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Articles from 2014 In April

Missouri Economy Reaps Benefits From Renewable Fuels Industry

Missouri Economy Reaps Benefits From Renewable Fuels Industry

The Fuels America coalition released an economic impact study by John Dunham & Associates showing the far-reaching benefits of renewable fuels for Missouri workers and businesses.

Renewable fuels now represent nearly 10% of America's fuel supply and have helped reduce U.S. reliance on foreign oil to the lowest level in years.  The analysis takes into account the entire supply chain for renewable fuels and quantifies the impact to the economy.

Benefits to Missouri from the renewable fuels industry include:

  • Driving $6.3 billion of economic output
  • Supporting 42,916 jobs and $1.5 billion in wages
  • Generating $166.3 million in state tax revenue each year 

The full analysis is available on the Fuels America website, including detailed state by state reports.

Renewable fuels now represent nearly 10% of America's fuel supply and have helped reduce U.S. reliance on foreign oil to the lowest level in years.

The report tells the story of an innovative, advanced renewable fuels and biofuels industry that is producing growing benefits for America's economy. "The data are in: The Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) is driving billions of dollars of economic activity across America," the report concludes. "This is the result of years of investment by the biofuel sector to bring clean, low carbon renewable fuels to market."

The RFS calls for the use of American-grown renewable fuels in our transportation fuel supply. The oil industry is urging the U.S. EPA and/or Congress to repeal or weaken the RFS so that renewable fuels do not further reduce oil industry market share.

Source: Fuels America

May Proclaimed Beef Month In Iowa

May Proclaimed Beef Month In Iowa

The month of May has been proclaimed as Beef Month in Iowa by Gov. Terry Branstad at an official signing ceremony in his office in late April. The governor noted the economic impact the beef cattle industry has on Iowa. Farmers in the state raise nearly 4 million beef cattle, and the products and services they use on their farms in cattle production provides jobs for thousands of Iowans.

Beef is a nutrient-rich food served in thousands of restaurants, food service facilities, and schools in the state. And, of course, it is found on the dining room tables of most Iowa homes, as well.

The Governor's proclamation reads:

MAKING IT OFFICIAL: Attending the May Beef Month proclamation signing by Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad were (from left) Justin Rowe, Dallas Center; Jim Miller, Indianola; Jon McClure, Dallas Center; Gene Bedwell, Osceola; Justine Stevenson, director of policy for ICA; and Doug Bear, director of industry relations, Iowa Beef Industry Council.

WHEREAS, Iowa is a major beef producing state with nearly 3.70 million head of cattle on January 1, 2014; and

WHEREAS, the beef industry contributes greatly to our economy by generating in excess of $5.5 billion annually, and creating jobs for nearly 40,000 Iowans; and

WHEREAS, today's beef is a naturally nutrient-rich food providing protein, iron, zinc and B-vitamins; and

WHEREAS, beef producers are the original environmentalists working to conserve the soil and making optimum use of natural resources; and

WHEREAS, Iowa is a leader in the export of value-added agriculture products, shipping high-quality Iowa beef to other countries around the world; and

WHEREAS, there is an ever-increasing need for better understanding of the benefits that the beef industry provides to all Iowans;

NOW, THEREFORE, I, Terry E. Branstad, Governor of the State of Iowa, do hereby proclaim the month of May 2014 as Beef Month in Iowa, and urge all citizens to appreciate the contributions the beef industry continues to provide to our state.

About the Iowa Cattlemen's Association: The Iowa Cattlemen's Association represents about 10,000 beef-producing families and associated companies dedicated to the future of Iowa's beef industry. ICA's mission is "Grow Iowa's beef business through advocacy, leadership and education."

Cover Crops Have Little Or No Effect On Corn, Soybean Yield

Cover Crops Have Little Or No Effect On Corn, Soybean Yield

Cereal rye cover crops added to a corn-soybean rotation seems to have little effect on yield, according to a five-year study conducted by Iowa Learning Farms and Practical Farmers of Iowa. Ten Iowa farmers have devoted part of their acres to conduct the study.

