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Articles from 2013 In September


The ultimate honey-do list

The ultimate honey-do list

Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity. I wasn't completely prepared when an opportunity arose, but I ended up getting a bit lucky anyway. That's how my world works.

Let's say you raise some bees. All of those bees hopefully generate enough labor to yield some honey. That honey doesn't just magically appear in bear-shaped bottles. Not even close. It must be extracted from the frames where it is originally produced and stored. That extraction process can be a little bit involved, or it can be majorly involved. It's your choice. My preference was for some significant mechanical involvement. The other option was to get ourselves a manual extractor. We're talking hand-crank equipment in that scenario. It's on par with churning our own butter.

Get real. I'm more of the "flip-this-switch-and-see-what-happens" variety of entrepreneur. So we bought a halfway decent extractor that is powered by an electric motor. Take the frames out of the hives, carefully set them in the extractor so that they are balanced against one another, then toss the cover on that puppy, flip the switch and stand back while all of the golden stream of revenue starts to flow from the bottom of the machine.

The concept sounds good, right? Now let's review the background for the scene. Bees aren't terribly wild about you coming into their hive and swiping all of their frames of honey. You can do it, but a few things have to happen for you to do it without any kind of retribution on the bees' part. The removal works best if you do it toward the very end of the day, under cover of darkness. The bees are relatively quiet then.

Actually, it's not so much the removal of the frames that's time-critical as it is the extraction of the honey. Put yourself in a full-body bee suit and you can do the removal any time you want. Here's where the irony comes back to kick your butt. Honey flows best when it's warm. Bees are most active when it's warm. Do your work in the dark and you won't be at risk of being stung by the bees. Do your work in the dark when it's cool and your honey will flow a bit like molasses in the winter.

Now consider the geography of the extraction. Why not just bring the work inside and do it in the house, you ask? Hey, why not butcher the beef right there at the kitchen table, too? Take your pick. You can have a bloody mess in your kitchen, or you can have a sticky mess in your kitchen. Some stuff is best done outside. Other stuff is best done in a dedicated facility. We don't bring ears of corn inside to shell the kernels. We do that outside with mechanical help from a combine. We take animals to a meat locker to get them converted from live beings to packages of steaks and burgers.

We did our honey extraction last year after dark. We also did it in the yard, since we didn't want to mess up the kitchen with honey dripping everywhere and we didn't want to build a stand-alone facility for honey extraction. Playing with bees and honey in the middle of the night gets old in a hurry.

So, about this honey.

As George Carlin would say, we needed a place for our stuff. We wanted someplace where we could process honey and we wanted it to be easily accessible and clean enough to use for food production.  Lo and behold, a guy named Craig and his list came to the rescue. Someone passed along a link to me of an ad from Craigslist for a small building. It was 10 ft. by 12 ft. and seemed to be just what we needed. It also happened to be located within a few miles of us. Better yet, it was owned by someone I knew. One half of the couple used to cut my hair. The other half of the couple used to be the foreman at the company where our livestock trailer was made. These weren't complete strangers who'd end up murdering me and mailing my carcass fragments in several small business reply envelopes like your average Craigslist consignor would / does. (I checked that on Snopes after I got it in a Fw: Fw: Fw: email. It’s not just true, but fairly common. Look it up. "Cause of death: Craigslist" shows up on more death certificates than you think!)

The shed on location.

Sherill and I took a short trip to the other side of rural Cresco and checked out the building. It looked like it would suit our needs quite nicely. The price was right, so we decided to take it.

Okay, that was a poor verb choice. We decided to buy it. Big difference. The buying was the easy part. The taking was another matter.

This is a portable building. It's not anchored to a concrete foundation. It's not built with poles stuck in the ground. It's a shed built on two beams with tapered ends. Realistically, a guy could just hook a chain onto that puppy and drag it home. Of course, a guy could just have two splinters left instead of beams by the time it was home, too. Nothing else I've ever dragged down the gravel has ever gotten better as a result. We didn't need to reinvent the wheel here; we just needed to apply the wheel properly.

That's when I went into detective mode. This shed didn't just sprout from the ground where it was, I surmised. It had to get there somehow. Surely it could leave the same way. I'd be hitting the Rewind and Play buttons on my DVR of life.

It got there on a truck, so it could leave on a truck. Get a truck to haul it for me. Preferably, it would be a truck with a hydraulic hoist and a tilt bed. Back up to it, tilt the bed, hook on to it and winch it onto the truck and then leave. Get home and do the whole lather-rinse-repeat process again in reverse. Pretty simple.

Multiple calls were made to people with trucks. A grand total of zero responses were generated. No one else wanted in on this rare opportunity.

That left me with only one option.

Me.

This shed was basically a large bale of hay. It needed to be moved and it needed to involve the least amount of effort and expense possible. If I can get several hundred packages of forage transported with, let's say, minimal collateral damage, how tough could one dinky shed be?

The plan was hatched and execution was begun. I opted to take the Ranch Hand with a gooseneck flatbed trailer with me to the other side of rural Cresco. We'd take the shed owner's skid loader and simply lift the shed onto my trailer. I'd drive it home and set it off here. Pretty simple.

The Ranch Hand and trailer were backed into position. The skid loader was positioned on one side of the building to raise it so the Ranch Hand and trailer could be backed underneath. That's when physics caught up with us. Lifting from one side of the building pretty much raised the building up on one side and caused the opposite side to go down. Even with a couple of us pushing as counterweight, we weren't lifting it up so much as we were tipping it over!

More hands make the work easier, right? If one loader is good, two have to be much better. Why not go home and bring a tractor and loader with pallet forks over to lift from the opposite side? We'd get a machine on each side and gently elevate that puppy skyward. Back the trailer under it, hit the Rewind button again and then it would be time to hit the road.

I got home and retrieved my loader tractor and put the pallet forks on it. On my way back to the crime scene, one of my potential haulers finally called me. He had just the ticket for me. It was a trailer that he uses to deliver buildings for a lumberyard. Perfect solution for me, he felt. Not elaborate at all, but effective. I could swing in and take a look at it, seeing as how I was two blocks past it at the moment he called.

His "trailer" was an I-beam with a ball hitch on one end and a set of wheels at the other end. In the middle of the 30-foot-long I-beam were two pieces of strap iron welded perpendicular to the beam. They were maybe five or six feet long. The shed would be gently lifted onto the strap irons and then transported to the destination.

Lots of things ran through my mind as I stopped and looked at the trailer. Words like "stark," "minimalist," "bare-bones," and "cobbled" kept coming up. They were part of a scene in my head that involved my new shed rolling off into a ditch somewhere on the way home. I decided to stick with my current plan.            

Two heads are better than one. Two loaders are more impressive and effective than one, too. We managed to get our machines positioned and lifted the building off the ground with no problem. I backed the Ranch Hand and trailer underneath and we gently set the shed down onto its new mobile location.

Then came the fun part. There are laws of gravity and everything, but you can't forget the corollaries and amendments about momentum. Yeah, that shed looks really solid sitting on top of the trailer, but it's not a straight shot from where I was at the moment to my yard. There would be stops. There would be hills. There would be turns.

There would be tie-down straps!

This wasn't my first transport rodeo. I could very well be taking the same route home that I followed about fifteen years ago with a load of hay. That's the one that got me a spot in the Des Moines Register and kind of launched this whole column concept. It involved me, a load of hay, a stoplight, a free-wheeling bale of hay, a white Cadillac driven by a non-local and a front-end loader. You do the math.  

Click to view original article

We strapped the load soundly on this day, mainly because of that last event. What with the need for the loader tractor and the accompanying delay, it was now close to dark. I opted not to go home directly down Highway 9 through the middle of Cresco. Nope, I took a couple of side roads that let me get from Point A to Point B via Points C through about Q, without anyone wearing a badge even knowing I was out there. You see, I'd driven past several members of the region's law enforcement community enjoying a meal at an establishment on the highway in town as I went by in my loader tractor a short while before. Why interrupt their meal with a discussion over whether one of the multiple state troopers, or the DOT officer, or the city cop would be the one who gets to go outside and "write that moron a ticket" when I could let them eat in peace while I slipped by a mile or two away? I was doing them a favor. It was textbook Golden Rule stuff.     

