Local Retailers Improve Nutrient Management and Efficiency

Local conservation district manager Dan Harwood (right) and grower Ross Jordan (left) looking at his fall planted winter wheat that was seeded into cover crop
( USDA-NRCS )

According to a new case study, consulting with a local ag retailer on cover crops, precision technology and soil health can benefit conservation and improve the bottom line for farmers.

The case study was presented by Gary Farrell, president and CEO of Ag Enterprise Supply, based in Cheney, Wash., and Hunter Carpenter, director of public policy for the Agricultural Retailers Association (ARA), at the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture Winter Policy Conference on Jan. 31 in Washington, D.C.

The case study is one of the outcomes from a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) signed in December 2016 by the ARA, CropLife America, The Fertilizer Institute and several other agricultural associations. The goal of the MOU is to expand adoption of conservation and sustainability best practices.

The MOU was the brainchild of Farrell who floated the idea to increase collaboration between the federal agency tasked with improving conservation planning efforts and the farmers who implement them. It was an outgrowth of successful efforts in the 2014 farm bill to allow ag retailers to be reimbursed as technical service providers.

Farrell has 42 years of experience in ag retail. As the co-chair of the Washington State Soil Health Committee, a member of the Soil Health Institute’s public policy committee and a former chairman of the ARA’s board of directors, he knows how important America’s farm suppliers are in improving nutrient management and efficiency.

Project Summary

Ag Enterprise Supply began working in earnest with its local NRCS offices on new and emerging partnership ideas for cover crops four years ago.

Nutrient management has been a focal point for the Cheney-based company for more than 30 years. Most recently, Ag Enterprise Supply has zeroed in on grid sampling and variable-rate applications. By fine-
tuning fertility recommendations for alternate crops and soil testing preplant and postharvest soils, the company has worked diligently to decrease nutrient loss and improve efficiency.

Washington state’s unique climate and soil allow Ag Enterprise Supply to adjust variable rates of nitrogen, phosphorus and sulfur; directly seed cover crops rather than use conventional seeding methods; and make rotation changes to improve soil conditions throughout its growing region in a relatively short amount of time.

The focus on precision agriculture and ability to use new ideas and methods make a strong case for agricultural retailers’ impact to improve soil health and maximize nutrient efficiency for farmers.

Problems and Opportunities

The biggest challenge has been changing the collective mindsets of farmers in the area. Whether their trepidation is practice-based, economics-based or simply misinformation, it is difficult to convince people to change the way things have always been done.

One local perception has been there is not enough moisture in the area to support the planting of cover crops even though that has been proven to be false. Adoption of new methods are always tough, but a lot has been learned during the past three years.

Farmers have been successfully challenged to determine which cover crops work best locally and make the economics work for them. Ag Enterprise Supply initially discovered that though there is a lot of information on soil health and cover crops, it was not collected in one location for the business’ customers to access. It also fought the hard sale of making the economics work for growers since the return on investment for cover crops that farmers have never planted is difficult to demonstrate.

It took education and investments of time and money to show farmers that the return on investment is not only there in dollars and cents but also in long-term soil health measurements.

Project Goals

The project goals were threefold. The initial goal was to work with grower-customers who have adopted yield monitoring technology to also determine realistic yield goals within the field zone. Ag Enterprise Supply also aimed to determine proper fertility rates based on these goals, and it took into account varying efficiencies due to organic matter, cation exchange capacity and pH levels. Ultimately, it challenged customers to determine whether cover crops and alternative crops (flax, sunflowers and canola) affected health, fertility requirements and goals.

Measures of Success

This project has been encouraged by the number of proposals and existing project reports that the Washington State Soil Health Committee has attained. When the Washington State Soil Health Committee put out its first request for proposals for cover crops and soil health projects, it received six proposals. During the second year, the committee received 18 proposals, and last year, the committee received 28. Of these proposals received, the committee was able to fund eight projects based on a three-year life cycle.

Success has also been realized by the number of growers who are actively trying to find ways to change their management systems to include cover crops and ultimately improve soil health.

Best Practices

Use technology to become efficient and cost-effective. By saving money on nitrogen fertilizers, farmers can invest in micronutrients they had not previously been able to afford. This will increase productivity and crop quality and will lead to increased environmental benefits and financial gains for the farmers.

Farmers need to look at how they can adapt soil health practices into their current management systems and production practices.

For example, in dry areas, Farrell found that canola works well as a cover crop because it is also a cash crop; therefore, it can improve both soil health and farmers’ economic bottom lines.

NRCS and agricultural retailers walk a parallel path with the customer in the middle. To better serve their joint customers, they need to interact more and better utilize each other’s resources. Find ways to open lines of communication so both parties can be aware of what the other is doing.

Another issue that needs to be resolved is to streamline a way for certified crop advisers to become certified as technical service providers.

ARA
March 5, 2018 12:33 PM
Posted in Uncategorized

Beyond No-Till And Covers: Many Practices Improve Soil Health

Balanced fertility and optimum soil pH are basic requirements to improve soil health. Without this foundation, the benefits of no-till will not be achieved.
( Lindsey Benne )

Farmer interest in no-till and cover crops has probably never been higher. That interest is fueled by stewardship and, in many cases, government incentives such as USDA’s Conservation Stewardship Program. Those are steps in the right direction, says Farm Journal Field Agronomist Ken Ferrie, who has been conducting soil health studies for more than a decade. However, the soil health movement prompts some concerns and questions:

  1. Don’t limit the soil health toolbox. “It’s beginning to seem we can’t talk about soil health except in terms of no-till and cover crops,” Ferrie says. “This could create a problem for the ag industry and public perception. Many other tools besides no-till and cover crops improve and maintain soil health.

“In some cases, funding is being provided to agriculture from outside sources, such as corporations, who want to do their part for the environment and ensure the products they sell are being produced sustainably. We don’t want to restrict this funding only to no-till and cover crops when there are additional tools farmers can and should use.”

  1. Soil health involves numerous practices. “Maintaining and improving soil health requires balanced fertility levels; the 4Rs (right product, right rate, right time and right place); avoiding abrasive tillage; optimizing soil pH; removing and managing soil compaction; crop rotation; timely field operations; good drainage; buffer strips; grass waterways; and sometimes converting cropland to permanent pasture or enrolling it in government programs such as CRP,” Ferrie says. “Farmers use those practices because they are good for yield and profit as well as for the soil.”
  1. The wrong message might create confusion. “Because the message farmers hear so often is ‘no-till plus cover crops equals healthy soil,’ some who have adopted no-till because it’s profitable ask me about adding cover crops,” Ferrie says. “They say their goal is to improve soil health, but they forget they’re already doing that with other practices. Going from no-till to no-till with covers while maintaining the same level of profit is difficult.

“To be widely adopted, cover crops must either reduce cost, increase yield or both. Some growers who own their land and are good stewards are willing to sacrifice some profit for a while to improve their soil. But many farmers who cash rent and deal with absentee landowners who don’t understand or care about soil stewardship can’t give up profit and remain sustainable.”

  1. Farms must be economically sustainable. “Throughout history, there have been situations where farmers eventually destroyed their soil through unsustainable practices, and areas once breadbaskets turned into wasteland,” Ferrie says. “We must avoid that—and farmers want to avoid it. They know their land is their family’s future.

“But farmers must make a profit or they won’t be around to take care of their soil. When a farm is not profitable, the operator worries about survival more than about stewardship.”

In the rush to incentivize soil health practices, Ferrie fears this message might be getting lost. Much research is needed to prove soil health practices are profitable or how to make them so, he suggests.

“For the masses of farmers to adopt something, there must be a profit,” Ferrie says. “If a suite of practices improves soil health and the environment and has zero cost, farmers will implement those practices because it’s the right and sustainable thing to do. They won’t need the incentive of government subsidies to adopt them.”

  1. One size doesn’t fit all. “Some of my most profitable clients are
    no-tillers—but so are some of my least profitable clients,” Ferrie says. “How well no-till works depends on
    a farmer’s ground, crop rotation and level of expertise.

“For those who haven’t yet figured out how to make no-till profitable in their situation or environment, other practices can improve and maintain soil health. In our enthusiasm for no-till, we must not forget about these other practices.”

In some situations, no-till and cover crops are almost certain to be profitable, Ferrie says. “They can be used following silage harvest, to grow a crop to prevent erosion, to be harvested or to be grazed,” he says. “They can be used to prevent soil on sand hills from blowing.

“The biggest benefit of no-till and cover crops is to reduce soil erosion,” Ferrie continues. “No one wants soil to enter streams. But even in regard to erosion control, we have other tools, such as various forms of reduced tillage, contour farming, buffer strips and grass waterways, and we should use all of them.”

  1. Allow time for the learning curve. “New practices should be adopted over time,” Ferrie says. “Farmers should be encouraged to try them on a small scale, learn about them, adapt them to their specific conditions and eventually, over time, proceed in a new direction.

“This is especially important with no-till. If you don’t prepare a field by balancing fertility and correcting pH, which might initially require incorporating fertilizer and lime, and removing compacted layers, you won’t realize the full benefits of no-till. You might also need to improve drainage. Draining wet ground makes the soil come alive and causes health indicators to move in the right direction.”

It’s similar with cover crops. Plant replicated strips of various covers across a field. Conduct soil health tests and measure the changes in the soil. Learn to manage cover crops, and determine the real cost and benefit. See if the improvements in soil health translate into higher yield and profit.

“In our trials so far, we have found that difficult to do,” Ferrie says.

He also recommends making comparisons in the same field, rather than in two fields several miles apart, where yield differences might be due to rainfall and planting date. Consider all costs, he says, including the actual cost of tillage and seeding the cover. “If you eliminate a residual herbicide because of the cover crop, that’s not necessarily a savings if you have to make one or more rescue treatments for late weed outbreaks,” he explains.

  1. Tillage isn’t necessarily harmful to soil health. “Over-emphasizing no-till might create the impression all tillage is detrimental to soil health,” Ferrie says. “Too much tillage at the wrong time can destroy soil. But I’ve seen a number of instances where farmers using tillage had higher soil health test scores than their no-till neighbors (and vice versa, of course).

“The effect of tillage on soil health depends on how a farmer does it and what practices he uses. If a farmer uses conservation tillage that leaves enough residue cover to protect the soil, balances fertility and maintains optimum soil pH, he’ll have healthier soil than a no-till farmer who fails to do those things.

“Our goal is to have a system that is economically, agronomically and environmentally sound,” Ferrie summarizes. “No-till and cover crops are important soil health tools. But I worry about conveying the impression that if you don’t no-till and grow cover crops, you’re a bad steward of your soil. Soil health is much more complex than that.”

Posted in Uncategorized

AGRI Business Council of Indiana

Roundtable of Indiana Ag Leaders Discusses NAFTA Concerns

ACI President Amy Cornell joined several Indiana agriculture leaders in a roundtable discussion with Lt. Governor Suzanne Crouch and ISDA Director Bruce Kettler.

Read Hoosier Ag Today‘s coverage of the roundtable here.

News from the Statehouse

It is crunch time at the Statehouse as the legislative session winds down to finish this week by its Sine Die date of March 14. The deadline for third readings in each chamber has passed, and conference committee meetings are well underway. For many bills, their fate hangs in the balance these last few days of session, including legislation addressing industrial hemp, autonomous vehicles, school safety, additional funding for K-12 schools, and expansion of mental health facilities.

Governor Holcomb already has signed 42 bills that have landed on his desk as of Friday. The list includes legislation addressing alcohol sales, sunscreen usage at school, foster parents rights, decreasing the state’s infant mortality rate, and fighting human trafficking. As session comes to its final week both chambers have begun the time-honored tradition of celebrating the service of their retirees, some of whom have served Hoosiers for decades.

You can find your bill tracking report here and the actual language of the bill here. The 2018 Bill Watch webpage can be found here. A more in depth policy report regarding state and federal news can be found by clicking HERE for the ACI Policy Newsletter which includes more details and recent developments on bills ACI is tracking.

