Water and Food Topic of Toledo Food Dialogues

Joanna Schroeder Leave a Comment

The Ag industry had a welcome opportunity to discuss water quality issues and research this morning during the Food Dialogues: Toledo event that featured two panel discussions. The first panel, “Lessons from Toledo Water Crisis,” was moderated by Gail Hogan and featured Sandy Bihn, president, Toledo Lighthouse Society and executive director, Lake Erie Waterkeeper Inc.; Chuck Campbell, acting commissioner of water treatment, city of Toledo; Rich Nachazel, president, Destination Toledo, Inc,; and Adam Sharp, vice president of public policy, Ohio Farm Bureau Federation.

FD Toledo Panel 1

From left to right: Gail Hogan, retired Emmy award winning broadcast journalist; Sandy Bihn, president, Toledo Lighthouse Society and executive director, Lake Erie Waterkeeper Inc.; Chuck Campbell, acting commissioner of water treatment, city of Toledo; Rich Nachazel, president, Destination Toledo, Inc,; and Adam Sharp, vice president of public policy, Ohio Farm Bureau Federation

The panelists noted that the event brought water issues to the forefront of consumers’ minds while Nachazel noted it brought a black eye to the state and efforts are being made to counter the issue with positive images and information. And its working. Interestingly, he noted that $12.9 billion dollars come in to the state via tourism and 28 percent of these funds raised by eight counties surrounding Lake Erie so it is imperative they keep the lake healthy.

While water emergency plans were in place prior to the issue, it brought to light some areas that could be better addressed. Today Campbell said his organization has updated preparedness plans, and revised operating procedures along with implementing other measures. While Biln noted that they learned testing needed to be improved, she believes this has largely been solved through collaborative efforts among all industries that play a role in water quality.

But all panelists noted that more work needs to be done and there needs to be more funding to conduct extensive, ongoing research.

An important user of water is the agricultural industry and as Jack Fisher, executive vice president of the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation pointed out, the Ag industry is often accused of causing water quality issues. While he acknowledged that agriculture plays a role, there are other factors including those noted by John Knights, executive director for the Nature Conservancy, septic systems and water treatment facilities.

The two were joined by Jay Martin, lead faculty for the Global Water Initiative and the Field to Faucet Program, Ohio State University; and Terry McClure, vice chairman, Ohio Soybean Council Board in the second panel, “Balancing the Food and Water Question”.

FD Toledo Panel 2 -2

From Left to Right: Gail Hogan, retired Emmy award winning broadcast journalist; Jack Fisher, executive vice president, Ohio Farm Bureau Federation; Josh Knights, executive director, The Nature Conservancy in Ohio; Jay Martin, lead faculty for the Global Water Initiative and the Field to Faucet Program, Ohio State University; and Terry McClure, vice chairman, Ohio Soybean Council Board

The panel agreed that everyone was working together and the process was going well but that it must be an ongoing effort- there is still much to learn. For example, Martin said their research is looking at ways to improve processes and much of this is being done directly with the help of farmers. Today, said McClure, there are 32 sites doing field testing. “As we make adjustments, we will better understand how we can improve,” said McClure.

In the efforts among the Ag industry, money has not been a barrier. Fisher said they have received federal and state funding and the state’s Ag industry has allocated $2 million for water quality research because the industry knows that research is a major component of solutions.

You can watch a replay of both panels here.

Agribusiness, environment, Food, residue management, USFRA, water

Congress Action Pending on Final WOTUS Rule

Cindy Zimmerman Leave a Comment

roberts2EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers may have released its final Waters of the U.S. rule this week, but Congress is still intends to try and have the final word on the regulation.

Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts (R-KS) calls the final rule “bad for rural America” and brought up charges that EPA influenced the comment process through social media. “A major news story raises serious questions about EPA’s role and actions during the public comment period to garner support for the proposed rule,” said Roberts. “EPA not only stacked the deck against farmers and ranchers, it ignored them.” Sen. Pat Roberts on WOTUS rule

Sen. Roberts was among a bi-partisan group of senators who recently introduced the Federal Water Quality Protection Act requiring EPA to “go back to the drawing board and restart the rulemaking process to include stakeholders – especially agriculture.”