Between 2009 and 2013, the farmers established side-by-side strips of corn/soybean crops with a winter cereal rye cover crop, and strips using no cover crop, replicated at least two times. The cover crop was either drilled after harvest or aerially seeded into standing crops each fall. At each site, the cover crop was terminated the following spring by herbicide.

ON-FARM YIELD STUDY: Cereal rye cover crop added to a corn-soybean rotation seemed to have little or no effect on yield, according to a five-year study in Iowa. Ten farmers devoted part of their acres to conduct the study.

When the project began, the farmers were concerned that the winter cereal rye would impact their corn or soybean yields negatively. But after harvest was completed each year, the farmers reported that this was not so. The properly managed cover crops had little to no negative effect and, in some cases, actually improved soybean yield.

Management of cover crop crucial in corn-bean rotation
"When I first started the trial, I thought the following crop would suffer because of the competition for water and nutrients," says Butler County farmer Rick Juchems. "That has been proven wrong with stronger yields and better soil quality." Juchems' corn yields remained steady and he saw a slight improvement in soybean yields on the cover crop acres last year as well as in 2011.

Proper management is a key issue when incorporating cover crops into a corn-soybean rotation. Knowing which cover crop to plant, when and how to plant and terminate the cover crop are the main components to successful management. There are many resources to help farmers with answers to these management details. Primary resources can be a cover crop farmer champion contacted through the ILF or PFI network, or a local Extension field agronomist or NRCS field specialist.


Benefits of cover crops add up for farm fields
Cover crops provide numerous benefits to farm fields. They reduce erosion by holding soil in place, increase soil microbial activity and nutrient cycling, reduce excess nitrogen and increase soil carbon. The biomass from the plant helps to build soil organic matter as well. Cover crop varieties range from grains like cereal rye, legumes such as hairy vetch, and brassicas including radish and rapeseed. Winter cereal rye was the only cover crop used in this study.

The farmers in this study include: Bill Buman, Harlan; Jim Funcke, Jefferson; Rick Juchems, Plainfield; Whiterock Conservancy, Coon Rapids; Mark Pokorny, Clutier; George Schaefer, Kalona; Jerry Sindt, Holstein; Rob Stout, West Chester; Gary and Dave Nelson, Fort Dodge; and Kelly Tobin, New Market.

A four-page summary of the study is available online at the ILF website and the PFI website.

Expert sources can help farmers with cover crop details
Founded in 1985, Practical Farmers of Iowa is an open, supportive and diverse organization of farmers and friends of farmers, advancing profitable, ecologically sound and community-enhancing approaches to agriculture through farmer-to-farmer networking, farmer-led investigation and information sharing. Farmers in our network produce corn, soybeans, beef cattle, hay, fruits and vegetables, and more. For additional information, call 515-232-5661 or visit the PFI website.

Established in 2004, Iowa Learning Farms is building a Culture of Conservation, encouraging adoption of conservation practices. Farmers, researchers and ILF team members are working together to identify and implement the best management practices that improve water quality and soil health while remaining profitable. Partners of Iowa Learning Farms are the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture, Iowa Natural Resources Conservation Service and Iowa Department of Natural Resources (USEPA section 319), Conserva­tion Districts of Iowa, Iowa Farm Bureau, Iowa Water Center and Practical Farmers of Iowa. For more information about Iowa Learning Farms, visit the website.

Register For ISU Soil Management & Land Valuation Conference

Register For ISU Soil Management & Land Valuation Conference

Current issues in rural property and land management, appraisal, sales and purchase are up for discussion at the annual Soil Management and Land Valuation Conference, May 21 at Iowa State University.

