Iowa Corn Promotion Board Receives U.S. Patent

IowaCornPromotionBoard_CMYK_4F1DB6BE3EF0DThe Iowa Corn Promotion Board is the recipient of a newly issued patent from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. This is the first U.S. patent that the Board has received for its work in nitrogen use efficiency in corn and related to transgenic plants that have increased nitrogen use efficiency, and/or increased yield using a patented gene. Specifically, patent 8,692,070, Plants with Improved Nitrogen Utilization and Stress Tolerance demonstrates Iowa Corn’s commitment to improving farmer productivity even to the gene level.

“The Iowa Corn Promotion Board collaborated with Strathkirn Inc. and Athenix Corp. to develop improved corn plants that are more efficient in using nitrogen fertilizer,” said Larry Klever, a farmer from Audubon and chair of the Iowa Corn Research and Business Development Committee. “This new trait could result in improved economics on the farm, reduced impact on the environment and reduced energy requirements to grow a corn crop.”

The objectives of the research are either to increase yield without increasing the amount of nitrogen fertilizer or obtain the same yield with less fertilizer. Data indicates this patented gene assimilates more nitrogen and increases kernel number, which could translate to greater yields for Iowa farmers.

By patenting this technology, the Iowa Corn Promotion Board is able to provide protection for partners who would like to license this technology. “The goal is to get this trait licensed and commercialized by seed companies for commercialization so that farmers, like me, can benefit,” said Klever.

The Plants with Improved Nitrogen Utilization and Stress Tolerance patent number is 8,692,070 and was issued on April 8, 2014. A patent for this technology has also been awarded to the Iowa Corn Promotion Board by South Africa. Patents for this gene in other countries are still pending approval of the respective patent offices.

Ag Leader OptRx in Focus at Classic

If your crops could talk, what would they say?

classic14-agleader-optrx1That was the title of a learning session at the 2014 Commodity Classic, sponsored by Ag Leader Technology, focused on using crop sensors to find out what your crops need – since they really can’t talk and tell you themselves.

We heard from Greg Kneubuhler with G&K Concepts of Indiana, and John McGuire of Simplified Technology Services in Ohio, who made several key points when it comes to using crop sensors to ascertain plant health and determine the amount of nitrogen that plants with lower crop health need.

McGuire noted that Ag Leader did a study in 2009 that showed the advantages of using their OptRx crop sensor technology. “In that study, there was quite a range in the payback of the OptRx system,” he said. “Agronomics is the first thing that came to mind. With any precision ag pursuit, you have to have a situation where (it) can succeed.”

Kneubuhler says that means paying attention to the basics. “We come across little things that get overlooked that mask the big things that drive yield,” he said. “You have to pay attention to your basic agronomy first and don’t let it override the technology you’re using in the field.”

Both of these experts say that while there are a number of crop sensors on the market, they recommend Ag Leader’s OptRx. Interview with Greg Kneubuhler and John McGuire on Crop Sensors

classic14-agleader-chadAg Leader OptRx Crop Sensor Product Specialist Chad Fick says this product has been around for six years now and growers are showing more interest as nutrient management becomes a bigger concern.

“If we can get our management practices in place and we can have our inputs reduced, we can still increase our yields but not be wasteful and ruin the environment,” said Chad, adding that OptRx can be a helpful tool for farmers. Interview with Chad Fick, Ag Leader

2014 Commodity Classic Photos

Cover Crop Seed Growth

With cover crops becoming increasingly important for farmers to provide nutrients and protect against erosion, different varieties are being developed to address specific needs.

asta-risa-cssAt the American Seed Trade Association (ASTA) CSS & Seed Expo in Chicago last week, Risa DeMasi with Grassland Oregon, who is second vice chairman of ASTA, enlightened attendees about what they are doing to develop new cover crop seed. “Our company is very involved with cover crop research…working on sustainability issues for the soil and for the farmer,” she said. “Our mission is to provide novel solutions for growing concerns of the growers today.”

