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EPA Proposes 2013 Renewable Fuel Standards

EPA Proposes 2013 Renewable Fuel Standards

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Thursday proposed the 2013 percentage standards for four fuel categories that are part of the agency's Renewable Fuel Standard program.

The proposal will be open for a 45-day public comment period and EPA will consider feedback from a range of stakeholders before the proposal is finalized.

The proposed 2013 overall volumes and standards are:

-Biomass-based diesel (1.28 billion gallons; 1.12%)

-Advanced biofuels (2.75 billion gallons; 1.60%)

-Cellulosic biofuels (14 million gallons; 0.008%)

-Total renewable fuels (16.55 billion gallons; 9.63%)

Biofuels groups welcome RFS volume proposal

EPA continues to support the use of renewable fuels within the transportation sector through the RFS2 program, which encourages innovation, strengthens American energy security, and decreases greenhouse gas pollution.

The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 established the RFS2 program and the annual renewable fuel volume targets, which steadily increase to an overall level of 36 billion gallons in 2022. To achieve these volumes, EPA calculates a percentage-based standard for the following year. Based on the standard, each refiner and importer determines the minimum volume of renewable fuel that it must ensure is used in its transportation fuel.

For 2013, the program is proposing to implement EISA's requirement to blend more than 1.35 billion gallons of renewable fuels over the amount mandated for 2012.

The National Biodiesel Board welcomed the EPA proposal in a statement Thursday, noting that the industry was prepared to meet EPA requirements.

"With plants across the country and more than a billion gallons of production last year, the U.S. biodiesel industry is already the leading producer of Advanced Biofuels in the country, accounting for more than 80% of required production to date," Anne Steckel, NBB's vice president of federal affairs, said. "The industry is adding new feedstocks and building capacity every year, and this policy will only help us continue that growth."

Additionally, Growth Energy CEO Tom Buis said his organization would be reviewing the announcement in its entirety, but for now, they were pleased.

The proposed biofuel volumes "were long overdue and we are encouraged that it is a proposed rule with the opportunity for public comment," Buis said. "There are a number of issues that should be considered, which could have serious impacts on the U.S. production of biofuels."

Industry news: Ag Leader GPS system offers accuracy, range, simplicity

Farmers requiring sub-inch accuracy for tiling and other precision farming operations have a new GPS option from Ag Leader Technology, Inc.: the GPS 2500B RTK Base Station. 

Bill Cran, Ag Leader GPS Product Specialist, said, “The GPS 2500B is a dual-frequency 900 MHz RTK Base Station for use with the field-proven GPS 2500 smart antenna.” 

Intended for highly accurate tile installation and pass-to-pass repeatability in field operations, the system can access multiple GNSS signals, including GLONASS.

“The GPS 2500B is ideal for use with the Ag Leader Intellislope Tile Plow Control system. Growers with the Ag Leader OnTrac2+ Assisted Steering system can also benefit from the increased accuracy, “ Cran explained. 

Setup of the GPS 2500B base station is quick and easy: the operator simply mounts the unit on the included tripod and connects to a 12-volt power source. The unit can also be permanently mounted for long-term repeatability. 

The base station also features improved GNSS performance, a full graphic display with menu selection keys and standard USB flash drive data transfer. The unit is protected in a rugged housing that is resistant to damage from dust and liquid. 

RTK radio kits will be available for those who would like to upgrade their existing GPS 2500 receivers. Growers can consult an Ag Leader dealer or visit for complete details. 


Drought persists for farmers in Plains, western Midwest

While the drought no longer dominates headlines, it remains a serious concern for farmers across the U.S. Plains and western Midwest.

Dry weather conditions persist and, with only light showers and snowfall on the immediate horizon for many, farmers may encounter fields suffering from depleted subsoil moisture when planting begins across the central United States in about 10 weeks.

“Once temperatures drop, public attention shifts away from the drought conditions that persist,” said National Corn Growers Association President Pam Johnson. “News stories have begun speaking of the drought of 2012 as if it were in the past.

“But, for many farmers, the drought has not ended and there is no relief in sight. While facing the possibility of another dry year, farmers must focus on advocating for the risk management tools that they need by pushing their legislators to pass a new five-year farm bill.”