Trump Tariffs May be Good for NAFTA Talks

Many nations are moving to consider trade concessions that would exempt them from the U.S. tariffs. Canada and Mexico were temporarily exempted pending a NAFTA agreement and rumors over the weekend indicated Australia may be next to escape.

Read more here

Despite Slight Decrease, Long-Term No-Till Trends Prove Strong

Indiana farmers once again are leading the nation in building valuable topsoil by using soil health management systems in their operations.

Read more here.

Proposed Policies Could Brighten Farm Outlook

Farm incomes are expected to remain flat in 2018, but the horizon may hold some reasons for optimism, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s chief economist.

Read more here.

Co-op Tax Benefit To Be Fixed This Month, Lawmaker Says

A fix for a provision in the recently passed tax bill that gives farmers an incentive to sell grain to cooperatives instead of non-cooperative elevators or ethanol production facilities is being worked on and likely will likely be part of an omnibus bill set to be passed on March 23.

Read more here.

Northey Sworn In For USDA Post

The long-awaited approval by the U.S. Senate of Bill Northey to serve as Under Secretary of Agriculture for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services within the U.S. Department of Agriculture was confirmed on Feb. 27 and sworn in on March 6.

Read more here.

ACI Signs Letter of Support for STB Nominees (Source: The Fertilizer Institute)

On March 2, the White House announced that it will nominate Mr. Patrick Fuchs and Ms. Michelle Schultz to the Surface Transportation Board (STB). Mr. Fuchs currently serves as Senior Professional Staff for Senator John Thune (R-SD) on the Senate Commerce Committee. He has a great deal of expertise, having been a key principle to reauthorize the STB and extend the implementation deadlines for Positive Train Control (PTC). TFI has had a very positive experience working with Mr. Fuchs, and we look forward to working with him at the STB.

Ms. Schultz is less known, but viewed as someone who will be impartial and fair. She also fits a desire by the Administration to find a candidate with legal expertise and a rail background. She is a deputy general counsel at the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA), where she has served since 2006.

ACI signed a letter of support that will be sent to Capitol Hill expressing support for the President’s nominations of Mr. Fuchs and Ms. Schultz. Their nominations are a positive for all shippers. Both nominees will provide valuable expertise to the Board. In addition, neither nominee is a railroad industry insider, which was a serious concern and a challenge in the past. And many key issues are pending confirmation of STB Board Members, it is also important to urge that they be considered in a timely manner so that the STB can get fully staffed as quickly as possible. The draft letter is attached for your reference.

Proposed Fix on Sec. 199A Circulating on Capitol Hill (Source: Agri-Pulse)

The long-awaited “fix” to Sec. 199A of the new federal tax reform law which skewed grain sales to ag cooperatives and away from private companies and grain elevators is in hand and is now circulating among stakeholders on Capitol Hill and industry for their blessing, said Sen. John Thune (R, SD) this week.

“I think everybody is in pretty good shape,” Thune said, adding the language will be made public once all key negotiators have signed off.  “I’m sure there is not 100% unanimous consent, but the organizations we are working with, both on the private grain elevator side and the co-op side, have been involved in all of this, so I think we are about there.”  Thune told one ag news outlet that cooperatives were “not particularly incentivized to a make a deal here…I suspect most of them will be fine with the solution.” Thune and Sen. John Hoeven (R, ND), along with House Republican leaders, led the effort to fix Sec. 199A – they were the authors of the original tax reform redefinition of a “pass-through entity” that inadvertently created the problem – and they’ve met regularly with the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives (NCFC) and the National Grain & Feed Assn. (NGFA) to find the fix for the market upset.  Reports indicate the new language may simply reinstate the old 9% Sec. 199 manufacturing deduction for cooperatives, most of which was returned to member owners.

It’s hoped sign-off on the new language, which will be retroactive to December 31, 2017, will come as early as next week so the fix can be rolled into the FY2018 omnibus spending bill being finalized for floor action prior to March 23 when the current continuing resolution funding the government expires.  “If this drags on any longer,” Thune said, “it will create a lot of problems.”

See the ACI Policy Report for an update from NGFA on 199A developments.

Weekly Washington Report – 3-12-18 (by Steve Kopperud)

Click HERE to access the full Washington Report featuring these important stories:

  • Trump Tariff Tirade Catches Industry Off Balance Along with Trading Partners
  • Proposed Fix on Sec. 199A Circulating on Capitol Hill
  • White House to Set Third Hill-Industry RFS/RIN Meeting; RIN Cap, Waiver Credit, E15 Sales Top Topics
  • Farm Bill Pace Accelerating, Roberts Sets Schedule, Proposals Pile Up
  • Dodd-Frank Reform Bill Approved by Senate Committee
  • WOTUS “Carve Out” Sought by Hill GOP
  • Trade Notes
    • NAFTA Ag Section Close to “Closing”?
    • Senate Finally Approves New Ag Negotiator, USTR Execs
    • Time to Revisit TPP
    • Northey Sworn in as USDA Undersecretary
    • Michigan Ag Director Joins Perdue Team
    • Agriculture Champion, Statesman Sen. Thad Cochran to Retire April 1 
Posted in Uncategorized

SCN Robs Yield from Every Field

With resistance on the rise, farmers need to employ new control methods ( Penn State University )

After stealing $1.6 billion each year from farmers, soybean cyst nematode’s (SCN) reign is coming to an end. The SCN Coalition is working with farmers to stop the menacing pest and regain an estimated 14 bu. per acre.

“SCN is still the No. 1 soybean yield-reducing pest in North America,” says Greg Tylka, nematologist at Iowa State University and one of the SCN Coalition leaders. “This new educational effort is working to bring [SCN resistance to soybean genetics] to the attention of farmers and convince them to more actively manage SCN.”

“We’ve used the same resistance mechanism for two decades; you wouldn’t do that with herbicides and not expect resistance,” says George Bird, nematologist at Michigan State University and an SCN Coalition leader. “We want to see other forms of resistance made available.”

To manage for this pest the coalition suggests the following:

  • Test your fields to know your SCN numbers.
  • Rotate to SCN-resistant varieties such as PI88788 or Peking.
  • Switch to non-host crops.
Sonja Begemann
March 13, 2018 12:48 PM
Posted in Uncategorized

Potash supply to exceed demand by 2020: report

There are two sides to this story, since MOP (The common form of potash that is currently over supplied and underperforming), SOP (the non-chloride form of potash) commands a hefty premium and is now in high demand.

We reviewed the current shift in the potash industry and discovered that Potash Ridge Corp. (OTC: POTRF / TSX.V: PRK), a junior resource company, is uniquely positioned to become the smart value player in the premium potash segment. The company is pouring all of its resources into its Blawn Mountain prospect in Utah, which stands to make Potash Ridge the lowest cost producer in the market.

Investors looking to take advantage of the situation will see why we are big on Potash Ridge.

The world is continually losing its supplies of arable land that can be used to produce food. We can argue why it’s happening – climate change, crop saturation, urbanization and many other factors – but the reality is that it is happening, and fast.

In fact, Earth has lost a third of arable land in past 40 years, scientists say. (1)

At the same time, the world’s population continues to boom. Over the next three years, we can expect there to be 7.7 billion people on the planet. (2)

That’s a lot of mouths to feed.

These are not new problems, but they do require new solutions to help feed the billions of people who rely on just a few regions to supply food.

The simplest and most widespread solution is the use of fertilizers. These can increase crop yield and provide higher quality food products with less defects. They can also bring down the cost to produce food.

Of the leading fertilizers, potash is a vital answer.

Potash is a generic term that refers to a group of potassium-bearing minerals, naturally occurring potassium salts and the products produced from those salts.

Here’s why potash is so important:

Potash is a plant’s main source of potassium. It is one of the four primary nutrients required for plant growth. The remaining three nutrients are Nitrogen, Phosphate and Sulphur.

Potash is used as a highly effective fertilizer routinely in the major food and crop growing regions especially China, Brazil and North America.

While potash is widely available –there is currently enough over supply to have the major producers of Muriate of Potash (MOP) close plants in order to limit supply imbalances – the more specialized Sulfate of Potash (SOP) is in more in demand than ever, with very few supply sources.

This is the basis for an excellent opportunity to leverage SOP resources in a big way.

Consider Potash Ridge as one of the only pure SOP potash plays in North America. See Our Recommendation.

Not All Potash is Equal

There are two forms of potash, both used as fertilizer, but differentiated by their makeup and pricing model.

Muriate of Potash (MOP) also known as Potassium Chloride (KCI), is widely used in all types of farming, but contains a chloride ion that can be detrimental towards plant growth, especially fruits and vegetables.

If the chloride content isn’t managed, it can lead to low quality crops and inhibit place growth in dry soils and saline areas.

Sulphate of Potash (SOP) is the most commonly used non-chloride potash fertilizer in the world, with an annual worldwide demand of 6 million short tonnes per year (3).

It can be sold as a powder for use in compound fertilizers containing nitrogen, phosphate, potassium, and sulphate, as a granular product for direct application, or as a soluble product for use in fertigation.

SOP is priced at a premium to MOP, and is utilized for sensitive, high-value crops including many fruits, vegetables, tobacco and tree crops such as nuts.

China is the largest consumer and producer of SOP with the total demand of 43%.

In China, the use of SOP is driven by a significant tobacco production as it is the largest tobacco producer in the world.

China is the main exporter of SOP fertilizer and has a production capacity of approximately 4 million tonnes.

Broad Market for Potash Shows Stable Growth Solid

In late 2017, the largest producer of potash, PotashCorp of Saskatchewan, Canada proposed a merger with one of the other largest producers, Agrium, Inc.

Analysts see the merger as a move to galvanize the marketplace.

According to PotashCorp, the demand for potash and the strength in global demand will continue this year. It’s expected to be 62 million–65 million tons in 2017, which will be up from ~60 million tons in 2016.

Potash prices have bounced back stronger too.

Granular potash prices in Brazil have risen as much as 17% YoY (year-over-year) to $274 as of October. In the US Corn belt region, prices have risen ~5% YoY. The standard grade of potash was also 5% higher YoY in the South East Asia region.

The global Potash Fertilizers Market is expanding with considerable growth potential during the next five years.

PotashCorp projects anywhere between 2.5% and 3% CAGR in potash consumption.  (4)

The wide potash market has pulled back since its highs prior to 2008, mostly due to over production.

Still, demand for the mineral is growing and the major producers have managed to help bring pricing in line with demand by limiting production.

Our research shows that the SOP segment is a quiet performer that’s being largely ignored within the potash space.

SOP Is the Premium Product Potash Ridge Plans to Produce in the US

Potash Ridge is a junior resource company based in Toronto, Canada.  It holds two highly de-risked and advanced development stage potassium sulphate (SOP) projects; the Blawn Mountain Project in Utah, and the Valleyfield project in Quebec, Canada.

Potash Ridge just announced plans to spin-out the Valleyfield project into another public company in order to create greater value and focus its efforts on the development of its proposed 255,000 ton per year project at Blawn Mountain.

This will provide Potash Ridge with further value and the ability to apply all of its resources to its Utah assets.

The Blawn Mountain Project is comprised of four areas of alunite mineralization covering approximately 11,550 acres of land owned by SITLA (State of Utah School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration) near Milford, Utah.

State-owned land provides Potash Ridge with several advantages including a simpler permitting process, leasehold and royalty agreements in place and no environmental, social or aboriginal issues.

Most importantly, the Blawn Mountain project has the support of both the municipality and state.

The region has all the necessary infrastructure to support in place to accommodate the development of the Blawn Mountain Project, including nearby highway and rail access.

Extensive development was completed on the leases in the 1970s including a mine plan, feasibility study and 3-year pilot plant operation.

A prefeasibility study in 2016 showed Blawn Mountain to have proven and probable mineral reserves of 153 million tons; reserves that support a 46-year project life with an average of 255,000 tons of potassium sulphate per annum during first 10 years of operation after ramp-up.

