USDA Hands Out $18 M+ in Small Biz Research Grants

John Davis Leave a Comment

usda-logoSmall businesses in the ag sector are getting quite a boost, as the federal government gives out more than $18 million in small business grants. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) is giving the money in the form of 100 grants through the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program to companies for high quality, advanced research and development that will lead to technological innovations and solutions for American agriculture.

“Small businesses are adept at finding solutions that can advance agriculture, create new jobs and grow our economy. These grants will provide resources so small businesses can innovate and create new breakthroughs,” said USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack. “The SBIR program has provided hundreds of small businesses with the ability to explore new ideas that have led to cutting-edge solutions to pressing challenges and helped keep American agricultural innovative and strong.”

The SBIR program exists to stimulate technological innovations in the private sector and to strengthen the role of federal research and development in support of small businesses. The program also fosters and encourages participation by women-owned and socially or economically disadvantaged small businesses.

Companies initially apply for Phase I feasibility studies, which may be followed by Phase II research and development projects. Phase I grants are limited to $100,000 and a duration of eight months, while Phase II grants are limited to $450,000 and a duration of 24 months. Approximately 30-40 percent of Phase I projects continue onto Phase II.

Since 1983, the SBIR program has handed out more than 2,000 research and development grants to American-owned, independently operated, for-profit businesses with 500 employees or fewer.

Agribusiness, USDA

Agronomy Big Driver in GROWMARK’s Big Year

John Davis Leave a Comment

Growmark_logoAgronomy was a big reason GROWMARK had one of its best year’s ever this year. This company news release says Fiscal Year 2014 was in the top five income years in company history, with volume records in agronomy, coupled with significant investments in information management technology and infrastructure improvements leading to the success.

bohbrinkMarshall Bohbrink, vice president and chief financial officer, reported record sales of $10.4 billion; consolidated pretax income of $194 million; and total patronage in the amount of $112 million will be returned to GROWMARK member-owners.

“GROWMARK is in extremely strong financial condition and we are well positioned in the event the Ag economy is more challenging in the next few years,” said Bohbrink.

Key highlights of FY2014 operational results include:

GROWMARK Agronomy reported record plant food volume with an overall increase of 6 percent. Seed reported record seed corn unit sales, which increased 11 percent, along with a 15 percent increase in soybean units.
GROWMARK Grain reported a 32 percent increase in grain volume for FY 2014.
GROWMARK continued to emphasize significant investments in energy and plant food terminals, grain systems, and other assets all designed to improve efficiency and support customers.

agronomy, Energy, Growmark, renewable energ

Interviews Highlight Initiatives to Feed 9 Billion by 2050

John Davis Leave a Comment

IFTIt will take some great ideas to get the agricultural community able to produce enough food to feed an expected world population of 9 billion by 2050. And sharing those ideas is the idea behind the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) FutureFood 2050 set of interviews.

Agriculture thought leaders like animal scientist Temple Grandin and BrightFarms’ founder Paul Lightfoot are advocating for new initiatives designed to revolutionize the industry at every step from farm to table, employing technology artfully while maintaining the integrity of fresh, sustainably produced foods.

“Handling living organisms is an entirely different thing from making ordinary industrial products. I think cultivation know-how will be in even higher demand in the future,” says Shigeharu Shimamura, president of a Tokyo, Japan-based agricultural corporation that opened the world’s largest all-LED indoor farm or “pinkhouse” this year, using 17,500 lights that emit only the wavelengths most conducive to plant growth.

This month Lightfoot and Shimamura share their innovative and visionary thoughts on the subject, along with a host of scientists and future leaders.

FutureFood 2050 plans to release 75 interviews with the world’s most impactful leaders in food and science through 2015. These interviews will be the seventh installment of FutureFood’s interview series, following sustainability, women in food science, food waste, food security and nutrition in Africa, aquaculture, and futurists on food.

Ag Group, International, Research

New USDA Ag Census Maps Let Farmers Analyze Data

John Davis Leave a Comment

usda-logoA new tool offered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture will let producers see and analyze more data. The agency’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) is now offering the Ag Census Web Maps application, a dynamic online tool that gives users rapid access to Census of Agriculture maps and data about crops and plants, livestock and animals, economics, farms, and operators in more than 3,000 counties across the United States.

“The Ag Census Web Maps give farmers, ranchers, researchers, planners, non-profits, and industry easy access to important data that impact nearly every aspect of agriculture,” said NASS Administrator Joseph T. Reilly.

The Ag Census Web Maps application is interactive. Users can navigate to an area of interest, print the map, display and extract a county’s data, download maps and accompanying data for use with common software programs, and integrate the web map services with other mapping applications to visualize and analyze 2012 Census of Agriculture data in a geospatial context. NASS developed the application in collaboration with USDA’s Economic Research Service (ERS).

