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Articles from 2016 In June


The new Challenger 1000 line offers four models up to 517 hp The integrated drivetrain  called AccuDrive  offers increased flexibility and performance
<p>The new Challenger 1000 line offers four models up to 517 hp. The integrated drivetrain - called AccuDrive - offers increased flexibility and performance. </p>

Agco launches Challenger 1000 four-wheel-drive tractor

Agco recently announced the release of the Challenger 1000 series tractors. The new machines will debut at Farm Progress Show later this summer, but Penton Agriculture got an early look at the machine. See more photos over at our sister publication, Farm Industry News.

The new tractor line includes four models from 396 to 517 hp, which is a new class of fixed frame tractor. Usually at this horsepower range you're looking at a small-frame four-wheel articulated machine designed for row crop use. Josh Keeney, Agco tactical marketing manager, explains that with this tractor you get the flexibility of a fixed frame, but the power of the row-crop size articulated machine.

Usually you jump right to engine power when talking about a tractor, but the Challenger 1000 has the AccuDrive system where engine and drive-train are integrally linked by sophisticated software and a first-of-its-kind continuously variable transmission.

Power comes from a MAN 12.7 liter engine that offers high torque at low RPM. "During tests of the tractor in south Georgia we ran the tractor with a ripper-bedder at 8.5 miles an hour at 1,250 to 1,350 rpm," Keeney says. "It did a great job with the 35-foot machine."

And the lower RPM approach trimmed fuel use too. Keeney says that ripper-bedder operation was burning fuel at only 13 to 14 gallons per hour.

High-tech drive train

The AccuDrive system controls engine and transmission with plenty of feedback from the ground. That's key because this is a four-wheel drive tractor, but power doesn't go to the front wheels unless you need it. "The front wheels, in road travel, are actually decoupled from the drivetrain to boost efficiency," Keeney explains.

This focus on efficiency and engine-transmission management - is the latest generation for this approach. Major tractor makers have been turning over more shifting and engine control to computers, and this is the latest iteration.

You push the stick forward, and go. And with the new single-speed CVT on the Challenger 1000 you can go from 65 feet per hour to 31 miles per hour without stopping to change ranges. "That also improves longevity since you won't run at low speed by accident.

The engine itself is a final tier 4 engine that uses only diesel exhaust fluid to meet emission standards. And there's no diesel oxidation catalyst, though it does use DEF. The key is where DEF is injected into the exhaust stream - just past the turbo charger where temperatures are hotter - which helps clean up the exhaust.

As for that four-wheel drive, when running the tractor at speed if you make an end-row turn the front wheels will engage to essentially pull the front around. This can reduce the turning radius as much as 10% Keeney explains. And when you're behind the wheel it's an aggressive feeling with that front end spinning in a tighter circle.

A few features

The tractors can be outfitted with a 58 gpm hydraulic system, but if you have big chores like a large air seeder, you can opt for the 113 gpm system.

Another option is LED lights, which offer bright help at night, and lower power consumption.

Service points are on the ground for easy access for maintenance and the filter and coolant systems are monitored from the cab.

These machines - which are built for North America in Germany, feature tight fit-and finish. They also don't use suitcase weights for ballast. Instead, they use a weight cartridge that fits to a front-mounted system. With those cartridges you can boost, or reduce, tractor weight quickly and easily.

"We know that farmers will have to adjust to this, but it's more efficient than using suitcase weights," Keeney says.

The operator sits in a spacious cab and the tractors come outfitted with the AccuTerminal, which is in the same family as the Tryton Terminal released by the Gleaner S9 late in 2015. The intuitive interface will be welcomed by farmers too.

The Challenger 1000 is a high-tech machine that farmers will want to check out at their closest farm show after the Farm Progress Show this fall. Learn more at agcocorp.com.

USDA Acreage Report 06.30.16 - Robert Coats

USDA Acreage Report: 2016 Rice – U.S. & States; U.S. Soybeans, Corn, Sorghum, & Cotton. June 30, 2016. Robert Coats, University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture

South Texas cotton farmers are busy spraying for pests
<p>South Texas cotton farmers are busy spraying for pests.</p>

Pest pressure increases in South Texas cotton

Good soil moisture in the southern half of Texas keeps most remain optimistic for the current growing season, but heavy spring rainfall created a handful of problems for farmers in the region who are still dealing with the aftershock of flooded fields and late planting dates.

