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Articles from 2014 In December


How cool was it in the Mid-South in 2014?

2014 was the third coolest year for Arkansas since the National Weather Service began keeping records. Temperatures in the Mid-South are expected to continue to be milder than normal for the remainder of the winter as a weak El Nino takes control of the weather patterns. The NWS’ John Lewis talked about the outlook at the Agricultural Council of Arkansas’ annual meeting in Little Rock.  

Iowa grant request seeks infrastructure improvement, could also improve market for higher ethanol blends

The Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Stores of Iowa (PMCI) is asking Iowa’s legislators to implement a grant program to replace aging underground gas and diesel storage tanks. Many tanks are approaching or exceeding their life of 25-30 years and, over time, can become susceptible to leaks and other environmental hazards, says Dawn Carlson, president, PMCI, which represents more than 2,000 business locations in Iowa. Storage tanks currently in place were not designed for higher level ethanol blends so installation of new tanks could enable retailers to offer higher blends in the future, Carlson adds.

Since 2006, Iowa has offered grants to fuel retailers who offer E85 to consumers. These grants are cost-share agreements with 50% of the project eligible for funding up to $50,000, whichever is less, Carlson says. “Retailers are required to submit a grant application with a proposal outlining their project. Eligibility is dependent upon the type of biofuel that is detailed in the grant application. For ethanol, a retailer would agree to dispense E85 for a period of five years.  For biodiesel, a retailer would agree to dispense a minimum biodiesel blend of B2 for five years,” she explains.

“By simply extending the one cent/gallon Environmental Protection Charge (EPC) already collected at the dispenser, lawmakers could finish funding the cleanup of petroleum-contaminated sites and launch this new infrastructure grant program with no impact to the State Budget,” Carlson says. “A cost share program administered by the Underground Storage Tank Cleanup Fund Board would assist owners in replacing aged infrastructure with alternative fuel compatible infrastructure that will protect the environment and help advance biofuels.

“If the legislature approves the request, we anticipate that virtually all of our members will install equipment that is listed by an independent testing laboratory as compatible with higher blends of ethanol,” Carlson says.

More than 100 PMCI member locations currently offer ethanol-blended gasoline above the typical E10. “It’s difficult to place an exact figure on how many more members may choose to offer higher ethanol blends through the use of this program. However, with infrastructure being one of the primary hurdles to the sale of higher ethanol blends, we anticipate that this legislation would be a very significant step towards allowing more retailers to make the decision to sell higher blends of ethanol,” Carlson says.

Carlson adds, “If the grant program is expanded, Iowa may be able to show other states a successful road map toward addressing the infrastructure barrier that exists for higher blends of ethanol with existing retail infrastructure.” 

Read more blogs from Lynn Grooms on the biofuels industry.

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Farmers In Iowa Are Concerned About Pesticide Resistance

Farmers In Iowa Are Concerned About Pesticide Resistance

Many Iowa farmers believe they have identified pesticide resistance on the land they farm, and most are concerned that herbicide-resistant weeds and pesticide-resistant insects will become a problem, according to a new report from the Iowa Farm and Rural Life Poll.

AWARE OF PROBLEM: Many farmers believe they have identified pesticide resistance on the land they farm. Most are concerned herbicide-resistant weeds and pesticide-resistant insects will become a problem, says a new report from Iowa Farm and Rural Life Poll.

"Farmers understand that the way they use pest management technologies has a major impact on the rate of resistance development. However, they also view resistance management as a community problem involving multiple stakeholders in the agricultural sector," says J. Gordon Arbuckle Jr., a sociologist with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. Arbuckle co-directs the annual poll with Paul Lasley, also an ISU Extension sociologist.

The report on this poll topic is a publication titled "Farmer Perspectives on Pesticide Resistance" (PM 3070) and it is available for free download from the ISU Extension Online Store. It's also available for free download from the ISU Department of Sociology Extension website.

