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

Great Lakes Tackle Cover Crops

USE_THIS_CTICLargeTransparent_C10A46658BEA0Keeping crop fields covered between growing seasons for corn, soybeans and other cash crops can help improve water quality by keeping nutrients on the farm, a collaborative project led by the Conservation Technology Information Center (CTIC) demonstrated.

The Great Lakes Cover Crop Initiative (GLCCI), promoted cover crops and conservation farming systems to crop producers in the Lake Erie, Lake Huron and Lake Michigan watersheds. Along with several university partners, agricultural organizations and government agencies, CTIC launched the initiative in 2010 to broaden the knowledge and adoption of cover crops to improve soil and water quality in the Great Lakes Region.

With this purpose in mind, CTIC and partners set out to plant 15,000 acres of cover crops over the three-year span of the initiative. From 2010 to 2013, producers in the Great Lakes Basin planted over 36,970 acres of cover crops, far above the original goal. The cover crops reduced nitrogen by nearly 73,000 pounds, phosphorus by more than 24,100 pounds and sediment by more than 1,440 tons in the Great Lakes.

Chad Watts, CTIC project director, said that establishing cover crops is one way that agriculture can contribute to the goal of cleaner water while making a difference on individual farms.

“Farmers not only can contribute benefits to water quality, but also can improve the soils, beneficial soil biology, nutrient holding capacity, and infiltration on their farms,” Watts said. “If cover crops are properly used over a large enough acreage, farmers can make a significant contribution to the improvement of water quality in the Great Lakes and the rivers and streams that run to them.”

Through GLCCI, farmers received one-on-one technical assistance to identify objectives for their cover crop use, select the right cover crops and crop rotations for their operations and plant and terminate cover crops in a timely manner.

“Cover crops are best when used as part of a systems approach to farming,” Watts said. “Having experienced technical assistance from someone who knows how to build a successful conservation cropping system is absolutely necessary to achieve the farm objectives through cover crops. This is the kind of service we provided through GLCCI.”

Les Seiler, a producer from Fayette, Ohio, said participating in GLCCI helped him further develop his use of cover crops.

“GLCCI provided information and connected me with resources for seed selection and data about what would work in my area,” he said. “Also, sharing ideas with others through GLCCI was invaluable.”

Preventive Resistance from Sygenta

Herbicide resistance has become an increasingly troublesome concern for farmers across the country. As farmers begin planting their 2014 crops, they will be interested in learning more about herbicide resistance in the U.S. and how to fight it. This infographic from Syngenta below shows the history and expansion of herbicide resistance across the country, a guide on which weeds to look out for, and best management practices.

Valley Irrigation Offers Soil Moisture Monitoring

valleyValley® Irrigation is putting the latest soil moisture monitoring technology into the hands of growers with Valley SoilPro™ 1200, powered by AquaSpy™.

SoilPro 1200 delivers the most detailed soil moisture data in an easy-to-understand format. With just a few clicks, growers can see the depth of their crop root zone, soil moisture levels by depth, soil electrical conductivity, temperature, and water penetration from rainfall and irrigation. This real-time data give growers the information they need to make smarter decisions and irrigate more efficiently.

Nebraska grower Tim Schmeeckle said SoilPro 1200 is an important link in learning how to grow more corn with less water, which is a key aspect in farming right now.

“I use it just like a fuel gauge in a car,” Schmeeckle said. “If SoilPro tells me the field is three-fourths full, I can wait another day to water. Or, if the numbers are low, I know I need to keep watering. Basically, it takes the guesswork out of irrigating. You monitor what you’re putting on and what the corn is using. It’s just a great tool.”

SoilPro 1200 has 12 sensors at 4-inch increments that communicate with crop roots and collect in-depth data from the soil about how much water the crop needs and how much it has used, according to Valley Product Manager Cole Fredrick.

The information gathered by the sensors is analyzed and converted into simple, straight-forward reports and recommendations delivered to growers via computer, tablet, or cell phone.

“The user interface is what really makes our product stand out,” Fredrick said. “The interface is extremely user friendly and easy to navigate. It allows growers to easily see when and where water is needed to maximize yields and use water to its fullest potential.”

SoilPro 1200 allows growers to become more efficient in their watering practices, and that efficiency allows them save money and grow a more productive crop, Fredrick said.

