@C - CORN - CBOT
Month High Low Last Chg
Mar '18 354'4 351'2 352'4 0'0
May '18 362'6 359'6 361'0 0'2
Jul '18 371'2 368'0 369'2 0'2
Sep '18 378'6 375'4 376'6 0'2
Dec '18 388'0 385'0 386'2 0'4
Mar '19 397'0 394'0 395'0 0'2
@S - SOYBEANS - CBOT
Month High Low Last Chg
Mar '18 987'2 980'0 983'4 6'2
May '18 998'4 991'2 994'6 6'2
Jul '18 1008'0 1000'6 1004'4 6'2
Aug '18 1009'6 1003'2 1006'6 6'4
Sep '18 1005'2 1001'2 1003'4 6'2
Nov '18 1004'0 998'4 1000'0 4'0
Jan '19 1010'0 1004'6 1006'4 3'6
@K - HARD RED WINTER WHEAT - KCBT
Month High Low Last Chg
Mar '18 431'0 426'2 429'2 1'6
May '18 444'6 440'2 442'6 1'4
Jul '18 461'6 457'0 459'6 1'6
Sep '18 477'4 473'4 475'2 1'0
@L - LIVE CATTLE - CME
Month High Low Last Chg
Feb '18 123.850 122.800 123.375 1.475
Apr '18 124.100 123.325 123.900 1.175
@C - COTTON #2 - ICEFU
Month High Low Last Chg
Mar '18 83.95 83.00 83.43 0.01
May '18 84.31 83.36 83.78 -0.01
Jul '18 84.75 83.77 84.17 -0.06
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Local
Arkansas Legislative Panel Backs Dicamba Ban
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - Arkansas lawmakers recommended regulators move forward Tuesday with efforts to ban an herbicide that farmers in several states say has drifted onto their crops and caused damage, advancing the prohibition despite a lawsuit by a maker of the weed killer. A legislative subcommittee supported the state Plant Board's proposal to ban the use of dicamba from April 16 through Oct. 31. The proposed ban is scheduled to go before the Legislative Council, the Legislature's main governing body when lawmakers aren't in session, for a final vote on Friday. The Plant Board earlier this month stood by the proposed ban after lawmakers urged the panel to consider revising the proposal. Dicamba has been around for decades, but problems arose over the past couple of years as farmers began to use it to kill invasive weeds in soybean and cotton fields where specially engineered seeds had been planted to resist the herbicide. Because it can easily evaporate after being applied, the chemical sometimes settles on neighboring fields planted with seeds that are not resistant to dicamba. Lawmakers endorsed the ban after hearing from farmers who have been sharply divided over the restriction. The Plant Board last year approved a temporary ban on the herbicide's sale and use, and has received nearly 1,000 complaints about dicamba. Farmers have also complained about dicamba causing damage to their crops in other states, including Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota and Tennessee. "We are only asking for a pause in this until we get our hands around this and figure out what we can do," David Wildy, a farmer from east Arkansas, told the panel. "We can't allow this to happen again." Opponents of the ban said it would put Arkansas at a competitive disadvantage with other states that haven't gone as far in restricting the weed killer. "Give the farmers in this state an opportunity to compete with the rest of the U.S.," said Joe Mencer, a soybean farmer from southeast Arkansas. Sen. Bill Sample, the Legislative Council's co-chairman, said he backed the ban even though he had initially asked the board to reconsider its proposal. "I was satisfied that the science was proven," the Republican lawmaker said. Monsanto, which makes dicamba, has filed a lawsuit in Pulaski County Circuit Court challenging the ban and claiming the Plant Board exceeded its authority in prohibiting the weed killer. A hearing is scheduled next month in the Missouri-based company's lawsuit, which seeks to block the state from enforcing the ban. "This vote would put Arkansas farmers at a serious disadvantage and we ask the executive committee to set this right for growers. We will continue to pursue our legal challenge. We will continue to stand with Arkansas growers who need new tools for weed control," Scott Partridge, Monsanto's vice president of global strategy, said in a statement.   Source: AgWeb
National
Slow pace continues for export inspections
  The USDA reports corn, soybean, and wheat export inspections as of the week ending January 18th remain behind what’s needed to meet USDA projections. Wheat came out at 337,980 tons, down 31,769 from the week ending January 11th, but up 49,007 from the week ending January 19th, 2017. For the 2017/18 marketing year to date, wheat inspections are 15,474,715 tons, compared to 16,475,616 in 2016/17. Corn was reported at 668,946 tons, 80,165 higher than the previous week, but 317,322 lower than this time last year. Continue reading Slow pace continues for export inspections at Brownfield Ag News.      
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Your January 15, 2018 Government Affairs update covering Taxes, ...
Your January 15, 2018 Government Affairs update covering Taxes, NAFTA, and the Farm Bill. http://auroracooperative.blog/2018/01/15/government-affairs-update-january-15-2018/>
"Nebraska needs to be at the table," Fischer said Tuesday in ...
"Nebraska needs to be at the table," Fischer said Tuesday in announcing her appointment. "I am really, really pleased that I am going to be joining the committee. This is great news.">
>
At Aurora Cooperative, we are providing our farmer-owners with the ...
At Aurora Cooperative, we are providing our farmer-owners with the Ten Things Farmers and Ranchers Should Know About New Tax Law. http://auroracooperative.blog/2017/12/27/government-affairs-update-december-27-2017/>
We wish you and your family a Merry Christmas!
We wish you and your family a Merry Christmas!>
>
Our Safety Team held an awesome Safety Management Conference today ...
Our Safety Team held an awesome Safety Management Conference today for all of our location managers! Session topics include DOT, Insurance, and a hands-on session of vehicle inspection. #safetyfirst>
If you haven't already, be sure to get signed up for our Winter ...
If you haven't already, be sure to get signed up for our Winter Planter Clinic which will be on Wednesday with registration beginning at 8 a.m. at the Bosselman Conference Center at Fonner Park in Grand Island! RSVP here: aceplanter.eventbrite.com>
Be sure to come see us at our booth today or tomorrow at the Nebraska ...
Be sure to come see us at our booth today or tomorrow at the Nebraska Power Farming Show at booth #1011!! Make sure to get signed up for our 3-in-1 giveaway!>
>
By this time yesterday morning, nearby January soybean futures traded ...
By this time yesterday morning, nearby January soybean futures traded over 40,000 contracts. This morning, just over 16,000 have traded. The rainfall chances in Argentina and Southern Brazil has been reduced. Trade will be watching weather in South America very closely in the coming weeks as pollination for some corn production, mostly in Brazil will start towards the end of December. US traders are looking forward to the balance of the week wondering if we?ll see any new export demand. On the open at 8:30 a.m., corn a penny higher, soybeans up 6, KC wheat down 1 ?.>
Come visit us at the Nebraska Power Farming Show at Lancaster Event ...
Come visit us at the Nebraska Power Farming Show at Lancaster Event Center in Lincoln at booth #1011!>
CBOT markets are slightly higher as we start the first trading day of ...
CBOT markets are slightly higher as we start the first trading day of December. If corn futures close higher today, it would be the 3rd consecutive day of gains, which sadly would be the longest run of higher days since late September. Traders continue to watch South American weather with some heavy rains across Brazil, but Southern areas are not projected to see much, so dryness concerns continue. The USDA reported this morning that 130,000 tons of old crop corn was sold to ?Unknown? this morning. On the open at 8:30 a.m., corn +1/2, soybeans +3, KC wheat +1/2, and crude +90 cents at $58.29/barrel.>
Our York location held an awesome customer appreciation event last ...
Our York location held an awesome customer appreciation event last night! Special thank you to all the farmer-owners who attended...we wouldn't be here without you. #yourfarm #yourcooperative #yourfuture>
Join us for this special clinic to learn more on corn stand ...
