your memory cards? All your field data? Hopefully you know the answer to that.

If you haven’t then do it today – World Backup Day. This infographic was sent to me by Cloudwards. Click on it to see the rest of the graphic.

World Backup DayMarch 31st has been declared World Backup Day. With so much of our lives, photos, and videos being stored in digital form, it is important that we begin to make backups of our precious data. Backing up your data is one of those easy-to-do procedures that many people ignore.

People now create and generate over 1.8 zettabytes of data per year.¹ That’s a lot of data that we need to protect! Unfortunately, nearly 30% of people have never even backed up their data.² Backing up your data will protect your life’s work when that hard drive fails. If you are a small business, a data backup can be what saves your company. World Backup Day is here to make sure that people actually start backing up.

Invest in a small portable hard drive. Connect it to your computer and use software like Time Machine for a Mac or SyncBack for a PC. Invest in a cloud storage account like BackBlaze. Have the peace of mind of the best of both worlds!

AgNerd, computers, Gadgets, technology

Momentum Growing for Non-GMO Labels

Cindy Zimmerman Leave a Comment

wpMomentum and support appear to be growing for a voluntary federal food labeling standard with a Washington Post editorial out this week saying GMO food labeling is unnecessary.

“The GM-food debate is a classic example of activists overstating risk based on fear of what might be unknown and on a distrust of corporations,” writes the WP editorial board, which noted recent research highlights the difference between “informed opinion and popular anxiety.” In January, the Pew Research Center found that 88 percent of scientists polled believe genetically modified food is generally safe to eat, while only 37 percent of the general public shares that view.

The WP editorial supports the House bill introduced last week would provide for a voluntary federal labeling system for non-GMO products. “Yes, food industry interests back the bill. That doesn’t make it wrong,” the editorial concludes.

Read the WP editorial here.

biotechnology, GMO, Government

Doane Planting Intentions Survey Results

Cindy Zimmerman Leave a Comment

doaneWhile USDA is due out with the 2015 planting intentions report on March 31, Doane Advisory Services released its planting intentions report to subscribers and clients on Friday, March 20th, showing a continuation of recent trends toward more soybeans and less corn acreage.

Last year’s corn acreage declined significantly in 2014, down 4.8 million acres from the 2013 level, just a bit more than the 4.5 million acre decline implied by Doane’s 2014 survey results and more accurate than USDA’s March Prospective Plantings report last year which showed only a 3.7 million acre decline.

The 2015 results show another big decline in corn acreage in the works for this year, to 87 million acres which is the lowest level since 2009. While traders are expecting a slight drop in 2015 based on USDA’s preliminary estimate of 89 million acres at its February Outlook Forum, the Doane survey would most likely prove bullish if confirmed by USDA’s March 31 Prospective Plantings report.

Soybean acreage on the other hand will rise sharply according to Doane survey results, which imply national acreage of a record 87 million acres, with largest increases percentage-wise for the Northern Plains states. The Doane survey results imply a significant increase in sorghum acreage this year.

While some forecasts show significant year-over-year declines in total crop acreage planted to the principle crops for 2015, Doane results suggest otherwise. Expected declines for corn, cotton, and winter wheat acreage will be offset with more acres of sorghum, barley, durum wheat, soybeans, sunflower, canola and hay.

Link to full release here.

Corn, Planting, Soybeans

Study Shows DuPont Pioneer Corn Performs in Drought

John Davis Leave a Comment

dupontpioneerA new study in the Journal of Crop Science shows how well DuPont Pioneer corn hybrids perform in drought conditions. This company news release says the multi-year study demonstrated the efficacy of Pioneer brand Optimum® AQUAmax® maize hybrid seeds.

“Through these and related research efforts, we are making real progress in understanding what contributes to drought tolerance,” said Mark Cooper, research director, trait characterization and development at DuPont Pioneer, and one of the study’s authors. “This will help DuPont Pioneer continue to deliver strong maize hybrids to growers around the world.”

Key Findings from the Study

The multi-year study included comprehensive managed-environment research experiments, on-farm industry evaluation experiments and planting density studies. More than 10,700 U.S. farms provided extensive data comparing 78 of the Optimum® AQUAmax® hybrids to a sample of 4,200 industry-leading hybrids used by growers throughout the Corn Belt.

In the on-farm experiments, the Optimum® AQUAmax® hybrids were, on average, 6.5 percent higher yielding under water-limited conditions and 1.9 percent higher yielding under favorable growing conditions.
Under water-limited conditions, the Optimum® AQUAmax® hybrids yielded better in higher plant population situations (i.e., more plants per acre) when compared to the other hybrids. The yield advantage of Optimum® AQUAmax® hybrids compared to other hybrids became greater as plant populations increased.

DuPont Pioneer points out that water is the most limiting factor to agricultural and food productivity, causing annual crop losses of $13 billion due to drought globally. In the U.S. alone, since 1980, major droughts and heat waves have produced losses exceeding $100 billion, and in 2012, a severe drought contributed to historically high grain prices in the United States.

Agribusiness, Corn, Dupont Pioneer

Vote for Your Fav New Holland Next Gen Video

Cindy Zimmerman Leave a Comment

Vote New HollandIt’s time to vote in the New Holland Voice of the Next Gen Contest. Voting is active now and concludes March 31. There are five chances to win an all-expense-paid trip for two to the Florida-Georgia Line concert at the Giant Center in Hershey, Pa. on May 2, 2015. The contest winners and their guests will also take part in an exclusive meet and greet with FGL’s Tyler Hubbard at New Holland’s Pennsylvania headquarters.

