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Articles from 2001 In July

Here's the poop on dairying on a big scale

More cow flop than you scrape off your brogans.

And that much manure provides a big challenge for a dairy to dispose of in an environmentally responsible matter.

Al Deepee, general manager of Braum’s Dairy, near Tuttle, Okla., says the dairy faces that daunting task every. Braum’s was included on a recent field tour, part of the 24th Annual Southern Conservation Tillage Conference. The conference was attended by researchers from across the Sunbelt.

“We are a no-discharge facility,” says Deepee. The animal waste stays on the facility, which encompasses more than 10,000 acres of farmland in an isolated, rural setting about an hour’s drive from Oklahoma City.

“We don’t have flush-water runoff problems,” Deepee says.

The need for feed plays a crucial role in waste management.

“We raise from 4,000 to 5,000 acres of corn,” Deepee says, “to provide a good portion of the 1 million pounds of feed we use daily. We also raise wheat, barley and 2,500 acres of alfalfa. We buy grain sorghum, wheat straw, and soybeans from local farmers. We feed a lot of soybeans.”

After corn harvest, he plants barley. “The farm produces from 100,000 to 105,000 tons of corn silage a year. That lasts about 9 months, and then we feed barley silage.”

Deepee prefers barley to other small grains. “We get more tonnage, and the nutritional value is higher,” he says.

Deepee says the dairy provides good markets for local grain and forage producers. “We operate two elevators where we buy local crops. We buy up to 200,000 bushels of barley a year locally.”

But the dairy produces most of its own feed. They grow crops on some coastal bermudagrass pastures. “We overseed coastal with wheat in the fall,” Deepee says. “We overseeded one bermudagrass field this spring with corn. We’re not certain how well the grass will recover.”

He says continuous cropping is essential.

“The solution to pollution is dilution,” Deepee says. “We keep something on most of the land all year long to manage this much waste.”

Water from the dairy facility, a building that squats on some 35 acres of land and is visible for miles, “is used at least twice,” Deepee says.

Solids are separated, composted and used as bedding for the cows. Water goes into a lagoon and is recycled for crop irrigation. The farm includes 33 center pivot irrigation units. “We can pump 2,200 gallons of recycled water a minute 24 hours a day.

“A dairy this size requires a lot of acreage and a lot of growing crops to take up the nutrients in the waste water,” Deepee says. “We purchase only ammonium fertilizer for the corn.”

All the milk and milk products from the dairy are sold through Braum’s stores and restaurants. “We have stores in five states, Oklahoma, Texas, Missouri, Arkansas and New Mexico.”

Milk is processed at the Tuttle site and shipped to stores. “We run the manufacturing facility seven days a week and deliver to stores seven days a week,” he says.

Braum’s operates another, larger farm in western Oklahoma, where they take dry cows. That facility includes 40 sections and more than 90 center pivot units.

Braum’s has been in business since 1969. “We milked the first cow at this facility in 1976,” Deepee says.


Virginia soybean day to highlight equipment, varieties, biodiesel

Bob Pitman, superintendent of the Center and co-chair of the field day is confident that the program will address current interests of Virginia’s soybean producers and act as a showcase for the on-going research being conducted for the improvement of the Virginia soybean crop.

Two morning tours of research plots and demonstrations are scheduled, plus an afternoon tour of Virginia Tech’s soybean breeding plots. Tour emphasis is placed on research funded by the Virginia Soybean Check-off Program. In this program, a percentage (0.25 percent) of the value of a grower’s soybean crop is contributed to this grower-run program for allocation to individuals and organizations that perform soybean research and promotion of Virginia’s soybean industry.

The highlight of the morning will be a discussion of drills versus planters for the wheat-soybean-corn cropping systems. Large replicated plots have been planted at five and seven mph with a Great Plains Solid Stand 1200 drill, a Great Plains 1520P Precision Seeding System, and a Kinze 3600 12/23 split-row planter.

The main objective is to compare the agronomics, economics, and versatility of each piece of equipment. Bobby Grisso, Virginia Tech’s new Extension agricultural engineer, will discuss the individual advantages and disadvantages of each piece of equipment. He will also give a short clinic on steps for accurately setting planters and drills.

David Holshouser, Extension soybean specialist, will speak about uniformity of soybean stand using each planter and its effect on soybean yield.

Finally, J.D. Hutcheson, Extension farm management agent, will compare the long-term economics of purchasing the seeding systems. Overall, this tour should answer many questions for those soybean and grain growers considering new equipment purchases.

The second morning tour will emphasize soybean variety selection and pest management. Glenn Buss, Virginia Tech soybean breeder, will introduce participate to some public Roundup-Ready soybean varieties soon to be released.

