FMC Offers New Episodes of The Minute

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fmc-the-minuteFMC is bringing growers 12 new episodes of The Minute.  The series was created to offer timely information about current agronomic issues to growers and retailers.  This new set of shows will help prepare members of the ag community for the 2017 growing season.

“Our host, Jake Turner, is back traveling the country, talking with industry experts and growers about best practices, new technologies and emerging trends,” said Aaron Locker, FMC marketing director. “Growers have told us how much they enjoy The Minute, and we are pleased to bring it back with new information and ideas to help them prosper.”

Jake is covering a lot of territory and topics on The Minute. Over the past three years, more than 30 episodes have been produced. Upcoming episodes will focus on tough corn diseases, new in-furrow technologies, high-production systems and herbicide stewardship. Current and past episodes of The Minute are available at

The first episode addresses maximizing yields.  Dr. Fred Below, a professor of plant physiology at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, offers his advise to viewers. “If you look at the highest corn yield recorded in the U.S., it exceeds 500 bushels,” Below said. “The average yield is 180 bushels and that difference is known as the yield gap. Our research is designed to see how we can close that corn yield gap.”

“High yields are all about making sure the plant is never stressed,” Below added. “You have to start strong, grow strong and finish strong. But if you don’t start strong, you can never make up for lost time.”

FMC Product Development Manager Dr. Lamar Buckelew also makes an appearance in the first episode.  He speaks to how new in-furrow products help growers in this endeavor for greater yields.

Every episode also comes with the promise of a drawing for a $100 Visa gift card.  Five winners will be selected; registration is automatic each time you view an episode.

Agribusiness, FMC, Video, yields

Proagrica Launches Agility Crops for Analytics

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proagricaGrowers know you can collect a lot of data, but the real question is can you do anything with it?  Proagrica, a company dedicated to providing decision support for the ag industry, believes they may have a solution to getting actual answers from all that information.

The company feels food production is a prime beneficiary of their technology and software for connecting and interpreting data, due to the complexity of the production process.

“We have seen the same technology prove itself in other sectors and I’m excited to be able to see how the agricultural sector can benefit”, says David Wilson, CEO of Proagrica. “We are literally just scratching the surface and I see the technology, under our Agility brand, providing huge opportunities for businesses to increase productivity, whilst creating the insight to allow whole supply chains to improve radically.”

Proagrica has currently launched Agility Crops focused on the arable sector. Providing real-time insight into input usage, its timing and resulting impact on productivity, Agility Crops covers over 800,000 Ha of cropping across the UK. For the first time, in-season analytics is available, providing the opportunity for real-time solutions, rather than waiting for full-scale surveys to provide a retrospective view, which can only be used historically.

“The platform has the capability of harnessing information from many different sources”, comments Wilson. “At present, it relies on Farm Management Software but we are working on connecting with many other sources such as weather stations, machinery, disease predictors which in time will combine to create enormously beneficial intelligence systems enabling farmers, their advisors and those across the supply chain to increase productivity and resilience within their businesses”.

“In this new era, that we have termed ‘Evidence-Based Production,’ concludes Wilson, “we feel that we are in a unique position to provide an independent solution, creating opportunity for all farmers, agronomists, suppliers and processors to increase efficiency and productivity to meet the undoubted challenges we face.”

Agribusiness, Data, Data Collection

AgNerds Unite on this week’s ZimmCast

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ZimmCast 524A self driving tractor generated a lot of buzz during the Farm Progress Show. New Holland, a sponsor of our event coverage, had their brand new autonomous concept tractor displayed in the center of their show lot and it was getting a lot of attention.

Dan HallidayIn this week’s program Chuck Zimmerman spoke with New Holland’s Dan Halliday to get a detailed view of what this machine is capable of and how this new technology is fitting into future plans for features on new tractors. You can hear Chuck’s inner AgNerd coming out; many of you can probably relate. In the picture, Dan is providing New Holland North American Vice President, Bret Lieberman, with details just prior to the show start.

Dan says this is no pipe dream but a reality. I hope you’ll enjoying listening to him talk about the systems that make this technology work.

