USDA to Provide $4 million For Honey Bee Habitat

Cindy Zimmerman Leave a Comment

usda-beesUSDA is providing more than $4 million in technical and financial assistance to help farmers and ranchers in the Midwest improve the health of honey bees, which play an important role in crop production.

“The future of America’s food supply depends on honey bees, and this effort is one way USDA is helping improve the health of honey bee populations,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “Significant progress has been made in understanding the factors that are associated with Colony Collapse Disorder and the overall health of honey bees, and this funding will allow us to work with farmers and ranchers to apply that knowledge over a broader area.”

USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is focusing the effort on five Midwestern states: Michigan, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin. From June to September, the Midwest is home to more than 65 percent of the commercially managed honey bees in the country. It is a critical time when bees require abundant and diverse forage across broad landscapes to build up hive strength for the winter.

Funding will be provided to producers through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). Applications are due Friday, November 21. The assistance will provide guidance and support to farmers and ranchers to implement conservation practices that will provide safe and diverse food sources for honey bees.

This year, several NRCS state offices are setting aside additional funds for similar efforts, including California – where more than half of all managed honey bees in the U.S. help pollinate almond groves and other agricultural lands – as well as Ohio and Florida.

Bees, pollinators, USDA

Propane Powered Engines for Ag

Cindy Zimmerman Leave a Comment

2014 World LP Gas Forum Photo Album

perc-ag-enginesThe new Tier 4 emission standards for diesel engines have opened up new opportunities for propane in the agricultural engine market.

At the World LP Gas Forum in Miami this week, Propane Education and Research Council agricultural director Cinch Munson talked about how they have worked with OEMs to develop and commercialize new engines for ag applications, especially irrigation. “Since 2009, we’ve brought a number of new engines to the market,” said Munson. “A new industrial propane engine will cost about half of a new Tier 4 diesel engine and then cost about 56% less to run that engine.”

On display at the forum were an 8.8 liter PSI engine and a 9.1 liter Origin engine which are new to the market. Pete Stout with Origin Engines says they went to farmers and asked them what they wanted. “The adage they gave us is ‘there’s no replacement for displacement,'” he said. “They want large displacement, low speed engines that are designed to run on propane.”

Jeremy Lessaris with PSI Engines said they also worked with PERC to first develop smaller engines for irrigation. “We kept moving up the horsepower and torque band, up to 5.7 and now into the 8.8,” said Lessaris. “We’ve seen newer markets where the requirement for irrigation is much bigger, in California where they have large diesels pumping a lot of water…so we went from the 8.8 liter all the way up to 22 liters.”

PERC has a Propane Farm Incentive Program under which up to $5,000 can be available for farmers to switch to propane irrigation. In addition, states such as California and Nebraska have additional incentive programs.

Listen to Cinch, Pete and Jeremy talk about propane engines for ag here and see what they are talking about in the video below: PERC and Propane Engines for Ag

Audio, Energy, Irrigation, propane, Video

New Study Shows Value of Neonics

John Davis Leave a Comment

growing_matters_logo1A new study shows just how valuable neonicotinoid insecticides are for farmers in North America. The research, commissioned by Bayer CropScience, Syngenta, Valent U.S.A. Corporation and others under the umbrella coalition called Growing Matters, documents the value of neonicotinoids to agriculture as well as residential and urban landscapes, and the significant implications if these products were no longer available.

The study evaluated seed treatment, soil and foliar uses of neonicotinoid insecticides in the United States and Canada. Research included commodity crops such as corn, soybeans, wheat, cotton, sorghum and canola, specialty crops such as citrus, vegetables and grapes, plus turf, ornamental and landscape uses.

As the largest selling insecticide class in the world, some have questioned the value of neonicotinoids. This study was undertaken to provide reliable, objective evidence of the benefits these products bring to modern pest management systems.

Research results prove that neonicotinoids add billions of dollars to the economy, and benefit entire communities, not just individual growers.

“Although many people know intuitively that this class of chemistry is highly valued within the industry, we now have a comprehensive, science-based analysis that documents the magnitude of this value,” said Dr. Pete Nowak, emeritus professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and AgInfomatics principal. “The studies were conducted with a level of rigor necessary to meet the stringent standards of peer-reviewed publications.”

The researchers also contend that a loss of neonicotinoids would force growers to rely on a few, older classes of insecticides that could ultimately reduce crop yield and quality, disrupted pest management practices impacting beneficial insects including honey bees and, in some cases, cause catastrophic damage due to a lack of suitable alternatives to manage invasive pests.

