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Articles from 2013 In August

4S Goat Expo Coming To North Platte, Oct. 5-6

4S Goat Expo Coming To North Platte, Oct. 5-6

The 4S Goat Expo in North Platte, Oct. 5-6, features nationally and internationally known speakers for the seminar portion of the expo.

Fred Homeyer, a retired college professor, will discuss his current research on increasing carcass yields in meat goat kids through sire selection. Homeyer also will review feeding and raising meat goats and conduct a youth judging contest.

He raised more than 20,000 goats on his Texas ranch and now has 400 registered South African Boer Goats. He's judged more than 120 shows in 31 states, three Canadian provinces and 15 other countries.

4S Goat Expo Coming To North Platte, Oct. 5-6

Frank Pinkerton, retired Extension goat specialist, will speak about the current US Meat Goat Situation Report. Known as "the Goat Man," He speaks across the nation about meat goats and writes a column for the Goat Rancher magazine.

Jeffery Gillespie, professor in the ag economics and agribusiness at Louisiana State University, will be giving the results of the recent meat goat producer Survey. Gillespie teaches and conducts research on costs of farm production, adaptation of technology and farm efficiency.

R. Wes Harrison, a LSU marketing economist, will discuss demand for goat meat. He has expertise in analyzing trends in food consumption and has been said to be able to combine number crunching with keen insight into consumer psychology and buying trends.

Ken McMillan, another LSU professor, will speak about his part in a USDA project and the results obtained on live animal and carcass measurements of meat goats. McMillan conducts research and teaches in the areas of animal and meat science. He is also a contributor to the Goat Rancher magazine.

UNL Extension specialist, Randy Saner will round out the day with a presentation on poisonous plants to watch for in raisings goats. For more information, contact:  Randy Saner at: or 1-800-200-1381, or visit and

Saddle Up For Ak-Sar-Ben Rodeo Scholarship Chances

Saddle Up For Ak-Sar-Ben Rodeo Scholarship Chances

Eight seconds is all it will take for 60 young rodeo stars to turn a one-time opportunity into a $1,000 scholarship from Ak-Sar-Ben's River City Rodeo & Stock Show.

The first annual Ak-Sar-Ben's Heartland Invitational Scholarship High School Rodeo Champions Challenge will take place on Sept. 28, from 12:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m., at the CenturyLink Center in Omaha. Eleven scholarships will be awarded.

Saddle Up For Ak-Sar-Ben Rodeo Scholarship Chances

Featuring National High School Rodeo Association Champions from South Dakota, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Minnesota and Nebraska, the rodeo will include all 10 NHSRA sanctioned events: pole bending, bareback riding, break-away roping, tie-down calf roping, saddle bronc-riding, goat tying, bull riding, steer wrestling, team roping and barrel racing.

Contestants are selected by their respective state NHSRA leadership and have just one run for the money.

"For 68 years the Knights of Ak-Sar-Ben Foundation has been hosting a Rodeo sanctioned by the Professional Rodeo Cowboy's Association," says Ak-Sar-Ben Rodeo Chairman Beth Greiner, "To ensure the sport of rodeo continues to grow in contestants and attendees Ak-Sar-Ben, is increasing its mission and impact by giving scholarships to future rodeo leaders."

As is true for all ARCR events, the Scholarship Rodeo will be produced by local rodeo volunteers. All 11 scholarship winners will receive their award during the Saturday, Sept. 28, Justin Boots Championships Rodeo performance.

Ak-Sar-Ben's River City Rodeo & Stock Show is an annual celebration of the region's heritage that benefits and educates families and youth. With an economic impact of more than $21.3 million, it includes three core events: the Justin Boots Championships Rodeo, the Ak-Sar-Ben 4-H Stock Show and the Douglas County Fair. Visit the website at for a complete list of activities, opportunities for volunteerism or ticket information.

ARCR is managed by the Knights of Ak-Sar-Ben Foundation which was established in 1895 with a mission of leveraging collective business leadership to build a more prosperous Heartland.

The National High School Rodeo Association is an international, non-profit organization dedicated to the development of sportsmanship, horsemanship and the character in the youth of our country through the sport of rodeo. The NHSRA membership consists of over 10,500 members from 41 states, five Canadian provinces and Australia.