Sponsored by the ISU College of Agriculture & Life Sciences and ISU Extension and Outreach, the Soil Management and Land Valuation Conference is intended for farm managers, rural appraisers, real estate brokers and other rural professionals interested in the land market in Iowa. The 2014 program, to be held at the Scheman Building on the Iowa State campus in Ames, is coordinated by the Iowa Chapter of the American Society of Farm Managers and Rural Appraisers.

REGISTER NOW, GET DISCOUNT: Hot topics at the 2014 Land Valuation

The registration fee is $100 on or before May 7 and $110 after May 7. Complete conference information, including registration, agenda, location and contact information, is available online.

Longest running conference in the history of Iowa State
The Iowa Real Estate Commission has approved this conference for five hours of continuing education for renewal of a real estate and broker's license. This conference also has been approved for five hours of continuing education for Iowa Appraisal License renewal.

This is the longest running conference at Iowa State, said Jennifer Vit, who is with ISU Extension and Outreach Conference Planning and Management. It is designed for anyone who has an interest in agricultural land, land management and land valuation. The program is planned each year by an independent group.

Larry Trede, executive director of ASFMRA, and chair of the conference planning committee, says this year's conference "will focus on issues that are currently important to rural agricultural professionals."

Will examine current issues in rural property management
Leading experts will discuss five current issues and their implications to soil management and land valuation: the U.S. economy and its relationship to Iowa agriculture; weather and climate change and the impact upon agriculture; the use of unmanned aerial systems (drones) and how they can impact agriculture in Iowa; energy production, particularly hydraulic fracturing in oil production; and the impact of livestock production in Iowa and significant trends and changes occurring in the livestock industry and its relationship to Iowa agriculture and Iowa farmland.

The conference offers networking opportunities for professions who have an interest in agricultural land, land management, and land valuation. "Additionally," says Vit, "participants have an opportunity to take part in the annual conference survey and will be asked to provide their estimates of future land values in Iowa and their prediction for corn and soybean prices in the year ahead. Attend and see what your friends and colleagues are thinking about the future value of Iowa farmland."

Alfalfa Weevils Best Controlled with Chemicals

Alfalfa Weevils Best Controlled with Chemicals

The alfalfa weevils are out there.

If you haven't scouted your fields already, you should do it soon, says Kansas State University agronomist Jim Shroyer.

Shroyer spotted a field of alfalfa that he wanted to take a closer look out while touring wheat fields in Sumner County. Upon closer inspection, he found a high population of alfalfa weevils in the field.

Weevils are a major cause of defoliation of alfalfa early in the season. The eggs are often deposited in the fall and hatch when temperatures warm in the spring.

The newly hatched weevils start feeding immediately. White or silvery looking patches in a field indicate there may be a weevil problem.

EASY TO SPOT: Alfalfa weevils quickly drop off plants when disturbed by brushing the leaves of the plants.

As temperatures warm up, the adult weevils leave the alfalfa field and over-summer in shady areas or under leaf piles. They return to the alfalfa field in the fall to deposit eggs in the stems of the plants. They will continue laying eggs until temperatures fall below 48 degrees, then overwinter as both eggs and adults.

Hatching begins as soon as temperatures warm back up to 48 degrees.

The adult females also begin deposited eggs in the spring, which may create a second wave of weevils.

Kansas State University's entomology department recommends insecticides as the best method of control. Other methods, including fall grazing by livestock, flaming and burning or using a roller to squash eggs have limited effectiveness. Chemical control has proved very effective.

WEEVIL ID: These larvae were spotted in a Sumner County field recently. The feed for three to four weeks before pupation and over-summer under leaf debris or in shady areas near the field.

Actual feeding and defoliation in Kansas affects only the first cutting of alfalfa, but excessive loss of foliage can reduce the production of subsequent cuttings. If regrowth is delayed by drought or unseasonably cold weather, both of which have occurred this spring in much of Kansas, there may be additional damage.

According to K-State's publication on alfalfa weevils, under those conditions adult weevils may strip the epidermis from the stems of plants, resulting in patches of dead plants in the field.

