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Cropland market outlook relatively flat

While cropland values in Ohio increased in each of the past three years, several factors, including continued low interest rates, low debt-to-asset ratios and lower profit margins, are likely going to make for a relatively flat land market in 2015, an economist from Ohio State University’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences said.

Ohio cropland value rose 8.9% in 2014, with bare cropland averaging $5,650 an acre, said Barry Ward, production business management leader for Ohio State University Extension.

Ward, citing statistics from the Ohio Field Office of the National Agricultural Statistics Service, said he expects values to be flat to modestly lower this year depending on relative crop margins and interest rates.

“Projected budgets for Ohio’s primary crops for 2015 show the potential for low margins and pressure to decrease cash rents,” he said. “On the other hand, strong equity positions together with higher property taxes will likely continue to lend support to cash rental rates.”

Lower profit margins in 2014 and 2015 will put downward pressure on rents, Ward said.… Continue reading

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WISHH at work in Asia

Asian food industry representatives gathered on Jan. 28 to gain insight into how they can offer a variety of nutritious foods made with soy and soy ingredients in Myanmar.

The American Soybean Association’s (ASA) World Initiative for Soy in Human Health (WISHH) program organized the seminar with support from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and North Dakota Soybean Council.

The seminar is based on WISHH’s USDA-supported research in Myanmar, which is located between India and China and formerly known as Burma. The research suggests that by partnering with the local industry to improve soy processing and increase awareness of soy and soy-based foods, human consumption of soy-based foods will expand in Myanmar.

“North Dakota soybean growers are pleased to work through WISHH and USDA to increase the potential for trade for soybeans,” said Art Wosick, who serves as a director of the North Dakota Soybean Council as well as on the WISHH Program Committee.… Continue reading

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Dry weather hurting Brazil’s soybean crop

Though recent rains have helped in some areas, hot, dry weather throughout January damaged Brazil’s 2014/15 soybean crop, said local consultancy AgRural, which plans to cut its forecast for the crop from 95 million tonnes in its February revision.

“Even though there were some rains during the week, the volumes were not enough to normalize the soil in parts of the northeast, center-west and southeast,” AgRural said in a report published late on Friday. “Losses can already be accounted for.”

Parts of top soy-growing state Mato Grosso have received less than half the usual volume of January rains, Somar meteorologists said in a bulletin on Monday, though rains have been above average in the far south.

Soy harvesting is 3% complete nationwide, AgRural said, in line with last year and the 5-year historical average.

Dry weather in the center-west state of Goias, which was most affected by hot dry weather, could result in a loss of 15% of the state’s crop, or 1.2 billion reais ($462 million) worth of damage, according to state farm association Faeg.… Continue reading

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Delaware Soil and Water Conservation District 2015 Agronomy Workshop & Expo

The Delaware Soil and Water Conservation District 2015 Agronomy Workshop & Expo to be held on Thursday, Feb. 26, 2015 from 9:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. New this year, Agriculture Fertilizer Applicator Certification will be available for those with a pesticide applicator license. Certified Crop Advisors may earn continuing education credits and those with a private pesticide applicator license may earn one hour of core credit.

This free event is sponsored by the Delaware, Knox, Licking, and Morrow Soil & Water Conservation Districts, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, Ohio Federation of Soil & Water Conservation Districts, Delaware County Farm Bureau, and the Upper Big Walnut Creek Water Quality Partnership. This year’s agenda includes the following:

  • Keynote speaker Tom Bruulsema, Director of the Northeast Region of the International Plan Nutrition Institute will address Sustainable Crop Nutrition:Improving Global and Local Performance
  • Michelle Lohstroh, Assistant State Conservationist with USDA Natural Resources

Conservation Service will provide an update on USDA programs

  • Anne Dorrance, Professor of Plant Pathology at Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center, will discuss Making Soybean Disease Management Profitable
  • Kevin King, Research Agricultural Engineer with USDA Agricultural Research Service, will speak to Surface and Subsurface Nutrient Transport:Preliminary Findings from Edge of Field Research in Ohio
  • John Barker, Knox County Director with The Ohio State University Extension, will cover Soil Testing
  • Jeff McCutcheon, Morrow County Director with The Ohio State University Extension will address Phosphorus Management on Pastures
  • Rob Leeds, Delaware County Director with The Ohio State University Extension will cover the Agriculture Fertilizer Applicator Certification

Visit vendor displays and ask questions about cover crops, equipment, fertilizer, herbicides, and more.… Continue reading

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USDA accepting applications for CSP

The U.S. Department of Agriculture will make $100 million available this year through the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP).  Applications are accepted all year; however, interested farmers and forest landowners should submit applications by February 27, 2015, to ensure consideration for this year’s funding (applications received after that date will be considered for future funding).   The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) administers CSP and may enroll up to 7.7 million acres this year.