Forecasts from a variety of sources indicate the drought may impact many farmers for the foreseeable future.

”The Plains and the northwest Midwest will still struggle with drought, there’s not a whole lot of relief seen,” said John Dee, meteorologist for Global Weather Monitor, in a recent Reuters interview.

The most recent update of the U.S. drought monitor, which captures conditions through Jan. 22, indicates that roughly 57.64 percent of the contiguous United States was in at least moderate drought. While this does show an improvement from 58.87 percent a week earlier, a large percentage of the western Corn Belt remains in severe to exceptional drought.

DTN Senior Ag Meteorologist Mike Palmerino sees hardly any moisture benefit for the western Corn Belt in the final few weeks of winter.

“West of the Mississippi, I don’t know when the next chance for significant precipitation will be,” Palmerino said. “You could make a case that maybe we’re not looking at much west of the Mississippi all the way through February.”


Soil fertility workshops set for Dumas, Jonesboro

Row crop producers can get deep into the dirt at a pair of soil fertility workshops set for Feb. 12 at Arkansas State University in Jonesboro, and Feb. 13, in Dumas, Ark.

Both workshops begin at 9 a.m. Registration is $50, including lunch, and participants should register online here.

The workshops are sponsored by the Arkansas Plant Food Association, the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture and Arkansas State University.

“Both workshops cover different topics related to soil fertility and are tailored for the areas in which they’re being held,” said Leo Espinoza, Extension soil scientist for the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture. “Last year’s workshops were a success and we have put together programs that will satisfy the needs of many of our producers and crop consultants.”

The Feb. 12 workshop at Arkansas State University’s Convocation Center, red entrance, includes:

  • Cover crops -- Steven Green, Arkansas State University.
  • Spatial field soil variability – Ole Wendroth, University of Kentucky.
  • Corn fertility – Leo Espinoza, University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture.
  • Peanut fertility management – Julie Howe, Auburn University.
  • Phosphorous and potassium management – Nathan Slaton, University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture.
  • N-ST*R, or nitrogen soil testing in rice – Trent Roberts, University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture.
  • Water quality in eastern Arkansas – Thad Scott, University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture.

The Feb. 13 workshop at the Dumas Community Center includes:

  • Introduction and Basic Review of Soil Fertility – Trent Roberts. 
  • Phosphorus and Potassium Review – Nathan Slaton.
  • Nutrient Cycle, Soil Reactions, Building/Depleting Soil Test Levels, Fertilizer Sources, Fertilizer Recovery Efficiency.
  • Soil Sampling and Variability within Fields – Leo Espinoza.
  • Soil Test Reports and Recommendations -- Nathan Slaton.
  • The Nitrogen Cycle – Rick Norman.
  • Review of Old and New Fertilizer Technologies -- Morteza Mozaffari, assistant professor, University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture.
  • Water Quality Issues -- Mike Daniels, project director for Discovery Farms.

For more information, contact Leo Espinoza at, or (501) 671-2168. 

ASA backs bill eliminating duplicative pesticide permit requirements

The American Soybean Association (ASA) welcomes legislation introduced Jan. 30 from Kansas Sen. Pat Robertsand Nebraska Sen. Mike Johannsthat amends the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) to eliminate the duplicative pesticide permitting requirements under the Clean Water Act.

The bill, S. 175, will ensure that Clean Water Act permits are not needed for the applications of pesticides currently registered under FIFRA.

Danny Murphy, ASA President and soybean farmer from Canton, Miss., hadthe following statement on the legislation: 

“The elimination of these redundant pesticide permitting requirements has been a priority for ASA since 2010, and we are very supportive of Senator Roberts and Senator Johanns in their efforts to reduce the red tape for our farmers. Farmers are always willing to cooperate with regulations based on sound science and grounded in practical, real-world farming practices. This legislation will remove the uncertainty that the current system creates, while leaving well-established rules in place to effectively protect the environment. We commend Senators Roberts and Johanns on their work, and call on the Senate to pass this bill quickly.” 

MSU students win at cotton conferences

Two Mississippi State University graduate students in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences took home honors from the 2013 Beltwide Cotton Conferences.

