First Soil Health Partnership Awards Presented

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Four “Seeds of Change” awards were presented at the 4th Annual Soil Health Partnership Summit, Jan. 18-19 in Chicago. These first awards were developed to highlight those members of the Soil Health Partnership who go above and beyond to advocate for the partnership and for soil health throughout the year. And the winners are – from left to right in the photo:

Super Spout – Andrew Reuschel, Golden, Illinois
Andrew is a first-year member of the partnership who practices reduced tillage and cover crops on his farm and became interested in expanding soil and water conservation efforts. Interview with Andrew Reuschel, SHP Super Sprout award

Champion Communicator: Mark Mueller, Waverly, Iowa
Mark often takes the initiative to tell the story of what’s happening on his farm – a vital way to encourage other farmers to consider adopting new practices, and to share the progress agriculture is making with the public. Interview with Mark Mueller, SHP Champion Communicator award

Data Digger: Tom Vaske, Masonville, Iowa
Tom Vaske started farming on his own in 2001 by renting land from a neighbor who wished to have conservation tillage practices maintained on the farm, so Tom converted an old planter into a strip till bar. Tom has been testing the use of interseeding cover crops on his farm through randomized, replicated field trials with SHP. Interview with Tom Vaske, SHP Data Digger award

Ace Agronomist: Jack Hardwick, Beardstown, Illinois
Both an agronomist and a farmer, Jack’s interest in soil health started with his degree in soil science. He then spent 12 years in various roles with FS, AgriGold, and BRANDT before going back to the family farm and starting a crop consulting business. Interview with Jack Hardwick, SHP Ace Agronomist award

2018 Soil Health Summit Day One Photo Album

2018 Soil Health Summit Day Two Photo Album

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4th Soil Health Summit Underway in Chicago

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The 2018 Soil Health Summit kicked off yesterday in Chicago and all of the proceedings can be found on the Soil Health Summit Blog! This is a brand new blog which is being used to feature photos, interviews and other media content from this annual event. You can subscribe to the Soil Health Summit Blog with this feed link.

This is the fourth Soil Health Partnership Summit, which has come a long way since the first one in 2015. Soil Health Partnership Director Nick Goeser welcomed participants to the opening day general session of the 2018 Soil Health Summit, setting the stage for the theme Rooted in Data, Growing in Success.

Listen to Nick’s welcome here: SHP director Nick Goeser opens 4th Soil Health Summit

Check out the official blog for all the content from the summit.

2018 Soil Health Summit Day One Photo Album

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AEM Reports 2017 Tractor and Combine Sales

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The 2017 Ag Tractor and Combine Report from the Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM) shows some recovery from 2016.

“When we look at 2017 U.S. retail sales, especially from mid-year on, the bright spot continued to be the small-tractor sales under 40 HP with consistently positive numbers, while tractors 40-100HP have essentially been flat,” AEM Senior VP for AG Services Curt Blades. “For the larger ag tractor sales (100+ HP 2WD) we saw some real softening at the beginning of the year but some sizable reversals to end at a negative 8 percent, and 4WD drive tractors and combines ended on a positive note with modest gains. So, while the downturn of 2016 carried over into 2017 it began to reverse as the year progressed.”

In this interview, Blades talks about how the new tax reform package has the industry cautiously optimistic for continued overall improvement in 2018.

Interview with Curt Blades, AEM

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New Coalition Advocates For NAFTA Preservation

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More than 30 organizations have joined to form Americans for Farmers & Families (AFF), a coalition dedicated to preserving and modernizing the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) by educating political leaders about its importance to agriculture. The groups represent growers, refiners, producers, transporters, retailers and consumers, including major industry organizations such as American Farm Bureau, Corn Refiners Association, National Corn Growers Association, and National Pork Producers, to name a few.

“Farm Belt voters supported President Trump by a three-to-one margin in the last election and they are counting on President Trump to improve NAFTA in the modernization negotiations,” said John Bode, president and CEO of the Corn Refiners Association and a member of AFF’s leadership committee.

As part of the effort, AFF will be launching an educational campaign to highlight the positive impact NAFTA has had for Americans and lay the groundwork for an updated trade agreement that preserves America’s strong economic standing for decades to come. Since NAFTA took effect in 1994, food and agriculture exports have more than quadrupled and account for 25 percent of American exports. One in every 10 acres of American crops is for export to NAFTA partners.