Making The Right Decisions For Your Farm

Making The Right Decisions For Your Farm

Ron and Maria Rosmann, along with son Daniel and his wife Ellen Walsh-Rosmann, operate a 700-acre diversified crop, vegetable and livestock farm as well as an on-farm store near Harlan in western Iowa. They have been using on-farm research for decades as a way to quantify those on-farm observations and guide their management practices. They will share their experiences as well as details about some of their current research trials at a Practical Farmers of Iowa field day on Friday, Sept. 6, from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., on the family farm northwest of Harlan.

SEPTEMBER 6 FIELD DAY: The event – "Harvesting Data Through On-Farm Research" – is free and open to the public

HARVESTING INFORMATION: Building a profitable farm is a lifelong endeavor that involves continual observation and adjustment, and the ability to adapt management decisions in response to on-farm and off-farm realities. Running trials on your farm to test and compare different management practices can help you find out what works and what doesn't for your conditions, says Ron Rosmann, a long-time member of Practical Farmers of Iowa.

It will be held rain or shine and will include a meal after the field day. The event is sponsored by Shelby County Soil and Water Conservation District, Blue River Hybrids, Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Service and Wheatsfield Cooperative.

"We view our farm as a dynamic system that is always developing and changing and, hopefully, improving," says Ron Rosmann. "Our goal is to have healthy soils, healthy animals and abundant and healthy food for people to enjoy. We hope people who attend this field day will listen, learn and share with one another our story of what we have done to have a successful diversified farm."

Using on-farm research as a tool to improve farm management decisions

The Rosmann family will discuss their history of using on-farm research as a tool to aid farm management, and individual family members will discuss results of various on-farm research trials that guide their enterprise mix and farm management philosophy.

* Ellen and Daniel will discuss ridge-tilling sweet corn and potatoes; raising vegetables; infrastructure and management of a new 200-bird, barn-housed organic layer enterprise; and a comparison of organic and conventional sweet corn production, yields and profits.~~~PAGE_BREAK_HERE~~~

* Maria will discuss creating and managing Farm Sweet Farm, the on-farm store, as well as product sourcing.

* Ron will discuss research on organic swine feed efficiency, including feeder settings and adjustments, that he is conducting as part of Practical Farmers' Cooperators' Program.

Directions: Rosmann Family Farm is located at 1222 Ironwood Rd., about 4.5 miles northwest of Harlan. From the intersection of U.S. 59 and Highway 44 in Harlan, go 2 miles west on Hwy 44 to Ironwood Road, turn right (north) and drive 2.25 miles. The field day is on the west side of the road starting at the farm store (you'll see the Farm Sweet Farm store sign).~~~PAGE_BREAK_HERE~~~

The Rosmanns raise corn, soybeans, oats, barley, wheat, popcorn, hay and pasture as well as vegetables for a CSA, eggs and various cover crops. They have a beef herd of 90 cows and a swine herd of 40 sows. They market their meats through their on-farm store – Farm Sweet Farm – and other outlets, including Organic Prairie, Thousand Hills Cattle Company, Wheatsfield Cooperative and Campbell's Nutrition Center. This is the family's 30th year using no pesticides and its 19th year of certified organic farming. The Rosmanns' organic popcorn and CSA vegetables are marketed locally and regionally. Maria owns and operates Farm Sweet Farm, featuring the family's products as well as local and regional products.

SEPTEMBER 4 FIELD DAY: Agritourism, specialty crops will be highlights of two PFI field days – September 4 in southeast Iowa at Mount Pleasant and Donnellson

As more consumers express interest in local food and agriculture, adding specialty crops or agritourism opportunities to a farm can be a profitable way to diversify and cash in on a growing market sector. To bring more attention to these opportunities, Practical Farmers of Iowa is hosting two related field days on Wednesday, Sept. 4, at 9:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. at Mogo Organic Farm in Mount Pleasant and Harvestville Farm in Donnellson, located about 22 miles apart.~~~PAGE_BREAK_HERE~~~

The field days are being held in tandem to highlight strategies related to agritourism, specialty crops and related topics. Both events are free and open to the public. Lunch will be served at 12:30 p.m. at Harvestville Farm. While you don't have to attend both events, they were planned to complement each other. RSVPs are appreciated for the lunch. Please reply to Lauren Zastrow at or 515-232-5661 by Monday, Sept. 2.

