Researcher Discovers Link in Understanding Pest

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Nematodes are a billion dollar threat to agriculture each year.  Plant scientists at the University of Missouri and the University of Bonn in Germany have discovered that nematodes use a specific hormone to help them feed on the plant.  This discovering could allow scientist to develop plants with resistance to the pests.

Mitchum-Melissa-180x120“Cell cycle regulation is a key aspect of plant development and one of the first events altered during the formation of the feeding sites nematodes use to acquire nutrients from host plants,” said Melissa Goellner Mitchum, a researcher in the Bond Life Sciences Center and an associate professor in the Division of Plant Sciences at MU. “These discoveries led scientists to suspect that cytokinin, a hormone that promotes cell division in plants, might play a key role in feeding site formation for nematode parasites.”

“As part of our research, we examined the activation of different components of the cytokinin pathway in response to nematode infection,” says Carola De La Torre, a postdoctoral fellow at MU who worked with Mitchum. “Also, we evaluated numerous plants that lacked the presence of these components and found that most of these plants were less susceptible to nematode infection. These results suggested to us that these little worms are not only utilizing parts of a plant hormonal pathway that is important for plant growth and development, but they also are doing it in a way that allows them to cause disease.”

Mitchum’s team partnered with Florian Grundler’s group at Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-University of Bonn, Germany, who further analyzed the connection between cytokinin and nematodes. Using advanced genetic tools, they discovered that nematodes create their own form of plant cytokinin and that, by secreting the hormone into the plant, they actively control the cell cycle leading to the production of ideal feeding sites to support their development. These findings show the ability of an animal to synthesize and secrete a functional plant hormone to establish long-term parasitism.

“Understanding how plant-parasitic nematodes modulate host plants to their own benefit is an essential first step in finding new technologies needed to develop crop plants with enhanced resistance to these devastating agricultural pests,” Mitchum said.

Researchers from Palacký University and the Institute of Experimental Botany Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic; the Institute of Biology and Applied Genetics and the Dahlem Centre of Plant Sciences, Freie Universität in Berlin, Germany; the Department of Botany, Warsaw University of Life Sciences in Warsaw, Poland; and the Department of Biology and the Graduate School of Science at Osaka University in Osaka, Japan all contributed to this study.

Education, Research

DuPont Pioneer Hosts #YieldHero Sweepstakes

Kelly Marshall Leave a Comment

cornHarvest is underway and DuPont Pioneer has launched a social media sweepstakes campaign.  Growers are invited to tweet a harvest photo of their Pioneer brand products using the hashtag #YieldHero.

Weekly winners of the sweepstakes will receive a Yeti cooler.  One grand prize winner will receive a trip for two anywhere in the United States.  The contest began September 11 and will continue till November 5, 2015.

“Every grower deserves a getaway, especially after harvest,” said Cathy Lee Fredrickson, DuPont Pioneer social media consultant. “We want our customers to share their success stories with fellow growers and also to win that chance to get away, on us!”

To enter, U.S. growers 18 years or older can take a harvest photo or “selfie” featuring Pioneer® brand products and post it to Twitter with the hashtag #YieldHero and mention @DuPontPioneer. Growers can then follow @DuPontPioneer for winner announcements.

There were more than 400 Yield Heroes recognized in 2014.

Dupont Pioneer, Harvesting, Twitter

Corn Harvest is Underway

Kelly Marshall Leave a Comment

corn-harvest18 reporting states report that corn harvest in now underway.  The USDA reports that 18 percent of the corn crop has been harvested as of Sunday.  The crop condition reports remain the same– 68 percent of corn is rated at good or excellent while 22 percent is considered to be in fair condition.

Predictably the southern states, including Kentucky, North Carolina, Tennessee and Texas, report more than half their crop harvested.  Michigan, Minnesota and North Dakota report the fewest number of harvested acres, but overall percentages are up from last year; reports from this date last year were 11 percent.  The five year average is 23 percent.

Other key harvests now underway include soybeans (21 percent harvested in 18 states), cotton (11 percent in 15 states), sorghum (36 percent in 11 states), peanuts (18 percent in eight states), sugarbeets (17 percent in four states) and rice (69 percent in six states).

You can view the USDA report for yourself to see specific crops and states.

Corn, Harvesting, USDA

Luke Bryan Tours on Behalf of #Thankful4Ag

Kelly Marshall Leave a Comment

#Thankful4AgLuke Bryan, Country Music Association and Academy of Country Music Entertainer of the Year, is touring with Bayer Corporation to bring attention to the 48 million Americans living in food insecure homes.  This is the second year that Bayer CropScience is working with Feeding America and Bryan’s Farm Tour to help feed families in need and you can be part of their social media initiative by tweeting the hashtag #Thankful4Ag.

