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Articles from 2015 In May

World hunger falls to fewer than 800 million people

World hunger falls to fewer than 800 million people

There are now fewer hungry people in the world, according to the latest edition of the United Nation's hunger report for 2015.

While the number stands at 795 million, it has dropped by 216 million since 1990-92, UN said.

The proportion of people in developing nations who are unable to consume enough food for an active and healthy life has declined to 12.9% of the population, down from 23.3% a quarter of a century ago.

A majority – 72 out of 129 – of the countries have halved the prevalence of undernourishment by 2015, with developing regions as a whole missing the target by a small margin.

Raising the productivity of family farmers is an effective way out of poverty and hunger, FAO's new report says. (Photo copyright FAO/ Sergey Kozmin)

UN Food and Agriculture Organization Director General José Graziano da Silva said that figure indicateds that hunger can be eliminated "in our lifetime."

Related: Agribusiness Exec Says Hunger Is Multi-Faceted Issue

World Food Program Executive Director Ertharin Cousin added that, "Men, women and children need nutritious food every day to have any chance of a free and prosperous future. Healthy bodies and minds are fundamental to both individual and economic growth, and that growth must be inclusive for us to make hunger history."

Progress towards fully achieving the 2015 food security targets was hampered in recent years by "challenging global economic conditions," the report said, noting that extreme weather, political instability and civil issues have pushed food security back.

Around one of every five of the world's undernourished lives in crisis environments characterized by weak governance and acute vulnerability to death and disease, the report said.

Hunger rates in countries enduring "protracted crises" are more than three times higher than elsewhere. In 2012, 19%of all food-insecure people on the planet were in these situations.

Where hunger remains, is reduced
Large reductions in hunger were achieved in East Asia and very fast progress was posted in Latin America and the Caribbean, southeast and central Asia, as well as some parts of Africa, showing that inclusive economic growth, agricultural investments and social protection, along with political stability makes the elimination of hunger possible.


Sub-Saharan Africa is the region with the highest prevalence of undernourishment in the world – at 23.2%. However, African nations that invested more in improving agricultural productivity and basic infrastructure achieved hunger goals.

Related: Global Dialogue on Family Farming Calls for Policy Action

The proportion of hungry people in Latin America and the Caribbean has dropped from 14.7% to 5.5% since 1990, while the share of underweight children (below 5 years of age) also declined sharply.

Countries in Eastern and Southeast Asia have achieved steady and rapid reduction in both malnourishment indicators. In southern Asia, the prevalence of undernourishment has declined modestly, to 15.7% from 23.9%, but much greater progress was made in reducing underweight among young children.

Severe food insecurity is close to being eradicated in North Africa, with the prevalence of undernourishment below 5%, while dietary quality is of growing concern in the region, where there is a rising prevalence of overweight and obesity.

In West Asia, where hygiene conditions are generally advanced and child underweight rates low, the incidence of hunger has risen due to war, civil strife and consequent large migrant and refugee populations in some countries.

Achieving lower hunger numbers
Improved agricultural productivity, especially by small and family farmers, leads to important gains in hunger and poverty reduction, the report finds.

While economic growth is always beneficial, it needs to be inclusive to help reduce hunger, the report said. Inclusive growth provides a proven avenue for those with fewer assets and skills in boosting their incomes, and providing them the resilience they need to weather natural and man-made shocks.  Raising the productivity of family farmers is an effective way out of poverty and hunger.

The expansion of social protection – often cash transfers to vulnerable households, but also food vouchers, health insurance or school meal programs, perhaps linked to guaranteed procurement contracts with local farmers – correlated strongly with progress in hunger reduction and in assuring that all members of society have the healthy nutrition to pursue productive lives.

View the full State of Food Insecurity in the World 2015 report online.

Good cover crop mix essential for animal and soil health

Matt Poore North Carolina State University Extension ruminant nutrition specialist shows some little barley a weed that is very undesirable in a pasture cover crop mix for grazing cattle
<p style="font-size: 12.8000001907349px; line-height: 20px;">Matt Poore, North Carolina State University Extension ruminant nutrition specialist, shows some little barley, a weed that is very undesirable in a pasture cover crop mix for grazing cattle.</p>

Matt Poore continues to stress the importance of cover crop mixes on grazing land to both improve soil health and increase livestock nutrition.