Join us for this special clinic to learn more on corn stand establishment and ear count, planter set-up from hitch pin to closing wheels, and planter technology. The clinic will feature Missy and Bill Bauer along with Randy Dowdy. We look forward to seeing you there!>
Local
Arkansas Legislative Panel Backs Dicamba Ban
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - Arkansas lawmakers recommended regulators move forward Tuesday with efforts to ban an herbicide that farmers in several states say has drifted onto their crops and caused damage, advancing the prohibition despite a lawsuit by a maker of the weed killer. A legislative subcommittee supported the state Plant Board's proposal to ban the use of dicamba from April 16 through Oct. 31. The proposed ban is scheduled to go before the Legislative Council, the Legislature's main governing body when lawmakers aren't in session, for a final vote on Friday. The Plant Board earlier this month stood by the proposed ban after lawmakers urged the panel to consider revising the proposal. Dicamba has been around for decades, but problems arose over the past couple of years as farmers began to use it to kill invasive weeds in soybean and cotton fields where specially engineered seeds had been planted to resist the herbicide. Because it can easily evaporate after being applied, the chemical sometimes settles on neighboring fields planted with seeds that are not resistant to dicamba. Lawmakers endorsed the ban after hearing from farmers who have been sharply divided over the restriction. The Plant Board last year approved a temporary ban on the herbicide's sale and use, and has received nearly 1,000 complaints about dicamba. Farmers have also complained about dicamba causing damage to their crops in other states, including Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota and Tennessee. "We are only asking for a pause in this until we get our hands around this and figure out what we can do," David Wildy, a farmer from east Arkansas, told the panel. "We can't allow this to happen again." Opponents of the ban said it would put Arkansas at a competitive disadvantage with other states that haven't gone as far in restricting the weed killer. "Give the farmers in this state an opportunity to compete with the rest of the U.S.," said Joe Mencer, a soybean farmer from southeast Arkansas. Sen. Bill Sample, the Legislative Council's co-chairman, said he backed the ban even though he had initially asked the board to reconsider its proposal. "I was satisfied that the science was proven," the Republican lawmaker said. Monsanto, which makes dicamba, has filed a lawsuit in Pulaski County Circuit Court challenging the ban and claiming the Plant Board exceeded its authority in prohibiting the weed killer. A hearing is scheduled next month in the Missouri-based company's lawsuit, which seeks to block the state from enforcing the ban. "This vote would put Arkansas farmers at a serious disadvantage and we ask the executive committee to set this right for growers. We will continue to pursue our legal challenge. We will continue to stand with Arkansas growers who need new tools for weed control," Scott Partridge, Monsanto's vice president of global strategy, said in a statement.   Source: AgWeb
The Market's Fine Print
Long before there was GPS, industrial lasers and 3-D topographical mapping, there was Burl Hooker, the land-leveling genius of my youth who Dad would call whenever he decided drought conditions had stolen another corn crop by late July for the last time. Burl would arrive at the project site armed with nothing more than a short pencil, the back of a used envelope and a well-chewed cigar. He then proceeded to meander across the troublesome 80 in question, assessing and collating "cuts" and "fills" with all the nonchalance of an eagle stalking a slow rabbit. An hour or so later, Burl would verbally deliver his pinpoint estimates of cost and completion time. And since his word and quality of dirt work were equally impeccable, Dad could spend the balance of the off-season confidently dreaming of expanded production and new irrigation tubes that virtually set themselves. But here's my question: Where's Burl Hooker when we need him? The rough landscape of early 2018 that requires help can't exactly be identified in terms of section, township and range. In fact, the disturbing swells and troughs I currently have in mind unevenly cover the market terrain of live cattle and lean hog futures. While no one knowledgeable about the nature of commodity trading and seasonal realities could ever imagine these markets watered by gravity, the odd price structures now before us might even baffle the most creative pivot engineer to be found. Despite the fact that both live cattle and lean hogs futures left the 2017 awards banquet with a similar armful of trophies (i.e., record production; solid feedlot/finishing floor profits; significant herd expansion; excellent domestic and foreign product demand), these commodities have stepped into the new year like they have no more in common than Steve Bannon and Rachel Maddow. The market structure disparity shaped by spot cash business is especially head-scratching. On one hand, the live cattle board seems strangely comfortable in embracing substantial discounts to the cash market. Nearby contracts seem unafraid to lead feedlot cash lower over the next 30-60 days. While such early year pessimism (apparently dismissive of the tonnage-robbing potential of a harsh winter) may seem like manna from heaven to first-quarter hedgers who had dialed in a much weaker basis, the ongoing futures/cash divorce must be confusing to longer-term risk managers in need of safe assumptions regarding convergence. On the other hand, lean hog futures have acted absolutely eager to build large premiums to the spot country trade of barrows and gilts. Never mind the supply challenges implied by the Dec. 1 H&P report; never mind the stubborn persistence of live weights 3-5 pounds heavier than the previous year. For whatever reason, traders of hog paper just keep reaching for the North Star, pretty much indifferent to checking for cash progress in the rearview mirror. Before suggesting several possible explanations for this low road/high road divergence between cattle and hog futures, let me concede that some features in both market structures are running close to par. For example, the current discount of summer live contracts to spot February and April is not at all unusual as the board anticipates the seasonal peaking of fed slaughter in the late second and early third quarters. Indeed, the summer discount could conceivably be even deeper if the Feb-April spread was not so strangely flat. At the same time, the current premium of summer lean futures strikes me as reasonable and consistent with the traditional playbook. To be sure, you could argue that traders slamming summer contracts into the mid-$80s this early in the year (especially given so much expansion evidence) are guilty of what Alan Greenspan used to call "irrational exuberance." Still, generally speaking, the logical connection between the relatively small winter pig crop and stronger butcher sales in the June-August quarter is almost impossible to refute. But beyond these elements of normalcy within the early year structure of livestock futures, I'm perplexed by how differently cattle and hog contracts react to either positive or negative cash (regardless of shared 2018 realities such as herd expansion and the likelihood of record per-capita total meat supplies). More specifically, why do live cattle futures react more readily to bad cash news than good? Why do lean hog futures react more readily to good cash news than bad? I have two theories. First, lean hog traders may be finding it easier to imagine significant growth in product demand through 2018 than their live cattle counterparts. On the most basic level of price, pork always stands to have a distinct advantage over beef thanks to simple biology. This inherent leg-up could be particularly underscored within the context of record meat production and the challenges of total consumption. Others sensing superior prospects for pork demand could also be thinking about exports. Although both pork and beef enjoyed blistering growth in 2017, the case can be made that the pork industry has done a better job in adjusting to foreign specs than the beef biz. For example, approximately 50% (up sharply from just a few years ago) of all U.S. hogs receive a ractopamine-free diet, an essential qualification for the Chinese market. Conversely, beef producers and processors have been painfully slow in implementing the necessary protocols required to grow the same market. Second, the pork industry is doing a much better job in coordinating kill capacity with expanding herd size. Hog chain speed was significantly augmented last year with the addition of three new plants. Furthermore, Prestage's new facility is expected to put additional blood on the floor by this spring. By contrast, the cattle industry has barely ended a prolonged pattern of plant closings. As slaughter numbers fall into a stagnant number of plants, packer leverage over feedlot offerings will probably increase. It's been argued that there remains excess kill capacity in the cattle world if larger Saturday slaughters are scheduled. While you can chart some increase in weekend kills over the last year, I'm not convinced it can accommodate the brewing problem of inadequate chain speed. Saturday kills tend to be quite expensive compared with weekday counterparts, especially in terms of labor scheduling and cost. Maybe it's too early in 2018 to get this carried away. Perhaps by the end of the first quarter the cash/futures dance will seem more conventionally coordinated. Yet, two weeks in, the market terrain is anything but level. I think I'll keep looking for Burl's number.  Source: DTN / Progressive Farmer
Stored soil water can help corn yield during drought
Most of Iowa was wet and cool during planting last year (end April to mid-May), warm and dry during vegetative growth (June to July), and cool and wet during reproductive development (August to September). In some locations, the June-July drought was severe with precipitation deficits exceeding eight inches. Despite this drought, yields were high and above the long-term trend for a third straight year.  In-season rainfall is not the only source of water for crops in Iowa. Stored soil water and shallow groundwater were significant contributors to total water uptake. For this reason, crops survived the June-July drought. Field measurements revealed that the depth to water table was approximately five to six feet below the soil surface in mid-July (corn silking time) and crop roots had reached that depth. Deep roots and shallow water tables compensated for much of the precipitation deficit. In fact, below normal June precipitation is favorable in Iowa for two reasons: i) rapid and unconstrained root growth (up to 1.3 inches per day); ii) given generally high soil water content in the early spring, additional precipitation will stimulate nitrogen loss. In terms of grain yield equivalent, model analyses suggest that root access to shallow groundwater accounted for 1% to 46% of total grain yield. The contribution was lower in sites with sufficient rain and higher in sites with drought. In addition to water, the same analyses indicated that the subsoil had more than enough nutrients for sustaining high crop yields. Cool temperatures in August and September reduced transpiration rates, slowed development, and extended the grain-filling period. Additionally, the growing season was extended by a later than normal first killing frost in the fall. This resulted in higher than normal seed weight in corn. Together, these factors contributed to surprisingly high corn yields in 2017. Quantifying temperature, precipitation, and water table dynamics across the state has been an important component of moving the science of digital agriculture forward to enable better predictions of yield and will greatly assist management decisions and predictability of crop yields and nitrogen losses.   Source: Corn & Soybean Digest
Iowa Farmer Today Poll of Farmers Shows Trends in Weed Resistance
The 2017 Iowa Farm and Rural Life Poll asked farmers who planted corn or soybeans the previous year about weed management and herbicide-resistant weeds. The first question set asked about the presence of herbicide-resistant weeds and changes in weed management and herbicide programs. Several of the questions had previously been asked in the 2013 Farm Poll survey, allowing comparisons between years. In 2017, 22 percent of respondents reported they believed they had weeds that were resistant to PPO inhibitor herbicides (e.g., Flexstar, Authority, Kixor). This was a substantial increase from 3 percent in the 2013 survey. Similarly, in 2017, 12 percent of farmers believed they had weeds that were resistant to HPPD inhibitor herbicides (e.g., Callisto, Impact), compared to 4 percent in 2013. Several questions focused on weed management behaviors. The first asked farmers if they had changed their weed management program due to concern about herbicide-resistant weeds. In 2017, 77 percent responded affirmatively, compared to 52 percent in 2013. In 2017, 83 percent indicated they had made more than one herbicide application to a single crop in a single season over the last five years, compared to 81 percent in 2013. In both 2013 and 2017, 65 percent of farmers indicated they used a custom applicator to spray herbicides. The proportion of farmers who develop their own herbicide programs dropped from 45 percent in 2013 to 36 percent in 2017. Two final questions on weed management behaviors focused on whether farmers planned to use two relatively new products. The first asked farmers if they planned to use the dicamba-resistant soybean system with dicamba. Fourteen percent indicated they would, 65 percent would not, and 21 percent were unsure. The second question asked if they planned to use 2,4-D Enlist with the corn and soybean 2,4-D Enlist resistant systems. Thirteen percent indicated they did plan to use that combination. Manageability of major weeds The survey provided a list of weeds that have become more difficult to manage in different areas of the U.S., and asked survey respondents who plant row crops to rate ease or difficulty of control. Waterhemp was viewed as the most challenging weed: 57 percent reported it has become more difficult to control and 23 percent believed it has become resistant to herbicides. Marestail/horseweed, giant ragweed and lambsquarters were rated as having become more difficult to control by nearly 50 percent of farmers, but fewer than 10 percent believed that these weeds have become resistant to herbicides. Palmer amaranth is a plant weed scientists have classified as a serious concern for Iowa agriculture because it is highly invasive, fast-growing, produces seed prolifically and has evolved resistance to many herbicides in other states. Resistance is not confirmed in Iowa. As of August 2017, Palmer amaranth had been identified in 50 Iowa counties, and ISU Extension specialists recommend that farmers be increasingly vigilant in identifying and eradicating it from their fields, conservation plantings, roadsides and ditches. Given Palmer amaranth’s invasiveness and potential to evolve herbicide resistance, it is critically important that farmers be able to identify and eradicate it. The survey results, however, indicate that a majority of farmers (54 percent) were not familiar with the weed. Twenty-three percent reported that it has become more difficult to control on the land they farm, and 16 percent believed it has become resistant to herbicides. These results suggest more intensive efforts to increase farmers’ awareness of the weed and eradication methods are necessary. Concern about resistant weeds Nearly 80 percent of farmers agreed they were concerned about the spread of herbicide-resistant weeds from other regions of the U.S. (79 percent) and other counties (79 percent). Seventy-seven percent agreed that they are concerned about spread from nearby farms, and 82 percent agreed with the item “Even if I keep my fields clean, I could get herbicide-resistant weeds from neighboring farms.” In January 2017, after more than a year of collaborative planning among major Iowa agricultural stakeholders, the Iowa Pest Resistance Management Plan was released. The plan outlines a number of activities that will be pursued to help Iowa’s farmers and other agricultural stakeholders increase their awareness of and capacity to address pesticide resistance in the state. The Farm Poll survey contained a set of items to gauge farmers’ perspectives on the potential effectiveness of several hypothetical approaches to addressing herbicide-resistant weeds. Farmers were provided short descriptions of nine different resistance management approaches and asked to rate their likelihood of success. The highest-rated options were the “quick fix” approaches entailing new technologies. “Private company discovery and development of new herbicides” and “private company discovery and development of new herbicide tolerant crops” were the two highest-rated approaches. The survey posed three cooperative approach scenarios, ranging from collaboration just between farmers to a complex collaboration between multiple agricultural stakeholders. The highest-rated option was the one that involved the most stakeholders: “Local farmers, agricultural input supplier representatives, Iowa State University research and extension staff, state agency staff, and commodity group staff working together to improve adoption of weed Best Management Practices.” Sixty-four percent of farmers rated this strategy as likely or very likely to succeed. These results indicate that although the “quick technological fix” options were viewed as most likely to succeed, cooperative solutions were also seen as promising. The 2014 Farm Poll survey found that only 14 percent of corn and soybean farmers agreed with the statement, “herbicide-resistant weeds are not a major concern because new technologies will be developed to manage them.” So, although Iowa farmers agreed that a technological fix would be most likely to succeed, many do not believe that such technologies are forthcoming, and support the concept of cooperative pest management as a viable option. It is important to highlight that the most complex cooperative arrangement, involving stakeholders from across the private and public sectors, was rated as the most likely to succeed. This echoes 2014 Farm Poll findings that multiple private and public stakeholders bear responsibility for resistance management, and indicates that many farmers would support involvement of diverse stakeholders in cooperative resistance management efforts. The financial incentives and mandate items were the lowest-rated. “Private company financial incentives to farmers to spur adoption of weed Best Management Practices” and “Government financial incentives to farmers to spur adoption of weed Best Management Practices” were rated as likely or very likely to succeed by 36 and 35 percent of farmers, respectively. “Government-mandated weed Best Management Practices requirements for farmers” was rated least likely to succeed.
