Celebrating More than 90 Years of Dry Bean Production

Kelly Marshall Leave a Comment

american-doorstop-projectThe Nebraska Dry Bean Commission (NDBC) is the latest partner sponsor of the American Doorstop Project, a project that collects stories that were instrumental in shaping America’s agricultural roots.  The Commission hopes to put a spotlight on the importance of Nebraska’s dry bean industry.

Nebraska’s dry bean producers consistently rank #1 and #2 in the United States for Great Northern and Pinto beans production, respectively. For nearly a century, the state’s North Platte Valley and High Plains Panhandle dry bean producers have planted, harvested and marketed some of the highest-quality dry edible beans in the world, says Courtney Schuler, chairwoman of the NDBC. The commission’s role is to advance Nebraska’s dry bean industry through research, promotion and education.

“A new focus for NDBC is to increase our promotional activities, so partnering with the American Doorstop Project on a book about Nebraska’s Agriculture History is great way to promote our industry and demonstrate how important Nebraska’s agriculture is to our state’s economy,” Schuler says. “Every generation, fewer individuals are directly related to agriculture, and it’s critical for us to continue to tell our story.”

“A History of Nebraska Agriculture: 150 Years of Working the Land,” is the working title for the book.  It will be part of a series of books expected next spring to celebrate Nebraska’s 150th Sesquicentennial.  It also coincides with the 2016 International Year of the Pulses campaign.

“Although current USDA crop reports estimate 2016 production numbers to be down from 2015, dry beans will continue to be a significant rotational crop in our region for irrigation management, soil fertility, pest management and market volatility,” Schuler notes. “And our producer’s dry beans will be sought out by customers worldwide because of their consistent superior quality.”

You can learn more about the American Doorstep Project at www.AmericanDoorstopProject.com.

Ag Group

ERS Releases Precision Agriculture Adoption Report

Kelly Marshall Leave a Comment

screen-shot-2016-10-19-at-8-12-53-am The USDA’s Economic Research Service (ERS) has released a report, Farm Profits and Adoption of Precision Agriculture.

The report covers current trends in precision agriculture (PA), production practices and farm characteristics associated with adoption. The report also looks at corn data from 2010 to determine if PA practices lead to increased profitability.

The report looked at three types of Precision Agriculture: GPS-based mapping systems (including yield monitors and soil/yield mapping), guidance or auto-steer systems, and variable-rate technology (VRT) for applying inputs.

The type of technology and the size of the farm were two of the greatest variables for adoption rate. Yield monitors that produce the data for GPS-based mapping are used on about half of corn and soybean farms. Auto-steer or guidance systems are being utilized on about one third of U.S. farms, and GPS-based yield mapping is reported on about a quarter of farms. Somewhere between 16 to 26 percent of farms are using soil mapping with GPS coordinates and variable-rate technology.

The number of corn and soybean acres are higher than the share of farms, leading researchers to understand that larger farms are more likely to use PA technology. The report also concludes that hired labor costs are higher larger farms utilizing PA, likely the result of farmers using specialists to help implement the systems.

A few other factors that influenced adoption were yield goals, unpaid labor costs, and machinery stock. Farmers already close to their yield goals were unlikely to try PA technology, while those with lower yields where likely attempting to raise yields on less productive ground. A high fixed overhead for machinery and labor costs decreased a growers flexibility for implementing precision practices.

Regardless of the size of the farm or the type of technology, all PA practices showed a positive impact on net return.

  • GPS mapping shows the largest estimated impact among PA technologies, with an increase in operating profit of almost 3 percent on corn farms. The impact of mapping on net returns is almost 2 percent.
  • Guidance systems raise operating profit on corn farms by an estimated 2.5 percent and net returns by 1.5 percent.
  • Variable-rate technology (VRT) raises both operating profit and net returns on corn farms by an estimated 1.1 percent.

You can view the full report or summary online.

technology, USDA

FMC Helps #CAPCA16 Fight Fear

Cindy Zimmerman Leave a Comment

dsc_0827How will the agriculture industry grow an increasing amount of safe, healthy food in an environment of more stringent regulations coupled with less water? This question was answered by John Kasper, commercial business unit director for FMC Corporation, during the opening session of the 42nd annual California Association of Pest Control Advisers. The sold-out event focused on feeding a nation and fighting the fear and one fear growing among consumers is the fear of pesticides, just one concern that has fed the fire of changing regulations.