Sue Tolin, Virginia Tech plant pathologist, will discuss the potential of viruses infecting Virginia’s soybean crop.

Henry Wilson and Scott Hagood will discuss weed management and herbicide injury potential in soybeans.

Ames Herbert, Extension entomologist, will discuss his insect pest research and give an update on the corn earworm, Virginia’s most destructive soybean insect pest.

Finally, Glenn Chappell will speak on grain fumigation.

The lunch program, entitled "Fueling Up with Soybean Biodiesel — The Intelligent Answer to Our Energy and Environmental Concerns," will focus on the vast potential for utilizing Virginia’s largest acreage crop to help meet our country’s energy demands. Lunch is complementary to attendees of the field day.

The afternoon tour, hosted by Buss of Virginia Tech, will address new soybean varieties being developed that include traits such as ultra-early maturity, Roundup resistance, low saturated fat, low linolenic acid, and small- and large-seeded food-type soybean. The EVAREC is the hub of the Virginia Tech soybean breeding program and contains thousands of individual breeding line plots.

Overall, the field day should be extremely beneficial to all Virginia soybean producers, offering opportunities to evaluate equipment systems, seed varieties and pest management systems. The field day has been approved for private pesticide re-certification (cat 90) and for Certified Crop Advisor (CCA) Continuing Education Units (CEU). The day will also give farmers a chance to look into the future of soybean production and see how their check-off dollars will affect their future.

The EVAREC is located on Route 690 near Warsaw, Va.

Corn+Soybean Digest

U.S. Bioterrorism Threat Reviewed

AMES, Iowa - A national committee led by an Iowa State University researcher is studying the country's preparedness in dealing with agricultural bioterrorism.

Harley Moon, the Frank K. Ramsey Endowed Chair in Veterinary Medicine, chairs the 12-member committee, which includes Helen Jensen, ISU professor of economics.

The Committee on Biological Threats to Agricultural Plants and Animals was formed earlier this year by the National Research Council (NRC), with support from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Research Service. It will assess the country's strengths and weaknesses in preventing bioterrorism to crops and livestock, and determine if scientific and technological improvements are needed.

The NRC's decision to form the committee arose from an August 1999 meeting of agricultural stakeholders and experts to consider the need and feasibility for the study. "Since then, the intensive concerns surrounding the outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease in Europe have raised awareness of our vulnerability if someone wanted to damage the nation by attacking agriculture," said Moon. "Our study should be useful for improving our preparedness for not only intentional plant and animal threats, but also natural disease outbreaks."

Moon, an expert on infectious diseases of livestock, was director of the USDA's National Animal Disease Center in Ames from 1988 to 1995. Jensen heads the Food and Nutrition Policy Division of the Center for Agricultural and Rural Development, and conducts research on food safety and food security issues.

The committee's next meeting is Aug. 14-15 in Washington, D.C. The group will release a final report in June 2002.

Corn+Soybean Digest

The Fork in the Road

The Fork in the Road
The economy is at a fork in the road and can go in one of two directions.

The economic high road would point to a budget surplus, government spending reductions, a continued strong housing market and consumer sentiment, further interest rate cuts (25 to 75 basis points), tax rebates, and global capital flows to the U.S.

The economic low road finds the budget surplus declining, high consumer debt levels, continued job layoffs, energy costs at 20 to 30 percent higher, and a weak or weakening global economy with Japan, Germany, Mexico, Canada, and Asia with a negative savings rate.

The signpost of a possible recession includes the following:

Unemployment exceeding 5.0 to 5.5 percent

Dow below 9000

NASDAQ below 1800

In the last recession of 1990-91, the Fed funds rate was as low as 3.0 percent. Greenspan still has 25 to 75 basis points of interest rate reduction.

With Brazil and Argentina’s declining currency it actually makes their prices of agricultural products increase as much as 70 percent.

The Taxi Driver
I have traveled over 4 million miles in my lifetime and I had a real treat in Cincinnati while speaking at a Farm Credit conference. My flight was delayed as usual and I missed one hotel shuttle. I got to the taxi dispatcher and ordered a car. She said car #43 would be there shortly. I giggled because I have always liked NASCAR and Richard Petty. Just then, around the corner came Car #43 with big numbers and a car painted just like Richard Petty’s old stock car. It was bright and all waxed shiny with steel wheels and wide tires. After an 80-mph trip to the hotel with a very engaging driver (talking about how he used this car to differentiate his service and wished he could get Mr. Petty’s permission to put STP stickers on the car) I gave him a six dollar tip and a return trip.

At the conference where I delivered my speech, I mentioned the taxi ride. After the talk, it just so happened that a man in the audience is Richard Petty’s next door neighbor and good friend -– and also a dairy farmer and Farm Credit board member from Level Cross, N.C. He came up to me later and said he would see what he could do.