Event #1: The first event – "Collaboration as a Beginning Farmer Strategy" – will take place at Mogo Organic Farm, run by Morgan Hoenig, and will focus on growing specialty crops, unique collaborations and efforts to build an agritourism and retail barn featuring a walk-in cooler, Coolbot and vegetable preparation and retail areas. The event is sponsored by Iowa State University's Alliance for Cooperative Business Development. The farm is located at 2542 Iowa Ave., about 1 mile south of Donnellson. Look for two high tunnels and a large, brown barn.~~~PAGE_BREAK_HERE~~~

Morgan, who has been farming since 2007, grows vegetables and flowers on 3 cultivated acres and wild-harvests on another 100 acres nearby, in addition to raising bees. She is also a current PFI Savings Incentive Program enrollee who is being mentored by Adam and Julie Hohl of Harvestville Farm. Recently, Morgan helped launch a three-farm marketing collaboration that resulted in Green Share Organic CSA as well as a shared-use equipment research project. In addition to providing an overview of the CSA and how it works, other topics will include: high tunnel production for late-summer and winter crops; vegetable land conversion and improvement with cover crops; getting started in agritourism; and specialty crop machinery sharing.

"Collaboration on the CSA has worked because so far, my farm has been a one-woman project," Morgan says. "I got to the point where I realized I couldn't do so many different crops all myself. With Green Share CSA it's been 100% better. Earlier this spring we were all going to plant peas, but the other two farms had a lot more rain than I did and couldn't plant. But I still had peas, so we were still able to have peas in the CSA boxes."

Additional speakers at Morgan's field day will include: Linda Naeve, ISU Extension value-added ag specialist; Georgeanne Artz, ISU Department of Economics; Laurie Roberts, of Long Creek Acres Organic in Ainsworth and one of Morgan's farm collaborators; and Lori Graber, of Providence Organics in Crawfordsville, and the third farm collaborator.

Event #2: The second event – "Dissecting the Specialty Farm Experience" – will take place at Harvestville Farm, run by Kathy Hohl, her son Adam Hohl and daughter-in-law Julie, and will explore the Hohl family's diverse on-farm strategies that integrate agritourism, value-added products and specialty crop production. The farm is located at 1977 Iowa Route 2, about 2 miles east of Donnellson on north side of the road. The field day is sponsored by Iowa Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association, Lee County Soil & Water Conservation District and the Women, Food and Agriculture Network.~~~PAGE_BREAK_HERE~~~

Topics covered will include: hosting field trips and business groups; liability and insurance issues; agritourism marketing methods; value-added practices; adding specialty crops to a row-crop operation; labor, economics and marketing efforts past and present; and planting techniques, insect control and harvest methods.

Guests can tour the Retail Barn with sales floor, play area, educational area and corn maze, as well as a design area where visitors can create wreaths, harvest baskets, scarecrows, birdhouses and more. The day will also feature a wagon ride tour of the fields that include 35 acres of pumpkins, squash and hard-shell gourds spanning more than 100 varieties, and attendees will hear the specifics of creating a destination farm and managing it over time. "We'll be glad to talk about what has worked for us, and what has not, how we have gradually added what we have, and our plans for additional venues and activities in the future," Adam says, adding that "running a specialty farm takes a lot of hard work and dedication. There's a big learning curve."

Harvestville Farm is part of a fifth-generation family farm in southeast Iowa. A few years after converting a portion of their 700-acre row crop farm, the Hohl family now manages 45 acres of specialty crops and rents the remainder out.

SEPTEMBER 10 FIELD DAY: Learn how season extension techniques can help you grow fresh produce into the fall at a Practical Farmers field day – Sept. 10 near Sioux Center

Community Supported Agriculture subscriptions provide consumers the opportunity to receive weekly distributions of fresh produce from a local farm during the growing season. For many CSA members and local food enthusiasts, this edible bounty is one of summer's delights, one that often abruptly ends with the last CSA box of the season.~~~PAGE_BREAK_HERE~~~

Fortunately, season extension techniques used by many fruit and vegetables farms are changing this reality by helping to extend the growing season beyond its traditional limits. John and Janna Wesselius operate The Cornucopia near Sioux Center and use a variety of these techniques to raise produce for a fall CSA share. They will share their insights at a Practical Farmers of Iowa field day on Tuesday, Sept. 10, from 5-7 p.m., near Sioux Center.