The new honey house successfully made its way back here to the farm with little trouble. Sure, there were some strange looks from the people I met on my route, but how often have you had to slow down as you met a building being pulled on a trailer by a Ranch Hand? Common stuff around here.

The building was gently lifted off the trailer and placed into position in the yard for its new role in the food industry. Just for fun, I may hoist it back onto the trailer at some point and pull into a local campground with it. I'll keep a couple boxes of bees on the front porch just to add that special redneck ambiance to the equation.

"More gopher, Everett?"

-Guy No. 2  (click to read all posts by Jeff Ryan, Guy No. 2)

The shed gets ready for extraction.

So many knuckleheads, so few rubber mallets

Whenever I see a research study like the one dreamed up by Friends of the Earth and the Pesticide Research Institute, the game Whac-A-Mole comes to mind.

By the time you read a self-serving study like this and bash it soundly with the rubber mallet of rational thought, it reincarnates in another study, where it once again takes on a life of its own.

So many knucklehead studies, so few rubber mallets.

I have to admit sometimes I feel a bit overwhelmed and overmatched, not just at the bias of these anti-agriculture efforts, but at the endless number of people willing to stick their necks out to design, conduct and publish them.

The study found that 7 of 13 samples of garden plants purchased at five stores, which included a Lowes and a Home Depot, contained neonicotinoid insecticides, which the study concluded were responsible for widespread declines in bee health.

More on neonicotinoids later, but for now, let’s focus on the 13 samples. Not 13,000 samples, not 1,300, not even 130, but 13, taken from 26 total plants at five stores. With millions of plants sold in America every day, how can 26 samples from five stores even begin to represent an entire population? It’s like getting indigestion at a Red Lobster, then condemning the entire U.S. restaurant industry.

I asked the researchers for confirmation of this underwhelming sample size, but at press time, I had not heard back from them. See for yourself, here. http://bit.ly/18W6nHW.

The release of the research coincided with National Honey Bee Day and the announcement of new bee labels for neonicotinoid insecticides from the EPA.

Anyway, from this piddly collection of plants, they designed a slick-looking, misleading 34-page document and a news release declaring that neonicotinoids were killing bees in biblical proportions. NBC News jumped on it, and so did numerous other sources.

There are no reputable studies indicating that neonicotinoids are singularly responsible for declines in honey bee health. In fact, just last May, the EPA released a study indicating that parasites, not neonicotinoids, were the biggest factors. There are a lot of other interrelated factors too. See here nbcnews.to/17YRdAA.

But the damage had been done. Before you knew it, 175,000 clueless people who wouldn’t know an aphid from an aardvark had signed a petition demanding that all the garden companies take anything containing neonicotinoids off the shelf.

You’ve got to hand it to the Friends of the Earth and The Pesticide Research Institute though. They got plenty of airplay all over the world and probably spent less than $200 at Lowes and Home Depot. That’s less than I spend on a good day.

 

Drought relief for most of New Mexico

Drought relief for most of New Mexico

Monsoon rains in the mountains in July and Aug. and heavy Sept. rains have brought drought relief to most areas of New Mexico, but with the exception of eastern reaches of the state, more rain will be needed before spring to prepare farmers and ranchers for a new crop and calf season.

Since July 1, rainfall amounts across the state have ranged from a trace to over 14 inches near Hope, New Mexico, lifting extreme and exceptional drought conditions statewide.

According to the University of Arizona's Climate Assessment for the Southwest, the monsoon season delivered needed rainfall, but since Sept. 1 above-average precipitation fell in almost all of the state with many areas seeing rainfall totals of two to three times the average for this time of year.

The assessment says several slow moving upper level disturbances sparked heavy precipitation events in mid-September that led to flash flooding and several dam breaks in northern and central parts of the state.

While some of these rain events were damaging, they have contributed to a second consecutive month of substantial improvements in short-term drought conditions. On June 18, more than 90 percent of New Mexico was classified with extreme or exceptional drought. This number fell to 66 percent in mid-August. In the most recent update of the U.S. Drought Monitor, published on September 17, only about six percent of New Mexico was classified in exceptional or extreme drought conditions.

 

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Much of the southwestern quarter of the state is now classified as abnormally dry, which is not considered an actual drought classification. By comparison, these areas were tagged as severe to extreme over the past year.

Twenty five of the state's 33 counties were reporting flood damage as of Sept. 25. The area of the state that may have benefited the most include eastern New Mexico where Pecos area reservoir storage for farmers went from 11 percent to 92 percent full in a space of less than two weeks.

"I can honestly say this is the first time in 30 years that anyone has heard me say  we have had a break from the drought conditions," chuckled Woods Houghton, County Extension Service agriculture agent in Carlsbad.

Houghton, like most Eddy County alfalfa and pecan producers, says the rains have come "none-too-soon.

"A lot of hay growers have cut back planted acreage significantly in recent years because of dry conditions. But with the recent rains, I am seeing grasses cropping up on rangeland that haven't been there in a number of years, and area reservoirs are mostly full again, so the prospects for next year are looking good at the moment," he said.

Houghton also sees guarded optimism among most producers.

"Some of them have given a lot of pastures a rest in recent years because of exceptionally dry conditions and a lack of irrigation water, but many of them have already plowed them up in anticipation of spring planting next year," he added.

Rain still needed in parts of the state

Southeastern New Mexico received the greatest level of relief from recent rains, but south central areas of the state still need more rain. Elephant Butte, the largest water storage reservoir on the Rio Grande River, which holds two million acre feet of water, gained more than 50,000 acre feet in recent storms. While reservoir levels rose 4.4 percent full to 5.9 percent full over a five-day period, additional recovery is needed before spring planting.

New Mexico officials say the rains over the last 45 days have benefited New Mexico in a number of ways. In addition to replenishing or raising levels in reservoirs across the state, heavy rains just ahead of hunting season could go a long way in providing better forage for wildlife.

Another benefit from extreme drought conditions is lowering the potential for wildfires across the state. The summer months were another destructive time for wildfires for much of the Southwest and the fire threat has been greatly reduced as a result of heavy rains and higher humidity across New Mexico.

Officials say other benefits include less competition at streams and ponds between livestock, wild horses and other wildlife, and could be beneficial in curbing the threat of animal diseases like those spread by feral hogs and rabid animals.

While flood water caused damage in a number of state parks and recreational areas earlier this month, state park officials report most facilities have re-opened to the public. In addition, flood water caused several breaches in dams across northern areas of the state but most work on those dams is either complete or nearing completion.

In spite of raging flood waters and other problems associated with the rains, most farmers and ranchers across the state are pleased to have received substantial relief but hope more rain falls in the weeks leading up to spring planting.

 

Other articles of interest on Southwest Farm Press:

Texas drought persists despite scattered rainfall

Rainfall boosts peanut prospects

Rainfall improves conditions across Southwest

New Mexico and Texas specialty crop grants

Specialty crops in New Mexico and Texas will receive another round of support from the USDA-AMS Specialty Crop Grants Program, according to agriculture officials in both states. The grants are awarded annually by the United States Department of Agriculture's Agriculture Marketing Service (USDA-AMS).

Seven New Mexico specialty crop projects have been awarded federal grants totaling $429,000 to be used in promotion and production efforts for the state's chili pepper, pecan and grape crops.

The New Mexico Department of Agriculture, which administers and manages the grant program in that state, says some of the money will be used to partner with the New Mexico Wine Growers Association to develop material for tourists and a smart phone application to help people find wineries across the state.

In addition, the New Mexico grants will support projects designed to expand marketing efforts and opportunities, including restaurant promotions and funds to increase in-state and out-of-state demand for New Mexico chili pepper and pecan crops.

Congressman Ben Ray Luján of the Third Congressional District made the New Mexico grant announcement last week in Santa Fe.