Bottom line: Life is about people, networking and enjoying what you do.

Sports Perspective
Still waiting to hear what VA Tech has to say about their lineup.

Next week – my trip to Wisconsin! I am checking up on "Barbzilla’s" observations (see last week’s column in the archives).

Final Note
Fires to the West of me and rains finally to the East. Here I am, stuck in the middle of an airport!

My e-mail address is:

Editors' note: Dave Kohl, Soybean Digest Trends Editor, is an ag economist at Virginia Tech. He currently is on sabbatical and working with the Royal Bank of Canada.

To see Dave Kohl's previous road warrior adventures click here

This online exclusive is brought to you by Soybean Digest

Corn+Soybean Digest

Brock Online Notes


House Ag Panel Passes Farm Bill

The House Agriculture Committee approved a $73.5 billion overhaul of U.S. farm law on Friday. The final proposal contains slightly higher target prices and fixed payments than the original plan, but holds loan rates at current levels.

House Agriculture Committee leaders Thursday released the final draft of their proposed farm bill. Proposed target prices would now be $4.04 per bushel for wheat, $2.78 for corn, $5.86 for soybeans and 73.6 cents per pound for cotton.

The fixed, decoupled payments would rise to 53 cents per bushel for wheat, 30 cents for corn, 42 cents for soybeans and 6.67 cents per pound for cotton.

The final farm bill draft also contains higher funding for conservation programs and for the food stamp program than the original plan. The full ag committee met Thursday afternoon on the proposal and was scheduled to meet again Friday.

Editors note: Richard Brock, Soybean Digest's Marketing Editor, is president of Brock Associates, a farm market advisory firm, and publisher of The Brock Report.

To see more market perspectives, visit Brock's Web site at

Corn+Soybean Digest

Map Weeds Now, Save Headaches Later

Mapping the weeds in your crop fields can provide you with a

valuable tool for dealing with these problem plants in the future. Mid- to late summer is a good time for weed mapping, says agronomist Denise McWilliams of the University of Minnesota Extension Service.

"Weed mapping can be simple or high-tech," says McWilliams. "You can use a global positioning system and spatial analysis computer software, or pencil drawings."

Mapping weed locations will allow you to check for yield loss due to weeds, says McWilliams. A combine with a yield monitor can be helpful for this. Maps also provide a way to find weed problem areas next year and plan tillage or herbicide control measures.

"Scouting fields for weed pockets and comparing summer weeds with early season weeds can show you how well your weed management program worked this year," says McWilliams. "And by maintaining a record of weed problems over the years, you can further refine your control strategy to get the maximum payoff for your weed control efforts."

Ultra-early cotton

Pettigrew, a USDA/ARS crop physiologist stationed in Stoneville, Miss., came to planting early cotton in a roundabout way. “Some research at our lab showed that lint yields in the Mid-South are limited by the amount of sunlight the crop receives during the growing season. We’ve got an ongoing research project that’s looking at the photosynthesis of the plants.

“We’re wanting to identify some lines that make better use of photosynthesis than others. Frankly, that’s a long-term project and it’s high risk. At the end of the day, we may end up with nothing useful,” says Pettigrew, who spoke at the Milan, Tenn., No-Till Field Day on July 26.

“We decided we would come up with a project that would yield some information in the short term.”

One of the things even early man knew is that the longest day of the year is the Summer Solstice — the first day of summer — which occurs about June 21 every year. Because of cotton plant physiology, it would make sense to have the peak flowering period for a cotton crop land on that day. However, the peak flowering period in Mississippi occurs in mid July. Pettigrew and colleagues wanted to shift that period to coincide with the Summer Solstice.

The initial way he tried to do this was to push back planting dates as early as possible and still have a viable stand. Five years ago, Pettigrew seeded some small plots and started collecting data.

“We went in and overseeded the plots and came back and thinned the plants back to a desired population — typically three plants per foot. That way we were taking stand establishment out of the equation. We wanted to be able to see if we could get the stand, then what was the yield potential? What’s the yield compared to a typical planting date?”

For the experiment, Pettigrew looked at eight varieties. One of them was Sure-Grow 125. Another was MD-51 — a little known, high strength variety released about seven years ago. The other six varieties were chosen because Pettigrew thought they might offer a degree of cold tolerance.

Over the life of the experiment, results have tended to see-saw.

“In 1996, our April 1 planting compared to our May 1 planting shows that our peak blooming period shifted 10 to 14 days. We didn’t quite accomplish our goal of hitting the Summer Solstice, which is about the 172nd day of the year.”