Potash Ridge plans to extract alunite – the potash mineral –through surface mining operations, considered much lower-cost and lower-risk than underground mining operations.

Potash Ridge To Be North America’s Lowest Cost Source of SOP Potash

There are two methods used in the production of SOP.

Primary production methods include directly extracting SOP from mineral ores containing both potassium and sulphate.

This method is currently fairly rare and may yield by-products, which can contribute additional revenue.

Potash Ridge plans to use this method of production at the Blawn Mountain Project.

The most common secondary production method is referred to as the Mannheim Process and involves the reaction of KCI with sulphuric acid.

This method for producing SOP accounts for 50% to 60% of the global production.

The Mannheim Process is the most expensive method of producing SOP due to energy requirements and high cost of purchasing MOP and sulphuric acid.

Potash Ridge will rely on direct extraction methods to become the lowest cost producer of premium SOP in North America.

Using this approach, Potash Ridge expects to produce from its Blawn Mountain prospect for about $250 per tonne all in. That’s compared to an industry average cost to produce SOP of roughly $550 per tonne.

This is a huge advantage for Potash Ridge.

There’s No Such Thing as a Sure Thing

Somethings are inevitable, besides death and taxes. These include the rising population and the need to feed people. For that reason, we really like the potash space and Potash Ridge’s approach.

The companies that sell MOP will continue to see predictable prices through production controls and increases in market demand. The industry CAGR of around 3% is reasonable, and there will likely be upward movement as the big players join forces in the M&A game.

But there’s another side to the potash market and that’s where we see Potash Ridge leaping ahead. It’s also where early investors can look for rewards by getting ahead of market moves.

December 21, 2017 By Staff Editor

Posted in Uncategorized

Warning Signs In Farmer Debt to Income Ratio

image001.jpg

Data from USDA might have some thinking the worst is over for the correction in farmland prices. But it’s too soon for farmers, landowners and lenders to relax the debt discipline they’ve been exercising.

A key indicator shows debt levels are at a tipping point—a boost in debtor decline in income could be fatal for the farmland-price correction, says Mike Walsten, consultant and contributor to LandOwner newsletter, part of Farm Journal Media.

USDA’s revised net farm income projections show a slight uptick this year versus 2016, putting 2017 net farm income at $63.4 billion, up 3.1% from a year ago. USDA previously projected an 8.7% decline.

USDA’s solvency ratios also improved in the most recent update. The debt-to-equity ratio is now pegged at 14.5:1, up slightly from 2016 and down from the earlier projection of 16.2:1. The debt-to-asset ratio is now 12.7:1. These ratios are below levels seen in the late 1970s and the recession of the 1980s.
Debt levels rose this past year and remain high. Total debt divided by total net farm income yields a ratio of 6.15:1, nearly even with the 6.1:1 seen in 2016.

The projection is the highest since 1985, when the debt-to-income ratio reached 6:1 near the end of the farm crisis. Land values bottomed in 1986 and 1987. A move above 4:1 warns of danger for the land market.
The key is to keep the ratio from rising. That can be done by boosting income, which is unlikely, and by not increasing debt. It will take discipline to resist the urge to boost borrowing to maintain spending. More debt could push land prices lower.

If the ratio stays above 6.1 for several years, a major collapse in land values could be ahead. “That would suggest farmland values will correct 50% to 60%, like they did in the 1980s,” Walsten points out. “If this is the case, producers will want to liquidate debt and boost working capital.”

Those conditions, paired with the changing demographics of landlords, make it important for farmers to maintain open lines of communication with landlords, says Jim Farrell, CEO and president of Farmers National Company, which sells hundreds of farms each year.

Posted in Uncategorized

Final Report of Dicamba Injured Soybeans Exceeds 3.5 Million Acres

dicamba

As harvest nears completion farmers, retail and state Extension agents have gotten a better idea of how many acres of soybeans were allegedly damaged by dicamba. Kevin Bradley, with the University of Missouri, compiled the number of reported complaints and estimated acres from state Extension agents.

The final numbers? Approximately 3.6 soybean million acres of damage and 2,708 dicamba-related injury complaints—both up from an Aug. 10 report of 3.1 million acres and 2,242 complaints.

image002.jpg

Extension weed scientists provided their state’s estimated acres of damage.

© Kevin Bradley

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently imposed new label requirements for Engenia, FeXapan and Xtendimax. Changes seek to reduce risk of injury to sensitive and specialty crops and include information about wind speed, tank clean out and changed the label to restricted use, among other changes. States are reviewing the changes and are considering if additional restrictions will be required. For example, Arkansas is close to passing a rule that would limit dicamba application to before April 15.

image003.jpg

Extension weed scientists provided the number of formal complaints within their state.

© Kevin Bradley

Dicamba damage can happen due to a number of factors. Larry Steckel, University of Tennessee Extension weed scientist, breaks it down to “five big issues.” Several of these issues were considered in recent EPA label changes.

  • Tank contamination
  • Following the label
  • Avoid inversions
  • Old formulations
  • Volatility in new formations

The product is under a 2-year conditional label provided by EPA. Results from 2017 indicate improvements must be made to avoid the same level of off-target damage and keep the product in farmer hands.

Posted in Uncategorized

Implications of BASF Purchasing Bayer’s Seed Assets

Last week, BASF announced it will purchase Bayer’s seed assets for $7 billion. The deal includes Bayer’s LibertyLink businesses and the canola, cotton, and soybean seed operations.

Since Bayer is divesting the seed technology, it will allow Bayer and Monsanto to come closer to its merger. The companies are still waiting for regulatory approval from other countries, and selling the seed technology is believed to help alleviate competition fears.

“This is simply an asset sale rather than a merger, but nonetheless is a significant one in some markets” said Allan Gray from Purdue University’s Center for Food and Agricultural Business.

He said one of the things that was murky in the deal is BASF’s role as an ag chemical supplier and don’t have “significant play” in the seed industry.

“The other mergers, particularly Dow-DuPont and Bayer-Monsanto, show us that at least at the moment, chemical companies want a seed portfolio as part of what they’re bringing to the marketplace to bring us that whole package,” said Gray.

BASF will gain 1,800 additional employees as well as relevant intellectual property and facilities.

The Bayer-Monsanto merger is expected to be completed by 2018.

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5 Factors to Consider in Weed Management

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Weed control isn’t a one year plan—it spans over multiple seasons and involves strategy to make sure you and farmers stay ahead of resistant weeds. This time of the year you might find yourself considering herbicides and other inputs for next season. Before farmers make final decisions or pre-pay for weed control in 2018, make sure you have a plan for proactive weed control.

“What you do in the short run can really hurt you in the long run if you don’t use a multiple year strategy and be proactive to prevent resistance from occurring [more frequently],” says David Shaw, chair of the Weed Science Society of America (WSSA) herbicide resistance education committee. “Understand if you don’t use technology appropriately, it may be cheaper this year, but you may not have that option in three years.”

When effective herbicides against problem weeds are in short supply, it’s essential to plan ahead to ensure you switch modes of action. Take simple steps and time to plan a multiyear approach and increase your success.

  • At a minimum, have a weed management plan for this season and two years out.
  • If you’re going to cut herbicide costs, cut in your post, not pre, application.
  • Keep detailed notes. List the weed type, herbicide used, height and location of the weed. Use these notes while planning herbicides for next year.
  • If you don’t rotate, consider rotation to open up herbicide options and to keep the weeds guessing.
  • Consider some kind of tillage. This cuts down $20 to $30 of burn down chemical costs and provides another method of weed control.

 

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Agronomy Update July 2017

The Andersons Agronomy Update: July 2017

Scouting By Brian Banks, Senior Agronomist

Overall, this season has not seen any major concerns with disease or insect infestations across the Corn Belt as a whole. It is, however, that time of year to be scouting for the following issues in corn and soybeans.


Corn

Western bean cutworm (WBC) moths are currently being trapped and numbers are increasing. Scouting should be done for egg masses and larvae now, and then continue until about a week after the peak moth flight. WBC eggs take roughly a week to hatch and the larvae will feed on leaves and pollen before making it to the ear to feed on silks and kernels. There is a relatively small window of opportunity to kill the eggs or larvae before they reach the ear and are then protected by the husk. Check with local universities for moth trap numbers and treatment threshold levels. Other insects on the increase in corn at this time are corn earworm and western corn rootworm beetles. If an insecticide treatment is warranted, consider a tank mix application of OverPass CF, Super 72, or Phosfix.

Soybeans

Soybean aphids are a pest that will typically be scouted for in late July and into August but South Dakota State University has reported finding populations that are increasing in the eastern part of the state. Because of warmer than average temperatures this winter, soybean aphids may reach economic threshold levels earlier this year. Other insects to be scouting for at this time are Japanese beetles and bean leaf beetles. These insects may not reach threshold levels independently, but if all are found in a field, an insecticide application may prove beneficial. If applying an insecticide, consider tank mixing OverPass SF, Phosfix, or Bean Maker. CLICK HERE for more information.

Crop Progress

The most recent crop progress report shows soybeans that are blooming or setting pods are both just above the 5 year average. Soybeans in good/excellent condition are at 62%, which is down from the last report and well below the last few years as shown in Figure 1. Corn in good/excellent condition is at 65% which is down from the previous report and is well below the last few years, shown in Figure 2. Corn silking is at 19%, which is behind the 5-year average of 27%. Weather predictions for July 17-21 (Figure 3 & 4) show a high probability of above average temperatures and below average precipitation. With a lot of corn just beginning to silk, these are not the best conditions. This is why it is important to have a well-planned fertility program in place early to maximize plant health and development, giving plants a better chance to maximize yield in adverse conditions.

Hot, dry conditions will speed up pollination, pollen will drop for a shorter period of time. These hot, dry conditions also impact silk development. Silks from the butt of the cob emerge first and from the tip last. If pollen drop is hastened by weather conditions, it is possible to have poor kernel fertilization, resulting in blank ear tips. Modern hybrids will typically be silking at the same time as tassel emergence so that pollination can be successful even when hot, dry conditions exist. CLICK HERE for an in-depth explanation of tasseling, silk development, and pollination written by Bob Nielson from Purdue University.

Figure 1:
The Andersons Agronomy Update: July 2017

Figure 2:
The Andersons Agronomy Update: July 2017

Figure 3 & 4:
The Andersons Agronomy Update: July 2017

Graphics from National Weather Service, Climate Prediction Center.


Research Trials By Amy Schroeder, Research Agronomist

HARNESS THE POWER OF THE ANDERSONS MICROSOLUTIONS® MICRONUTRIENTS —

The Andersons Agronomy Update: July 2017

Summary: In 4 replicated plots across the nation, Phosfix applied at V6 has resulted in an average yield increase of 5.22 bu/A. Yield was improved by enhancing crop vigor and encouraging crop health.

The Andersons Agronomy Update: July 2017

These photos were taken in the same Ohio field on 7/27/16. The soybeans were at the R3 growth stage. The treated plot, pictured on the right, received a foliar application of Phosfix at the V6 growth stage. A 5.2 bu/A yield increase over the check, pictured on the left, was observed in this replicated testing.

Phosfix is a 7-4-9 with micronutrients and trace amounts of humic and fulvic acids. Phosfix improves yield by enhancing crop vigor and encouraging crop health. Phosfix is designed for use on all crops and helps plants recover from environmental stress. Early application enhances seed set and fruit fill.

Phosfix can be applied to a variety of field and row crops, vegetable crops and fruit. The recommended application rate is 1-2 pt/A. Phosfix can be applied at a variety of post-emergence timings.


 

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Hula hoops?

Hula hoops provide an additional technique for calculating soybean populations.

Photo by Sonja Begemann

While you might think of hula hoops as a game for children they’ve found a new use—helping farmers calculate soybean populations. With no need for a tape measure, this method could save time and help farmers make critical decisions such as replant.