“From chiles to pecans, New Mexico’s specialty crops represent not only jobs in our communities, but a source of pride. These federal funds will help our local farmers and producers take steps to sustain their livelihoods and create more opportunities to sell their distinct products,” Luján told reporters.

Texas Agriculture officials say a total of 16 projects totaling $1.42 million will be funded, including partnering with the Texas Vegetable Association along with Texas A&M AgriLife Extension, Texas A&M Center for Food Safety, and Texas A&M AgriLife Research, for a project designed to increase grower/packer awareness of high risk contamination areas and ultimately limit contamination outbreaks in the Texas food system.

Another Texas project includes partnering with Texas Citrus Mutual in their continued management, research and control of citrus greening disease, or Huanglongbing (HLB), in the Rio Grande Valley.

 

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USDA earmarks funds each year for the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program to assist producers of fresh fruits and vegetables and to strengthen markets for specialty crops such as fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, horticulture, and nursery crops, including floriculture. Funding for Texas and New Mexico projects are part of a $52 million investment in grants that support 694 initiatives across the country.

Luján said an integral part of New Mexico’s economy is driven by the hard work of farmers and producers across the state who provide specialty crops "that are part of the fabric of the Land of Enchantment" and says the specialty crop grants are a needed tool to aid the developing specialty crop industry across the Southwest.

Each year the New Mexico Department of Agriculture and the Texas Department of Agriculture asks producers and specialty crop support groups in their states to submit projects for consideration.

New Mexico projects

The seven New Mexico projects selected for funding this year include:

  • Partner with the New Mexico Chile Association to increase demand and price premiums for New Mexico chili pepper growers and processers by developing and implementing a region of production certification program for New Mexico peppers.
  • Partner with the New Mexico Farmers’ Marketing Association to increase sales of specialty crops by educating new and beginning farmers about what it takes to be successful as a specialty crop farmer in the state; creating brand loyalty among specialty crop buyers; and engaging the next generation of youth on issues of food, farming, and sustainability through a series of short videos to be shown on YouTube and at statewide events.
  • Partner with the New Mexico Wine Growers Association to increase traffic to New Mexico’s wineries by designing and implementing tourism-oriented promotional materials and by developing a Smartphone application to guide tourists to winery destinations, provide them with information and discounts, and alert them to events the wineries offer.
  • Increase awareness of New Mexico specialty crops and value-added products by reaching out to national food and beverage associations through product sampling, demonstrations, seminars, workshops, and tradeshows.
  • Capture new target markets and create greater demand for New Mexico’s green chili peppers by developing and implementing new marketing strategies including in-store demonstrations, advertising activities, and restaurant promotions.
  • Partner with New Mexico State University to increase consistent projection of pecans by studying the issue of alternate bearing, measuring the genetic signals to pinpoint the timing of pecan flower induction, and sharing the results with pecan growers at various conferences and through the NMSU Cooperative Extension Bulletin.
  • Perform pre-award and post-award activities to administer Specialty Crop Block Grant Program funding and ensure that the State Agency and sub-awardees abide by Federal and State requirements and regulations.

Texas projects

The 16 Texas specialty crop projects to receive funding include:

  • Partner with the Texas Vegetable Association along with Texas A&M AgriLife Extension, Texas A&M Center for Food Safety, and Texas A&M AgriLife Research to increase grower/packer awareness of field and packing process high risk contamination areas and ultimately limit contamination outbreaks by identifying best practices to reduce the risk contamination areas in harvesting situations across multiple specialty crops grown in Texas.
  • Partner with the Texas Vegetable Association to increase brand awareness and sales of specialty crops by utilizing increased media, billboards and in-store demonstrations to educate consumers on the health benefits, availability and freshness of GO TEXAN vegetables and the benefits of pairing vegetables and dairy to make a tasty, healthy meal. Matching funds will be used to cover non-specialty crop expenses.
  • Increase retail sales of specialty crops by maintaining a liaison position within the Texas Department of Agriculture; creating a promotional campaign using in-store advertising, online advertisements and social media to drive consumers to their local retailers for Texas grown produce and horticulture products; and promoting Texas produce in restaurants through targeting advertising and social media. Matching funds will be used to cover non-specialty crop promotions.
  • Partner with the Texas Olive Oil Council to increase Texas olive orchard productivity and yield by providing state of the industry training for optimizing fruiting and harvesting management practices using digital technology distribution.
  • Partner with the Sustainable Food Center to increase sales of specialty crops at two farmers markets by employing a Food Access Manager to train specialty crop growers to participate in the Double Dollar Incentive Program that doubles the value of fruits and vegetable purchases using Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Women, Infant and Children (WIC), and WIC Farmers Market Nutrition Program (FMNP) benefits.
  • Partner with the Texas Nursery and Landscape Association and the Texas Watersmart Group to improve water conservation and minimize the effects of drought by educating consumers about water conservation through radio advertising.
  • Partner with the Texas Nursery and Landscape Association to improve water conservation by providing both face-to-face and online training on water saving strategies for both businesses and consumers.
  • Partner with TexaSweet Citrus Marketing to increase sales and consumption of Texas Grapefruit by continuing to conduct education and promotional programs to classrooms and reinforce messages shared in schools with a blogger ambassador program and media outreach.
  • Partner with the Texas International Produce Association and Texas A&M AgriLife Extension to increase education and awareness of water conserving technologies and practices through educational field days and workshops.
  • Partner with the Uvalde County Underground Water Conservation District and Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center to increase the number of Texas urban and rural growers adopting water use efficient production systems for leafy greens through targeted educational and outreach programs that help growers develop efficient production practices.
  • Partner with the Texas Pecan Growers Association, Texas Tech University, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service to increase truffle production in Texas by continuing to promote truffles to growers and consumers and conducting research to provide growers with the best production practices for co-cropping  truffles and pecans in Texas.
  • Partner with the National Center for Appropriate Technology and Texas A&M AgriLife Research to enhance the quality, taste and production of specialty melons and artichokes by expanding evaluations in replicated trials, studying quality and yield responses under various conditions and production systems, and sharing results of the studies with growers and consumers through workshops, field days and product demonstrations.
  • Partner with the Texas Pecan Growers Association and Texas A&M AgriLife Research to continue to increase knowledge of growers about the most susceptible rootstocks and potential for new resistant rootstocks to cotton root rot by informing pecan growers of the results of the early cotton root rot evaluations among pecan germplasm being assessed.
  • Partner with J&D Produce and Texas AgriLife Research to allow growers to expand production and capture a larger market share for Texas grown tomatoes by conducting field trials for tomato yellow leaf curl virus resistant cultivars bred by Texas A&M University so that Texas tomato growers have multiple resistant options.
  • Partner with Texas Citrus Mutual to continue to slow the spread of citrus greening disease or Huanglongbing (HLB) in the Rio Grande Valley by using an area-wide HLB detection survey complimented by grower and public outreach.

 

Also of interest:

Celebrating specialty crops, Strawberry Fest attracts huge crowds

Fruit, nut producers to benefit from TDA grant

Mite-vectored disease management is goal of AgriLife Research-led team

How will government shutdown affect agriculture?

How will government shutdown affect agriculture?

As the day wears on, chances of a government shutdown grow ever more likely. Farm Press staff member David Bennett has put together a list of possible ag-related functions that could be affected if congress does not reach a deal on continuing resolution motions by midnight.

Inaction also appears to be the order of the day on a new farm bill.

Check here to read  the complete story.

The Krone nonstop baler won a Gold award in 2011
The Krone nonstop baler won a Gold award in 2011.

Agritechnica Gold Medal introduction

Yes, there are awards that are a very big deal to those within the industry. I know that with the plethora of award ceremonies that inundate the television schedule, it’s very easy to become cynical when another award is highlighted.

But let me tell you about a series of awards in agriculture that are a very big deal within the industry, are highly regarded and sought after and perhaps give us all a glimpse of the future direction of innovation within the agricultural industry.

