Economic Impact of Ag Equipment Industry

aem_logo2The Association of Equipment Manufacturers has just released a new in-depth analysis of of the impact of the agricultural equipment industry on the American economy.

The white paper quantifies the many economic impacts of the manufacturing, distribution, and use of agriculture equipment and machinery from 2011 and figured the total economic footprint of the agricultural industry – including upstream and downstream industries – at $51 billion.

“The purpose of this white paper is to provide a better look at the agriculture equipment industry’s effect on U.S. workers and our economy as a whole, with an eye toward better arming our policy makers in Washington with the information they need to make sound policy decisions that impact this critical sector,” said AEM President Dennis Slater. “This kind of information is vital to accurately assessing the potential long-term consequences of decisions being weighed as we are debating issues such as the renewable fuels standard and international trade agreements that directly impact the future of American agriculture.”

Among the Top Ten Takeaways of the paper:

In 2011, 78,200 people were directly employed in U.S. farm equipment manufacturing, while another 52,300 were indirectly employed in other manufacturing activities to support materials and parts used by the industry.

Overall, the agricultural equipment cluster employed almost 377,000 workers in 2011, representing a footprint of more than half of the total population of Washington, D.C.

View the Top Ten Takeaways and the full Report here.

Hick Chick Chat about Norman Borlaug

11326519286_c9a07ae0bf_oBack in early October, I got an email from Cindy asking if I would be available to join her in Des Moines for the World Food Prize. Of course I was available, but what on earth is the World Food Prize. I did some Google research, I had seen our agenda, but I really had NO clue what I was about to learn and hear in downtown Des Moines. I kept telling Cindy that I was totally fascinated by the sheer knowledge I was gaining. At some points I think she wanted to choke me if I said “this is fascinating” one more time. Truth be told, I’d never heard of Norman Borlaug, the Borlaug Dialogue and had no idea what I was getting myself into. Boy, did that all change.

normAs the week went on and I started to learn more about the players and was a bit star struck when Julie Borlaug was on our same elevator on the way to one of our functions. Truth About Trade and Technology had allowed me to meet and interact with farmers from around the globe and learn more about each of them. They truly were a fun group to meet and spend time with. But Dr. Borlaug, his legacy and seeing a man I had interviewed many times in my radio days, Dr. Robb Fraley be honored as one of the laureates; the puzzle pieces all began to come together. I can’t say anything more about Dr. Borlaug than what the folks who were on-hand at the installation in the nation’s capital did.

You can listen to the Hick Chick Chat of the Norman Borlaug statue installation: Hick Chick Chat Dr.Norman Borlaug Statue Installation

Borlaug Statue Unveiling Photo Album

Join in the conversation on Twitter and on Facebook

BASF Offers Advice for Early Weed Control

Experts agree the best way to improve yields, control weeds and fight resistance is early season weed control.

bryan-young“Effective weed management today means starting the growing season with a clean weed-free seedbed,” said Bryan Young, Ph.D., Associate Professor of weed science, Purdue University. “That typically means tillage in corn and in some cases a spring burndown in soybeans. Then make sure that the field stays clean from that point forward throughout the season. Residual herbicides are critically important in helping us reduce weed competition to optimize crop yields and to improve control of our most problematic weeds.”

Dr. Young offered his weed control advice during a Commodity Classic seminar sponsored by BASF Crop Protection entitled “Clean Fields, High Yields: The Keys to Solving Your Weed Problems in 2014.” He notes that early season weed control is not only an effective strategy for combating weeds at their easiest stages, but it can also help in the fight against weed resistance.

“When you have weeds resistant to glyphosate and are utilizing different herbicide chemistries, a two-inch weed might be the maximum height you can control with the herbicide,” explained Young. “We’ve seen resistance happen before and it’s too risky to allow these weeds to emerge and depend solely on the timing of a post-emergence herbicide. For some weeds, we don’t have effective post-emergence herbicide options, it’s all about never letting these weeds get a start.”

BASFBASF Technical Market Manager Mark Oostlander recommends using a preplant or preemergence herbicide with residual control to get the season off to a clean start.

