New FAPRI Report Shows ARC, PLC Picks

John Davis Leave a Comment

fapri-logoA new report from the Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute at the University of Missouri (FAPRI-MU) shows how many farmers are using Agricultural Risk Coverage (ARC) and Price Loss Coverage (PLC) plans from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Highlights from the report, titled, “U.S. crop program fiscal costs: Revised estimates with updated participation information,” include:

· The FAPRI-MU baseline anticipated that most corn and soybean producers would elect ARC, because average ARC payments were projected to exceed PLC payments for those crops. Election results show that even more corn and soybean producers chose ARC than had been expected.

· For wheat, we expected a more even split, with 60 percent choosing PLC, given a closer balance of projected payments. Instead, a narrow majority chose ARC.

· As expected, given projected payments, the vast majority of long grain rice and peanut producers chose PLC, as did smaller majorities of sorghum and barley producers.

· The reallocation of base acreage resulted in more base acres for corn, rice and peanuts, crops that have larger projected ARC or PLC payments than most other crops.

Based on this new information, FAPRI expects increased outlays associated with the 2014 and 2015 crops, especially for corn. In 2017 and 2018, outlays are expected to drop.

Agribusiness, Government, USDA

Got Drone? Get Interdrone

Chuck Zimmerman Leave a Comment

ZimmCast 480Got Drone? Want Drone? Then plan to attend Interdrone! It’s Interdrone, the International Drone Conference & Expo, taking place in Las Vegas, September 9-11.

InterdroneAgWired is a media sponsor for Interdrone and I hope to attend the show to provide coverage right here and on I talked with Ted Bahr, President/CEO, BZ Media, the company that is conducting the show to learn more about it.

Registration is open and a lot of people have already taken care of it. One of the interesting components of the show is a drone flying area inside for vendors to show off their products. A number of ag focused companies are on the list and precision ag is on the program. Get a full overview of the program by listening to my conversation with Ted.

Listen to my conversation with Ted in this week’s program: 2015 Interdrone Conference

Subscribe to the ZimmCast podcast here.

Audio, drone, UAV

Lower Corn Acres This Year

John Davis Leave a Comment

NCGA-Logo-3Wet weather in the corn belt and plenty of carry over has pushed down the number of acres of corn planted this year. But the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) says there’s plenty of the crop for all uses from the grain. Citing the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Acreage report, NCGA says total corn planting in the United States totals 88.9 million acres, the lowest planted acreage since 2010 but the sixth-largest U.S. corn acreage planted since 1944.

“Corn farmers produced an abundance in 2014 that resulted in a large carry over into this year,” National Corn Growers Association President Chip Bowling said. “While planted acreage has decreased as farmers in many parts of the country face unrelentingly wet conditions, U.S. farmers have steadily increased our ability to grow more corn on every acre. Americans can rest assured that we will be able to meet all needs, be they for food, fuel or fiber, for years to come.”

USDA projects 13.5 billion acres of corn to be harvested this fall.

Ag Group, Agribusiness, Corn, Government, NCGA, USDA

USDA to Resurvey Growers for Acres Planted in Several States

John Davis Leave a Comment

usda-logoUSDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) released the June 30 planted acreage report this week, but weather issues that have caused planting delays in several states mean the numbers are not as accurate as they should be by now. Four states are to be re-surveyed.

NASS previously collected planted acreage information during the first two weeks of June, with the results published in the June 30 Acreage report. At the time of the survey, weather had prevented planting leaving a portion of acres to be planted for cotton in Texas; sorghum in Kansas; and soybeans in Arkansas, Kansas, and Missouri. If the newly collected data justify any changes, NASS will publish updated estimates in the Crop Production report to be released at noon EDT on Wednesday, August 12.

More information is available at


Polenske Named Crop Adviser of the Year

John Davis Leave a Comment

polenske1Jeff Polenske of Tilth Agronomy Group in Appleton, Wisconsin, has been picked as the International Certified Crop Adviser’s (ICCA) Adviser of the Year.

Polenske began work with a bachelors’ degree in Agronomy from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and experience as an intern in a county extension office, scouting fields and providing reports. Crop consulting was just starting as a profession, and Polenske sought out the additional training. In 1991 he became a Certified Professional Agronomist, which became the CCA program in 2012.

Polenske’s work can be described by the numbers: 29 years, 56 current clients and 50,000 plus acres of his own clients, while managing a consulting firm with 23 employees and helping with their clients. It can also be described as a commitment. “Some people would call it a passion, and some would call it a disease,” Polenske states. “If people are hiring me as a consult I should be available with farmers’ hours.”