DeMasi says there are a number of different types of cover crops that are best for achieving specific goals, whether that is addressing soil erosion, soil compaction, water or nutrient management, wildlife habitat – or all of the above. One variety Grassland Oregon is particularly excited about is Balansa clover. “It provides a great amount of nitrogen,” said DeMasi. “It also creates very deep channels in the soil, so you get water availability when you want it and drainage when you don’t. It’s creating a lot of top growth so you get weed suppression. It also can create an environment of habitat for certain wildlife.”

ASTA is becoming more involved in the educational aspect of cover crops for all stakeholders, from policy makers in Washington to the farmers on the ground. Learn more in this interview: Interview with Risa DeMasi, Grassland Oregon

2013 ASTA CSS & Seed Expo Photo Album

Koch Agronomic Services Looking Ahead

At the 70th Annual Convention of the National Association of Farm Broadcasting and on the Trade Talk floor I stopped in to see our friends from Koch Agronomic Services to find out what’s new in their world.

_DSC2639Vice President for North American Sales Ron Rustom tells me about the acquisition of new companies and how Koch looks to become the global leader in agriculture. While this new company is fairly young, they have a vision to take them further than ever before. “Our vision is to be the global leader in making nutrients more efficient,” Rustom says, noting that their acquisitions of Georgia Pacific and Agrotain International have really helped them toward that goal.

Listent to my interview with Ron here: Ron Rustom, Koch Agronomic Services

_DSC2638Greg Scwaab, director of agronomy for Koch, says they are looking ahead now to nutrient applications in 2014. He says that higher than expected harvest has been great, but they are encouraging growers to take a look at their application process as no one wants to wait for the last minute and now is a great time to be planning ahead. Greg says, “farmers learned they have to be prepared for loss of fertilizer, nitrogen especially.” He recommends their products to be safe and help prevent nitrogen loss in the field.

Listen to my interview with Greg here: Greg Schwaab, Koch Agronomic Services

Checkout photos from NAFB Convention: 2013 NAFB Convention Photo Album

Yara Acquires Water Crop Sensor Tech Company

yaraYara purchaes ZIM Plant Technology’s crop water sensor technology, which is mostly used in high-precision irrigation systems to improve yields and water use efficiency.

“We will incorporate the knowledge and technology into Yara’s existing Crop Nutrition solutions, providing a valuable add-on for our offering to irrigated farming. This clearly improves Yara’s leadership position within the growing fertigation segment,” says SVP and Head of Downstream Egil Hogna.

The farmers’ motivation to purchase the technology is reduced water consumption, increased yields and improved crop quality. Integrating the water precision tool with Yara’s knowledge about precise application of water soluble and liquid fertilizer (fertigation) will multiply the market potential for both.

New John Deere Liquid Fertilizer Applicator

On display at the Farm Progress Show in the John Deere exhibit was the new 2014 2510L Liquid Fertilizer Applicator, making sidedressing easier.  

_DSC2085“Precision nutrient application technology has grown in importance as our customers continue to address environmental concerns while improving fertilizer use efficiency for the plant,” says Travis Harrison, product specialist from John Deere. “The 2510L enables customers to maximize crop yields through more accurate and timely liquid fertilizer placement.”

This latest model is available in two different models with vertical folds that are 30- and 40-foot with a side fold widths up to 66 feet.  There are 18 spacing and control options and Deere is offering one of the largest tank options, up to 2,400 gallons.

Listen to Travis explain here: Interview with Travis Harrison

2013 Farm Progress Show Photo Album

Precision Pays Podcast: New old technologies

pp-podcastWhat was once considered old is now becoming popular again.  Cameron Mills is a Beck’s Hybrids seed dealer and farms in Indiana.  Earlier this month he was presenting at Becknology Days in Atlanta, Ind.  He says farmers are looking for ways to carry over nutrients in the soil.  One of the best ways to do that, he says, is by utilizing cover crops.

In this Precision Pays Podcast we’ll look at one of those “older technologies” that is making a comeback.