Zach Reynolds of Starkville, a master’s student in agronomy, won first place in the poster competition at the Weed Science Technical Conference. He presented his research evaluating the effectiveness of pre- and post-emergence herbicides on Palmer amaranth, commonly called pigweed.

Chase Samples of Ashland, a master’s student in agronomy, won second place in the poster competition at the Agronomy and Physiology Technical Conference. He shared his findings on the effect of nitrogen application rate and plant population on cotton growth, development and yield.

Darrin Dodds, state Extension cotton specialist and graduate adviser to Reynolds and Samples, said the Beltwide Cotton Conferences are the premier conferences for technical information on all aspects of cotton production.

“The conference is designed to quickly transfer relevant research findings and technological advances to increase the industry’s sustainability and productivity,” Dodds said. “The awards received at the 2013 Beltwide Cotton Conferences are reflective of the hard work these students put in throughout the year. It is an honor for me to serve as graduate adviser to such a talented group of students.” 

Resistant weeds topic of management roundtable Feb. 12 in Dumas

Managing resistant weeds, one of the most difficult tasks in farming today, is the topic of an informal roundtable discussion set for Tuesday, Feb. 12, at the Dumas Community Center. The meeting will begin at 4:30 p.m.

There’s no cost to attend, but RSVPs to the Desha County extension office, (870) 222-3972, are appreciated for a dinner head count. In addition to the roundtable, there will also be grower recognitions and an Industry Update from agricultural service company representatives. Registered attendees will be entered into drawings for door prizes. For Certified Crop Advisors, continuing education credits will be available.

“This is chance for growers and consultants to share, informally, some of the concerns and issues they have had in managing the problem of resistant weeds with experts from the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture.  It will also be a good opportunity to hear industry representatives explain their resistance management programs or discuss any new products that they may have to offer,” said Wes Kirkpatrick, Desha County Extension staff chair.

Among those taking part in the round table, Extension weed scientists Bob Scott and Tom Barber; Jason Kelley, Extension wheat and feed grains agronomist; Jeremy Ross, soybean agronomist, and Jarrod Hardke, Extension rice agronomist.

The meeting will also include updates from industry sponsors of the event. 

Industry news: Kinze launching narrow transport planter with improved seed metering

Industry news: Kinze launching narrow transport planter with improved seed metering

Kinze Manufacturing Inc. is launching a new narrow-transport, front-fold, 30-inch row spacing planter with improved seed placement accuracy at higher operating speeds.

With seed costs seemingly rising every year, farmers can’t afford many misses when it comes to putting seed in the ground. That’s why Kinze decided to revamp the seed metering mechanism on its new Kinze 4900 planter.

The new patent-pending seed meter offers 99-percent-plus accuracy at speeds from 2 to 8 mph. The meter is available with contact drive, hydraulic drive, and — new with the 4900 planter — electric drive (also patent pending).

“Rugged, high torque 24V motors allow for precise seed rate control by row,” says Rhett Schildroth, Kinze product manager. “This means farmers will get consistent seed spacing from the inside row to the outside row — even on tight radius turns and contours. Electric drive means there are no chains, clutches, gearboxes or shafts to maintain.”

The new 4900 planter series, was unveiled during a launch event at Kinze’s world headquarters in Williamsburg, Iowa.

Besides the new narrow transport front-fold frame design and 30” row spacing, farmers will have a choice of 12, 16, or 24 rows.

“We conducted extensive research with farmers and engineered a new design, which provides superior agronomic performance,” says Schildroth.

“We designed a new, front folding tool bar, engineered a state of the art vacuum meter with optional electric drive and created a cast iron row unit with more vertical travel.”

The new planter frame has 42 degrees of wing flex (21 degrees up, 21 degrees down) to offer superior ground contact on rolling terrain and terraces. With the new bulk fill tank design, the 16- and 24-row planters offer 120-bushel capacity while the 12-row offers 90-bushel capacity.

Further, the planter frame incorporates hydraulic weight transfer, another feature requested by grower. This minimizes potential compaction and ensures that the row units provide a consistent seed depth while moving across the field, even on the roughest terrain.

