Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Wednesday March 26 Ag News

Bruce Anderson, UNL Extension Forage Specialist

Where do you spread manure?  What crops benefit most from manure application?  One good choice is a field about to be seeded to alfalfa.

Applying manure before seeding alfalfa may seem counter productive since alfalfa is not likely to benefit from the nitrogen in the manure.  But manure also is rich in phosphorus, potassium, sulfur, and many micronutrients that alfalfa needs in large quantities.

Research studies show that applying as much as 12,000 gallons or 50 tons of dry manure per acre before planting alfalfa can boost alfalfa yield more than commercial fertilizers at the same nutrient levels.  And, yield increases occur on both low and high fertility soils with manure.  Sometimes higher fertility soils do not respond to commercial fertilizer.  Other factors like improved soil tilth, increased soil microbial activity, micronutrients, and early nitrogen availability may be the reason manure increases alfalfa yield so well.

Do not heavily apply manure prior to alfalfa seeding if you also plant a companion crop like oats that you plan to harvest for grain.  It is likely to lodge and smother much alfalfa.  If you cut the companion crop early for hay, though, it will be alright.

Use a soil test and a manure test to determine how much manure to apply.  Then mix manure well into the soil using tillage, making sure to prepare a firm seedbed so new alfalfa seedlings will emerge rapidly and vigorously.  Also, plan your weed control program carefully since manure can also stimulate weed seedlings.  Proper timing of seeding, firm seedbeds, and herbicides or clipping can control weed pressure.

Looking for a place to spread manure?  A heavy dose before planting alfalfa can pay big dividends.


Monsanto Company has announced that six new recipients will be awarded research grants as part of the Corn Rootworm Knowledge Research Program.  The program, which started in early 2013 and recently was extended to 2016, provides merit-based awards of up to $250,000 per award per year for up to three years for outstanding research projects that address specific aspects of corn rootworm biology, genomics and management issues.

“The program is extremely beneficial to the research and academic community as its goal is not to examine product-specific issues, but rather look at the broader challenges farmers face when dealing with corn rootworm,” said Dr. Spencer, entomologist with the Illinois Natural History Survey, who received one of this year’s grants. “I’m honored to receive this grant, which will help further my research into the behavioral, physiological and ecological factors that contribute to the western corn rootworm’s adaptations to a variety of pest management strategies.”

The CRW Knowledge Research Program is guided by a 10-person Advisory Committee that is co-chaired by Dr. Steve Pueppke, Associate Vice President for Research and Graduate Studies and AgBioResearch Director at Michigan State University, and Dr. Dusty Post, Monsanto’s global insect management lead. Additional committee members include experts from academia and agricultural organizations, and were selected based on their expertise in corn rootworm biology and insect management practices.

“The valuable research that is being generated through this program is continuing to improve our understanding of this challenging pest and provide economical, practical and sustainable solutions for farmers,” said Post.

The six awards granted focus on a number of items from evaluating how best to manage corn rootworm under current production practices to evaluating strategies to delay the onset of resistance evolution. The award recipients are:
    Joseph Spencer, University of Illinois
    Nicholas Miller, University of Nebraska-Lincoln

    Paul Mitchell, University of Wisconsin
    Blair Siegfried, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
    Douglas Golick, University of Nebraska-Lincoln

    Mike Caprio, Mississippi State University
    Christian Krupke, Purdue University

A listing of the winners and background on their projects is available on the Monsanto Corn Rootworm Knowledge Program Web page.

“The Corn Rootworm Knowledge grant has enabled field and laboratory research on western corn rootworm that would not have been possible without this support,” said Aaron Gassmann of Iowa State University and Kenneth Ostlie of the University of Minnesota, two recipients of last year’s grants. “Bt corn for management of western corn rootworm is a valuable tool for farmers in the Corn Belt. Information gained through this research will help to preserve the efficacy of Bt corn for management of western corn rootworm, and will enhance the ability of farmers to effectively manage this pest.”

Smith Honors Nebraska Producers on House Floor

Congressman Adrian Smith (R-NE) today honored Nebraska agriculture producers in a speech delivered on the floor of the House of Representatives as part of National Agriculture Week.  Remarks as prepared:

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I rise today to recognize National Agriculture Week, a time to celebrate the extraordinary diversity, abundance, and evolution of American agriculture.

In 1960, the average U.S. farmer fed 26 people; today, Mr. Speaker, the average U.S. farmer feeds 155 people, using less land, water, energy, and fertilizer.

Thanks to agriculture research which has given rise to exciting new technologies and techniques, America’s producers are adopting practices which allow them to meet food, fiber, feed and fuel demands and preserve our natural resources for generations to come. 

From high-tech irrigation tools to modified crops, growers are producing a more stable, safe, quality and affordable food supply.

As we recognize National Agriculture Week, we have much to celebrate and many challenges ahead.

Knowing the forward-thinking nature of producers combined with these exciting advances in agriculture, I am confident we will meet all demands of our growing world.

As co-chair of the Modern Agriculture Caucus and Rural Caucus, I am committed to ensuring federal policy reflects sound science and strives to compliment, not undermine, this innovation. 