Monsanto Research Program Announces Grants

MonsantoMonsanto Company has announced that six new recipients will be awarded research grants as part of the Corn Rootworm Knowledge Research Program. The program, which started in early 2013 and recently was extended to 2016, provides merit-based awards of up to $250,000 per award per year for up to three years for outstanding research projects that address specific aspects of corn rootworm biology, genomics and management issues.

“The program is extremely beneficial to the research and academic community as its goal is not to examine product-specific issues, but rather look at the broader challenges farmers face when dealing with corn rootworm,” said Dr. Spencer, entomologist with the Illinois Natural History Survey, who received one of this year’s grants. “I’m honored to receive this grant, which will help further my research into the behavioral, physiological and ecological factors that contribute to the western corn rootworm’s adaptations to a variety of pest management strategies.”

The CRW Knowledge Research Program is guided by a 10-person Advisory Committee that is co-chaired by Dr. Steve Pueppke, Associate Vice President for Research and Graduate Studies and AgBioResearch Director at Michigan State University, and Dr. Dusty Post, Monsanto’s global insect management lead. Additional committee members include experts from academia and agricultural organizations, and were selected based on their expertise in corn rootworm biology and insect management practices.

“The valuable research that is being generated through this program is continuing to improve our understanding of this challenging pest and provide economical, practical and sustainable solutions for farmers,” said Post.

The six awards granted focus on a number of items from evaluating how best to manage corn rootworm under current production practices to evaluating strategies to delay the onset of resistance evolution. The award recipients are:

Joseph Spencer, University of Illinois
Nicholas Miller, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Paul Mitchell, University of Wisconsin
Blair Siegfried, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Douglas Golick, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Mike Caprio, Mississippi State University
Christian Krupke, Purdue University

FarmLink Offers TrueHarvest Benchmarking Tool

farmlinkA new benchmarking tool has been developed by FarmLink that can help farmers get the fullest potential from their operations.

“We’re helping a farmer identify where he should go find yield in a cost effective manner and other areas where he’s doing great,” says company president Scott Robinson about the tool they call TrueHarvest, which uses objective data to show a farm’s full range of performance potential, drilled down to a 150-square-foot area called a micro-field.

“The reason they’re 150 square feet is because our combine collection is done on a fleet of about 200 combines, the combine cutting head is about 30 feet wide, travels about 3.5 miles an hour and we collect data every second,” he said. “That data is used to correlate across the other 67 billion micro fields that we’ve developed across the United States that represents all corn, wheat and soybeans.”

true-harvestAccording to TrueHarvest calculations, American farmers could have produced approximately 1.6 billion more bushels of corn and 250 million more bushels of soybeans in 2013, realizing approximately $11 billion in additional revenue. “If farmers increased their performance up to the 75th percentile on average for corn and soybeans, that’s how much money is on the table,” said Robinson.

FarmLink was at the recent Commodity Classic talking about TrueHarvest and getting good reception from farmers according to Robinson, who said they really appreciated that the service was independent and did not require them to provide the company with private data. “It’s really agronomic benchmarking that we’re doing, but it’s for the individual farmer,” he said.

Find out more in this interview with Robinson and in the video below from the website. Interview with Scott Robinson, FarmLink

New Website for FS System

fsThe FS System of GROWMARK has launched a new website to help better promote the brand that has been in existence for nearly 50 years.

The history of the FS System dates back to the formation of the Illinois Farm Supply Company in the early 1920s and was developed as a consolidated brand for agricultural and energy-related products in 1955.

Krista Wolf, GROWMARK Manager for Brand Strategy & Marketing Communications says the new website – – is part of an overall campaign for the FS Brand. “We’ve used campaigns to promote the FS brand throughout all trade territories of the FS companies,” which includes the Midwest and northeastern United States and in Ontario, Canada.

The new site is easy to navigate and includes links to the various FS companies. “While all of those entities had their own websites, we didn’t have a system presence for the FS brand,” said Krista, who added that it also helps make the FS brand more search engine friendly. There are also links on the site to all of the FS brand segments, including agronomy, seed and energy – and links to all of the FS social media pages.