Precision Pays Podcast

The Precision Pays Podcast is sponsored by Ag Leader Technology.


Nitrogen Loss Really Stinks

ams13-kochYou have to smell it to believe it – nitrogen loss really, really stinks.

Kerry Overton with Koch Agronomic Services treated unsuspecting visitors to his booth at the Ag Media Summit InfoExpo to the “here, smell this” experience. Gotta tell you, it was gross, but it made the point.

The solution to nitrogen loss? AGROTAIN® nitrogen stabilizer products. Find out more at

Watch the video and imagine the smell. Hint: think well-used porta potty.

2013 Ag Media Summit Photo Album

Studies Show Conservations Measure Working

vcsPRAsset_525494_58592_fdb60e8c-c17f-4430-bd6c-c041bd181192_0_ifbf_newsreleaseAn analysis of recent water data show long-term declining levels of nitrates in the Raccoon River, despite the weather-induced spike seen this spring.

Additionally, according to Des Moines Water Works website posted measurements, 80 percent of the daily nitrate values since 2006 are less than the drinking water standard of 10 parts per million (ppm).

“The fact that there’s been a steady decline in nitrates in the Raccoon River should not be interpreted that farmers are somehow shirking their responsibility for their share of the nitrate load. In fact, ag groups are stepping up to the plate, embracing the new Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy and encouraging all farmers to do the same. Farmers are considering additional steps they can take to help make further reductions,” says IFBF president Craig Hill.

This trend analysis follows a recent study, featured in the Journal of Environmental Quality, 2012, which confirmed that for 1992-2008, rainfall and temperature contribute more to nitrate variations in the Raccoon River, than modern farming practices.

In the last 30 years, voluntary conservation measures have reduced soil erosion in the U.S. by 43 percent, according to the USDA’s National Resources Inventory report. Iowa’s erosion rate was down 33 percent, due in part to a combination of practices being put in place, such as buffer strips, terraces, no-till, cover crops, restoring wetlands, installing bio-filters and grassy waterways in fields.

Keeping Nitrogen in Fields Farmers’ Priority, Too

ctic-13-tim-smithContrary to what seems to be reported many times, farmers don’t want to see their field nutrients washed on down the river to contribute to some “dead zone” in the Gulf of Mexico.

“Farmers don’t want nitrogen to leave their fields. They want it in their corn crop,” explained Tim Smith during the recent Conservation Technology Information Center tour in Livingston County, Ill. Tim is a managing agronomist for Cropsmith and a Certified Crop Adviser. He also used to work for the University of Illinois developing ways to improve nitrogen use efficiency in crop production and helped develop the Illinois Soil Nitrogen Test (ISNT) to improve nitrogen recommendations for corn. During the tour, he presented information about their demonstration plots in the Indian Creek watershed. “Anything we can do to demonstrate and show them how they can be more efficient, they’re very interested in, and it’s also good for the environment. So I think it can be a real win-win.”

Tim said this has been a real good group to work with, and he’s impressed by the large number of farmers in that area participating and the questions he’s heard on the CTIC tour.

You can listen to Chuck’s interview with Tim here: Interview with Tim Smith, Cropsmith

2013 Conservation in Action Tour Photo Album

Avoiding Nitrate Runoff Focus of CTIC Panel

ctic-13-marcus-maierOne of the best parts about the Conservation Technology Information Center tour is the conversations that come up, either through formal panels or just informal talks. On the more formal side, local Livingston County, Ill., farmer Marcus Maier (pictured seated, holding the microphone) sat on a panel during the tour that addressed soil health and the issue of nitrate runoff into local watersheds.

“We’re trying to get farmers to implement conservations systems,” he explained, not only just cover crops or filter strips or field buffers, but a whole system, including nutrient management systems. Marcus said the biggest challenge is nitrate runoff into the Indian Creek watershed. “Two towns are fed by Indian Creek: Fairbury with a population of about 4,000 and Pontiac has about 12,000. So that’s our goal to help reduce [those nitrate levels in the water supplies].”