Listen here for more on this self driving machine: Dan Halliday, New Holland

Subscribe to the ZimmCast podcast here.

Agribusiness, Audio, Farm Progress Show, New Holland, Tractor

NCGA Carbon Research Gets $1.6 Million from Monsanto

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monsantoMonsanto has announced they will be supporting the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) and its Soil Health Partnership (SHP)‘s efforts with a $1.6 million investment.  NCGA was recently awarded $1 million dollars from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (USDA-NRCS) to help farmers find better solutions for reducing climate change.  Monsanto’s contribution will provide expertise, tools and resources to help verify and qualify greenhouse gas reductions from carbon smart farming practices.

“Climate change is a global challenge facing the entire planet and agriculture has the opportunity to be a huge part of the solution. We’re honored to be partnering with NCGA and the SHP on this grant from USDA-NRCS. Together, we can bring focus and resources to help identify ways that modern agriculture helps drive sustainability,” said Brett Begemann, Monsanto President and Chief Operating Officer. “We look forward to continued collaboration with farmers and forward-thinking industry partners who are leading the way in making greenhouse gas reduction a reality on the farm.”

Monsanto, in conjunction with the CIG project partners (NCGA, AgSolver, Applied GeoSolutions, DNDC-ART, Climate Smart Group and CropGrowers) will develop a framework that draws on existing greenhouse gas modeling science, emerging verification technologies (satellite data), and proven precision business planning methods to drive adoption of conservation practices and validate that farmers are helping achieve greenhouse gas reductions.

“To significantly scale up greenhouse gas mitigation practices, a sustainable agriculture systems approach is needed that is simpler and more cost-effective for the farmer,” said Michael Lohuis, Ph.D., Monsanto’s Director of Ag Environmental Strategy. “The system being developed will help remove barriers to confirming adoption of best practices and to quantify the benefits these innovative farm practices can have to air, soil and water quality.”

Monsanto has committed to making its own operations carbon neutral by 2021 and works with farmers around the world to encourage best farming practices.  You can read more about their efforts to reduce greenhouse gasses in the “Charting a Path to Carbon Neutral Agriculture: Mitigation Potential for Crop Based Strategies” report.

Ag Group, Agribusiness, climate, environment, Monsanto, NCGA

Candidates Offer Views on Ag Issues

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clinton-trumpWhile the candidates may weigh in during tonight’s debate on issues such as immigration and trade, which are important to agriculture, it’s not likely they will address topics such as the farm bill and biotechnology.

So, the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) went to both nominees and asked them the same questions on a number of issues that concern farmers and ranchers and the responses are being posted in the organization’s digital newsletter FBNews. In the first responses posted last week, both candidates explained their positions on regulatory reform; the Clean Water, Clean Air and Endangered Species Acts; and the farm bill, biotechnology, and food safety.

“The fact that the candidates took the time in the middle of this very competitive election season to go into such detail in their responses says a lot about the importance of these issues and the farmers and ranchers who care about them,” said AFBF President Zippy Duvall. While AFBF cannot endorse or support a political candidate, the organization is providing the candidates’ positions to inform Farm Bureau members and others.

The Trump campaign responses to the issues are in first person, while the Clinton camp took a third person approach. For example, in response to the question about the Clean Water Act – What would you do as president to ensure that the EPA acts within the bounds of the Clean Water Act?

Trump Response: “First, I will appoint a pro-farmer Administrator of EPA. Next, I will eliminate the unconstitutional “Waters of the US” rule, and will direct the Army Corps of Engineers and EPA to no longer use this unlawful rule and related guidance documents in making jurisdictional determinations.”

Clinton Response: “The Clean Water Act not only stemmed these environmental disasters but helped to reverse course and restore healthy swimmable and fishable waters for all Americans to enjoy. As president, Hillary will continue this legacy. She will work to ensure waters are safe and protected, will maintain the longstanding exemptions for common farming practices, and will continue pushing for clarity within the law.”

The candidates’ opinions on Immigration, International Trade and TPP, and Energy will be posted this week.

