One of the highlights of the recent AG CONNECT Expo are the AE50 Outstanding Innovations Gold Awards, honoring the “best of the best” displayed at the show. One of those awards went to Spectrum Technologies, Inc., for the company’s FieldScout GreenIndex+ App. The app looks at a smartphone picture of corn at the knee-high level and can make a recommendation on how much nitrogen should be applied, based on the color of the corn leaf. Mike Thurow, President/CEO of Spectrum, said they’re leveraging their knowledge of agriculture.
“Whether it’s row crop or biotech or in the areas of weather monitoring or nutrient or pest management or even soil moisture irrigation scheduling … we take that knowledge and develop some simple, affordable solutions to help these people do a better job of growing more consistent, quality crops,” he said.
Mike added the information gathered can be integrated into a number of systems and can be emailed back to your account at the office or home. And since there’s no stick or USB to pull and physically transfer… or get lost between the field and office… it takes out steps that the folks at Spectrum see as unnecessary.
“The day is already full of activities for a crop consultant, a farmer, and so if you can just make it simpler and streamline that process, then there’s a higher likelihood of success in adopting the technology, and more importantly, getting value out of it.”
You can listen to Chuck’s interview with Mike here: Interview with Mike Thurow
2013 AG CONNECT Expo Photo Album
Our friends at John Deere made good use of their time at the premier show for technology, innovation and education, AG CONNECT Expo, showing off some of their latest equipment. Swarupa Bakre, Associate Brand Manager for John Deere’s Intelligent Solutions Group talked to Chuck about their JDLink technology, a telematics solution to communicate important information gathered by the equipment and send it back to the user.
“It captures all your machine health, field data, performance and any number of variables,” and transfers the data by cellular network to a website. Swarupa said that producers can then go to the website and look at what they need to know about their machines to make their operation more efficient. “They have a ton of information at their fingertips.”
Swarupa added the whole system helps to do things like simplifying and scheduling maintenance and even setting up anti-theft tools.
You can listen to Chuck’s interview with Swarupa here: Interview with Swarupa Bakre
2013 AG CONNECT Expo Photo Album
A new variety of soybeans will soon get a new name after making a debut at the recent AG CONNECT Expo. MS Technologies Brand Manager Lauren August says their FG72 soybeans, a collaboration with Bayer, will have their new name revealed at the upcoming Commodity Classic later this month. In the meantime, she can tell us about how the beans will address a problem that growers, especially in the South, face: herbicide-resistant weeds.
“FG72 is going to be one of the first systems to actually provide a double-stack herbicide tolerance,” allowing growers to use tried-and-true glyphosate and now isoxaflutole, the active ingredient in Balance Bean herbicide previously used on corn. “[Balance Bean offers] a unique reactivation capability. Once growers have sprayed it, they’ll receive coverage in their fields all the way up through canopy closure with a little bit of rain,” without having to worry tank mix issues and about it affecting their neighbors’ fields.
Ten years in the making with Bayer, Lauren said this has been an evaluation of more than 40,000 unique elite trait lines, and they expect to release 56 commercial lines in 2015 and another 200 shortly after. More information is available at the company website, www.mstechseed.com.
You can listen to Chuck’s interview with Lauren here: Interview with Lauren August
2013 AG CONNECT Expo Photo Album
Concerns over hurting the soil quality when harvesting some crop residues for cellulosic biofuels, instead of leaving the residues on the fields to help the soil quality, might be unfounded. U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) research says that soil quality would not decline if post-harvest corn cobs were removed from the field.
“Crop residues have many useful functions when left in the field, [including] protecting against water and wind erosion [and] may contain essential nutrients for crop growth that can be recycled back into the soil,” among others says Agricultural Research Service (ARS) soil scientist Brian Wienhold, who conducted the study. But his work compared runoff rates and sediment loss from no-till corn fields where postharvest crop residues were either removed or retained and found no significant difference between fields’ sediment loss rates with and without the cobs. The cobs did slightly delay field runoff.