Every two years, the more than 100 acres of exhibition space at the Exhibition Grounds in Hannover become the go-to place for agricultural machinery and equipment. Agritechnica will host more than 2,700 exhibitors from 47 countries during the second week of November. And it’s here that you will see everything you can imagine…and a lot more than iron.

One highlight of the event is the awarding of Gold and Silver medals by the German Agricultural Society (DLG) to the innovations competition. This year, nearly 400 companies submitted their latest innovation that will be on display at Agritechnica. An esteemed group of judges then award gold and silver medals to the companies and products. This year, four gold medals and 33 silver medals will be awarded during the show.

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Having covered Agritechnica in 2011, I can tell you first-hand that a gold or silver medal is a significant feather in a company’s cap. Winners are sure to remind you that they’ve been awarded a medal, and these products often become the center point of conversation.

Sure, it is partly a way to boost a new product. But it is also a way to recognize the latest innovations when it comes to agriculture.

Additionally, it also gives some insight as to where agricultural innovation is heading. This year, nearly 90 percent of the submissions included further developments in the areas of electronics, sensor technology and software.

So while there will be a lot of new iron to see, the innovation will also come in a smaller package.

Farm Industry News will be at Agritechnica 2013 and provide daily updates during the show.

Here’s the list of this year’s medal winners:

Gold Medals

AirSep pneumatic impurities separator Grimme Landmaschinenfabrik GmbH & Co. KG, Damme, Germany Hall 25, Stand F11

In potato harvesting the systems used for separating tuber-like impurities such as stones and clods of earth are predominantly mechanical. However, these are limited in performance efficiency, and especially with multiple-row harvesting machinery frequently represent a bottleneck. By combining a perforated conveyor base and an uplift airstream flowing through from below, a pneumatic separator device in which the direction of crop flow and hence the machine-specific potato throughput are retained without restrictions has been realized in harvesting machinery for the first time. During the passage through the separation area the tubers are virtually kept gently floating above the vibrating conveyor base, while the heavier stones and clods of earth drop down and are passed via a segmented lock to a removal belt. The quality and performance of separation can be infinitely adjusted from the tractor to the composition of the material being harvested by altering the combination of air flow rate and the inclination and frequency of the conveyor base. In addition to a high output per unit area coupled with reductions in manual post-sorting work, sites can be secured for potato cropping that would otherwise only be used following cost-intensive earth separation in spring.

AXMAT: Automatic spreading pattern adjustment of a twin disc fertilizer spreader RAUCH Landmaschinenfabrik GmbH, Sinzheim, Germany Hall 15, Stand D30

and MSO Messtechnik und Ortung GmbH, Bad Münstereifel, Germany

Hall 17, Stand A26

With AXMAT, Rauch presents the world's first solution featuring automatic online measuring of fertilizer distribution and automatic adjustment of a disc fertilizer spreader to the fertilizer type in the tank and the desired working width. For the first time high fertilizer distribution precision is achieved automatically with the aid of microwave sensors and an automatic adjustment system on the fertilizer spreader. An arm swivelling about the distributor disc of a disc fertilizer spreader provided with microwaves records the spread fan position beneath the fertilizer spread fan, without contact, and sets the spread pattern automatically to the desired working width with the aid of the rotatable tank bottom and dosing aperture. During the spreading process, the spreading pattern is monitored permanently and the discharge point of the fertilizer to the distributor disc is readjusted automatically as required. The novel, automatic self-setting of the fertilizer spreader to the required working width makes it possible to achieve higher precision than is otherwise encountered in conventional adjustment practice and achieves this without the need for any spreading test on the field. The permanent self-monitoring of the spread fan also allows automatic online readjustment of the setting system to the set working width in response to changing fertilizer batches or changes in weather conditions. It improves fertilizer efficiency, reduces emissions and fertilizer costs, and increases the yield security. Initial test results of the French test institute IRESTEA confirm the said advantages of the system.

Merlo Hybrid telehandler – Turbofarmer 40.7 Hybrid Merlo S.p.A, Cervasca, Italy Hall 6, Stand C15

For the first time a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle will be offered for agricultural use with the option of switching the drive between electrical and diesel-electrical. In the electric mode the 30 kWh lithium battery supplies the machine with energy – it works quietly and emission-free and can thus also be used in closed buildings. In the hybrid mode the diesel engine operating at constant speed supplies the power for traction drive and charges the battery at the same time. This drive architecture makes it possible to halve the rated output of the diesel engine without restricting the effective work of the loader. In addition, during the low-load or idling phases that frequently occur in telehandler use, the drive can in turn be powered purely electrically, as a result of which the fuel costs and CO2 emissions in conjunction with the downsized engine can be reduced by up to 30%. A further reduction in costs results from charging the plug-in hybrids from the electricity grid or the PV system.

Online Simulator for operating harvesting machinery and tractors CLAAS Vertriebsgesellschaft mbH, Harsewinkel, Germany Hall 13, Stand B05

The CLAAS Online Simulator for operating harvesting machinery and tractors allows the complete working behaviour of a machine under a wide variety of conditions to be mapped dynamically on a PC interface for the first time. Machinery operators can thus be trained in operating a complex harvesting machine or tractor independently and outside operating times, online and interactively at the PC. With the aid of evaluated telemetric and process data, virtual control devices and operating elements, the software largely represents real operating conditions and procedures of a machine. This allows optimal training for the complex operation of harvesting machinery to be carried out already prior to harvesting work. Such training makes it possible to substantially boost the technical potential of the harvesting machinery already during the first days of use for harvesting. Operating faults and damage to machinery can be reduced in this way. New drivers can be familiarized quickly with the machine. Experienced drivers can refresh their knowledge through regular training and continuously improve their performance potential. Considerable savings in cost and time can be achieved already from day one by better handling of expensive harvesting machinery.

Silver Medals

Square baler LSB 1290-ID Kuhn Maschinenvertrieb GmbH, Genthin-Schopsdorf, Germany Hall 12, Stand C04

In square balers a higher compaction density has so far been achieved by a higher flywheel mass in the drive train. Kuhn solves the challenge of torque peaks with the “twin pact principle”. Instead of one plunger, two plungers arranged on top of each other compact the crop in two phases. Using a triangular linkage between crankshaft and piston, the lower plunger first compacts the lower part of the harvested material. The upper plunger then follows and compacts the upper part of the package. This interrupts the torque peaks developing and distributes them between two stages. The result is bale densities up to 25% higher with the same flywheel mass. The necessary drive power is comparable with that for the conventional baler LSB 1290.

Automatic elimination of blockages in the crop flow of loader and combination wagons CLAAS Vertriebsgesellschaft mbH, Harsewinkel, Germany Hall 13, Stand B05

So far, eliminating blockages in the area of the crop intake on self-loading trailers and combinations has always meant more or less labour-intensive and time-intensive interruption of the loading operation. The new system allows the previously manual individual steps of eliminating blockages to proceed automatically. After the overload safeguard responds, the articulated drawbar is raised automatically, the cutter unit base lowered, the pick-up drive uncoupled and the scraper bottom allowed to run forward a little. An acoustic signal then provides the instruction to switch on the pto shaft. The trailer is subsequently restored automatically to ready-to-operate condition. In addition to distinctly higher operating comfort for the driver – connected with a perceptible relief of the workload, especially on long working days – the new system leads to faster and more efficient elimination of blockages. This improves the process and working safety and hence the cost-efficiency of the machine operation. Furthermore, it is gentle on the machine.

Optimizing electronic-hydraulic positive steering for trailer axles CLAAS Vertriebsgesellschaft mbH, Harsewinkel, Germany Hall 13, Stand B05

In positively steered axle systems, the steered axles of the trailer are steered in a predetermined (fixed) ratio depending on the steering angle of the tractor. If the basic setting of the system is selected such that the positively steered axles only carry out relatively small steering movements in relation to the steering angle of the tractor, this has positive results for driving stability at fast speeds, but negative consequences for manoeuvrability of the tractor-trailer train. The tyres are exposed to stronger wear in tight bend radii. If a larger steering angle of the steered axles is realized, this promotes manoeuvrability – but at the cost of driving stability. The solution from Claas now offers speed-dependent automatic adjustment of the positive steering. This is adapted optimally and completely automatically to the driving situation. Accordingly faulty operation is avoided – the system always selects the optimal compromise between manoeuvrability and driving stability. In addition, in tight bends the driver is warned by the articulation angle assistant using an acoustic signal before any collision occurs between tractor and trailer drawbar.

