Syngenta Evaluating Vortik Spray Technology

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syngentaSyngenta will evaluate the potential of Vortik spray technology. The company has inked a deal with product design and development firm Cambridge Consultants to check out the possibilities of the technology for agriculture and lawn-care applications.

Vortik allows different liquids to be mixed at the point of spray without altering the spray characteristics – giving instantaneous control over chemical composition and enabling more precise application of products such as pesticides.

Conventional atomisers use either a high pressure or high air flow to create a spray. Vortik combines low-pressure air and liquid in a specially shaped cyclone chamber. Shear between swirling air and the liquids creates the desired droplet size for spraying.


“Vortik opens up a range of new possibilities for crop protection and treatment,” said Nathan Wrench, head of industrial product development at Cambridge Consultants. “As well as the benefits of in-nozzle mixing at the point of spray, the technology can be combined with a network of sensors to enable variation of a formulation based on real-time feedback. It also allows spray quality to be controlled over a wide range of operating flow rates.

“We are delighted to have signed this non-exclusive evaluation agreement with Syngenta – a world leader in agrochemicals. We believe the innovative Vortik technology, combined with our extensive experience in industrial sensing and control, could make a significant impact on agriculture. With a complete range of engineering disciplines under one roof, we are uniquely placed to help clients such as Syngenta develop real breakthroughs in their industries.”

Syngenta says Vortik technology makes spraying systems less prone to blockages than conventional nozzles as the outlet is large in diameter compared with the droplets being created. The technology allows for tight control of fluid concentration and for a wide variety of liquid flow rates – reducing wastage.

Agribusiness, Spraying, Syngenta, Video

Poll: Farmers Cutting Back as Incomes Drop

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agripulseSoybean farmers in Iowa are cutting back on expenses as they see their farm incomes drop for a second year in a row. The survey by Agri-Pulse and conducted in partnership with the Iowa Soybean Association (ISA) shows nearly three out of four farmers (73 percent) expect their farm financial outlook to worsen in 2015 – with more than 53 percent expecting it to worsen “slightly” while almost 20 percent think it will worsen “a great deal.”

“The simple truth is margins are going to be tighter this year,” says ISA President Tom Oswald of Cleghorn, Iowa. “This poll confirms what farmers, ag manufacturers and biotech organizations have already been feeling.”

Seventy-seven percent of poll respondents also expect farmland values to decline in 2015, up slightly from 75 percent in 2014.

About the same percentage of farmers as last year said they plan to purchase more or continue to carry about the same level of crop insurance this year (86 percent in 2015 compared to 87 percent in 2014).

Almost 54 percent said they’d cut back on equipment expenses compared to 58 percent last year. One-third of respondents will reduce fertilizer expenses while 15 percent said they would scale back on purchases of crop chemicals.

Twenty-three percent of farmers will cut back on seed expenses compared to 8 percent a year ago.

The gloomy outlook by Iowa farmers seems to track with what the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is projecting: a drop in net farm incomes of 32 percent – from $108 billion in 2014 to $73.6 billion this year. That would make 2015 net farm income the lowest since 2009 and a drop of nearly 43 percent from the record high of $129 billion in 2013.

Agri-Pulse says the news also underscores the need for a supportive farm safety net in the 2014 farm bill.

The poll was taken April 5 with 112 Iowa farmers responding to the unaided 11-question poll.

USDA

Verdesian Intros New Phosphite-Free Plant Nutrition Product

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verdesianVerdesian Life Sciences has introduced a new formulation of a plant nutrition product that solves one of the problems of tree nut and stone fruit growers who export to Europe. The company says its Primacy ALPHA™ is a phosphite-free product that addresses concerns regarding European Union (EU) Maximum Residue Levels (MRLs) for phosphites.

Primacy ALPHA™ … delivers similar crop efficacy and tank-mix compatibility as Nutri-Phite® and is superior to conventional phosphite (PO3) products without the risk of exceeding EU MRL limits. According to Verdesian, Primacy ALPHA delivers the benefits of plant nutrition, health and yield responses without any PO3 residue. Primacy™ is a newly-created brand for Verdesian, and Primacy ALPHA is the first premier product offered under the new brand family.

According to Chris Buchheit, senior marketing manager, nutritionals, for Verdesian, benefits to the grower from Primacy ALPHA include promoting plant health and yield, increasing nutrient uptake, utilization and delivery, optimizing flowering and fruit size, and providing secondary and micronutrients critical to optimal crop development and growth.

“There are a lot of products from which growers can choose,” Buchheit said. “But Primacy ALPHA is unique in terms of the many benefits it delivers without containing phosphites.”