Each tweet equals a donation of 11 meals.  The goal is 330,000 meals for those facing hunger.

“As the son of a farmer, I believe it’s important for everyone to understand and appreciate how hard today’s farmers have to work to provide us with the meals that grace our tables each day,” Bryan said. “I’m excited that as a sponsor of the Farm Tour this year Bayer will have the opportunity to promote the #Thankful4Ag campaign to my fans, giving these farmers the celebration they deserve.”

Bayer CropScience, Security, social media, Twitter

New Patent for Bio Based Plastics

Kelly Marshall Leave a Comment

ICPBThe Iowa Corn Promotion Board (ICPB) has just been issued a new patent relating to the imporved process used in making bio plastics.  The patent specifically pertains to the compound isosorbide, which allows the use of more bio material in plastics and improves other properties, such as a plastic’s melting temperature.

The patent, titled “Dianhydrosugar Production Process,” eliminates the need for an expensive vacuum or inert gas as well as solvents considered environmentally unfriendly.   Together these improvements mean a cheaper process using more corn.

“The new patented process allows for the increased production of corn derived isosorbide creating new markets for corn farmers,” said Research and Business Development Committee Chair Curt Mether, a corn farmer from Harrison County. “This allows for a reduction in the amount of petroleum needed to make plastics, lowers carbon emissions and decreases the cost of consumer goods manufactured employing this process.”

The Iowa Corn Research and Business Development Committee funds research to develop new uses for corn in the area of bioplastics. By 2017, the USDA estimates the bioplastics market will consume more than two billion pounds of plastic a year. This equates to 100 million bushels of corn. Traditional plastics use five percent of the global petroleum supply.

This is one example of the ICPB research yielding results for Iowa’s corn farmers. Also on the project table for ICPB investments are items such as bottles, dining utensils, and shopping bags, all of which can be made from corn.

Agribusiness, bioproducts, Corn

New EPA Farm Worker Standards and Industry React

Cindy Zimmerman Leave a Comment

epaThe Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Monday released updated farm worker standards to provide health protections under the law similar to those already afforded to workers in other industries.

“We depend on farmworkers every day to help put the food we eat on America’s dinner tables—and they deserve fair, equitable working standards with strong health and safety protections,” said EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. “With these updates we can protect workers, while at the same time preserve the strong traditions of our family farms and ensure the continued the growth of our agricultural economy.”

The new EPA pesticide rules include:

Requiring all pesticide applicators be at least 18 years old
Creating whistleblower protections so farm workers can confidentially submit complaints over pesticide abuses
Providing pesticide application records for all farm workers for the past two years
Easy access to all workers or their representatives for records involving exposure to hazardous chemicals
Posting pesticide hazard information in central locations, in both English and Spanish

McCarthy, U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez and United Farm Workers president Arturo Rodriguez took part in a telephone press conference Monday to talk about the new regulations. New EPA farmworker regulations press call

ARAWhile McCarthy says the cost to farmers for developing the new regulations, which have not been updated for 20 years, would be minimal, Agricultural Retailers Association President and CEO Daren Coppock says they have “substantially – and deliberately” underestimated the cost. “Industry comments submitted to EPA pointed out the error, but it does not appear to have been corrected in the final rule,” Coppock said. “The real costs were provided, yet the agency stands by its artificial estimates, which suggests a deliberate disregard of the real-world cost implications of the rule.”

The American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) is also expressing concerns about the new law. “Farm Bureau shares the agency’s desire to protect workers, but we are concerned that the agency is piling regulatory costs on farmers and ranchers that bear little if any relation to actual safety issues,” said Paul Schlegel, director of environment and energy policy for AFBF. Schlegel says Farm Bureau filed extensive comments on the proposal more than a year ago and that EPA itself could not justify the regulation it was proposing.

AFBF, ARA, Audio, Government, labor, Pesticides

Meet the New Holland Heroes

Cindy Zimmerman Leave a Comment

cnh-expo-heroes-2New Holland Agriculture is spotlighting ten farmers from different countries at the Expo Milano Sustainable Farm Pavilion and the “Seeds of Life” series.

During our recent visit to the expo, we had the opportunity to meet nine of those farmer “heroes” and interview eight of them. Check out the links below to learn more about them.