AFBF, Ag Group, Government

Ag Industry Meets with EPA On Pests and Weeds

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Last week the EPA met with members of the agriculture industry to discuss the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) and its impact on the environment.

The EPA is responsible for regulating the distribution, sale and use of pesticides under FIFRA. The organization will not allow the distribution or sale of a pesticide until it verifies that its use does not cause “unreasonable adverse effects on the environment.”

asaAmerican Soybean Association (ASA) CEO Steve Censky, who attended the meeting, said the farmer groups emphasized a desire to engage with EPA in a constructive way. He added they also underscored the need for agency decisions to fully reflect FIFRA requirements, that decisions consider both benefits to growers and risks, that farmer groups and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) want to be fully consulted in the decision process and that EPA decisions affect the livelihoods of farmers – their competitiveness, ability to control pests and weeks, and ability to produce food for a growing world.

EPA Administrator, Gina McCarthy, specifically stressed the agency’s wish to maintain a constructive conservations with the agriculture industry and stated her understanding of the farmer’s need for pest and weed control.

Ag Group, ASA, EPA, Herbicides, Insecticide

Two Tractors In One- New Holland Concept

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Bret LiebermanDesigned for maximum flexibility, New Holland’s concept tractor is actually two tractors in one.   The NHDrive concept tractor was announced at the Farm Progress Show, where operators could view a machine that has the capability to be driven with the attached cab just like a normal tractor or run driverless and be controlled by a portable device or computer.

Chuck Zimmerman spoke with Bret Lieberman, Vice President, North America, New Holland, to get his thoughts on what this means for customers. It’s all about new technology that will help customers. “How can we make them be more productive and do a better job in the work that they do everyday and are committed to in their lifestyle,” says Lieberman.

The NHDrive concept tractor is equipped with a seeder, and is able to autonomously seed the next crop straight behind the combine. Using an application installed on a portable device, perfect for supervised automation, such as an operator driving a combine, or on a desktop computer, perfect for the farmer working in his farm office, the tractor and implement parameters can be continually monitored and controlled, and changes can be made if necessary.

Able to work 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, the NHDrive tractor helps to reduce the risks associated with human error as it follows predetermined and optimised plans for all activities. It is able to reach higher levels of productivity and efficiency than traditional methods. The NHDrive can make full use of the periods of favourable weather for farming operations by working day and night.

In the future, the NHDrive tractor will be able to completely automate grain handling during the harvest when equipped with a trailer, including unloading, transport and offloading activities.

Listen to Chuck’s interview with Bret here: Interview with Bret Lieberman, New Holland

New Holland at 2016 Farm Progress Show Photos

Agribusiness, Audio, Farm Progress Show, New Holland, Tractor

The Yield Lab Earn Global Ambassador’s Award

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The Yield Lab logoThe World Trade Center in St. Louis has chosen The Yield Lab to receive this year’s Global Ambassador Award.

The Yield Lab is a food and agriculture technology business accelerator that invests $100,000 in the early stages of AgTech startups.  They offer one-on-one mentorship, free workspace, and networking in the  St. Louis area.  This award acknowledges them as an organization that has enhanced the image of St. Louis and exposed the city to the international community.

Previous award winners include The Honorable Kevin O’Malley, United States Ambassador to Ireland, The Donald Danforth Plant Science Center, and Mark Wrighton, Ph.D., Chancellor, Washington University in St. Louis.

“Honoring the Yield Lab with this year’s Global Ambassador Award was the obvious choice,” said Tim Nowak, World Trade St. Louis Executive Director. “Their work in the AgTech space, not only in St. Louis, but abroad, is why this award was created and we are thrilled to name the Yield Lab as this year’s recipient.”

This award will be added to the recent milestones reached by the Yield Lab. Earlier this July, the Yield Lab launched the Yield Lab Galway, a food and agriculture technology venture fund and business accelerator, located in Galway, Ireland.

“We believe finding innovative solutions to sustainably feed the world’s rapidly growing population are the biggest problems facing human kind today,” said Yield Lab Managing Director Thad Simons. “The Global Ambassador Award comes at a pivotal time in our international growth and will provide greater recognition and strategic opportunities for both our St. Louis and Galway based investments.”

