GROWMARK Crop Update

Cindy Zimmerman Leave a Comment

2015-corn-plantAnother 10% of the nation’s corn crop was planted last week, bringing the total now a couple of points ahead of last year but still behind the five year average.

According to the latest progress report from USDA, farmers now have 19% of the corn crop in the ground and two percent has emerged, most of it in non-Corn Belt states.

laatsch-growmarkI had an opportunity last week to visit with GROWMARK Insect and Plant Disease Technical Manager Tim Laatsch to talk about how conditions are looking this season around Illinois.

“It’s sort of a tale of two cities,” said Laatsch. “The southern third of Illinois has been extremely wet with almost no field activity occurring. Those conditions gradually improve as you go northward.”

Laatsch says corn planting in Illinois jumped from near zero to 15% the week ending April 19, and farmers more than doubled that last week. One percent of the corn is emerged in Illinois and Laatsch says some of that early emerged corn was greeted with freezing temps last week. “The bigger problem is corn that has not yet emerged, it’s subject to any number of problems when soil conditions are wet and now turned cool,” he said.

Laatsch has spent the past few weeks scouting wheat fields in Illinois where just two percent of the crop is headed, compared to 16% for the five year average. “What we’re seeing is conditions setting up favorably for disease development in the wheat crop,” he said. “If conditions remain somewhat wet and humid and temperatures start warming up, we could see some moderate to severe foliar disease pressure develop.” Meanwhile, he is seeing little insect pressure in wheat at this point.

Tim has more observations in this interview: Interview with Tim Laatsch, GROWMARK

Audio, Corn, Growmark, wheat

Chicken Litter – A Hot Commodity

Jamie Johansen Leave a Comment

cms-15-141-editedJenny Rhodes, Extension Educator for University of Maryland in Queen Anne’s County and local poultry farmer, was asked to attend the 2015 Chicken Media Summit to talk about chicken manure. For her first 10 years in extension, Jenny wrote nutrient management plans. These plans are state mandated and any farmer meeting it’s requirements must have one for their operation.

“In the plan, we estimate the amount of manure on their farm and then work in a prescription approach. We test the soil, we test the manure, we know what nutrients the crop is going to take in and we write the farmer a prescription for that.”

Jenny sat on the myths and facts panel during the event and busted the myth that chicken litter is a waste product and farms are major sources of pollution. In fact, we heard from a local farmer that he wanted to buy chicken manure and couldn’t even find it. The hot commodity is an excellent source of fertilizer for all crops and these nutrient management plans aid farmers in knowing the exact amounts needed for an individual field.

“We are family farmers and we all want the same thing. We all want clean water and safe food.”

Learn more about nutrient management plans in my complete interview with Jenny here: Interview with Jenny Rhodes, University of Maryland Extension

Find photos from the event here: 2015 Chicken Media Summit Photo Album

Ag Group, Audio, Fertilizer

Ethanol Tops Alternative Fuels ZimmPoll

Jamie Johansen Leave a Comment

New Holland ZimmPollOur latest ZimmPoll asked the question, “What is your favorite alternative fuel (to gasoline)?”

A hands down winner in this week’s poll on alternative fuels was ethanol. Which is not a surprise. However, many may be surprised to see the clear runner-up was solar. We had many chime in for the other category. A few of those included: algae diesel, biohydrogen and biobutanol.

Here are the poll results:

  • Biodiesel – 10%
  • Ethanol – 42%
  • Propane – 9%
  • Natural gas – 7%
  • Wind – 6%
  • Solar – 17%
  • Other – 9%

Our new ZimmPoll is now live and asks the question, How will high path avian flu impact industry?

The states impacted by high path avian flu are on the rise. The most recent outbreak in Iowa on a chicken egg farm has led us all to wonder the short and long term repercussions it will have on the industry, exports and prices for the consumer. In this week’s ZimmPoll we want to know if you think this flu strain will transform the industry or will it bounce back quickly?