Additionally, with up to 120 bushels of seed and 500 gallons of liquid fertilizer capacity, the 4900 planter allows farmers to continue planting for long periods of time without having to stop and refill.

Maneuverability is critical, so Kinze engineers incorporated an industry exclusive flip-axle option (patent pending) for the 24-row planter to significantly reduce hitch weight and make it easy to move in and out of fields. The flip axle hydraulically swings forward for transport, reducing the hitch to axle distance by nearly 5 feet for a tighter turning radius and reduced hitch weight. The toolbar has been raised to provide higher in-field clearance and to improve residue flow.

The brand new row unit has a rugged cast iron design, providing the necessary stiffness for perfect seed placement, even in today’s toughest no-till fields. In addition, row unit vertical travel has been increased to 12” keeping all row units in the ground on steep slopes and terraces.

The Kinze 4900 series planters will be available for orders in May 2013 for use during the 2014 planting season.

The 4900 series planter can be used for corn, soybeans, sugar beets, sunflowers and milo when planted on 30” rows. 

Farmers can select from a variety of technology and accessory options to fit their needs. Additionally, all 4900 models feature ISOBUS compatible electronics.

For more information farmers can contact their Kinze dealer or visit


Study finds spring calving more likely when barometer is on the rise

Beef cattle due in the spring are more likely to give birth when the barometer is on the rise, but warm temperatures are more likely to be a birth trigger for beef cows due in the fall, according to researchers with the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture.

“Ranchers have observed that cattle often calve when skies are clear and temperatures are cold -- especially in the early spring,” said Tom Troxel, associate head-Animal Science, for the university. “It was an observation worth exploring.”

Troxel and University of Arkansas colleague Shane Gadberry, associate professor, made a study of it and their results were published last May in the Journal of Animal Science.

The two examined the relationship between barometric pressure and high and low temperatures and when beef cattle gave birth. Specifically, the two tested the idea that an increase in barometric pressure and a decrease in daily high temperatures, and an increase in daily low temperatures are associated with an increase in fall and spring births among beef cows.

The two looked at spring and fall calving records for the five years between 2005 and 2009 from the Livestock and Forestry Research Station in Batesville and the Savoy Research Unit of the university’s animal science department.

All of the cows had previously given birth and were predominantly Angus. None of them was artificially inseminated. The dates their calves were born were compared against pressure, minimum and maximum temperatures obtained from the Southern Regional Climate Center at LSU.

“For spring-calving season, barometric pressure was greater prior to calving compared to cows that did not calve,” Troxel said. “The indication is that beef cows who come due in the spring, have a better chance of calving when the barometric pressure rises, than when low pressure moves in.” 

Both maximum and minimum temperatures prior to calving were lower on those cows that calved compared with the cows that did not calve.

“A departing storm system will often be followed by a trend toward more tranquil weather and increasing barometric pressure, including clearing and cooler conditions,” Troxel said. “Those conditions may initiate calving.”

Temperature, not pressure, was a stronger indicator for beef cows due to give birth in the fall. Calving was more likely on days when the day’s minimum and maximum temperatures weren’t falling.

“Noting these weather patterns could help producers in improving timely obstetrical assistance and thus saving more calves at birth,” Troxel said.

For more information about cattle production, contact your county Extension office, or visit or  

Produce growers should review federal proposal

Produce growers should review federal proposal

Growers should be aware of the Produce Safety Rule proposed Jan. 4 by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, according to a food-safety expert in Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences.

If adopted, it will establish mandatory practices that farmers must employ to prevent microbial contamination of fresh produce.

The draft regulation is far reaching, explained Luke LaBorde, professor of food science. It will address worker health and hygiene, the quality of agricultural water, biological soil amendments, the use of domesticated animals, potential contamination by wild animals and sanitation standards for equipment, tools and buildings.

LaBorde stressed some important points about the proposed rule.

"First, it covers only fresh produce that is sold commercially," he said. "It does not apply to produce used for personal consumption, such as home gardens."

The focus of the new regulation is on fruits, vegetables, nuts, herbs, mushrooms and sprouts that typically are eaten raw, not commodities that generally are cooked or further processed, LaBorde noted.