“Early in the season, weeds aren’t taking as many important resources such as water, sun and nutrients from your crops as they will later in the season,” said Oostlander. “Controlling weeds in the beginning is the most efficient and cost-effective step you can take in weed control.”

For the latest Advanced Weed Control tips based on geography, weed pressure and crop, visit advancedweedcontrol.basf.us.

Corn Growers, NASCAR Aim to Make April Greener

nascarracetogreen1Corn growers across the country are either busy planting or getting ready to plant. A little different initiative also shows their environmental concern. This month, the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) is joining NASCAR for the second year of the NASCAR Race to Green Campaign.

The goal of NASCAR Race to Green is to highlight the accomplishments of NASCAR Green™ programs like the move three years ago to Sunoco Green E15, a fuel blended with 15 percent American Ethanol, and its massive tree planting initiative to help reduce the sport’s carbon footprint.

“American Ethanol is a key part of NASCAR’s efforts to reduce the sport’s carbon footprint,” said Jon Holzfaster, a Paxton, Neb., farmer and chairman of NCGA’s NASCAR Advisory Committee. “These high-performance cars have put more than five million tough competition miles on E15 in the last three years, reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent. Combine this with the massive tree planting effort underway, and the results are phenomenal.”

American Ethanol, which is supported by corn checkoff investments and ethanol plant members of Growth Energy, has committed to plant 50 trees for every American Ethanol Green Flag waved during NASCAR’s national series races in the month of April.

The NASCAR Race to Green program runs through April 25. More information is available at http://green.nascar.com/.

Extended Tech Support Hours

Insights Weekly Whether it’s good (hopefully!), bad or “help me before I throw this thing out into the field and run over it”, Ag Leader’s customer support staff wants to hear from you. And during busy seasons such as planting and harvest, customer support specialists are on hand extended hours to be sure that across all time zones, day or night, if you have a question in the field you can get an answer over the phone.

They may be called the silent heroes of the day, but Jordan Dittmer, Ag Leader Machine Guidance Support Supervisor, says, “We’re here to help. If you have something going on and you don’t tell us, we can’t help you. We want to hear from you.”

Listen to Dittmer explain

So think of these silent heroes as your next door neighbor, even though they may be thousands of miles away. In fact, most of the support staff are farmers just like you!

Listen to Dittmer explain

You can find Ag Leader’s 2014 Tech Support Extended Hours schedule here.

On behalf of Ag Leader’s support team, we wish you a safe, successful 2013 planting season!

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.

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.”

Leica mojoXact Plus Adds ISOBUS Universal Terminal

4315_024 (screens from 4415_061,64, 65, 68)By supporting ISOBUS Universal Terminals, Leica Geosystems Agriculture make its Leica mojoXact Plus more versatile than ever before. With a simple software upgrade, farmers can minimise cab clutter, and maximise the use of their existing equipment, thus reducing capital costs and installation complexity.

The ISOBUS (ISO11783) standard provides a communication network that links compliant equipment through a single user interface. It allows farmers to connect different tools and controls to their machines by simply attaching a cable via standardised connectors. By complying with the ISOBUS standard, the Leica mojoXact Plus makes a breakthrough by providing a fully functional guidance system that works with existing equipment available on the machine. This provides farmers with many benefits such as easy installation, less cab clutter, reduced costs, simplified machine integration and the confidence that they are investing in a future-proof technology.

“We are very proud of what we have achieved with the Leica mojoXact Plus. It’s very compact and the fact that it can be installed in any direction and orientation inside the tractor cab is a big advantage over the competition. By adding Universal Terminal support, farmers can not only leverage the ISOBUS standard to customise their precision guidance solution but they also maximise their return on investment,” said Joe Arico, Manager of Product Management and Global Support at Leica Geosystems Agriculture.

The Leica mojoXact Plus continues to provide all the functions of the previous Leica mojoXact product, keeping the RTK upgrade option for the Leica mojo3D and continuing to support open standards (ISO, NMEA, RTK correction formats). The remote service and support tool, Leica Virtual Wrench™ remains a key benefit and is available for both Leica mojo3D and Universal Terminal system configurations. GLONASS continues to be a no-cost option and used in combination with the 6 axis inertial measurement unit and dual frequency GNSS receiver the mojoXact Plus provides repeatable accuracy and unsurpassed steering performance.