Kasper led off his presentation, entitled, “Producing High Quality Food in an Increasingly Regulated Environment,” with acknowledging that growers’ jobs have become harder. He said that growers have needs and the industry must figure out how to develop tools and technologies to meet these needs. One potential area is that of biologics including biopesticides and biostimulants. Kasper said that today this is a fragmented and diverse market but he believes it may be the next frontier. It’s estimated to grow to a $10 billion industry by 2030.

FMC has entered this biological arena and Kasper said two years ago they created a partnership with Christian Hansen. Today they have built a European Innovation Center in Denmark, their partner’s headquarters, that will focus on biological research. Kasper anticipates they will see their first group of products born out of this collaboration within the next 3-5 years.

To learn more about pesticides and regulations, listen to my interview with John Kasper here: John Kasper, FMC


Back to the regulation frontier, Kasper said that the EPA is currently reviewing pyrethroids and he counseled that it is very important that the industry submit comments relating to how important they are to farmers. “We must show value of these products,” added Kasper. “We can not take proven products for granted.”

Kasper ended his presentation on a positive note calling for the industry to engage in change. “We have a tremendous opportunity to be open to change and see productivity increases.

Listen to Kasper’s full presentation here: John Kasper, FMC, CAPCA Conference

Be sure to check out even more action by viewing the 42nd Annual CAPCA Photo Album.

Audio, CAPCA, EPA, FMC, Food, Pesticides, Regulation

American Ethanol Sweepstakes Winners Take Talladega

Kelly Marshall Leave a Comment

American Ethanol SweepstakesNASCAR will be in Alabama this weekend, and the winners of the American Ethanol sweepstakes will be there too. Earlier this year, American Ethanol hosted two sweepstakes competition in honor of 10 million miles of racing on ethanol blended fuel. One lucky NASCAR fan and one industry professional have been drawn at random to be part of this weekend’s fun.

Joey Lomenzo of Long Valley, New Jersey is the winner of the “We’ve Got the Power” fan sweepstakes.   Lorenzo, an avid NASCAR fan, has supported American Ethanol with his posts about blended fuels on social media.

The “Engine Insiders Talk Shop” engine industry professional sweepstakes winner is Allen Huggins.  Huggins is a recent graduate of the NASCAR Universal Technical Institute and is excited about beginning his career as an engine technician.  Thanks to the sweepstakes, he’ll be able to experience the classroom of life at Talladega.

American Ethanol is a partnership of the National Corn Growers Association and Growth Energy.  They encourage everyone to try the same clean fuel benefits NASCAR drivers enjoy by finding an E15 or higher fuel retailer in your area.

Agribusiness, Ethanol, NCGA

Members of USFRA Challenge Dannon

Kelly Marshall Leave a Comment

USFRAMember organizations of the U.S. Farmers and Rancher Alliance (USFRA) sent a letter to Dannon in response to their recent pledge to eliminate biotechnology in feed for dairy cows that supply milk for their yogurt.

Members of the USFRA urged Dannon and other food companies to review their goals for sustainability and understand those goals cannot be achieved without the use of safe and proven biotechnology.  Dannon is one of many food manufactures and retailers to eliminate GMOs from their supply chain, with claims that it will improve the sustainability of their products.

The letter explains how Dannon’s actions are  “the exact opposite of the sustainable agriculture that [Dannon] claim[s] to be seeking. [Dannon’s] pledge would force farmers to abandon safe, sustainable farming practices that have enhanced farm productivity over the last 20 years while greatly reducing the carbon footprint of American agriculture.”

“Just as every one of our farmers believes strongly in sustainable biotechnology, we also believe in the competition of a free market,” said American Soybean Association President Richard Wilkins. “But Dannon isn’t competing in good faith; Dannon is making false marketing claims to boost the sale of its products. We can’t afford to stand by and allow this technology to be further denigrated by untruthful claims like Dannon’s.”