CLAAS Automatic wet grinder AQUA NON STOP Comfort CLAAS Vertriebsgesellschaft mbH, Harsewinkel, Germany Hall 13, Stand B05

The AQUA NON STOP COMFORT is the first automatic wet-grinding device for self-loading trailer and baler knives. Independently of the wear condition of the knives, they are no longer ground according to fixed radii, but instead exactly along their individual blade contour. The device processes up to 45 knives per cycle. Thanks to the exchangeable templates a wide range of knife types can be ground exactly to the right contour.

Automatic PTO speed change SAME DEUTZ-FAHR, Lauingen, Germany Hall 4, Stand B27

A pto gear unit that can be switched under-load has been realized for the first time. Depending on the engine load, switching takes place automatically between nominal pto shaft speed and eco shaft speed. This is of particular benefit where conditions of use change frequently and it expands the spectrum of the eco pto shaft applications considerably – instabilities in operation are avoided.

Hydraulic engine brake concept SAME DEUTZ-FAHR, Lauingen, Germany Hall 4, Stand B27

By contrast with a conventional engine brake, the braking effect is achieved by choking the oil flows of the working hydraulics and at the same time closing the electronic visco coupling of the fan. This increases the braking action and ensures cooling of the heated hydraulic oil. Altogether, in conjunction with a 3.6 l diesel engine, the system achieves a higher braking effect than with the 4.1 l predecessor model that used a conventional engine brake. For safety reasons the braking effect is limited depending on the steering angle.

Exchangeable hydraulic couplings AGCO GmbH – Fendt, Marktoberdorf, Germany Hall 9, Stand D24

Depending on customer wishes, ½", ¾", standard or optionally appropriate flatface couplings (FFC) can be screwed into a universal coupling block. For the first time it is possible for customers to change over or retrofit from standard to flatface couplings. Together with the coupling block and FFC, this secures a leakage-oil-free break-away function and minimizes flow losses and dirt influx into the hydraulic system. Hitching and unhitching under pressure becomes possible and oil losses are minimized.

John Deere Hitch Assist John Deere GmbH & Co. KG, Mannheim, Deutschland Hall 13, Stand C31

The tractor can be moved forwards and backwards by push button from outside the cab. Consequently implements can not only be hitched more easily, but also more safely than so far, as especially the accident-prone mounting and dismounting is distinctly reduced. The system is operated with the hand-brake activated and can thus also be used on slopes.

LINTRAC 90 Lindner Traktorenwerk GesmbH, Kundl, Austria Hall 5, Stand C05 and ZF Friedrichshafen AG, Friedrichshafen, Germany Hall 3, Stand E19

In order to improve the manoeuvrability and suitability of the tractor for front loading operations, the rear axle can be steered too. In conjunction with the infinitely variable drive, which is not very widespread in this performance category, the front-loading tractor achieves almost the same functionality as a wheeled loader and can save the farmer having to invest in an additional special machine.

Twin front pto shaft for cable and winch drive on forest tractors ZUIDBERG Transmissions, De Ens, Netherlands Hall 1, Stand H124 and Kotschenreuther Forst- & Landtechnik GmbH & Co. KG; Steinwiesen, Germany Hall 13, Stand C31

The two-stage front pto shaft transmission can be switched via radio. This makes it possible to work with the front cable winch at low load with either lower engine rpm or higher skidding speed. The engine rpm can also be remotely controlled for fine adjustment. If the front pto shaft is not needed, the automatic function switches the engine off after three minutes.

GRAIN QUALITY CAMERA for combine harvesters CLAAS Lexion 760, 770, 780 CLAAS Vertriebsgesellschaft mbH, Harsewinkel, Germany Hall 13, Stand B05

Most of the optimizing work in combine adjustments is carried out by a simple visual check of the harvested material in the grain tank. Yet, looking into the grain tank is not only difficult to realize ergonomically, but can also deceive. Sensor developments for assessing the grain quality have, however, not been effectual so far. The Grain Quality Camera from Claas is a high-resolution, colour camera on the elevator head. It produces pictures of the threshed material in the crop flow. The images are evaluated with regard to non-grain components and broken grain and the results are shown in the operator terminal display as bar charts, including boundary level warnings. In addition, for the first time the driver is able to see the colour images continuously and thus distinguish between loose and adherent non-grain components. This creates a new and more exact basis for assessing the grain quality and thus for optimizing the threshing and cleaning settings on combines.

Wind and slope incline sensor – Automatic change of throw direction on the CLAAS LEXION combine CLAAS Vertriebsgesellschaft mbH, Harsewinkel, Germany Hall 13, Stand B05

Particularly where large working widths are concerned, uniform distribution of the chopped material is a challenge that is rendered more difficult by side winds and slope locations. So far drivers have had to correct the throw direction of the chopped material by visual checks in the rear view mirror or on a camera image. Thus in side wind and side slope conditions it was vital to adjust the direction of throw on each turning operation. The Wind and Slope Incline Sensor from Claas is located at the two rear lighting arms of the combine. With its plate-shaped design, it records the side wind at this position and at the same time the slope incline by moving sideways or swinging vertically depending on the wind strength. The highest sensor deflection and its frequency are offset, so that influences due to slipstream and wind gusts are suppressed. The radial spreader throws the straw accordingly against the side wind or upslope. Thus for the first time instrumentation and control technology for uniform straw distribution from a combine is available.

Opti Speed – variable straw-walker shaft rpm NEW HOLLAND CNH Deutschland GmbH, Heilbronn, Germany Hall 3, Stand C03

Straw-walker combines cause high grain losses on hilly fields because the flow of crop onto the straw-walkers is impaired – resulting in higher grain losses uphill and downhill. Moreover, threshing crops such as e.g. maize require adapted straw-walker frequencies because the conveyor properties differ from those of grain straw. The Opti-Speed control system from New Holland alters the speed of the straw-walker shafts as a function of the slope inclination and the crop to be harvested. The speed is reduced during uphill travel and increased on the downhill track. In both cases this results in a crop layer thickness similar to that achieved when harvesting on level ground. Accordingly, grain losses are reduced by comparison with a fixed straw-walker shaft speed. Furthermore, when selecting the combine settings for a different grain crop, the straw-walker shaft rpm matching this crop is loaded in the information system. This adjustment and instrumentation control of the straw-walker shaft speed to the harvesting and working conditions is being shown for the first time and is therefore to be assessed as a significant further development in straw-walker combines.

CORN HEAD 3,45 M-12 Cressoni F.lli spa, Volta Mantovana, Italy Hall 13, Stand A38

As with all harvesting headers on combines, the working widths of maize headers and hence the transport widths are increasing too. In the case of maize headers with customary folding technology the pivot points have so far been arranged horizontally and lengthways to the direction of travel. For maize headers that fold in this way with a row spacing of 0.75 metres, the admissible transport width of 3.5 metres was exceeded for working widths of more than eight rows. The foldable maize picker from Cressoni is different. It is equipped with a new turning mechanism that limits the transport width of ten-row and twelve-row maize pickers without chopper units following the pickers to 3.45 metres. The side section widths are connected with the centre section via a vertical thrust rotating shaft. For transport they are first lifted, then turned through 90 degrees lengthways to the direction of travel and fixed with the divider hoods against each other over the centre section. This new folding mechanism not only limits the transport width, but also improves forward visibility during transport travel and is thus an innovative further development of maize pickers.