In 1997, the systems were almost on top of each other. About two weeks after the early plants emerged, a rather severe cold snap hit. Temperatures dropped to around 36 degrees and the cotton browned up and stunted. That meant the plants didn’t really start growing well until the May 1 planting had emerged.

“In 1998, there was not much of a peak shift. But we did get many more flowers produced early.”

However, in 1999, a considerable shift in the blooming period meant the experiment had new legs.

“In 2000, the two systems peaked about the same time. The early planting did produce more flowers early.”

In 2001, planting was done on April 2. Pettigrew has photos showing the emerging, healthy plants on April 16. “We knew a weather system was moving in and bringing cold air about 39 degrees. It hit the next evening. Eight days later, the cotyledons were browned. The good news is the plants grew out of the browning.”

Bottom line? Looking at five years of data, Pettigrew’s crop averaged about a 10 percent yield boost from planting April 1 vs. May 1.

Some of the benefits of planting early:

Potential increased yield. “That may not occur every year, but it’s generally true.”

Input reduction. “By avoiding some of the late season stresses, you’re able to reduce the need for inputs.”

More efficient use of labor. “You can’t plant all your crop the same day, nor can you harvest it all the same day. So you can spread out labor a little more.”

The risks:

Cold temperature stress. “There’s respectable odds this will hit your crop. But even with bad browning of cotyledons (as seen this year), plants grow out of it.”

Possible increase in seedling disease pressure. “Cold, wet conditions can hurt plants. That’s why you need to have a fungicide program well in hand when you’re planting.”

The biggest risk is total loss of stand. “We haven’t seen that in our five-year study, but let’s be honest, Mother Nature can be fickle. One year you may put seed in April 1 and the temperatures are liable to drop into the upper 20’s. That may mean a total loss.”

But if you do lose the stand, Pettigrew says you’ll be able to get in and replant, weather permitting. What you’ll be out is labor, fuel and seed replacement.

One year Pettigrew did see an increase of boll rot. “In 1996, even with the rot, we still ended up with a 10 percent yield increase over the crop with the conventional planting date.

Even with these positive findings, Pettigrew says he’s not recommending farmers plant all their cotton acreage the first week of April.

“What I’m saying is if you get a warm dry period at that time, you might want to take advantage of it and plant limited acreage.”

If farmers do decide to plant so early, Pettigrew offers these suggestions:

1) Only plant on well drained land.

2) Don’t plant too deep. “We’ve typically been planting ours at about .75 of an inch. I wouldn’t go too much deeper than that.”

3) Make sure you have a fungicide program. You’re putting seed into a stressful environment and it needs all the help it can get. “Many farmers are tempted to eliminate in-furrow fungicides. But that isn’t a good idea for early planting.”

4) Use high quality seed. “Pay attention to the cool germination test.”


LSU AgCenter names Coreil vice chancellor for Extension

Coreil currently is assistant director for environmental programs in the LSU AgCenter.

“Dr. Coreil brings considerable experience, enthusiasm and energy as an educator to this position,” said William B. “Bill” Richardson, LSU AgCenter chancellor. “He has spent most of his career with the Extension Service and has held a variety of jobs, including field agent and specialist. This gives him the broad-based perspective we need for this leadership role.”

Coreil will replace Jack Bagent, who will retire effective Sept. 1. Bagent has led the Extension branch of the LSU AgCenter since July 1, 1995.

“Dr. Coreil is a futuristic thinker and was a key player in a recent round of future forums we held around the state to gauge educational needs in Louisiana,” Bagent said. “He currently is playing a lead role in helping shape water policy for the state.”

Coreil’s new job also will include responsibilities in the LSU AgCenter’s research branch.

“Dr. Coreil is recognized as a national leader in environmental programs, especially water resources,” said William H. Brown, LSU AgCenter vice chancellor for research and director of the Louisiana Agricultural Experiment Station. “He will help bring about more coordination between our research and extension programs.”

Coreil started with the LSU AgCenter’s Extension service as an assistant area agent for fisheries and wildlife in Cameron and Calcasieu parishes in 1978. He was promoted through several positions, including a move to associate specialist for wetland and coastal resources in 1996. Then from 1998 to 1999, he was a wetlands conservation administrator with Burlington Resources. He returned to the Extension Service in his current position in 1999.

He has served on various boards and committees, including the Lower Mississippi Valley Initiative, a multi-state water policy task force. He has written numerous publications. Two of the most popular include “Wetlands Functions and Values in Louisiana” and “Private Lands Technical Assistance Handbook,” both available from parish LSU AgCenter Extension offices.

A native of Ville Platte, Coreil received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Southwestern Louisiana in 1976. Both his master’s degree, which he received in 1984, and his doctoral degree, which he earned in 1995, were granted by LSU.