Iowa Farmer Today Poll of Farmers Shows Trends in Weed Resistance
The 2017 Iowa Farm and Rural Life Poll asked farmers who planted corn or soybeans the previous year about weed management and herbicide-resistant weeds. The first question set asked about the presence of herbicide-resistant weeds and changes in weed management and herbicide programs. Several of the questions had previously been asked in the 2013 Farm Poll survey, allowing comparisons between years. In 2017, 22 percent of respondents reported they believed they had weeds that were resistant to PPO inhibitor herbicides (e.g., Flexstar, Authority, Kixor). This was a substantial increase from 3 percent in the 2013 survey. Similarly, in 2017, 12 percent of farmers believed they had weeds that were resistant to HPPD inhibitor herbicides (e.g., Callisto, Impact), compared to 4 percent in 2013. Several questions focused on weed management behaviors. The first asked farmers if they had changed their weed management program due to concern about herbicide-resistant weeds. In 2017, 77 percent responded affirmatively, compared to 52 percent in 2013. In 2017, 83 percent indicated they had made more than one herbicide application to a single crop in a single season over the last five years, compared to 81 percent in 2013. In both 2013 and 2017, 65 percent of farmers indicated they used a custom applicator to spray herbicides. The proportion of farmers who develop their own herbicide programs dropped from 45 percent in 2013 to 36 percent in 2017. Two final questions on weed management behaviors focused on whether farmers planned to use two relatively new products. The first asked farmers if they planned to use the dicamba-resistant soybean system with dicamba. Fourteen percent indicated they would, 65 percent would not, and 21 percent were unsure. The second question asked if they planned to use 2,4-D Enlist with the corn and soybean 2,4-D Enlist resistant systems. Thirteen percent indicated they did plan to use that combination. Manageability of major weeds The survey provided a list of weeds that have become more difficult to manage in different areas of the U.S., and asked survey respondents who plant row crops to rate ease or difficulty of control. Waterhemp was viewed as the most challenging weed: 57 percent reported it has become more difficult to control and 23 percent believed it has become resistant to herbicides. Marestail/horseweed, giant ragweed and lambsquarters were rated as having become more difficult to control by nearly 50 percent of farmers, but fewer than 10 percent believed that these weeds have become resistant to herbicides. Palmer amaranth is a plant weed scientists have classified as a serious concern for Iowa agriculture because it is highly invasive, fast-growing, produces seed prolifically and has evolved resistance to many herbicides in other states. Resistance is not confirmed in Iowa. As of August 2017, Palmer amaranth had been identified in 50 Iowa counties, and ISU Extension specialists recommend that farmers be increasingly vigilant in identifying and eradicating it from their fields, conservation plantings, roadsides and ditches. Given Palmer amaranth’s invasiveness and potential to evolve herbicide resistance, it is critically important that farmers be able to identify and eradicate it. The survey results, however, indicate that a majority of farmers (54 percent) were not familiar with the weed. Twenty-three percent reported that it has become more difficult to control on the land they farm, and 16 percent believed it has become resistant to herbicides. These results suggest more intensive efforts to increase farmers’ awareness of the weed and eradication methods are necessary. Concern about resistant weeds Nearly 80 percent of farmers agreed they were concerned about the spread of herbicide-resistant weeds from other regions of the U.S. (79 percent) and other counties (79 percent). Seventy-seven percent agreed that they are concerned about spread from nearby farms, and 82 percent agreed with the item “Even if I keep my fields clean, I could get herbicide-resistant weeds from neighboring farms.” In January 2017, after more than a year of collaborative planning among major Iowa agricultural stakeholders, the Iowa Pest Resistance Management Plan was released. The plan outlines a number of activities that will be pursued to help Iowa’s farmers and other agricultural stakeholders increase their awareness of and capacity to address pesticide resistance in the state. The Farm Poll survey contained a set of items to gauge farmers’ perspectives on the potential effectiveness of several hypothetical approaches to addressing herbicide-resistant weeds. Farmers were provided short descriptions of nine different resistance management approaches and asked to rate their likelihood of success. The highest-rated options were the “quick fix” approaches entailing new technologies. “Private company discovery and development of new herbicides” and “private company discovery and development of new herbicide tolerant crops” were the two highest-rated approaches. The survey posed three cooperative approach scenarios, ranging from collaboration just between farmers to a complex collaboration between multiple agricultural stakeholders. The highest-rated option was the one that involved the most stakeholders: “Local farmers, agricultural input supplier representatives, Iowa State University research and extension staff, state agency staff, and commodity group staff working together to improve adoption of weed Best Management Practices.” Sixty-four percent of farmers rated this strategy as likely or very likely to succeed. These results indicate that although the “quick technological fix” options were viewed as most likely to succeed, cooperative solutions were also seen as promising. The 2014 Farm Poll survey found that only 14 percent of corn and soybean farmers agreed with the statement, “herbicide-resistant weeds are not a major concern because new technologies will be developed to manage them.” So, although Iowa farmers agreed that a technological fix would be most likely to succeed, many do not believe that such technologies are forthcoming, and support the concept of cooperative pest management as a viable option. It is important to highlight that the most complex cooperative arrangement, involving stakeholders from across the private and public sectors, was rated as the most likely to succeed. This echoes 2014 Farm Poll findings that multiple private and public stakeholders bear responsibility for resistance management, and indicates that many farmers would support involvement of diverse stakeholders in cooperative resistance management efforts. The financial incentives and mandate items were the lowest-rated. “Private company financial incentives to farmers to spur adoption of weed Best Management Practices” and “Government financial incentives to farmers to spur adoption of weed Best Management Practices” were rated as likely or very likely to succeed by 36 and 35 percent of farmers, respectively. “Government-mandated weed Best Management Practices requirements for farmers” was rated least likely to succeed.