New Holland Hero from Canada (second from left) – New Holland Hero Jordan Kambeitz, Canada

New Holland Hero from Brazil (third from left) – New Holland Hero Victor Campanelli from Brazil

New Holland Hero From Germany (4th from left) – New Holland Hero Elke Pelz-Thaller from Germany

New Holland Hero From Italy (third from right) – New Holland Hero Francesco Condello of Italy

New Holland Hero from South Africa (second from right) – New Holland Hero Gerry Manuel of Zimbabwe

New Holland Hero from Russia (center) –
New Holland Hero Iliyas Ganiev from Russia

New Holland Hero from France (far right) – New Holland Hero Xavier De Rozières from France

Not interviewed was Claudio Destro of Italy (far left) and you can learn more about him here.

Also, the tenth hero is Bo Fanyu of China, who was unable to attend the Heroes and Bloggers Days in Milan.

2015 New Holland Heroes & Bloggers Days Photos

Audio, Farmers, International, New Holland

NCGA Bids Speaker Boehner Farewell

Kelly Marshall Leave a Comment

NCGA-Logo-3Following the announcements of the House Speaker John Boehner’s retirement, the National Corn Growers Association President, Chip Bowling, has released a statement thanking him for his working in agriculture.

“We are grateful for Speaker Boehner’s leadership in so many areas, including service on the House Agriculture Committee, and his work for a more transparent and productive Congress,” Bowling writes.

The statement highlights Pope Francis’s words to Congress, praising Speaker Boehner for his commitment to “sacrifice particular interests in order to share, in justice and peace, its goods, its interests, its social life.”  NCGA further requests that Congress come together to solve the issues of the federal budget, tax reform, and infrastructure and be ready to move our country forward with constructive solutions.

Government, NCGA

CNH Wins Gold Medal for Grape Harvesting

Kelly Marshall Leave a Comment

cnh-blue-cab-4The winner of the prestigious SITEVI Innovation Award has been announced.  New Holland’s self-propelled grape harvester has received this recognition with a gold medal for the Blue Cab 4 and honorable mention for PLMTM Connect telematics system.

The Blue Cab 4 is an innovative cab concept designed around the safety and well-being of the operator. It features the industry’s most advanced filtration system. PLMTM Connect is a telematics solution that enables vineyard managers to be well connected with their operation, allowing them to stay in direct contact with their fleet, receiving real time data on their computer or smartphone. The application of telematics is of increasing value as the wine growing sector consolidates, with fewer vineyard businesses working larger areas, and with the harvesting season getting shorter, the need for efficiency has significantly increased.

“We are the world leader in grape and olive harvesting and in specialist tractors, not only because of our established experience in the vineyard industry, but because we are always looking forward, searching for innovative ways of increasing our customers’ productivity, making their work easier and safer, all the while guaranteeing the highest quality harvest and gentlest handling of their vines – which are of the utmost importance to them,” commented Carlo Lambro, Brand President New Holland Agriculture.

The announcements comes ahead of SITEVI 2015 international equipment and expertise exhibition for wine, olive, fruit and vegetable production taking place later this year in November in Montpellier, France.

Agribusiness, Award, Grapes, Harvesting, New Holland

Senators Urge Obama to Push Biotech in China

Kelly Marshall Leave a Comment

ThuneU.S. Senators John Thune (R-S.D.) and Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), both members of the Senate Finance Committee and Senate Agriculture Committee, along with 42 other senators, have sent a letter to President Obama.  This letter asks Obama to address the concerns of Chinese delay in accepting U.S. biotech while President Xi is in Washington D.C.

“To reinvigorate last year’s progress, we ask that you seek a commitment from President Xi to move forward with the queue of biotechnology products, including those awaiting final import approvals,” the senators wrote. “In addition, we ask that you reengage President Xi on the value of elevating the agricultural innovation dialogue via the SAID so that our countries can continue to address mutual food security, environmental and rural economic policy challenges.”

Stakeholder groups from across the country, including Farm Bureaus, Corn Growers Associations, and Soybean Associations, among others, wrote President Obama separately earlier this month about the need for “continued engagement … on agricultural innovation and trade.”

Joining Thune and Stabenow on the letter were U.S. Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), John Boozman (R-Ark.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Richard Burr (R-N.C.), Thomas Carper (D-Del.), Robert Casey (D-Pa.), Bill Cassidy (R-La.), Thad Cochran (R-Miss.), Christopher Coons (R-Del.), John Cornyn (R-Texas), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.), Richard Durbin (D-Ill.), Michael Enzi (R-Wyo.), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), John Hoeven (R-N.D.), James Inhofe (R-Okla.), Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), David Perdue (R-Ga.), Gary Peters (D-Mich.), Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), Ben Sasse (R-Neb.), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), Patrick Toomey (R-Pa.), David Vitter (R-La.), Roger Wicker (R-Miss.).

The Senators’ full letter may be read here.

biotechnology, Government, International