Bill co-sponsor Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY) said Wednesday he intend to push forward with the bill. “Today’s action ensures further momentum for our bill that says yes to clean water – and no to extreme bureaucracy,” said Barrasso.

U.S. House has already passed a bill to block the proposal from going into effect and other efforts are continuing to stop it through agency appropriations.

Audio, environment, Government, water

Monsanto Herbicides for Soybean, Cotton Approved

John Davis Leave a Comment

monsanto1Governmental approval of some Monsanto herbicides will give cotton and soybean growers some important new tools for weed management. This news release from the company says the new, first-of-its-kind option in 2016 comes in the form of Warrant Ultra Herbicide, a premix of acetochlor and fomesafen approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) last month.

Warrant® Herbicide – with its active ingredient acetochlor – was launched in 2010. It quickly became a favorite among soybean and cotton growers for its outstanding residual weed control – including control of glyphosate-resistant and tough-to-control weeds – as well as its crop safety due to its unique microencapsulated formulation. Roundup Ready PLUS® Crop Management Solutions recommendations have included products containing the active ingredient fomesafen as a key weed-management option since the launch of the platform in 2011. When fully approved, Warrant Ultra Herbicide will be the only premix on the market to formulate microencapsulated acetochlor with fomesafen, and will provide two mechanisms of action (MOA) for residual weed control. Additionally, fomesafen provides an additional postemergence MOA, which is a useful herbicide resistance management tool when used in the Roundup Ready ® system.

“Warrant Ultra Herbicide provides excellent post-emergence control of problematic weeds such as waterhemp and Palmer amaranth – as well as excellent broad-spectrum residual weed control – in a convenient premix,” said Austin Horn, Monsanto’s Marketing Manager for Selective Herbicides. “University research shows that Warrant Ultra Herbicide provides excellent residual control of annual grasses and small-seeded broadleaf weeds when compared to competitive products. Because of its microencapsulation technology, Warrant Ultra Herbicide also offers superior crop safety when compared to competitive products.”

This year’sintroduction of Warrant Ultra Herbicide follows the 2015 introduction of Rowel Herbicide and Rowel FX Herbicide, which can provide cotton and soybean growers consistent weed control on tough-to-control broadleaf weeds.

Agribusiness, Cotton, Government, Monsanto

Finalized WOTUS Rule Announced

Cindy Zimmerman Leave a Comment

epa-army-corpsThe U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army finalized the Clean Water Rule that has become known as the Waters of the United States or WOTUS.

According to an EPA news release, the rule “ensures that waters protected under the Clean Water Act are more precisely defined and predictably determined” and specifically notes that it “does not create any new permitting requirements for agriculture and maintains all previous exemptions and exclusions.”

Regarding regulation of ditches, the rule “limits protection to ditches that are constructed out of streams or function like streams and can carry pollution downstream. So ditches that are not constructed in streams and that flow only when it rains are not covered.”

Agricultural organizations are analyzing the final Clean Water Act Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) rule released today to determine whether it answers the concerns they have raised about the impact the regulation would have on farmers and ranchers, but most express reservations.

afbf-logo“We are undertaking a thorough analysis of the final WOTUS rule to determine whether the Environmental Protection Agency listened to the substantive comments farmers and ranchers submitted during the comment period,” said American Farm Bureau president Bob Stallman. “Based on EPA’s aggressive advocacy campaign in support of its original proposed rule—and the agency’s numerous misstatements about the content and impact of that proposal—we find little comfort in the agency’s assurances that our concerns have been addressed in any meaningful way.”

EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy and Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works Jo-Ellen Darcy released an editorial commentary to farmers and ranchers explaining what they did in the final rule. “Feedback from the agricultural community led us to define tributaries more clearly,” they write. “We also got feedback that our proposed definition of ditches was confusing. We’re only interested in the ones that act like tributaries and could carry pollution downstream—so we changed the definition in the final rule to focus on tributaries.”