The Census of Agriculture provides a detailed picture every five years of U.S. farms and ranches and the people who operate them. It is the only source of uniform, comprehensive agricultural data for every state and county in the United States. Census data are used to make decisions about many things that directly impact farmers and ranchers, including:

community planning
store/company locations
availability of operational loans and other funding
location and staffing of service centers
farm programs and policies

Officials say the app offers county-level maps and statistics in five broad categories: crops and plants, economics, farms, livestock and animals, and operators.

You can check out the app here:

Agribusiness, Apps, USDA

Contest Winner Gets New Holland CR8090 for Harvest

Cindy Zimmerman Leave a Comment

new-holland8090A Missouri farmer has won the use of a CR8090 combine with a New Holland Twin Rotor® CR8090 combine corn head for the 2014 harvest season, thanks to New Holland and Growth Energy.

Robert Baker of Sue City, Missouri has been named the 2014 Growth Energy Individual Membership Sweepstakes winner. “I am very excited, and I have a son and grandson that are more excited than me because they get to run [the combine],” said Baker, who is an investor in the Macon, Missouri, POET Biorefining plant, and regularly provides feedstock.

“The economic impact of the ethanol industry here in Missouri is undeniable and what we do here at POET goes far beyond the production process,” said Steve Murphy, General Manager at POET Biorefining – Macon. “As the first ethanol plant in the state of Missouri, we are proud of the added value our facility brings to producers and this community. However, we wouldn’t be able to offer consumers cheaper and cleaner choices at the pump if it weren’t for producers like Robert.”

“We are proud to support a farmer who works so hard every day to grow crops to help feed the world and fuel our nation,” said Growth Energy CEO, Tom Buis. “Our members are working hard to revitalize our rural economies, create new jobs and ensure our nation will have a sustainable and secure energy future. This sweepstakes was part of a larger effort to continue to build grassroots support for biofuels across the country.”

The Growth Energy Individual Membership Sweepstakes offered all new or renewing individual members a chance to win either a NASCAR ticket package or usage of a New Holland combine. The total prize package for the combine is valued at $35,584.

Ethanol, Harvesting, New Holland

ANBO Series Helps Farmers with Big Jobs

John Davis Leave a Comment

RancherSeries1aA new series grapples by ANBO Manufacturing, a leading maker of grapples and blade attachments for use in agriculture, forestry and construction, should make life a little easier for the modern rancher and farmer.

Made of tough A-572 alloy steel, the Rancher Series grapples come in sizes from 69 inches to 94 inches and can be made to fit virtually any carrier. It features an extra wide 75-inch opening for picking up large round bales, square bales or large brush piles. The 8-inch tine spacing provides the ability to forward and back rake fine hay and debris into easily manageable piles of material that can be picked up and relocated.

Rancher Series grapples also feature serrated edges which provide an extra strong bite and hold on loads, preventing them from slipping. Complete with 3,000 psi heavy duty welded cylinders, the Rancher Series grapples have outstanding clamping power for secure loads.

Long-time rancher Gerald Scholz brags about his new ANBO Rancher Series Grapple.

“My family has owned property in Okanogan County for decades,” Scholz says. “They’ve purchased numerous ranching products to toil, till, and transform the land – but never one that works this well!”

Scholz goes on to say that the 8 inch spacing between the tines is perfect for picking up both small and large materials, and it has wedges on the front of the fork which will actually lift your dirt up, hold larger rocks tightly, then let the dirt fall out, acting like a sifter.

You can read and see more about the ANBO Rancher Series Grapples here.

Agribusiness, Equipment, Hay

GROWMARK Promotes Three in Plant Foods Division

John Davis Leave a Comment

Growmark_logoGROWMARK, Inc. is promoting three employees in its Plant Food Division. The company announced the promotions in this news release.

Engel1Dan Engel has been promoted to senior market manager, Phosphates and Potash, replacing Mike May, who will retire January 2015. Engel will be responsible for procuring, positioning, and pricing phosphate and potash products for GROWMARK. He most recently held the position of market manager, Anhydrous Ammonia with GROWMARK; he will report to Joe Dillier, Director, Plant Food.

hornblower1Scott Hornblower is promoted to associate market manager, Anhydrous Ammonia, and will assist with the procurement and marketing of anhydrous ammonia; he reports to Kreg Ruhl, Senior market manager, Nitrogen. Hornblower previously served as Plant Food procurement and risk analyst in the GROWMARK Plant Food Division.

rehtmeyer1Eric Rehtmeyer has been promoted to market manager, Urea. He will continue to report to Ruhl.