The event – "Providing Fresh Produce Through the Fall" – is free and open to the public. Dinner will be served after the field day. Please bring your own dishes. RSVPs are requested for the meal. Reply to Lauren Zastrow at or 515-232-5661 by Thursday, Sept. 7. The field day is sponsored by Certified Naturally Grown and Sioux County Soil and Water Conservation District.

Attendees will learn how The Cornucopia plans for its fall CSA share through later plantings, high tunnel production and crop storage. The day will also feature a farm tour, and some of The Cornucopia's CSA members will speak about how being a part of the farm's CSA has affected their eating habits as well as awareness of Iowa's agricultural landscape. "I enjoy the excitement people have around eating fresh foods," John says. "My wife and I meet folks in January and February who say they miss our food, which inspires us to extend the growing season as long as we can."

The Cornucopia includes 6.7 acres of land owned by John and Janna, as well as 1 rented acre located 1 mile north and 1 rented acre 6 miles south of their farm. John and Janna cultivate 4 acres of vegetables and pasture chickens on grass using chicken tractors. They sell directly through farmers markets in Sioux City, Sioux Falls and Sioux Center, and also sell produce through CSA.

Directions: The Cornucopia is located at 3681 Ibex Ave., about 5.5 miles northeast of Sioux Center. To reach the farm, take U.S. 75 north out of Sioux Center. Turn right onto 370th Street / County Road B30. Go 3 miles and turn left onto Ibex Avenue.

Finally: A Reason to Like Congress

That headline is not a typo. And no, this is not an April fool's joke.

I'm about to describe one of your federal government's best success stories – a win-win-win for farmers, consumers and taxpayers (for the most part, anyway).

I'm talking about crop insurance.  In an age when "dysfunctional congress" appears in nearly every article describing our elected leaders, here's a story that makes us all happy, happy, happy, as Phil Robertson of Duck Dynasty might say.

The epic drought of 2012 proved it.

Of course, it wasn't always this way. Old-timers will recall that crop insurance was once just a depression-era experiment, until the Federal Crop Insurance Act of 1980 was passed. Even then most farmers still did not use it; after a series of ad hoc disaster programs passed in the late 1980s, leaving no one happy, the crop insurance program was vastly improved through the Federal Crop Insurance Reform act of 1994.

All of a sudden farmers had a decent safety net and risk management tool unique to their business needs.

These days over 80% of U.S. crop acreage is protected by crop insurance. For many farmers, it's a no-brainer. Did farmers en masse go out of business as a result of extreme drought in 2012? Did any farm group go begging Congress for a disaster payment?

No, and no.

Think about that, for a minute. After these past 18 months watching Congress try and fail and try again to pass a new farm bill – or pass any meaningful bill - what odds would you give passage of a disaster program in this toxic political environment?

Industry-wide there were a record number of claims on last year's crops, with $17 billion paid out to farmers who suffered loss. Coverage this year is expected to be upwards of 85%. Some of those 'self-insured' farmers wised up.

That $17 billion attracted its share of budget-cutter critics in Washington, but in typical years the federally-subsidized crop insurance program is a wash for taxpayers. Farmers pay in and farmers who suffer get payments back.

One reason it works is efficiency. That's a word they don't use much in Washington, but this unique private-public program administered by USDA has a set of rules that is then executed and managed by private companies. Those companies compete, and that's what allows the product to be delivered so efficiently.

If a new farm bill does get passed – again, these days that's a big if - we may see some adjustments to crop insurance. The senate bill had higher farmer premiums for anyone with adjusted gross income above $750,000. The Senate bill also coupled insurance with conservation compliance. The house bill did not have conservation compliance or an AGI limit but the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) was decoupled.

It's logical to assume it's easier to get urban legislators to agree on a farm bill if there's an acceptable SNAP bill attached. 

If you still don't see this as a success story, consider this: other countries covet what we have here. Brazil has an under subsidized revenue program; Brazil's politicians would love to reform their program so that it actually made sense for growers. Canada, India, The Philippines and Australia are looking to replicate the U.S. program.