Nominator and University of Wisconsin-Extension agent Bryan Jensen mentions Polenske’s generous approach: “Jeff has the mind and attitude of a teacher. He has laid the foundation for creating the next generation of agronomists.”

“One of the keys to growth is getting involved as much as we can. It’s a thirst for learning—now I’m teaching and I still want to learn,” Polenske says.

The award will be handed out at the American Society of Agronomy (ASA) Annual Meeting.

Ag Group, Agribusiness, agronomy, Award

iCropTrak Getting Ready for InfoAg Conference

Chuck Zimmerman Leave a Comment

iCropTrakThe InfoAg Conference is only four weeks away and companies like iCropTrak are getting excited to showcase their products to a record setting crowd in St. Louis. iCropTrak has been a supporter of ours for several years now and I look forward to visiting with them in the trade show and during a session I will be moderating that includes iCropTrak on the program.

I just spoke with Aaron Hutchinson, iCropTrak, about what’s new and what we can expect to see when visiting the company during InfoAg. They’ll be in booth 85. Aaron says they’ll be showing the new 6.1 release of their software. He says the key word this year is reporting with customers needing pixel perfect government forms and the ability to create them faster. So there’s a new software plugin that allows that to happen.

Listen to my interview with Aaron to learn more about what’s new with iCropTrak: Aaron Hutchinson, iCropTrak

Agribusiness, Audio, iCropTrak, InfoAg

Land O’Lakes to Merge Inputs with United Suppliers

Kelly Marshall Leave a Comment

land o lakesLand O’Lakes, Inc. and United Suppliers, Inc. are announcing a merger of their crop inputs businesses. The organizations will provide expanded product offerings, enhanced precision agriculture services, tools and technologies, improved product insights, and consulting services among others.

“This move comes at a time when scale is increasingly important in addressing changing industry dynamics, including rapid consolidation on the supplier, retailer and grower levels, fast-paced technological innovation and the need for increasing and expanded service offerings for customers,” said Chris Policinski, President and CEO of Land O’Lakes, Inc. “We are excited to come together with United Suppliers and expect our members, owners and customers will benefit greatly from this merger.”

united suppliers logoThe first goal of the merger is to combine the seed and crop protection businesses, followed by bringing together the crop nutrient businesses.  The organizations hope to build on their individual successes and create a single, strong entity.  Both groups will move forward with their existing marketing strategies and will work together to gain better expertise for meeting customer demands.

“United Suppliers is excited to join with Land O’Lakes, Inc.,” said Brad Oelmann, President and CEO of United Suppliers. “We are both experiencing great growth in this industry and together we view this merger as a continuation of that journey.”

Member/owners must vote to approve the merger before the deal is finalized.  Ballots are scheduled to be cast in August of 2015, with closing anticipated for October 2015.

Agribusiness, Crop Protection, seed

AgMag Fertilizer Approved for Organic Farming

Kelly Marshall Leave a Comment

AgMag-Infographic-smallInnovative Surface Solutions has a new option for farmers striving to meet the demand for organic crops.  Ag, Mag has become the first magnesium chloride-based fertilizer approved for organic farming in North America.  Magnesium chloride has been shown to improve quality and yields for crops including corn, wheat and small grains, soybeans, and potatoes.

“The demand for organic foods continues to grow and farmers are looking for cost-effective solutions,” said Greg Baun, President and CEO, Innovative Surface Solutions. “We are proud to offer North American farmers access to a liquid organic fertilizer that will increase quality and yields across a range of crop types and also contains natural fungal suppressant properties. We continue to see excellent results from our trials with Cornell University; 2015 will be the fourth year and most comprehensive trials yet with more farms participating in New York and New England.”

Innovative’s AgMag™ is a high performance magnesium chloride liquid that is approved for organic production as a crop fertilizer and soil amendment to help increase quality and yield in row crops. It has just been listed by the Organic Materials Review Institute (OMRI) in both Canada and the United States. AgMag™ is listed for use in certified organic production, food processing and handling according to the USDA National Organic Program Rule and Canadian Organic Standards.

AgMag™ is the base material for Innovative’s family of value added agriculture blends, which include NutriMag™. The magnesium chloride used in AgMag™ also forms the base for Innovative’s broad line of de-icing, dust control and industrial products.

“Innovative’s AgMag™ provides farmers with an organic option to strengthen their crops that is superior to traditional Epsom salts used by many organic farmers as a source of magnesium,” said Ray McDonald, General Manager of Cangrow Crop Solutions and Innovative’s Canadian distribution partner. “This magnesium chloride solution gives organic farmers access to the same benefits of this fertilizer that have been available to non-organic farmers in North America for more than 20 years.”