Agri Images AgScout Extreme drone for agriculture
<p>The AgScout Extreme from Agri Image can hover in 30 mph winds.</p>

Consultants find ease, multiple uses for ‘drones’ in agriculture

The use of unmanned aerial systems – more commonly called drones – is no longer just a promise for agriculture. The units are now being used on farms across the world.

Based in Milan, Tenn., Agri Image has jumped into the agriculture market in a big way. “We started in the law enforcement market almost five years ago,” says David Pinkerton, fresh off manning a booth at the 2014 Farm and Gin Show in Memphis. “We’ve been researching and developing the systems ever since.”

About a year ago, a crop consultant company approached Agri Image wanting to know “if it was feasible to use a unit like ours to help with their jobs. We began to work with them and, after several months, found that this was very doable. The consultants loved it and it really changed the way they work.

“The units save them a lot of time and are more accurate than if the consultants were just walking through the fields.”

The use of the units for agriculture spread from there. “It’s been a great ride ever since.”


What are they actually using the units for? What about applications for agriculture in the future?

“Right now, they’re using them on almost a daily basis. They’re used for everyday scouting, looking for problem areas in a field. For that, the units employ high-definition video.

“Consultants go out and fly a field, find any problem areas and then drop down 10 feet off the canopy to get a closer look. That high-def video is taken and the unit comes home to land. The consultant then goes back to the office and watches the video to diagnose the issue and then take appropriate action.

Video of units scouting a cotton field.

“These units have really opened eyes as to how much was being missed simply by walking through fields to scout.

“I think the biggest improvement is the amount of time it saves. With one operation it used to take five scouts a week to cover 40,000. Now, they’re covering that same 40,000 acres in three days. That’s actually allowed the business to take on more acreage.”

What do the units actually help with? Wet spots in a field? Poor stands? Insect damage and disease?

“You can pick up pretty much anything with the high-def video. Once you get up in the air and get an overall picture of the field problem areas become obvious – wet spots, planting issues, insect damage.

“Previously, the consultants were walking grids and zigzag patterns through the fields. It was more hit-or-miss whether they found a problem that was out there. Now, they can cover every acre very closely.

“In years past, the consultants were using NDVI imagery from airplanes that allowed them to get the values to do prescription fertilizing and spraying. But that was very expensive and restricted them to known problem fields once a year, if that. Maybe they’d get to 5,000 acres out of the 40,000. Now, with the system we run, they can get that NDVI imagery anytime they want throughout the growing season.”

Resistant weeds?

Can this help catch resistant weeds early?

“Absolutely. The high-definition video alone will do the job.

“Get a few feet off the canopy and aim the camera and you’ll have super high resolution. Back at the office, the software will allow them to pull a still image and zoom in on it to almost leaf-level accuracy. Finding weeds is not an issue. The capability between the camera, the payloads and software is amazing.

“And we’re still learning how best to use these. We’re working with researchers all across the country, finding ways to utilize this system. The researchers are really key to unlocking the potential. They know what is needed, what data they need and the best way to acquire it. So, we’re working very closely with university researchers.”

What about precision applications? Are you considering putting a small tank on these units to allow actual spraying?

“That’s very much in the cards. We’ve already prototyped that.

“We actually have units that are about to be deployed in South America to spray banana trees and coconut trees. Each unit can hold two liters of chemicals. The boom has cameras on it and that allows the operator to set up precisely over the tree and dispense the amount of chemical for treatment.

“In the future, we can increase the spraying capacity by upping the size of the unit.

“Here in the States, we’ll also be using the spraying units on test plots for spot-spraying.

“There are also some hunting guides in Arizona and New Mexico that we’re working with. They’re seeing if they can use them to help their clients get on game.”


On the units’ auto-pilot capabilities…

“All of our units come with full GPS auto-pilot systems. They can be completely controlled with an Android tablet or a laptop.

“You can simply pop in way-points and tell the craft what you want it to do at each. That may be to take a picture with the NIR (Near Infrared) camera or video.