During the Southeastern Soil Health Field Day held at Fork L Farm in Norwood, N.C. April 29, Poore showed a field where cattle graze that included a great deal of plant diversity, with 13 different species. “Is this always a good thing?” Poore asked.

Poore said diversity is a good thing in terms of both soil health and animal productivity, but farmers need to look at the various plant species in their pastures and determine which species are undesirable. “Farmers need to think about their management to get rid of the species they don’t want to have,” said Poore, Extension specialist with North Carolina State University and director of the Amazing Grazing program.

At the Fork L Farm pasture, little barley was the least desirable species found, Poore said.

“Little barley is the most negative in this particular mix,” he stressed. “Cows won’t eat it; they don’t like it. At six inches tall, they will eat it, but as soon as it starts to put on a head, which it does very early, the cows can’t get it down because it’s very sharp, like little teeth.”

Poore said good pasture management all boils down to keeping the most desirable plants in a cover crop mix. Most of the biomass will come from grasses, but Poore said legumes are important for supplying nitrogen to the system, which means providing a great deal of protein than the animal needs.

“What the animal doesn’t need is going right back in feces and urine and goes back into the system,” Poore said. “When you graze this land, there is going to be some crushing of the legume and other tender plants and some of that nitrogen will go back into the soil and the grasses will go and pick that up and you’ll get a flush of grass growth that second time through”

Poore said fescue is a good perennial for soil health because it provides a good root system, ensuring you have roots all the time. However, toxic fescue is still a problem that farmers must take steps to avoid, Poore stressed.

While fescue is a good for pastureland and provides many benefits, Poore said diversity is critical for soil health and farmers need to move beyond a monoculture system. “Maintaining 10 percent of the land in annuals is good for diversity in the forage system, but you have to be a real good farm to successfully do annuals year after year after year. They need to be planted over a two-week period and are not well suited for part-time farmers,” he said.

Good pastureland needs a mixture of annuals and perennials, Poore said.

 “Annuals give you good quality feed when you need it. Everybody’s system is different, and you have to figure out how it works on your farm, but there is a role for annuals,” he said. “These annuals need a chance to develop and get a root in the ground and once they do they really take off and get a lot of high quality grazing out of them.”

A mixture of sorghum sudan, millet and cowpeas are a good annuals to consider for both soil health and animal health, according to Poore. “But you might have weeds that you will need to get rid of, so you need to know what your challenges are going to be from a weed standpoint when deciding what annual to plant,” he said.

“Pearl millet is hard to beat if you want to graze your land multiple times,” he added. “If you don’t overgraze it, you will also get good regrowth with the cow peas. And the second time through more of the grass will come through because you released some nitrogen in the system.”

Poore said sorghum sudan grows like a weed when it rains a lot and offers very deep fibrous roots that are good for soil health.

Corn checkoff ballots for Montana released

Corn checkoff ballots for Montana released

Will Montana be the next state with a corn checkoff? Could be. Recently the state department of ag shipped, and published, the proposed corn checkoff referendum to state corn growers. The six-member Corn Advisory Committee, which includes six state producers, is driving the effort.

Earlier this year the committee identified difficulties in getting neutral third-party analysis on production characteristics of commercial corn hybrids when grown in the state. Today, the value of corn production in Montana tops $38 million - based on 2013 figures (the latest available).

Checkoff proposal for Montana corn growers aims to boost funding for hybrid research and evaluation.

After receiving input from a range of stakeholders, the committee voted in March to hold the referendum of affected growers and producers on whether an appropriate checkoff to develop a Corn Research and Market Development Program should be created.

According to the Montana Department of Agriculture, under the proposed checkoff, producers pay an assessment on corn seed purchases to support the program. The Corn Advisory Committee directs the use of the assessments with the administrative help from the department. The proposed assessment would equal $3 per 80,000 seeds - the common count for commercial seed corn bags.

Similar programs are in effect for Montana pulse, cherry and potato producers.

Copies of the proposed referendum have been mailed to corn producers identified from lists made available to the department by USDA Farm Service Agency. Eligible producers who do not receive a copy of the referendum in the mail can print a copy from department’s website at:

The ballots must be returned by June 15. They were sent out right before Memorial Day.