“We’ve had about 30% replant in corn this year and are looking at about 5% replant so far in soybeans,” says Kyle Allen, Channel seedsman near Hawk Point, Mo. “Rain has caused crusting or washed away seeds, especially in no-till.”

Replant is a tricky decision and will depend on a farmer’s end yield goal. If a stand looks spotty, check to see what population is left and what that means for yield at the end of the season. Be sure to check several areas of the field, at least five, to find a field average.

Upon entry, throw the hula hoop into the field. This ensures the location is picked at random, and when done at least five times should show an adequate representation of what’s in the field.  Count how many plants are in the hoop then multiply that by the hula hoop “factor” to determine average plants per acre. The factor represents how many hoops fit in one acre and can be found in field guides, such as Purdue’s.

Purdue provides factor information for various hula hoop diameters:

Diameter of Hoop Factor
18” 24,662
21” 18,119
24” 13,872
27” 10,961
30” 8,878
33” 7,337
36” 6,165

 

For example, a 24” hula hoop with 13 plants means 13 x 13,872 and an average population of 180,336. Some field guides will also provide tables with the math already completed for these and additional hula hoop sizes.

 

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As soils have begun to dry enough in a few areas of Indiana, field work has started to resume. After a series of many pounding rains and downright cold overnight temperatures, the question begs to be asked: Will seed that’s in the ground pull through or are some farmers facing major replant situations?

After a series of walkabouts through Central Indiana this past week, I am back on the optimistic side of this emotional rollercoaster I’ve been riding regarding whether the current planted crop will survive. I was amazed at what I saw in fields that were planted just hours before the big rains last week where seeds ended up sitting in soil temperatures below the 50 degree mark for an extended period of time. Despite all of this, I am still holding out hope that we’re going to get away with just replanting “ponds” in most situations as long as good weather holds and the soil crust doesn’t get too hard.

When you begin your scouting ventures, I recommend that you proceed with cautious optimism when formulating replant decisions. I believe many will be surprised at what they find in their fields, but I think this spring is going to have a longer tail than we want or expect it to. I think we’re going to be dealing with many agronomic issues in the upcoming weeks, particularly around seedling diseases that may appear later on. Growers who aren’t shy about spending the extra money on “insurance” such as treated seed, starter fertilizer, pop-up fertilizers, in- furrow fungicides, etc., are more likely to be happy with their investment this year.

SCOUTING TIPS FOR MAKING REPLANT DECISIONS

Due to the extended period of saturating rainfall and cold temperatures, it should come as no surprise that both corn and soybeans are emerging at an uneven pace. Because of this, it will be a challenge to estimate what a final stand might be. The first step in determining stand establishment, or predicting what stand establishment might be in the future, is to start digging for seeds and seedlings in several areas of the field.

Carefully remove soil from the seed or from all plant tissue of the seedling. With corn seedlings (Picture 1), pay special attention to the seed, mesocotyl, coleoptile and roots. In soybean seedlings (Picture 2), pay special attention to the hypocotyl, cotyledons and root.

Examine the seed and plant tissue for any discoloration, firmness, swelling, insect damage or odd smells (when no one is watching, of course). As a general rule of thumb, white to yellow to green coloration is good. Plant tissue should be firm to the touch and not excessively swollen. Signs that the seedling is dying would include discoloration of plant tissue (which typically includes brown to black splotches), swelling and/or mushy to the touch. Rotting seeds in the ground smell just like that rotting pile of corn sitting by the unload spout of your pit auger at the grain bin.

CURRENT STATE OF THE CROP

Corn and soybeans that are in the ground to date can be broken up in to two segments – that which was planted around the week of April 17 and crop that was planted the week of April 26 – after a short rain delay.Both corn and soybeans that were planted in the week of April 17 are up and out of the ground, for the most part. Some of this crop you could tell was nipped a bit by the frost last Monday morning, but fortunately this was simply a very light, non-killing frost. Damage was mostly cosmetic. Though I observed stands were uneven and patchy, I struggled to find un-emerged seedlings that have started to rot or leaf out underground. Seedlings below the soil surface were still working hard to get out of the ground (Picture 3). A very similar story with soybean seedlings planted at this time (Pictures 4 & 5). There were no signs of tissue death as described in the previous section.

Corn and soybeans that were planted on the week of April 26 were surprisingly also in a good state. Seed that was planted just a few hours before the torrential rainfall ensued, and didn’t sit under water for several days, has germinated and has been growing at a very slow pace (Pictures 6, & 7). Soil temperatures have remained just warm enough to keep the metabolic processes of the seed moving, causing enough growth to keep the seed from rotting in the ground. I was unable to find seeds that I thought wouldn’t make it, as long as the weather started at turn for the better.

The one negative observation has been PPO damage in emerging soybeans (Pictures 8, 9 & 10). As described in Purdue Universities article regarding PPO herbicide damage in soybeans (link below), cold and wet weather can make soybeans susceptible to this normally safe herbicide. Weather ahead will have an effect on likelihood of survival, and only time will tell if these beans can pull through.

All we can do at this point is hope that the weather turns for the better. There’s no telling how much longer these seedlings can hold on if current weather conditions remain unchanged. I’m just happy to report that my findings were better than I thought they would be. As always, reach out with any questions or help with scouting. Below are links to supplemental reading regarding information discussed in this agronomy update that I find to be valuable given current conditions.

 

Purdue Pest & Crop Newsletter – May 5th Edition: https://extension.entm.purdue.edu/pestcrop/2017/Issue6/
Corn Replant Considerations 2017 – Bob Nielsen: https://www.agry.purdue.edu/ext/corn/news/Articles_17/CornyDecisions-0508.html
Frost Damage to Corn – Bob Nielsen: https://www.agry.purdue.edu/ext/corn/news/timeless/FrostedCorn.html
Hybrid Maturities for Delayed Planting – Bob Nielsen: https://www.agry.purdue.edu/ext/corn/news/timeless/HybridMaturityDelayedPlant.html Frost Damage to Soybean – University of Minnesota: http://blog-crop-news.extension.umn.edu/2015/05/frost-injury-to-soybean.html
PPO Injury to Soybean – Travis Legleiter & Bill Johnson: https://ag.purdue.edu/btny/weedscience/Documents/PPOInjuredsoybean.pdf

 

 

 

 

AGRY Update 5.15.2017 – Scouting Water Damaged Crops
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Don’t Give Weeds a Chance in Corn

Given the weather conditions many parts of the country are experiencing, farmers are likely more concerned about getting their corn and soybeans planted at this point than implementing their weed-control program. But wherever possible, don’t let weeds get a foothold in either crop, and especially corn. While soybeans have some ability to recover from limited early-season weed pressure, that’s not the case with corn.

Research commissioned by Syngenta and conducted by Clarence Swanton, University of Guelph, Ontario, Canada, indicates the presence of any weeds can impact a corn crop’s yield potential as soon as the crop emerges from the ground.

 

Swanton’s theory, published in a Syngenta technical bulletin, is that a “change in light quality caused by weeds emerging at the same time as the corn plant is the true inhibitor of healthy root development.”

What occurs is a negative chain reaction. As corn plants emerge, they detect light that’s reflected off the green tissue of any weeds that are present. The crop reacts to the weeds by going into growth overdrive to compete for nutrients. In the process, corn plants shift available nutrients away from their root system to shoot mass development. That shift results in taller, leafier plants with the potential for poor nutrient uptake due to the corn crop’s compromised root system.

Swanton notes in the bulletin that “the presence of weeds made the corn grow 17% taller, produce 45% more leaf area and 40% more dry leaf weight, producing a smaller root system—10% to 15% less than in the weed-free environment.”

The overall result is that corn development across a field becomes uneven with little chance for the picket-fence stands that everyone wants, and yield potential ultimately takes a hit.

That’s not all. In the presence of weeds, Swanton’s research also indicates that corn leaves will orient parallel to the row, which contributes to an open canopy. In a weed-free environment, corn leaves orient perpendicular to the row, which results in a more rapid canopy closure and, therefore, improved weed suppression.

Syngenta tested Swanton’s theory by placing green carpet between rows of planted corn to determine if Swanton’s light-reflection theory worked, and it did.

“There wasn’t any weed pressure, but the crop responded to the green carpet as if weeds were present,” Syngenta reports.

What to do now? If time and weather conditions allow, farmers’ best bets are still to use some combination of preplant or preemergence herbicides that provide residual control, possibly cultivation if cultural practices allow it, and the use of postemergence herbicide applications.

In cases where weather compromises farmers’ ability to get early weed-control measures in place, the need for scouting fields is more critical. Field observations once corn is 2” to 4” tall (the earlier the better) will provide retailers and farmers with a good sense of the weed pressure and need for postemergence herbicides.

Aaron Hager, University of Illinois weed scientist offers a recommendation that farmers and applicators might not think about in the rush to address weeds.

“Before you apply, scout corn fields to accurately determine the crop’s growth stage,” Hager says, in a University of Illinois news release. “Adverse environmental conditions can result in corn plants that are physiologically older than their height suggests, so assess the plant’s developmental stage by evaluating leaf/collar number in addition to plant height.”

Look for the maximum corn stage listed on the respective herbicide label and do not apply the product if corn exceeds the labeled stage, he adds. If tankmixing two or more products, follow the most restrictive corn growth stage listed on any of the tankmix component labels.

He adds that as you scout, record the types of broadleaves and grass weeds that are present in each field to plan future weed-control strategies.

By Rhonda Brooks May 03, 2017 | 10:04 am EDT
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Climate, Precision Planting Deal Dies on DOJ Delays

“Even though we’re terminating the deal, from a customer perspective, nothing is going to change…”

Photo by Ben Potter

Opposition from the U.S. Justice Department convinced Monsanto to cancel a 19-month-old deal for its subsidiary Climate Corporation to sell Precision Planting to Deere & Company, officials announced Monday.

Monsanto officials issued a statement Monday afternoon that said the decision was “driven by the delay in closing due to Department of Justice concerns with the transaction.”

Mike Stern, CEO of Climate Corporation, on Monday called the split “amicable but disappointing.”

“This is totally due to delays and a lack of clarity from the Justice Department,” he said in an interview with AgWeb. “We did not see a clear path that the DOJ would approve this deal.”

John May, John Deere’s president of agricultural solutions, also called the outcome disappointing.

“We remain confident that the acquisition would have benefited customers,” he said in a prepared statement. “With an opportunity to see this to conclusion, we believe it would have been clear the challenge to the transaction was based on flawed assessments of the marketplace.”

The DOJ filed a lawsuit in August seeking to block the deal, claiming it could lower competition for farmers and raise prices, conclusions the companies involved have denied. The DOJ claimed in court papers that Deere and Precision Planting would hold up to 86% of the market of all high-speed precision planting sales in the U.S. The transaction price was estimated at around $190 million.

Climate’s Stern said Monday the company will pursue a new buyer – preferably another farm equipment manufacturer – and is already in talks with several third parties.

“We think Precision Planting would do better with an equipment developer and manufacturer moving forward,” he said. “The Climate Corporation made the strategic decision nearly 18 months ago to focus its business exclusively on its digital agriculture platform, and that strategy has not changed.”

Existing Climate FieldView customers who use John Deere’s Wireless Data Server technology will continue to be able to do so. Stern points out that while about 70% of existing FieldView drives are installed on John Deere planters and harvesters, that technology was never brand-exclusive and will continue in that manner.

“Even though we’re terminating the deal, from a customer perspective, nothing is going to change,” he says.

Two other agreement related to Deere’s purchase of Precision Planting will be terminated, too. A digital collaboration agreement between Deere and Climate Corporation will end, as will a distribution agreement with Ag Leader.

By Ben Potter May 02, 2017 | 8:19 am EDT
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Best Management Practices to Control PPO-Resistant Weeds

Weeds resistant to the class of herbicides called protoporphyrinogen oxidase (PPO) inhibitors are spreading at a faster rate than weed scientists expected.

