Farmers are accustomed to adjusting to the twists and turns of growing seasons on a short-term basis, but long-term planning is more difficult, according to climate field specialist Laura Edwards from South Dakota State University’s Extension office in Aberdeen.
The Climate and Corn-based Cropping Systems Coordinated Agricultural Project explores ways that corn growers can adjust their cropping practices to make their operations more sustainable. It is also aimed at limiting or reducing the vulnerability of farmers to short term climate events, such as the 2012 drought. The $20 million grant, headed by Iowa State University, brings together 140 experts from 10 land-grant institutions and a USDA research unit in the Corn Belt.
A smaller more applied project, Useful2Usable, seeks to give farmers the soil, crop and climate data they need to make shorter-term and long-range decisions. The $5 million project is headed by Purdue University.
The USDA has named the recipients of 110 Value-Added grants for agricultural producers and rural businesses. This agency news release says the grants include biomass-based products and is hoped to spur the rural economy:
“This support will benefit rural businesses and the communities where the recipients are located,” Vilsack said. “These awards also will advance USDA’s goals to develop a bio-based economy and support local and regional food systems.”
In today’s announcement, 110 awardees are being selected for USDA Rural Development Value-Added Producer Grants (VAPG). The grants help agricultural producers increase their income by expanding marketing opportunities, creating new products or developing new uses for existing products.
The awards announced today include 11 projects involving bio-based products. They include grants to convert: corn stover to anhydrous ammonia; miscanthus fiber, wood and goat manure into biochar and enhanced compost; and sorghum to electricity and fertilizer.
“Water quality is complex,” said NRCS National Water Quality and Quantity team leader Shaun McKinney. “Experts usually focus on one aspect of water quality – such as temperature, nutrients or pesticide content – instead of thinking about a more complete picture.”
On the WQIag website, producers input information about their field, such as slope, soil characteristics, nutrient and pest management, tillage practices, and finally, conservation practices. The WQIag calculates these variables into a single rating on a 10-point scale: 0 being very poor; 10 being excellent.
Though some variables – such as slope and soil type – won’t change, producers can adjust other factors for a quick estimate of how conservation impacts water quality. A few clicks calculate the value of less tillage, less fertilizer and other conservation practices, which makes it versatile to use.
Key members of the U.S. agricultural value chain have joined together to applaud the work of the United States and like-minded governments to promote the importance of science-based regulations to facilitate trade of agricultural commodities derived from agricultural biotechnology.
In a joint statement, the United States was joined by the governments of Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada and Paraguay to announce their intention to work collaboratively to remove global barriers to the trade of agricultural biotechnology and promote science-based, transparent and predictable regulatory approaches.
The U.S. agriculture sector agrees that a particular area of concern is the timeliness and efficiency of global regulatory systems. In the joint statement, the like-minded governments have highlighted their intention to promote synchronization of authorizations by regulatory authorities – in particular for food, feed and processing purposes.
Longtime soybean industry executive Jim Palmer has been named chief executive officer of the National Association of Wheat Growers (NAWG). Palmer was selected by the NAWG Board of Directors after a search process led by the NAWG officers and grower-leaders of the National Wheat Foundation, NAWG’s affiliated charitable organization.
He will officially begin work with the Association and Foundation as of June 1, though he plans to meet with NAWG’s grower-leaders and staff throughout the month of May.
Palmer has worked in administrative roles for national and state agriculture organizations for the past 30 years, most of that time in the soybean industry. From 1997 until early 2012, he worked as the executive director for the Minnesota Soybean Growers Association and the Minnesota Soybean Research and Promotion Council. Earlier in his career, he was engaged in commercial agriculture credit and was the staff lead during the development of the United Soybean Board, the national soybean checkoff. Since leaving Minnesota Soybean, he has worked as an independent management and development consultant with agriculture companies around the United States.