More than 22,000 growers, consumers and applicators in the U.S. and Canada were surveyed for the report.

Agribusiness, Bayer CropScience, Insect Control, Insecticide, Pesticides, Syngenta

Monsanto Transforms Plant Breeding

John Davis Leave a Comment

monsanto1Monsanto has announced a $20 million investment in integrated technology centers as part of its global breeding program that will help feed a hungry, growing world. This company news release says these tech centers will use continuing advancements in data science, genomic breeding methods and predictive analytics to further enhance seeds and unlock untapped yield potential.

“We are at a unique inflection point in the evolution of plant breeding where data science and predictive analytics will help to unlock previously untapped potential of plant genetics,” said Sam Eathington, Monsanto vice president of global plant breeding. “Monsanto is committed to continue to deliver new agricultural solutions through plant breeding so that farmers can keep up with the growing demands of food production in the face of population growth and climate change.”

Monsanto utilizes its broad network of breeding and field testing locations, global germplasm library and advanced technologies to develop better products for farmers. And with today’s announcement, the company highlighted its commitment to invest $20 million over the next two years to accelerate plant breeding research across integrated technology centers in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Maryland, Minnesota and Nebraska. These integrated technology centers will enable the company to combine some local operations, utilize new advancements and discoveries, as well as share best practices across crop research.

Monsanto officials go on to say that advanced plant breeding techniques and data science are key elements that work together to contribute to a food-secure future.

Agribusiness, Monsanto, Research, seed

NAGC, AgIDG Partner to Accelerate Ag Tech

John Davis Leave a Comment

NAGCAgIDGA group that furthers science for agriculture has partnered with another group that looks to bring new tools to farmers that will accelerate the commercialization of agricultural technology. The National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) announced the partnership between the National Agricultural Genotyping Center and the Ag Innovation Development Group.

The technologies created will increase farm production, improve sustainability and increase income.

“Partnerships like this are important to the economic future of American farmers,” said Richard Vierling, Ph.D., director of research for NCGA. “We need to attract more money into agricultural startups. Vetting technology through NAGC will help identify commercially viable technologies and lower the risk for investors.”

NAGC, a non-profit initiative founded by the National Corn Growers Association and Los Alamos National Laboratory, will provide research and testing services to both public and private researchers. The center will translate scientific discoveries into solutions for production agriculture, food safety, functional foods, bioenergy and national security.

“Ag Innovation Development Group was founded to help increase the efficiency of commercializing university research in the agricultural sector to benefit farmers,” said Ag Innovation Development Group CEO Pete Nelson. “A core part of this mission is to partner with farm organizations and their commercialization efforts. The partnership with NAGC will allow us to achieve this mission and ultimately grow more startup companies in the agricultural sector.”

Ag Group, Agribusiness, Corn, NCGA, Research, technology

Best Future Jobs in Agriculture

Jamie Johansen Leave a Comment

New Holland ZimmPollOur latest ZimmPoll asked the question, “What should US do about WTO COOL ruling?”

The industry has reacted to the World Trade Organization (WTO) decision against the United States on the Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) law since the announcement was made earlier this week. Some feel the issue can be handled by USDA, others feel Congress should take charge. But it looks like an overwhelming majority of those who took our poll feel we should appeal and do nothing.

Here are the poll results:

  • Appeal and do nothing – 83%
  • Congress should change – 4%
  • USDA should amend again – 3%
  • Should be repealed – 6%
  • Don’t know – 4%

Our new ZimmPoll is now live and asks the question, Where are the best future jobs in ag?

This week thousands of FFA members from across the country have flooded the streets of Louisville, KY for the 87th National FFA Convention & Expo. The future of agriculture is in the hands of these young people who are passionate about the agriculture community. The number and variety of careers in agriculture continues to grow. This week we want to know what field of study are the best future jobs in agriculture.


$3,000 Grand Prize in World Ag Expo Video Contest

John Davis Leave a Comment

worldagexpo2015aA $3,000 grand prize is being offered in the World Ag Expo contest for the video that best answers the questions, “Where Would We Be Without Farmers?” The videos are due for submission by December 1, when they will be evaluated by a panel of judges and then posted on for the public to vote for their favorites.

“Farmers play an integral role in every part of our lives,” said Jerry Sinift, chief executive officer of the International Agri-Center. “We’re asking for talented individuals to portray the connection between farmers and the world they feed and clothe.”