“CSP provides an incentive for farmers and private forest managers who already practice conservation on their land to achieve even higher levels of stewardship,” said Terry Cosby, Ohio’s NRCS State Conservationist. “By addressing multiple resource concerns, such as soil erosion, air, and water quality, landowners maintain or increase the productivity of their operations on a more sustainable landscape.”

Cosby said CSP producers are conservation leaders, showing how science-based conservation and technological advancements can improve the environment and farming operations at the same time.… Continue reading

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2015 will be a year of survival for crop operations

Last month USDA came out with a plethora of reports for grains. USDA estimated 2014 corn production at 14.216 billion bushels with a yield at 171 bushels per acre. Both numbers were down from the previous estimate last November. Early last fall, some analysts thought corn production could top 15 billion bushels with the yield climbing near 180 bushels. Ending stocks were reduced 121 million bushels to 1.877 billion bushels. Corn production eclipsed the record production year of 2013. The January reports included grain stocks as of December 1.

Corn stocks were higher than expected which provided a dampening affect on corn prices. In addition, many traders were disappointed that harvested corn acres were unchanged. For weeks and months leading up to this report, commodity trading funds had added to their already long corn positions. They had long pointed out that the corn acres number tabulated by FSA were less than expected, having a larger than normal discrepancy compared to the USDA corn acres number in the supply and demand table.… Continue reading

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Expanded market access for U.S. grown apples to China

The U.S. Department of Agriculture recently reached agreement with Chinese officials to allow all U.S. grown apples to gain access to the Chinese market. This will allow a greater share of U.S. apple exports to China in the coming months and has the potential to increase U.S. fresh apple exports, which were valued at more than $1 billion in 2013, by approximately 10%. With this new agreement, the apple industry estimates that within two years, exports to China will reach 5 million bushels annually, a value of nearly $100 million per year. The agreement was reached during bilateral discussions between USDA and China’s General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (AQSIQ) in San Francisco.

“USDA values the relationship we are forging with China to bring mutually-beneficial food and agricultural trade to Americans and Chinese alike. The new access for American exports we’re announcing today is the culmination of decades of hard work by USDA staff.… Continue reading

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ASA shows support for neonicotinoid seed treatments

The American Soybean Association reiterated support for pollinator health and the benefits of neonicotinoid seed treatments to soybean farmers in comments to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

EPA released an analysis in October, contending that neonicotinoid seed treatments do not contribute to improving soybean yield; however, ASA has heard from farmers, especially in the northern and mid-south growing regions, that growers are seeing benefits from the use of neonicotinoid seed treatments.

“ASA cannot support efforts to restrict or ban neonicotinoid seed treatment products,” ASA states in the comments. “Such efforts would unquestionably lead to additional and more costly input applications than the more limited use of seed treatment products.”

The comments also underscored that soybean producers use neonicotinoid seed treatments where they are needed and effective, and don’t use them where they are not. That approach to the use of crop protection products should be rewarded, not penalized.

“Farmers who use seed treatments for soybean seed note that the withdrawal of registration for neonicotinoids would harm the sustainability of those who genuinely need this tool,” ASA said.… Continue reading

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Schedule set for on-farm food safety training programs for fruits and vegetables

Ohio State University Extension’s Fruit and Vegetable Safety Program is again hosting training sessions on “Good Agricultural Practices” for Ohio’s fruit and vegetable producers.

“This year’s program is very similar to the 2014 program,” said Lindsey Hoover, the program’s coordinator.

New this year is information on the proposed supplement to the produce safety rule in the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Food Safety Modernization Act, which is scheduled to be published in the Federal Register in October, Hoover said. The proposal includes revisions in what will be required for water quality and testing, manure and compost application, and wildlife intrusion.

The revisions are still in the proposal stage and are subject to further change, Hoover said, but participants will learn the newest information available at the time of the classes.

Classes typically run about three hours, Hoover said. Participants will receive a three-ring binder with standard operating procedure templates and record-keeping templates, presentation handouts and a certificate of participation.… Continue reading

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A tool to make profitable decisions in 2015

The commodity price outlook for 2015 is lower than it has been in recent years and input prices have held firm for the most part, putting a tight squeeze on profit margins for farmers.

Knowing your numbers will be a key to making profitable decisions in 2015, according to Alex Johnson, an agronomist with Beck’s Hybrids. He has talked with farmers throughout Ohio over the last few weeks about sitting down and taking a look at their crop budgets.

