Summer Precision Ag Training

Insights WeeklyDid you know Ag Leader offers a variety of SMS training sessions to help answer your questions about the software? That’s right, whether you’re more comfortable listening in on a webinar from your home computer, or attending an in-person, hands-on classroom training session, Ag Leader has a variety of courses to fit your needs.

Jessica Ahrens, software training specialist, says the software is always changing and customers need to stay up-to-date on the new features in order to best utilize them for their operations.

Listen to Ahrens explain

Ahrens says Ag Leader provides a wide variety of training for customers. Find out what’s available to you.

Listen to Ahrens explain

Ahrens says the training enables customers to troubleshoot and answer questions on their own instead of spending time on the phone with software support specialists, even though they are always available as a resource.

Listen to Ahrens explain

Be sure and sign up today for your training!

Become a fan of Ag Leader on Facebook today, and get the latest precision ag videos on the YouTube channel. For more information about Ag Leader products and services, or to visit the blog site, go to www.agleader.com.

Hick Chick Chat with AEM on Farm Equipment

11326519286_c9a07ae0bf_oThe important contribution of U.S. agriculture equipment manufacturing to the health of the nation’s economy is demonstrated in an economic paper recently released by the Association of Equipment Manufacturers.

charlie o'brienFor this edition of the Hick Chick Chat, I spoke with AEM senior vice president Charlie O’Brien about the analysis. “Agriculture’s achievements have resulted from scientific advances in many areas, including inputs and other efficiencies, yet the productivity explosion continues to be driven by enormous strides in the farm machinery and equipment technology now used to farm millions of acres,” he told me. “We want people to understand how important this industry as a whole is for the U.S. economy.”

Hick Chick Chat on Impact of Ag Equipment Industry to Economy

Join in the conversation on Twitter and on Facebook

Congresswoman Visits Bayer Bee Center

bayer-bee-ellmersEven though she had to miss the grand opening ceremony due to a conflict, Rep. Renee Ellmers (R-NC) made it a point to make it out to see the new Bayer CropScience North American Bee Care Center in Research Triangle Park.

“The research and development that they are doing here is going to help us grow more food into the future,” she said in an interview. “It is vital to the North Carolina economy but also to the world.”

Ellmers added that bees are an important part of the discussion about genetically modified crops. “It’s a discussion that’s being had on the national level,” said Ellmers. She is pictured here at the Bee Care Center with Bayer’s Robyn Kneen who was instrumental in the development of the center.

I also asked the Congresswoman about the new farm bill and why she is a strong supporter of immigration reform for farmers in her state. Interview with Rep. Renee Ellmers


Bayer CropScience Bee Care Center Grand Opening Photo Album

Propane Irrigation Engines Reduce Fuel Costs

propane-farmFarmers who installed propane-powered irrigation engines cut their fuel costs by 56 percent per hour compared with similar diesel-powered engines, according to the post-season survey results released today from the Propane Education & Research Council (PERC) 2013 Propane Farm Incentive Program.

Participants in the 2013 Propane Farm Incentive Program also reduced overall fuel consumption by 37 percent per hour, the survey data showed.

“The feedback from our participating farmers shows that, without a doubt, clean, American-made propane is a cost effective and efficient fuel source for irrigation,” Mark Leitman, director of business development and marketing at PERC, said. “New technologies, like propane-powered irrigation engines, help farmers cut their input costs and increase overall farm profits.”

The results were based on self-reported performance and post-season survey data from 148 program participants in 16 states. Participating farmers installed and demonstrated 214 propane irrigation engines, displacing 180,000 gallons of diesel, and irrigating a total of 21,700 acres of 17 different crops nationwide. Farmers demonstrated 16 different engine models from six original equipment manufacturers.

Propane irrigation engines also garnered high performance and overall satisfaction ratings from program participants. Eighty-six percent of participants who bought a new propane irrigation engine to replace another engine reported that the new propane irrigation engine performed better. Participants rated the performance of their new propane engine 33 percent higher than the diesel engine they replaced. In addition, 93 percent of participants said they were likely or highly like to buy another propane irrigation engine. More than 70 percent of program participants had also considered purchasing a diesel engine, but when they studied the facts, determined propane was the better option.

Producers can still earn up to $5,000 to upgrade to cost-saving, fuel-efficient propane-powered farm equipment, including irrigation engines, grain dryers, building heaters, and other eligible equipment through the 2014 Propane Farm Incentive program. Find out more at agpropane.com.