Primacy ALPHA can be foliar or soil applied and is tank-mix compatible with most commonly used pesticides and fertilizers.

Agribusiness, Plant Science

Registration for AgGateway’s Mid-Year Meeting Opens

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AgGatewayProducers will get the chance in June to get more information on expanding their eBusiness. Registration for AgGateway’s Mid-Year Meeting, June 8-11 at Prairie Meadows in Altoona, Iowa, just outside of Des Moines, has opened and promises multiple networking opportunities, as well as many open working group sessions where teams discuss ways to advance their collaborative eBusiness initiatives.

In keeping with its mission to promote, enable and expand eBusiness in agriculture, AgGateway offers modest registration fees to encourage maximum participation in collaborative eBusiness projects. Registration is just $100 for both members and non-members. In addition, those who register by May 8 will be entered into a drawing to win a special VIP attendee package, including a complimentary hotel room upgrade to a suite and other benefits. The special hotel rate at Prairie Meadows, available until May 18, is $105/night.

“Companies continue to add value to their products and services by demonstrating that they can connect electronically – whether it be for input transactions like seed and crop nutrition, or in precision agriculture applications,” said AgGateway President and CEO Wendy Smith. “We invite companies to the Mid-Year Meeting to collaborate on initiatives that will strengthen their businesses, as well as the industry as a whole.”

Registration and more information is available here. You can also find the meeting on Twitter at #AgGateway15.

Ag Group, AgGateway

Propane Power Options for the Farm

Cindy Zimmerman Leave a Comment

Among the most common uses for propane on the farm are grain drying, irrigation, and building heat – but there are many more ways that propane can benefit an agricultural operation.

Propane Education and Research Council agricultural director Cinch Munson says currently about 40 percent of the farms in the United States use propane. “There’s a lot of new equipment on the market that runs on propane that can apply to a farming operation,” said Munson. “This includes propane autogas pickups, fork lifts, mowers…there’s a lot of options.”

Munson says propane powers equipment as good or better than gasoline or diesel, with similar performance at a lower cost with less environmental impact. “Propane provides that economic advantage people are looking for,” he said.

propane-generatorPropane powered generators can provide some other advantages for on-farm use. “Propane is a fuel that stores really well,” said Munson. “When the power goes out, it’s ready to go. You don’t have to worry about fuel stabilizer, about fuel going bad, or someone sneaking in to steal that fuel…that’s a big advantage when you look at a back-up generator that may sit for months or years before you need it.”

Propane standby systems can deliver up to 125 kilowatts of power, and after utility power returns, the generator shuts itself off and waits for the next outage.

In this interview, Cinch talks specifics about propane-powered pickups, fork lifts, and generators and you can learn more at propane.com. Interview with Cinch Munson, PERC

Audio, Energy, PERC, propane

FMC Completes Cheminova Acquisition

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fmc-logoFMC Corporation has completed its acquisition of Cheminova A/S, a multinational crop protection company based in Denmark and a wholly-owned subsidiary of Auriga Industries A/S.

“Cheminova gives us direct market access to key countries in Europe and enhances our customer reach in India, Australia and throughout Latin America, bringing greater balance to our agricultural business,” said Pierre Brondeau, FMC president, CEO and chairman. “Its technology will enable us to expand FMC’s position in existing crops; accelerate access to additional crops, such as cereals; and strengthen our offerings to customers, especially in sugarcane, soybeans and cotton.”

FMC has been realigning its business portfolio in recent years to expand its position in the crop protection market. With the acquisition of Cheminova, and the divestiture of the Alkali Chemicals business completed on April 1, 2015, FMC Agricultural Solutions is expected to represent approximately three quarters of the company’s total revenue, up from less than 40 percent as recently as 2009.

Agribusiness, Crop Protection, FMC

FAA Exemption Clears PrecisionHawk for UAV Takeoff

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precisionhawk1Unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) company PrecisionHawk has received a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) exemption that will let the company conduct precision aerial surveys, including agricultural applications. The company says it will use the Lancaster UAV.

Over the past few months, we have built up highly qualified service teams to provide cost effective aerial data capture and analysis tools to our new and existing clients. [The exemptions] serve to streamline UAS integration by allowing UAV platforms, deemed safe and reliable, to operate for commercial use under specific guidelines. PrecisionHawk flights will be flown by a registered pilot, conducted during the day, within line-of-sight and will not exceed an altitude of 400 feet.