“NAFTA has opened markets for America’s farmers and ranchers, and U.S. agricultural exports to Canada and Mexico have quadrupled under the agreement,” said AFBF president Zippy Duvall, also a member of AFF’s leadership committee. “The current negotiations should build on that success.”

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Cold Tolerant Berseem Clover Provides Frost Seeding Option

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As cold as it has already been this winter in so many areas, Frosty Berseem Clover might be just the ticket for farmers and ranchers implementing frost seeding into their hay and pasture systems.

Grassland Oregon was recently awarded a patent for Frosty Berseem Clover, making it the first cold tolerant berseem clover suitable for frost seeding in the United States and Canada, surviving in trials with temperatures as low as 5 degrees Fahrenheit and zero snow cover. Extended growing seasons, higher yields, increased establishment rates and convenience are just a few of the benefits to frost seeding, according to Jerry Hall, director of research for Grassland Oregon.

“Frost seeding is the broadcasting of seed onto the frozen surface of the soil. Ideally, it is done at a time when there is either no snow or a minimal amount. The freezing and thawing cycle of the soil surface will allow for the seed to work into the top .25 inches of soil,” Hall explains. “Seeds will then germinate and begin growing as soon as weather conditions become favorable – allowing producers to gain a couple of weeks of growth versus waiting for the soil to firm up enough to drill the seed in.”

Hall says Frosty Berseem Clover is excellent for frost seeding into declining alfalfa fields and also blends nicely with alfalfa due to its similar quality and appearance.

Learn more.

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Agri-Pulse Launches Breeding Edge Editorial Series

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Agri-Pulse has launched a new seven-part editorial series, “The Breeding Edge,” focused on new scientific discoveries, genetic research, and systems for precision breeding for producing food, protecting the environment, and improving animal health.

“Animal and plant breeders are trying out a set of powerful new tools which have the potential to revolutionize agricultural practices and provide consumers with more healthy and safe food options,” says Agri-Pulse Editor Sara Wyant. “But few people truly understand how these new innovations can help farmers and ranchers and ultimately improve human health. And that’s a big risk when you consider how some previous agricultural innovations have been accepted by consumers.”

“In addition to being more efficient and economical, newer breeding methods hold tremendous potential for both public and commercial plant breeders in developed and developing countries, and can be used across all crops, including food, feed, fiber and fuel crops,” explained Andy LaVigne, President and CEO of the American Seed Trade Association (ASTA). “To ensure the full potential of new and emerging breeding tools, it’s critical that we have a policy environment, both domestically and internationally, that allows for, and encourages, continued innovation.”

ASTA is one of the sponsors of the new series, together with Genus, Syngenta Seeds, National Pork Board, Monsanto, Dupont Pioneer, United Soybean Board, and the National Corn Growers Association. New innovations in agricultural technology will also be discussed at the Agri-Pulse Ag & Food Policy Summit, scheduled for March 21 in Washington, D.C.

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Precision Ag Bytes 1/17

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  • The Honey Bee Health Coalition announced that it has awarded $40,000 to four innovative projects aimed at improving honey bee nutrition and supporting honey bee and pollinator health. The awards, announced at the 2018 American Bee Research Conference, are part of the Coalition’s inaugural Bee Nutrition Challenge.
  • Syngenta has licensed NRGene’s GenoMAGIC, a cloud-based big data analytics platform, to evaluate, predict, compare and select the best genetic makeup for crop molecular breeding and genomic selection. The agreement is on a non-exclusive, multi-year basis.
  • SkySquirrel Technologies Inc. and VineView Imaging, leading providers of aerial imaging and crop diagnostics for vineyards, have announced a merger of the two companies. The merger is effective Jan. 16, and the companies plan to begin integrating operations, customers, global partners and employees immediately. The combined company, which will operate under the name VineView, uses drone and airplane-based hyperspectral imagery to provide wine growers with essential information about the health of their grapevines. VineView’s specialized data products allow growers to optimize yields, improve grape quality and reduce damage from environmental factors like grapevine diseases and frost.
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New Bayer Cotton Varieties Focus on Yield

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Five new Bayer cotton varieties are available in limited quantities for 2018 planting to give growers more options.