Bayer Bee Care Center Opens in NC

bayer-bee-14-ribbonBayer CropScience Tuesday celebrated its more than 25 year commitment to pollinator health with the grand opening of the North American Bee Care Center in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina.

Jim Blome, president and CEO of Bayer CropScience LP, pictured here cutting the ribbon to officially open the new facility, is thrilled to see this dream fulfilled. “This is an absolutely great day,” he said proudly. “We’ve been dedicated to bee health, it’s an important part of who we are, and we’re very serious about finding the science behind what the interactive functions are here so we can come up with some solutions.”

The $2.4 million center brings together significant technological, scientific and academic resources, with goals of promoting improved honey bee health, product stewardship and sustainable agriculture. A 6,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art facility, the Center will complement the Eastern Bee Care Technology Station in Clayton, N.C., and a Bee Care Center at the joint global headquarters campus of Bayer CropScience and Bayer Animal Health in Monheim, Germany.

Listen to my interview with Jim here: Interview with Jim Blome, Bayer CropScience


Bayer CropScience Bee Care Center Grand Opening Photo Album

An Interactive Directory For Agriculture

Screen Shot 2014-04-15 at 12.09.34 PMTechnology start-up company Agribite has just launched an innovative interactive directory website aimed to help the agriculture community. Agribite has been built with the sole purpose of connecting the agriculture community with vendors, clients, organizations, and friends in one place. It provides an easy-to-use platform for all ag industry members to have a free web and mobile presence and to be listed in a growing directory without cost.

Agriculture is a multibillion-dollar industry that creates millions of jobs in the U.S. alone. However, there is a widening gap between consumers and producers due to a lack of awareness. Agribite aims to be the face of the ag industry to stand alongside other networks but with the more focused goal of empowering agriculture.

Census of Agriculture Report Coming Soon

nama14-nassThe U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) announced it will publish the 2012 Census of Agriculture full report on May 2. The announcement was made last week as NASS Census and Survey Division Director Renee Picanso was attending the National Agri-Marketing Association conference in Jacksonville, Florida.

“Agribusinesses are highly represented here and they are definitely big users of the data,” she said during an interview. The complete data series will be available in multiple formats, including Quick Stats 2.0 – an online database to retrieve customized tables with Census data at the national, state and county levels.

Picanso says the census data is being released a little later than normal this time around. “Usually we release in early February, but with the government shut down last fall, we got a little bit behind,” she said. Interview with Renee Picanso, USDA-NASS

Is it Spring yet?

New Holland ZimmPollOur latest ZimmPoll asked the question, “What’s the largest percentage of your 2014 marketing budget?”

It looks like the old faithful form of print marketing tops this week’s ZimmPoll. But what is interesting is that rest of the choices were almost evenly spread across the board, with the newer trends of social media and digital marketing right up there with broadcast and direct mail.

Our poll results:

  • Broadcast – 10%
  • Digital – 15%
  • Direct mail – 10%
  • Print – 25%
  • Social media – 15%
  • Trade show/promo items – 15%
  • Other – 10%

Our new ZimmPoll is now live and asks the question, “Has spring sprung for you yet?”

If you haven’t got a case of Spring Fever, then you must be living in Florida with Chuck and Cindy. Here in the Midwest we had an 80 degree weekend and now are back into the 30′s. I think Mother Nature is a little confused. Are you seeing any signs of spring in your neck of the woods?

GROWMARK on Board with ResponsibleAg

responsibleagThe Agricultural Retailers Association (ARA) and The Fertilizer Institute (TFI) recently announced the selection of individuals to serve on the newly formed ResponsibleAg Board of Directors.

The nine representatives include:
– Alicia Duke, Director, Health and Safety, Simplot
– Justin Gough, Director, Agricultural Products, LSB/El Dorado Chemical Company
– Dave Ito, Manager, Human Resources & Regulatory Affairs, Lyman/Tremont Group
– Pete Mutschler, Environmental and Safety Director, CHS Inc.
– Tim McArdle, Executive Vice President & COO, Brandt Consolidated, Inc.
– Rosemary O’Brien, Vice President, Public Affairs, CF Industries, Inc.
– Billy Pirkle, Sr. Director, Environmental, Health & Safety, Crop Production Services
– Scott Rawlins, Director, Regulatory & Governmental Affairs, Wilbur-Ellis Company
– Rod Wells, Manager, Plant Food Division, GROWMARK, Inc.

Wells says it’s important for GROWMARK to be involved in this non-profit organization designed to work with retailers ensuring best practices are in place providing a safe product to the consumer.