Through our extensive work in global servicing and expertise across applications, we have crafted a streamline workflow that goes beyond planes and pictures. We provide answers. Our focus is on equipping businesses with a team of PrecisionHawk technicians and GIS scientists to develop an aerial data strategy that addresses specific needs, capabilities and operations.

Users will also have access to DataMapper, PrecisionHawk’s cloud-based software partner.

So far, the FAA has granted 159 exemptions that will allow companies and UAV manufacturers to conduct nationwide UAS operations.

Agribusiness, UAS, UAV

USDA, Landowners Partner to Aid Gulf Recovery

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usda-logoPrivate landowners have become important partners with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to aid in the recovery of the Gulf of Mexico. This USDA news release says in the five years since the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, America’s farmers, ranchers and forest managers teamed up with the government to put proven conservation efforts on private lands to work to clean up and conserve water, restore habitat and strengthen agricultural operations in the region.

“With USDA’s partnership, America’s producers stepped forward to help in a time of need,” Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said. “They created habitat for birds migrating south to provide an alternative to coastal habitats impacted by the spill, and they made conservation improvements to their farms, ranches and forests to help improve water, air and soil quality and restore habitats.”

Landowners in Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida worked with USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to make conservation improvements on more than 22 million acres during fiscal years 2010-2014. An important part of this work was executed through targeted, landscape-level initiatives, such as the Migratory Bird Habitat Initiative (MBHI) and Gulf of Mexico Initiative (GoMI).

Just weeks after the spill, NRCS launched MBHI, an effort to aid landowners in creating alternative habitat for migratory birds. Landowners in an eight-state area created 470,000 acres of habitat for the millions of migratory birds, including ducks, geese and shorebirds, that travel the Mississippi Flyway each year to winter in Gulf of Mexico-area ecosystems, or in the case of many shorebirds, Central and South America. A recent study by Mississippi State University has shown the effectiveness of this effort.

A targeted project by NRCS called GoMI was launched three years ago to accelerate conservation to Gulf-area watersheds most in need. It helped landowners trap and reduce runoff of nutrients and sediment, which can impair water quality, and restore habitat on about 60,000 acres during fiscal 2012-2014.

A number of other landscape-level efforts enabled producers to improve quality of water and habitat downstream in the Gulf region, including the Mississippi River Basin Healthy Watersheds Initiative, National Water Quality Initiative, Everglades Initiative and Longleaf Pine Initiative.

Agribusiness, Conservation, Land, USDA

Vermont GE Labeling Rules Adopted

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Vermont’s Attorney General has formally adopted the regulations implementing Act 120, the state law requiring the labeling of food produced with genetic engineering. The new rule is scheduled to take effect on July 1, 2016.

The final rule provides details on how the “Produced with Genetic Engineering” label should appear on processed food, exemptions from the labeling requirement, and contains enforcement provisions for violations of the law.

cfsafThe Coalition for Safe Affordable Food (CFSAF) says the law will create more uncertainty for consumers in Vermont.

“Grocery shoppers across Vermont can look forward to a labeling system that leaves them with more questions than answers,” said CFSAF spokesperson Claire Parker. “These new rules will create the least transparent, most complex food labeling system in the United States.”

Parker says the law includes “a honeycomb of carve-outs and exemptions” that will increase consumer confusion. For example, she says, “a can of vegetable soup will have to be labeled but a can of vegetable beef soup will be exempt.”

CFSAF supports a national, uniform standard for food labeling. “The bipartisan Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act, introduced in Congress last month, is gaining momentum by the day,” said Parker. “The rules announced today in Vermont are the best evidence yet as to why this bill is so critically needed.”

biotechnology, Food, GMO

June 1st for Conservation Compliance Certification

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usda-logoFarmers are reminded of the June 1st deadline to certify their conservation compliance. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) says producers are required to file a Highly Erodible Land Conservation and Wetland Conservation Certification form (AD-1026) with their local USDA service center by the deadline to become or remain eligible for crop insurance premium support.

Most farmers already have a certification form on file since it’s required for participation in most USDA programs such as marketing assistance loans, farm storage facility loans and disaster assistance. However farmers, such as specialty crop growers who receive federal crop insurance premium support, but may not participate in other USDA programs, also must now file a certification form to maintain their crop insurance premium support.

“USDA employees are working very hard to get the word out about this new Farm Bill provision,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “While many producers will not need to take action, we want to help make sure that those who are required to act do so by the June 1 deadline. We want all eligible producers to be able to maintain their ability to protect their operations with affordable insurance.”

Producers should visit their local USDA service center and talk with their crop insurance agent before the June 1, 2015, deadline to ask questions, get additional information or learn more about conservation compliance procedures.

Agribusiness, Conservation, USDA