The study concluded that cobs could be removed from other residue and used for bioenergy feedstock without significantly interfering with the role of crop residues in protecting soils. But Wienhold cautions that you need to make sure you balance taking any residue off the fields with the potential benefits and losses it could cause.
Listen to Wienhold’s comments to USDA here: ARS soil scientist Brian Wienhold
A new study from the University of Missouri finds that an SFP product guards against nitrogen loss. SFP, one of the attendees at this year’s Iowa Power Farming Show, says NutriSphere-N® Nitrogen Fertilizer Manager (NN®), when added to urea, protects against against volatilization … especially important in drought years:
The study was conducted by David Dunn, Soil Labs Manager at the Universityʼs Fisher Delta Research Center, and was a continuation of his 2010 research. He analyzed how different nitrogen stabilizers work to help reduce nitrogen loss compared with untreated urea applications.
Dunn observed that when significant rainfall did not occur within five to seven days of nitrogen application, NutriSphere-N clearly reduced the amount of ammonia lost. Within a 41-day period, plain urea lost four times as much nitrogen as the urea treated with NutriSphere-N (375.42 ppm ammonia for untreated urea compared to 84.17 ppm for
“This University of Missouri research proves the long lasting nitrogen protection that NutriSphere-N delivers to farmers,” says Dr. Larry Sanders, president and CEO of SFP®, which developed, manufactures and distributes NutriSphere-N.
SFP officials say up to half of nitrogen loss can be attributed to volatilization, denitrification and
leaching. More information is available at www.sfp.com.
2013 Iowa Power Farming Show Photo Album
The USDA wants to get a better idea of what’s happening on America’s farms. That’s why the 2012 Census of Agriculture forms will be hitting producers’ mailboxes very soon.
“The Census of Agriculture will be dropped in the mail December 14th, so farmers should expect it in their mailboxes by the end of the year,” says Renee Picanso, Director of the USDA’s Census and Survey Division, asking that those surveyed return their census by Feb. 4, 2013. During an interview at Trade Talk at the National Association of Farm Broadcasting convention, she added that they’ll be asking some new questions this year, including some on agriforestry and renewable energy. Also new this year will be the opportunity to fill out the survey over the internet, something they believe will help response rates. “I hope so, because it leads you through the questions, and if you go on the internet, it will skip through the questions [not relevant to your operation].”
Picanso stresses that it’s very important for producers to respond because the survey helps USDA determine policy, as well as how it helps rural communities and agribusinesses. Results should be released in February 2014.
Listen to Cindy’s interview with Renee here: Renee Picanso, USDA Census and Survey Division
2012 NAFB Convention Photo Album
Ag producers know the importance of being precise in their information, and the USDA is no different, especially this year when growing conditions varied so much nationwide. To get that good, precise information, the USDA will be sending out its end-of-year surveys soon. Cindy caught up with Bob Bass, the Director of National Operations for the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) during Trade Talk at the National Association of Farm Broadcasting convention, and he said the country’s farms and ranches have seen a wide range of conditions this year.
“It’s very important that we get a handle on the final production, and that includes the actual harvested acres and final yield,” as well at what stocks are in storage out there, Bass said. About 73,000 scientifically selected farms and ranches will be surveyed, representing the 2.2 million operations nationwide. “That’s why it is so important that we get an accurate and timely response from everyone of those selected samples.”
Bass added that NASS will be changing when they release some of their reports, with the monthly crop reports moving from 8:30 a.m. EST to Noon EST after the first of the year. “That’s at the request of data users across the country and the world… it’s a global economy now.” Livestock reports will remain at 3 p.m. EST.
Listen to Cindy’s interview with Bob here: Interview with Bob Bass, NASS
2012 NAFB Convention Photo Album
How do you feed the expected world population of 9 billion people by the year 2050? Our friends at Farm Foundation are taking on that challenging question, hopefully with some good answers through their new blog, AgChallenge2050.org.