Axtell FFA member wins drawing for John Deere Gator

Axtell FFA member wins drawing for John Deere Gator

Lindsay Carpenter of the Axtell FFA Chapter won a drawing for a John Deere Gator 625iXUV during the 86th Kansas FFA Convention on Friday, May 29.

Carpenter's name was drawn from 10 finalists, which were randomly selected from a pool of members who completed one of the following requirements for entry: submitted an application for the American or State FFA Degree, participated in the agriscience fair, received an agri-entrepreneurship award, or were honored as a proficiency award winner or District Star winner.

NEW GATOR: Lindsey Carpenter, Axtell FFA, sits in the driver's seat of her new John Deere Gator with sponsor representatives.

Carpenter was eligible for the drawing because she received her State FFA Degree. Her advisor is Kristin Stratham. Carpenter's Supervised Agricultural Experience program is in equine entrepreneurship, which involves feeding, training, and riding her three horses. Carpenter also participates in the veterinary science and agricultural communication Career Development Events.

As an FFA member, Lindsay said she has enjoyed activities such as attending National FFA Convention and participating in CDE events.

"FFA has helped me to better communicate with others and develop my personal communication skills," Carpenter said.

The drawing is sponsored by Kansas John Deere Dealers and the John Deere Agriculture and Turf Division.

“With continued support from the John Deere Dealers in Kansas, we are able to recognize and reward the outstanding accomplishments of our members,” said Kyle Apley, Kansas FFA Reporter.

The Kansas FFA Association is a statewide organization of 8,850 agricultural education students in 176 chapters in every corner of Kansas. It is part of the National FFA Organization, a national youth organization of 610,240 student members preparing for leadership and careers in the science, business and technology of agriculture with 7,665 local chapters in all 50 states, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. Our mission is to make a positive difference in the lives of students by developing their potential for premier leadership, personal growth and career success through agricultural education. Visit for more information.

Source: Kansas FFA Association

Strategies with delayed soybean planting

Strategies with delayed soybean planting

With parts of the state experiencing record rainfall amounts and frequent rainfall events in May, soybean planting is behind normal this year. According to the USDA NASS crop report on May 26, soybean planting was 59% complete compared to the five-year average of 73% and last year's 85%.

Areas of the state will need considerable drying before fields are ready to plant. Many producers may be wondering if they need to rethink their agronomic practices such as relative maturity, row spacing, and seeding rate. The following are considerations from University-of Nebraska Lincoln Extension when planting soybean in June or July.

DELAYED PLANTING CONSIDERATIONS: With record amounts of rainfall and frequent rainfall events in some parts of Nebraska in May, soybean planting is behind normal. Many producers may be wondering if they need to rethink their agronomic practices such as relative maturity, row spacing, and seeding rate.

Relative maturity
At this time, sticking with normal maturity groups (MG) for your area is recommended. Changing to shorter maturity groups is not needed at this time because late planted soybeans will typically require fewer days to reach maturity than earlier planting dates.

Tables 1 and 2 show the soybean growth and development model based on results from a 2003 to 2004 planting date study conducted at Lincoln (average response of 14 varieties — 3.0 to 3.9 MG). Note the date that plants reached R8 or full maturity. In 2003, the mid-June planting date delayed maturity by 7 days compared to the early May planting date. In 2004, mid-June planting delayed maturity by 22 days even though the planting date was 50 days later.

Because soybeans are photoperiod sensitive, flowering and development will be triggered by day length, resulting in similar maturity among planting dates, although earlier plantings will have more nodes and yield potential.

Table 1. UNL soybean growth and development results from 2003.

Results from a 2013 South Dakota State University variety trial reinforce these findings. Maturity ratings on 55 varieties from 10 companies, ranging from 1.8 to 2.9 MG, were conducted at the Southeast Research Station in Beresford, S.D. Study results showed the equation for days to maturity was: Days to maturity from planting = 5.4*MG + 113 days.


In 2013, switching from a 2.8 to a 1.8 MG reduced the time to maturity by only 5 days. Therefore, changing maturity groups will not make a large difference in maturity – something to keep in mind if considering changing to an earlier maturity group.