As grain sorghum harvest intensifies from the middle Coastal Bend into the Lower Rio Grande Valley, farmers see stunted plants and damage for corn and sorghum in many fields, especially in the middle and upper Coastal Bend where spring rainfall totaled from 5 to 20 inches from March through the first half of June.

In spite of spotty crop damage, early harvest reports indicate grain sorghum and corn yields have been average to good in most fields. But the combination of a wet spring and current grain harvest has many cotton producers concerned because of a rise in pest and disease pressure, especially in more mature cotton that survived the exceptionally wet spring and standing water.

"Right now we're spraying cotton about every seven days," reports Russ Brandon who farms about 800 acres of cotton in southern Nueces County. "Our cotton looks really good, all things considered, but all this spraying is driving up input costs we would rather do without."

For the latest on southwest agriculture, please check out Southwest Farm Press Daily and receive the latest news right to your inbox.

He says the last couple of weeks have especially been bad for insects migrating from adjacent harvested sorghum fields to cotton.

"We're hoping once grain harvest is complete and we have applied enough treatments to cotton that maybe we will catch a break from all this spraying. But when late planted cotton reaches boll stage, we may be in for a continued fight."

Middle Coastal Bend cotton producers are not the only ones reporting an uptick in pest pressure. In the Lower Rio Grande Valley farmers are reporting heavy tarnished plant bug pressure in some of the late planted cotton fields and an influx of tarnished plant bugs and Verde bugs migrating from grain fields to feed on immature bolls.

Bollworms Rising

In the Upper Coastal Bend bollworm populations are on the rise.

"Currently we are watching the bollworm populations pretty closely. The egg lay has been pretty high across most of our fields and is going to increase as corn and sorghum continue to dry down," reports Kate Harrell, County Extension agent for Integrated Pest Management in Wharton, Jackson and Matagorda Counties. "In Jackson and Matagorda counties we've seen bollworms getting to be a few days old and not dying quickly after feeding."

In a recent report to Upper Coast producers, Harrell warned that bollworm eggs are usually on the top of the plant, but they can also lay eggs lower. She says there is a greater chance of survival when the caterpillar feeds on parts of the plant with lower amounts of the BT toxin in them.

"When the eggs are laid on the blooms, the first thing the caterpillar is probably going to consume is the bloom itself and then the boll," she says.

She advises producers to scout regularly and carefully. The action threshold for bollworm caterpillars is 5,000 worms per acre with more than 5 percent damaged bolls—checking three plants at a minimum of four locations in the field.

Harrell says stinkbugs and Lygus bugs current threaten cotton in her area and says some damage from these insects has been confirmed in the Upper Coastal Bend. The threshold for stinkbugs in cotton is 20 percent dropped bolls or bolls with warts on inner carpal walls or stained lint. She says the best way to discover stinkbugs in the field is by using a drop cloth.

Further South

In the Rio Grande Valley, where cotton is planted earlier than anywhere else in Texas, Danielle Ortiz, IPM extension agent in Weslaco, is reporting tarnished plant bug damage in some cotton bolls. Since the insect targets immature bolls, most cotton in the Valley will mature beyond this threat in the next week to ten days. She warns that if producers find numbers of plant bugs exceeding threshold before that time, they should consider spraying to prevent damage.

"Thresholds in blooming cotton for tarnished plant bug are 10 to 15 tarnished plant bugs per 100 sweeps. So if you are seeing one to two adult tarnished plant bugs per 10 sweeps and noticing some nymph activity, spray treatment is warranted."

Ortiz says in addition to plant bugs, last week observers reported very high whitefly pressure in the mid Valley area, primarily near Santa Rosa.

"Whitefly pressure depends on variety, but generally, seeing about five adult whiteflies per leaf warrants spray treatment," she says.

She warns producers to keep whitefly pressure under control and spray to avoid sticky cotton.

peach tree Georgia

Georgia-based video shows ag labor now a major problem facing US farmers

A new video produced by the American Farm Bureau Federation shines a spotlight on the frustrations of the nation’s farmers in finding workers to harvest their crops. While the video highlights peach production in Georgia, it also outlines the scope of the farm labor problem across the United States.

Hiring a seasonal skilled workforce to bring crops in from the fields to America’s tables has proved to be difficult if not impossible for farmers. That’s why many farmers rely heavily on a program called H-2A, through which the federal government grants foreign nationals short-term visas to help harvest crops.