FlowCheck Josef KOTTE Landtechnik GmbH & Co. KG, Rieste, Germany Hall 15, Stand A11 and Hochschule/University Osnabrück COALA, Osnabrück, Germany Hall 2, Stand C15

Especially when introducing slurry into the ground, irrespective of the type of implement selected for spreading, the monitoring and regulating of the flow in the spreading hoses is a challenge. The novel Flow Check sensor monitors the flow in each spreading hose with an acoustic signal. If the slurry flow is interrupted, the driver receives an acoustic warning – an LED display shows the clogged hose. Thanks to this automatic warning the burden of work on the driver is relieved and it is also ensured that no gaps due to blocked spreading equipment occur when fertilizing. Clogging by the sensor itself is ruled out – there is no contact with the slurry. For protection against external influences the sensor is accommodated in a box so that cleaning with a high pressure cleaner is also possible. Furthermore, this sensor can be retrofitted.

Cornrower – energy boost in grain maize harvest NEW HOLLAND CNH Deutschland GmbH, Heilbronn, Germany Hall 3, Stand C03

Recovering harvest residues after the grain-maize harvest is becoming increasingly significant. This additional biomass can be used as renewable raw material in heating power stations or biogas plants, but also as litter or feedstuff in animal husbandry. The new Corn-rower is a chopping corn head attachment that reduces the harvest residue at the maize header with special knives and deposits it in a swath using elbow-shaped deflector panels. This forms the bed for cobs and cleaning tailings from the combine. Accordingly, for the first time a high component of harvest residues can be harvested from the finished swath with low dirt content and without additional labour outlay.

Concentric zig-zag separator for cleaning grain crops Ambros Schmelzer & Sohn GmbH & Co. KG, Waldershof, Germany Hall 6, Stand G25

The zig-zag separator from Ambros Schmelzer & Sohn (ID 286) with its further development of previous air separator technology represents an essential improvement of the previous system. Newly developed guiding panels in the implement allow the crop to move in zig-zag course. This allows air to flow through the crop in several streams and clean it intensively. The crucial innovation is not only the modified flow of crop, but the actual loss measurement using piezo sensors. For the first time sensors allow measurement that opens directly in the blower control. Consequently, depending on the crop to be cleaned and on the basis of real-time loss measurement, the air volume of the blower can be controlled. This can lower losses to below 0.05%, which represents a substantial improvement of the cleaning process.

Fliegl Weighing System FWS 2014 Fliegl Agrartechnik GmbH, Mühldorf, Germany Hall 4, Stand B34 and LAND-DATA Eurosoft, Pfarrkirchen, Deutschland Hall 13, Stand D24 and Müller-Elektronik GmbH & Co. KG, Salzkotten, Deutschland Hall 17, Stand B19

Prompt weighing of the crop with appropriate precision, integrated into the agricultural processes, is a key prerequisite for determining the yield in harvesting or for monitoring solid manure spreading or mineral fertilizing. The central property of the ISOBUS-based weighing system FWS 2014 is that it can be calibrated. This solution functions with all task controller-capable ISOBUS displays, so that data are provided for farm management information systems (FMIS). The basis for legally secured billing is formed by an “alibi memory” for the plausibility of all data and coded communication. Further benefits of the overall system include the universal compatibility, data documentation, new functions (such as determining the spreading rate), relieving the workload for the driver/operator and avoiding recording errors.

IsoMatch InDemo Kverneland Group Deutschland GmbH, Soest, Germany Hall 5, Stand D38

IsoMatch Simulator Kverneland Group Deutschland GmbH, Soest, Germany Hall 5, Stand D38

The potential of agricultural machinery and equipment is frequently not exhausted, as so far attention has hardly focused on training in the use of the complex functions outside actual field assignments. With IsoMatch InDemo and IsoMatch Simulator, alternative didactic concepts for using simulation technology for practical operation are offered. In the case of IsoMatch InDemo, an ISOBUS plug is connected on the tractor and allows training or demonstration of a mounted implement via the ISOBUS terminal without having to mount the genuine machine. IsoMatch Simulator brings the functions of the ISOBUS – without any further additional equipment – to the PC at home and allows training of work operations using the GPS data of the farm’s own field. From user training to demonstration by the dealer, both variants increase transparency, save time and are easy to handle.

NUTRI-STAT – "Lab on Chip" MMM tech support GmbH & Co. KG, Berlin, Germany Hall 21, Stand E03

Optifert Nutrient Sensor Pessl Instruments GmbH, Weiz, Austria Hall 17, Stand A25a

Fertilizer rates are generally measured on the basis of soil sample analyses. The samples have to be sent to a laboratory for the soil nutrients to be determined – which is expensive and time-consuming. In the manual equipment presented, nutrients (N, P, K) are determined quickly directly on the field (“lab on chip”). For this purpose a watery solution of soil samples or plant extracts is produced and analyzed by special sensors in the equipment. Thanks to the low analysis costs and immediate availability of the results, the number of analyses can be distinctly increased. The developments thus make it possible to enhance the precision of needs-driven fertilizing in agriculture and horticulture.

IDS Intelligent Distribution System Alois Pöttinger Maschinenfabrik GesmbH, Grieskirchen, Österreich Hall 27, Stand C30

Making tramlines with pneumatic drilling machines when changing tramline rhythms and at different track widths is frequently connected with complicated readjustment work. For these cases the Intelligent Distribution System from Pöttinger with individually switching distributor head outlets offers unique flexibility and exceptional comfort when forming tramlines, with exact and constant seeding quantity per row. Track gauges, track widths and tramline rhythms can be selected simply at the operator terminal. Once a tramline is formed, the seed quantity per hectare remains constant due to seed return coupled with proportional reduction of the volume dosed. The individually selectable half-width shut-off (left or right) allows drilling to be started from both sides. "Section Control" allows exact drilling on wedge-shapes in fields. These technical solutions set new standards in flexibility, precision and comfort.

PCS - Precision Combiseeding Alois Pöttinger Maschinenfabrik GesmbH, Grieskirchen, Austria Hall 27, Stand C30

With the PCS-Precision Combiseeding implement Pöttinger presents a novel, innovative concept that realizes grain drilling and precision drilling (e.g. maize, sunflower) in a single machine. This combined implement saves investment in a separate precision drilling machine. The changeover from seed drilling to precision drilling can be carried out simply and comfortably. One machine allows four applications: grain seeding, maize seeding with or without fertilizing and maize seeding coupled with under-sowing (erosion control). Multiple use of this machinery combination expands the spectrum of applications and reduces the fixed operating costs per hectare. Furthermore, this machine features sensor monitoring of the longitudinal seed distribution and displays incorrect and double placement per row on the terminal.

Smart Irrigation System John Deere GmbH & Co. KG, Mannheim, Germany Hall 13, Stand C31

Optimal water supply for productive plants is a prerequisite for maximum yields, especially in professional irrigated farming. At the same time the growing demand for water calls for significant improvements in irrigation efficiency in order to conserve the globally diminishing water resources. With the Smart Irrigation System, John Deere presents an innovative concept for row crops (e.g. maize) that allows the farmer to plan and control site-specific and plant-specific irrigation, based on real-time measurements of the soil water content and wireless transmission of the measurement data to the office computer using a web-based expert system. The complete solution offered contains John Deere’s high-precision, RTK-controlled installation of soakage hoses, a special soil moisture sensor for measuring the soil water content in several layers, wireless data transmission (alongside water content and air temperature and humidity, also rainfall quantity, solar radiation, etc.), different soakage hoses (optionally) for precise water distribution, and a head station with coordinated components (pumps, filters, valves, fertilizer infeed, etc.). This system allows efficient use of water, nutrients, energy and labour in irrigation, coupled with fertilizing at the same time. The RTK-controlled and correspondingly documented laying out of the soakage hoses also allows problem-free use of tillage and drilling machinery and equipment without damaging the hoses.

