Heavy Metal Tour Showcases New Food Processor Products

Jamie Johansen Leave a Comment

HeavymetaltourCambridge Engineered Solutions, the world’s largest manufacturer of metal conveyor belts for industrial and food processing, recently unveiled the first leg of its Heavy Metal Tour to introduce new product lines at plants across the U.S. Combining creative elements of a concert tour with today’s popular food trucks, the company is visiting 30 customers over six-weeks in North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Alabama.

“The Heavy Metal Tour is a great opportunity for our customer service team to connect with valued clients and strengthen business relationships,” said Tracy Tyler, Cambridge CEO. “Our Southeast customers include many baked good, snack and poultry companies looking for production innovations to increase efficiencies and food safety.” She added, “Heavy Metal allows us to bring those solutions and capabilities directly to our valued customers.”

At each stop, Cambridge specialists evaluate conveyor systems, conduct technical workshops and preview new capabilities for the food processing industry. The team also serves breakfast or lunch featuring products made on Cambridge belts from the mobile ‘food truck’ counter.

The inaugural six-week tour is being coordinated with Atlanta-based Belt Power. “As a full-service conveyor components distributor and fabricator, we’ve carried Cambridge’s metal belts and filtration screens for more than 12 years,” said John Shelton, President. “They’ve earned a reputation for outstanding products and service in our key markets. We’re proud to partner with them on this engaging outreach campaign.”

The 25-foot RV is adorned with the Heavy Metal Tour logo and super graphics of Cambridge belts. The customized interior features the company’s signature metal fabric on counters, shelves and tables. The showroom includes model conveyors, belt samples and new products. A second leg scheduled for early 2015 will take the Heavy Metal Tour to Tennessee, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas.

“Cambridge became the world’s leading manufacturer of metal belts by building our business one customer at a time,” said Brand Manager Nicole Evans. “While technology makes it possible to communicate with anyone, anywhere, anytime; we believe our greatest value as a company is the emphasis we place on longstanding, personal relationships.”

Agribusiness, Food, technology Jamie JohansenHeavy Metal Tour Showcases New Food Processor Products

Solution to End World Hunger: GMOs

Joanna Schroeder Leave a Comment

NCPA Future of Farming and Rise of Biotech ReportA new report, “The Future of Farming and Rise of Biotechnology,” finds decreasing regulations on genetically modified crops (GMOs) could be a valuable strategy in combating global hunger. The report was released by the National Center for Policy Analysis (NCPA).

NCPA Research Associate David Weisser notes that Nobel Prize winner Norman Borlaug’s use of biotechnology has been credited with saving 1 billion lives. “Placing limitations on the advancements of Borlaug and other pioneers only hurts the world’s starving population,” he stressed.

Around the globe, biotech crops have been used to increase the yield of crops used for both food and fuel. The study highlights several key biotech success stories:

  • In India, the adoption of biotech cotton has reduced both the need for pesticides and increased agricultural yields, raised the incomes of cotton farmers and farm laborers, and created a more environmentally friendly, technologically advanced agricultural economy.
  • Through the use of biotech sugar, Brazil has increased the average annual sugar yield by 20 tons per hectare. The country now produces and uses enough sugarcane ethanol to downgrade gasoline to an alternative fuel.
    88 percent of the corn grown in the United States has been altered utilizing biotechnology.

Weisser concluded, “Global hunger will only continue to increase and combating it will not be easy, yet the world is fortunate in that a wealth of research is dedicated to the advancement of farming. Through advanced research and new farming methods, hunger can be fought and conquered.”

biotechnology, Food, GMO Joanna SchroederSolution to End World Hunger: GMOs

AgEagle RAPID Delivers Automation and Accuracy

Jamie Johansen Leave a Comment

IMG_4071-1-XLAgEagle, LLC., announced a groundbreaking advancement in Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) automation and post-flight data processing via its new AgEagle RAPID, the most advanced and comprehensive UAV operations management system specifically developed for professional agronomists and crop consultants.

Imagine heading out into the field carrying only the AgEagle flying wing and your tablet or smartphone. AgEagle launches automatically and begins tabulating its own scan patterns as it ascends, adjusting its flight path for wind and other factors, as well as optimizing camera settings such as lens focus and shutter speed – all on the fly.

The entire flight of the AgEagle including launches, field scans and even landings are automatic – and within 15-20 minutes after landing the just captured aerial images are geo-referenced and orthorectified, into a valuable image Mosaic and pushed through RAPID’s cloud-based automated data transfer network directly to the agronomist or consultant’s tablet or smartphone.