Midwest Region of US Boasts Photosynthetic Activity

nasalogoData from satellite sensors show that during the Northern Hemisphere’s growing season, the Midwest region of the United States boasts more photosynthetic activity than any other spot on Earth, according to NASA and university scientists.

Recent research from the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., demonstrated that fluorescence from plants could be teased out of data from existing satellites, and a new study used the data for the first time to estimate photosynthesis from agriculture. Results were published March 25 in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

According to co-author Christian Frankenberg of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., “The paper shows that fluorescence is a much better proxy for agricultural productivity than anything we’ve had before. This can go a long way regarding monitoring – and maybe even predicting – regional crop yields.”

Most of the year the study found that the tropics are most productive. But during the Northern Hemisphere’s growing season, the U.S. Corn Belt “really stands out,” Frankenberg said. “Areas all over the world are not as productive as this area.”

Data showed that fluorescence from the Corn Belt, which extends from Ohio to Nebraska and Kansas, peaks in July at levels 40 percent greater than those observed in the Amazon.

The analysis revealed that carbon cycle models – which scientists use to understand how carbon cycles through the ocean, land and atmosphere over time – underestimate the productivity of the Corn Belt by 40 to 60 percent.

Unlike most vegetation, food crops are managed to maximize productivity. They usually have access to abundant nutrients and are irrigated. The Corn Belt, for example, receives water from the Mississippi River. Accounting for irrigation is currently a challenge for models, which is one reason why they underestimate agricultural productivity.

According to Frankenberg, the remote sensing-based techniques now available could be a powerful monitoring tool for food security, especially data from OCO-2 and in combination with data from other upcoming satellites, such as NASA’s Soil Moisture Active Passive, scheduled for launch later this year.

NRCS New Web Pages Meet Modern Farmers Needs

Screen Shot 2014-04-01 at 12.01.22 PMFor generations, children have been singing about the farmer, his wife and kids, and even the mouse and the cheese. But today, a modern farmer is more likely to be using the mouse on his computer (or more realistically, a smartphone or tablet) than dancing around a small wooded valley with his family and farm animals.

The website of USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, has been evolving to keep pace with the needs of today’s farmer, says NRCS Webmaster Elisa O’Halloran.

“Our mission is to provide American farmers, ranchers and other visitors with the tools and resources they are looking for on a site that is easy to use and navigate.”

The most-effective websites combine clear and readable text, usability, functionality and simple navigation. NRCS writes the text for targeted audiences, which includes farmers and ranchers, as well as people who use NRCS online tools, such as Web Soil Survey, PLANTS database and COMET-FarmTM.

Recently, the agency created a new Get Started with NRCS page. This new webpage helps farmers, ranchers and forest landowners learn how they can make improvements to their land with conservation.

This webpage features the five steps to getting assistance from NRCS, so that farmers, ranchers and forest landowners can know about the process of applying for assistance from the comfort of their own home, barn, tractor or wherever else they hop online.

Also, NRCS revamped its About and Drought Resources pages and created a Resources for Small Farms page. About NRCS provides an overview of what NRCS offers, including those popular tools that bring many visitors to the website.

Drought Resources houses information on assistance and resources that can help farms and ranches be more resilient to drought. And finally, the Resources for Small Farms page pulls together information and resources that may be of interest to owners and managers of smaller farms, such as information on organics and seasonal high tunnels.

NRCS uses a number of tools to help create these pages, including site traffic and customer experience information. “We’ve found that more than 61 percent of people coming to our website were new visitors, many of whom were farmers, ranchers and forest landowners looking for information on conservation programs,” O’Halloran said.

NRCS has about 13,000 visits per day on its national website. Some of the most popular pages deal with soils, Web Soil Survey and the Farm Bill.

“We hope you enjoy these new and revamped pages, and we welcome feedback on how we can improve our ‘digital’ service center,” says O’Halloran. “We’re excited to have the opportunity to help you get started with NRCS!”