Precision drill meter for grain and oilseed rape HORSCH Maschinen GmbH, Schwandorf, Germany Hall 12, Stand C47

The trend towards lower seeding intensities when drilling grain and oilseed rape strengthens the demand for thinning equipment for these crop types. Furthermore, practical tests confirm not only an increase in yield, but also potentials for savings in seed, fertilizers and fungicides. Horsch presents a new, innovative metering method based on the platform of the existing Pronto DL drilling machine. The seedbed is prepared from a central hopper with the aid of a central volume metering unit. This pre-dosed seed is conveyed pneumatically and delivered to the respective seed row via a deflector distributor head. Thus up to the coulter, the seed delivery takes place totally conventionally without further changes to the standard drilling machine. Each seed row possesses a dosing unit on the top side of the coulter for thinning the seed flow from the distributor head. In this dosing unit the unsorted, volumetrically dosed seed flow is prepared and passed, thinned, to the down-tube. The desired orderly and thinned seed flow is then obtained at the outlet of the dosing unit. The newly developed equipment for precision drilling of grain allows very high thinning frequencies in order to keep up with the performance efficiency of today's drilling machinery with travel speeds of 10 to 12 km/h. The new precision metering unit is able to dose up to 120 grains/sec with a frequency of up to 120 Hz, i.e. a seeding rate of 240 grains/m2 at 12 km/h with row spacing of 15 cm in precision drilling quality. High grain frequencies combined with high travel speed do not permit a longitudinal distribution variation coefficient at the level of maize and sugar beet of 20 to 30% to be achieved safely in the field. However, the newly developed thinning metering unit makes it possible to achieve variation coefficient levels of 40 to 50% in practice and thus come very close to the classic precision drill implement. This solution will upgrade existing pneumatic drilling machinery to precision drills without losing the performance rate of the drilling machine.

Working depth guidance for contour adjustment via depth wheel support independently of traction reinforcement LEMKEN GmbH & Co. KG, Alpen, Germany Hall 11, Stand B43

The depth guidance of semi-mounted cultivators has so far generally been managed via depth guidance wheels (support wheels) mounted on the vehicle frame and the following roller. On level ground, this construction design enables relatively constant adherence to the set working depth – and the load on the support wheels is comparatively constant. However, when cultivating on rugged ground, long cultivators particularly work too deep when crossing over a hump and too shallow when passing over a short dip. Customary traction reinforcement systems that act exclusively on the cultivator drawbar and not via the three-point hydraulic lift admittedly allow good ground adjustment under these conditions – but the load transmission to the tractor is uneven. In the new control system the load acting on the support wheels is continuously measured and serves for hydraulic control of the roller position. If the support load drops, the roller is raised – the cultivator works into the ground until a pre-set support wheel load is reached again, and vice versa. The effect of the traction reinforcer is virtually constant despite the control. This novel system relieves the load above all on the operator and serves to achieve constant quality of work.

Curves-Control-Application C-C-A Herbert DAMMANN GmbH, Buxtehude-Hedendorf, Germany Hall 15, Stand C12

The problem of different spreading rates when negotiating bends is frequently encountered in practice, as the spreading rate is lower than the set value at the outer edge of the bends, and higher at the inner edges. Many arable fields are not rectangular, or include obstacles that involve driving round them. This can cause deviations of 40 to 160% from the set value of the application quantity for a 36 m boom. The Curves~Control~ Application regulates the spread quantity in such a way that the average value per section corresponds to the set value. This is made possible by calculating the data in the bend travel module. The necessary data are generated by a sensor for the curve radius (similar to the sensor for steering true track following), the measured speed of the wheel sensor, the machine data and the set value of the spreading rate per hectare (l/ha or kg/ha). This calculation determines how much percentage deviation exists in the individual sections compared with the set value. The job calculator balances the deviations in the sections. It controls the quantity spread by switching nozzles on the multiple nozzle carrier on or off, changing the spray pressure in the section, or combining both parameters.

LEMKEN Swingcut LEMKEN GmbH & Co. KG, Alpen, Germany Hall 11, Stand B43

The LEMKEN Swing Cut achieves improved, more uniform spreading of plant protection agents by active cushioning of the boom yawing movements. These horizontal movements in and against the direction of travel develop e.g. as a consequence of acceleration when starting, lifting and lowering, ground unevenness or wind. So far booms on field sprayer equipment have generally been attached on the basic implement in pendulum form and carried with passive spring and shock absorbing elements. However, active adjustment of these elements to various movement stimuli during travel was not possible. The use of semi-active cushioning systems (including shock absorbers with electrical or magnetorheological fluids) on the boom of the plant protection implement represents a novel form of damping the movement and allows the system to be controlled. With the help of a novel 3-D camera, the movements of the boom are recorded and if they exceed the set boundary values (calibration) the system intervenes actively in the damping work. This represents a continuous response to the current driving situation. Thanks to the optimized boom position, the uniformity of transverse and longitudinal distribution in dynamic operation is considerably improved.

HORSCH Boom guidance HORSCH Maschinen GmbH, Schwandorf, Germany Hall 12, Stand C47

The new development of the Horsch Leeb boom control allows exact and safe sprayer boom guidance over the crop. This type of active boom guidance is the basic module for application at a very low distance from the target surface. Precise adaptation of the boom to the field contour is made possible by decoupling the boom absolutely from the chassis. This minimizes the negative influences of wind and thermal current on drift behaviour. The Horsch Leeb boom is mounted almost friction-free (ball bearings) close to the centre of gravity. Thus centrifugal forces such as occur, for instance, when negotiating bends have practically no influence on the boom position. In order to be able to adjust the boom to the ground contour, a control that allows forces to be introduced selectively into the boom via two hydraulic cylinders in such a way that the boom remains free despite introduction of this force has been developed. This is achieved by the adjusting element following the movements of the carrier vehicle in real time, so that no interfering forces are introduced into the boom. In cases of necessary adjustment to slopes, the adjusting element presses on an elastomer element with a defined calculated path and accelerates the boom in rotational direction. Shortly before the desired position is reached, the opposite elastomer element is pressed and the rotational movement is slowed down. During this adjustment the position of the adjusting cylinder is constantly measured and regulated to compensate any rolling movements of the machine during adjustment too. This method has been made possible by using an extremely fast proportional hydraulic valve and developing a new control software with gyroscopic sensors.

easyFlow agrotop GmbH, Obertraubling, Germany Hall 15, Stand C30

easyFlow is a closed, contamination-free unloading system for liquid plant protection agents from small containers and canisters. The system consists of a tank and canister adapter. The tank adapter mounted on the implement side has a flushing water supply line. The canister adapter is screwed onto the canister (sealed or unsealed) using a cap nut. The fastening is secured by a bow handle and unloading is only possible by rotating this. The opening path can be controlled infinitely variably via the turning angle of the bow handle, thus regulating the speed of unloading. Once the desired amount has been reached, unloading is ended by turning the bow handle to the right and the closing piston is automatically locked. If a canister is emptied completely, it can be cleaned immediately via the flushing water connection. The cleaning fluid is also conveyed into the tank. The canister can thus be passed on immediately for waste disposal (e.g. PAMIRA) without any further measures being necessary. The canister adapter is also cleaned and can be used again directly. In developing easyFlow, special attention was paid to the product costs. Accordingly the actuations for most functions are located in the tank adapter, as only one per unit is required. This made it possible to keep the canister adapter simpler and lighter, so that procuring a number of canister adapters for different preparations no longer represents an essential cost factor.

"LaserLoad" - Chopped crop transfer for self-propelled forage harvester Big X Maschinenfabrik Bernard Krone GmbH, Spelle, Germany Hall 27, Stand F15

A controlled laser scanner identifies the truck-trailer train driving behind the forage harvester and controls the throw curve. This avoids feed losses at the start of chopping. Automatic parallel loading in normal chopping operation is also possible with this system. The laser head is moved up and down by electric motors resulting in a three-dimensional map. Mathematical algorithms determine the top frame of the collection vehicle and adjust the throw curve accordingly. The automatic loading of the following collection vehicle means an enormous relief of the operator’s workload, especially at the start of harvesting and chopping the crop from the field. At the same time feed losses are minimized, so that in practical operation time and cost savings are achieved and at the same time the workload of the harvester driver is relieved.

