ZimmComm Team Looking for Summer Intern

zimmcomZimmComm New Media is now taking applications for a summer intern. Students in the agricultural communications field interested in attending and learning how to “agri-blog” some of the most important industry events held every year should apply.

The opportunities will include all-expense paid trips to one or more industry events where students will assist in the compiling of photos, audio, video and posting of activities on pertinent websites. Interns will learn and develop communication tools, techniques and technology to gather and distribute information through various social media channels. Per-diem and college credits may also be available.

YES! I’m interested in learning how to do some agri-blogging. Apply here.

Improvements Tackled for Sorghum Genetics

Dupont PioneerDuPont Pioneer and the United Sorghum Checkoff Program today announced a collaboration to advance genetic tools and opportunities for grain sorghum, which was planted on just over 8 million acres in the United States in 2013. Under a three-year collaboration agreement, the Sorghum Checkoff will leverage the world-class seed technology program at Pioneer for a total investment of $800,220 from Pioneer starting in 2014.

The collaboration is a reflection of sorghum’s value to farmers and consumers alike. In 2013, U.S. grain sorghum generated $1.7 billion in farm receipts. Additionally, 136 million bushels of sorghum produced last year were exported, with nearly 90 percent of the grain going to China. Sorghum exports have contributed more than $800 million to the U.S. economy.

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“This collaboration will help increase sorghum farmer productivity and profitability,” said Kay Porter, DuPont Pioneer senior research manager. “We believe this collaboration will lead to new innovations to develop stronger and higher yielding sorghum varieties.”

As part of the collaboration between DuPont Pioneer and the Sorghum Checkoff, three genetic-focused projects will include:

– A search for a haploid inducer line, the first step in the development of double haploid sorghum breeding programs. If successful, this development would lead to a major leap forward sorghum breeding speed.
– The development of a high throughput, precision screening method for stress-induced stalk lodging, which targets an important agronomic challenge for sorghum farmers; and
– The development of non- and low-tillering sorghum hybrids, which would allow sorghum farmers to leverage precision farming techniques.

The projects will utilize the Pioneer global research network, with research conducted in Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, and off-season nurseries in Puerto Rico and Mexico.

“I believe the collaboration between DuPont Pioneer and the Sorghum Checkoff illustrates the interest of seed technology providers and their commitment to grain sorghum,” said Stewart Weaver, Sorghum Checkoff chairman and grower from Edmondson, Ark. “The Sorghum Checkoff’s collaborative efforts with Pioneer marks a rejuvenated era in sorghum genetic research. Pioneer is a longstanding leader in sorghum research, and we are enthusiastic about what this opportunity means for U.S. sorghum farmers.”

Results and developments from the projects will be made available to the industry. The agreement with Pioneer is the Sorghum Checkoff’s third collaboration with the private seed industry.

Sorghum offers growers a sound, water-efficient rotational crop while providing end-users with a versatile, attribute-rich grain. Sorghum is a whole grain that offers neutral flavor and provides another option for individuals seeking a gluten-free diet.

Syngenta Survey Confirms Ag Loves Digital Tech

Syngenta_BiotechA majority of growers and other agricultural professionals turn to online sources first for general information about their industry, and over half of them use mobile or handheld devices 10 or more times per workday. These are some of the key findings in a recent Syngenta survey, in which more than 300 readers of Thrive, the company’s production-focused magazine and website, responded to questions about their online habits and appetites.

Anthony Transou, Internet marketing manager at Syngenta, is not surprised that, like other industries, U.S. agriculture is embracing digital communications—from social media campaigns and blogs to precision farming and recordkeeping.

“Digital platforms give users a way to share and learn from others in the agricultural industry, whether they are around the corner in their communities or across the globe,” he said. “One of our key concentrations is to create optimized content that can spread across channels and be consumed anywhere, so there is a seamless experience from desktop to mobile users.”

Transou’s team has made several recent adjustments and additions to the Syngenta digital platform. For example, new websites like Tools to Grow More Soybeans and the Quilt Xcel®Fungicide Stress Management Training Module help growers locate information about specific issues or products more easily. Another recent online development is the Know More, Grow More agronomy blog, which features tips and local news updates from Syngenta agronomic service representatives. Twitter, Facebook and YouTube channels are also convenient ways for growers to interact with Syngenta via questions, comments, contests and general discussions.