GROWMARK officials are wishing May the best on his retirement, with Rod Wells, GROWMARK Plant Food Division manager saying, “He has been a valued GROWMARK employee for many years and has contributed greatly to our success.” Wells also congratulated the individuals assuming new roles within the division.

Agribusiness, Growmark

FS Crop Advisers Help with Nutrient Management Plans

Cindy Zimmerman Leave a Comment

This is the final installment of a four part series on Nutrient Management sponsored by FS/GROWMARK

growmark-musserJohn Musser, a crop adviser with Stephenson Service Company, has been a crop consultant for over 30 years and a Certified Crop Adviser for the past two decades. He was the 2012 winner of the Illinois Certified Crop Adviser Award for helping his growers improve their total nitrogen management strategy.

“My first direction is to make sure that we build something that’s agronomically sound,” said Musser. “That usually starts out with soil testing information to ensure that we have adequate agronomic levels to grow a crop, whether it’s corn or soybeans.” Beyond that, recommendations follow a 3-4 year cycle.

Musser says he stresses to growers the importance of keeping what they put on. “If we lose our soils, we really lose our nutrients, and we lose our value and our ability to grow good corn crops,” he said. Bottom line is that over application means lost money.

One of the biggest changes for the benefit of nutrient management in the time that Musser has been in the crop consulting business has been the use of GPS since the mid-90s. “Understanding that we can really watch change and understand change, (we’ve seen) the numbers really do work,” he said.

Moving forward, Musser says better data management will help growers continue to improve nutrient management. “Right now they’re in a collection mode,” he said. “The challenge that they have right now is there’s no consistent data collection tool that everybody’s using to start to gather some consistency.”

Listen to my interview with John here and learn more about improving nutrient management plans: Interview with John Musser, Stephenson Service Company

In case you missed them, here are links to the other three parts of this series:
Illinois Nutrient Loss Reduction Strategy
N-Watch Program Growing.
Be Part of Nutrient Management Solution

Nutrient Management Series

sponsored by
Nutrient Management Series is sponsored by GROWMARK
Audio, Data, Growmark, Nutrient Management

New Leader TR1000 Trailer

Jamie Johansen Leave a Comment

hiwayHighway Equipment Company, the manufacturer of New Leader® crop nutrient applicators, encourages growers across the nation to inquire about the TR1000 trailer with dry nutrient applicator at their authorized John Deere CAD/ASD dealerships. The TR1000 trailer, built exclusively for the John Deere 4900 series sprayer chassis, allows individual growers the ability to apply lime and fertilizer as needed, on their own clock. The TR1000 is adaptable to specific crop needs with an adjustable axle, 3 tire size options, and brakes.

The TR1000 trailer and dry nutrient applicator package, is more than a spreader. It’s a machine. New Leader’s patented application technology permits a uniform, consistent application that helps crops achieve their maximum nutrient uptake. Side-by-side comparisons demonstrate that New Leader applicators are capable of spreading 25-50% wider that competing applicators, even in 20 mph wind.

Additional features of the TR1000 include: a heavy-duty category ¾ bull pull hitch which eliminated backlash, an inspection ladder, hose and harness support, 40k-pound rated safety chain and a heavy-duty trailer jack.

Agribusiness, Equipment, Fertilizer

Biotechnology a Focus at Export Exchange

Cindy Zimmerman Leave a Comment

minigh-exexDr. Howard Minigh, president and chief executive officer of CropLife International, was one of the presenters at the 2014 Export Exchange in Seattle this week. The event is co-sponsored by the U.S. Grains Council (USGC) and Renewable Fuels Association (RFA).

Speaking to nearly 500 attendees representing over 40 countries, Minigh talked about how biotechnology benefits farmers and consumers worldwide, and innovation in plant science is essential to meet the world’s rapidly growing demand for food. Biotechnology was a key topic at the Exchange in an effort to educate international buyers.

Since being commercially introduced in the mid-1990s, the economic benefits of plant biotechnology at the farm level have exceeded $117 billion, according to PG Economics. In 2013, 18 million farmers in 27 countries – more than 90 percent of them lower-income farmers in the developing world – planted biotech crops.

Despite the widespread adoption of this technology, it is controversial and, in some markets, unpredictable regulatory frameworks often influenced by political forces have created challenges to global trade. The timelines for approval in large importing countries are increasing, although this trend is not confined only to those who buy grain. Even the United States, which as recently as 2008 was a global leader in biotech approvals, now trails Canada, Brazil and Argentina on this measure.

Export Exchange participants also heard presentations on the global supply and demand situation, economic drivers affecting the global feed grains trade, and the latest developments in shipping, financing and the policy environment.

Agribusiness, biotechnology, Exports, Grain