If planting is delayed past June 15, growers may want to go with the earliest maturity group number recommended for their area, such as reducing your MG number by 0.5-1.0. Frost before maturity becomes a concern with late June or July plantings, but using a maturity group much shorter than that will mean sacrificing yield potential.

Table 2 UNL soybean growth and development results from 2004.

Row spacing and custom planting
The next consideration is row spacing. With late planting, narrower row spacing is generally recommended. Because the longest day of the year occurs on June 21, and all days get shorter after that, soybeans need as much sunlight as possible to make pods, seed, and yield. To close the canopy sooner, growers may want to consider planting narrower than 30 inches. UNL research has shown that up to 5/8 bushels per acre can be lost for every day after May 1 that planting is delayed. Thus, there is now a need to mitigate, to the degree still possible, the loss in the crop's ability to capture all incoming sunlight from now on.

While narrowing rows can help close the canopy quicker at this point, there are a few cautions to consider. In general, non-uniformity of seed depth placement and of seed-to-seed placement within the row is more of a concern with drills versus 15-inch or 30-inch planter units. Increasing seeding rates by 10% (potentially up to 20%) may be necessary to fill in gaps. This may not be as much of a concern with newer precision planting drills. Also, narrowing rows can favor diseases such as sclerotinia stem rot (white mold of soybean) that like a humid, moist canopy. While sclerotinia has not been a major issue in Nebraska, it has been observed in some fields, and narrowing rows isn't recommended if fields have previously had a problem with white mold.


If growers don't have a narrow row planter or drill, there are two strong cases for custom planting. First, if there can be two or more planters operating at a time, the last acres will be planted sooner and take less of a yield hit, especially if additional rain delays occur in June (for example, 5/8 bushels per acre per day for 7 days = 4.3 bushel per acre advantage). Second, this gives a chance to capture the yield advantage of narrow rows. Regional studies have shown a 3 to 4 bushel per acre yield advantage to narrow row spacing (20 inches or less).

Seeding rate
Many sources recommend increasing seeding rates by 10% after early June for drilled and planted beans to attempt to improve canopy closure by having more plants per acre, but there is some debate around this practice.

An Iowa State University study published by DeBruin and Pederson in 2008 did not find a seeding rate (75K, 125K, 175K, 225K) by planting date (late April, early May, late May, and early June) interaction for yield, indicating no need for increased seeding rates at later planting dates. In addition, given that there is a wide range of seeding rates planted across the state, a blanket statement of a 10% increase may not be appropriate. Growers will need to evaluate this recommendation based on their normal seeding rates and planting equipment.

It's also important to be aware of crop insurance considerations and options. For more information on this, read the CropWatch article from May, Late Planting Provisions for Crop Insurance.

For additional information, contact Aaron Nygren, Extension educator in Colfax County, at, Nathan Mueller Extension educator in Dodge County at, or Jenny Rees, Extension educator in Clay County at

Source: UNL CropWatch

Tour of winter wheat variety trials scheduled for June 11

Tour of winter wheat variety trials scheduled for June 11

Growers looking for a positive cover crop experience, improved soil quality and health, reduced soil erosion, a place to haul manure in the summer, a breakup of the weed cycle, diversification of your corn and soybean rotation, and an opportunity to receive additional cost share funding for conservation work need look no further than growing winter wheat, according to Keith Glewen and Nathan Mueller, Nebraska Extension Educators.

PLOT TOUR: Dr. Stephen Baenziger, UNL Wheat Breeder and Dr. Stephen Wegulo, Extension Plant Pathologist will walk growers through winter wheat variety development plots at the wheat plot tour June 11 at the Agricultural Research and Development Center near Mead.

Nebraska Extension will be hosting a wheat plot tour on Thursday evening, June 11 at the University of Nebraska Agricultural Research and Development Center (ARDC) near Mead. The tour will start at 6:30 p.m. at the ARDC Agronomy Research site located a half mile west of County Road 6 and H in Saunders County.

Dr. Stephen Baenziger, UNL Wheat Breeder and Dr. Stephen Wegulo, Extension Plant Pathologist will walk growers through winter wheat variety development plots. Supper will be served following the tour at the ARDC Christenson Research and Education Building.

Wheat variety trials in Nebraska are made possible in-part through funding provided by the Nebraska Wheat Board.