“Choosing the right variety for the right field to harvest the right yield is paramount to successfully managing a cotton crop,” says Jason Wistehuff, Bayer product manager for FiberMax® and Stoneville® cotton. “These new varieties combine with our existing variety lineup to ground the season in sound science.”

The new 2018 varieties for FiberMax are:

FM 2498GLT – Adapted to the High Plains, Rolling Plains, Oklahoma, South Texas and East Texas.
FM 2574GLT – For dryland production on the Rolling Plains, also offers high gin turnout

The new 2018 varieties for Stoneville:

ST 5471GLTP – Broadly adapted for the Mid-Atlantic, Southeast, Delta and South Texas.
ST 5818GLT – Mid-Atlantic, Southeast, Delta and South Texas.
ST 5122GLT – Widely adapted to the Mid-Atlantic, Southeast, Delta, East Texas and Northern Rolling Plains.

“Our variety lineup is proof of our commitment to deliver varieties with the high yield potential, premium quality, herbicide tolerance and disease and insect resistance growers need to choose the right seed for the right field,” Wistehuff says.

Wistehuff talked about Bayer’s commitment to cotton in a recent interview with Chuck at the new Bayer Cotton Breeding Station in Lubbock, Texas: Interview with Jason Wistehuff, Bayer

Bayer Lubbock Tour

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Precision Ag Bytes 1/10

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  • BRANDT has released a product finder mobile app, available for iOS and Android. The BRANDT Product Finder app will give users the ability to search and mine BRANDT’s entire portfolio of US agriculture products. Each BRANDT product will feature a label, safety data sheet and brochure. Users will be able to save documents for quick retrieval and offline viewing by adding them to their “library”. There are more than 300 products in the BRANDT portfolio.
  • The BioAg Alliance, Monsanto’s and Novozymes’ collaboration to improve crop harvests through products containing naturally-occurring microbes, has announced an updated research and development pipeline. Among the highlights is the Corn BioYield 2 project, which advanced to Phase 4 (pre-commercial) in The BioAg Alliance R&D pipeline and is expected to be branded as Acceleron B-360 ST, pending regulatory approvals. The BioAg Alliance also announced the achievement of a significant milestone in the Corn BioYield 3 project. Over the past four years, researchers have screened thousands of microbes across multiple sites to find out which microbes deliver the highest increase in crop yield. A small group of top performers have now been selected for commercial evaluation and development.
  • Dr. B. Todd Campbell, a research geneticist at the USDA Agricultural Research Service’s Coastal Plains Soil, Water, and Plant Research Center in Florence, S.C., is the recipient of the 2017 Cotton Genetics Research Award. The announcement was made during the 2018 Beltwide Cotton Improvement Conference, which convened as part of the National Cotton Council-coordinated 2018 Beltwide Cotton Conferences. In recognition, Dr. Campbell received a plaque and a monetary award.
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Trump Puts Rural America in the Spotlight

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President Trump’s address to the American Farm Bureau Federation 99th annual convention this week in Nashville definitely brought agriculture some positive publicity, mentioning the word farmers over 25 times in his speech, more than any of the previous three presidents in all of their official speeches combined. Granted, that is just a guess but I feel safe in saying that if someone were to be able to fact-check it!

Farm Bureau estimates 7400 watched the president’s speech in person or on the Livestream, and thousands more have watched it since. Among those watching from home was former AFBF president Bob Stallman, who said it was the first convention he has missed in 30 years. The speech was also carried live by RFD-TV, Fox News and CBS. Agri-Pulse and RFD-TV were both granted interviews with the president. It was definitely a very big deal.

President Trump’s commitment to rural America with the signing of two presidential orders that will help increase broadband access out in the countryside, something that his Rural Prosperity Task Force made a high priority, was also a very big deal to many of the thousands at the event. Jamie interviewed a number of attendees to get their reactions, including FFA and 4H members, state Farm Bureau presidents, the Missouri Director of Agriculture and Mrs. Zippy Duvall. Listen to some of the comments here: Reaction to President Trump at #AFBF18

Watch President Trump video
AFBF President Trump Photos

2018 AFBF Convention Photo Album

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