According to the 2016 University of Illinois Plant Clinic Herbicide Resistance Report issued in January, PPO-resistant waterhemp, first reported in 2001, is now confirmed in several Midwestern states. In Illinois alone, two-thirds of the fields tested are now infested.

PPO-resistant biotypes of Palmer amaranth or “Palmer pigweed,” a weed indigenous to the desert southwest, have been reported in Arkansas and Tennesse, and  Illinois has recently been added to the list.

“It’s just a matter of time before PPO-resistant Palmer amaranth spreads to more states throughout the Midwest,” says Nick Hustedde, FMC technical services representative for Illinois and Indiana.

Losing PPO-inhibiting herbicides, also called Group 14 herbicides, as an effective chemical class would be a problem for growers because these products have long been the go-to option to control glyphosate-resistant weeds.

“As glyphosate resistance evolved, growers looked for a tank-mix option to take care of glyphosate-resistant escapes, and their fallback was to use Group 14 chemistry, both pre- and post-emergence,” Hustedde says.

However, overreliance on Group 14 herbicides allowed weeds to select for resistance to the herbicide’s mode of action, similar to what happened with glyphosate and ALS-inhibiting herbicides.

“If waterhemp resistant to both glyphosate and PPO herbicides is allowed to emerge with the crop, there aren’t other herbicide options to control these weeds post-emergence in Roundup Ready® soybeans,” Hustedde says. “The standard tank mixtures including glyphosate plus Marvel™ herbicide, Cobra® herbicide or Flexstar® herbicide will no longer be effective on these biotypes.”

Fast Killers

PPO-inhibiting herbicides have been known as fast killers. Once applied, they quickly disrupt the cell membranes of the weeds while shutting down chlorophyll production and photosynthesis. Symptomology can be seen within hours.

Weeds have found a way around this class of chemistry through the selection of individuals resistant to the active ingredients so that chemical effectiveness is reduced.

Given this potential for resistance, should growers stop using PPO-inhibiting herbicides? Weed scientists are not willing to exclude these herbicides just yet, especially if PPO-inhibiting herbicides are soil-applied. With soil-applied herbicides, a higher rate can be used to partially overcome the low level of resistance in the weeds.

“If we were to pick which herbicide we can use in soybeans and have the most activity from a soil residual standpoint at controlling waterhemp and Palmer in soybeans, the PPO-inhibiting herbicides, Group 14, rise to the top,” says Dr. Bryan Young, professor of weed science at Purdue University.

Overlapping Residual Herbicides

Young says the key to keeping this group of herbicides effective is to use multiple herbicides with different sites of action to control the weeds. Using multiple sites of action reduces selection pressure on any one given herbicide.

FMC, the market leader in pre-emergent soybean herbicides, says one of its solutions is to use Authority® brand pre-emergent residual herbicides, which are Group 14 herbicides premixed with another site of action, followed by an early post-emergent residual herbicide such as Anthem® MAXX herbicide, which includes a Group 15 herbicide.

Overlapping residual herbicides not only helps from a resistance management standpoint, but also provides growers with more flexibility in being timely with their post-emergent herbicide applications.

Waterhemp and Palmer amaranth can grow as much as one to two inches per day. Most herbicide labels state weeds should be treated before they reach four inches in height to be effective, making it difficult to spray in a timely fashion.

University research has shown in 30-inch soybeans, when weeds are allowed to compete with the crop for resources, growers can lose 20 percent of their yields by the V4 vegetative growth stage and up to 30 percent of yields by the V5 growth stage.

Another challenge with waterhemp and Palmer amaranth is that they can come back later in the season. Overlapping soil-applied and residual herbicides can control weeds during these late-season flushes.

New Approach to Management

While a diversified herbicide program is the predominant method to manage herbicide resistance, most weed experts agree it will require other strategies, including mechanical, cultural and biological practices.

FMC technical services representative Hustedde recommends the following best management practices to help keep PPO-inhibiting herbicides effective:

     Start clean and stay clean: Start with a strong pre-emergent herbicide and follow 14 to 21 days later with an overlapping residual. Only use post herbicide technologies to clean up any escapes from residual treatments, not as primary weed removal agents.

     Scouting: Determine burndown herbicide or tillage effectiveness, and adjust the program to remove escapes prior to planting. Apply overlapping residual treatments to bare soil. If weeds are emerging, adjust as necessary.

     Employ multiple sites of action: Employ long residual herbicides from multiple sites of action.

     Implement deep tillage: Use on less erosive fields with a history of high pigweed density.

     Plant narrow rows: Plant soybeans in 15-inch rows or drilled row spacing.

     Increase seeding rates: Planting soybeans at higher seeding rates encourages canopy closure, which can suppress the emergence of weeds. Adjust according to comfort level, seed variety, field history and lodging potential.

     Cover crops: Consider implementing dense cover crop systems to impede spring weed emergence.

     Minimize weed seed production: Practice zero tolerance for weed escapes, even if it means hand removal, to reduce the soil seed bank.

     Minimize field-to-field weed seed movement: Clean equipment and harvest worst fields last if possible.

Hustedde says it will take all these strategies to keep the PPO-inhibiting herbicides, or Group 14 herbicides in addition to other herbicide classes effective, especially since no new modes of action are on the horizon for at least the next five to ten years.

“PPO-inhibiting herbicides have been our only option to control glyphosate- and ALS-resistant Palmer pigweed and waterhemp post emergence in Roundup Ready® soybeans,” Hustedde says. “Now we have to incorporate other tools such as new herbicide trait concepts, tillage, cover crops, narrow row spacing and high seed populations to control these and other weed species so we can keep PPO-inhibiting herbicides effective long term.”

By News Release April 03, 2017 | 2:00 pm EDT
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Plan For Early-Season Soybean Pests

Farmers aren’t the only ones who like early-planted soybeans. Bugs like them, too. The relatively mild winter much of the Midwest just experienced could result in above-average populations of pests in farmers’ fields this spring—just as soybeans start to emerge.

First on Jay Johnson’s list is bean leaf beetles. “I wouldn’t be surprised to see a higher number of them than we’ve had the past couple of years,” says Johnson, owner of Prairie Crop Pro-Tech, Beaman, Iowa.

Adult bean leaf beetles burrow under plant debris along fence rows, in grassy fields or close to tree lines to ride out winter. Once spring temperatures reach 50°F to 55°F, they become active and seek host plants such as alfalfa, clover and weeds.

Timing Of Damage. As soybeans emerge, bean leaf beetles can quickly colonize and fly into the crop, where they cause damage by feeding on cotyledons, stems, unifoliate leaves and emerging trifoliates. Usually, the pest doesn’t cause extreme damage early. However, DuPont Pioneer research shows that if both leaves on a plant are lost at the VC stage (cotyledon), then yields are reduced by 8% to 9%.

One way southern growers keep the beetle and other insects at bay is by doing a burndown in fields about two weeks before planting, according to James Whitehead, Helm agronomy leader. “That gets rid of the green bridge—any weeds or vegetation that are present,” he notes. “  If you do that, the bugs die or move off to another area if they can.”

Even if insects like bean leaf beetle wreak havoc this spring, Johnson says planting early-season soybeans is still the way to go in central Iowa. “We have seen a 5- to 7-bushel-per-acre advantage of first-planted beans in mid-April over those last planted in mid-May,” he notes.

Johnson attributes the yield advantage to the soybeans having time for additional growth and development. “When the early beans start flowering, they’ll often have two additional trifoliates out there, which improves yield potential,” he explains.

Scouting for adult beetles in early beans is easy, but deciding whether to apply an insecticide is somewhat tricky, depending on crop value, beetles per plant and treatment costs. (See table). Along with that, Whitehead cautions that some populations of bean leaf beetles in the South and mid-South have developed resistance to pyrethroids, so those products could be less effective, depending on the geography.

Purdue entomologists give fairly comprehensive treatment options to control in-season soybean pests in their crops bulletin E-77-W. Their recommendations are available online at https://extension.entm.purdue.edu/publications/E-77.pdf.

Where Neonics Fit. For retailers who expect a high incidence of pest problems in farmers’ fields, a soybean seed treatment is still a good option to control pests and improve plant health and vigor. “In some areas of the country, growers see a 5- to 7-bu. yield increase from using a neonic,” Whitehead says.

Extension entomologists say to use neonicotinoids only in “targeted, high-risk situations,” such as:

·  Fields recently converted from CRP or grassland to soybeans.

·  Fields with animal manure, green cover crops or numerous weeds.

·  Double-crop or specialty (food-grade or seed) soybean fields.

Researchers recommend an integrated pest management plan, such as rotating crops, conserving natural enemies, planting pest-resistant varieties, scouting and applying insecticides at established thresholds.

“It’s important to have a diversified [crop protection] program in place so we don’t put too much selection pressure on a single class of chemistry,” Whitehead adds.

By Rhonda Brooks April 04, 2017 | 5:30 am EDT
Posted in Uncategorized

EPA Denies Activists’ Petition to Cancel Chlorpyrifos

Following a recent Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) review, chlorpyrifos will stay on the market. The insecticide has been on the market for more than 50 years and is used in close to 100 countries on 50 crops.

In 2007 Dow AgroSciences’ chlorpyrifos were forced into an early review when two activist groups filed a petition with EPA to revoke tolerances and cancel EPA registrations for the product in 2007.

“In response to the petition, EPA initiated the registration review of chlorpyrifos,” says Phil Jost, Dow AgroSciences U.S. insecticides marketing leader. “The agency was not statutorily required to complete another review of chlorpyrifos until 2022.”

Dow applauds EPA’s decision to deny the petition to revoke U.S. food tolerances and cancel chlorpyrifos registration.

“Dow AgroSciences remains confident that authorized uses of chlorpyrifos products offer wide margins of protection for human health and safety,” the company said in an emailed statement. “We will continue to cooperate with EPA under the established regulatory process in its scientific review of this vital crop protection solution.”

Pesticide registration relies on science, and some in the industry are encouraged by EPA’s science-based decision.

“NCGA supports transparent, science-based oversight of pesticides. We are encouraged by the EPA’s decision because it signals a return to these standards and procedures,” says Wesley Spurlock, National Corn Growers Association president. “Farmers need access to many crop protection tools to ensure all tools can remain effective.”

By Sonja Begemann March 30, 2017 | 1:18 pm EDT
Posted in Uncategorized

FMC Acquires Portion of DuPont Crop Protection Business

Today FMC corporation and DuPont signed an agreement to sell FMC the portion of DuPont’s crop protection business European Commission required DuPont to divest to merge with Dow Chemical Company. FMC will pay DuPont $1.2 billion for the business and DuPont will acquire FMC Health and Nutrition.

In the agreement FMC will receive DuPont’s global chewing pest insecticide portfolio, global cereal broadleaf herbicides and a substantial portion of DuPont’s global crop protection research and development capabilities. FMC anticipates this acquired business will generate $1.5 billion in revenue in 2017 and launch the company to the fifth largest crop protection chemical company in the world by revenue.

“This is a significant step forward for FMC, and for our Agricultural Solutions business in particular,” said Pierre Brondeau, FMC president, CEO and chairman.  “The combination of market-leading products from DuPont’s crop protection portfolio and its world-class R&D capabilities will transform our Agricultural Solutions business into a tier-one ag technology company.”

By Sonja Begemann March 31, 2017 | 8:35 am EDT
Posted in Uncategorized

Evaluate Soil-Applied Herbicide Options for Soybeans

Marestail control in soybeans should begin in early spring by controlling fall-germinated seedlings and rosettes before they start to bolt.                              Photo by Purdue Extension

With the introduction and use of new herbicide-resistant technologies in soybeans, it will be important to utilize an integrated weed management system that includes soil-applied residual herbicides to optimize weed control and sustain the technology.

Broadly speaking, there are many good reasons to use a soil-applied residual herbicide for soybeans, including:

– Get early-season control of weeds and grasses to minimize early-season weed competition.