Taking away a farmer’s ability to use less pesticides, herbicides, fossils fuels and water and prevent soil erosion turns back the clock on agriculture.  Numerous studies over a period of more than 20 years have proven the safety of GMOs and the benefits to the environment and 109 Nobel laureates recently added their support to the technology.

biotechnology, sustainability, USFRA

The Future in Tech, Food Production, Sustainability

Jamie Johansen Leave a Comment

zp-nh1Our latest ZimmPoll asked the question, “Will you be getting the new iPhone 7?”

The new models of the iPhone are out, the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus. It’s seems many are waiting on the 8 or simply don’t want it. Of course, Chuck has his and we are waiting with anticipation for his review. As an avid Apple customer, I will eventually make the plunge, but I am holding out a bit. Should I be surprised there are so many Android peeps? Sometimes I am tempted to try one out.

Here are the poll results:

  • Yes, already have it – 12%
  • Yes, on order – 4%
  • Don’t want it – 24%
  • No, waiting for iPhone 8 – 16%
  • No, I’m Android – 40%
  • I don’t use smartphones – 4%

Our new ZimmPoll is live and asks the question, What is most important to food sustainability?

More and more food companies are recognizing the importance of sustainability in agriculture, but it seems some are not understanding how technology and food production work hand-in-hand. In fact, the most recent news on the issues comes from Dannon, who believes sustainability means non-GMO. Tell us what you think. What is most important to food sustainability…biotech, water management, precision ag, etc?


North Dakota Facility Aiding US Agriculture Research

Kelly Marshall Leave a Comment

nagcA North Dakota science facility is helping U.S. ag research get up to speed.  Currently the nation is falling behind when it comes to agriculture research, due mainly to a lack of funding, but the National Agriculture Genotyping Center (NAGC) is committed to getting the United States back in the game.

Work related to sustainable production practices, genetic improvement and new uses is where the rubber meets the road – and, it’s also exactly the kind of work we need more of. Tangible results from these kinds of investments can take up to 15 years to fully realize. Enter the National Agricultural Genotyping Center, a small but high tech facility with the single mission of translating scientific discoveries into solutions for farmers. The facility is the brainchild of the National Corn Growers Association in partnership with Los Alamos National Laboratory and the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center.

“The name ‘National Agricultural Genotyping Center,’ or NAGC, may sound intimidating but at its core the facility and its mission is very simple,” said Larry Hoffmann, chairman of the National Corn Growers Association’s Corn Productivity & Quality Action Team. “They are here to identify high priority problems related to production agriculture, food safety, functional foods, bioenergy and national security and then use the latest technology to find an expedited solution.”

“Expediting a solution” means the NAGC will develop, run and review genetic assays, moving the U.S. back into play with countries like China, India and Brazil.  Smarter investments will lead to real answers to problems like the honey bee colony collapse or plant and animal diseases.

“NAGC is already proving its worth because of its ability to quickly assess and better understand these problems,” NCGA Research Director Dr. Richard Vierling said. “When it’s done right, agricultural genotyping can alleviate the inefficiencies, redundancies, bottlenecks and gaps that impede research and commercial development.”

Genetics, Genotyping, NCGA, Research


Joanna Schroeder Leave a Comment

CAPTAIN CAPCA and Dr Foe battled it out this morning in their last meeting to kick off the 42nd annual California Association of Pest Control Advisors (CAPCA). The event took place in no better place for a superhero and villain – Disneyland – in Anaheim, California October 16-18, 2016. This year’s theme is Feeding the Nation – Fighting the Fear and the speakers are covering all angles of what increasing consumer interest in agriculture means for the pesticide business. It’s leading to more regulation but it in the words of John Kasper, commercial business unit director for FMC Company, adversity can spur innovation and this coverage is highlighting innovation from data to drones to biopesticides to water quality and management and more.

Now, back to our superhero CAPTAIN CAPCA. He fought his last battle with Dr. Foe this morning and who won? Watch here.

Have as much fun with this as me? Then be sure to watch the episode 1 by clicking here.

Be sure to check out even more action by viewing the 42nd Annual CAPCA Photo Album.

And special thanks to FMC Corporation for covering our CAPCA adventure.

