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Tips for conserving the soil while boosting profits at CTC

The currently grim corn and soybean economic situation, paired with increasing environmental scrutiny of farms, is putting many farms in a tight spot for maintaining profitability. The popular Conservation Tillage Conference in Ada kicked off today with the goal of providing tips for farms to bolster profitability while improving the land and water for the future.

“There’s a preponderance of evidence that shows we’re in a time of extreme weather and every scientist that looks at this says we’re going to be here awhile,” said Barry Fisher, USDA-NRCS soil scientist, keynote speaker at Wednesday morning’s general session.

Fisher defined soil health as the capacity of a soil to function as a vital, living ecosystem that sustains plants, animals, and humans, and noted it as a way to challenge the change in weather situations down the road. Fisher focused on the importance of thinking of soil as a living thing outlining four major principles for soil health:

  • Minimize disturbance
  • Maximize soil cover
  • Maximize biodiversity
  • Provide continuous living roots

“You put all these things together and that’s how you’re going to begin maximizing soil health,” Fisher said.… Continue reading

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Addressing big data confusion

Big data is data with a scale, diversity, and complexity that requires new architecture, techniques, algorithms, and analytics to manage it and extract value and hidden knowledge from it.

So what exactly does that mean? This data includes large collections of farm data that is being used by farmers, companies, and government agencies to aid in decision making related to crop production and management practices as well as better predictions around nutrient and water availability. It is important to understand what value all of this farm data provides to the producer. By using farm data to drive input management and other farm decisions, producers can identify and quantify limiting productivity variables.

The big data flow starts on the farm:

  • A farmer will upload farm and personal data from ground and equipment sensors, drones, etc.
  • An agricultural Technology Provider (ATP) will aggregate farmer’s data, combines other relevant data set, and applies algorithms to analyze.
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Purdue looks at impact of GMO crops

Higher food prices, a significant boost in greenhouse gas emissions due to land use change and major loss of forest and pasture land would be some results if genetically modified organisms in the United States were banned, according to a Purdue University study.

Wally Tyner, James and Lois Ackerman Professor of Agricultural Economics; Farzad Taheripour, a research associate professor of agricultural economics; and Harry Mahaffey, an agricultural economics graduate student, wanted to know the significance of crop yield loss if genetically modified crops were banned from U.S. farm fields, as well as how that decision would trickle down to other parts of the economy. They presented their findings at the International Consortium on Applied Bioeconomy Research in Ravello, Italy, last year. The findings of the study, funded by the California Grain & Feed Association, will be published in the journal AgBioForum this spring.

“This is not an argument to keep or lose GMOs,” Tyner said.… Continue reading

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Keep the sugar for your coffee and cookies

While we are interested in improving yield of Ohio crops, we also are reluctant to recommend practices that cost time and money and are not likely to be of assistance. From several on-farm trials conducted by OSU Extension professionals over the years, we see no value in applying sugar to our Ohio row crops.

In a 2013 Crawford County trial with 3 pounds of sugar per acre to soybean, there was no yield difference from the check: http://agcrops.osu.edu/sites/agcrops/files/ofr_reports/Sugar-on-MRI-Soybeans.pdf

In two trials in Clark County in 2013:

• Two sugar sources (sucrose and dextrose) at 4 pounds per acre produced no yield difference from the check

• And for soybeans — sucrose at 4 pounds per acre — there was no yield difference from the check.

For more see: http://agcrops.osu.edu/sites/agcrops/files/ofr_reports/Sugar-Applications-for-Corn-and-Soybean.pdf

In a 2014 soybean trial conducted at two locations in Clark Country and in Wood County, Table 1 shows no yield advantage for sugar applied to soybean.… Continue reading

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Digital weed ID resources

OSU has developed several digital books that are available for multiple platforms, via iTunes or GooglePlay.  Descriptions and links follow – all are currently less than $10.  The links can also be found under the “Weed ID” tab on our website – u.osu.edu/osuweeds/.

The Ohio State University Guide to Weed Identification

This identification guide provides information on the basics of weed identification presented in a considerably updated fashion. It describes 29 families and 83 species of monocotyledonous and dicotyledonous plants. Plant descriptions include key identification characteristics, pictures of the various species at different stages of maturity, and 360-degree movies for most species.  This book includes a number of the most common Midwestern U.S. weeds and basic intellectual tools that are necessary to successfully identify plants.


https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Bruce_Ackley_The_Ohio_State_Univ ersity_Guide_to_We?id=3ZBqCwAAQBAJ&hl=en

Principles of Weed Ecology and Management

This book, used as a lab manual for the weed science course at OSU, provides information on the basic principles of weed science. … Continue reading

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Palmer amaranth update

Palmer amaranth has to date been found in about 11 Ohio counties.  Infestations within a county can range from one or more fields or other areas with just a few plants or patches of plants, to the presence of one or more fields with dense populations.

