Field to Market Adds Water Metric to Online Tool

gI_130264_F2M_NewTag_a02Field to Market, the Alliance for Sustainable Agriculture, announced today that the Fieldprint® Calculator now incorporates the Water Quality Index (WQI) offered by U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Services (NRCS). The metric’s inclusion in the tool, which will help farmers track continuous water quality improvement on their farms, is a result of ongoing collaboration between Field to Market and USDA.

The WQI is an existing tool that looks at several factors to determine a score for the quality of water leaving a particular field. Those factors include: field physical sensitivity, nutrient management, tillage management, pest management, irrigation and other conservation practices.

“We are proud that Field to Market is using a tool developed by NRCS scientists for the Fieldprint Calculator,” said Dr. Wayne Honeycutt, NRCS Deputy Chief for Science and Technology. “We believe it’s important to equip farmers and ranchers with information on how conservation practices can benefit natural resources as a way to encourage good stewardship of the land.”

The Calculator, first launched in 2009, is a free, interactive online tool to help growers assess corn, cotton, potato, rice, soybean and wheat operations in terms of land use, soil conservation, soil carbon, irrigated water use, energy use, greenhouse gas emissions, and now, water quality. The tool is accessible at www.fieldtomarket.org.

“Field to Market updated the Calculator to incorporate NRCS’s Water Quality Index (WQI), because it’s a simple, convenient way to express multiple water quality parameters into a single, easy to understand value,” said Rod Snyder, president of Field to Market. “The alliance offers important tools to help farmers explore continuous improvement opportunities and allows the food and agriculture value chain to work together to achieve productivity and natural resource conservation.”

Snyder said the WQI addition builds upon the private-public relationship between Field to Market and NRCS, which also collaborated with technology consultant ZedX, Inc. to build the NRCS RUSLE2 and WEPS models for soil erosion into the Calculator.

Using the Fieldprint Calculator, Field to Market member-organizations and growers have supported a variety of Fieldprint projects totaling approximately 400 growers in eight states, which represents nearly 130,000 acres. Examples of Fieldprint projects using the WQI include:

Moving forward, Field to Market will continue expanding the capabilities of the tool, with current testing on a biodiversity metric and the inclusion of alfalfa underway.

Has spring sprung in your neck of the woods?

New Holland ZimmPollOur latest ZimmPoll asked the question, “Has spring sprung for you yet?”

It looks like many across the nation are still shoveling snow. Good thing Easter weekend looks warmer for most. Here in Missouri the Dogwoods are in full bloom and the grass is getting greener by the day.

Our poll results:

  • Still snow on the ground – 27%
  • Still too cold – 24%
  • Seeing positive signs – 18%
  • Late spring for sure – 15%
  • Same as normal – 3%
  • Too wet – 9%
  • Too dry – 3%

Our new ZimmPoll is now live and asks the question, “What’s your favorite use for Easter eggs?”

The incredible edible egg is in the spotlight this time of the year, but what do you do with all those hard boiled, multi-colored eggs on Monday? Eat them, toss them or watch them rot?

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.

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.

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?

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

NCGA Supports Federal GMO Labeling Legislation

ncgaThe National Corn Growers Association announced its support for legislation introduced at a press conference today that would establish a federal standard for the safety and labeling of food and beverage products made with genetically modified ingredients.

“The Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act provides certainty for both consumers and farmers alike by creating a unified, science-based approach to labeling and eliminating potential risks and costs posed by an expensive patchwork of labeling laws,” said NCGA President Martin Barbre, a farmer from Carmi, Ill. “NCGA’s more than 40,000 members work tirelessly to provide America’s families with a wide variety of nutritious, quality food choices that are both safe and affordable. A federal GMO labeling solution will allow consumers to feel confident in the safety of American food by affirming the FDA’s sole authority in food safety and labeling decisions. We applaud Reps. Mike Pompeo (R- Kan.) and G.K. Butterfield (D- N.C.) as well as Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), Jim Matheson (D-Utah) and Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.) who introduced this legislation, for their work on behalf of families and farmers.”

The legislation introduced will protect consumers and ensure the safety of food ingredients using solid, science-based information by providing a consistent, informative GMO labeling solution that eliminates confusion and advances food safety.