Imagine then being able to immediately physically inspect (ie. ground truth) areas of concern found in the imagery by walking directly to their geo-referenced locations in the field – saving a trip back to the office to process the data, as well as a return trip to the field to ground truth the crops. Or imagine the level of service you can provide a grower by having a finalized digital prescription application map within minutes not hours. This is all possible with the world-changing abilities of RAPID.

“We truly believe that this system is the missing link for UAVs in precision agriculture,” said Bret Chillcot, owner and CEO. “As any seasoned or novice agronomist can tell you, time is always of the essence when we’re talking about fertilizer, fungicide or micronutrient applications – basically any input decision on the farm is extremely time sensitive. It’s amazing how quickly decisions can be made, and how much time RAPID can save both the grower and the agronomist or crop consultant. All that is required is the AgEagle UAV and a tablet or a smartphone – tools that pretty much every agronomist is already uses.”

Aerial Imagery, Agribusiness, Aviation, UAS, UAV Jamie JohansenAgEagle RAPID Delivers Automation and Accuracy

Landmark Joins New Partnership with Curry Seeds

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LSC_Corn SeedlingsLandmark Services Cooperative is proud to announce a new partnership with Curry® Seeds. This new agreement broadens Landmark’s seed portfolio, offering growers additional benefits in plant diversity, insect protection and herbicide resistance.

“We are excited to bring new seed varieties and options to Landmark growers through this new partnership,” says Randy Bump, senior seed advisor for Landmark Services Cooperative. “Much like Landmark, Curry® Seeds provides local solutions through globally-recognized technology and tools. Through this new partnership, our members will have access to the most diverse seed portfolio in our region.”

Four new seed trait packages will compliment Landmark’s long-standing lineup of seeds in 2015. These new seed trait packages have different base germplasm than other seed available in southern Wisconsin and northern Illinois, giving growers additional options for reducing risk and reaching 300 bushels per year.

New seeds added to Landmark’s seed offerings, exclusively carried by Landmark, include the AcreMax®line of hybrid corn and soybean varieties 1225TM and 1252TM. These seeds were created from unique genetics and were specially selected to thrive in the 95-109 day growing seasons of southern Wisconsin and northern Illinois.

“Planting a diverse variety of seeds is important to prevent putting all your eggs in one basket,” says Joe Slosarczyk, agronomist and certified crop advisor with Landmark Services Cooperative. “When selecting seeds, look for a diverse portfolio that gives you options in genetics, traits and germplasm base. With our new partnership, Landmark Services Cooperative has the most diverse portfolio in our trade territory.”

The new seeds available through Landmark’s partnership with Curry® Seeds join the long-standing lineup of seed available from Landmark Services Cooperative which now includes seed varieties from: DeKalb, Asgrow, Mycogen, Croplan and NK.

Agribusiness, agronomy, seed Jamie JohansenLandmark Joins New Partnership with Curry Seeds

Precision Sugarcane Planting

Cindy Zimmerman Leave a Comment


2014 CTIC Conservation in Action Tour Photo Album

ctic-14-cane-plantingPlanting at U.S. Sugar Corporation is done with precision, as we found out on the 2014 CTIC Conservation in Action tour last week in the Everglades Agricultural Area.

Steven Stiles, U.S. Sugar farm manager, says cane is a “ratoonable crop” which refers to the stalks that are called ratoons and normally one planting lasts about four years. “The production goes on a linear decline,” he said, with each successive year producing a little less than the year before. Instead of seeds, they plant 2-3 foot cuttings of cane stalk called billets from which the plants sprout.

Stiles explained how they “laser level” and “table top” the fields before planting which helps them in the event of excessive rainfall and flooding. “And when it’s dry…if it’s flat you get a more consistent irrigation job,” he said.

U.S. Sugar’s precision ag manager Scott Berden says they use GPS and auto steer on their planters, as well as rear-mounted cameras so the operator can see how the planting is going behind him. The whole system is monitored by computer through a private on-farm wireless network. “We’re looking at engine health, telematics data on the field, as well as all the field data,” said Berden.

Listen to Steve and Scott explain here or below in the video: Steve Stiles and Scott Berden with U.S. Sugar


Audio, Conservation, CTIC, Video Cindy ZimmermanPrecision Sugarcane Planting

USDA Helps Farmers Diversify Weed Control Efforts

Jamie Johansen Leave a Comment

USDA_logo_svgAgriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced several steps that the USDA is taking to address the increase of herbicide resistant weeds in U.S. agricultural systems.