“This is a serious issue for farmers across America,” said AFBF President Zippy Duvall. “If you have a crop that’s ready and your harvest window is narrow and your workers show up late — you’re going to lose your crop.”

“We’re going to have to make a choice,” Duvall added. “We either have to import our labor — workers to harvest our crops — or we’ll have to import our food.”

 An informal survey of state Farm Bureaus revealed that farmers in at least 22 states using the H-2A program have been affected by administrative delays that have caused workers to arrive days and even weeks late — leading to a variety of fruits, vegetables and other crops rotting in the field.

The situation is dire for Georgia peach farmer Robert Dickey. He and numerous other farmers have found there’s simply too much red tape, too much paperwork and too many delays associated with the H-2A program.

“It could cost us our farm in one season,” Dickey said.

Farm Bureau is calling for Congress to pass responsible immigration reform that provides farmers access to a legal and stable workforce.

Wheat march Georgia

Attempt to grow wheat a violation of Clean Water Act, judge says

Judge Kimberly Mueller on June 10 in the U.S. Eastern District Court of California found that John Duarte, a nursery operator and wheat farmer, plowed wetlands four to six inches deep, and therefore violated the Clean Water Act.

The Judge found Mr. Duarte, by chiseling a pasture, discharged fill material into a water (vernal pool) of the United States. Get this! The Court wrote “In sum, soil is a pollutant. And here, plaintiffs instructed [a contractor] to till and loosen soil on the property.”

This plowing, according to the Court, caused “…the material in this case soil, to move horizontally, creating furrows and ridges.” You will not believe this. 

The Court wrote, “This movement of the soil resulted in its being redeposited into waters of the United States at least in areas of the wetlands as delineated...” In sum, the Judge found that chiseling no more than a few inches of soil constituted an addition of a pollutant to a wetland.

Stunning!

The Court also evaluated whether the tractor and soil chisel plow were point sources under the CWA. The Court cited cases which found that bulldozers, backhoes, graders, tractors pulling discs and rippers can be point sources under the CWA.

The Court describes Mr. Duarte’s equipment as having 7 shanks with 24-inch spacing and each shank was 36 inches long. The Court wrote, “The equipment loosened and moved the soil horizontally, pulling the dirt out of the wetlands [vernal pools] and redepositing it there as well.” 

Vernal pools are described as meeting all three wetland parameters. They are dry the majority of time. As a result, the Court found that the equipment used to aerate the soil was a point source under the CWA.

Under the CWA there must be a discharge of a pollutant to navigable waters from a point source. Again, it is believed that to have a discharge of a pollutant, there must be an addition of the pollutant to the navigable waters. It is also believed that farming operations allegedly have an exemption under the CWA which exempts certain activities of farming and ranching from CWA permitting requirements. (The Court seems unaware that farming is considered a nonpoint source covered by section 319 of the CWA)

The CWA regulations defines farming and declares “Normal farming…activities such as plowing, seeding, cultivating, minor drainage and harvesting for the production of food, fiber and forest products,…” are not activities which are prohibited or regulated under the CWA. Plowing is also defined by EPA as meaning “…all forms of primary tillage, including moldboard, chisel or wide-blade plowing, discing, harrowing and similar physical means utilized on farm, forest or ranchland for the breaking up, cutting, turning over, or stirring of soil to prepare it for the planting of crops.”

Read more at Farm Future story “Plowing is polluting? Wheat farmer loses clean water case”

Farm labor shortage vexes farmers - American Farm Bureau

A new video produced by the American Farm Bureau Federation shines a spotlight on the frustrations of the nation’s farmers in finding workers to harvest their crops. While the video highlights peach production in Georgia, it also outlines the scope of the farm labor problem across the United States.

Hiring a seasonal skilled workforce to bring crops in from the fields to America’s tables has proved to be difficult if not impossible for farmers. That’s why many farmers rely heavily on a program called H-2A, through which the federal government grants foreign nationals short-term visas to help harvest crops.

“This is a serious issue for farmers across America,” said AFBF President Zippy Duvall. “If you have a crop that’s ready and your harvest window is narrow and your workers show up late — you’re going to lose your crop.”

“We’re going to have to make a choice,” Duvall added. “We either have to import our labor — workers to harvest our crops — or we’ll have to import our food.”

 An informal survey of state Farm Bureaus revealed that farmers in at least 22 states using the H-2A program have been affected by administrative delays that have caused workers to arrive days and even weeks late — leading to a variety of fruits, vegetables and other crops rotting in the field.