“You can make as many way-points as you want over the field. It’ll actually start up, take off, fly the flight path, complete the flight plan and come home and land. It’s all hands free if that’s what the operator wants.

“To fly it manually, there’s always a live video downlink from the aircraft. That video can go to a monitor or a set of goggles. If you use the goggles it completely blacks everything else out -- like looking at a 55-inch high-def TV from seven feet away. Inside the goggles, there’s a heads up display overlaid on the video providing all the flight data.

“It’s very immersive and almost like sitting inside the aircraft.”

What about using these in rice fields or over water?

“We have a unit designed for water usage. It’s completely water-proof. It floats and will take off and land from water.

“It doesn’t have quite as much flight time as the other units. To make it water-proof we had to add some weight to it. But it’s perfect for rice fields and we’re testing it now. We’re deploying them to Arkansas rice fields this growing season.”

Producer concerns

On what producers are most concerned with…

“Producers I speak with always want to know how to use the data that’s acquired. How can it help make important decisions, make prescriptions?

“With every unit we sell, they must come here and pick it up and complete an in-house training course. That course starts with learning the ins-and-outs of the whole unit, how it operates, how to do simple maintenance, how to understand ground-control software, how to fly it manually to processing images and how to make decisions based on imagery or video. We want them to maximize the return on investment.

“It’s just a one day course. That’s all it takes because they’re so easy to fly and get used to.

“We’ve sold units across the United States – from Washington to Florida. We’ve sold them to folks in South America, the UK, Australia, New Zealand. It’s been very surprising how quickly this has taken off. We never expected sales to ratchet up so fast.

“We’re about to begin full-line manufacturing in Memphis. That’ll be in just a couple of month and we’ll go to completely made in the USA. That’s the way to go to ensure quality.”

Comment period for registration of Enlist Duo begins

EPA has opened a 30-day public comment period for a proposed regulatory decision to register Enlist Duo, which contains glyphosate and the choline salt of 2,4-D for use in controlling weeds in corn and soybeans genetically-engineered (GE) to tolerate 2,4-D. 

According to a news release from EPA, “Weeds are becoming increasingly resistant to glyphosate-based herbicides and are posing a problem for farmers. If finalized, EPA’s action provides an additional tool to reduce the spread of glyphosate resistant weeds.

“To ensure that Enlist Duo successfully manages weed resistance problems, the proposal would impose requirements on the manufacturer including robust monitoring and reporting to EPA, grower education and remediation.”

The proposal would also allow EPA to impose additional restrictions on the manufacturer and the use of the pesticide if resistance develops.

 The choline salt of 2,4-D is less prone to drift and volatilization than its other forms, but is not currently registered for these uses. Glyphosate is already registered for several varieties of GE soybeans and corn. Since no new use pattern and no new exposures for glyphosate are being considered with this registration action, no further assessment is needed for glyphosate.

The herbicide 2,4-D is one of the most widely used herbicides to control weeds and has been registered for many years in the United States and is registered in dozens of countries, such as Canada, Mexico, Japan, 26 European Union Members, and many member countries of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

Public comments on the EPA’s proposed regulatory decision must be submitted no later than May 30, 2014. Comments may be submitted to the EPA docket EPA-HQ-OPP-2014-0195 at

After the comment period closes, EPA will review all of the comments and reach a final decision, which the Agency expects to issue in late summer or early fall.

Questions and Answers about this proposal are available at:


Zone application of Telone producing economic cotton yield returns

There’s no doubt that $50 an acre is a high price to pay for one input, especially if you’re not sure the input will provide an increase in your cotton yields, says Tom Allen, Extension plant pathologist with the Delta Research and Extension Center, Stoneville, Miss.

That’s why growers need to combine applications of Telone II, a soil fumigant that has shown success in controlling nematodes, with site-specific management practices to make sure the Telone gets to areas where it will do the most good.