Listen to EPA administrator Gina McCarthy and Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works Jo-Ellen Darcy announced the final rule here: Final WOTUS rule announcement

AFBF, Audio, Government, water

NRCS Opens Conservation Gateway

Cindy Zimmerman Leave a Comment

nrcs-gatewayFarmers, ranchers and private forest landowners can now do business with U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) through a new Conservation Client Gateway announced today.

NRCS chief Jason Weller says the portal will allow producers will have the ability to work with conservation planners online to access Farm Bill programs, request assistance and track payments for their conservation activities. “Instead of having to drive into a field office, a producer can now log in through their account…and do a lot of different services on line,” said Weller, such as applying for assistance, scheduling appointments and even sign documents electronically.

Weller says the portal has been in development for years and was tested in the real world by early adopters like Iowa farmer Tim Palmer. “I think this is a frugal use of my time and a better use of our local NRCS staff,” said Palmer, citing the ability to get information from NRCS from his smart phone or tablet even in the field. “Time is very important when you’re tending to a farm.”

NRCS chief Jason Weller announces new Conservation Client Gateway
Audio, Conservation, USDA

OASIS Manages Data Through Microsoft Azure

Kelly Marshall Leave a Comment


Operation and Agriculture Supply Information System, LLC (OASIS) offers Web-based agriculture data management system on the Microsoft Azure platform. OASIS implements and manages Standard Edition applications for thousands of farms and businesses through Microsoft Azure’s deployment strategy. The program connects cloud-based and on-premise computer servers.  This creates a virtual private network that allows seamless operation and maintains a high level of security.

Testing is complete and OASIS ready to host customer data at a center in the Netherlands.  The location ensures fast and reliable service for growers operating across Europe, Eurasia, and Africa.  Other data centers are also in place at other geographic regions, making the program useable to farmers in their respective regions as well.

Because of Microsoft Azure, OASIS is able to drive down the price even lower without sacrificing security or quality. With a very low price for business enterprise software, the OASIS Standard Edition provides the best value over the competition. The thrifty farm manager will appreciate the large amount of data that can be processed and analyzed from land preparation through on-field farming operations to off-field post-harvest operations in a single computer system. You’ll be able to find cost-savings in your farm.

Visit http://OASIS.AG to read more, try the product demonstration, or buy the software.

Agribusiness, Cloud, Data

Semios Launches Precision Frost Module

Kelly Marshall Leave a Comment

Frost Screen Monitoring (PRNewsFoto/Semios)

Frost Screen Monitoring (PRNewsFoto/Semios)

Semios, a company that offers precision farming tools for tree fruit, nut, and grape growers, is introducing the Frost Module.  Using sensors placed on each acre of a grower’s property, the Frost Module logs temperature inversions every 10 minutes, provides wet bulb calculations and sprinkler thresholds, taking into account the stage of bud development.  When necessary, a frost alert is sent to the farmer by text or email, allowing growers to either take action or get a good night’s sleep.

The Frost Module joins a Semios line-up that gives farmers 24/7 remote access to the conditions of their fields.  Other available modules include Pest Management, Disease Control and Irrigation Management.

Mr. Scott Hassle of Berrybrook Enterprises, said, “Having Semios Frost Alert text me with the data I needed to know, made my decision to start the wind machines a lot easier. I was able to return indoors and watch the graphs map the evolving field conditions, giving me peace of mind.”

Mr. Hassle reports that his farm went online with the Frost Module the day before the first frost for his farm and found the program easy to use.

In 2015, this service was launched to existing Semios customers on 5,000 acres of apple, pear, grapes, walnuts, almonds, pistachios and citrus orchards. Each sensor station has the ability to run any module, so a simple activation by Semios is all that is required. Modules have video tutorials and Semios customer support is available 24/7. The cost for the Semios Frost Module is $10 US per acre per year. Subscription platform packages start at $60 US per acre per year.

Agribusiness, Remote sensing, technology, weather

CNH Awarded Silver Status

Kelly Marshall Leave a Comment

CNH-logoThe plant in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan is CNH‘s first North American Industrial facility to be awarded silver status for implementing World Class Manufacturing (WCM).  The designation is one of the highest standards for management of manufacturing plants in the world.  The Saskatoon plant produces CNH’s ag equipment brands, Case IH and New Holland, and manufactures planters, headers, air carts, and other equipment.