On the more informal side, lots of farmers are talking about how they’ve had much better rain than last year, which is good for the crops but kept many out of the field for a long time, putting them a bit behind. Overall, though, Marcus is pretty optimistic about how the crops in that area will turn out this year.

You can listen to Chuck’s interview with Marcus here: Interview with Marcus Maier, CTIC panelist, local farmer

2013 Conservation in Action Tour Photo Album

Lucero Joins Eco Agro Resources

ecoagroEco Agro Resources is proud to announce the appointment of Luciano Lucero as the regional manager of South America.

Luciano’s hiring is consistent with Eco Agro Resources’ overall strategy to support local markets and to provide greater value to customers. Luciano’s ability to introduce the South American market to innovative urease inhibitor N-Yield and to the developing product line is consistent with Eco Agro’s focus and commitment to servicing local markets.

Ray Perkins President of Sales says, “Having an Eco Agro Resources representative in the South American market will enhance our ability to provide the customer service South American customers deserve. Luciano’s market expertise and experience within the agriculture market coupled with our innovative urease inhibitor N-Yield will provide South American customers access to our innovative techniques and potential significant product yield increases.”

In support of the South American’s Agriculture market, EAR also proudly announces the July 1 launch of our website in Portuguese with a Spanish version to follow shortly.

The Mosaic Company Launches

Mosaic-CropNutrition-RGB-webRecent research is definitive: As much as 60 percent of yield depends on soil fertility. Unfortunately, the science behind this imperative aspect of farming isn’t always so clear, confusing even the most veteran agriculture professionals. A new initiative from The Mosaic Company aims to better explain the various scientific aspects vital to achieving maximum yield.

Mosaic’s CropNutrition initiative is an integrated campaign designed to inform growers and retailers about key issues and trends affecting soil fertility. By using various vehicles to spread this message, Mosaic hopes to spread awareness of the fact that, for many farmers, the key to higher yield is right under their feet.

At the center of this program is, an educational digital hub that serves as a one-stop soil fertility resource for ag retailers, growers and industry experts looking to better understand the yield-sensitive scientific aspects of soil. combines the best research and soil fertility resources from The Mosaic Company’s previous crop nutrition resource ( with new information from Mosaic’s global network of research partners. Additionally, research findings and insights from The Mosaic Company’s top agronomists provide timely, useful information on soil fertility. Goes Mobile

micro_essentials_logoThe Mosaic Company has released another digital tool for farmers to gather important information that can help increase efficiency and generate higher yields.

Recognizing the fact that farmers are increasingly using tablets and smartphones to increase production, The Mosaic Company responded by recently unveiling a mobile site for its premium fertilizer, MicroEssentials.

The new mobile site for MicroEssentials will provide its customers with a more efficient and convenient user experience, particularly as retailers strive to better serve growers in their own fields and offices. site analytics confirm increasing use of mobile platforms. In certain months, mobile visits consist of more than 40 percent of the website traffic, and the average number of mobile visits year-round is increasing consistently.

New Ag Chem Company Launched

A new agriculture and chemical company has been formed to produce and market a next generation of urease inhibitor.

ecoagroEco Agro Resources was launched on May 1, with its patent-pending flagship product, N-Yield.

David McKnight, CEO states “Eco Agro Resources is made up of 30 team members with over 100 years of agriculture and chemical experience. We have multiple lab and manufacturing locations with a home base in High Point, NC. Our current chemical sales are projected to top $50 million USD annually, while our global presence and patent pending technologies continue to expand.”

Ray Perkins President of Sales says, “Our flagship product, N-YieldTM is an environmentally friendly nitrogen inhibitor solution that is used to treat urea and UAN based fertilizers to improve the retention of nitrogen content in soil. N-YieldTM can be used to coat either urea granules or can be mixed with ammonium nitrate (UAN) solutions and offers several advantages over the current brands available.”

Eco Agro ResourcesTM offers a strategic limited distribution business model as well as co-branding opportunities. We are a previous active ingredient supplier to leading urease inhibitor brands.