The winner will be announced on January 30, 2015 and awarded the $3,000 cash prize. The top video will be posted on World Ag Expo’s website; will play during the show, February 10-12, 2015 in Tulare, California and the winner will be recognized at World Ag Expo.

To enter, upload your video to your own YouTube or Vimeo account and complete the online entry form on the World Ag Expo website. Videos must be at least 30 seconds long and may not exceed six minutes. Anyone of any age is eligible to enter.

Ag Group, Video

FFA Part of How FMC Invests in Farming’s Future

John Davis Leave a Comment

FMCSaulHSPresentationIllustrating its commitment to investing in farming’s future, FMC Corporation is helping youth education through support of FFA.

“To continue America’s leadership in agriculture, we need to engage students now,” said John Kasper, FMC Agricultural Solutions North America commercial business director. “FFA prepares students for more than 300 careers and reaches more than 600,000 members. Our support can make a positive difference in the lives of many young people who will be the future scientists, business leaders and educators in global agriculture, food, fiber and natural resource industries.”

FMC is providing grants to FFA chapters in each of its three, U.S.-based FMC Agricultural Solutions plant communities. The support is aimed at helping expand students’ interest in science and agriculture by engaging with FMC visiting scientists, and developing vital career skills through participation in Career Development Events (CDE). The local FFA chapters earning grants are located at Walter Biddle Saul High School in Philadelphia, Pa.; Stark County High School in Toulon, Ill.; and Royalton-Hartland High School in Middleport, N.Y.

Nationally, students will be recognized with the FFA Agriscience Plant Systems Research Proficiency Award, which is co-sponsored by FMC. This award supports students engaged in plant systems research. The research covers the life cycles, classifications, functions and practices of plant systems related to crops, turf grass, trees and shrubs and/or ornamental plants. Awards are made available to every FFA chapter across the country. Four national finalists will receive a $500 cash award, and the winner receives an additional $500 award. FMC executives will judge the national finalist entries and present the awards during the National FFA Convention on October 29-31.

“FFA makes it possible for students to match their classroom learning with supervised experiences and leadership programs,” said Glenn Sims, National FFA Foundation senior regional director. “It is because of the ongoing educational support from our sponsors, such as FMC, that agricultural students grow and gain career success.”

Agribusiness, Education, FFA, FMC, Youth

New Holland Seeds of Life Series Highlights Farm Heroes

John Davis Leave a Comment

New Holland Expo MilanoNew Holland has unveiled a video series called “The Seeds of Life Series.” Below is the trailer for the series. This is part of the overall involvement New Holland has with Expo Milano 2015 where the company is building a “Sustainable Farm Pavilion.” The video series is a storytelling project for the Heroes who feed us all.

Farmers feed the planet. The seeds they plant today will be the food we eat tomorrow. The Seeds of Life Series will tell the stories of these Heroes, showing how their work and lives intertwine despite the distance. Follow eight real Farmers from eight different countries as they face the force of nature, the tireless planning and the unforgiving hours that being a farmer requires. See how they face whatever comes their way. The Series will show how the same challenge is faced by Farmers living in countries very far from each other.

Follow what New Holland is doing in preparation for Expo Milano 2015 here. You are encouraged to use the hashtag #ThanksToHeroes to tweet your thanks.

New Holland, seed, Video

More New Products for USDA BioPreferred Program

John Davis Leave a Comment

The U.S Department of Agriculture (USDA) wants to move some new products into a preferred procurement initiative for federal agencies. USDA is using the 2014 Farm Bill to justify making available some new, biobased forest products in the BioPreferred® program, along with some other traditional biobased products and other mature market products, which have been produced in innovative ways.

vilsack-usda“Today, small businesses and global companies alike have harnessed the power of America’s farms and forests to create new and innovative biobased products that are used all around the world,” said [Ag Secretary Tom] Vilsack. “The expanding bioeconomy means more than just additional consumer choices, it also means new jobs.”

The proposed action responds to new requirements in the 2014 Farm Bill for USDA to promote biobased products, including forest products, that apply an innovative approach to growing, harvesting, sourcing, procuring, processing, manufacturing, or application of biobased products regardless of the date of entry into the marketplace. The proposed rules provide the framework for implementing the new requirements, and will replace previous regulatory provisions excluding mature market products. The action further revises the definition of “biobased product” to state that the term includes forest products that meet biobased content requirements, notwithstanding the market share the product holds, the age of the product, or whether the market for the product is new or emerging.

USDA will look for public comment for 60 days on the proposed rules published in the Federal Register.

Farm Bill, USDA