The situation is dire for Georgia peach farmer Robert Dickey. He and numerous other farmers have found there’s simply too much red tape, too much paperwork and too many delays associated with the H-2A program.

“It could cost us our farm in one season,” Dickey said.

Farm Bureau is calling for Congress to pass responsible immigration reform that provides farmers access to a legal and stable workforce.

2016 South Texas sorghum harvest gallery

In spite of heavy rains throughout the spring season, grain sorghum harvest is underway across South Texas.  From the Texas Coastal Bend to the Rio Grande Valley, grain producers are reporting average to good yields for grain sorghum and corn.

Plant damage for both crops is visible in many Coastal Bend fields, but good soil moisture helped to make up for losses anticipated in low areas.

For the latest on southwest agriculture, please check out Southwest Farm Press Daily and receive the latest news right to your inbox.

While sorghum producers are well into harvest across Nueces, San Patricio, Aransas and surrounding counties, cotton producers are experiencing heavier pest pressure as a result of grain dry down and harvest operations. One Nueces County cotton producer said he is operating on a 7-day spray schedule, a burdensome increase in input costs.

On the brighter side, he reports cotton is looking exceptionally good and hopes for a good yield.

In the Middle Coastal Bend, late planted cotton, result of spring rains and flooded fields, has delayed development and maturity of the cotton crop, with most fields just now reaching full flowering stage.

Photos by Logan Hawkes

New tillage tech on the way

Lemken, a German manufacturer of agricultural tillage, seeding and spraying equipment, is making its way to the U.S. market. The Rubin 12 is Lemken’s compact disk harrow that now offers a 7-meter (23-foot) working width. The entire range includes a 3.5 or 4-meter rigid version, and a 4-, 5-, 6-, and 7-meter pull-type version.

Designed for high performance where large volumes of organic matter need to be incorporated, the Rubin 12 is generating a lot of interest in North America, according to Laurent Letzter, director of sales and marketing for Lemken.

Farm Industry News was able to see the Rubin 12 in action at a recent press event held by the company on a working farm in Hungary. Check out this gallery to learn more.

A custom operations rate guide is now available from Texas AgriLife Extension
<p>A custom operations rate guide is now available from Texas AgriLife Extension.</p>

AgriLife media reports help business decisions

Most farmers and ranchers are more comfortable on the seat of a tractor than they are looking for markets, negotiating fair rates for custom operations or working through an equitable land lease agreement. Farm Press staff believes three recent reports from Texas AgriLife Extension offer valuable information to help producers work through some of their most important business decisions.

 

What’s the going rate for custom ag operations?

What’s a fair rate to pay a custom operator to sidedress a wheat crop, bale hay or apply chemicals? An annual survey conducted by the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension service takes a lot of guesswork out of evaluating custom operation rates. The latest update is available online at http://agecoext.tamu.edu/crs. Now, farmers and ranchers can compare what they are paying with averages and against historic custom operation rates. No more guessing.

 

Program brings farmers, retailers together

If someone owns a restaurant and wants to offer locally raised duck on the menu, where would he go to find a quality product?  And if you have ducks, how to find a market? Restaurateurs and farmers in North Texas find opportunities to do business through a Farm-to-Table program, sponsored by the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service. This video offers more information https://youtu.be/pK_XDHy08ow. It’s a good way to bring farmers and retailers together.

 

Handshake not enough for farm or ranch leases

A handshake might be enough assurance to agree on who brings what to a barbecue, but when deciding on terms of leasing farmland, “Get it in writing,” says a Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service agricultural law specialist. Tiffany Dowell Lashmet says regardless of how long you’ve known a landowner or potential renter, a written lease clarifies things. If it’s written down, all parties know what to expect.

Leaders of Canada Mexico and the United States met in Canada Wednesday They announced Nafta changes that will impact rubber metals natural gas and other products
<p>Leaders of Canada, Mexico and the United States met in Canada Wednesday. They announced Nafta changes that will impact rubber, metals, natural gas and other products.</p>

3 amigos unveil climate and energy plan

The U.S., Canada and Mexico will cut greenhouse gas emissions from the oil and gas sector, boost the development of clean power and build new cross-border transmission lines as part of a clean energy plan unveiled Wednesday.

The North American Climate, Clean Energy and Environment Partnership, announced by the leaders of the three countries in Ottawa at the beginning of the Three Amigos summit, seeks to impose new restrictions on some industries in an effort to cut emissions and spur a greener economy on the heels of last year’s Paris climate summit.