Find out more in this interview with Krista: Interview with Krista Wolf, GROWMARK

DuPont Pioneer Expands Corn Hybrid Choices

Dupont PioneerDuPont Pioneer is advancing 111 new Pioneer® brand corn products, featuring 32 new genetic platforms, to better meet growers’ needs now and in the future.

The new group of products includes 20 new Pioneer® brand Optimum® AQUAmax® products, developed to yield in water-limited environments and now available in an expanded range of maturity zones. The Pioneer brand Optimum® AcreMax® Xtra and Optimum® AcreMax® XTreme products featuring proven and trusted above and below ground insect control traits will include 33 new products for growers to choose from in 2014.

“The DuPont Pioneer management concept of ‘right product right acre’ describes how we develop, test and position products with local information from IMPACT™ (Intensively Managed Product Advancement Characterization and Training) trials,” says Bob Heimbaugh, DuPont Pioneer North American director of corn product evaluation. “Product performance is only meaningful at a local level. And to meet that goal, Pioneer leverages global resources to develop local solutions.”

In addition to the integrated refuge products available in the Optimum AcreMax product portfolio, Pioneer advanced three new brown midrib (BMR) silage hybrids and a new technology segment featuring a powerful pyramid of insect protection traits called Optimum® Leptra™ hybrids.

Through the industry-leading Pioneer silage genetics research program, three new BMR silage hybrids are being introduced to growers with a maturity range from 102 to 111 CRM and are unlike any other BMR hybrids available today. The BMR gene contributes increased fiber digestibility, while the base genetics provide superior yield, starch and agronomics that growers have come to expect from a Pioneer brand silage hybrid. Growers will also benefit from the Herculex® XTRA insect protection for above- and below-ground corn rootworm protection on continuous corn acres used for silage production.

Pioneer is introducing four new Optimum Leptra products for the 2014 planting season. These products provide three traits to deliver multiple modes of action and superior protection from a broad spectrum of above-ground corn pests. The Optimum Leptra product pyramid of protection combines the proven Herculex® I, YieldGard® Corn Borer and Agrisure Viptera® traits with locally developed and tested Pioneer corn genetics. These products are targeted for southern U.S. growing environments that can require control of infestations of corn ear worm and fall armyworm with a maturity range from 113 to 117 CRM.

Optimum AQUAmax corn products, planted on 7 million acres in 2013, continued to perform rain or shine. Based on consistent performance in over 42,000 on farm comparisons in the last three years, demand for Optimum AQUAmax hybrids in 2014 is expected to exceed 10 million acres. With the addition of this new class, the Optimum AcreMax family of products with integrated refuge is estimated to comprise about two-thirds of corn unit sales in 2014.

“Pioneer brand corn products released since 2012 make up more than 80% of our unit volume,” Heimbaugh says. “Pioneer continues to have the broadest corn product lineup in the industry, which shows our commitment to grower choice in both technology and genetics.”

DuPont Pioneer is the world’s leading developer and supplier of advanced plant genetics, providing high-quality seeds to farmers in more than 90 countries. Pioneer provides agronomic support and services to help increase farmer productivity and profitability and strives to develop sustainable agricultural systems for people everywhere. Science with Service Delivering Success®.

Raven & Kinze Collaborate on Multi-Hybrid Planter

ravenRaven Industries has announced a collaboration with Kinze Manufacturing bringing a new multi-hybrid planter control system to Kinze’s product offering. This past summer, Raven introduced the first commercially available multi-hybrid planter solution that allows growers to switch between two different hybrids at the drop of the hat.

Raven will be the technology provider for Kinze’s new 4900 series multi-hybrid concept planters that are being tested by farmers across the United States this spring. This planter will be the first to offer producers this capability as a factory-installed option. Beck’s Hybrid, the world’s largest family-owned independent seed company, will provide their agronomic expertise. Beck’s introduced their first multi-hybrid planter in 2012 and will be starting their third year of testing in 2014.

“Multi-hybrid technology allows corn planting to include precision hybrid placement,” said Jason Webster, Central Illinois Practical Farm Research Director for Beck’s Hybrids. “Placing the correct corn hybrid is one of the most important decisions a grower can make each and every year. Our multi-hybrid testing at Beck’s has shown significant yield gains and profitability by changing corn hybrid placement on the fly based upon varying degrees of yield potential throughout a field.”