CAPCA, Crop Protection, FMC, Pesticides, Video

Illinois 4R4U Partnership Launched

Cindy Zimmerman Leave a Comment

A partnership has been launched between the Illinois Farm Bureau and affiliated county Farm Bureaus, with GROWMARK and a number of FS companies, designed to demonstrate and investigate at the local level the impact and efficacy of 4R nutrient stewardship practices – the right source of nutrient, at the right time, at the right rate, and in the right place.

4r4uThe 4R field demonstration program, called 4R4U, is a pilot program with hopes for a multi-year partnership to bring added use, awareness, and knowledge on nutrient stewardship via the 4R approach.

“As a farmer, I am committed to managing nutrients sustainably,” said Illinois Farm Bureau President Richard Guebert Jr. “This partnership will utilize many assets and produce locally driven information. Farmers and the agriculture community continue to work diligently to maximize input utilization and focus on the nutrient loss reduction strategy (NLRS),” he added.

Local plot tests will compare common practices to advanced practices on nutrient stewardship. Some of the types of tests include N-rate trials, use of multiple nitrogen applications, stabilizer utilizations, no-till planting, cover crops, and soil samples.

Illinois Farm Bureau and GROWMARK are providing funds for the project, while FS companies and county Farm Bureaus work together to carry out the 4R field demonstration strategy at a local level.

“This is a tangible commitment by all of us to sustainability,” said GROWMARK Chief Executive Officer Jim Spradlin. “Our teamwork will help elevate nutrient stewardship efforts and provide further information of 4R practices that can help meet the goals of the NLRS,” he added.

The pilot project includes 14 county Farm Bureaus and 11 FS companies in Illinois. This winter, each partnership will put a strategy in place with field demonstration days to be held in the spring and summer of 2017.

FS System, Growmark, Nutrient Management

Tillage System to Cut Cover Crop Costs

Kelly Marshall Leave a Comment

kelly-engineering_bannerKelly Engineering in South Australia has developed a tillage system to cut costs and boost productivity for cover crops.  The patented diamond-shaped tiller and air seeder allow the entire sowing process to be completed in a single pass.  Testing has begun in the United States and the product is expected to be available in 2017.

Timing is good for U.S. farmers looking to use cover crops to increase crop yields and decrease reliance on pesticides and nitrogen fertilizers.  Kelly Engineering is helping growers meet that goal, with their highly efficient but affordable products.

“There are government incentives for farmers in the United States to get involved with a cover crop program for environmental benefits, whether it be nutrient recycling, erosion control, soil improvements or water runoff,” Kelly said.  “In the United States, as here in Australia, there is recognition that maintaining live plants year round helps soil health and productivity.

“Farming on a global basis should be sustainable and we know that soil degradation, weeds and water-use efficiency are things affecting agriculture – we know that the tillage tools we provide can help address all of those issues.”

The Diamond Harrow uses four chains lined up in a diamond formation to allow the machine to prepare the seedbed in rough fields. The Cover Crop Seeder is integrated into the machine, which is towed by tractor. Each chain is fitted with a crop-specific row of metal discs that rotate and penetrate the soil. The design also allows the machine to work the soil, attack crop residue and manage weeds.

The machines initiate better microbial action in the soil by decomposing residue in the top layer. This allows it to access more sunlight, which dries the soil and helps kill weeds.

The North Central Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program and the Conservation Technology Information Center (CTIC) in the U.S. estimate a nearly 40 percent increase in the number of farmers using cover crops from 2012 to 2013.  That translates to more than 130,000 farms on 10.3 million acres in 2013.  SARE would like to see that number increased to a large of 20 million acres by 2020.

The new Diamond Harrow can help achieve that goal by saving time and offering more accurate germination in all types of weather, in addition to saving on maintenance costs, explains the company.

“One customer related that he spends $15,000 a year rebuilding his no till planter. He spends $7000 annually as a direct result of cover crops,” Kelly said.  “Wear costs on the Kelly Diamond Harrow are in the order of 30 cents per acre and the machine will go for many years without spending anything significant.  A new set of chains (on the Diamond Harrow) after 100,000 acres would cost around $25,000.”

The Australian-based company has more than two-thirds of its business in the United States and also exports to Canada, Germany and the UK.  They’re gearing up to offer products in Africa as well.

Agribusiness, Cover Crops, Equipment