– Provide more flexibility with postemergence treatment timing.

– Provide additional herbicide sites of action to help manage and slow the development of herbicide resistant weeds.

– Help reduce the weed seed-bank over time.

There are a number of good soil-applied residual herbicide options for soybeans depending on the primary target weeds.

Pigweeds (including waterhemp and Palmer amaranth). Glyphosate-resistant waterhemp and Palmer amaranth are now fairly common in many fields throughout Kansas. Pigweed emergence will generally start in April but the greatest amount of emergence will occur in May and June. Preemergence or burndown-plus-residual herbicide applications will need to be targeted before pigweed has emerged or while it is still at small growth stages.

For early-season pigweed control, the Valor-based herbicides (Valor SX, Valor XLT, Rowel, Encompass, Outflank, Panther, Fierce, Fierce XLT, Gangster, Surveil, Trivence, Afforia, Envive, and Enlite) and Authority-based herbicides (Authority First, Sonic, Authority Assist, Authority MTZ, Authority Maxx, Authority Elite, Blanket, Broadaxe XC, Spartan, and Spartan Elite) can all provide very good to excellent control to supplement a postemergence program. If glyphosate-resistant pigweed is suspected, higher use rates may be required to give adequate residual control.

Prefix, Zidua, Zidua Pro, and Anthem, are other excellent “foundation” herbicides for residual pigweed control in soybeans. Metribuzin, Warrant, Dual, Boundary, Outlook, and Prowl products can also provide some early-season pigweed control, but may not provide as much residual control as those previously mentioned products. Split applications of overlapping residual herbicides — early preplant and at-planting or early postemergence — may be the best approach to manage glyphosate-resistant pigweed in no-till systems.

Marestail. Marestail is probably the most widespread glyphosate-resistant weed in Kansas. Marestail control in soybeans should begin in early spring by controlling fall-germinated seedlings and rosettes before they start to bolt. 2,4-D and dicamba can be used in early spring, but the proper preplant intervals need to be followed. The preplant intervals for 2,4-D LV4 are 1 week for up to 1 pt/acre and 30 days for 1 to 2 pt/acre. The preplant interval for Clarity is 14 days following an application rate up to 8 oz/acre and accumulation of 1 inch of rainfall. Dicamba has generally provided better marestail control than 2,4-D.  Xtendimax, FeXapan, and Engenia can be utilized ahead of Xtend soybeans without a preplant waiting interval.

The Kixor-containing products Sharpen, OpTill, Zidua Pro, and Verdict can be used any time before soybean emergence (cracking), but are most effective if applied before plants get too big. To optimize marestail control with Kixor products, use an adequate spray volume to insure good spray coverage and apply in combination with a methylated seed oil.

Liberty herbicide may be the best option as a rescue treatment to burn down bolted marestail prior to planting. There is no waiting interval required between a Liberty application and planting soybeans, but it will not provide any residual marestail control. Other preplant herbicides that can help with burndown and provide residual marestail control include FirstRate-based herbicides, such as Authority First, Sonic, Gangster, or Surveil in combination with glyphosate.

Velvetleaf. Glyphosate is not always entirely effective on velvetleaf. To assist in velvetleaf control, the Valor-based and FirstRate-based herbicides (Valor SX, Valor XLT, Rowel, Encompass, Outflank, Panther, Fierce, Fierce XLT, Gangster, Surveil, Authority First, and Sonic, Trivence, Afforia, Envive, and Enlite) are some of the most effective preplant and preemergence herbicides you can use.

Cocklebur. The most effective preplant and preemergence herbicides to aid in cocklebur control are those that contain First Rate, Classic, or Scepter. Such products would include Authority First, Sonic, Authority XL, Authority Maxx, Gangster, Surveil, Envive, Fierce XLT, and Valor XLT. Pursuit or Pursuit-containing products such as Zidua Pro, OpTill, and Authority Assist can also be used as a preplant treatment in Roundup Ready soybeans to provide residual cocklebur control. Extreme which contains glyphosate and Pursuit can be used either preplant or postemerge for some additional residual control in Roundup Ready soybean.

Morningglory. Glyphosate sometimes has trouble controlling morningglory. To help get better control, you can use either Authority-based or Valor-based herbicides preplant or preemergence. OpTill and Zidua Pro can also provide good early-season morningglory control.

Kochia. Kochia is a major weed problem in western areas and historically has been difficult to control with glyphosate, especially as it gets bigger. In addition, much of the kochia in western Kansas is now glyphosate-resistant. A majority of kochia will probably have emerged prior to soybean planting, so controlling that kochia before planting is critical.

Research by K-State the last couple of years indicates that Authority-based products have provided the best residual kochia control in soybeans. Metribuzin can also provide good kochia control, but soil pH and texture label guidelines need to be followed. The Kixor-containing products, such as Sharpen, OpTill, Zidua Pro, and Verdict, may help with kochia burndown and early-season kochia control, but may not provide very much residual control.

Xtendimax, FeXapan, and Engenia can be utilized ahead of Xtend soybeans for burndown and early-season residual control of kochia. ALS-inhibiting herbicides may or may not provide kochia control because of the occurrence of ALS-resistant kochia.

Crabgrass and other small-seeded grasses. Glyphosate usually gives good control of most grasses, but producers may want to apply a foundation herbicide to control grasses early, followed by a postemergence grass control herbicide. Fierce, Fierce XLT, Prefix, Zidua,  Zidua Pro, Anthem, Dual II Magnum, Outlook, Warrant, and Prowl H2O can all provide  early season grass and pigweed control ahead of postemergence treatments. Of these, Fierce, Fierce XLT, Prefix, and Zidua, Zidua Pro generally provide the best pigweed control, and Prowl H20 the least.

By Dallas Peterson, Kansas State University March 28, 2017 | 6:00 am EDT
Posted in Uncategorized

Reasons Why Purple Corn Syndrome Shows Up

This cross section of corn leaf tissue illustrates the accumulation of anthocyanin pigments. Notice the purple pigmentation is produced in the top layer of cells and does not affect the chlorophyll content in the plant.
Photo by DuPont Pioneer

Purple corn syndrome commonly shows up in corn fields every year, typically following periods of low temperatures. Purple seedling color results from the expression of anthocyanin pigment formation. Most corn hybrids contain five of the eight genes required to produce the purple color. The other three genes are only present in certain hybrids, and some of these genes are cold sensitive.

Cold Conditions Trigger Purple Corn

  • Nighttime air temperatures in the 40’s, when day temperatures are in the 60’s, are often adequate to trigger purpling.
  • These temperature sensitive genes are only expressed in the seedlings prior to the 6-leaf stage of growth, which coincides with the period most likely to have low temperatures.
  • Corn normally outgrows the purpling condition by the time it is 12 inches tall. This can occur quickly if the weather warms up and corn grows rapidly, or it can be slow if the weather remains cool, retarding both root and shoot growth in the seedling.
  • Slower growth is caused by the cool temperatures, not the purple pigment.

Some genetics are more prone to development of purple color under cool spring conditions. Plants outgrow genetic purpling with no adverse effect on yield.

Impact on Crop

  • Testing of corn plants that exhibit genetic purpling at the seedling stage has shown no evidence of adverse effects on metabolism, growth, or yield.
  • Hybrids that develop the purple pigment when exposed to cold temperatures have been found to contain as much chlorophyll (the green pigment) as hybrids that remain green when grown under the same cool conditions.

Phosphorus Deficiencies

  • Phosphorus deficiency symptoms can be manifested as an accumulation of purple pigments in leaves.
  • Phosphorus level, as determined by soil tests and an examination of the fertility programs used, may determine whether phosphorus is likely deficient.
  • If sufficient levels of phosphorus are already present, adding extra phosphorus will not turn purple seedlings green.

Corn seedling showing purple color due to phosphorus deficiency. This likely resulted from phosphorus tie-up in high pH soil as well as sugar beets as the previous crop

Genetic Purpling vs Phosphorus Deficiency

How can growers tell the difference between genetic purpling and symptoms of phosphorus deficiency?

  • First, examine the color of plants over the entire field. If the purple color is uniform through the field, the cause is probably genetic.
  • If purpling is quite erratic, this may indicate that phosphorus is limiting to plants in those areas.
  • If plants are beyond the seedling stage (more than six to eight leaves) and purpling is observed, then phosphorus deficiency is likely.

Uneven Purpling

  • If purpling is not uniform it may indicate soil fertility problems or inhibited root development.
  • Since the inhibited root system may not take up enough phosphorus for normal growth, plant sugars accumulate in the plant and it “shows” the purple color.
  • If plants are beyond the seedling stage (more than 6 to 8 leaves) and purpling is observed, then phosphorous deficiency is likely.
  • Phosphorus level, as determined by soil tests and an examination of the fertility programs used, may determine whether phosphorus is likely deficient.
  • If sufficient levels of phosphorus are already present, adding extra phosphorus will not turn purple seedlings green.

Root Development Inhibition Causes

  • Cool soil and night temperatures
  • Soil conditions, either dry cool soils or wet poorly drained soils
  • Shallow planting
  • Soil compaction
  • Seed slot compaction or “smearing”
  • Low phosphorus availability (especially on low or high pH soils)
  • Insect or nematode damage
  • Seedling diseases
  • Herbicide overlaps or over-applications
  • Fertilizer injury
By News Release March 28, 2017 | 11:00 am EDT
Posted in Uncategorized

Drought Creeps Into Key Grain Production Areas

Photo by AgWeb

Droughts come, and droughts go. The past two months have provided a very clear object lesson in this, as the western drought continues to be slowly erased, while key grain production areas in the Plains and Midwest see drought conditions emerge and expand.

According to the latest U.S. Drought Monitor, released March 23, about 36% of the contiguous U.S. is experiencing conditions ranging from D0 (abnormally dry) to D3 (extreme drought).

Higher-than-normal temperatures in the Central and Southern Plains has depleted soil moisture, and precipitation is needed soon in much of the area, according to Eric Luebehusen, USDA agricultural meteorologist who prepared the report.

Drought Monitor 3-21-2017

© UNL Drought Monitor

“Rain will be need soon everywhere east of the Rockies to prevent a rapid intensification of drought as winter wheat continues to break dormancy and soil moisture requirements increase,” he writes.

Likewise, the drought footprint is largely unchanged in the Midwest from last week’s report but will need rain in coming weeks to prevent “a rapid increase in drought coverage and intensity,” Luebehusen notes.

The Delta and Southeast regions are also feeling the effects of moderate to severe drought in those regions. During the past 60 days, most of Louisiana, southwestern Arkansas and southern Mississippi saw just 30% to 50% normal rainfall.

To read the latest report, visit droughtmonitor.unl.edu.

By Ben Potter March 24, 2017 | 7:54 am EDT
Posted in Uncategorized

Allendale Estimates 90M Corn Acres, 88.8M Soybean Acres

The 2017 planting season is just around the corner.

Photo by Sonja Begemann

The much-anticipated Prospective Plantings report from the USDA comes out March 31, but it’s not the only game in town. Other entities are making their own acreage predictions, and Allendale, Inc., released its own estimates March 14 after surveying farmers from 33 states.

The group’s findings? Allendale expects lower corn and wheat acres as farmers plant the most soybeans ever.

Specifically, Allendale predicts 90.018 million corn acres in 2017, down 3.986 million acres from a year ago. Wheat is estimated at 45.967 million acres, down 4.187 million acres from 2016. And soybeans get an estimated 5.392 million acre bump to 88.825 million acres.

“This [soybean crop] will be very important to watch because given the yield scenario this year – if we have normal weather and return to trend yields – we actually will see a decline in production versus last year,” according to Allendale chief strategist Rich Nelson.

Soybean yields in 2016 were an unprecedented 52.1 bu. per acre – more than 4 bu. per acre higher than any other year on record.

In contrast to the potential record soybean acres planted in 2017 is wheat, which could see the smallest acreage since USDA’s current data set dating back to 1919, according to Allendale.