Many view it as an evolving "treadmill" of pesticide resistance
The survey data represents 889 farmers from the 2014 Iowa Farm and Rural Life Poll who planted corn and/or soybeans in 2013. Data from the 2013 and 2012 Farm Poll surveys also are reported.

"The results of the poll indicate most Iowa farmers view pest management as a treadmill cycle of resistance evolution," says Arbuckle. "They feel that when new management technologies are introduced, it's only a matter of time before pests evolve resistance."

The report concludes that this "treadmill" perspective is concerning, because it implies that many farmers feel somewhat powerless to cope with the evolution of resistance. However, the report also points out that the rate at which pests evolve resistance can be slowed significantly through widespread, coordinated pest management practices and strategies.

Who is responsible for pesticide resistance management?
The Iowa Farm Poll asked farmers to rate the level of responsibility that various stakeholders have for contributing to resistance management efforts.

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"Farmers reported that they themselves are most responsible for resistance management. This makes sense, because farm-level strategies such as crop rotation, rotation of different types of pesticides, and other practices as part of integrated pest management programs are the foundation of effective landscape-scale resistance management strategies," Arbuckle says.

"However, farmers also believe that other key stakeholders, such as pesticide manufacturers, university scientists and commercial pesticide applicators, share in the responsibility. This suggests they believe that pesticide resistance management should be a community effort among stakeholders," he adds.

Many farmers no longer develop their own herbicide programs
The survey also found that most farmers do not develop their own herbicide programs, and most are now using custom applicators to apply their herbicides. "Most farmers look to their agricultural retailers and crop advisers for guidance on weed and insect management," Arbuckle notes. "These stakeholders have a critical role in helping farmers to implement effective resistance management strategies.

"Pesticide resistance is becoming more common in Iowa. Now would be a good time for farmers and other stakeholders to get together to work on coordinated, collaborative resistance management approaches," he says.

About the Iowa Farm and Rural Life Poll: Conducted every year since its establishment in 1982, the Iowa Farm & Rural Life Poll is the longest-running survey of its kind in the nation. ISU Extension, the Iowa Agriculture and Home Economics Experiment Station, the Iowa Department of Agriculture & Land Stewardship, and the Iowa Agricultural Statistics Service are all partners in the Farm Poll effort.

Farmers Continue Strong Demand For Conservation Cost-Share

Farmers Continue Strong Demand For Conservation Cost-Share

Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey says 2,382 Iowa farmers used state cost share funds to install conservation practices during the state's 2014 fiscal year, which ran from July 1, 2013 to June 30, 2014. These farmers contributed $13 million while the state contributed $9.5 million in cost-share and administrative support provided by the Iowa Department of Agriculture & Land Stewardship.

A copy of the soil conservation cost-share annual report can be found www.IowaAgriculture.gov under the "Hot Topics" section.

FARMERS CONTRIBUTE: In Iowa 2,382 farmers invested $13 million on soil and water conservation practices through state cost-share program in fiscal year 2014. Farmers more than matched state's $9.5 million investment.

Farmers more than match state's $9.5 million investment
"The state cost-share program has been around for more than 40 years and we continue to see very strong demand from farmers and landowners who more than match the state investment to install conservation practices," Northey says. "Thanks to investments by farmers and the state funds, more than $22 million was used to build conservation structures and adopt conservation practices that prevent erosion and improve water quality."

The report shows 58% of funds used for cost-share supported construction of terraces, 11% for grade stabilization structures, 9% for grassed waterways, 7% for water and sediment control basins and 2% for other practices. In addition, 13% of the funds supported management practices such as cover crops, no-till and strip till that reduce erosion.

Over half of cost-share funds are used for terraces
The report also details how farmers can work with their local Soil and Water Conservation District offices to apply for cost share assistance. Iowa has 100 SWCD offices across the state, one in each county and two in Pottawattamie. They set priorities and use the funds to work with farmers who are doing conservation on their land.