EU Approves 17 Biotech Traits for Import

John Davis Leave a Comment

asaAfter the European Commission had just proposed to let European Union (EU) states opt out of the import of food and feed containing biotechnology traits, the body seems to have reversed course a bit and approved 17 biotechnology traits for import. The news was met with guarded optimism from the American Soybean Association’s (ASA) First Vice President Richard Wilkins, a soybean farmer from Greenwood, Delaware, who was glad to see the traits include the Plenish and Vistive Gold high-oleic soybean varieties, as well as dicamba-tolerant and omega-3 soybeans.

“On the one hand, we’re happy to see these traits finally receive Commission approval after years of delay. The 17 products approved by the European Commission today have been pending for 69 months on average despite EU laws and regulations that foresee an 18-month time period for a decision. Whenever our technology partners bring a new trait to market, farmers in the U.S. aren’t able to fully recognize the benefits of products with those traits until they are accepted in all of our key export markets, so this is a big, big step forward. We are especially pleased with the announcement with regard to high-oleic soybeans, which will give food processors the frying and baking qualities they need in an oil without the need for partial hydrogenation which produces trans fats. Additionally, dicamba-tolerant soybeans will give soybean farmers another tool to prevent and manage weed resistance in their fields.

“On the other hand, however, this announcement means little if the EU persists in its current unscientific and delayed approval process for new varieties developed through biotechnology. Today more than 40 additional GM applications for import, submitted by various companies, remain pending in the EU system.”

Wilkins added that opting-out of a fully approved, safe GM product is a giant step backwards and would be in clear violation of the EU’s obligations under the World Trade Organization and would negatively impact U.S. soy exports to Europe.

Ag Group, Agribusiness, ASA, biotechnology, Exports, GMO, Soybeans

Researchers Study Using Wastewater on Crops

John Davis Leave a Comment

Kurt_Schwabe1A new study will look at the feasibility of using treated wastewater on crops. This news release from the University of California, Riverside says the school has partnered with The Hebrew University of Jerusalem to launch the two-year study they hope will lead to viable and cost-effective regional water reuse policies.

Kurt Schwabe, associate professor of environmental economics and policy and the project’s principal investigator, said the team will review existing research on using treated wastewater to improve the reliability of local water supplies; study the impact of treated wastewater on crop yields; and evaluate the efficacy and cost-effectiveness of new technologies for using treated wastewater on landscaping and agriculture.

The project, “Enhanced Resilience of Local Agricultural Water Supplies through Reuse of Municipal and Agricultural Water: A Dynamic Economic Analysis,” will initially be funded with a seed grant of approximately $300,000 from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture-Binational Agricultural Research and Development Fund partnership with Israel.

“The long-term goal is to determine the most cost-effective approach to utilizing treated wastewater with an eye toward water supply reliability and maintaining water quality standards,” Schwabe explained. “Given the integral role wastewater reuse will play in an agency’s water supply portfolio, a clearer understanding of reuse possibilities and their implications on agency costs can be helpful. Yet to identify cost-effective solutions to these problems requires an interdisciplinary approach. Collaborating with researchers in engineering, economics and soil science is a much more effective strategy to solve issues than a piecemeal or siloed approach.”

The work is seen as reflecting what many communities in the U.S., and especially California this year, experience in the form of short-term and long-term drought situations and how those areas could benefit from such an analysis.

Agribusiness, Research, Water Management

Bayer Celebrates 10th Anniversary of One Ton Club

John Davis Leave a Comment

bayer CropScienceBayer CropScience is celebrating the 10th anniversary of the FiberMax One Ton Club and honored 183 growers for hitting the 2,000-pound-per-acre yield during 2014.

During its first decade, the FiberMax One Ton Club has recognized 806 cotton growers who produced 2,000 pounds or more of lint cotton per acre on at least 20 acres using FiberMax cotton seed. In 2014, a grower from North Carolina became the first One Ton Club member from east of Texas. Growers have used 37 different FiberMax varieties to produce One Ton Club yields.