“This is an industry led initiative,” said Rod. “We want to demonstrate that we are doing the right things, that we are operating safety, we’re complying with regulations, that we are accountable. We feel like ResponsibleAg is a very transparent way to show that we are committed, compliant, and safe operators in the communities that we serve.”

You can listen to an interview with Rod here: Interview with Rod Wells, GROWMARK

The board of directors for ResponsibleAg will meet next month to finalize bi-laws, an operating budget, elect officers and begin looking for a business manager to oversee the day to day operations of the new organization.

ResponsibleAg is an independent, not-for-profit organization designed to support fertilizer retailers’ compliance with federal safety and security regulations. Under ResponsibleAg, retail fertilizer dealerships will have access to comprehensive inspections based on federal regulatory requirements. The inspections will be carried out by trained auditors who will have successfully completed an intensive training course based on the objectives of ResponsibleAg.

BASF and the Advanced Acre Hick Chick Chat

11326519286_c9a07ae0bf_oAt an event not too long ago BASF Crop Protection discussed the Science Behind: the Advanced Acre. Three different growers from distinct parts of the country talked about their operations. Whether it be feedlot, dairy heifer replacement, corn, beans, wheat, sunflowers or millet they use some of the same practices and rely on their BASF counterparts to help them make the best decisions for their operation.

12816088005_bb58a73361_mNot all farming operations are created equal. TJ Shambaugh grows corn and beans in Central Illinois along with his dad and son. Alex Rock comes from Northeast Colorado where they are farming a lot of dry land with irrigation and raising cattle in their feedlot operation. Not all irrigation systems are created the same, Matt Miles in Southeastern Arkansas farms using a different style irrigation with on his 4th generation farm. I had a chance to talk with all three growers about how their operations work, what makes them different and successful. Pictured here from left to right, Matt Miles, Alex Rock, TJ Shambaugh, Scott Kay (BASF, VP Crop Protection), AJ Woodyard (BASF Technical Crop Production Specialist).

You can listen to the Hick Chick Chat with TJ, Alex and Matt Here: Hick Chick Chat; BASF, the Science behind the Advanced Acre

Join in the conversation on Twitter and on Facebook

Registration Open for Mid-Year Meeting

AgGateway_LogoRegistration is now open for AgGateway’s 2014 Mid-Year Meeting, to be held June 9-12, 2014, at Prairie Meadows in Altoona, Iowa. AgGateway’s more than 200 member companies use this working meeting to advance efforts to enable eBusiness in agriculture, resulting in improved business efficiencies and better use of ag technology. Current work spans the areas of precision ag, crop nutrition, crop protection, ag retail, seed, grain and feed, as well as supporting initiatives from allied providers to the industry.

In addition to ample networking opportunities at the Mid-Year Meeting, attendees will hear general session presentations by Kathy Mathers, vice president of public affairs for The Fertilizer Institute, on the Responsible Ag Initiative; and from Tom Sell, co-founder and managing partner of Combest, Sell & Associates, on ramifications of the new farm bill.

The registration fee for the meeting is only $75, discounted to $50 for first-time attendees. AgGateway keeps the registration fee low to facilitate participation, and so that those who are curious about eBusiness and the organization can see AgGateway in action.

“Join us at this meeting to network and to learn from others that are already seeing the immense benefits of electronic connectivity between trading partners,” said AgGateway CEO Rod Conner. “And for our members, this is a great opportunity to invite colleagues and trading partners to see what AgGateway is all about.”

AgGateway encourages attendees to register and reserve their hotel rooms early, in order to ensure a place at the meeting and at the best hotel rate. A list of hotels with negotiated rates and reservation information is available on the Mid-Year Meeting web page under “Events” at www.AgGateway.org.

iCropTrak Makes WagNet Irrigation & Field Data Mobile

AgSense PressiCropTrak Mobile Farm Management announces support for Agsense WagNet network for pivot irrigation and soil sensor monitoring. iCroptrak automatically integrates the WagNet water and soil sensor data with your farming data to help farmers make better decisions and monitoring your irrigation efforts painless.

With water restrictions and sustainable farming playing an ever-growing role in farming, iCropTrak integrated one of the leading irrigation monitoring applications to automatically populate irrigation efforts and allows them to be reviewed easily with your other field data.

iCropTrak cloud talks directly with WagNet network to capture a farmer’s pivot and soil moisture sensor probe data. Formatting the WagNet data to be loaded onto the iCropTrak mobile platform for access while in the field. Allowing the farmer to combine soil, farming, harvest, weather, zone, and irrigation data together to make informed decision.