Arkansas Legislative Panel Backs Dicamba Ban
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - Arkansas lawmakers recommended regulators move forward Tuesday with efforts to ban an herbicide that farmers in several states say has drifted onto their crops and caused damage, advancing the prohibition despite a lawsuit by a maker of the weed killer. A legislative subcommittee supported the state Plant Board's proposal to ban the use of dicamba from April 16 through Oct. 31. The proposed ban is scheduled to go before the Legislative Council, the Legislature's main governing body when lawmakers aren't in session, for a final vote on Friday. The Plant Board earlier this month stood by the proposed ban after lawmakers urged the panel to consider revising the proposal. Dicamba has been around for decades, but problems arose over the past couple of years as farmers began to use it to kill invasive weeds in soybean and cotton fields where specially engineered seeds had been planted to resist the herbicide. Because it can easily evaporate after being applied, the chemical sometimes settles on neighboring fields planted with seeds that are not resistant to dicamba. Lawmakers endorsed the ban after hearing from farmers who have been sharply divided over the restriction. The Plant Board last year approved a temporary ban on the herbicide's sale and use, and has received nearly 1,000 complaints about dicamba. Farmers have also complained about dicamba causing damage to their crops in other states, including Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota and Tennessee. "We are only asking for a pause in this until we get our hands around this and figure out what we can do," David Wildy, a farmer from east Arkansas, told the panel. "We can't allow this to happen again." Opponents of the ban said it would put Arkansas at a competitive disadvantage with other states that haven't gone as far in restricting the weed killer. "Give the farmers in this state an opportunity to compete with the rest of the U.S.," said Joe Mencer, a soybean farmer from southeast Arkansas. Sen. Bill Sample, the Legislative Council's co-chairman, said he backed the ban even though he had initially asked the board to reconsider its proposal. "I was satisfied that the science was proven," the Republican lawmaker said. Monsanto, which makes dicamba, has filed a lawsuit in Pulaski County Circuit Court challenging the ban and claiming the Plant Board exceeded its authority in prohibiting the weed killer. A hearing is scheduled next month in the Missouri-based company's lawsuit, which seeks to block the state from enforcing the ban. "This vote would put Arkansas farmers at a serious disadvantage and we ask the executive committee to set this right for growers. We will continue to pursue our legal challenge. We will continue to stand with Arkansas growers who need new tools for weed control," Scott Partridge, Monsanto's vice president of global strategy, said in a statement.   Source: AgWeb
The Market's Fine Print
Long before there was GPS, industrial lasers and 3-D topographical mapping, there was Burl Hooker, the land-leveling genius of my youth who Dad would call whenever he decided drought conditions had stolen another corn crop by late July for the last time. Burl would arrive at the project site armed with nothing more than a short pencil, the back of a used envelope and a well-chewed cigar. He then proceeded to meander across the troublesome 80 in question, assessing and collating "cuts" and "fills" with all the nonchalance of an eagle stalking a slow rabbit. An hour or so later, Burl would verbally deliver his pinpoint estimates of cost and completion time. And since his word and quality of dirt work were equally impeccable, Dad could spend the balance of the off-season confidently dreaming of expanded production and new irrigation tubes that virtually set themselves. But here's my question: Where's Burl Hooker when we need him? The rough landscape of early 2018 that requires help can't exactly be identified in terms of section, township and range. In fact, the disturbing swells and troughs I currently have in mind unevenly cover the market terrain of live cattle and lean hog futures. While no one knowledgeable about the nature of commodity trading and seasonal realities could ever imagine these markets watered by gravity, the odd price structures now before us might even baffle the most creative pivot engineer to be found. Despite the fact that both live cattle and lean hogs futures left the 2017 awards banquet with a similar armful of trophies (i.e., record production; solid feedlot/finishing floor profits; significant herd expansion; excellent domestic and foreign product demand), these commodities have stepped into the new year like they have no more in common than Steve Bannon and Rachel Maddow. The market structure disparity shaped by spot cash business is especially head-scratching. On one hand, the live cattle board seems strangely comfortable in embracing substantial discounts to the cash market. Nearby contracts seem unafraid to lead feedlot cash lower over the next 30-60 days. While such early year pessimism (apparently dismissive of the tonnage-robbing potential of a harsh winter) may seem like manna from heaven to first-quarter hedgers who had dialed in a much weaker basis, the ongoing futures/cash divorce must be confusing to longer-term risk managers in need of safe assumptions regarding convergence. On the other hand, lean hog futures have acted absolutely eager to build large premiums to the spot country trade of barrows and gilts. Never mind the supply challenges implied by the Dec. 1 H&P report; never mind the stubborn persistence of live weights 3-5 pounds heavier than the previous year. For whatever reason, traders of hog paper just keep reaching for the North Star, pretty much indifferent to checking for cash progress in the rearview mirror. Before suggesting several possible explanations for this low road/high road divergence between cattle and hog futures, let me concede that some features in both market structures are running close to par. For example, the current discount of summer live contracts to spot February and April is not at all unusual as the board anticipates the seasonal peaking of fed slaughter in the late second and early third quarters. Indeed, the summer discount could conceivably be even deeper if the Feb-April spread was not so strangely flat. At the same time, the current premium of summer lean futures strikes me as reasonable and consistent with the traditional playbook. To be sure, you could argue that traders slamming summer contracts into the mid-$80s this early in the year (especially given so much expansion evidence) are guilty of what Alan Greenspan used to call "irrational exuberance." Still, generally speaking, the logical connection between the relatively small winter pig crop and stronger butcher sales in the June-August quarter is almost impossible to refute. But beyond these elements of normalcy within the early year structure of livestock futures, I'm perplexed by how differently cattle and hog contracts react to either positive or negative cash (regardless of shared 2018 realities such as herd expansion and the likelihood of record per-capita total meat supplies). More specifically, why do live cattle futures react more readily to bad cash news than good? Why do lean hog futures react more readily to good cash news than bad? I have two theories. First, lean hog traders may be finding it easier to imagine significant growth in product demand through 2018 than their live cattle counterparts. On the most basic level of price, pork always stands to have a distinct advantage over beef thanks to simple biology. This inherent leg-up could be particularly underscored within the context of record meat production and the challenges of total consumption. Others sensing superior prospects for pork demand could also be thinking about exports. Although both pork and beef enjoyed blistering growth in 2017, the case can be made that the pork industry has done a better job in adjusting to foreign specs than the beef biz. For example, approximately 50% (up sharply from just a few years ago) of all U.S. hogs receive a ractopamine-free diet, an essential qualification for the Chinese market. Conversely, beef producers and processors have been painfully slow in implementing the necessary protocols required to grow the same market. Second, the pork industry is doing a much better job in coordinating kill capacity with expanding herd size. Hog chain speed was significantly augmented last year with the addition of three new plants. Furthermore, Prestage's new facility is expected to put additional blood on the floor by this spring. By contrast, the cattle industry has barely ended a prolonged pattern of plant closings. As slaughter numbers fall into a stagnant number of plants, packer leverage over feedlot offerings will probably increase. It's been argued that there remains excess kill capacity in the cattle world if larger Saturday slaughters are scheduled. While you can chart some increase in weekend kills over the last year, I'm not convinced it can accommodate the brewing problem of inadequate chain speed. Saturday kills tend to be quite expensive compared with weekday counterparts, especially in terms of labor scheduling and cost. Maybe it's too early in 2018 to get this carried away. Perhaps by the end of the first quarter the cash/futures dance will seem more conventionally coordinated. Yet, two weeks in, the market terrain is anything but level. I think I'll keep looking for Burl's number.  Source: DTN / Progressive Farmer
Stored soil water can help corn yield during drought
Most of Iowa was wet and cool during planting last year (end April to mid-May), warm and dry during vegetative growth (June to July), and cool and wet during reproductive development (August to September). In some locations, the June-July drought was severe with precipitation deficits exceeding eight inches. Despite this drought, yields were high and above the long-term trend for a third straight year.  In-season rainfall is not the only source of water for crops in Iowa. Stored soil water and shallow groundwater were significant contributors to total water uptake. For this reason, crops survived the June-July drought. Field measurements revealed that the depth to water table was approximately five to six feet below the soil surface in mid-July (corn silking time) and crop roots had reached that depth. Deep roots and shallow water tables compensated for much of the precipitation deficit. In fact, below normal June precipitation is favorable in Iowa for two reasons: i) rapid and unconstrained root growth (up to 1.3 inches per day); ii) given generally high soil water content in the early spring, additional precipitation will stimulate nitrogen loss. In terms of grain yield equivalent, model analyses suggest that root access to shallow groundwater accounted for 1% to 46% of total grain yield. The contribution was lower in sites with sufficient rain and higher in sites with drought. In addition to water, the same analyses indicated that the subsoil had more than enough nutrients for sustaining high crop yields. Cool temperatures in August and September reduced transpiration rates, slowed development, and extended the grain-filling period. Additionally, the growing season was extended by a later than normal first killing frost in the fall. This resulted in higher than normal seed weight in corn. Together, these factors contributed to surprisingly high corn yields in 2017. Quantifying temperature, precipitation, and water table dynamics across the state has been an important component of moving the science of digital agriculture forward to enable better predictions of yield and will greatly assist management decisions and predictability of crop yields and nitrogen losses.   Source: Corn & Soybean Digest
Nebraska Ag Update - January 19, 2018
Nebraska Ag Updates
Can I Increase Soil Organic Matter by 1% This Year?