The Voice of the Next Gen contest is part of New Holland’s year-long 120th Anniversary bash, celebrating not just the accomplishments of the past, but looking forward with excitement to the next generation of New Holland SMART products, customers and dealers.

The five Grand Prize winners will be selected from among the top 20 videos, as determined by the public through likes from March 23-30, 2015. Criteria for selecting the five winners will be based on originality, creativity, entertainment value and interpretation of New Holland’s Voice of the Next Gen theme. One winner from among the five Grand Prize winners will be awarded the “New Holland Voice of the Next Gen” title.

New Holland

Propane Upgrade Grain Dryer Efficiency

Cindy Zimmerman Leave a Comment

propane-grainFarmers at Commodity Classic were showing increased interest in upgrading their grain dryers to high efficiency propane units.

Cinch Munson with the Propane Education and Research Council (PERC) says their research shows that a new propane grain dryer can result in 50% efficiency savings. “PERC has worked with a number of grain dryers manufacturers over the past few years to upgrade the efficiency of grain dryers on the market,” he said. In addition, PERC offers incentive programs to help farmers with the purchase price of a new grain dryer. “There’s also other grant programs available to help people purchase high efficiency grain dryers,” said Munson.

In this interview, Munson also talks about more interest in propane-powered lawnmowers and propane heating systems for animal containment facilities and greenhouses: Interview with Cinch Munson, PERC

2015 Commodity Classic Photo Album

Audio, Commodity Classic, Energy, Grain, PERC, propane

What is Best for GMO Labeling?

Jamie Johansen Leave a Comment

New Holland ZimmPollOur latest ZimmPoll asked the question, “Which potential presidential candidate would be best for ag?”

Of the 12 potential presidential candidates included in our poll, only one has officially declared. But two hopefuls have risen to the top of our poll. It seems many believe Hillary Clinton and Scott Walker might have the best interest of agriculture in mind, if elected.

Here are the poll results:

  • Joe Biden – 3%
  • Jeb Bush – 11%
  • Ben Carson – 5%
  • Chris Christie – 1%
  • Hillary Clinton – 22%
  • Ted Cruz – 7%
  • Mike Huckabee – 13%
  • Rand Paul – 4%
  • Rick Perry – 2%
  • Marco Rubio – 3%
  • Scott Walker – 19%
  • Elizabeth Warren – 10%

Our new ZimmPoll is now live and asks the question, What is best for GMO labeling?

Agricultural organizations are voicing support for the bi-partisan Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act introduced in the U.S. House recently. What do you think is best when it comes to the labeling of GMO’s? Should it be mandatory or voluntary? Should it include all foods? Should states decide? Let us know your opinion.


Research Finds Propane Cuts GHG Emissions

Cindy Zimmerman Leave a Comment

propane-savesNew research commissioned by the Propane Education & Research Council (PERC) finds that propane equipment cuts greenhouse gas emissions and reduces fuel costs.

“A Comparative Analysis of Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Propane and Competing Energy Sources,” prepared by Nexight Group, studied 14 applications to compare emissions from propane-powered equipment with emissions from conventional energy sources such as gasoline, diesel, and electricity.

Among the findings of the analysis was that propane-powered irrigation engines emit 20 percent fewer GHGs than those using gasoline, and 11 percent fewer GHGs than by using diesel.

Propane-autogas-powered work trucks like the Ford F-350 by Roush CleanTech produce 11 percent fewer GHGs than gasoline without sacrificing torque, horsepower or payload. Compared with those using gasoline, propane-powered forklifts produce 12 percent fewer GHGs.

Propane also beats electricity in cutting GHGs. Propane-powered furnaces emit 73 percent fewer GHGs, and propane-powered water heaters emit between 36 percent and 39 percent fewer GHGs than their electric counterparts.

PERC offers incentive programs to help offset the up-front costs of new propane equipment and home upgrades in exchange for performance data and customer feedback. The Propane Farm Incentive Program offers up to $5,000 on eligible irrigation engines, ag heaters, grain dryers, and portable generators. In addition, the Propane Heat & Power Incentive Program offers financial incentives up to $10,000 for eligible propane-powered products, such as standby generators and combined heat and power (CHP) systems.

Energy, Equipment, Irrigation, PERC, propane

Drones Can Increase Efficiency of Farming

John Davis Leave a Comment

ncgadrones1Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS), better known as drones, will make farming more efficient, lower operating costs, and reduce their environmental impact. That was the message from National Corn Growers Association Manager of Public Policy Clint Raine to a group of policymakers and reporters during a panel about the applications of UAS technology to the agricultural industry.

“I’m optimistic about the possibilities for UAS technology and what it could mean for farmers,” said Raine. “These devices will make farms more efficient and sustainable. Lowering the costs and environmental impact of farming is good not only for farmers, but also consumers.”

While unmanned aerial systems have many commercial applications, they are expected to have the greatest impact on the agriculture industry – by one estimate, adding more than $75 billion to the economy by 2025. UAS are regulated by the Federal Aviation Administration, and are currently banned for commercial use. NCGA and other agricultural organizations hope to see that changed.

“If this technology were available for commercial use, some immediate applications include livestock monitoring, crop scouting and field mapping. Being able to use UAS for any of these jobs would increase efficiency on farms and provide instant feedback to the farmer,” said Raine.

Drone technology could be used to detect early pest infestations, crop disease, poor soil health, irrigation levels, and overall crop health. Raine said the technology makes farmers much more efficient, allowing a producer to scout a field in 10-15 minutes in what used to take an hour.

Ag Group, Agribusiness, drone, NCGA