“We’re very excited to see a quick adoption of this ground-breaking technology with one of the world’s leading manufacturers, Kinze. Growers will quickly realize the benefits of a multi-hybrid system and the resulting ROI through the use of that technology,” said Matt Burkhart, Vice President and General Manager for Raven’s Applied Technology Division.

You can learn more about Raven Industries and their multi-hybrid planter system at

Popular Agronomy Resource Now Available as App

14AppAdVertFor years farmers have depended on the printed MFA Incorporated Agronomy Guide as a way to compare seed and crop protection products they might need on their farming operations. But that day has come to an end. Farmers who have access to iOS, Android or Windows smartphones or tablets can access all the same information in app form.

The MFA Agronomy Guide app includes detailed comparisons on all categories of pesticides, herbicides, fungicides and insecticides providing product trade names, common names and chemical families. It also gives info on each chemistry’s mode of action, EPA regulations, storage temperatures and rotation restrictions.

MFA’s Director of Agronomy, Dr. Jason Weirich, said “We update the database that powers the Agronomy Guide app every year, and what you find in there is the unbiased information that shows growers what products best fit the soils, disease pressures and weed pressures on their farm, field by field. In-season, it’s a great resource to review what insect and disease control products will give growers the best control. Growers can find the most effective product, rate and timing for the problems they face. That’s important for environmental stewardship, and it’s good for the bottom line.”

The herbicides are rated by efficacy on target weeds and label info is right there on the app. Seed treatment suggestions and rates are covered as well. In its Seed menus, the Agronomy Guide provides comparisons for major seed lines. Comparison tools let growers evaluate seed based on maturity, disease packages, standability, plant height and other details.

“We still print the paper version of the Agronomy Guide,” said Weirich, “and it is as popular as ever, but we only print so many. The app is available to everyone, and with its customizable comparisons, search capabilities and the fact that it’s always in your pocket, we think it’s a valuable tool.”

John Deere is the inaugural sponsor of the app so users will be able to easily access additional information on a wide variety of John Deere products via links.

To download the app, visit or the online market place for your device and search for MFA Agronomy Guide.

BASF Zidua® Herbicide Gets Registration for Wheat

BASFWheat growers have new class of chemistry to fight Italian ryegrass.

BASF just announced that Zidua® herbicide
has received federal registration from the Environmental Protection Agency for spring and winter wheat.

basf-ziduaZidua herbicide provides wheat growers with a powerful tool to fight tough to control weeds like Italian ryegrass, annual bluegrass and canarygrass. In addition, Zidua herbicide suppresses many broadleaf and grasses in wheat including brome species, wild oat, foxtail species, kochia, pigweed, chickweed, henbit and wild mustard. Zidua herbicide was previously registered only for use in corn and soybeans.

Zidua herbicide utilizes a unique class of chemistry – pyroxasulfone. More than 10 years of research and field trials by BASF have demonstrated that Zidua herbicide provides excellent residual control of resistant weeds like Italian ryegrass.

“Wheat growers now have access to a new residual tool for long-lasting weed control with Zidua herbicide,” said Greg Armel, Ph.D., Technical Market Manager, BASF. “The pyroxasulfone in Zidua herbicide helps control Italian ryegrass weed populations, even those populations resistant to ALS-inhibitor and ACCase herbicides.”

We talked with Greg about Zidua at last year’s Commodity Classic after they received registration for soybeans. I suspect we will hear more about it this year at Classic!

Palmer Amaranth Weeds Show Fitness & Persistence

weedscienceAn article featured in the current issue of Weed Science offers results from a greenhouse experiment focused on how resistance might affect the continued fitness of Palmer amaranth plants by comparing glyphosate-resistant plants to glyphosate-susceptible plants.

Palmer amaranth is a weed native to the southwestern U.S. that has developed resistance to various herbicides since the late 1980s. Its resistance to glyphosate was first confirmed in 2006 and has since spread to 13 states. Is capable of producing more than 600,000 seeds per female plant and significantly affects crop yields throughout the southern U.S.