This fall, I participated in workshops where a farmer claimed his soil organic matter increased by 1% per year. Is this a realistic goal to shoot for? The source of soil organic matter is photosynthesis resulting in plant growth – either root or aboveground. Therefore, the organic matter content cannot increase more than the amount of plant growth that can be produced in a year. Let’s just do some basic math assuming all the plant matter gets converted into soil organic matter. First, we need to know what one acre of soil can produce. Let’s assume a highly productive corn crop – producing 200 bushels per acre. That is 200 bushels per acre x 56 lbs/bushel x 0.845 (to correct for 15.5% moisture in grain) = 9,464 lbs of dry grain per acre. Typically, the harvest index of corn (the proportion of stover to grain) is 1, so the amount of residue produced is also 9,464 lbs/A. The root mass produced by corn is on average 20% of the above ground, so if we add that it makes 11,357 lbs/A. Let’s assume you also grow a cover crop of rye and that it is terminated with 5,000 lbs of above-ground dry matter per acre and 1000 lbs of below-ground root mass. The total is 17,357 lbs of plant matter from roots and stover from corn and rye. Let’s convert all that to carbon for greater accuracy. The carbon content of stover is typically 40%, so that is 6,943 lbs of carbon produced per acre in roots and stover. Is that enough carbon to increase soil organic matter 1%? Let’s calculate how much carbon is in 1% of soil organic matter. We assume one acre slice of soil (to a depth of 6.7”) weighs 2,000,000 lbs. So one percent of 2,000,000 is 20,000 lbs. Soil organic matter contains roughly 58% carbon. So one percent organic matter in soil to 6.7 inch depth equals 11,600 lbs of carbon. That is a lot more than the amount of carbon that is produced by a highly productive corn crop plus rye cover crop! I hope you agree that this calculation shows that it is not possible to increase soil organic matter at a rate of 1% per year with current production constraints. And we didn’t include the conversion of plant residue in soil organic matter yet! That conversion has been shown to be only 10-20%. So if you add 6,943 lbs of carbon in plant roots and stover, that would end up in only 1388 lbs of soil organic carbon, or 2393 lbs of soil organic matter. That is 0.1% of 2,000,000 lbs of soil. Therefore, if you increase organic matter content by 0.1% per year you are doing a superb job with your management. To expect 1% increase is unrealistic. This discussion assumes there is no input of organic matter from other fields or farms. If manure or compost have been applied that would change the story. Fred Magdoff and Harold van Es include a calculation of the effect of dairy manure application on soil organic matter in the book “Building Soils for Better Crops (2nd Ed)”. They calculate that applying 20 T/A/yr of solid dairy manure would increase organic matter content 0.065% per year. So if we add relatively high applications of manure to the equation it might be possible to increase organic matter content 0.17% per year. Incorporating a combination of no-til, cover crops, residues and manure can improve soil organic matter over time. We have to be patient. Source: Penn State Extension
A Glimpse of the Future
At Agritechnica, the world’s largest machinery show held in Germany this past November, visitors got a glimpse of the future of autonomous and electric technology. Case IH and New Holland rocked the farm machinery world in 2016 with the autonomous Magnum and T7 NHDrive concepts. These days, all the major brands are likely working on developing an autonomous tractor, but Kubota is the first to sell one, though only in Japan. Called the AgriRobo, the tractor is based on a SL60A and brimming with sensors and cameras. The company says the autonomous “kit” works on all their products and plans to outfit 50 systems on a range of tractors, rice planters and combines this year. Capable of automatically detecting obstacles and relaying important information to a smartphone, the rear of the tractor is fitted with hookups and a PTO that can automatically attach an implement. Kubota is offering the system in Japan because it’s the first country to allow the use of autonomous vehicles in the field. Road use isn’t allowed, however, so the cab is still in place so owners to comfortably drive the tractor back to the farm. Austrian tractor maker Lindner showed a different take on an autonomous tractor with its Lintrac 110 and Trac Link Pilot software. The tractor can be fitted with optical and radar technology to allow it to follow a lead vehicle. The camera automatically follows the silhouette, and the radar ensures the CVT maintains the correct speed to follow at a preset distance. The autonomous diesel-powered, hydraulically driven DOT workhorse is designed to handle a variety of implements. Once the field is mapped, using satellite imagery or by driving it to identify obstacles, and loaded, DOT uses GPS to travel the prescribed farmer-approved route with sub-inch accuracy. A 4.5-liter, 163-hp Cummins motor provides independent power to each wheel. Switching to electric technology, Indian tractor maker Farmtrac displayed a working prototype at Agritechnica. The diesel engine in the 26-hp compact tractor has been swapped for a lithium-ion battery, which provides up to six hours of operation and takes 3½ hours for a 75% recharge. The company is considering the possibility of a battery changing system. Roughly 20% more expensive than the diesel-powered equivalent, the electric tractor is expected to go on sale in India and the U.S. in the next 18 months. By 2020, the company hopes to offer a range of electric and diesel/electric tractors from 50 hp to 110 hp. When it comes to electric solutions, John Deere continues to develop the SESAM concept and other products. Fendt is honing its e100 tractor. Cooperation between tractor and implement manufacturers is needed to advance electric technology as well as addressing the hurdle of expensive electric generators necessary for tractors. ZF believes an integrated electric generator is the way to go, but other tractor makers, such as Kubota, are looking to bolt-on, PTO-powered electric generators for sprayers, drill and planters. Source: Farm Journal AgTech
Judicious spending recommended for Delta cotton
Delta cotton farmers, once again, will be tasked with the difficult chore of growing more cotton but investing less money to do it. “Growers will be forced to maximize their return on investment and hopefully spend less to make more,” says Darrin Dodds, Mississippi State University Extension and Research agronomist, in remarks at the recent Beltwide Cotton Conferences in San Antonio. He says some Mississippi growers have suggested that they have difficulty making a profit with yields topping 1,200 pounds per acre. “We are in a new era with yield,” Dodds adds. The 2017 Mississippi cotton yield topped 1,000 pounds per acre, and growers will expect similar performance in 2018. “For the last six years in a row, we’ve made more than 1,000 pounds per acre, across a lot of different soil types; and in three of those years we’ve made more than 1,200 pounds per acre. Farmers’ perspectives have shifted. The notion of 800 to 900 pounds per acre as a target was abandoned six years ago.” The only blip in the last decade was a 2009 crop that suffered under harvest-time rain that hurt production. Price, too, has improved, Dodds says, from 52 cents when he came to Mississippi State to over 70 cents. “But production costs are up substantially. A round bale picker costs nearly $1 million. Land prices are high,” maybe not as high as $14,000 an acre in some Midwest areas, but a big investment nonetheless. Technology fees and crop protection costs have also risen. “And some technology traits are not as effective as they used to be, but we are still paying for them and still having to spray the crop.” Dodds says Delta cotton farmers will need to make adjustments to eke out a profit. “Some will have to make cuts,” he says. He adds that producers should not try to “win the yield game, but win the money game.” And that requires scrutiny of production practices, production costs and improving efficiency. Variety selection, he emphasizes, is the No. 1 practice to produce an efficient cotton crop. “To maximize efficiency, select the best variety for both field irrigated and dryland production,” he says. VARIETY SELECTION Selecting the right variety is not a matter of adding expense but of spending the time to evaluate variety trials, farm history and management capability. He says looking at yield results is a start. In variety tests, the difference between the highest irrigated yield and mid-level yield could mean as much as 164 pounds per acre. The difference between highest and lowest yield could mean nearly 300 pounds. In dryland production, a 138 pound difference exists between highest and mid-level yields, and 268 between highest and lowest. He says predicting exactly how one variety will perform is, at best, inexact. “But take the time to select the proper variety; once it’s chosen, it’s done.” Yield is important, Dodds says, but not the only factor a grower should consider. “Look at more than performance. One variety will not win all the trials. Stability is important from year to year across soil types, rainfall, planting date and management styles.” FERTILITY Fertility is No. 2 on Dodds’ list of factors to watch to improve efficiency. “Nitrogen affects plant growth,” he said. Potassium and lime also play critical roles. Knowing what’s available, a theme Extension has preached for decades, is a crucial factor in developing a fertility program. Mississippi is typically a 120-pound of nitrogen per acre state, Dodds says, but adjustments may be in order. Some growers will apply 105 and some will add 140 pounds. “With 80 to 100 pounds of nitrogen, we can often top out yields on light textured soils in Mississippi.” He says adding too much nitrogen creates problems. “If a grower is using excessive rates of plant growth regulators, he can likely cut back on nitrogen. It’s hard to justify the investment of high nitrogen rates,” he adds. He says insect management also may be more difficult with higher nitrogen rates. “Plant bugs like big, tall, rank cotton. If we can shorten the cotton plant, we can potentially reduce plant bug problems and lower cotton production costs.” He says some producers spray seven to 10 times a season for plant bugs. Reducing nitrogen rate lessens fertility costs, possibly saves money on insect sprays, plant growth regulator expense and makes defoliation easier. Potassium is also important and may tend to run out late in the season. “Big crops take a lot of potassium out of the soil. Cutting back on nitrogen frees up funds to add potash, Dodds says. “If we save $12 on nitrogen, we free up money for 80 pounds of potash.” PEST MANAGEMENT Pest management is Dodds’ No. 3 efficiency factor. Thrips, plant bugs and worms are the targets. He says seed treatments worked well on for thrips for many years, but five or six years ago resistance began to show up. “Aeris is still working reasonably well.” He says over-treatment or applying acephate in furrow is a good option. He says variety characteristics may be a factor in plant bug management. “With hairy-leaf varieties, we see lower plant bug populations.” Planting date also affects pest management. Dodds says early planting, in years when that’s possible, may allow producers to miss a key plant bug movement. “They come out of corn and into cotton,” he explains. “If we plant early and allow corn to get a little further along, we can avoid corn senescence and some plant bug damage.” He says diamond insecticide may also be more effective if applied just before bloom. He reiterates that managing nitrogen levels will help manage insect pests. Weed pests have been managed effectively, he says with new technology, Xtend and Enlist cotton. “About 80 percent of our acreage went into these technologies in 2017; we expect a similar percentage in 2018.” Dodds says farmers used to spend from $20 to $30 an acre for weed control and now that number may approach or exceed $100 per acre. Any effective strategy to bring those costs down will benefit the bottom line. Target spot is a new threat. “We have seen target spot become more common over the past several years and no variety is immune.” He says infected plants may drop second position bolls. “I prefer that to first position.” He adds that no one is certain what the answer for managing target spot. “We can’t spray our way out of it. Fungicides have been inconsistent in terms of control and subsequent yield increases.” He says variety selection will not solve the problem. “But I recommend selecting the best variety for your farm.” Canopy management, keeping plants short and compact, and allowing air movement may be beneficial. SPEND WISELY Dodds’ No.4 key to efficiency is spending wisely. “Look at input costs and make decisions,” he says. “Replant decisions can make a difference in production costs. “If a grower has 15,000 plants per acre and plants are evenly spaced, keep it,” he advises. “Plants will compensate. But if the field has a lot of skips, replant.” He says some tests have shown decent yields with populations as low as 9,200 plants per acre. ‘I wouldn’t recommend that planting rate but we can make yield with lower plant populations.” Efficient irrigation management, he says, can be both an economical advantage and an environmental one. “We need to be aware of slowing down our aquifer depletion rate.” Foliar feeding and harvest aids may also offer opportunities to save money. “Look carefully at foliar feeding — cost versus how much it makes.” He says harvest aids, “are as cheap as they have ever been. We can do an effective job for less than $25 per acre.” Dodd says with high input costs and marginal crop prices, cotton farmers have to be willing to make adjustments. “Big crops mean big costs, so don’t spend frivolously. Spend money when you know it will pay.”  Source: Delta Farm Press