“It’s an opportunity for more people to be involved in the conversation,” said Mary Thompson, Farm Foundation’s Vice President, Communications, adding there are four key areas of consideration: role of science and technology in agriculture, farm and food policy, adaptability resistance, and human capital needs in agriculture and the food system. “We have contributors who will be twice a week posting new ideas and new perspectives in those four areas, and we will encourage all types of stakeholders to come in and be part of the conversation.”
And don’t forget, Farm Foundation has another one of their forums coming up this Wednesday, November 14th looking at what the recently completed election means to agriculture, food and rural policies. It will be held at the National Press Club in Washington, DC and webcast. Click here for more information.
Listen to Cindy’s interview with Mary here: Mary Thompson, Farm Foundation
2012 NAFB Convention Photo Album
One of the most popular displays at the recent American Society of Farm Managers & Rural Appraisers annual meeting along with the AgroNomics Conference and Trade Show was a company called WineHawk Labs. So popular, in fact, that Chuck could only catch up with them after he got back home! But he was finally able to talk with Pat Lohman, WineHawk’s VP for Business Development, who explained a little bit about the company’s hawk-looking drone for ag purposes.
“We make a two-pound, autonomous drone that is centered around data collection,” Lohman said. He added that while there is a lot of great technology out there that analyzes and collects data, WineHawk is different in that it is offering a better collection platform. “We can actually pick up imagery down to two millimeters per pixel, so we’re looking at a lot higher resolution shots than you’d find with satellites or manned aviation. Plus we can carry a multi-spectral camera.”
Plus, the system is pretty much autonomous… just launch it, and the WineHawk senses where to go and even comes back to its launch site and lands automatically before the batteries runs out. And if you think it looks like a real hawk, that’s on purpose. It will help scare away any birds that might eat your crop, especially fruit crops.
Listen to Chuck’s interview with Pat here: Interview with Pat Lohman, WineHawk Labs
2012 Agronomics Photo Album
While all elections are important, this year’s promises to have some real implications for rural America. That’s why Farm Foundation is holding a forum about a week after the polls close, and we know WHO is in office to explain WHAT they might do as as far as agriculture, food and rural policy. The forum will be held on Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2012 from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. EST at the National Press Club, 529 14th St. NW, Washington D.C.
And for the first time a free live, webcast of the forum will be offered. You can see the webcast by registering here. Email firstname.lastname@example.org by Nov. 12th if you plan to attend in person.
“By their votes on Nov. 6, citizens will set the stage for the next four years of the nation’s policy development at both the state and federal level,” says Foundation President Neil Conklin. “This Forum is an opportunity to examine how those elections may specifically impact agriculture, food and rural policies in the months ahead.”
A coalition of about a dozen agriculture groups, including the American Farm Bureau Federation, the American Soybean Association, the National Association of Wheat Growers, the National Corn Growers Association, the National Farmers Union, and the National Milk Producers Federation has urged Senate leaders to “refrain from supporting” any legislation resembling the House-passed disaster bill should it come up in the Senate. This news release from the AFBF says the letter sent to Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) states that “such a measure would detract from the larger mission of passing a long-term farm bill.”
“This is something our groups do not support,” the letter stated. “We strongly urge you to refrain from this as we fear that passage of a bill similar to the House bill could result in further delays in completing a full five-year farm bill.”
According to the group, in comparison to a disaster bill, completing a five-year farm bill would deliver assistance to eligible livestock producers nearly as quickly and would put into place certainty for future years, and it is paid for in both the House and Senate versions. This highlights the House disaster bill’s $600 million price tag, which clearly would impact funding available for long-term agriculture needs.
The current farm bill expires at the end of this month, and the group makes the case that the Senate and House versions of the new farm bill have the provisions for disaster relief with long-term benefits.