For more information regarding the tour, contact Keith Glewen at 402-624-8005, or Nathan Mueller at 402-727-2775,

Source: UNL Agricultural Research and Development Center

Severe stripe rust in winter wheat fields in southern Nebraska

Severe stripe rust in winter wheat fields in southern Nebraska

A survey of wheat fields in southeast, south central, and southwest Nebraska May 27-28 showed severe levels of stripe rust. Many fields with stripe rust showed varying intensities of yellow when viewed from a distance (Figure 1). In some fields, 100% of all foliage was yellow and covered with stripe rust pustules, with only the stems and heads retaining green color (Figure 2). In some fields stripe rust had advanced to the stage where teleospores (black spores that form in later stages of rust development) were forming on the leaves (Figure 3).

Figure 1. A wheat field with a yellow cast due to stripe rust in Nuckolls County on May 27. Many fields had varying intensities of yellow depending on the level of stripe rust severity. (Photos by Stephen Wegulo)

Many of the fields with severe stripe rust were not sprayed with fungicide to prevent or control the disease or in isolated cases they were sprayed too late. Further west and north, stripe rust was not as severe as in the southeast or south central, but its development was picking up speed. Fields that were sprayed had little or no rust.

Estimated yield loss
The overall estimated yield loss due to stripe rust will not be known until later in the growing season. However, in the severely affected fields surveyed on May 27-May 28, 40% to 50% yield loss is expected.  In some fields where the flag leaves were severely diseased before the beginning of grain fill, higher losses are expected.

Weather conditions continue to favor stripe rust development and spread. It is too late to treat stripe rust in fields that are severely affected and especially if flag leaves have more than 50% disease severity. In wheat-growing areas further north where stripe rust is not as severe as in the southern part of the state, a fungicide spray is recommended to protect the flag leaf.

Figure 2. Severe stripe rust on flag leaves in a wheat field in Hitchcock County on May 28.

If wheat is at the full heading to the flowering growth stage, it is recommended to spray Prosaro or Caramba to both control stripe rust and suppress Fusarium head blight. A list of fungicides and their efficacies on wheat diseases is provided in a table developed by the North Central Regional Committee on Management of Small Grain Diseases (NCERA-184).

For more information, contact Stephen Wegulo, University of Nebraska Extension Plant Pathologist at

Source: UNL CropWatch

Deadly storms in Southwest mount; Farmers asked to search river banks

With another round of violent weather across parts of Texas and Oklahoma Thursday night (May 28), the death toll in the Southwest climbed to at least 27 after a Dallas truck driver was discovered inside his truck in a flooded Dallas culvert early Friday morning.

So far 23 deaths related to the weather have been confirmed in Texas and four in Oklahoma. Authorities believe as many nine others remain missing, including five more swept away from homes along the Blanco River earlier this week. Eight others who were tossed into raging waters when their homes were swept away by the historical flood in Wimberley, near Austin, drowned and have been discovered as far down the river as San Marcos, about 20 miles away.

Meanwhile, state and industry officials are calling on farmers, ranchers and landowners whose property runs along each side of the San Marcos and Guadalupe Rivers to join the search for debris that may have washed down the Blanco River in hopes of finding survivors.

Jeff Nunley, executive director, South Texas Cotton and Grain Association, issued a statement late Friday urging anyone who owns or leases property along the Blanco, San Marcos or Guadalupe Rivers in Central Texas to search their property for debris that may have washed downstream in floodwaters.

“Please be aware that debris and victims of the recent Wimberley floods have far exceeded historical limits, traveling down the Blanco River as far as the San Marcos and Guadalupe Rivers,” Nunley said. “We are asking all farmers, ranchers and land owners along the watershed for assistance in searching their properties for signs of debris and to avoid destroying or burning debris piles.

“Rather, we need their assistance in our search efforts, and if something of interest is discovered, please contact local authorities."

Flash flood warnings posted

Texas and Oklahoma, as well as parts of Arkansas, Missouri and Kansas, were under flash flood warnings Friday night, according to the National Weather Service. Those warnings were expected to be extended well into the weekend as more thunderstorms and possible heavy rains were expected both Saturday and Sunday.

On Friday, the White House announced President Obama had signed a disaster declaration for three counties in Central Texas which will make federal assistance available to those affected by the floods.