DTN Retail Fertilizer Trends
OMAHA (DTN) -- Average retail prices for most fertilizers continued to move higher as 2017 drew to a close, according to retailers surveyed by DTN. Seven of the eight major fertilizers were higher the fourth week of December compared to a month earlier. Anhydrous was 12% more expensive compared to last month and had an average price of $468 per ton. MAP was 6% higher, as well, with an average price of $488/ton. The remaining five fertilizers were higher compared to the prior month, though none were up by a significant amount. DAP had an average price of $448/ton, potash $344/ton, urea $348/ton, 10-34-0 $407/ton and UAN28 $216/ton. Just one fertilizer was lower from the previous month. UAN32 was 6% lower compared to last month. The nitrogen fertilizer had an average price of $254/ton. On a price per pound of nitrogen basis, the average urea price was at $0.38/lb.N, anhydrous $0.29/lb.N, UAN28 $0.39/lb.N and UAN32 $0.40/lb.N. A new year brings new acquisitions in the Midwest retail fertilizer industry. South Dakota Wheat Growers, based in Aberdeen, South Dakota, announced on Tuesday that it has purchased a 40,000 ton dry fertilizer facility located in Kimball, which had been previously owned by Gavilon Fertilizer, LLC. According to a company news release, the Kimball plant will become the largest-capacity dry fertilizer plant in the Wheat Growers cooperative. The company currently has six hub fertilizer plants located in Bath, Huron, Kennebec, McLaughlin, Oakes and Wolsey, which was the largest facility with 31,200 tons of dry fertilizer storage. Source: DTN / Progressive Farmer
U OF ILLINOIS STUDY SHOWS PRODUCERS WHERE, HOW TO GROW CELLULOSIC BIOFUEL CRO
According to a recent ruling by the United States Environmental Protection Agency, 288 million gallons of cellulosic biofuel must be blended into the U.S. gasoline supply in 2018. Although this figure is down slightly from last year, the industry is still growing at a modest pace. However, until now, producers have had to rely on incomplete information and unrealistic, small-scale studies in guiding their decisions about which feedstocks to grow, and where. A new multi-institution report provides practical agronomic data for five cellulosic feedstocks, which could improve adoption and increase production across the country. "Early yield estimates were based on data from small research plots, but they weren't realistic. Our main goal with this project was to determine whether these species could be viable crops when grown on the farm scale," says D.K. Lee, associate professor in the Department of Crop Sciences at the University of Illinois and leader of the prairie mixture portion of the study. The project, backed by the U.S. Department of Energy and the Sun Grant Initiative, began in 2008 and includes researchers from 26 institutions. Together, they evaluated the bioenergy potential of switchgrass, Miscanthus, sorghum, energycane, and prairie mixtures in long-term trials spanning a wide geographical area. Due to shortages in plant materials, Miscanthus and energycane were grown on smaller plots than the other crops, but researchers say the new results are still valuable for producers. "Although making real-world decisions and recommendations based on performance data from small plots is less desirable than from field-scale plots, we feel comfortable with the Miscanthus results since they were based on 33 data sets collected from five sites over seven years," says Tom Voigt, professor in the crop sciences department at U of I and leader of the Miscanthus portion of the study. Crops were grown for five to seven years in multiple locations and with varying levels of nitrogen fertilizer. Although most of the crops are known to tolerate poor soil quality, the researchers found that they all benefitted from at least some nitrogen. For example, Miscanthus did best with an application of 53.5 pounds per acre. "When we didn't fertilize with any nitrogen, yields dropped over time. But if we used too much, 107 pounds per acre, we were increasing nitrous oxide emissions and nitrate leaching," says Voigt. "There is some need for fertilization, but it should be tailored to specific locations." Prairie mixtures, which were grown on land enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), also benefitted from added nitrogen. Yield kept increasing with the addition of up to 100 pounds per acre, but Lee says producers would have to weigh the yield benefit against the cost of the fertilizer. "Even though it increased yield, it is economically not profitable to use more than 50 pounds of nitrogen per acre." And although most of the crops are somewhat drought-tolerant, precipitation made a difference. "Miscanthus production was directly related to precipitation," Voigt says. "In areas where precipitation was down, yields generally dropped. However, it did depend on timing. If there was a good amount of water in the winter, plants could get going pretty well in the spring. But if we had little rainfall after that, that hurt yields." Lee says prairie mixtures, which are normally made up of hardy grasses, suffered from the severe droughts in 2012 and 2013 in some locations. "In one year in our Oklahoma location, they didn't even try to harvest. Yield was too low." No one feedstock "won" across the board. "It depends so much on location, nitrogen application rate, and year variability," Voigt says. Instead of highlighting specific yields obtained in good years or locations, a group of statisticians within the research team used field-based yield and environmental data to create maps of yield potential for the five crops across the U.S. Dark green swaths on the maps represent areas of highest yield potential, between 8 and 10 tons per acre per year. According to the new results, the greatest yield potentials for lowland switchgrass varieties are in the lower Mississippi valley and the Gulf coast states, whereas Miscanthus and prairie mixture yields are likely to be greatest in the upper Midwest. Lee says the prairie mixtures, which are typically grown on CRP land to conserve soil, didn't live up to their potential in the study. "We know that there are higher-yielding switchgrass varieties today than were included in the CRP mixtures in the study. If we really want to use CRP for biomass production, we need to plant highly productive species. That will bump yield up a lot higher. "One of the biggest concerns now is that CRP enrollment is shrinking. When we started, we had 36 million acres nationwide. Now we're down to 26 million. Farmers feel they could make more money by using that land for row crops. We need to find some solution if we want to save the soil. Biomass could provide revenue for farmers, if they were allowed to harvest it," Lee says. Energycane could reach very high yields, but in a relatively limited portion of the country. However, the crop that shows the highest potential yields in the greatest number of locations is sorghum. The annual crop is highly adaptable to various conditions and might be easier for farmers to work with. "It fits well in the traditional annual row-crop system; better than perennial crops. It may not be environmentally as desirable as perennial crops, but people could borrow money in winter to buy seed and supplies, then plant, and sell in the fall to pay back their loans. It's the annual cycle that corn and beans are in," Voigt says. Lee adds, "In terms of management, sorghum is almost the same as corn. It germinates and grows so quickly, weed control is not a big issue. If you plant by early June, it will be 15-20 feet tall by September. It also has good drought tolerance." Downsides to the biomass champ? It's wet at harvest and can't be stored. It also requires nitrogen and can lodge, or collapse, prior to harvest in wet or windy conditions. "Still, it's a really spectacular plant," Voigt says. The researchers made all the raw data from the study available online for anyone to access. Lee says it can be useful for everyone: scientists, policymakers, and producers. "It should be helpful for number of different stakeholders," he says. The article, "Biomass production of herbaceous energy crops in the United States: Field trial results and yield potential maps from the multiyear regional feedstock partnership," is published in a special issue of GCB Bioenergy. The project was funded through the U.S. Department of Energy [award number DE-FC36-05GO85041] and the North Central Regional Sun Grant Center at South Dakota State University.  Source: AgriMarketing
High oleic soybeans achieve final global regulatory milestone
High oleic soybeans have crossed their final regulatory hurdle, clearing the way for farmers to plant more acres of high oleic soybeans in 2018. Full global regulatory approval can help expand the market for high oleic soy and create opportunities to increase U.S. soybean value and competitiveness in the global marketplace. “Achieving high oleic global regulatory approval enables us to meet end-user needs with a product they want and increase the use of U.S. soybean oil,” said Lewis Bainbridge, United Soybean Board chair and farmer from Ethan, SD. “We encourage farmers to talk with their seed representatives about high oleic soybean variety options for 2018 planting to help keep pace with growing demand for this high-functioning oil.” The soy checkoff has invested in research to ensure that high oleic soybeans deliver the qualities required by oil end users. These varieties produce a more stable oil for food industry use in restaurants and packaged goods. The oil also expands uses for non-food applications, such as synthetic motor oil and automotive lubricants. For farmers, checkoff-supported research has helped ensure that high oleic soybeans perform the same as other soybean varieties and that variety development expanded to a wider range of maturity groups. “For high oleic soybeans to be successful, we can’t sacrifice performance in the field or limit the geographies where they are grown,” says Bainbridge. “Farmers who plant high oleic soybean varieties consistently report that their high oleic varieties yield as well or better than their other soybean varieties.” In order for end users to convert to high oleic soybean oil, they need a reliable, consistent supply. The checkoff has been working with industry partners to ramp up acreage of high oleic soybean varieties to meet growing demand. High oleic soybean varieties were initially grown in three states and are now grown in 13 states. Acreage of high oleic soybean varieties has grown from 50,000 acres in 2013 to more than 625,000 acres in 2017. Given this regulatory milestone, its proven performance and anticipated continued growth in market demand, high oleic soybeans are expected to become the fourth-largest grain and oilseed crop in the U.S., with a goal of planting 18 million acres of high oleic soybeans. Farmers interested in learning more about high oleic soybeans are encouraged to talk with their local seed representative and visit www.soyinnovation.com. Source: Wisconsin State Farmer
National
Slow pace continues for export inspections
  The USDA reports corn, soybean, and wheat export inspections as of the week ending January 18th remain behind what’s needed to meet USDA projections. Wheat came out at 337,980 tons, down 31,769 from the week ending January 11th, but up 49,007 from the week ending January 19th, 2017. For the 2017/18 marketing year to date, wheat inspections are 15,474,715 tons, compared to 16,475,616 in 2016/17. Corn was reported at 668,946 tons, 80,165 higher than the previous week, but 317,322 lower than this time last year. Continue reading Slow pace continues for export inspections at Brownfield Ag News.      
NAWG calls out Congress on shutdown
  The National Association of Wheat Growers (NAWG) is calling out Congress for failing to avert a federal government shutdown ? and says the shutdown will directly impact farmers across the country. NAWG president Gordon Stoner, a Montana farmer, says shutting down the government means vital agencies like USDA?s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and Farm Service Agency (FSA) local offices are closed or functioning on a limited basis.? He says that means growers won?t have access to data and reports needed for planting and harvesting, farm loans and credit, and other critical services needed to run their operations. Continue reading NAWG calls out Congress on shutdown at Brownfield Ag News.      
Wide-range of weather across the Nation
?? Across the Corn Belt, mild air is arriving, starting across the upper Midwest. The warmer-than-normal weather has begun to erode a widespread, generally shallow snow cover. Early Friday, snow depths stood at 3 inches in Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota; Rockford, Illinois; Indianapolis, Indiana; and Dayton, Ohio. On the Plains, rain and snow showers have begun to develop across parts of Montana. Mild, dry weather covers the remainder of the nation?s mid-section. Friday?s high temperatures will top 70? across portions of the central and southern High Plains, maintaining significant stress on poorly established winter wheat, which has also been subjected to intensifying drought and periods of extreme cold. Continue reading Wide-range of weather across the Nation at Brownfield Ag News.      
Successful dairy operation takes more than skill
A young dairy producer says it takes skill to begin milking cows, but it takes something less tangible to make it work.? Nate Bloss milks 300 cows with his dad and brother near Fulton, Missouri.? They began just two years ago with little cash, but spending time working through how they would succeed from the start. ?The most important thing, though, is I think we had the skill to milk cows and manage those animals,? Bloss told Brownfield Ag News at the Heart of America Dairy Expo in Springfield, Missouri. Continue reading Successful dairy operation takes more than skill at Brownfield Ag News.      