The state ag department has more than $6.75 million this fiscal year to help farmers and landowners install conservation practices through the state cost-share program. Conservation practices eligible for assistance through this program include terraces, waterways, ponds, buffers, cover crops, and several other conservation practices.

Field office staff with the Iowa Department of Agriculture & Land Stewardship partner with USDA's Natural Resource Conservation Service to assure technical quality of practices that are built and help farmers develop conservation plans for their farms.

Iowa Corn Growers Support Nutrient Use, Land Management Research

Iowa Corn Growers Support Nutrient Use, Land Management Research

The Iowa Corn Promotion Board, Iowa State University, and the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship are partnering on a new effort to improve farm productivity and water quality. The project involves documenting the effectiveness of in-field and edge-of-field nutrient management practices for selected drainage districts (DD) in Palo Alto (DD 15 North), Pocahontas (DD 65, 48-81, 178), and Clay (DD 8) counties in Iowa.

SAVE MONEY, BOOST YIELD: Farmers taking part in a unique ISU research project can anonymously evaluate their individual nutrient application rates and crop yields to possibly improve yields, fine-tune nutrient inputs and consider if improved drainage can increase potential crop yields and enhance water quality.

Farmers that participate will lead the voluntary-based approach to help reduce nitrogen and phosphorus exports to downstream waters by using documentation at the multiple-farm scale. Documentation will note potential nitrogen and phosphorus losses in relation to in-field and edge-of-field nutrient management, which support the efforts of the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy.

Participating farmers can evaluate their nutrient application rates
"As farmers, we take stewardship very seriously. While we cannot control the weather, we do control the manner in which nutrients are applied to our land. Our land is precious, and we applaud farmers who make improvements to their land that dramatically impact water quality," says Wayne Humphreys, a farmer from Columbus Junction, who chairs the Animal Ag & Environment Committee for Iowa Corn.

Farmers participating in the research project can anonymously evaluate their individual nutrient application rates and crop yields to possibly improve yields, fine-tune nutrient inputs and consider if improved drainage within the drainage district can increase potential crop yields and enhance water quality.

"Project partners are committed to working with farmers and documenting what can be done in the voluntary-based approach. Ultimate success will depend on the assistance of farmers in documenting practices implemented in these drainage districts," says ag engineering professor Matt Helmers of Iowa State University, who is involved with the project. Farmers in these drainage districts can learn more about participating in the project by calling Helmers at 515-294-6717 or by emailing mhelmers@iastate.edu.

Statewide Training For Commercial Manure Applicators Is January 6

Statewide Training For Commercial Manure Applicators Is January 6

Commercial manure applicators can attend annual training on January 6, 2015 to meet state commercial manure applicator certification requirements. Iowa State University Extension and Outreach and the Iowa Department of Natural Resources will conduct Commercial Manure Applicator training from 9 a.m. to noon at 72 Iowa locations, two Wisconsin locations and one location in Minnesota. Doors open at 8:30 a.m.

There is no fee to attend the workshop, but applicators must register with the ISU Extension and Outreach county office where they plan to attend. A complete list of workshop locations can be found on the Iowa Manure Management Action Group.

CERTIFICATION TRAINING: Iowa State University Extension is teaming up with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources to conduct training sessions for commercial manure applicators on Jan. 6 at 72 locations in Iowa, two Wisconsin locations and one location in Minnesota.

All currently certified commercial applicator licenses expire March 1
Commercial manure applicators needing to recertify and those wanting to certify for the first time should attend. All currently certified commercial manure applicator licenses will expire on March 1, 2015. Those wanting to renew must complete training requirements and submit forms and fees to the DNR prior to March 1 to avoid paying late fees. The law requires all commercial manure applicators attend three hours of training annually to meet certification requirements. Businesses that primarily truck or haul manure of any type or from any source also are required to meet certification requirements.