Tom Adamitis, Managing Director at the Yield Lab, accepted the award on the Yield Lab’s behalf. “Being bestowed with this honor based on our efforts, locally, nationally and internationally, gives St. Louis and the Yield Lab a boost of confidence to continue our work in finding a way to sustainably feed our world’s growing population.”

Agribusiness, Award

Court Upholds Retail Exemption to PSM

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fertilizerThe D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals saved U.S. retailers more than $100 million in compliance costs with its ruling on Friday.  The court found the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) was not adhering to the Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Act when it issued an enforcement memo earlier this year that redefined retail facility exemption to the Process Safety Management (PSM) Standard.

“This administration has broadly and unjustly avoided proper procedure to construct and reinterpret myriad federal regulations without public input,” said Daren Coppock, president and chief executive officer of the Agricultural Retailers Association (ARA). “The court’s decision in this case affirms the importance of regulatory agencies following proper notice and comment rulemaking procedure.”

ARA, along with The Fertilizer Institute (TFI), led the battle against the OSHA, arguing the agency did not adhere to the notice-and-comment procedures for issuing a formal standard.  The agencies say the exemption for retailers has been in place for more than 20 years and OSHA should not be allowed to redefine it without opportunity for stakeholders to comment.

“We are pleased with the court’s decision to vacate OSHA’s repeal of the retail PSM exemption,” said TFI President, Chris Jahn. “Through ResponsibleAg, the industry is taking concrete action to ensure that retailers can verify compliance with all applicable federal regulations. We take this work seriously, but need to be able to voice our concerns when new federal rules are proposed.”

Anhydrous Ammonia, the most commonly used nitrogen fertilizer in U.S. agriculture, is already regulated under 29 CFR 1910.111 and the General Duty Clause. PSM applies to any facility storing 10,000 lbs. or more of anhydrous ammonia. However, ag retail facilities selling more than 50 percent of the popular fertilizer to farmers have been exempt from PSM under what was deemed the “50 percent rule.” OSHA’s 2015 memo eliminated the exemption.

“Although ARA could only challenge on the procedural point and not the enforcement memo itself, we’re still very pleased to see the Court rule in our favor and to provide this relief to our members,” Coppock added.

ARA and TFI also point out the importance of organizations like their own in fights like this one.

“As an industry, ag retailers tend to be complacent about regulations that come our way. We keep our heads down and do what’s required,” he said. “But this rule would have limited farmers and retailers options through an agency’s improper regulatory overreach. Thankfully, ARA and TFI were prepared and positioned to defend our industry. They gave us a vehicle to fight and win this battle.”

Ag Group, ARA, Fertilizer, Retailers

DuPont Pioneer Finds Potential Insect Control Traits

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dupontpioneerResearchers at DuPont Pioneer have discovered a protein from a non-Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) bacterium source.  Science Magazine published findings that show this protein is a promising alternative for controlling corn root worm in North American  and Europe.

“This research represents a breakthrough for addressing a major challenge in agriculture,” said Neal Gutterson, vice president, Research & Development, DuPont Pioneer. “We have discovered a non-Bt protein that demonstrates insecticidal control of western corn rootworm with a new and different mode of action than Bt proteins currently used in transgenic products. This protein could be a critical component for managing corn rootworm in future corn seed product offerings. The work also suggests that bacteria other than Bt are alternative sources of insecticidal proteins for insect control trait development.”

Another Pioneer study related to non-Bt insect control, recently published in Scientific Reports, shows how RNA interference (RNAi) can be applied to control corn rootworm feeding damage.

RNAi is a biologically occurring process that happens in the cells of plants, animals and people. By employing the RNAi process, a plant can protect itself by carrying instructions that precisely target specific proteins in pests.

“Growers need a next generation of solutions to help protect their crops. Our researchers are developing innovative, new modes for insect control to help meet future demands. Non-Bt proteins and RNA-based products highlight our efforts to identify alternative methods for effective control of insect feeding damage in agriculture,” Gutterson said.

Agribusiness, Corn, Dupont Pioneer, Traits