Winter storm potential for the Plains, upper Midwest
A gradual warming trend will continue through the weekend across the South, East, and Midwest. Meanwhile, a storm system emerging from the western U.S. will produce significant snow across portions of the Intermountain West and Rockies, as well as the northern and central Plains and the upper Midwest. During the weekend, showers and thunderstorms will erupt across the mid-South and environs. By early next week, heavy precipitation (rain and snow) will spread across the Northeast. Continue reading Winter storm potential for the Plains, upper Midwest at Brownfield Ag News.      
CME dairy markets closed mixed Friday
The Dairy markets were mixed on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange Friday. January milk was up $.05 at $13.88. ?February was up $.02 at $13.56. ?March was up $.02 to $13.54. ?April was down $.02 closing at $13.71. ?The rest of the 2018 milk futures were all down except August, which was up two cents. Grade AA Butter was down $.0125 closing at $2.12. ?Seven carloads were sold ranging from $2.1125 to $2.1225. Continue reading CME dairy markets closed mixed Friday at Brownfield Ag News.      
Arkansas dicamba ban finalized
  Arkansas? dicamba ban has been finalized. The state?s legislative council approved the report from the Administrative Rules and Regulations subcommittee which bans the use of dicamba between April 16th and October 31st of this year. Monsanto?s Scott Partridge says the decision is disappointing ? and limits options for growers, ?They will be once again placed at a disadvantage compared to soybean and cotton growers in 33 other states across the United States who will have access to the most modern technology that has proven to be successful in controlling those difficult to manage weeds such as pigweed.? The Arkansas State Plant Board will file the rule with the secretary of state?s office and will become effective 10 days after the filing. Continue reading Arkansas dicamba ban finalized at Brownfield Ag News.      
Cattle futures close lower ahead of week?s direct cash trade
  Chicago Mercantile Exchange live cattle futures were lower on profit taking and the weak midday boxed beef. Direct cash cattle business did not develop during Friday’s session and contracts were unable to follow through on early gains. February was $.05 lower at $121.90 and April was down $.75 at $122.72. Feeder cattle were lower on profit taking, the modestly lower boxed beef at midday, and the firm trade in corn. Continue reading Cattle futures close lower ahead of week’s direct cash trade at Brownfield Ag News.      
Report: ADM makes takeover approach to Bunge
  The Wall Street Journal reports that ADM has made a takeover approach to?Bunge. That could set up a possible bidding war with mining conglomerate Glencore, which has also indicated an interest in purchasing Bunge. The Journal says details of the ADM approach are unclear and it?s possible neither company would succeed in buying Bunge, which had a market value of about nearly ten billion dollars as of Friday afternoon. Continue reading Report: ADM makes takeover approach to Bunge at Brownfield Ag News.      
Closing Grain and Livestock Futures: January 19, 2018
Mar. corn closed at $3.52 and 1/2,?up 1?cent Mar. soybeans closed at $9.77 and 1/4,?up?4 and 1/4?cents Mar. soybean meal closed at $331.60,?up?$3.20 Mar. soybean oil closed at 32.28,?up 5?points Mar. wheat closed at $4.22 and 3/4,?down 2?and?1/2?cents Feb. live cattle closed at $121.90,?down 5?cents Feb. lean hogs closed at $72.07,?down 97?cents Feb. Continue reading Closing Grain and Livestock Futures: January 19, 2018 at Brownfield Ag News.      
Late 90?s hog market crash pushed Minnesota farmer to organic swine
The crash of the hog market in the late 1990?s was the impetus for a west-central Minnesota farmer?s move to organic swine production. Jim VanDerPol and his family own Pastures a Plenty Farm in Chippewa County. He calls 1998 a very bad year. “I had a livestock trailer full of pigs, 60 to 120 pounds, that were going to go for $.08 cents per pound to the Hmong community in St. Continue reading Late 90’s hog market crash pushed Minnesota farmer to organic swine at Brownfield Ag News.      
Enogen vs. food grade: A coexistence issue in Nebraska
PART 1 Coexistence is a growing challenge with more farmers turning to value-added specialty crops and new crop protection products. ?In part one of our four-part series, we look at a situation in Nebraska where growers of food grade white corn have concerns with the increased acres of Enogen, Syngenta?s genetically modified, high-amylase corn for use in ethanol production. Nebraska is the number one producer of food grade white corn in the U.S. Continue reading Enogen vs. food grade: A coexistence issue in Nebraska at Brownfield Ag News.      
New 199A deduction in tax bill creates imbalance
New risks and uncertainty have been created by the Section 199A deduction for agriculture in the new federal tax bill. Tommy Irvine, a CPA with K-Coe Isom, says language that was added late in the formation of the tax reform bill favors cooperatives but puts private handlers at a great disadvantage, ?A grower to selling to a cooperative gets a 20% deduction on their gross income versus, same exact facts, except selling to a private handler gets a 20% deduction on their net income.? One way around that, Irvine says, is for growers to start selling to cooperatives or for private handlers to set up a cooperative, ?Each state does have its own cooperative rules, so you have to make sure you?re meeting those for the state. Continue reading New 199A deduction in tax bill creates imbalance at Brownfield Ag News.      
Super Bowl press row coverage
Brownfield Anchor/Reporter Mark Dorenkamp will be on the ground for Super Bowl press row coverage on Thursday, Feb. 1st ?in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Continue reading Super Bowl press row coverage at Brownfield Ag News.      
More farmers are turning to conservation practices
A crop consultant is confident that the down farm economy will incentivize more farmers to use conservation practices. Northwestern Illinois native Jack Hardwick says more farmers are turning to no-till and strip-till management practices to save money on the farm. “With looking at power costs- tillage, tractor hours, fuel consumption- there’s a big push to get some of those costs down,” he says. “By implementing strip-till and no-till we’re not giving up any yield but we’re saving on a lot of those power costs and it’s helping some farmers get back in black.” He tells Brownfield farmers preparing for the next growing season should implement low-cost practices that have a high return on investment. Continue reading More farmers are turning to conservation practices at Brownfield Ag News.      
World
Phipps: Tax Reform's Changes to Charitable Giving
The recent tax changes from Washington D.C. seems to be enticing some businesses to take action. 
Prices Stable For High-Quality Farmland
Today, Farm Credit Services of America (FCSAmerica), announced that farmland values in four of its key markets stabilized in 2017, a reflection of what it says is continued market demand for high-quality land. The announcement mirrors what the USDA reported in its 2017 Land Values Summary. In that report, cropland prices across the country remained unchanged from the previous year at an average value of 4,090 per acre. FCSAmerica reports that where prices “dropped at local or regional levels, sales generally involved lower quality land.”
$100 Ideas - February 2018
$100 Ideas - February 2018
Despite Growth, Old Perceptions Inhibit Adoption of Biopesticides
There are more than 60 companies offering more than 1,400 biopesticide products, creating a powerful wave that will continue to build ? and for?good reasons. In 2015 alone, the estimated market for biopesticides worldwide was estimated to be $2.7 billion. Even though biopesticides are currently less than 5% of the global crop protection market, the estimated growth is conservatively projected at 14% to 17% annually reaching $4.1 billion in 2018. This makes it the fastest-growing market segment in crop protection worldwide. Bill Dunham, consultant for DunhamTrimmer, a marketing firm focused exclusively on the global biological and natural product plant protection and plant health market sector, predicts that in less than three decades, the market revenue convergence of biopesticides with synthetic pesticides will come to fruition. Latin America, including Brazil, Argentina, and Mexico, leads the growth in biopesticides. DunhamTrimmer?s market research shows the compound annual growth rate (CAGR) for Latin America from 2012-2018 sitting at 27.9% with the next closest markets of North America, Europe, and Asia hovering between 18% and 19%. ?The Latin American market is also enjoying the most investment with major corporations setting up subsidiaries there,? says Dunham. ?The countries most supportive are the ones that have a large developing middle class ? Argentina, Chile, Mexico. In developing countries where people are challenged in meeting basic sustenance, biopesticides are not as important.? Pam Marrone, CEO of Marrone Bio Innovations, explains that Asia and Europe are particularly receptive markets for biopesticides due to strict regulations on residues. ?As more countries become concerned globally about the effect of residues and adopt greater restrictions accordingly, we see a great opportunity for expanding our market share as an industry,? she says. But, according to Dunham, the leading factor propelling biopesticide sales is really consumer concerns about pesticide residues. Supporting his theory is a recent Consumer Reports survey that found pesticides to be a leading cause of concern among food health issues for 85% of Americans. Overcoming Reluctance The upside to biopesticide use is well known throughout the industry, including minimal impact on non-target organisms, reduced development of resistance, organically-approved status for organic growers and consumers? health considerations, yet there is still a great reluctance for their use, especially among row crop growers as well as high-value specialty crops managers. ?One charge frequently leveled at biopesticide products is that they are too expensive,? says Timothy Damico, Executive VP, NAFTA at Certis USA. Like conventional pesticides, some biocontrols do cost more to use per acre. But when biopesticides can solve a problem in the field, the products become cost-effective. For example, here?s a real world scenario of biopesticides: Growers are willing to purchase a low-load copper product that is twice the price of a traditional copper fungicide to solve re-entry interval and crop phytotoxicity challenges. Another leading charge is farmers? risk aversion with respect to new, untested crop protection technologies. Because conventional pesticides have been the mainstay of crop protection for more than 50 years, there is a wealth of experience that gives farmers and growers confidence in their effectiveness. STK Stockton, an Israel-based company that develops and markets botanical-based solutions for food protection, finds a fair share of farmers reluctant to using its biologicals. ?We find the main reasons for that are the perceptions of such products as being less effective, and at the same time, more expensive, which is usually not true,? says STK Stockton CEO Guy Elitzur. ?The work that we do in the field showing great level of efficacy in conventional programs together with the cutting-edge science we are bringing from our R&D base in Israel, assists us in accelerating the adoption process and bringing more farmers to use our products.? ?Plant pathogens and pests would need to undergo immense physical, biochemical, physiological, and genetic changes to develop resistance to biopesticides,? explains Matthew S. Krause, Ph.D., BioWorks Product Development Manager, Plant Disease Management. ?Therefore, the loss of effective biopesticides due to development of resistant pests and plant pathogens is highly unlikely.? Embedded Skepticism Marrone explains that biopesticides companies have greater hurdles to overcome in terms of educating their growers and distributors. ?Our industry still battles embedded skepticism about biopesticides, and it?s incumbent upon us to aggressively and continuously educate our potential customers about the benefits of our products,? she says. ?Biopesticides are now performing on par with their chemical counterparts and also enhance programs (better yields and quality) when integrated in, yet that?s a message that is not always conveyed strongly enough. We also have to work hard to support and supplement our distribution networks.? STK Stockton finds that bringing biopesticide products like its flagship Timorex Gold into any market is a long and complicated education and training process. This plant extract-based biofungicide is used by farmers in over 30 countries, including the US, China, Spain, Australia and all throughout Latin America for about 15 different fruits and vegetables, coffee, rice and more. One such tactic more palatable to crop growers? risk aversion is product hybridization. STK Stockton is one such pesticide company introducing hybrid products combining biopesticides with the traditional. Earlier this year, it introduced its first hybrid fungicide, Regev, with initial distribution in Latin America. STK Stockton finds that row crop farmers are facing real challenges with resistance to some of their pesticide chemicals? active ingredients. ?The grower can use the biopesticide very easily, just like his other traditional synthetic pesticides,? explains Elitzur. ?Many row crop farmers are familiar with the known chemicals? AIs, feeling more comfortable with a product that combines a known AI together with an innovative biological one. The hybrid product can be used flexibly in various places over a conventional spraying program, thereby lowering the general chemical load and managing resistance challenges.? Elitzur looks into his crystal ball a few decades from now: ?When the biopesticides and synthetic pesticides markets converge in a little more than three decades, perpetuity is defined as the need for ?perpetual production of food.? The need for perpetuity in the food chain is a mainstay in sustainable agriculture programs. Ensuring perpetuity in the years to come will require ?bridge solutions,? enabling growers to move from a toxic pesticides system to a healthier, zero residue, biological-based system.?