There isn’t any real pattern to the distribution of counties where Palmer has been found.  Palmer seed has entered the state via contaminated CREP or wildlife seed that comes from farther west, and via the cotton feed products that are shipped from the south and used in animal operations.  The latter has been the source of our most recent and most severe infestations that occurred in 2015 in northeastern Ohio.  While some animal operations are aware of this problem and have stopped using these types of feed products, it’s likely that many other operations or feed dealers have not received information about this issue or modified their practices.… Continue reading

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Food Safety Modernization Act overview

Below are excerpts from a summary of some key requirements compiled by the U.S Food and Drug Administration of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA).


1. Agricultural water

The final rule adopts the general approach to water quality proposed in the supplemental rule, with some changes. The final rule establishes two sets of criteria for microbial water quality, both of which are based on the presence of generic E. coli, which can indicate the presence of fecal contamination.

No detectable generic E. coli are allowed for certain uses of agricultural water in which it is reasonably likely that potentially dangerous microbes, if present, would be transferred to produce through direct or indirect contact. Examples include water used for washing hands during and after harvest, water used on food-contact surfaces, water used to directly contact produce (including to make ice) during or after harvest, and water used for sprout irrigation.… Continue reading

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Labeling legislation introduced

Sen. Pat Roberts introduced a bill to address the growing threat of a patchwork of state labeling laws and called for the urgent passage of this important legislation.

“The introduction of Roberts’s proposal is an important first step to restoring sanity to America’s food labeling laws,” said Chip Bowling, National Corn Growers Association President, a farmer from Maryland. “GMOs are perfectly safe and America’s farmers rely on this proven technology to protect our crops from insects, weeds and drought. Important food safety and labeling decisions should be made by the scientists and qualified policymakers at the FDA, not political activists and campaigns. Yet, despite the scientific evidence, states such as Vermont are quickly moving toward costly, confusing mandatory labeling legislation. It is imperative that the Senate takes up this issue quickly to avoid a situation in which all American consumers pay a high price and gain little actual information.”

Vermont’s mandatory law requiring on-package labels of foods containing ingredients that have been genetically modified takes effect in July, and unless Congress acts swiftly, families, farmers and food companies will face chaos in the market and higher costs.… Continue reading

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Conservation agriculture in Ohio

Many opportunities are available in Ohio for farmers, land owners, and ag business folks to learn about farming practices that seek to improve the health of soil on the farm, and the quality of water that happens to leave the farm. Three are happening in the next few weeks.

The Conservation Tillage Conference is March 2-3 at Ada (ctc.osu.edu). The All-Ohio Chapter of SWCS has a conference March 14 at the headquarters of the Ohio Dep’t of Agriculture in Reynoldsburg (fabe.osu.edu/OhioSWCS). A No-Till Field Day will be on April 6 at Dave Brandt’s farm, near Carroll in Fairfield County (OhioNotillCouncil.com).

In addition, County Extension Educators, Soil & Water Conservation Districts, and others host dozens of local events on cover crops, soil health, management of manure and chemical fertilizers and other conservation topics. Farmers who learn and follow the science-based practices shared at these events are leading the way toward a time when agriculture as a whole will be seen as a good neighbor.… Continue reading

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Produce growers making changes to comply with newly implemented Food Safety Modernization Act

No one — from the shopper in the grocery, to the diner in the restaurant, to the farmer in field — wants anyone to get sick from anything they eat. This, however, is impossible.

The best that can be done is to blend science and the realities of agriculture to come up with workable procedures that maximize food safety. This is the thought process behind the long-discussed and recently implemented Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

The biggest impact for farms in Ohio is for growers of fresh farm produce and fruit.