“Crop budgeting is a pretty simple process, but an important one,” Johnson said. “It’s all about knowing your cost per acre and converting the cost per acre to cost per bushel, getting to precisely what it takes for you to produce a bushel of grain.”

Johnson says as farmers begin to work on their 2014 taxes, they will get an idea of what last year’s profitability was, but that retrospective look won’t be much help when planning the year ahead.… Continue reading

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The evolution of digital agriculture and considerations today

A farmer commented to me the other day when talking about data that the industry “really needs to be able to exchange data across platforms.” This comment was associated with other comments about how farmers are looking for help in understanding the benefits data can bring to their business but also how data services and portability of data need to be simplified. We also discussed how data are being generated on a variety of machinery but likely not all with the same brand. Our discussion ended with his belief that data could bring additional information back to his farm and in particular to be able to benchmark facets of his operation with others. However, proof and clarity to what data services actually deliver were needed.

Big data?

Big data continues to be a hot discussion topic within the agricultural community. New technology and services are continuing to come online to help farmers.… Continue reading

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OSU Extension winter agronomy meetings

Winter meeting season is here for 2015 and that means getting some personal and professional education. We on the Agronomic Crops Team try to provide programs of interest to corn, soybean and wheat growers across Ohio. See our calendar throughout the winter: http://agcrops.osu.edu/calendar.

February is a big Extension meeting month. Please pick out the one you like and join us. For more details on the following programs check our calendar (http://agcrops.osu.edu) or call your local Extension office.


Feb. 2

Northeast Ohio Agronomy School

Williamsfield Community Center in Williamsfield, Ohio

This year’s workshop will focus on keeping crop producers on the front edge of farm policy, technology, weed control, disease management and fertility decisions. With profit margins decreasing it will be vital for crop producers to get the biggest bang from the dollars they invest in land rental, seed and fertilizer, technology, chemicals, and crop protection. Pre-registration is required by Monday, January 26, 2015.… Continue reading

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Considering new or replacement agricultural drainage in 2015?

This is the time of the year when decisions can be made on adding new subsurface drainage, or replacing older systems. When considering a new system, you might want to think about an alternative system design, a Drainage Water Management System. All of the benefits that come with a traditional subsurface drainage system can be achieved with a drainage water management system, plus at least one important extra.

Drainage Water Management (commonly called controlled drainage) provides improved water quality benefits. Recent research from across the Midwest United States shows that with drainage water management, annual nitrate-nitrogen loads can be reduced by as much as 50%. In addition, Ohio research suggests crop yield increases of 3% to 4% are possible on average, and maybe more in some cases and in some years.

Drainage water management systems may differ from traditional subsurface drainage systems as follows: 1) drainage laterals are installed on or near contour; 2) a water control structure is installed at the drainage outlet; and the outlet elevation can be raised to retain some of the drainage waters, and lowered to allow excess drainage water to be released; and 3) system layout may be designed to optimize drainage water retention by constructing water management zones, each with a separate water control structure.… Continue reading

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Sheetz makes E15 announcement

The National Corn Growers Association thanked Sheetz Convenience Stores, a major East Coast fuel retailer, for the announcement of an E15 commitment by initially offering the green fuel to its customers at 60 stores in North Carolina by spring 2016.

“This is great news for the nation’s corn farmers who have been promoting the benefits of ethanol blended fuel for more than 30 years,” said Chip Bowling, Maryland farmer and NCGA president. “Sheetz is a leader in the industry, so we expect this announcement to drive competitors to follow suit and also offer cleaner-burning, high-performance E15. This is a fantastic development for the rural economy and consumers who want a real choice in fuel.”

E15 offers consumers a five- to ten-cent price per gallon advantage compared to regular gas. Additionally, consumers are getting a higher-octane, better-performing fuel that burns cleaner and runs cooler in engines, which improves vehicle performance and can extend engine life.… Continue reading

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Comparing neighboring fields

Anyone who has spent much time talking with Fairfield County cover crop expert Dave Brandt knows that he has a history of trying some unusual things on his farm. As one would expect, his neighbors have taken notice through the years.

Brandt said he has good relationships with those who farm around him, but he also rarely misses an opportunity (like any farmer) to compare his results with the neighbor’s.

To get an idea of how his long-term no-till with cover crops performed in terms of overall soil health, Brandt tested soil samples from his farm and the neighbor’s conventional farm taken on the same day to get a count of the different organisms present.

“The neighbor’s soil had 1,250 different types of critters in a soil sample,” Brandt said in his recent presentation at the National No-Tillage Conference in Cincinnati. “We sent ours in the same day and we had over 45,000 different critters.… Continue reading

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Can corn be profitable in 2015?