“Weed control in major crops is almost entirely accomplished with herbicides today,” said Vilsack. “USDA, working in collaboration with the Environmental Protection Agency, must continue to identify ways to encourage producers to adopt diverse tactics for weed management in addition to herbicide control. The actions we are taking today are part of this effort.”

USDA is announcing several of the steps it is taking to help farmers manage their herbicide resistant weed problems in a more holistic and sustainable way:

– USDA’s Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) will offer financial assistance under its Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) for herbicide resistant weed control practices that utilize Integrated Pest Management plans and practices.
– Later this year NRCS will be soliciting proposals under the Conservation Innovation Grants (CIG) Program for innovative conservation systems that address herbicide resistant weeds.
– USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) will actively promote use of best management practices (BMPs) in design protocols for regulated authorized releases of genetically engineered (GE) crops and will include recommendations for BMPs with the authorization of field trials of HR crops.
– USDA is partnering with the Weed Science Society of America (WSSA) and is providing funds to develop education and outreach materials for various stakeholders on managing herbicide–resistant weeds. The Secretary has directed Dr. Sheryl Kunickis, Director of the USDA Office of Pest Management Policy, as the point person leading this effort with the USDA.

With EPA’s announcement today on the registration of new uses for herbicide mixtures containing the herbicides 2,4-D and glyphosate (in the Enlist® formulation) in conjunction with new genetically engineered crop varieties, farmers are being offered one more new tool to better manage emerging populations of herbicide-resistant weeds in corn and soybeans crops. In its decision for 2,4-D use on genetically modified corn and soybean, EPA has outlined new requirements for registrants as part of a product stewardship program.

Find the complete release here.

Ag Group, USDA, Weed control Jamie JohansenUSDA Helps Farmers Diversify Weed Control Efforts

Food Dialogue on GMOs

Jamie Johansen Leave a Comment

Mike Pearson Market to MarketWhat do you know about GMOs? Most people not much with the exception that many have been led to believe they are bad. In a recent Jimmy Kimmel Live, Jimmy Kimmel, he took to the streets to ask people what a GMO was and not one person knew, even thought most believed they were bad. In case you don’t know, its a “genetically modified organism” or in the words of 2014 Borlaug CAST Communication Award winner Dr. Alison Van Eenennaam, it means genetically engineered.

Because GMO’s are such a misunderstood technology and a hot topic the U.S. Ranchers & Farmers Alliance (USFRA) hosted a Food Dialogue event in conjunction with CAST and the World Food Prize. “GMOs and the Consumer Mindset: Does Perception and Marketing Outweigh Science?” was moderated by Mike Pearson, host of Market to Market on Iowa Public Television. Panelists included Julie Kenney, farmer and CommonGround volunteer; David Sutherland, activist, blogger and founder of VeganGMO; Dr. Alison Van Eenennaam, University of California-Davis, department of Animal Science; and Jay Byrne, president v-Fluence Interactive.

The dialogue focused on two main topics: what consumers believe about GMOs and how to get the facts into the conversation and more specifically how to get scientists, like Van Eenannaam, more involved in the conversation.

One issue that all the panelists noted was that in the debate, the “experts” have no expertise. They are anti-GMO advocates from various walks of life who have self-proclaimed themselves experts but don’t understand the data or more specifically refuse to acknowledge the data. And what is unnerving, explained Byrne, is that people who are reading about GMOs are taking the word of these experts including high profile media such as Dr. Oz, host of the Dr. Oz Show.

Speaking of media, all the panelists agreed that the media were in part to blame for the mis-information being proGMO Food Dialogues Des Moinespagated about GMOs. They don’t do their research and they don’t understand science. Sutherland noted that the story of GMOs being fine “is not sexy” and thus is ignored.

Kenney added that when speaking to “mom bloggers” when they come to the farm they had the view that GMOs were bad but after seeing firsthand how food was made, many of them became “conflicted” as to which message was the truth.

Sutherland, Byrne and Kenney all stressed that in their roles, the people they are speaking with have no science-based facts and stressed the need for more scientists to speak out. However, Van Eenennaam said that its hard to scientists to speak out when they are attacked and many have difficulty discussing their research in ways consumers can understand.