Video of Congressman Smith’s speech is available at:


Results from a five-year on-farm research project are helping  a northwest Iowa farmer keep valuable land in production as well as reduce nitrogen runoff into shallow wells that supply water for a nearby community of 7,000 people. The project also shows how research can be used to expand farmer options outlined in the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy.

The project brought together local landowners, officials from the city of Sioux Center, the Sioux County Soil and Water Conservation District, state and federal service providers and professors from nearby Dordt College. This unique partnership looked at five alternative cropping systems and how nitrogen moves through the soil over time. It was funded by the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture and the Iowa Department of Natural Resources’ Source Water Protection Program for Targeted Community Water Supplies. Findings were presented at a March 20 public meeting attended by more than 50 people.

At the forefront, offering land and labor, was Matt Schuiteman of AJS Farms, whose family has been farming the land used in this study for more than 30 years. Beginning with the Leopold Center research grant in 2009, Schuiteman worked with Dordt College environmental studies professor Robb De Haan. They designed and implemented five experimental cropping systems on roughly 40 acres of land adjacent to and above a bank of shallow wells that provide more than 50 percent of the drinking water for Sioux Center.

“The idea was to use perennial crops and cover crops to keep the nitrogen in the upper layers of the soil and available for the next season, and apply just what the crops need when they need it,” De Haan said.  

The systems were designed for standard farm equipment ranged from continuous corn with a winter rye cover crop to perennial grass for hay (common for wellheads but generally a low-income choice for the landowner). Three other systems used rotations of oat-alfalfa-corn; oat/red clover-corn; and soybean-winter wheat-corn. The perennial grass and alfalfa systems receive no commercial nitrogen applications; other systems received nitrogen fertilizer as needed.

Researchers collected 6-foot-deep soil samples from each plot every fall, and divided these into 1-foot segments for analysis of nitrate N concentration. The information was used to construct nitrate N profiles for each plot, and to track nitrate N movement over time. Results illustrate opportunities for farming the land as well as managing water quality.

As expected, the continuous corn with rye left high levels of residual nitrate N in the top 2 ft. of soil. The grass hay averaged five-fold fewer residuals for every year and at every depth, proving to be the most effective system for reducing nitrate N escape into local drinking water.  However, wheat with soybean and corn performed better than continuous corn with rye. Adding a tap-rooted legume, such as red clover or alfalfa, to corn dramatically dropped residual nitrate N levels throughout the profile.

Schuiteman said he was surprised at the effectiveness of alfalfa in managing both the amount and distribution of nitrates in the soil profile. But he was disappointed that wheat and oats were less effective in cleaning up nitrate at the lowest depth.  Based on the findings, he is planning to implement a four-year rotation of two years of alfalfa followed by two years of corn. Oats may be included for weed and erosion management during alfalfa establishment.

Dordt College agriculture professor Ron Vos will analyze profitability of the systems using ISU annual custom rates and prices. Preliminary analysis comparing two of the systems, oat-alfalfa-corn and continuous corn with a winter rye cover crop, showed the continuous corn-rye with the highest average profit per acre but also the most variable for 2009 through 2012. Full results from the project are expected later this year.

For more information and links to a video about the project, go to the Leopold Center website,     

Pre-World Pork Expo tours provide snapshot of U.S. agriculture

The National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) has developed two tours in conjunction with the 2014 World Pork Expo for visitors who want a further glimpse into U.S agriculture. A two-day tour, June 2-3, will feature a broad agricultural overview, from crop and pork production, to farm equipment and shipping. A one-day tour will highlight agribusiness in central Iowa. Both options include meals on tour days and free admission to World Pork Expo, the world’s largest pork-specific trade show.
“These tours give visitors first-hand exposure to U.S. agriculture and farming methods for both grain and pork production,” says Greg Thornton, NPPC director of producer services. “They provide an excellent snapshot of the Midwest, which many feel is the breadbasket of the world.”

A look at Midwest agriculture

The two-day tour, underwritten by the Illinois Soybean Association, will venture into eastern Iowa, western Illinois and northern Indiana, giving visitors an up-close look at U.S. corn and soybean production. A highlight will be an afternoon at the Pig Adventure at Fair Oaks Farms, which shows visitors modern pork production in action. After an overnight stay at Harrah’s Joliet in historic Joliet, Ill., Day 2 will include a barge trip on the Mississippi River — a vital waterway for shipping U.S. agricultural goods around the world, as well as a visit to the John Deere Harvester Works.

The one-day tour on Tuesday, June 3, will feature insights into crop research and production at DuPont Pioneer, and advances in swine nutrition and feed ingredients at Kemin’s new research center. Leading Midwestern pork producers will join the group for lunch at an Iowa institution, The Machine Shed Restaurant. A stop at the John Deere Des Moines Works will provide a look at equipment used by both livestock and crop farmers. A visit to a new, innovative Hy-Vee grocery store will provide a look at the U.S. retail food sector.