“We put together the produce safety classes originally because the industry was pushing for it. In 2011, the Food Safety Modernization Act was first signed into law. The rule became final in November of 2015. FDA wants to take a more preventive approach than reactive approach to produce safety outbreaks,” said Lindsey Hoover, food safety program coordinator for the Ohio State University College of Food Agriculture and Environmental Sciences Department of Horticulture and Crop Sciences.… Continue reading

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Crop insurance tools

The University of Illinois offers online tools to help with making decisions with regard to crop insurance. They are available at farmdoc.illinois.edu/cropins/index.asp.


iFarm Premium Calculator

This 2016 iFarm Crop insurance Premium Calculator allows users to develop highly customized estimates of their crop insurance premiums, and compare revenue and yield guarantees across all available crop insurance products and elections for their actual farm case. This on-line calculator allows a quick but detailed comparison between farm-level and area-level insurance products in terms of cost and guarantee values. Specific case details are accommodated along with a tool to calculate your TA-Adjusted APH. This tool also uses current price and volatility conditions and will track current market conditions through the final release by RMA of 2016 Projected Prices and Volatilities. This tool targets users interested in a quick means to compare insurance premiums for all possible products and election levels in a simple to interpret format.… Continue reading

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National Grain & Feed Association Safety Management/Loss Control seminar March 8

The Ohio AgriBusiness Association is partnering with the Agribusiness Council of Indiana and the National Grain & Feed Association to host a NGFA Safety Management/Loss Control seminar March 8 in Columbus.

The seminar will feature several topics, including updates on emerging and evolving regulatory issues; safety and health management loss control; implementing safety and health management plans for grain handling facilities; and quality management/loss control practices for grain handling facilities.

“This workshop is designed to shed light on various components of grain and feed safety

management and loss control,” said Chris Henney, OABA president and CEO. “Our partnership with the Agribusiness Council of Indiana and the National Grain & Feed Association greatly benefits our members and helps us to address issues that aren’t necessarily specific to Ohio, but also to the region and nationwide.”

OABA members and other industry professionals will hear from three leading experts during the event: Jess McCluer, vice president of safety and regulatory affairs for the National Grain and Feed Association; Paul Stevenson, risk management senior consultant with Nationwide Agribusiness; and Don Wray, eastern regional operations manager for The Andersons, Inc.… Continue reading

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CSP sign-ups open

USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) recently announced this year’s deadline for producer applications for the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) is March 31.
March 31 is also the deadline by which initial applications are needed from farmers with expiring 2012-2016 contracts if they want to renew them for another five years. Some 12 million acres already in the program are eligible for renewal this year.
“CSP is a continuous sign-up program, and producers can apply to enroll at any time of the year,” said Traci Bruckner, Senior Policy Associate for Agriculture and Conservation at the Center for Rural Affairs. “NRCS applies a cut-off date for applications to be considered during a particular fiscal year. Once the cut-off date is past, producers may continue to apply, but they will not be considered for entry until the spring of the following year. To enroll in 2016, you must file your application by March 31.”
The Conservation Stewardship Program is a voluntary stewardship incentives program administered by NRCS.
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Nitrogen recommendations for wheat

Ohio State University recommends applying nitrogen between green-up and Feekes Growth Stage 6 (early stem elongation), which is generally the latter part of April. The potential for nitrogen loss will decrease by waiting to apply closer to Feekes 6; however, when we reach greenup, a common sense approach would suggest applying when field conditions allow application equipment, particularly since days available for field activities may be limited between greenup and Feekes 6. Having that green, actively growing, plant in the field does help in holding nitrogen in place.

We still suggest following the Tri-State Fertility Recommendations for N rates in wheat. This relies on the yield potential of a field. Once you have set a value for your realistic yield potential, the recommendation may be based on the following table for mineral soils.


Nitrogen rate for wheat by yield potential.

Yield potential

Total N rate











* 120 is the highest recommended rate.… Continue reading

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DuPont and Dow announce U.S. site structure for agricultural company

DuPont (NYSE:DD) and The Dow Chemical Company (NYSE:DOW) announced the U.S. site structure for the global agriculture leader the companies intend to create following the planned separation of DowDuPont into three independent, publicly traded companies.
The corporate headquarters for the Agriculture company will be located in Wilmington, Delaware and will include the office of the CEO and key corporate support functions. Sites in Johnston, Iowa and Indianapolis, Indiana will serve as Global Business Centers, with leadership of business lines, business support functions, R&D, global supply chain, and sales and marketing capabilities concentrated in the two Midwest locations. In addition, the independent Agriculture company will feature DuPont in the company’s name, following completion of the corporate naming and branding process.
“This efficient structure takes full advantage of the unique expertise and resources that exist in each location, enabling us to deliver the long-term opportunity for the leading global Agriculture company we intend to create,” said Edward D.
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Bright spots for ethanol amid challenging times

Domestic ethanol expansion has slowed,  but the U.S. exported $2.1 billion in ethanol in 2014, replacing Brazil as the world’s largest ethanol exporter. The 2015 data is expected to show 850 million gallons of exported ethanol, second only to a record year in 2011 and up from the 835 million gallons exported the previous year.