New studies from the USDA look at how reduced tillage could help conserve water and reduce losses caused by climate change. This article from the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) says researcher Laj Ahuja is leading a team at the ARS’ unit in Fort Collins, CO, looking at the relationship between climate projections and 15 to 17 years of field data and how that is affecting crop yields in the Midwest.
The projections included an increase in equivalent atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) levels from 380 parts per million by volume (ppmv) in 2005 to 550 ppmv in 2050. The projections also included a 5-degree Fahrenheit increase in summer temperatures in Colorado from 2005 to 2050. The ARS scientists used these projections to calculate a linear increase of CO2 and temperature from 2050 to 2100.
Ahuja’s team used the Root Zone Water Quality Model (version 2) for crop rotations of wheat-fallow, wheat-corn-fallow, and wheat-corn-millet to see how yields might be affected in the future. They simulated different combinations of three climate change projections: rising CO2 levels, rising temperatures, and a shift in precipitation from late spring and summer to fall and winter. They ran the model with the projected climate for each of the 15 to 17 years of field crop data for each cropping system.
When they looked at all the factors, they saw yield projections over the coming 100 years drop for corn, millet and wheat, with the biggest drops in corn and millet. The researchers found that after an increase in summer temperatures by 8 degrees or more, even no-till would not halt crop losses.
A coalition of 39 farm groups, including the American Farm Bureau Federation, the National Corn Growers Association, and the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, is calling on Congress to pass a new farm bill before the old one expires at the end of September. The group, Farm Bill Now, has an interactive web portal at www.FarmBillNow.com, that lets you connect with your members of Congress and show your support for a new five-year farm bill. The coalition points out that this isn’t just for farmers; consumers need to get involved in the effort as well since any farm bill is really a jobs, food, conservation, research, energy and trade bill… something for every American!
Members of Farm Bill Now plan to meet at Farm Progress Show in Boone, Iowa this coming Tuesday, August 28th to discuss the effort. In addition, representatives of many of the groups in the coalition will gather on September 12th, 2012 at the U.S. Capitol to encourage Congress to pass the bill before programs expire at the end of that month.
Despite their seeming infiltration everywhere else, there’s one place where new technologies, such as smartphones and iPads, are not being used enough: the farm. In particular, Iowa State University research shows that just 25 percent of farmers are using them to receive crop production information. ISU Extension Entomologist Erin Hodgson says there are some reason why the technology is so under-used. “I think there are some misconceptions out there about what smartphones and other mobile devices could be used for,” she explains. “Sometimes, I think they get a bad rap that they are just for celebrities or kids, so some of the people I talk to are hesitant because they don’t feel it’s useful for them.”
Hodgson says some producers aren’t aware how the technologies could help in their management decisions. That’s why she has her own blog and podcasts to educate producers on the benefits. “We have a weekly podcast throughout the summer, which is a free subscription through iTunes,” and through ISU’s Soybean Aphids website she says. And her blog “It’s a bug’s life” gives producers “a heads up on scouting and management recommendations. You can also check out Hodgson’s twitter account @erinwhodgson for real-time updates.
Citrus producers plagued by citrus greening disease, also called Huanglongbing or HBL, could get some relief from the labor-intensive process of detecting the disease that poses no threat to people but devastates trees. At the International Conference on Precision Agriculture, Chuck caught up with Dr. Wonsuk Lee from the University of Florida, who moderated a session on “Machine Vision and Imaging Applications to Precision Agriculture” and is using some of that modern technology to more efficiently look for the disease.
“For disease detection, currently a ground crew has to inspect every single tree. That takes a very long time and is very labor-intensive work. So our work is utilizing area hyper-spectre imaging to detect the mostly infected areas, so growers can go [to those areas] and individually look at those trees to do more detailed operations,” he explained. While this particular application might not work for some row crops, he added the basic principle of detecting disease through this kind of technology could be applied to more products.
Listen to Chuck’s interview with Dr. Wonsuk Lee here: Interview with Dr. Wonsuk Lee, University of Florida
11th International Conference on Precision Agriculture Photo Album