In setting out a federal labeling system, it reaffirms the FDA as the nation’s authority for the use and labeling of GMO food ingredients while providing consumers greater confidence by establishing a required FDA safety review process for all new GMO traits. Notably, the FDA would have the authority to mandate the labeling of any GMO food ingredients it determines would create a health, safety or nutrition issue.

The legislation would also empower the FDA to provide greater consistency in the market by defining the term “natural” for its use on food and beverage products. The clear definition of this commonly used term would offer consumers clarity about products allowing them to base choices on information verified instead of marketing claims.

“America’s corn farmers want the same things as families across the country. We want to keep families safe and protect our nation’s food supply,” said Barbre. “That is why we believe it is imperative important decisions about our safety and how we label what we eat should remain in the hands of experts, the scientists at the FDA. NCGA supports the Congressmen’s effort to ensure America’s food supply remains safe and America’s consumers have access to clear, consistent information based in reputable science.”

For more information about GMOs and the need for a federal labeling standard, visit www.CFSAF.org.

Iowa Corn Promotion Board Receives U.S. Patent

IowaCornPromotionBoard_CMYK_4F1DB6BE3EF0DThe Iowa Corn Promotion Board is the recipient of a newly issued patent from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. This is the first U.S. patent that the Board has received for its work in nitrogen use efficiency in corn and related to transgenic plants that have increased nitrogen use efficiency, and/or increased yield using a patented gene. Specifically, patent 8,692,070, Plants with Improved Nitrogen Utilization and Stress Tolerance demonstrates Iowa Corn’s commitment to improving farmer productivity even to the gene level.

“The Iowa Corn Promotion Board collaborated with Strathkirn Inc. and Athenix Corp. to develop improved corn plants that are more efficient in using nitrogen fertilizer,” said Larry Klever, a farmer from Audubon and chair of the Iowa Corn Research and Business Development Committee. “This new trait could result in improved economics on the farm, reduced impact on the environment and reduced energy requirements to grow a corn crop.”

The objectives of the research are either to increase yield without increasing the amount of nitrogen fertilizer or obtain the same yield with less fertilizer. Data indicates this patented gene assimilates more nitrogen and increases kernel number, which could translate to greater yields for Iowa farmers.

By patenting this technology, the Iowa Corn Promotion Board is able to provide protection for partners who would like to license this technology. “The goal is to get this trait licensed and commercialized by seed companies for commercialization so that farmers, like me, can benefit,” said Klever.

The Plants with Improved Nitrogen Utilization and Stress Tolerance patent number is 8,692,070 and was issued on April 8, 2014. A patent for this technology has also been awarded to the Iowa Corn Promotion Board by South Africa. Patents for this gene in other countries are still pending approval of the respective patent offices.

NCGA Joins REAP Initiative as Founding Partner

ncgaAt the request of the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service (USDA ARS), the ATIP Foundation (Agricultural Technology Innovation Partnership) has established a public-private partnership to enhance research on sustainable soil health for multiple land uses in agriculture. The National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) has joined USDA and ATIP along with four other founding partners of the Resilient Economic Agricultural Practices (REAP) public-private partnership to support and strengthen soil health research that addresses the needs of U.S. farmers.

“We live in a nation that can easily satisfy all of its food needs thanks to the extraordinary productivity of our farmers and their careful management of our soil resources,” said USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack. “Through this public-private partnership, led by the ATIP Foundation, the agriculture sector has created a model of leveraging public and private resources to address sustainability and economic prosperity by enhancing research on land management practices.”

“NCGA and the other six founding participants of REAP that comprise the Technical Review Council, met recently with ARS scientists to broaden outreach to private, non-governmental and agriculture sectors that would benefit from ARS research,” said Don Glenn, Chair of NCGA’s Production and Stewardship Action Team Chair. “We feel that REAP research will not only identify important soil management practices, but will also contribute to the field work of the Soil Health Partnership launched earlier this year by NCGA with support from Monsanto and the Walton Family Foundation.”

The REAP initiative consists of nine multi-state USDA ARS locations and their university partners who will pair regionally significant soil data sets with local practices. The focus of this research will be to identify the production and sustainable advantages of different soil management strategies.