The award follows an independent audit in May, and earns a silver designation for achieving production process excellence and for employee knowledge base throughout the plant.  The WCM program focuses on both technical and management standards, such as safety, cost, environment, quality and process.  This status was achieved after just seven years of implementation.

“This is a great honor as our company is committed to achieving the highest standards in production in North America and around the world,” said Bret Lieberman, Vice President of Manufacturing, CNH Industrial North America. “Employee involvement is a vital aspect of any successful World Class Manufacturing program. All of our employees in Saskatoon should be commended for their strong commitment and achievement in making CNH Industrial’s plants among the best in the world.”

Through precise methods and standards, WCM seeks to eliminate waste and loss by identifying objectives such as zero injuries, zero defects, zero breakdowns, zero waste, reduced inventories, and suppliers’ punctual delivery of parts to plants, and subsequently to dealers and end users.

CNH Industrial has 59 plants around the world involved in WCM, now totaling nine silver level and 18 bronze level plants. Currently, 83% of CNH Industrial plants (i.e., 53 plants in all) participate in WCM, with 90% of the employees at those plants taking part in the program.

Agribusiness, Award, Case IH, New Holland

Space Research Sponsored by BASF

Kelly Marshall Leave a Comment


The research project of three twelfth-grade students will have the scientific and financial sponsorship of BASF as they send their experiment to astronauts at the International Space Station (ISS).  The students from the ag program at Edith Stein School in Ravensburg, Germany have created an experiment to test plant growth in microgravity conditions, specifically plant cuttings.

Prior research done in the field of space-farming has focused on seedling roots and how they respond to the lack of gravity.  The students’ experiment questions if roots and leaves can develop from cuttings in space to produce food.  If it turns out that cuttings can be used, it would be a huge step in supplying long-term space flights, like missions to Mars, with food.

“We are excited about this project and about working with forward-thinking young people who strive for groundbreaking ideas and innovation. With our 100 years of experience in agriculture, it has been a thrilling challenge to investigate what could come next and how to achieve the ultimate goal of growing and reproducing plants on a space station,” said Dr. Harald Rang, Senior Vice President Research & Development, BASF Crop Protection.

To ensure the success of the experiment, the student research team is currently developing an appropriate experimental design for the ISS. BASF is providing knowledge on how to keep the plants healthy and free from fungal disease during the foreseen 30 days in the ISS environment. The students will do an internship with experts at the BASF Agricultural Center in Limburgerhof, Germany, before conducting trials at Kennedy Space Center laboratories in Florida.

Agribusiness, BASF, Research

USFRA to Talk Water During Toledo Food Dialogues

John Davis Leave a Comment

usfra-toledoLast year’s toxic algae bloom in Lake Erie at Toledo, Ohio, that left half a million people without clean water, underscored the delicate balance that exists between farming and drinking supplies. So it’s no wonder the U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance (USFRA) chose Toldeo as the site for the next Food Dialogues on Thursday, May 28, starting at 9 a.m. ET.

“Issues for water are so regional, whether you are talking about California drought, issues with ground water or surface water,” explains USFRA CEO Randy Krotz, adding Toledo’s plight brought worldwide attention and shined a light on the need for abundant food and clean water. “Both of those issues farmers and ranchers couldn’t be more committed to.”

The Toledo Food Dialogues will have two panels – one talking about what happened on Lake Erie and the other discussing how to balance the food and water equation. Krotz says they invited scientists, activists, ag producers and other stakeholders to give voice to the many sides of the issue. “We try to have all sides of a topic covered.”

This session is sponsored by USFRA, the Ohio Farm Bureau, and several ag groups in the state. If you can’t make it to Toledo in person, you can catch a livestream of the event at the Food Dialogues website or through the Ohio Farm Bureau website.

Interview with USFRA CEO Randy Krotz on Toledo Food Dialogues
Ag Group, Audio, USFRA, water, Water Management