CLAAS ICT – Electronic system for optimizing process and performance of tractor-machine combinations CLAAS Vertriebsgesellschaft mbH, Harsewinkel, Germany Hall 13, Stand B05

The ICT (Implement Controls Tractor) software is an electronic system for optimizing the process and performance of tractor-implement combinations. The software uses the assignment parameters of a mounted agricultural machine to control the pulling tractor. Here the system is used for the first time in a square baler/tractor combination and allows the baler to run permanently at optimal performance via an automatic speed control. It is possible to choose between the working modes “maximum performance” and “maximum bale quality”. In the case of faults or overloading of a unit, the pto shaft is switched off automatically. Monitoring of the work components pick-up, knotter, cutter rotor and gatherer in the baler allows the workload to be substantially relieved. The automatic control of driving speed to achieve optimum performance leads to performance improvements of the machine combination and hence to savings in costs.

How will a government shutdown affect agriculture?

How will a government shutdown affect agriculture?

The U.S. federal government is on the verge of a shutdown, and the farm bill extension is on the verge of expiring. Despite efforts by the House to pass legislation, the bill has not yet gone to conference between the two branches. There is hope a conference will start soon.

A federal government shutdown will impact agriculture in several ways, including closing research facilities, stopping NASS and market reporting and shutting down the ERS website, among others. And not only is the government shutdown looming, the farm bill extension also expires tonight, Sept. 30.

Read more about the federal government shutdown and the farm bill expiration from Delta Farm Press.

 

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Gluten-free trend opens doors for rice

As the number of Americans interested in a gluten-free lifestyle increases, the doors open wider for the U.S. rice industry. USA Rice Federation domestic marketing programs promote naturally gluten-free rice as a healthy and versatile choice for the 21 million Americans who must or want to follow a gluten-free lifestyle.

As more consumers are requesting gluten-free meals at restaurants, high-profile foodservice operators like Disney Parks, Chipotle and Bonefish Grill are leading the way in supporting this growing trend. According to Mintel Menu Insights, gluten-free menu claims have increased 275 percent from 2009 to 2012, illustrating the growing momentum of the gluten-free lifestyle.

The USA Rice Federation supports chefs and foodservice operators by offering information about rice as a healthy foundation for gluten-free menu development. A recent feature on www.menurice.com publicized Chef Rob Landolphi, a recognized expert in gluten-free menu development, kitchen staff education and training, recipe execution, and quality assurance and safe food handling practices.

Check Rough Rice Futures Prices

In an interview with USA Rice, Landolphi noted, “I am a firm believer that as a chef, it is my responsibility to support local agriculture and to know where my food comes from. Knowing that rice is grown, produced and packaged in the United States is important.”

Operators can learn to safely accommodate gluten-free diners with rice recipes and resources available on www.usarice.com and www.menurice.com. Always in the forefront of foodservice and menu trends, USA Rice partners with organizations such as the Gluten Intolerance Group (GIG) to share resources about the important role rice plays in gluten-free dining.

“As one of the major grains that people who suffer from gluten intolerance consume, rice is one ingredient that chefs seek to be sure that meals they prepare are safe, on trend and appealing,” said Lola O'Rourke, director of Consumer Education for GIG.

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One featured resource is GIG’s Gluten-Free Food Service Management and Training Program. USA Rice points chefs to GIG’s database of more than 1,700 participating restaurants to promote the growing number of operators interested in meeting the demand for gluten-free dining options.

USA Rice’s recipe database is one of the most popular features on www.menurice.com. Gluten-free recipes such as a Seafood Risotto developed by the Celiac Sprue Association with the help of Executive Chef Aaron Flores are featured for chefs interested in updating their menu.

Knowing that this trend will continue to benefit rice, USA Rice will continue to join with and feature chefs and restaurants demonstrating their creativity with rice on the gluten-free menu.

Will EPA Re-write Midwest Runoff Regs?

A U.S. District Court judge in Louisiana has ordered EPA to decide whether to regulate nitrogen and phosphorus runoff (nutrients) from farm fields using the Clean Water Act (CWA).

The court decision discusses grounds for motions to dismiss and motions for summary judgment. The decision is not an easy one to follow, but the result of the case is very clear.

The case is Gulf Restoration Network v. Lisa Jackson and EPA and was handed down on September 20, 2013. The environmentalists' eventual goal is to set new nutrient standards for all the stream and river waters throughout the Mississippi River basin.

They allege the nitrogen and phosphorus tillage agriculture uses are fueling a dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico, creating toxic algae blooms and damaging drinking water supplies.

Your future is in the hands of EPA lawyers!

The case is receiving attention because it orders EPA to act within 180 days from September 20, 2013. 

EPA, in attempting to dismiss the lawsuit, explained that the most effective way to address the nutrient pollution in the Mississippi River basin would be to work with states and the agricultural community to strengthen nutrient management programs.

The judge reviewed a decision by EPA that rejected a 2008 environmentalist petition for rulemaking requesting EPA to control nutrients which run off of farm fields.

These groups ignore the agriculture stormwater runoff exemption in the CWA.

Override state standards?

They specifically want EPA to override all state water quality standards and have EPA promulgate new standards or laws which would set "numeric water quality standards controlling nitrogen and phosphorus pollution." Further the environmentalists want EPA to establish Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs) for the Gulf of Mexico, the Mississippi River, and each Mississippi River tributary.

EPA even says the environmentalists' proposal is "unprecedented and complex" and would be hugely demanding on EPA personnel and time. EPA says staff from the entire agency might be needed to undertake this daunting task.

EPA's position is 50% of U.S. streams have medium to high levels of nitrogen and phosphorus. Seventy eight percent of coastal waters exhibit eutrophication.  And, nutrients exceed background levels in 64% of shallow wells in agriculture and urban areas.

Can you see what is coming?

EPA moved to dismiss the plaintiffs' complaint and the court denied this motion. The environmentalists claim they have a right for the court to review the denial of a final action. The court did say "Plaintiffs are not seeking to have this court order EPA to promulgate federal nutrient criteria." The court was concerned that EPA refused to make either an affirmative or negative necessity determination.

USDA assessment shows conservation gains

From reading the judge's opinion, it appears no one is paying attention to a USDA assessment announced on August 27, 2013. This new report from the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) was the completion of a watershed wide assessment of conservation efforts by producers in the Mississippi River watershed. The new findings show facts which seem to be missing from the context of this case.

Nothing unusual here!

The lawyers representing EPA and the Department of Justice probably sympathize with the environmental groups and are not aware that conservation work by agriculture has reduced edge-of-field losses of sediment by 35%, nitrogen by 21% and phosphorus by 52%.

The report not only shows positive impacts of conservation but it also signals the need for additional conservation work.

Similar assessments in the upper Mississippi River, Tennessee-Ohio, Missouri and Arkansas-Red-White basins show substantial success in keeping 2.1 billion pounds of nitrogen and 375 million pounds of phosphorus from leaving fields each year.

The report claims "these figures translate to a 55%, 34%and 46% reduction in sediment, nitrogen and phosphorus edge-of-field losses, respectively, compared to what would have been lost if no conservation practices were in place."

The future is pretty clear if not bleak: if agriculture does not start telling its story in a positive fashion in the courts and its story is left to lawyers and courts that know or care little about agriculture, then our future is not very bright.

Cereal rye a good fall cover crop

Cereal rye a good fall cover crop

If you already plant fall cover crops, or are considering it, Michigan State University offers five reasons why cereal rye is a good choice.

 

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1.     Reduces weed seed germination (allelopathic effect).

2.     Provides significant organic material for soil improvement (up to 3-5 tons per acre if grown to maturity).

3.     Reduces or prevents soil erosion in fall and spring.

4.     Supplies nutrients to the following crops (good scavenger of surplus nitrogen and other nutrients, reducing nitrate leaching by tying up nitrate in rye plant material and making it available to following crops).

5.     Very winter hardy.

Read more reasons why rye is a good choice, along with some possible drawbacks from MSU.

 

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