Mix Tank Features Ready for Planting Season

Screen Shot 2014-04-04 at 9.11.34 AMWell before the planters have stopped rolling, efficiency-minded retailers, applicators and growers are already thinking about best practices for tank mixing and applying their crop protection products. Precision Laboratories’ Mix Tank 3.0, an award-winning and patent-pending app for iPhone and Android smartphones, is a convenient tool to help ensure that tank mixing compatibility, proper logging and more are available right in the palm of your hand.

Mix Tank simplified its design and added features in November 2013. In time for the 2014 growing season, retailers and growers will be able to utilize Mix Sheets™, the app’s latest feature that captures product use rates, field size, spray volume and tank size. Use rates are calculated automatically after entering basic information, which can then be easily shared via email.

“We’re excited for applicators to get out in the field and start using the Mix Sheets feature this season,” said Jim Reiss, vice president of Ag Chemistries at Precision Laboratories. “Mix Tank was created to make tank mixing easier and more predictable by identifying compatibility issues and encouraging proper mixing sequences. Applicators will appreciate having these new features available during the busy spring and summer months ahead.”

Along with its newest features, Mix Tank offers additional tools such as weather integration, which captures real-time data to maintain accurate spray logs and documentation. It also has a “My Favorites” feature, providing quick access to the user’s preferred crop protection products.

Mix Tank is the only app in the ag industry that offers these features completely integrated into one user-friendly platform. The app is available as a free download on the App Store and Google Play by searching for Mix Tank or Precision Laboratories.

Can Farm Movies Improve Ag’s Image?

New Holland ZimmPollOur latest ZimmPoll asked the question, “Do you think farm movies can help the public image of agriculture?”

It looks like the majority polled believe these farm movies can play a positive role in improving the agricultural industries image. Getting people to theaters to watch them might be tricky, but the old fashioned word-of-mouth advertising could be the ticket. I, personally, am eager to watch them and share with friends and family.

Our poll results:

  • Definitely – 38%
  • Maybe – 27%
  • No – 11%
  • Not sure – 4%
  • Can’t hurt – 15%
  • Other – 5%

Our new ZimmPoll is now live and asks the question, “What’s the largest percentage of your 2014 marketing budget?”

Next week is the annual Agri-Marketing Conference in Jacksonville, FL. Agribusiness/agency/media and more will be networking and participating in professional development activities. We’re pretty sure this question will be a part of the conversation.

Syngenta Supports FFA Ambassador Program

Syngenta_BiotechAs the pressure on natural resources increases from feeding, fueling and clothing a growing global population, the agricultural industry needs a stronger chorus of voices to tell its story effectively. With support from Syngenta and other sponsors, the National FFA Organization has developed the National Collegiate Agriculture Ambassadors program to help meet this challenge.

“The FFA Ag Ambassador program helps educate a broad audience on food production,” said J.R. Peterson, district manager at Syngenta. “It is critical that our best and brightest young people can effectively communicate the importance of agriculture in public settings.”

Each year, 20 college students from across the country are selected to participate in the program. These Ag Ambassadors serve for one year, speaking at local schools, colleges, FFA chapters, civic organizations and Farm Bureau groups about the importance of sustainable agriculture in their communities. In return, they receive a $1,000 scholarship, a digital camera, the use of an LCD projector and compensation for travel.

Applications for the 2014-2015 Collegiate FFA Agriculture Ambassador team are now available. College sophomores, juniors, seniors or graduate students pursuing agricultural degrees can apply for the program. All ambassadors must be former FFA members, current collegiate FFA members or members of the National FFA Alumni Association.

Applicants must submit a video presentation of themselves to showcase facilitation skills. They also must answer essay questions and provide references by the April 15, 2014, entry deadline. Selected ambassadors will attend two training sessions: The first is August 4 to 8, 2014, in North Carolina, where they will spend part of the week at the Syngenta facility in Greensboro. The second will take place in December 2014.

“Our goal is to grow these students personally and professionally through their experience as ambassadors,” says Ryan Amaral, an FFA education specialist. “Throughout their year of service, students are learning more about agriculture, building a strong network of peer and professional contacts in the industry, and telling the inspirational story of agriculture.”

The 2013/2014 Ag Ambassador team, which is featured on the Syngenta Thrive website, is currently hard at work helping to promote the industry.

Sam Tauchen, a senior at the University of Wisconsin–River Falls, says, “When I share my story of agriculture, I realize what I am doing is bigger than myself. The program has been a blessing, and I am honored to join a group of people who are committed to improving the future of agriculture.”