Some ag economists have predicted that it will be hard to make a profit growing corn in 2015. With the current supplies, demand and predicted prices, incomes are going to be under a lot of pressure. What can you do to make a profit on growing corn this year? It is not going to be easy but there are things, which are in your control. Many things are beyond our control but we can change certain items that can affect the bottom line.

• Reduce fertilizer costs

Many farmers have been over-fertilizing during the last few years to maximize their yield potential. This is the year to fertilize for maintenance rather than fertility build-up. Your soil tests should help in determining what you need. Fertilizer and seed can cost 40 to 50% of non-land costs for corn.

• Reduce seed costs

University tests and other independent company tests have proven that more expensive brands of seeds are no better in performance than the seeds that provide a better value and may actually be better matched to your soils because of localized testing.… Continue reading

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USDA deregulates Monsanto’s dicamba-tolerant trait technologies

Last week, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced its decision to deregulate Monsanto’s dicamba-tolerant trait technologies — Roundup Ready 2 Xtend soybeans and Bollgard II XtendFlex cotton. USDA indicated that its decision will be published in the Federal Register in the near future. These weed management solutions will provide farmers with more consistent, flexible control of tough-to-manage broadleaf weeds.

“This announcement marks an important milestone for farmers around the world,” said Robb Fraley, Ph.D., Monsanto’s chief technology officer. “Weeds represent a key pest to agriculture operations around the world and limit crops of much-needed nutrients, sunlight and access to available water resources. We’re excited to provide additional tools that can help improve efficiencies on farm and support farmers in bringing more food to harvest for consumers.”

Many in agriculture, including the American Soybean Association (ASA), issued a statement welcoming the decision and calling on the Environmental Protection Agency to quickly finalize the label for the companion Dicamba herbicide technology.… Continue reading

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Precision ag workshop

The more data farmers and producers can access regarding their fields, the better they can make decisions regarding how to manage their farm operations, experts say.

But boiling down information from field-monitored data, satellite data and remote sensing data captured using unmanned aerial vehicles can sometimes be challenging, said Greg LaBarge, an Ohio State University Extension field specialist and one of the leaders of Ohio State University’s Agronomic Crops Team.

To help farmers with that task, a webinar on precision agriculture will be offered live by agronomic experts with Ohio State University’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences Jan. 20 at 10 a.m.

The free event will feature “Using Precision Agriculture to Make Informed Decisions,” presented by John Fulton, an OSU Extension Specialist in machinery systems, and “Can Unmanned Aerial Vehicles be an Agronomic Tool?” presented by John Barker, an OSU Extension educator.

The webinar is part of a series of agronomic workshops taught by OSU Extension professionals designed to offer the latest information on corn, soybean and wheat production, LaBarge said. … Continue reading

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Traits, global trade politics and Ohio farms intertwined

Crop biotechnology is widely viewed as a vital component in a future agriculture that can meet exploding global food demand with ever dwindling resources. But, there are very powerful political forces being directed at and employed by end users that are effectively limiting that potential.

“Biotechnology is viewed by our organization as a valuable tool in helping farmers become more productive on the same amount of land. We can’t reach the goals of food production in the future without tools like biotechnology,” said Tadd Nicholson, executive director of the Ohio Corn and Wheat Growers Association. “It solves production problems on farms and then farmers encourage innovation, but that innovation must be done in a responsible way to minimize any disruptions to trade. In the United States we are committed to supporting the advancement of biotechnology. Around the world we need to continue to do work on education and communication through organizations like the U.S.… Continue reading

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New crop insurance option for specialty crop growers and diversified farms

USDA’s Risk Management Agency (RMA) announced the release of the Whole-Farm Revenue Protection crop insurance program for the 2015 crop year. The policy allows producers to insure between 50 to 85% of their whole farm revenue and makes crop insurance more affordable for producers, including fruit and vegetable growers and organic farmers and ranchers.

Whole-farm revenue protection combines and enhances two popular and well-known plans of insurance, Adjusted Gross Revenue (AGR) and Adjusted Gross Revenue-Lite (AGR-Lite). Policy enhancements include an expanded range of coverage levels, coverage for replanting, provisions that increase coverage for expanding operations, a higher maximum amount of coverage and the inclusion of market readiness costs in the coverage.

The Whole-Farm Revenue Protection program is designed to fit any farm with up to $8.5 million in insured revenue, including farms with specialty or organic commodities (both crops and livestock). The policy allows these growers to insure a variety of crops at once instead of one commodity at a time.… Continue reading

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