Those unable to attend the program on January 6 should contact their ISU Extension county office for information on a repeat showing of the program. A fee of $10 will be charged to view the training at an alternate time. If attending the workshop or watching the three-hour video is not convenient, commercial applicators may contact their local DNR field office to schedule an appointment to take the certification exam.

ISU also has workshops for dry/solid manure applicators in February
In addition to the commercial manure applicator training offered on January 6, ISU Extension will offer seven dry/solid manure workshops for commercial manure applicators in February 2015. Information regarding these workshops and locations can be found on the Iowa Manure Management Action Group website. While the program requirements are the same, this program includes information for applying dry/solid manure.

Questions about the commercial manure applicator certification program can be directed to any ISU Extension and Outreach county office or Iowa Manure Management Action Group.

2015 FinOvation Award winners

The ever-increasing competition from agricultural companies breeds unique innovations you can put to work on your farm. We honor those tools and products you, dear reader, find most interesting. Whether you saw it online and clicked for more, or you asked for information from our magazine using the reader service card, you were electing FinOvation honorees.

Vote for the 2015 FinOvation Product of the Year.

As with any year in this competition, the companies highlighted here offer a range of new tools and technologies for your operation. And you’ll find a healthy variety of products in this year’s mix. Those featured here are chosen from a long list of products we’ve covered from November 2013 through October. And while we have 20 great products here, there were dozens of candidates again this year. Ag is the focus of innovation for a lot of American industry. And for those companies whose products were well-received but didn’t make the FinOvation list, our hats are off to you anyway, because we know the innovation and opportunity you bring to the industry.

The categories and innovations featured here give you some ideas for new purchases for 2015, too. We have a first in that two brands offered a similar product, and readers responded to both. They’re both honored here. From new utility vehicles to key tech in tires, from new tools for planting to hot harvest products, readers responded to the innovations they found and wanted to know more. So read on to check out the 2015 FinOvation honorees. They represent a lot of research and development in new ways to make life easier, and more productive, on the farm.

Don't miss out on past winners:

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Will the funds continue to place bullish bets on corn, soybeans?

Will the funds continue to place bullish bets on corn, soybeans?

Corn has pulled back a bit from Monday's recent highs as limited headlines prove not enough to feed what has been an increasing number of bulls. Demand here in the U.S. has remained strong, but the bears continue to question how long ethanol plants will continue to operate under the current highly profitable margins? There was also some confirmation yesterday that the Chinese are going to auction off some 5.0 MMTs of corn from their domestic supply next week. I'm not certain about the overall "quality" of their corn being auctioned off, but it will be something I monitor. As a producer, I continue to hold out for slightly higher corn prices before pulling the trigger on additional sales. From a spec perspective, I prefer being a longer-term buyer on a deeper break.

CFTC Data, Hedge Funds and the Grain Market: The latest CFTC data showed hedged funds increased their bullish stance in both corn and wheat to fresh new seven-month highs. Interestingly, speculative net longs are now seen across the board in wheat, corn, soybeans, meal, soybean oil and even cotton. Hedge funds cut their gross long positions in both live and feeder cattle.

Soybeans remain stuck in a sideways channel, but I remain optimistic, believing higher prices might be right around the next corner. Demand obviously remains strong, and the late-planted crop in Brazil clearly has the global market a bit nervous. I've been saying it for several weeks, the world is just not comfortable as of yet in pricing soy at what is perceived to be discount levels (sub-$9.60). My thoughts are if we can catch a bullish weather headline out of South America within the next few weeks (which I believe that card is in the deck) we could take out the most recent new-crop NOV15 high of $10.56^6. I am sticking with the thought that higher soybean prices might be in our near-term future.  

Get my daily report.