NovAtel CORRECT™ With TerraStar Service

NovatelLogoNovAtel Inc. announced today that with the release of its 6.400 firmware, NovAtel CORRECT positioning technology is now available with TerraStar’s precise point positioning (PPP) corrections. Delivered via L-band, TerraStar corrections provide decimetre-level accuracy worldwide on all NovAtel OEM6® high precision receivers, without users having to add base-station infrastructure. Subscriptions to the TerraStar correction service are available seamlessly to customers through NovAtel’s standard sales order process. Interested parties need only contact a NovAtel sales representative.

NovAtel CORRECT optimally combines data from multiple GNSS satellite constellations with corrections from a variety of sources, to deliver the best position solution possible. The strategic importance of TerraStar’s decimetre-level correction service to NovAtel’s product offering is reflected in the recent purchase of TerraStar parent company Veripos by Hexagon.

“The OEM nature of TerraStar’s correction service makes them a perfect partner for NovAtel,” stated Sara Masterson, New Business Development Manager for NovAtel. “We are extremely pleased with the performance of our current TerraStar offering and, with the ability to now work more closely together, we are very excited about developing positioning innovations for our customers in the future.”

NovAtel CORRECT is available for land, air and sea applications, providing customers with one-stop shopping for receivers, antennas and correction services. It provides integrators with the opportunity to choose pricing and subscription options that best match their OEM business objectives.

Global Expansion for Raven’s Precision Ag Group

RavenRaven Industries Applied Technology Division has recently taken their diverse product offering into new territories throughout the world as part of their continuous vision for global expansion. Raven recently signed new product dealers in Mexico, Thailand, and the Philippines with new prospects continually being identified. To support their efforts of global development, Raven has also translated their website and product guide app into several languages including Spanish, French, Portuguese, Russian, and Chinese, among others.

“Precision agriculture is an industry with world-wide growth potential. As Raven pursues new markets, we are strongly committed to providing customer service and sales tools, including web sites and product apps, translated into local languages,” said Michelle Lavallee, global leader of sales and marketing.

As further commitment to the global vision, Raven has promoted Jeff Rohlena to global manager of business development managers, where he will focus on promoting and expanding the reach of Raven’s innovative precision agriculture solutions around the world.

“Jeff has the vision, knowledge and experience to lead the global business development team to new markets and new verticals,” said Lavallee. “He clearly understands the need to take Raven’s business in new directions and I am confident he can help achieve one of our most important initiatives of the year.”

Listen to Chuck’s interview with Michelle Lavallee here: Interview with Michelle Lavallee

For more information on Raven’s global expansion, please visit www.ravenprecision.com.

Powerful & Accurate Steering in Precision Farming

4570_085Leica Geosystems today released the Leica SteerDirect ES Plus, the electric steering system for farmers who seek a brand independent retrofit solution for their auto steering needs. Using Leica SteerDirect ES Plus farmers benefit from improved accuracy, diminished skips and overlaps, and reduced operator fatigue.

The Leica SteerDirect ES Plus has a built-in encoder for more accurate steering and a powerful electric motor that provides superior performance. Adding Leica SteerDirect ES Plus doesn’t involve integration into the hydraulic system or dismounting the steering wheel. The steering system latches on and off for easy transfer between vehicles and it comes with a separate engage switch to allow convenient and flexible operator handling.

Leica SteerDirect ES Plus provides assisted steering for a wide range of tractor, sprayer and harvester models. It is compatible with the Leica mojo3D guidance system and the Leica mojoXact Plus, Leica Geosystems’ latest RTK upgrade option with ISOBUS capability. The steering solution supplies customers with a large number of vehicle specific installation kits as well as a universal installation kit.

”With the Leica SteerDirect ES Plus farmers can easily add auto-steering regardless of the machinery brand they use. Due to the simple installation and the transferability of the Leica SteerDirect ES Plus customers can save money by utilizing the system across their fleet. An extended list of supported vehicles and technical improvements help more customers to achieve accuracte steering hassle-free.”, said Joe Arico, Manager Product Management and Global Support at Leica Geosystems Agriculture.

More information about Leica Geosystems Agriculture products is available from all authorized Leica Geosystems distribution partners and at www.AgGuidance.com.