“The organic certification of Ag Mag will be great for organic farmers,” said John Van Heusen, operator of Sugar Creek Farm in Ossian, New York. “I have seen year-over-year increases in both yield and quality by using AgMag on conventional crops. Now the same benefits can be experienced on organic farms.”

An OMRI Listed seal shows that Innovative AgMag™ may be used in the Generic Material Listing.   You can find the product in the OMRI Products List© available on the website and will be released in the next print version. Look for more information regarding the OMRI status of AgMag™ in the next OMRI update.

AgMag is also approved for organic use by NOFA-NY and Baystate Organic Certifiers.

Agribusiness, Fertilizer, Organic

AGree Report Calls for Food & Ag Research Reform

John Davis Leave a Comment

AGree1A new report calls for reforms in food and ag research. AGree, a group that’s supported by leading foundations that fund food and agriculture, international development, and health and well-being, unveiled its comprehensive report on food and ag research, “Research & Innovation: Strengthening Agricultural Research,” which includes nine recommendations to strengthen the impact of public research dollars by reforming the system and also makes the case for increased research funding.

“We need to make a smart investment even smarter,” said Deborah Atwood, Executive Director of AGree. “The need to modernize our research system has long been discussed behind closed doors – now it’s time to have an open national conversation about needed changes.”

The recommendations were developed based on meetings held across the country throughout a two year period involving more than 100 people. They were further informed by five Point of View papers commissioned by AGree, and guided by the direct engagement and insight of AGree Co-Chairs and Advisors. They are:

– Scrutinize and modernize federal funding mechanisms for public research, education, and extension to foster innovation and maximize public benefits.
– Review and reset publicly-funded research priorities periodically, employing a transparent process with input from multiple stakeholders and end users to ensure that funds are focused on high-impact areas.
– Minimize duplicative efforts and unnecessary costs by assessing the existing research infrastructure and improving grant monitoring and tracking systems.
– Target public research funding to areas unlikely to be addressed by private industry.
– Increase Congressional oversight of the U.S. agricultural research enterprise.
– Make data, information, and findings from publicly-funded research accessible.
– Strengthen the role of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Chief Scientist to help ensure the U.S. continues to serve as a global leader on food and agricultural research and innovation.
– Integrate research, education, and extension activities to promote coordination across each of these three interconnected elements at the university level.
– Maintain U.S. leadership and engagement in international food and agricultural research.

The next steps for AGree include convening a diverse coalition of thought leaders to coalesce around smart, long-term changes to the public food and agricultural research enterprise.

Ag Group, Agribusiness, Research

Crop Health Labs Offers Sap Analysis Webinars

Cindy Zimmerman Leave a Comment

crophealthlabsGrowers looking to reduce crop inputs and increase profits now have access to a program to achieve both – Plant Sap Analysis. The technology is offered by Crop Health Labs, in partnership with NovaCropControl Laboratories, and upcoming webinars can provide more information for interested farmers and crop consultants.

Crop Health Labs Executive Director Michelle Gregg says growers have seen significant financial benefits with Plant Sap Analysis. “We have a database of long-term, trend data from 10 years of sap analysis study,” said Gregg. “Growers report saving most on reserved nitrogen, up to 40 percent of their nitrogen costs, by modifying applications of macro and micro-nutrients in key ratios identified for optimum plant health. The technology is a systems balancer that can be applied to any production system.”

Crop Health Labs is offering three webinars for crop consultants, growers, and one specific to soybean producers. All webinars will be recorded and available for viewing or purchase following the event.

June 30, 2015 hosted in partnership with the American Society of Agronomy
1:00-2:00 PM EST
“Best Practices for Sap Analysis Application: Consultants and Clients Review ”
Daniel Davidson, PhD and Sjoerd Smits, co-founder of NovaCropControl Laboratory
Registration available at

July 7, 2015: Hosted in partnership with the American Soybean Association
2:00 PM EST
Sap Analysis Application for Soybean Producers
Daniel Davidson, PhD
Registration available at

July 14, 2015
7:00 PM EST
Hosted in partnership with Advancing Eco Agriculture
John Kempf, CEO of Advancing Eco Agriculture
“Sap Analysis: The Competitive Edge Consulting Firms”
Registration available at

Visit Crop Health Labs’ website for more information and to register. To speak with a trained Plant Sap Analyst, call 1-800-495-7938 or email:

agronomy, Nitrogen, Nutrient Management, Soybeans