In China, the second largest ag market in the world, crop insurance models are emerging as the country gets serious about feeding its massive population. Read more here.

At the recent Farm Progress Show held here in Decatur, Ill., streets were full, business was booming. You'd never know there was a devastating drought just 12 months ago. Those who were protected by crop insurance were back to kicking tires and looking at investments to make their farm production more efficient, and that translates to good things for a hungry population.

This program speaks to the value of a stable food supply. What's that worth? Did any American go hungry because of the drought?

Crop insurance is part of the mighty American Ag machine, an engine that might have sputtered to a halt after last year's drought had this program not been available. It's part of a rural economy stabilization program that will be very much in need as world population swells to 9 billion people in 30 years.

So, congrats to our political leaders. Whether they realize it or not, they gave American farmers and consumers a success story.

Let's just hope they know a good thing when they see one.


Corn ear

Late-Season Nitrogen Deficiency Showing in Several Fields

One question analysts and agronomists had about the 2013 corn crop was whether it would have enough nitrogen to finish filling kernels, making them plump, and adding to extra yield. When the August crop estimate came out, apparently traders thought the answer was "yes." Corn rallied only slightly even though the forecast was slightly less than the trade expected.

Now, agronomists are saying that for many fields, the answer is likely "no" – there wasn't enough N to finish the crop. It could reduce kernel size, although it's too late to influence number of kernels. So the top end of the yield curve is in jeopardy.

Actually, Purdue University Extension agronomist Bob Nielsen says it may be a combination of nitrogen levels, dry weather and even too much heat very late that is ganging up on corn plants trying to finish the season.

Agronomists who were worried early thought the crop might not have enough N to finish since it was so wet early, and some N that was applied was likely lost. That's still true, most agronomists say.

However, Nielsen believes the dry weather is making it worse. Even if there is still N in the soil, the roots are having a harder than normal time getting to it because soils are dry, and roots don't grow well in dry soils.

So if the roots can't supply it, plants will pull it from leaves to finish as many kernels as they can in good fashion. That leads to aborted tips, and may also lead to lower than normal kernel fill and weight unless conditions turn around quickly.

Paul Burgener, marketing specialist for Farm Progress Companies, says that just a couple of weeks ago he told farmers the corn price at harvest could have a '3' in front of it due to a big crop. Now he doubts that will happen. He doesn't see corn dipping below $4 even at harvest if this pattern continues.

John Beasley Auburn Georgia swap

From 'Go Dawgs' to 'War Eagle' for John Beasley

The University of Georgia’s loss is Auburn University’s gain, and for once, we’re not talking about football, though Georgia has been winning a lot more than Auburn on the gridiron in the past couple of years.

In this particular case, Auburn’s win is in the form of University of Georgia Extension Peanut Agronomist John Beasley, who is retiring from UGA at the end of the year and joining Auburn as the head of its newly named Crop, Soil and Environmental Sciences Department in the College of Agriculture, formerly known as the Department of Agronomy and Soils.

I admittedly bleed navy blue and burnt orange, so it did my heart good to see John at the recent Wiregrass Field Day in Headland, Ala., decked out in an AU shirt and cap. The colors looked good on him, as they do on any true Auburn man. I’ll concede that Georgia may have helped to make John the person he is today, but I suspect the ingredients were already there.

At the field day, John struck a sentimental note, talking about how he grew up not far from the southeast Alabama substation, working in Extension’s IPM program during his undergraduate years at Auburn, scouting peanuts, corn, grain sorghum and soybeans.

John said he had been given a great opportunity to return to his home department and provide leadership. 

“I’ll commit to you that I’ll work hard every day, just as I have as the University of Georgia’s Extension peanut agronomist. If you have anything that you’d like to see the department work on in the future to help your bottom line and to help improve your quality of life, please let me know. I’ll be contacting you to see what we can do to improve and accomplish things for Auburn University, the College of Agriculture, and the Department of Crops, Soils and Environmental Sciences.”

After graduating from Auburn with a bachelor’s degree in agronomy and soils, Beasley completed his master’s degree at Oklahoma State University and in 1985 received his Ph.D. in crop science at Louisiana State University.