Yet despite these challenges, Byrne said that this debate will run its course and if the facts continue to be presented by respected people, such as the work Kenney is doing with CommonGround and the work Van Eenennaam is doing on behalf of the scientific community, GMOs will ultimately become accepted and no longer a front line issue.

Ag Group, Food, GMO, USFRA Jamie JohansenFood Dialogue on GMOs

Rice as a Cover Crop in the Everglades

Cindy Zimmerman Leave a Comment

ctic-14-riceRice has become an environmentally sensible cover crop option for sugarcane growers in the Everglades Agricultural Area.

During the 2014 CTIC Conservation in Action tour last week, we heard about this from the agriculture program leader for the University of Florida Palm Beach County Extension Service, who is aptly named Ron Rice.

“It’s much more than a cover crop, it’s a cover crop that really fits in with the whole philosophy of phosphorus reduction and best management practices that all the growers are implementing,” said Rice.

Dr. Rice says that rice provides two important benefits. First, it serves as a habitat for bird populations. In addition, the rice fields act like mini storm water treatment areas. “Water and phosphorus concentrations that are coming in as irrigation, that phosphorus gets taken up in the rice plant and then the water leaving the rice fields is lower in phosphorus than the irrigation water than brought it in,” he explained.

Learn more in this interview: Interview with Ron Rice, University of Florida


2014 CTIC Conservation in Action Tour Photo Album

Audio, Conservation, Cover Crops, CTIC Cindy ZimmermanRice as a Cover Crop in the Everglades

Almond Board Announces Bee Management Practices

Jamie Johansen Leave a Comment

Screen Shot 2014-10-20 at 11.09.38 AMAs part of an ongoing commitment to honey bee health, the Almond Board of California released a comprehensive, set of Honey Bee Best Management Practices (BMPs) for California’s almond industry.

Developed with a wide array of input from sources including the almond community, beekeepers, researchers, California and U.S. regulators, and chemical registrants, the BMPs represent the Board’s most extensive educational documents to date to ensure that almond orchards are and remain a safe and healthy place for honey bees. The documents lay out simple, practical steps that almond growers can take together with beekeepers and other pollination stakeholders to protect and promote bee health on their land and in the surrounding community.

The release builds on decades of work by the almond industry. Since 1995, the Almond Board of California has invested almost $1.6 million – more than any other crop – on research related to honey bee health, on subjects including Varroa mite and other honey bee pest and disease management, nutrition and honey bee forage, impact of pesticides, and technical assistance for beekeepers. Almond orchards are often honey bees first source of natural pollen after the winter, and honey bee hives routinely leave the almond orchard stronger than they arrived.

“Nobody is a bigger fan of honey bees than almond growers. Without bees, there would be no almonds. And without almonds, bees would lose a vital source of nutritious natural pollen,” said Richard Waycott, CEO of the Almond Board of California. “These Best Management Practices are another significant milestone in our decades-long commitment to protect bee health and preserve that mutually beneficial relationship.”

“With these Best Management Practices, the Almond Board is responding strongly on honey bee health and, in particular, pesticide use and considerations during bloom,” said Dr. Eric Mussen, UC Davis Extension Apiculturist Emeritus. “Their recommendations actually go far beyond the almond orchard, providing important insights for all crops when it comes to promoting honey bee health.”

Ag Group, Bees Jamie JohansenAlmond Board Announces Bee Management Practices

Bayer Showcases Food Chain Partnership at PMA Convention

Cindy Zimmerman Leave a Comment

bayerBayer CropScience showcased its latest global Food Chain Partnership projects at the PMA Fresh Summit Convention & Expo this past week. The annual conference brings together decision makers at every level of the produce supply chain, including growers, importers and exporters, processors and retailers.

“To continue to meet the needs of our growers, we must first understand the needs of the food value chain and those consumers at the very end of it,” said Silke Friebe, head of global Food Chain Management at Bayer CropScience. “Having this understanding allows us to provide growers with the tools to meet those needs, from planting to harvest and storage.”

“Bayer CropScience is focused on providing growers with new technology and expertise in seeds and crop protection,” said Rob Schrick, strategic business management lead for horticulture at Bayer CropScience. “That’s why we’re putting more than a billion dollars a year into research and continually providing new products that improve the health, quality and yield of crops.”

During Fresh Summit, representatives from Bayer CropScience discussed the Food Chain Partnership’s impact on the produce market, as well as the wide range of solutions available to fruit and vegetable growers.

Bayer CropScience, Food Cindy ZimmermanBayer Showcases Food Chain Partnership at PMA Convention