“Additionally, we are adding online companions to many of our print communications, including Thrive magazine,” Transou said. “This digital initiative allows us to reach a larger audience and provide deeper, more interactive content.”

One of his team’s proudest accomplishments is updating the company’s flagship grower-focused website, FarmAssist.com. This online resource has evolved into a one-stop shop for news, market updates and information about the Syngenta product portfolio. But until 2012, FarmAssist users needed a desktop computer for the site’s features to work properly. That changed with the launch of m.farmassist.com, a mobile-optimized version of the website that allows cellphone and tablet users to access the same capabilities as if they were on a desktop computer.

“Our current suite of digital assets is a result of our early preparation to become an active participant in the digital world,” Transou said. “We thought about a mobile strategy for Syngenta very early on so we could easily transition our content and existing assets to some of the emerging technologies and mediums.”

Looking forward, Syngenta aims to include more interactive localized content, which is a process of natural progression with the increasing use of mobile technology in agriculture. Transou said he envisions being able to send growers and other users pest alerts, weather information, market prices and yield data specifically targeted to their local areas.

The nature of digital communications allows Syngenta to gather and analyze customer feedback, which it uses to constantly improve existing digital assets and formulate ideas for new ones. The Thrive online survey is a good example of how the team uses feedback to influence content creation. Because respondents indicated that they are most interested in production best practices and new product information, the editorial team will start developing more articles and Web content around those topics.

“Farmers understand that information is now flowing in a digital world, especially the well-connected younger generation,” he said. “Our ultimate goal at Syngenta is to give growers the most positive digital experience in the industry.”

New Holland Launches MyNewHolland.com

MyNewHolland.comToday is the launch of MyNewHolland.com. This new virtual community is set up to provide a meeting place to share information, contribute to farming related discussions and access premium contents and services. It is very simple to create your account by visiting MyNewHolland.com. Then you’ll have access to the features currently active.

A list of features includes:

  • My New Holland: a new online community for all
  • The Spotlight: discussions on a variety of topical subjects in the farming world
  • The first Spotlight: ethanol and renewable energy
  • Valuable information resources: instructional videos, white papers and more
  • Premium content: owners of New Holland equipment and Precision Land Management products gain access to useful materials that will help them get the most from their machines
  • Easy registration and log in through social networks

The Spotlight discussion is a key feature of MyNewHolland.com. Each discussion will feature a guest farmer or industry expert who supports a farming-related topic. All My New Holland members are invited to contribute their comments, opinions, material or images, driving the conversation forward. Each discussion will be open for a number of weeks; subsequently a white paper will be produced and made available for downloading.

Ron Clauson MyNewHolland.comThe first Spotlight discussion topic is “Ethanol: Renewable Energy for America – Profit for American Farmers.” Our guest is Indiana farmer Ron Clauson. His farm has produced corn for ethanol production for the last eight years and he’s passionate about it.

“One hundred percent of the corn and soybeans we produce go into ethanol and biodiesel,” Clauson says. “It makes me proud to be able to say we market our crops to produce fuel that reduces dependence on imports.”

There are several questions being posed in this first Spotlight discussion for you to respond to and your feedback is highly appreciated.

  • Are you producing a crop for ethanol production? If so, what type and why?
  • How would a change in the Renewable Fuel Standard impact your community and you personally?
  • What do you think about the misleading claims against ethanol by critics and what can farmers do about it?

I am very proud to be assisting our long time sponsor in the daily management of MyNewHolland.com in this startup phase. To get some more perspective on it I spoke with New Holland Director of Marketing for North America, Mark Hooper, while visiting headquarters in Pennsylvania recently. He says there are many more features planned for MyNewHolland.com as the community grows and develops.

You can listen to Mark talk about MyNewHolland.com here: Interview with Mark Hooper

So there you have it. The website is live and available for you to create your personal login and let New Holland know what you think, especially about the first Spotlight discussion. See you there.

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

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

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.

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.

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.