He began his career that same year as an assistant professor and Extension specialist at the University of Georgia. In 1991, he was promoted to associate professor, and five years later, he attained the rank of professor.

Having enjoyed an outstanding career at the University of Georgia, John said it was good to be coming home.

“This is literally home to me and has a very special meaning to me, and Auburn has a very special meaning to me as well. The University of Georgia has been great to me — the people I’ve worked with and the administration. We’ve all worked together on a lot of joint projects between the two institutions and with the University of Florida.”

Welcome home, John.

(For a video interview of John Beasley talking about his move, see Longtime Georgia peanut agronomist says farewell ...sort of).

California, Arizona LGMAs change food safety metrics

California, Arizona LGMAs change food safety metrics

(California Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement Board)

The California Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement Board has approved changes to its food safety standards (metrics) in the areas of animal intrusion and compost practices.

“These actions represent a significant step forward in the evolution of food safety standards for leafy greens,” said Scott Horsfall, California Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement (LGMA) chief executive officer.

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Horsfall said, “The changes will provide an improved system to assess and reduce potential risk in leafy greens fields while reducing the impact of food safety metrics on the environment.”

The changes are the result of months of work in the leafy greens industry. The effort was led by Hank Giclas of Western Growers, in collaboration with university scientists, industry food safety experts, farmers and shippers of leafy greens products, and the environmental community.

Giclas says the new metrics refocus the efforts of LGMA handlers to assess risks of intrusion in the field from any animal rather than responding to a list of specific animals under the original LGMA metrics.

The new approach requires LGMA handlers to determine the level of intrusion and which mitigating action should be taken. 

The new metrics also add a definition for green waste and requirements for composting green waste relative to the production of leafy greens.

“The change regarding animal intrusion reflects a more common sense approach to dealing with this important issue,” said Jennifer Biringer of The Nature Conservancy. 

The new metrics require all handlers to have approved standard operating procedures (SOPs) in place to address how signs of animal intrusion in the field will be handled.  Assessments must be conducted prior to and during harvest to determine if there has been any animal intrusion in the field. 

If signs of animal intrusion are determined as low risk, the situation can be handled according to the company’s SOPs. 

If the contamination from animals is determined to present a potential food safety risk, it must be mitigated according to the LGMA metrics which require a buffer to be established around any impacted product and that portion of the field must not be harvested.

The specific metrics required of LGMA members in this instance are available on-line at

According to Horsfall, the same changes were accepted by the Arizona Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement.

Compliance with the new standards will be verified through mandatory government audits for Arizona and California handlers beginning in the late fall and winter of 2013-2014. 

Horsfall says the changes align the LGMA metrics more closely with the upcoming Food Safety Modernization Act.

More news and comments from Western Farm Press:

Water challenges will not be solved this way

EPA requests neonic lawsuit dismissal

Worshipping the golden calf wagyu style

Corn+Soybean Digest

Fall 2013 Marketing Outlook

CSD Editor Kurt Lawton spoke with Sterling Lidell, senior VP of food and agribusiness research at Rabo AgriFinance, at the 2013 Farm Progress Show. Lidell offers a fall marketing outlook for corn and soybeans, saying that there's a record spread between corn and soybeans right now.

"We may have underplanted soybeans," says Lidell. "We still have a bearish outlook for next year. Corn is likely to stay in the $4.50-5 range. Soybeans will be a little stronger than corn."

Lidell also talks about the lack of selling in the market right now.



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Corn+Soybean Digest

John Deere FarmSight: Use the data from your farm

Barry Nelson, media relations manager, John Deere, talks about using the data collected during farm operations to manage your overall farm. With FarmSight, JDLink and, farmers can track machinery, weather, agronomic data and share it with dealers, crop consultants and others to help manage their farms.

"Customers will make decisions on what data is shared," says Nelson. "With wireless data transfer, it's easier to transmit data to computers or mobile devices."


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Corn+Soybean Digest

2014 John Deere product launch

CSD Editor Kurt Lawton attended the recent John Deere product launch, where they introduced the new machines and technologies for 2014. Here, Barry Nelson, media relations manager, John Deere, talks about the new 8R and 7R tractors, S series combines, 4 series sprayers, final Tier 4 engine technology and cab comforts for 2014.


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