The pledges, made in U.S. President Barack Obama’s final North American Leaders’ Summit, underscore the political alignment of the three leaders at a summit previously delayed in 2015 amid a standoff over TransCanada Corp.’s Keystone XL pipeline. Now, 18 months later, the climate agreement shows the three countries have moved definitively beyond Keystone, one White House official said.

“The Paris Agreement was a turning point for our planet,” the leaders said in a joint statement. “Our actions to align climate and energy policies will protect human health and help level the playing field for our businesses, households and workers.”

The leaders also announced changes to the North American Free Trade Agreement, “liberalizing” rules of origin for a range of products, while calling for action to address excess global steel supply and illicit financial flows that could benefit terror groups.

Brexit, Turkey

The leaders stressed the importance of trade, economic integration and open societies amid fallout over the Brexit vote and a rise in protectionist sentiment, including in the U.S.

“We need to be very clear in describing the benefits of an integrated region,” Mexico President Enrique Pena Nieto said Wednesday morning after a bilateral meeting with Obama. “Isolationism is not a route toward progress.”

Obama and Pena Nieto announced the Mexican president had accepted an invitation to visit Washington. Both expressed condolences after a terror attack killed 41 people in Istanbul. “We stand with the people of Turkey and we intend to do what’s necessary” to prevent more attacks like this, Obama said.

Clean Energy

The climate action plan unveiled Wednesday includes a commitment to see half of the continent’s electricity generated by clean sources by 2025, including nuclear, hydro, other renewables and carbon capture and storage projects. The latter provides a window for carbon-based power projects to be considered clean energy.

North America’s use of clean energy stood at roughly 37 percent in 2015, the White House official said. Reaching the new target, described as a “goal,” would grow U.S. clean energy production to 1,900 billion kWh, the White House said in a statement Wednesday.

The clean energy push includes the development of cross-border electrical transmission projects to boost capacity for trading of clean energy and for reliability and flexibility of the continent’s energy grid, the leaders said.

Mexico will also join the U.S. and Canada in reducing methane emissions from the oil and gas sector by 40 to 45 percent by 2025, with the three countries pledging a methane reduction strategy in agriculture and waste management.

Vehicles, Nafta

The countries will continue to reduce greenhouse gases throughout their economies -- including boosting deployment of “clean vehicles” in government fleets and cutting emissions from both the shipping and airline sectors. They also plan to harmonize fuel economy standards.

The energy plan includes pledges to “phase out inefficient fossil fuel subsidies by 2025,” cut black carbon emissions, bring in “world-class ultra low-sulphur diesel fuel and heavy-duty vehicle standards” and boost protection for migratory species habitat. They call on Group of 20 counterparts to do more to cut emissions.

In statements released as the summit began, the three countries announced the Nafta rule-of-origin changes will affect pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, rubber, metals, industrial and electrical machinery, precision instruments and natural gas.

On steel, the countries “agree on the need for governments of all major steel-producing countries to make strong and immediate commitments to address the problem of global excess steelmaking capacity,” a statement from Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s office said.

Canada is working with the U.S. and Mexico to “reduce illicit financial flows which weaken and threaten the integrity of the global financial sector to make sure that the sector is not open to exploitation by criminal or terrorist organizations,” another statement said.

Visa Dispute

The pledge comes a day after a bilateral meeting in Ottawa between Trudeau and Pena Nieto. The two countries announced an agreement to move toward resolving two thorns in their relationship, with Mexico agreeing to open its market fully to Canadian beef on Oct. 1 and Canada agreeing to lift a Mexican visa requirement on Dec. 1.

Trudeau, speaking Tuesday alongside Pena Nieto, took aim at protectionist policies when asked about presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, who has pledged to opt out of both the North American Free Trade Agreement and the Trans Pacific Partnership trade pacts, the latter of which he said amounts to “rape” of the U.S.

“We’ve seen around the world many examples of protectionism, of concern, of stepping away from trade agreements and engagements like we’re showcasing today, and I think it’s important that allies and partners like Mexico and Canada work together to address the challenges we’re facing together,” Trudeau said.

 

To contact the reporters on this story:

Angela Greiling Keane in Washington at agreilingkea@bloomberg.net

Josh Wingrove in Ottawa at jwingrove4@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story:

David Scanlan at dscanlan@bloomberg.net

Stephen Wicary, Chris Fournier

© 2016 Bloomberg L.P