Allendale’s 2017 acreage projections are similar to those USDA released at its Feb. 2017 Agricultural Outlook Forum. USDA estimates 90 million corn acres, 88 million soybean acres and 46 million wheat acres.

For more information about the Allendale survey results, visit its blog on AgWeb.

By Ben Potter March 14, 2017 | 4:06 pm EDT
Posted in Uncategorized

Oh the winter blues!

We started march with unpresidented warmth quickly turning to bone chilling cold by mid month. As spring approaches we should be finalizing our cropping plans to be ready to go. Fertilizer dealers are going to be hard pressed to get all of the work done that is needed. Under normal conditions most of the P and K is already on, not this year, keep in mind that when the rush hits no one will be ready for it. Start looking ahead to get things going. All springs bring exhausting hours and back breaking work keep safety in mind at all times. With that being said here is a market update. Potash prices have steadily risen over the last few months and could take an aggressive increase if supply tightens due application. Phosphates have followed suit creeping higher by $50 to $70. Nitrogen has been the wildestly fluctuating of all. Moving up $50 to $80 depending on source if you haven’t locked in pricing consider it. The shuffle from corn to beans will be interesting to follow. A lot of good contracts were offered early on non GMO’s. Chemical companies are seeing the shift from corn to beans ( at least in this area ) affecting sales of herbicides. Deals are starting to appear late in the season for the first time on chemistry. Talk to your local dealer and see if there is a bargin that has come late that is beneficial for you. Be sure to ask about some of the new products that are showing great promise to increase yield. Testing them out could be very beneficial for you. Ask you local CFS dealer what they have and who has tried it to back up the claim. ROI (return on investment ) is more critical than ever. You can spend $10 if it will make you $25 or more.

 

“IF I WOULD HAVE BEEN BORN RICH ISTEAD OF SO DARN GOOD LOOKING I WOULDN’T HAVE TO WORK SO HARD” – MARK TWAIN

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Caution Lights Ahead For Dicamba Use

Dennis Riley, left, and Mark Wilson of Hutson Inc., worked together to install a new direct-injection sprayer systems for Security Seed. Photo by Brad Rankin

It’s early March, and Security Seed and Chemical applicators are busy prepping equipment for the upcoming spray season. In a few days, they’ll make burndown treatments in sun-warmed Tennessee river-bottom fields, where green weeds are just starting to poke through the ground.

The company annually custom sprays about 1 million acres of corn, soybean and wheat ground across parts of Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky and its home state of Tennessee. This year, many of those acres will be treated with one of the new dicamba formulations that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has approved for use in dicamba-tolerant soybeans and cotton–BASF Engenia, Monsanto XtendiMax with VaporGrip Technology or FeXapan with VaporGrip, which Monsanto has licensed to DuPont.

Security Seed and Chemical’s 35-member custom-application team has invested countless man hours in reviewing the new technology and learning how to best use it.

“We’ve had two rounds of classroom instruction and two rounds of in-field training,” says Dennis Riley, sales manager for the Clarksville-based company.

Riley says farmers are battling 10 different species of glyphosate-resistant weeds in Tennessee. Growers there regularly encounter PPO-resistant pigweed as well. In some areas, that weed alone has reduced soybean yields by up to 50%.

“We have customers who’ve had to just go in and disk up fields because they couldn’t control the pigweed,” he says. “We’ve burned through two chemistries now. We can’t afford to burn through a third.”

Responsible Stewardship. Hands-on training, a strict label and a good dose of caution have convinced Security Seed and Chemical to use the new dicamba products only in a comprehensive weed-management program. That means residuals will have been used first. The company has informed farmers that it won’t apply the new formulations in a rescue treatment.

“There’s no room to live in the gray with these dicamba products,” Riley says. “The label’s the law, and we’re following it to a tee.”

Following the label is a seemingly simple but not-so-easy task, notes Jean Payne, president of the Illinois Fertilizer and Chemical Association. “You have to be reading these labels now and understanding what they really require because there’s never been a pesticide label as detailed as this one,” she says.

Indeed, the six-plus pages of supplemental product labels that EPA approved for Engenia and XtendiMax, respectively, require serious study. Both labels specify nozzle use; how high above the crop canopy you can spray (no more than 24”); the size of buffer needed between you and dicamba-sensitive crops (at least 110’, and that’s debatable); and wind speed (up to 15 mph; 10 mph in some scenarios). Plus, you must spray when weeds are small (no taller than 4”).

EPA is giving the agricultural community only two seasons to use the new dicamba formulations correctly. At the end of 2018, the EPA will either let the supplemental product labels expire or extend the registrations for three more years.

“If we’re not successful with our management, we’ll lose these tools and potentially others in the product chain in the future,” Payne cautions.

Ron Moore, an Illinois farmer and president of the American Soybean Association, says BASF, Monsanto and retailers can encourage good stewardship by competitively pricing the new products and applications. “That would help us minimize off-label use of older formulations this season,” he says. Moore is splitting his 900 acres of soybeans between Engenia and XtendiMax.

BMPs Are Important. Concerns about dicamba misuse are justified, based on problems that occurred last year in the mid-South.

Various formulations of dicamba were applied off-label in 2016 on Roundup Ready 2 Xtend (RR2X) soybeans, which are dicamba-tolerant. It was a situation University of Arkansas weed scientist Bob Scott describes as “products that were legal to buy but illegal to spray that way.”

The resulting damage in farmers’ soybean fields ranged in severity from not much to extreme. The most tragic dispute involving dicamba drift resulted in the death of a northeast Arkansas farmer.

By last August, in Missouri, 117 confirmed cases of dicamba damage
on 42,000 crop acres were reported to
the state plant board and shared with
the EPA. That was the tip of the iceberg. The agency wrote in its compliance advisory that “similar complaints alleging misuse of dicamba products [were] received by Alabama, Arkansas, Illinois, Kentucky, Minnesota, Mississippi, North Carolina, Tennessee and Texas.”

Moore believes off-label dicamba use last season could have been minimized if EPA had approved the new dicamba formulations when the agency approved the dicamba trait. “EPA didn’t do their job as timely as they should have,” he says. “We think the EPA and their regulatory approval process (are) based on political positions instead of sound science for when they approve these new products.”

As a result of the off-label use, some of the states–40 had approved one or both of the new dicamba formulations at press time–are tightening their grip on the products to safeguard the chemistry, crops and people. Although the new formulations have a federal label, each state can specify how, when or whether they can be used.

“We want people to know what they’re getting into with these products,” Scott says. “Don’t get caught up in the hype. There are benefits and drawbacks.”

The applicator of the technology is ultimately responsible and liable for how the products are used. If a retailer suspects a customer is buying any dicamba for off-label use in-season, then Scott encourages, “Don’t turn a blind eye.”

Assumptions Cause Mistakes. Payne says retailers have a good grasp of the technology but is concerned stewardship messages are falling on some deaf ears at the grower level. She says anyone who assumes they know how to use the new formulations based on their previous experience with older dicamba products could be ill-prepared to apply the new ones responsibly. Those are the cases she worries will create hard feelings between neighbors and even lawsuits.

“I’ve heard too many people comment, ‘This is just like the introduction of Roundup Ready soybeans in 1996. It’s not that big of a deal. We’ll be fine,’” she says. “But it is different. In 1996, we didn’t have Snapchat, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or YouTube, and we didn’t have the non-GMO movement with consumers. We have all of that now. How many pictures of damaged gardens and trees have to be on the Internet before people call up their legislators to take action?”

Retailers and farmers also need to be aware that the various dicamba chemistries in the marketplace aren’t necessarily interchangeable. A survey last summer of 636 Missouri pesticide applicators by Kevin Bradley, University of Missouri Extension weed scientist, found that 74% of the respondents were aware of that fact, but 26% thought otherwise.

The two new dicamba formulations aren’t the same.

Engenia contains a BAMPA (N,N-Bis-(3-aminopropyl)methylamine) salt of dicamba with 5 lb. acid equivalent of dicamba per gallon. XtendiMax contains a DGA (diglycolamine) salt of dicamba plus the additive VaporGrip, which is designed to reduce volatility. The dicamba acid concentration equals 2.9 lb. acid equivalent per gallon for this formulation.

 

Extra Precautions Can Help. Security Seed and Chemical’s Riley is doing everything he can to make using the new dicamba formulations a positive experience for his company and customers this season. To support that effort, the retailer has installed new direct-injection systems on sprayers used with dicamba, so it never goes into the tank.

“We don’t want potential contamination in our tanks; this will limit any liability when it comes to spraying other crops,” Riley notes. “The injection system is an investment we’re having to make to do all we can to prevent issues. We don’t want to deal with any issues.”

Also, the company is giving its applicators on the front line more decision-making authority this year.

“If our applicators get into a field and it’s windy, they have permission to tell the farmer and our sales agronomists, ‘No, they’re not going to spray,’” Riley says. “We’re going to steward this technology as best we can because we hope to use it for a long time.”

By Rhonda Brooks March 06, 2017 | 5:25 am EST
Posted in Uncategorized

Many Ways for Palmer to Get Into Fields

Your farmer customers could be unknowingly planting Palmer amaranth anywhere Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) mixes are grown or pollinator mixes are established. To date, Palmer amaranth seed in CRP planting mixes has been identified in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Minnesota and Ohio.

“We have no idea how many individual fields are infested, but we started with five counties in 2013 and now we’re at 49,” says Bob Hartzler, Iowa State University (ISU) Extension weed scientist. An estimated 23 counties have fields infested due to CRP mixes. “When you look specifically at fields with infested CRP plantings it’s about 50 to 100 plants per acre.”

This past year marked Minnesota’s first Palmer amaranth discovery, and it was in CRP native seed mixes. Palmer amaranth is considered a noxious weed in Minnesota, as well as Ohio and Delaware, which gives the state more authority to track and eradicate the weed.

“There are 13 farm sites and 30 plantings within the two infected counties,” says Jeff Gunsolus, University of Minnesota Extension weed scientist. “Known infestation is less than 200 acres, all associated with conservation planting.”

Weed Look-Alike. CRP mixes infested with Palmer amaranth is a tough issue to tackle. Palmer amaranth seeds can easily mimic other native seeds and growing CRP demand leads to outsourcing beyond company-only production.

In south-central Iowa, owner and operator of Prairie Seed Farms John Osenbaugh is tracking the Palmer issue closely. His 36-year-old company does 90% of its business providing CRP mixes. The company produces about 50% of its seed and buys the balance from other growers.

Federal labels don’t require native seed providers to list what weed seeds are present, so Osenbaugh performs additional testing. “If we find pigweed seed we just have to assume it is Palmer amaranth even if we don’t know. If a grower sends us something with pigweed, we reject it,” he says.

The same way the Federal Seed Act requires corn and soybean seed companies to label each seed bag, CRP seed providers are required to list the same information. But just because a bag says 0.0% weed seed doesn’t mean it’s true. If in doubt, consider doing your own seed testing. Buying locally from professional seedsmen can also help.

By being more aware of the CRP seed-mixes issue, retailers can help farmers keep Palmer amaranth from taking root in their fields.

By Sonja Begemann March 06, 2017 | 6:30 am EST
Posted in Uncategorized

Nitrogen Applications

The unseasonably warm and dry weather this February has prompted some corn growers to begin applying ammonia, according to University of Illinois crop sciences professor Emerson Nafziger.

“While we don’t often have the option to apply this early due to frozen or wet soils, late February and early March is an acceptable time to apply ammonia, as long as we do it carefully,” Nafziger says. “Compared to fall application, late winter application introduces nitrogen a little closer to the time the crop will need it, so it’s slightly safer. Still, a warm, wet spring will mean a lot of nitrate present when plant uptake kicks in. So using a nitrification inhibitor with ammonia applied now makes sense.”