"For example, potatoes, eggplant, winter squash, beets and beans for drying are exempt," he said.

Not all farms that grow fresh produce will be required to comply with the rule. Farms with gross food sales under $25,000 are exempt. Farms with gross food sales over $500,000 generally are required to comply.

"Those with total sales of between $25,000 and $500,000 may or may not receive exemptions, depending on what kind of marketing channels are used," LaBorde explained. "For instance, if farmers sell more than half of their strawberry crop directly to consumers -- such as at a farmers market or farm stand -- or if they deliver it directly to a grocery store or restaurant, they are exempt from the regulation.

"However, to receive this exemption, these kinds of direct sales must be to buyers in the same state as the farm, or if out of state, no farther than 275 miles from the farm."

If a crop is sold mostly through wholesale outlets, such as through distributors, warehouses or fresh-cut processors, the farm is not exempt and is covered under the rule, according to LaBorde.

"Exemptions can be canceled if the Food and Drug Administration determines that a farm may be a source of contaminated produce," he said.

"And finally, keep in mind that growers of any size who sell at least some of their crop through wholesale marketing channels, even if technically not covered by the federal regulation, have been facing and will continue to face standards at least as stringent as anything in the final regulations."

FDA requirement highlights

LaBorde provided highlights of the requirements FDA would issue in the final regulation:

-- Worker health and hygiene: Farm and packing-house workers who harvest or handle fresh produce, and their supervisors, must receive training on personal hygiene and health conditions that can increase the risk of food contamination. Growers are required to show proof of training by keeping written records.

Also, toilet facilities have to be readily accessible, kept reasonably clean and supplied with toilet paper. Hand-washing stations must be close to toilet facilities and supplied with potable running water, hand soap and clean, single-use towels.

-- Agricultural water: Growers must be able to demonstrate that the water they use for irrigation, pesticide preparation, cooling and washing, and so forth is safe for its intended use. Maximum average E. coli levels of 126 cells per 100 milliliters have been proposed for irrigation water that can contact the edible part of the crop.

Water used for post-harvest operations faces more stringent standards. No detectable levels of E. coli are allowed.

-- Biological soil amendments: At least a nine-month interval would be required between application of raw animal manure to produce fields and harvesting if there is a possibility that the manure may contact the produce. Composted animal manures can be applied from 0 to 45 days before harvest depending on whether or not it can contact the crop.

Growers or their commercial compost suppliers must provide proof through laboratory testing that the composting process was adequate to make their compost safe to use. No human waste is allowed on fields except in the case of sewage sludge biosolids that are treated according to already existing regulations.

-- Domesticated animals: Working animals, such as mules and horses, are allowed in produce fields as long as the grower can demonstrate that he or she has taken adequate measures to prevent contamination. If animals are allowed to graze in areas intended for produce growing, the nine-month waiting period specified for application of raw manure would apply.

-- Wild animals: The Food and Drug Administration recognizes that it is impossible to keep all wild animals away from produce fields. If the situation is out of control and there is a reasonable probability that wild animals can contaminate produce, growers would be required to monitor their fields for signs of animals and take some kind of preventative measure to keep them out or discourage them from entering.

-- Equipment, tools, and buildings: Equipment and tools need to be kept reasonably clean. Sanitation standards for packing buildings require good water drainage, control of dripping condensation, a pest-control program and regular clean-up of trash. Partially enclosed packing buildings are acceptable if the grower or packer takes precautions to prevent birds and other pests from becoming established in the buildings.

"Remember, this is a proposed rule and it is not a final regulation," LaBorde said. "This means that growers have an opportunity to comment on any part of the rule they do not understand or that they object to."

The draft ruling is available for viewing online at The public can submit comment on the draft rule until May 16. Before this date, the Food and Drug Administration will be holding public meetings to explain the proposal and to provide additional opportunity for input.

There are two ways to send comments. They may be submitted through the Internet at Instructions for submitting comments are on the site.

Also, written comments may be faxed to FDA at 301-827-6870, or mailed to the Division of Dockets Management (HFA-305), Food and Drug Administration, 5630 Fishers Lane, Room. 1061, Rockville, Md., 20852. All written submissions received must include the Docket No. (FDA-2011-N-0921).