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Corn+Soybean Digest

We Need Renewable Fuels Now

Anything farmers and industry can do to alleviate the dependence on petroleum-based fuels is a big plus.

Kudos to the Minnesota Soybean Growers Association for helping introduce the first biodiesel legislation in the nation. The bill will require a 2% blend of biodiesel in all diesel fuel sold in Minnesota. That ultimately will help you and the environment.

The 2% blend would be added before the fuel reaches the pump. Also, at today's rates, estimates claim it would cost users about 2/gallon more than standard diesel.

It's important because the EPA has proposed that, by 2006, the sulfur content of all diesel fuel be cut from 500 ppm to 15 ppm. Biodiesel, at a 2% blend, is a natural since it replaces needed lubricity properties that would be lost under the proposed EPA rule. With a worldwide surplus of soy oil, legislating a new use for it can only have a positive effect on soybean prices.

Perhaps more than ever, pursuing homegrown resources like biodiesel and ethanol is critical. They'll also reduce dependence on foreign oil.

By the way, we'll keep you posted on the progress of the Minnesota biodiesel legislation.

Efforts to use renewable resources like soy oil are particularly important in a year when fuel and natural gas prices are skyrocketing.

Those high natural gas prices, of course, translate into enormous prices for nitrogen fertilizer. Even so, George Rehm, University of Minnesota soil scientist, doesn't believe the predictions that the nation's farmers will move out of corn to beans to save nitrogen costs. Rotation programs are just too important.

With high-priced N, however, here's what Rehm says you should analyze.

1) Take a hard look at your expected yields. What have you been growing and what can you grow?

2) Look at how much N you've put on in the past. Some farmers have applied more than they need.

3) If N goes to 30/lb or higher as anhydrous, then you can probably justify a cutback of up to 30 lbs of actual N per acre. The yield loss, with $1.90 corn, will be less than what the 30 lbs of N will cost.

4) Look closely at P and K levels. You likely can cut back on them if soil tests come back medium or high.

New Contributor This month we're excited to announce that Dave Kohl, ag economist from Virginia Tech, becomes a contributing editor. Dave is known for his ability to understand and predict agricultural trends. Please read "The Seven Habits Of Successful Farmers," pages 14-15, to see what traits he believes separates the best from the rest in agriculture.

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