In addition, the Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM) made a very public statement in support of ethanol and maintaining the Renewable Fuels Standard during an Ag Executive Outlook Panel during the opening day of the 2016 National Farm Machinery Show in Louisville. AEM named the RFS one of their top issues for 2016.

In addition, this month there were two recent research reports supported by USDA focused on ethanol and other renewable fuels — one published by USDA’s Office of the Chief Economist and another published by the University of Missouri.

“U.S. farmers continue to improve their efficiency in the production of corn for ethanol while the impact of ethanol production on corn production has become marginal.… Continue reading

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Fertilizer Applicator Certification Training continues

We are still getting a lot of questions about Fertilizer Certification from farmers. Yes, this new regulation applies to you. You, being almost every farmer in Ohio. You have until September 30, 2017 to become certified to apply fertilizer.

While there are exceptions, most of these exceptions would only apply to a very small farmer such as one who has 50 acres or less. This site gives more details on the legal issues: http://aglaw.osu.edu/blog-categories/environmental.

For the purposes of this Training, “fertilizer” means anything with an N-P-K analysis — meaning yes this includes nitrogen if the co-op applies everything else and you only apply sidedress N. And if you take manure from a concentrated animal feeding facility — a great opportunity by the way — then yes you too need to be certified to apply that manure.

Record keeping requirements start when you receive you yellow Fertilizer Applicator Certificate. Within 24 hours of any nutrient application, you must record:

  •  Name of fertilizer certificate holder
  •  Name of applicator working under direct supervision of certificate holder (if any)
  •  Date of application
  •  Location (field ID, farm)
  •  Fertilizer analysis (such as 11-52-0)
  •  Rate of fertilizer application (lbs/A) and total amount applied
  •  Fertilizer application method (surface-applied, incorporated, etc)
  •  Soil conditions
  •  For surface applications only: is ground frozen or snow covered?
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New online calculator helps farmers find most profitable delivery option

Is the more profitable delivery option the elevator 10 miles from the farm offering $8.50 per bushel of soybeans or the processor 45 miles away offering $8.58 a bushel? It is important for farmers to avoid the temptation to sell their soybeans and grain based solely on the per bushel price offered. Farmers must also fully take into consideration the costs associated with that sale. After all, there is a significant difference between maximizing revenue and maximizing profitability.

In order to assist farmers in making the most profitable delivery decision, the Soy Transportation Coalition recently unveiled an updated online calculator that determines the expected revenue and costs from local and distant delivery options. At no cost and in a number of short steps, a farmer can determine the most profitable delivery option — whether the local option offering a more modest price or the distant option offering a higher price. The calculator is designed to work for soybeans, corn, wheat, or any other agricultural commodity.… Continue reading

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Key 2015 lessons will help Ohio growers prepare for 2016

Winter is a good time to reflect on the previous season in order to prepare for the upcoming one. The Marysville, Ohio, Grow More Experience site improved an understanding of how various Syngenta products can help growers in the area improve their crops’ productivity.

The Grow More Experience isn’t just another field day, as it offers season-long opportunities for growers and retailers to see visual effects of test plots and relate those outcomes to their individual farms.

“We prefer that area farmers stop by to visit these sites more than one time a year,” said Derrick LeBeau, a Syngenta agronomic service representative in Ohio. “We always try to make sure that something is visually showing so that growers and retailers can get a good look and get a feel of what may be going on in their fields in early season, mid-season, late season or even at harvest time.”

In 2015, Ohio farms saw a wide array of yield results from well below average to the north and northwest to above average to the south.… Continue reading

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Bearish trends continue

It is easy to get caught up in the moment of the current news cycle trying to decide if it is bearish or bullish. Don’t be afraid at times to think things are not what they seem.

Crop insurance assaults — while it is not new news, they keep coming back at unexpected moments. The 2014 Farm Bill seemed to lay the groundwork for crop insurance to be funded for years to come. It seemed to be safe. With the passage of time we now know that assumption is dead and gone. Last fall opponents in Congress attempted to cut billions of dollars from the crop insurance programs. Battle lines were again clearly defined. Work began in earnest to keep funding intact. Opponents were diligently working to see that funding might only come through an Omnibus spending package. They likely wanted to be able to point out with embarrassment to supporters, it was not a strong program.… Continue reading

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