To learn more about iCropTrak mobile farm management capabilities including automated data entry support for MyJohnDeere.com and Weather Underground data feeds by visiting our website at www.iCropTrak.com and contact our sales team at Contact@Cogent3D.com.

GEOSYS, Tavant Technologies Enter Partnership

GEOSYS Inc., the global leader in remote sensing for agriculture and Tavant Technologies, a global technology solutions company involved in some of the latest GEOSYS innovations, announced today a preferred partner agreement. The agreement recognizes the success both businesses have experienced working together on GEOSYS products; the award-winning R7® Tool iPad app developed for WinField Solutions is the most recent example. R7® has received the 2013 FINovation award from Farm Industry News and the Agricultural Retailers Association Technology Award presented in partnership with AgGateway.

“The collaboration with Tavant is a prime example of GEOSYS working with best in class experts to help increase our ability to deliver innovations for customers. Getting the power of the tools we have developed into the hands of the users is critical to our success. Tavant helps us deliver,” said Norm Davy, vice president of GEOSYS.

GEOSYS will continue to leverage Tavant expertise to develop new innovative applications for advancing its decision support tools for agriculture.

“Our leading edge technology expertise, particularly in Mobility and Big Data, and deep understanding of the agricultural technology industry has enabled us to turn complex data and processes into actionable tools for our customers,” said Manish Arya, CTO of Tavant Technologies. “We are excited about this strategic partnership. It formalizes our working relationship and recognizes that each company benefits from this dynamic collaboration.”

Registration Open for Delta AgTech Symposium

Delta_AgTech_color_croppedUnmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) have become one of the hottest topics in agriculture today. With predictions that up to 80 percent of future commercial usage of UAVs will be in the agriculture sector, farmers, researchers and industry professionals alike are curious about the technologies and applications on the horizon.

Registration is now open for the Delta AgTech Symposium — a two-day conference set for July 7-8 at Agricenter International in Memphis — that will bring together farmers and the businesses who serve them, along with UAV manufacturers and dealers, to collectively explore how this technology can be integrated into farming practices. The conference is hosted by Entira, an agricultural marketing and management firm with support from the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI).

Sponsorship and exhibitor opportunities are also available for this unique conference. Visit the website or contact Kelli Polatty at kpolatty@entira.net. Attendees and exhibitors who register online before May 15 are eligible for a 5 percent discount.

“We’re excited about the interest in the conference across all sectors of agriculture,” said Mike Karst, senior partner at Entira. “The lineup of speakers and demonstrations will give attendees a valuable preview into the technologies that may be available to them in coming years.”

Several industry leading speakers have been confirmed, with more to be announced in coming weeks. Confirmed speakers include:
– Kyle Snyder, Director of the NextGen Air Transportation Center, Institute of Transportation Research and Education at North Carolina State University
– Gretchen West, Executive Vice President of Association of Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI)
– T.J. Agresti, CEO of RoboFlight Systems

Childress: Ethanol a Winner for Racers & Farmers

childress-testThe Senate Agriculture Committee held a hearing this week on advanced biofuels. One of the witnesses at the hearing was NASCAR team owner Richard Childress who talked about the many benefits of corn-based biofuels, such as the higher fuel performance he has seen in more than five million miles of racing since the E15 ethanol blend was introduced in the 2011 racing season.

“When they decided to go with an ethanol-blend of fuel, in 2010, NASCAR started looking at what was the correct blend to use. After many tests, they came up with E15,” Childress said, pointing out that his own racing team tested up to E30 blends, which he believes would be even better. “Nothing but positive results came out of our tests. Engines ran cooler, ethanol makes more octane so it makes more horsepower, less carbon buildup, better emissions, and our parts when we tore the engines down looked much better.”

Childress, who has also been in the farming business for 30 years, says he knows what it’s like for farmers.

“Ethanol is definitely a great plus for our farmers in America today.”

Listen to all of Childress’ remarks here: NASCAR team owner Richard Childress testifying before Senate Agriculture Committee

Senate Ag Committee Chair Debbie Stabenow of Michigan says advanced biofuels are here now, and they are an important part of the energy title in the recently passed farm bill.

“The Energy Title funds critical programs that helps our farmers produce energy from non-food sources and helps companies get low-interest loans for those facilities, and of course, all that creates jobs,” Stabenow said, adding that to continue to grow the industry, there needs to be policies that support it. She said passing the Farm Bill was a strong first step toward to that goal. “Now we need to provide certainty through a strong Renewable Fuels Standard and tax credits to support long-term investments in our energy future.”

Hear more of what Stabenow had to say here: Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Chair of Senate Agriculture Committee