Get Ready To Celebrate ANR Week's Centennial Year March 7-14

Get Ready To Celebrate ANR Week's Centennial Year March 7-14

For 100 years, Michigan State University and the MSU College of Agriculture and Natural Resources have welcomed visitors to Agriculture and Natural Resources Week. This year's event is March 7-14. With more than 50 programs and annual association meetings on and near the East Lansing campus, ANR Week is the largest event of its kind in the nation.

The ANR Week centennial is not the only milestone this year -- the Quiet Water Symposium celebrates its 20th anniversary, and the 2015 Beekeepers Annual Conference marks the 150th occurrence.

Get Ready To Celebrate ANR Week's Centennial Year March 7-14

This year's event offers educational programs in areas such as animal science, agriculture and the natural environment. Additional educational programming topics range from small flock poultry management to forage technology acidified food programs.

The annual ANR Week Luncheon will take place March 10 at the Kellogg Hotel and Conference Center. There the CANR will honor alumni, industry leaders, and faculty and staff members for their excellence and support of the college. Presentations will be given by MSU Provost June Pierce Youatt, MSU President Lou Anna K. Simon and CANR Dean Fred Poston. Awards given will be the Distinguished Faculty Award, the Honorary Alumni Award, the Outstanding Alumni Award and the Distinguished Service Award. Registration for the luncheon begins in January.

The 2015 ANR Week program guide -- with dates, times, location, costs and event descriptions -- will be available online in early 2015. For more information on the centennial year's events, visit anrweek.canr.msu.edu or contact program coordinator Jennifer Labun at 517-884-7351 or events@anr.msu.edu

Michigan Wildlife Council seeks firm for new campaign

Michigan Wildlife Council seeks firm for new campaign

Just four months after its first official meeting, the Michigan Wildlife Council is moving firmly ahead on a statewide information campaign focused on elevating awareness about the importance of Michigan’s hunting, fishing and trapping traditions to wildlife and habitat management statewide.

Earlier this week, the council released its request for proposals from qualified marketing and advertising firms that can develop, implement and manage the campaign.

Michigan Wildlife Council seeks firm for new campaign

Under the direction of the Michigan Wildlife Council, the firm will collect, compile and analyze baseline research to understand the public’s attitudes and perceptions about hunting, fishing and trapping and the benefits derived from these activities. Those findings will help to shape an information campaign that will incorporate brand identification, key messaging and creative imagery.

“Our main goal with this campaign is to build awareness of the essential role that sportsmen and sportswomen play in furthering wildlife conservation in Michigan,” says Carol Moncrieff Rose, Michigan Wildlife Council chairwoman. “We are excited to see what messages and creative products the selected firm is able to develop around what we learn from the baseline research.”

Campaign products will target Michigan residents and provide information about the values and benefits of hunting, fishing and trapping in Michigan. The campaign will tell the story of how these outdoor traditions are:
•Necessary for the conservation, preservation and management of Michigan’s natural resources.
•A valued and integral part of Michigan’s cultural heritage and should forever be preserved.
•An important part of Michigan's economy.
•A primary source of funding for the conservation and management of Michigan’s natural resources.  

“Michigan’s traditions of hunting, fishing and trapping add so much to the quality of life in this state – for all outdoor recreation enthusiasts,” Rose adds. “It’s important that we effectively tell that story of how those traditions help to sustain the natural resources heritage that is such a big part of Michigan’s history, appeal and character.”

The Michigan Wildlife Council exists to inform the public of those traditions while advancing natural resources conservation and management. The council is a governor-appointed, nine-member public body established by Michigan Public Act No. 246 of 2013. It oversees the expenditures from the Michigan Wildlife Management Public Education fund, which is derived from a $1 surcharge on all Michigan hunting base licenses and fishing licenses. PA 246 establishes a maximum of $1.6 million annually for this five-year campaign.

In recent months, the Michigan Wildlife Council has completed several tasks including the adoption of governing bylaws, election of officers and development of a 2015 operational plan and budget. Learn more about the council at michiganwildlifecouncil.org.