After application, ammonia converts to ammonium, which attaches to negative charges on soil and organic matter, and does not move in the soil. When soils warm up, bacteria begin to convert ammonium to nitrate, which can hitch a ride with water moving through the soil. In this way, nitrate can end up in tile lines and out of the field. This is why it is important to keep nitrogen in its ammonium form as long as possible.

Nafziger says that soil samples taken after ammonia application last fall are showing that soil nitrogen levels held up well through late January. With little rainfall in February, he expects that is still the case.

“Late January samples showed that a little more than half of the nitrogen we recovered following fall application was in the nitrate form, and that this percentage was a little lower where we used an inhibitor. There is less nitrate now than we found a year ago following warm, wet weather at the end of 2015. Nitrogen should stay in the soil as long as the soils stay cool and the weather does not turn unusually wet.

“Some producers prefer to wait to apply ammonia until closer to the time the crop will need it. Having dry soils now increases the chances of having soils dry enough to allow application later,” Nafziger says. “Fertilizer materials that contain nitrate, like UAN solution or urea, should not be applied this early; their application should be close to or after planting. Applying nitrogen close to the time the crop needs it is one of the best ways to limit the potential for loss of nitrogen.”

By University of Illinois, Lauren Quinn March 01, 2017 | 1:00 pm EST
Posted in Uncategorized

Tips for Conventional and No-till Seedbed Establishment

You only get one chance to give a crop the right start, so it’s important to understand how previous tillage and crops impact seed’s access to soil. While crop residue breaks down to provide additional nutrients, it can also impede seed success if not managed correctly.

“There are four key risks we identified associated with residue at planting: reduced seed-to-soil contact, physical impedance of emergence, nutrient tie up and slower soil warm up,” says Pauley Bradley, John Deere product manager.

1. Residue can prevent seed-to-soil contact. Managing residue starts at harvest—did your combine evenly spread residue this past fall? If so, you’re off to a good start. If not, know uneven residue might keep some seeds from coming into contact with the soil.

“Planter mounted residue managers can be an effective way to move residue out of the way,” says Chris Lursen, Case IH tillage marketing manager. “In no-till or minimum till, use a ‘no-till style’ planter-mounted residue manager to move residue out of the way and use finger-style options in conventional tillage.”

Adjust row cleaners to provide adequate seed-to-soil contact for each field and specific areas of fields.

2. Residue can physically block seedlings from emerging. Corn is more sensitive to residue impeding emergence than soybeans. Heavy residue can block access to sunlight, and the weight of residue can stop seedlings from breaking through the ground.

“Improvements in corn hybrids over time leads to higher yields and more residue to deal with than in our history,” says Mahdi Al-Kaisi, Iowa State University (ISU) professor and Extension specialist in soil management.

Be mindful of areas of the field where residue is gathered, such as low spots where water moved residue over the winter. Those areas are at a higher risk of impeding seedling emergence.

3. Avoid making seedling roots and microbes compete for the same nutrients. “Microbes begin to ramp up as soil temperature approaches 50°F, which means they could compete with roots for nitrogen,” Bradley says. “Microbes need nitrogen to digest residue. Think of it as a diet where the nitrogen is protein and the cellulose and lignin in the residue are carbs.”

The nitrogen you apply helps feed microbes, and a spring or at-plant banded application near the row can help ensure both microbes and seedling roots have what they need. Particularly in fields with heavier residue, consider spring application or banding near the row.

4. Residue impacts soil temperature. Residue insulates the soil, so fields with more residue will take longer to hit the optimal 50°F mark for planting. This could mean you need to delay planting for a few days to avoid emergence issues.

While too much insulation can be harmful in the spring, it could be beneficial in hot summer months. Residue interrupts sunlight, which could help slow water evaporation and keep the soil around the roots cool. Because corn roots don’t like excessive heat this could help reduce stress and keep the plant focused on grain production.

Residue breaks down at approximately the same rate, regardless of the tillage system or whether it’s buried or left on the soil surface, according to Al-Kaisi and ISU research.

“No matter what, when residue decomposes about 70% of its carbon will be lost as CO2 and only 30% added to the soil organic matter,” he says.

This spring, evaluate your fields’ residue cover and make a game plan to use residue to benefit your crop.

By Sonja Begemann February 13, 2017 | 8:05 am EST

Posted in Uncategorized

What does this mean to retailers?

Wall Street-type investment firms have found out what most farmers have believed for years–farmland is a good long-term investment. More institutional-type investors will likely enter the picture and buy land this year as farmers, who might have vied for the property three or four years ago, are holding back and hanging onto their cash.

So, what does this mean to retailers? It depends on the buyer and how its land purchases play out.

Some of the investment firms buying land lease it back to the farmer, so he can continue to operate. This is a standard practice for Indianapolis-based US Agriculture, according to Brian Wise, director of acquisitions for the company. In the process, the grower’s relationship with his or her retailer usually stays intact because the firm is acting only as a landlord, Wise says.

“I don’t see us as a detriment to the retailer,” he explains. “It’s probably the opposite.”

On the other hand, if the farmer’s crop-input records, yields and financials are less than positive, then the investment firm may opt to lease the land to a new operator–who may or may not work with the original farmer’s retailer.

Wise says he believes this situation is one retailers may see more often now, given the current commodity slump as well as the softening of land values in some geographies.

Large-scale purchases of cropland by investment firms often deliver a jolt to an area’s farmers and agribusinesses, including retailers. One that captured headlines recently was the sale of 8,638 acres in Illinois to Denver-based Farmland Partners Inc. The firm bought the land at auction with a bid of $55.311 million.

The land was offered in 46 total tracts, ranging from 15 acres to 597 acres. Farmers showed up to bid, but large investors held the greatest interest and sought the entire land package, according to R.D. Schrader, president of Schrader Real Estate and Auction Company.

“The operators were in the room, (but) the investors won out,” Schrader said in a recent interview with AgWeb.com.

In a written statement, CEO Paul Pittman says Farmland Partners will negotiate new lease agreements for the land among multiple tenants. How those agreements impact retailers ultimately is still unknown, but who farms all of those acres is likely to change in some cases based on the sheer magnitude of the land that was purchased.

 

Still The Minority. While investment firms are purchasing farmland, they own less than 1% of the $2.5 trillion U.S. farmland market, according to Bruce Sherrick, University of Illinois professor of farmland economics at the TIAA-CREF Center for Farmland Research.

Farmers and their family members still own or control about 61% of the 911 million total acres in farms, notes the 2014 USDA ERS survey, Tenure, Ownership, and Transition of Agricultural Land (TOTAL).

TOTAL estimates one-tenth of the land outside of Alaska and Hawaii, about 91.5 million acres, is slated for ownership transfer in the next five years; this excludes farmland in or expected to be put into wills. About 21 million acres of that land is expected to be sold to a non-relative.

“Farmland has always been a valuable resource, but what we see in the most recent TOTAL results is the emergence of farmland as a future investment,” notes Joseph T. Reilly, USDA NASS administrator.

Investors, such as Farmland Partners’ Pittman, are banking on the expectation that increasing global demand for food will keep land values moving upward in the years ahead. The United Nations predicts the worldwide population will reach 9.7 billion people by 2050, and correspondingly, food production will need to increase between 50% and 100%. It’s just one of the reasons a common saying among some institutional investors is that buying and holding land is like having “gold with a coupon.”

Your farmer-customers have read a story in the January issue of Top Producer, AgPro’s sister publication, about how to work with investment companies and form strong partnerships. Titled “Your Farmland Investor Cheat Sheet,” the article features five firms who share how their portfolios are structured and what they expect of the farmers they hire. Click here to read and see the table detailing the firms’ portfolios. 

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Who Should Pay for Water Quality and Soil Conservation Improvements?

The following commentary does not necessarily reflect the views of AgPro or Farm Journal Media. The opinions expressed below are the author’s own.

Last month, I had one of those aha moments.  A reporter was asking me about my thoughts on Iowa’s water quality and whether I thought shifting rainfall patterns (climate change) could be affecting nitrogen and phosphorus runoff.  I responded that the research on this topic was crystal clear — that over the last 20 years, the intensity of rainstorms has significantly increased, resulting in more runoff.  The seriousness of this phenomenon should not be dismissed or ignored.

Across most of the United States, the heaviest rainfall events have become heavier and more frequent. Since 1991, the amount of rain falling, during very heavy precipitation events, has been significantly above average. This increase has been greatest in the Northeast, Midwest, and upper Great Plains – more than 30% above the 1901-1960 average.

Combine that information with the research by Royer, et. al., that demonstrates “nearly all nutrient export occurred when discharge was greater than the median discharge, and extreme discharges (≥ 90th percentile) were responsible for greater than 50% of the NO3–N export and greater than 80% of the P export.

Right there, on the phone, in the middle of my interview, I experienced an incredible aha moment. Putting the pieces together, it hit me that increased runoff caused by climate change could easily erase the benefits made by farmers who make moderate improvements in soil and water conservation.  That realization was astonishing to me.  What this means to society is that we may never recognize improvements in water quality until conservation practices are applied at significantly greater rates.  So if we continue to use historical climate and rainfall data to predict our need for water quality-protection and soil conservation practices, we will continue to underestimate the amount of work needed to clean up our water.

During the interview, the reporter asked me, “Tom, who should pay for conservation; the public or farmers?”  Honestly, I get asked this question a lot, so you think I would be prepared.  But it was the context of the question that caused me to pause before answering with this line of reasoning.  If climate change is caused by society’s activities (CO2 emissions), then why should farmers be the ones to pay the full price of cleaning up our water?  If society’s actions cause these heaviest rainfall events to become heavier and more frequent, then why shouldn’t society share in the cost of conservation?  If society wants cleaner water and we can acknowledge that climate change plays a role in increased soil erosion, shouldn’t we expect society to split the bill with farmers?

Isn’t that kind of like buying an old car that has a lot of existing dents, getting into an accident, and expecting the insurance company to repair the vehicle to like-new condition?

Furthermore, can we regulate an industry (agriculture) if a significant portion of the “said pollution” is being caused by other cogs in society?  But of course, to shore up my argument, you would have to accept that climate change is due to human activities.  Novel concept.

By Tom Buman January 05, 2017 | 3:28 pm EST
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Which weather forecasters are best at predicting precipitation and accurate temperatures?

Photo by Free Images

Weather forecasting is a competitive business, with many local, national and global options vying for your attention. There must be differences among them all, which begs the question – who gives the most accurate weather forecasts?

A group called ForecastWatch devotes all of its time to answering this question, as it turns out. From 2010 to 2016, ForecastWatch has analyzed more than 142 forecasts. It rated each one as accurate if precipitation predictions came true, and if high and low temperature forecasts came within three degrees Fahrenheit.

ForecastWatch then sorted the results into three categories – 1-3 day forecasts, 3-5 day forecasts and 6-9 day forecasts. The results were very close in several instances, but The Weather Channel and Weather Underground were often in the top two from year to year.

Here’s a look at the accuracy winners:

1-3 Day Forecasts: The Weather Channel (2010, 2011, 2013, 2016), Weather Underground (2014, 2015) and MeteoGroup (2012)

3-5 Day Forecasts: The Weather Channel (2010, 2011, 2015-tie, 2016), Weather Underground (2015-tie) and MeteoGroup (2012, 2013, 2014)

6-9 Day Forecasts: The Weather Channel (2010, 2011, 2013, 2015, 2016) and Foreca (2012, 2014)

Other groups measured included Intellicast, AccuWeather, Dark Sky and World Weather Online. You can review the entire results here.

The data show that the law of diminished returns definitely holds true for weather forecasting. The 1-3 day forecasts were the most accurate, with the best forecasters getting it right about 75% of the time. The best 3-5 day forecasts slip to around 70% accuracy, while the best 6-9 day forecasts call it accurately just under 60% of the time.

AgWeb has a whole section devoted to weather news, analysis, real-time conditions and plenty of ag-specific maps that track cumulative rainfall, soil temperatures, soil moisture, growing degree days and much more. Go towww.agweb.com/weather to learn more.

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