New evacuation orders were issued Friday evening, the latest for residents living in the City of Wharton near the Colorado River and in low-lying areas subject to flooding. Also in Southeast Texas, four counties adjacent to Wharton issued mandatory evacuations for homes along the flood-swollen Brazos River.

The National Weather Service warns that swollen rivers and saturated ground in parts of the southern Plains increase the chance of flashfloods throughout the weekend and said residents should be aware of road closures and to not attempt to drive into flooded areas.

On Thursday the NWS issued a statement indicating that the month is now officially the wettest May on record. On average, Texas, in spite of its size, has received an equivalent of over eight inches of rain across its 269,000 square miles. Officials say that amount of water is enough to meet all water demand in New York City for seven years, or more water than travels down the Mississippi River and drains into the Gulf of Mexico in a single year.

'Ridiculous amount of rain'

"We have received a ridiculous amount of rain," said Texas State Climatologist John Nielsen-Gammon this week.

He said a combination of an El Niño weather event in the Pacific and a jet stream that seems stuck above the U.S. Southwest is the cause of heavy rains and flooding across the Southwest throughout May.

Because rains have continued to keep farmers out of the fields in wide areas of Texas, county agents say they have few crop damage reports so far. But some farmers have reported lodging from wind and water and flooded fields and others reported hail damage in some areas. But no one is offering a guess as to what lasting damage may be realized as a result of so much water in the fields.

As one South Texas farmer put it, "We're hoping for a couple of dry days that will allow us to get back into the field to get a better handle on all the damage we might have suffered."

For more on the situation in Oklahoma, Texas and other states in the Southwest, visit

Supplements could help in combating livestock pasture nutrient deficiencies

Supplements could help in combating livestock pasture nutrient deficiencies

Just as quickly as fresh green pastures appear, pasture quality can diminish, leaving both pasture and cows' nutrient deficient.

Related: When to turn beef cattle out on spring pasture

These potential nutrient deficiencies come at a critical time frame when the cow likely has a calf at side, and is either on target for re-breeding or is already re-bred and trying to grow her developing calf.

"Producers may see cows slip in body condition score throughout the summer," says Dr. Kelly Sanders, cattle nutritionist for Purina Animal Nutrition. "Forages mature as the summer goes on, losing nutrients, specifically protein, and allowing cows to lose body condition."

Planning ahead for livestock pasture quality decline can help combat potential nutrient deficiencies

If forages are running under 7% protein, then you likely don't have enough protein to support the cow and her calf. The majority of producers across the United States, unless they have some high-quality forages stockpiled, are not above that level and will need to find additional nutrient sources.

Sanders recommends using protein supplements to avoid this slip in condition, especially late summer and into fall when grasses are lowest in nutrient value.

Related: 4 Tips For Late Spring and Early Summer Pasture Management

"Adding protein tubs or cubes are two ways a producer can supplement their cow herd during this time of high nutrient requirement," says Sanders. "Protein tubs can be fed from mid to late summer through mid-fall, then cubes can be fed upon the first freeze or in the later fall months."

Protein supplements should be added before cattle start losing body condition. Sanders recommends evaluating your pasture at various times throughout the summer, specifically mid- to late-summer, and adding a supplement before the pasture quality is too far diminished.

If pastures are not adequately managed, protein deficiency may become a herd health challenge with symptoms including reduced intake and forage digestibility, reduced growth rate (both fetus and calf), loss of weight, inadequate intake of other nutrients, delayed estrus, irregular estrus, poor conception rate and reduced milk production.

"It all narrows down to making sure your cows have what they need, when they need it," says Sanders. "If they're not getting the complete nutrition they need when the pasture is at its worst quality, you will likely see challenges develop. These challenges may be easily avoided by implementing a protein supplement program."

Popular now: 6 steps to determining a 2015 pasture rental rate

Source: Purina Animal Nutrition

Corn+Soybean Digest

5 Agriculture stories to read, May 29, 2015

In the 5 ag stories to read this week, get some considerations for planting soybeans late. Learn about the part geography plays in weed diversity and glyphosate resistance, and mark you calendars for an opportunity to enroll new acres in CRP. Also, read about some successful women farmers and the roles they play on the farm. Finally, enjoy the latest parody from the Peterson Farm Brothers, Takin' Care of Livestock.