“You need to put a probe in the ground and determine what your nematode numbers are,” says Mississippi State University’s Allen. “That will be the most effective way to look at those EC management zones and how the application of something like Telone is going to reduce your nematode numbers.”

Allen spoke on site specific nematode management with Telone II in the Mississippi cotton production system at the National Conservation Systems Cotton and Rice Conference in Tunica, Miss.

Applying Telone is not that difficult a practice, according to Allen, who demonstrated how he uses a four-row system equipped with coulters that places the liquid up to 16 inches in the ground. The liquid then vaporizes and kills the nematodes.

Mississippi State researchers have observed yield increases as high as 150 pounds of lint cotton per acre when the Telone reduces nematode populations below threshold levels.


Oregon Finds Wolf Attacks Like Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

Oregon Finds Wolf Attacks Like Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

Unlike cows that haven't had a run-in with depredating wolves, ones that have may experience some post-traumatic stress disorder.

Under those conditions, the cows may find it harder to produce calves, meaning ranchers get less profit from those animals, says a new study released by Oregon State University.

"When wolves kill or injure livestock, ranchers can document financial loss," says Reinaldo Cooke, a OSU animal scientist. "But wolf attacks also create bad memories in the herd and cause  a stress like post-traumatic stress disorder in cows."

Cows previously attacked by wolves react with stress when a German Shepherd appears near their pen.

After a reintroduction to Yellowstone National Park in the last two decades, grey wolves have dispersed through the West and hunted in livestock grazing areas. Since then, OSU researchers have heard reports from ranchers that cows that have come in contact with wolves are  more aggressive, sickly and eat less.

To measure the stress  of a wolf attack on cows – and estimate its lingering effects – researchers simulated a wolf encounter with 100 cows. Half of them had never seen  wolf, and the rest was part of a herd that was previously attacked on the range.

Cows were gathered in a pen scented with wolf urine while pre-recorded wolf howls played over a stereo. Three trained dogs – German Shepherds closely resembling wolves --- walked outside of the pen.

Researchers found that cortisol, a stress hormone, increased by 30% in cows that had been previously exposed to wolves. They bunched up in a corner, formed a protective circle and acted agitated. Their body temperature also increased rapidly, another indicator of stress. Yet, the cows previously unfamiliar with wolves were curious about the dogs and did not show signs of stress.

Multiple studies by Cooke and other researchers have established a link between cow stress and poor performance traits that can cost ranchers.

Thinking Of Teaming Up Bt Corn And Soil Insecticides? Think Again

Thinking Of Teaming Up Bt Corn And Soil Insecticides? Think Again

When you are planting corn this spring, think twice before putting insecticides over the top of your Bt corn. You probably won't get your money's worth back in western corn rootworm control, suggests John Tooker, Penn State Extension entomologist.

Yes, western corn rootworm is a serious pest in continuous corn.  Most growers in Pennsylvania are aware of the ongoing struggle in the Midwest with western populations resistant to some varieties of Bt corn.

TOOKER'S INITIAL ADVICE STANDS: When you are planting corn this spring, think twice prior to putting insecticides over the top of your Bt.

And yes, similar reports of suspected resistance have emerged from Michigan and New York. This resistance issue continues to be a serious and we don't want it to develop in Pennsylvania or the eastern corn regions, he adds. Tooker has addressed this here before, and reminds that rotating crops is the best approach for managing rootworms.

No yield benefit
In response to this resistance threat, many growers have considered putting insecticides over the top of Bt-rootworm seed. "I would, however, like to caution growers that combining these tactics will not necessarily increase yield."

In fact, a recently released research paper from the University of Illinois and one last year from Iowa State University indicate that adding soil insecticides to Bt seed tend to improve root protection a little. But it failed to increase corn yields. 

Together, the two research papers addressed single-trait hybrids, hybrids with more than one Bt gene and refuge-in-a-bag. But, to repeat, insecticides did not provide a yield benefit in any case.

Got more questions? Contact him by email at , or call 814-865-7082.