India: Bayer Launches New Rice Hybrid Seed
Bayer has launched a first-of-its-kind hybrid rice seed, Arize AZ 8433 DT with strong inbuilt tolerance to Brown Plant Hopper (BPH) and Bacterial Leaf Blight (BLB). BPH is the most destructive pest in rice growing areas of India and caused huge losses to farmers in the 2017 kharif season. “Though there are many chemical solutions available to control BPH, these have not been able to control the insect effectively in cases of medium to heavy infestation. The usual practice is to spray when the insect build-up has already happened. As an alternative approach, Bayer has developed hybrid seeds, where pest tolerance has been achieved in the seed through innovative technologies based on marker-assisted breeding. The result is Arize AZ 8433 DT,” a company release stated. Read more at EconomicTimesIndiaTimes.com.
Morning Market Audio 1/22/18
Precision Farming Toolkit for 2018 Needs Stronger Risk Analysis
If 2017?s dicamba controversy demonstrated anything, it?s that risk-management solutions better be part of the precision farming toolkit that crop protection manufacturers carry with them into 2018. For agrichemical manufacturers, the still-unfolding case of the herbicide causing damage to millions of acres of soybeans and other U.S. crops provides a headline-grabbing reminder that with the rise of data-driven precision farming technologies come escalating risks that need to be analyzed and mitigated. Much of the buzz about precision agriculture today surrounds technology in the farm field. For chemical manufacturers to build and sustain a strong presence in precision farming, they need dynamic digital tools to analyze and mitigate the risks. Here are three areas in which manufacturers would be wise to focus in the year ahead ? and beyond: 1. Upstream. This past June, Monsanto and Atomwise, a company that uses artificial intelligence to develop new medicines and agricultural compounds, announced a partnership to use AI and predictive tools to quickly and cost-effectively zero in on molecules that look promising for crop protection. As promising as upstream advancements like this are for the precision farming industry, they also present chemical manufacturers with new risks. With the ability to develop crop protection products more quickly, manufacturers also need tools to quickly test and analyze those products before beginning production to ensure they meet relevant standards and regulations. A high-performance analytics platform with environment/health/safety management tools can prove invaluable to chemical manufacturers, particularly if it?s equipped with a robust determination engine that quickly and concisely evaluates new chemical products for compliance at every level and across borders and jurisdictions. Agribusiness is no stranger to upstream risk-mitigation tools. Some companies have made it regular practice to check the ingredients in proposed formula changes against regulatory requirements like REACH (the European Union?s Registration, Evaluation, Authorization and Restriction of Chemicals program) before moving them to production. 2. Downstream. Agchem manufacturers need to apply risk tools downstream as well as upstream. Given the complex and highly fluid regulatory environment surrounding crop protection, it?s imperative that manufacturers find tools that enable them to conduct stringent risk analysis beyond the R&D stage, as part of the go-to-market and product lifecycle planning phases. These types of solutions are available today. Some use collaborative tools and dashboards that provide insight into potential risks to various parties along the supply chain, fostering strategic cooperation on risk-mitigation strategies. Some alert manufacturers to regulatory changes that could impact sales. Some help companies spot earlier-than-expected weed resistance to a particular herbicide. And some give them predictive sales and real-time demand-sensing capabilities. If you can find a platform that offers all or most of these capabilities, all the better. It?s also important to have tools that provide real-time actionable insight into activity on your website, and in particular about how your customers are behaving. There?s lots of strategically relevant information to be gleaned from these interactions. The rise of robotic technology in precision farming?puts a premium on downstream risk analysis and mitigation tools. You?ll likely hear a lot more about ?agribot? technology in 2018 for its ability to add precision, and subtract cost, from farming. But there are new risks involved when autonomous farm equipment applies pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers to crops. 3. In the regulatory environment. Uncertainty and flux reign in the regulatory realm, and the merger and acquisitions frenzy in the chemical manufacturing sector is a big reason why. Regulatory agencies with oversight over the wheeling and dealing are requiring agchem companies to sell off entire product portfolios, changing competitive landscapes globally, regionally and locally. Manufacturers need tools to monitor these developments so they can adjust their precision farming decision-making accordingly. Approval processes for new products are long and unpredictable. And government regulation also is impacting markets for GMO products. The right predictive analytics modeling tools can help answer questions like that. The precision farming landscape heading into 2018 is fraught with shape-shifting risks, not just in the U.S. but around the world. The more certainty that dynamic, data-driven solutions can offer to chemical manufacturers, the better positioned they will be to push the precision farming movement forward.
What's Ahead for Land Values in 2018
Farmland values seemed to defy logic in 2017. Numerous factors suggested prices would creep lower—yet they stabilized in many areas. “Despite a slow ag economy and mostly stagnant grain prices, good farmland in much of the Midwest held steady to even increasing slightly as the year progressed,” says Jim Farrell, president of Farmer’s National Company in Omaha, Neb. Demand for farmland stayed strong, partially due to the low supply of land and strong buyer interest. “The amount of land for sale is still well matched to the number of potential buyers,” Farrell says. “While we may see fewer bidders at an auction or even for a private treaty land sale, there is still enough interest, especially at the farmer level, to keep this market firm.” Even though 2017 was a tough year in terms of farmer profitability, many are still in the market to buy land, says RD Schrader, president of Schrader Real Estate and Auction Company in Columbia City, Ind. “The fluidity of the market was aided by cash built up by farmers over some very profitable recent years,” he says. Additionally, the market was supported by the attraction of investors of all sorts to the farmland market and increasing spending for recreational land. In most areas, high-quality farmland values showed strength. But lower-quality land saw more downward pressure, says Eric Wilkinson, managing broker for Hertz Farm Management, Kankakee, Ill. As a result, Wilkinson says the best way to sum up 2017 in terms of farmland values is: variable. “There has been more variability this year, as far as where land values were strong and where they were weak,” he says. “Some locations in the Midwest are showing values higher than what we have seen in recent years, while others are lower and more in line with our expectations.”   2018 And Beyond. While 2017 turned out to be better-than-expected for land values, economics will likely come into play in 2018, pushing prices lower, says Steve Bruere, president of People’s Company in Clive, Iowa. “Farmers buy 70% to 80% of all farmland,” Bruere says. “But when margins are tighter, bankers get nervous. If farmers’ margins continue to get tighter, they will be less dominant buyers. As a result, investors could play a larger role. But investors and other buyers won’t be willing to pay as high of prices as farmers.” For the winter months, Farrell expects land values to remain stable. “But looking longer term, I feel that land values have not hit the bottom yet,” he says.  Increasing interest rates will eventually have a negative impact on land values, Farrell says, as would an increase in farmland sales. “The slow farm economy could push more land on the market as some farmers look to sell a parcel or two to shore up their balance sheet,” he says. “Any increase in land on the market will likely pressure values at this point. So far land value declines have been gradual and for now I don’t see that velocity changing.” The upside to a steady farmland market is good buying opportunities, especially compared to the rapid runup land values saw a few years ago. “There have been opportunities to buy land at a good value,” Bruere says. “You are subject to some roller coasters in prices in the short term, but it’s always a good time to buy—if you can hold it. There hasn’t been a 10-year period where land won’t be worth more at the end of it than at the beginning.”  Key Factors Affecting Land Values  What will influence land values next year? Keep an eye on these issues, advise leaders and analysts at sales and farmland management companies. • Available cash by farmers • The supply of land on the market • Commodity prices • Global and U.S. policy changes (especially around trade, ethanol and taxes) • Interest rates • Optimism in rural America • The global demand for food • The number of interested land buyers
Stop Nitrate at the Border
Edge-of-field tools save nutrients for crops and keep them out of water supplies
Steve Cubbage: Is Your Farm Working Toward Digitizing Data?
Farmers are used to wearing many hats. Throughout a typical day, week, month or year they might assume the role of biologist, economist, heavy-equipment operator, systems engineer and other titles all part of “simply being a farmer.”
Livestock Roundup Weekend Edition (1.21.18)
A late cash trade on Friday could shake things up in this weeks trade.
Financial Due Diligence
Focus on these five areas to mind your bottom line in 2018
Grain Express Weekend Edition (1.20.18)
What last weeks price action could mean for next weeks prices.