Bayer CropScience brought FiberMax cotton seed to the West Texas market in 1998 and revolutionized cotton production on the High Plains. The region once known for producing lower yields and quality began producing some of the highest yields and best quality in the United States.

Lee Rivenbark, head of Seeds North America for Bayer CropScience, remembers those early days when growers first started achieving yields that were previously unknown in West Texas.

Willem and Ruth Hartman, OTC truck winners“By elevating the use of water management, equipment and technology, these innovative growers showed they could successfully manage for high yields and high quality with FiberMax cotton,” Rivenbark said. “We began to hear stories about 2,000-pound cotton yields, and we needed to come up with a way to recognize producers who grew four-bale cotton. Then a grower told us, ‘It’s not just four-bale cotton. It’s a ton of cotton.’”

Willem and Ruth Hartman, first-year One Ton Club members from Pampa, Texas, won a Ford F-350 Super Duty King Ranch truck in a sweepstakes for all One Ton Club members. Read More

Agribusiness, Bayer CropScience, Cotton

Zetor Debuts New 150 Horsepower Forterra HD

John Davis Leave a Comment

zetorforterraZetor North America has added a new tractor to its offerings. The new 150 horsepower Forterra HD is the company’s most powerful, top of the line tractor.

Zetor Tractors has expanded its range of farm tractors for the US and Canadian markets with the 150hp Forterra HD. The objective was to introduce a high horsepower tractor with a four-cylinder engine offering fuel economy and low operating costs that no six-cylinder tractor with the same power can match, while also delivering the durability and reliability Zetor Forterra tractors have been known for almost 20 years. All that at a very attractive price.

Forterra HD tractors feature a unique combination of high power and torque, extreme fuel efficiency and high operator’s comfort. Equipped with the top version of the proven and highly popular Zetor 4-cylinder engine with Zetor 16-valve technology, it is one of the most fuel efficient tractors on the world market. At the same time, Zetor inline injection pump and mechanical injectors are simple in design, and their long track record shows very low operating costs, high reliability, and long life expectancy, compared with common-rail systems. Engine balancing shafts make the HD engine run as smooth as any six-cylinder, while reducing noise levels.

Forterra HD is equipped with proven 30/30 power shuttle transmission introduced in 2012 in the HSX series. New for HD is PTO clutch control that automatically adjusts the startup speed depending on the implement for fast but smooth engagement at all times.

To enhance operator’s comfort, Forterra HD has a significantly extended wheelbase so the comfort is fully comparable to six-cylinder tractors. The inside noise has been reduced by 3dBA.

More information is available at your nearest local dealer. Find them here.

Agribusiness, Equipment, Tractor

DuPont to Buy Taxon Biosciences

John Davis Leave a Comment

duponttaxonDuPont will buy leading microbiome discovery company Taxon Biosciences, Inc. This company news release says the deal will build on DuPont’s in-house capabilities and market access in both seed and crop protection to discover and commercialize biological solutions for agriculture customers globally.

“In 2014, the businesses in DuPont’s Agriculture, Nutrition & Health and Industrial Biosciences segments sold more than $1 billion in biological solutions across four market sectors. Our in-house, cross-business venture, DuPont Biologicals, draws on our world-class science and deep understanding of food and production agriculture markets to deliver value-added crop biological solutions,” said Executive Vice President James C. (Jim) Borel. “Taxon has built a leading technology platform for the discovery of microbial based products that will further strengthen our capabilities in biologicals.”

Based in Tiburon, Calif., Taxon was founded in 2000, by leading microbial geneticists Matt Ashby and Jasper Rine, with the objective of developing a transformational microbial genomics platform to solve critical challenges in agriculture, energy and health sciences. The company holds a broad intellectual property estate in the field of microbial consortia and microbial genomics products which will contribute to the development of new DuPont seed treatment, foliar and soil application products for important row crops, fruits and vegetables.