“This new online community is a big step toward opening information for agriculture, making it public in useable formats,” said Vilsack. “This will increase the value of the investments U.S. taxpayers make in agricultural research, it will create a data ecosystem that will fuel economic growth, it will help drive that innovation to meet our global food challenge we all face.”
Vilsack explained that the virtual community for Food, Agriculture and Rural issue is located on the pre-existing data-sharing web site – www.data.gov – and it will now include data sets on topics such as agricultural research, or food and nutrition. Other G8 countries represented at the conference are also expected to make their ag data similarly available.
“Our hope is that the example that we set will encourage the nations that have been not as forthcoming to recognize it is in their best interest … to be part of this process,” Vilsack said.
While some countries like China are reluctant to share their data, World Bank Vice President Dr. Rachel Kyte noted that others suffer from data deficiencies. “Serious weaknesses in agricultural statistics persist,” said Kyte. “Only one in four African countries report basic crop production data.”
Vilsack pointed out that data “is among the most important commodities in agriculture” and sharing it openly increases its value. The Open Data Conference will continue through Tuesday, April 30.
Nitrogen (N) fertilizer applied as anhydrous ammonia, UAN solutions or urea can be lost if adverse (primarily wet) weather conditions precede the uptake by crops. According to DuPont Pioneer, controlled-release nitrogen fertilizers can reduce these losses by delaying the initial release of N and providing it gradually to better match its availability with crop uptake needs.
Controlled-release, also called slow-release or delayed-release, N fertilizers include coated ureas, non-coated “chemical-release” forms and other products. The higher cost of controlled-release products generally excludes their use in cases where conventional N fertilizers can perform the same function adequately. These products may be most useful for:
• High-value crops (i.e. seed crop)
• Environmentally sensitive areas
• Fields highly susceptible to N losses
• Fields with limited opportunities for repeat applications
• Contest plots
• Foliar applications
Innovators and private sector partners are being urged to participate in the G-8 Open Data for Agriculture meeting coming up later this month in Washington DC to help “facilitate the transfer of scientific research and information in a broad range of areas from best agricultural practices, to research, biotechnology, irrigation, extension services and applied technology.”
The goal of the conference on April 29-30 is to “Obtain commitment and action from nations and relevant stakeholders to promote policies and invest in projects that open access to publicly funded global agriculturally relevant data streams, making such data readily accessible to users in Africa and world-wide, and ultimately supporting a sustainable increase in food security in developed and developing countries.”
In a column for Agri-Pulse, Friends of the World Food Program founder Marshall Matz noted that precision agriculture technology “can increase productivity including the productivity of smallholder farmers. Wireless technology, with GPS, may be one of the few areas where Africa is ahead of the United States.”
Matz believes that this meeting, which grew out of last year’s G-8 Summit commitment to a new Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition, can have a major impact on global food security. “Africa is the key to global food security and Open Data for Agriculture can make the difference,” he said.
Find out more here.
Here’s our happy iPad mini winner, Nick Leibold. Thanks to his wife, Kendra, for taking the photo. She says Nick will put it to good use on the farm.
Since Nick is standing in front of a John Deere tractor I wonder if he’ll have to get one of their new custom mobile device mounts for the cab! I’m sure we’ll see more and more of those popping up on the farm accessory list!
We thoroughly enjoyed our contest and want to thank everyone who entered once again. Hopefully we’ll get to do it again soon.
Teams of Purdue University students who created fiber insulation from soybeans and a fireworks casing from corn won the top prizes in the annual Student Soybean and Corn Innovation Contests. The awards were announced at a reception March 20th, 2013 in Indianapolis.
The winning soybean team produced Nature Loft, a soy protein fiber insulation that can be used in bedding, including sleeping bags; apparel such as hats, gloves and footwear; and other products such as headphones.
The winning corn team created Sky Maize, a biodegradable fireworks casing that is lighter and less expensive than what is now commercially available.
Winning $10,000 the second-place soybean team developed water-soluble Double Eyelid Glue.
The second-place corn team also winning $10,000 created Fog-Away, an anti-fog glass and mirror cleansing solution.