The mechanism of resistance studied in this population was amplification of the EPSPS gene. Palmer amaranth growth rate, height and volume, final biomass, photosynthetic rate, length of inflorescence, pollen variability, and seed set were evaluated. If measures of plant growth, such as height and volume, showed a positive correlation with the EPSPS gene, this would suggest good fitness of the resistant plant. Fecundity-related measures, such as shorter inflorescence and increased number of days to first flower, could indicate a cost in the fitness of the resistant plant. Metabolic overproduction of the enzyme and disruption to other genes could potentially weaken the plant.

Some resistant plants had more than 100 EPSPS genes, but this study did not identify a fitness cost for resistant Palmer amaranth. The amplified EPSPS gene did not cause the plant to work harder or to divert resources to fight the herbicide. This means that glyphosate resistance will probably persist, making it unlikely that susceptible Palmer amaranth would once again become dominant if glyphosate use was discontinued. Farmers will continue to be faced with finding different methods of removing Palmer amaranth from their fields.

Great variation was found in fitness measures even between sibling plants from the same family. Without a diverse sample, it could be concluded that these differences were due to the amplified EPSPS gene. These study results could also be used to develop a resistance evolution simulation model to help predict and guide future weed management.

Full text of the article, “Impact of Genetic Background in Fitness Cost Studies: An Example from Glyphosate-Resistant Palmer Amaranth,” Weed Science, Vol. 62, No. 1, January–March 2014, can be found here.

Use Cover Crops? Yes or No?

Screen Shot 2014-01-14 at 4.26.32 PMConservation Technology Information Center (CTIC) wants to know if you are using cover crops on your farm. They are wanting input from farmers on cover crops as a conservation option on farms across the county. The survey just takes 10 minutes or less and is for those using cover crops and those who haven’t tried them yet.

Your input will help improve cover crop programs and efforts to increase access to information and assistance. Report what works and doesn’t work on your farm. If you don’t use cover crops, share why and help CTIC understand where more scientific evidence is needed to encourage your adoption.

Cover crops are any crop intentionally planted between traditional spring/summer cash crop production periods.

To access the survey click here.

After completing the survey, you will have the opportunity to register for two $100 gift card drawings. Gift card registration takes place at a separate website to ensure that your responses to this survey remain completely anonymous. To be eligible for the drawing respond by Jan. 31, 2014.

This survey is sponsored by the USDA Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program and carried out by the CTIC.

MANA Introduces Custodia Premix Fungicide

Custodia logo_high resMANA is introducing Custodia premix fungicide for use on corn, soybeans and wheat. Custodia combines the two most complementary systemic fungicide active ingredients available today in an optimized ratio to deliver both preventive and curative disease control. The simultaneous movement of the active ingredients within the plant quickly knocks down diseases and provides a residual barrier that inhibits diseases from developing.

The multiple active ingredients in Custodia allow growers to minimize the number of products they need to control various diseases. Plus, it is labeled on several common rotational crops, which provides flexibility in planning disease control strategies.

“Custodia controls the most devastating diseases that row crop growers are facing today,” said Matt Bradley, Custodia brand leader. “It prevents or controls gray leaf spot and anthracnose on field corn, Cercospora and Septoria on soybeans, and rusts and powdery mildew in wheat. By keeping these diseases at bay, Custodia can help growers remain profitable throughout the season.”

In field corn, Custodia optimizes grain fill by preventing stress during periods where non-optimal photosynthesis periods occur, therefore helping growers increase yield. It can also help soybean growers get to harvest sooner by preventing extended stalk greening.

“Custodia is the broadest spectrum combination fungicide that performs on the most important diseases that are present in corn, soybeans and wheat,” said Bradley. “It adds peace of mind to growers who are looking for solid disease control without having to manage numerous products.”

You can find more information on MANA’s new product at or call 866-406-6262.

Precision Pays Podcast: The future of corn planting

pp-podcastOver a year ago we talked about a new technology that would allow growers to plant offensive and defensive corn hybrids within the same field.  Last year Jason Webster with Beck’s Hybrids planted his first field with the Variable Hybrid Planter.  This year he has more trials and more acres.

In this Precision Pays Podcast, sponsored by Ag Leader Technology we’ll find out what they learned from last year and what he’s doing to make farmers excited about the future of agricultural technologies like this one.

Precision Pays Podcast

The Precision Pays Podcast is sponsored by Ag Leader Technology.