“The acquisition of Taxon will complement and enhance our in-house microbial discovery programs,” said Frank DeGennaro, director of DuPont Biologicals. “With this added capability, we expect to accelerate our time from discovery to market and we are field testing biological discovery leads identified by Taxon this year.”

“DuPont has a legacy of innovation, and we are excited to join the company in transforming the future of global agriculture through crop biologicals,” said Glenn Nedwin, chief executive officer and president, Taxon Biosciences, Inc. “Our unique technology platform coupled with DuPont’s robust research capabilities and positioning across several markets makes the integration of Taxon into DuPont a natural fit and will support DuPont’s ability to bring new products to the market, faster.”

Crop biologicals, including microbes, plant extracts, and other natural substances used to control pests and improve plant health, quality and yield, can provide more choice and flexibility for growers, and complement leading-edge solutions for growers available from DuPont Crop Protection and DuPont Pioneer.

Agribusiness, Dupont Crop Protection, Dupont Pioneer

Granular Buys AcreValue

John Davis Leave a Comment

granularAgriculture software and analytics company Granular bought farmland real estate evaluation business AcreValue. This company news release says the deal enhances Granular’s service offerings to the farmland market and gives farmers and potential investors valuable information into land values across the country.

The free service allows buyers, sellers, agents and other interested parties to browse AcreValue estimates using a map-based interface. Users will also be able to download reports on each field that includes valuable data on soil type, topography, crop history, basis trends and other important features, as well as produce estimates of the value of individual fields. These estimates have proven accurate to the level where they provide useful guidance to farmland buyers and sellers.

“Acquiring or leasing more acres at the right price is a top priority for members of Granular’s professional farm network,” said Sid Gorham, Granular’s CEO. “We believe that AcreValue will make the farmland resale and rental markets more convenient, transparent and efficient. This is an exciting new service the market has been waiting for and we will continue to invest in its expansion so it can benefit Granular subscribers and the agriculture industry more broadly.”

“The idea for AcreValue came out of my own family’s discussions about valuing our farmland in Iowa,” said Christopher Seifert, AcreValue’s CEO. “Granular’s vision of adding technology innovation to the farmland and agricultural market makes it a perfect acquiring partner for AcreValue. I’m excited to build out the service as part of the Granular team and to work with its base of industry-leading farmers. We hope AcreValue helps the farmland market like Zillow has the residential real estate market.”

As part of the deal, Seifert joins Granular to head the agronomy data science team.


White House Climate Initiative Announced

Cindy Zimmerman Leave a Comment

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and presidential advisor Brian Deese visited Michigan State University Thursday to announce a comprehensive national strategy to partner with farmers, ranchers and forest land owners to address the threat of climate change. The new initiative, “Building Blocks for Climate Smart Agriculture & Forestry”, will utilize voluntary, incentive-based conservation, forestry, and energy programs to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, increase carbon sequestration and expand renewable energy production in the agricultural and forestry sectors.

climate-deese“This is an innovative and creative effort to look across all of USDA’s programs and put forward voluntary and incentive-based programs that will increase the bottom lines of ranchers and farmers while reducing net greenhouse gas emissions,” said Deese. “Taken together, these partnerships will reduce emissions by 120 million metric tons or two percent of our economy-wide emissions in 2025 – exactly the collaborative, bold action this moment demands of us.”

climate-vilsack“American farmers and ranchers are leaders when it comes to reducing carbon emissions and improving efficiency in their operations. That’s why U.S. agricultural emissions are lower than the global average,” said Vilsack, who was joined by agricultural producers and other private partners in Michigan. “Through incentive-based initiatives, we can partner with producers to significantly reduce carbon emissions while improving yields, increasing farm operation’s energy efficiency, and helping farmers and ranchers earn revenue from clean energy production.”

Listen to or download announcement here: White House Climate Change initiative announcement

Audio, climate, USDA