Our latest ZimmPoll asked the question, “What grade would you give Ag Sec. Vilsack during his first term?”
Our poll results: The majority of you at twenty-nine percent gave Vilsack an A. Twenty-two percent said D; eighteen percent said B; seventeen percent said C; and fourteen percent said F. Since the poll grades were similar across the board we decided to calculate his overall average. On his first term paper Vilsack scored a C+.
Our new ZimmPoll is now live and asks the question, “Does warranty influence your decision to purchase new equipment?” When shopping for new equipment there are many factors to consider that may make or break a purchase decision. Is warranty one of the top considerations? Let us know.
Farmers participating in the National Corn Growers Association 2012 National Corn Yield Contest set a new record by submitting 75 entries that surpassed the 300 bushels-per-acre mark. Bucking trends and overcoming severe drought conditions, these entrants showed the incredible achievements that are possible in farming using advanced practices and state-of-the-art technology.
Despite higher average yields nationally among all farmers in 2011, only 10 entries achieved the 300 bushels-per-acre mark that year. Entries showing yields this high have not exceeded approximately 30 per year even under optimal weather conditions.
The National Corn Yield Contest is in its 48th year and remains NCGA’s most popular program for members. With 8,262 entries, the 2012 NCGA National Corn Yield Contest neared the participation record set last year of 8,425 entries.
Our latest ZimmPoll asked the question, ”Do you support biofuel production and the use of corn to do this?”
Our poll results: The majority of you at sixty percent say Yes, thirty-three percent said No, four percent were Indifferent and four percent chose Other. Growing crops to use as biomass for producing fuel seems to be the best alternative to depleting our finite stocks of oil and they have the added benefit of being more friendly to our environment.
Our new ZimmPoll is now live and asks the question, “What did you think of Dodge Super Bowl commercial?” The late conservative radio broadcaster Paul Harvey’s “So God Made a Farmer” speech was the voice of the Ram Trucks Super Bowl 2013 commercial. Paul Harvey was a large voice for HSUS and an animal rights advocate. This may cause agriculturalists to have mixed feelings about Ram’s commercial. How do you feel about the commercial? Can you look past what he represented and smile about the message that he conveyed? Let us know.
“With our hydraulic system we can fully adjust pressure from zero to full down force in one second or less,” said Will Cannon, product specialist for Ag Leader. “Airbag systems, because of some of the limitations with airbags themselves, it takes much longer – upwards of 20 or 30 seconds.”
With a 24 row planter at 5 mph that could mean as much as a quarter of an acre goes by before the system adjusts. “That one second is a big deal out in the field,” Cannon said.
Ag Leader’s Hydraulic Down Force System is available for this planting season for all John Deere planters and Kinze 3000 series row units. “We’ve got plans already for testing on White and Case IH planters and expect to have them available for spring of 2014,” added Cannon.
Our latest ZimmPoll asked the question, “Should we sit down with HSUS in ‘common cause’?”
The results of this poll are skewed due to the hacking by HSUS. In the end, the poll read that eighty one percent voted Definitely, fifteen percent said Never, and four percent thought we Should in some cases. The attempt to affect our poll results has the HSUS/PETA goal of an end to animal agriculture. They are working to get the livestock industry to make concessions that drastically change production methods. When that happens it becomes a very slippery slope very quickly. It will only be a short matter of time before allowing chickens more room in cages becomes allowing all animals the right to life. Treating animals humanely is not the same as treating them like they are humans – but many activists see no difference.
The hacking we are referring to was having almost 400 poll responses to the Definitely answer come in during a few hours one night last week and none since. If you take them out, the answer Never would have been the highest result by far.
Our new ZimmPoll is now live and asks the question, “How many machines (tractors, etc.) does your farm own?” Some of the urban folk believe that if you own more than 1-2 pieces of machinery, that would classify you as a large farmer. We disagree with that. So let’s see how many pieces of equipment most farmers/ranchers own. Let us know!