Tuesday evening, both tour groups will have dinner with National Pork Board representatives at the organization’s headquarters, with a chance to learn about NPB’s research, education and promotional programs — including international activities.

“These tours are a particularly good opportunity for visitors from other countries to get a perspective on U.S. agricultural businesses and practices,” says Howard Hill, NPPC president and Iowa pork producer. “Then, as they participate in World Pork Expo, they can apply their real-world insights to the products and technologies on display within the trade show, as well as the seminars and other educational activities.”

Sign up early to secure a spot

The registration deadline for both tours is Friday, May 2. The fee for the one-day tour is US$175 per person. The cost of the two-day tour, which includes hotel accommodations for the night of June 2, is US$400 per person. Space for both tours is limited, so don’t delay.

Both tours will start and end at the Holiday Inn Des Moines-Airport. Included in the packages are bus transportation and three meals during each day of the tour. Registration also includes a three-day pass to World Pork Expo, and access to free transportation between the hotel and Expo grounds, June 4-6.

For more information and to register for these tours, go to and select “Attendees” on the blue registration button. Then, scroll down to "Industry Tours."

The website also has the latest details about room availability at the official Expo hotels, a schedule of activities, and answers to frequently asked questions about traveling to World Pork Expo. Regular updates are available when you connect with World Pork Expo on Facebook, follow World Pork Expo on Twitter (#NPPCWPX) or download the official app by searching for “World Pork” in the Apple Store, Android Market or Blackberry’s App World.

World Pork Expo takes place June 4-6 at the Iowa State Fairgrounds in Des Moines. More than 400 commercial exhibits will be on display from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Wednesday, June 4, and Thursday, June 5, as well as from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Friday, June 6. The swine breeding stock sales will take place on Saturday, June 7, from 8 a.m. until they're completed (at approximately noon).

World Pork Expo, the world's largest pork-specific trade show, is brought to you by NPPC. On behalf of its members, NPPC develops and defends export markets, fights for reasonable legislation and regulation, and informs and educates legislators. For more information, visit

Weekly Ethanol Production for 3/21/2014

According to EIA data, ethanol production averaged 885,000 barrels per day (b/d)—or 37.17 million gallons daily. That is down 6,000 b/d from the week before. The four-week average for ethanol production stood at 885,000 b/d for an annualized rate of 13.57 billion gallons.

Stocks of ethanol rose to 15.7 million barrels, halting a five-week slide. Stocks were up 2.5% increase from the previous week.

Imports of ethanol were zero b/d for the 25th consecutive week.

Gasoline demand for the week averaged 378.1 million gallons daily, its highest level of the year. At 857,000 b/d, refiner/blender input of ethanol also hit its highest point of the year.

Expressed as a percentage of daily gasoline demand, daily ethanol production was 9.83%.

On the co-products side, ethanol producers were using 13.419 million bushels of corn to produce ethanol and 98,769 metric tons of livestock feed, 88,053 metric tons of which were distillers grains. The rest is comprised of corn gluten feed and corn gluten meal. Additionally, ethanol producers were providing 4.61 million pounds of corn oil daily.

House Passes Legislation to Provide Public Input in National Monument Designations

Today, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 1459, Ensuring Public Involvement in the Creation of National Monuments (EPIC) Act with a vote of 222-201. The Public Lands Council (PLC) and National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) applaud this action to give local governments, ranchers and other stakeholders a voice in the national monument designation process.

Introduced by Rep. Rob Bishop (R-Utah), this bill would prevent the President from making vast, unilateral special land designations without thorough public review of the potential environmental, social and economic impacts.

Under the Antiquities Act of 1906, as interpreted today, the President has the unfettered authority to make “national monument” designations. The EPIC Act would amend the Antiquities Act to require potential monument designations of 5,000 acres or more are given full review under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). NEPA reviews include in-depth analysis of the impacts of a proposed action, as well as the opportunity for local government and public involvement in the decision-making process.

While intended to protect small, defined areas that are historically or scientifically unique and important, abuse of the Antiquities Act by Presidents has led to vast monument designations that are outside the original intent of the law. Large monument designations have had devastating impacts on local economies and culture due to the restrictions they place on productive uses of the land. Applying NEPA to large proposed designations would ensure that the public was made aware of those impacts and give the opportunity for input.

Currently, minor federal agency decisions regarding livestock grazing are subject NEPA analysis, but national monument designations that could encompass millions of acres are not. Brice Lee, Colorado rancher and president of PLC, said the EPIC Act would rectify this inequity.

“This legislation will help protect our members’ livelihoods by preventing rash, oversized national monument designations that impose new regulations and restrictions on multiple uses such as livestock grazing,” said Lee. “The Antiquities Act is being abused and utilized to subvert the role of our elected representatives in making impactful decisions on the management of our federal lands. Congress enacted this law with the best of intentions—now it must be fixed to respond to the continued abuse.”

The EPIC Act would also allow a President no more than one monument designation per state, per term. While it would not require NEPA review for designations smaller than 5,000 acres, it would place a 3-year expiration date on those designations unless the designation is approved by Congress. Additionally, it would require any monument designation to be followed by a study estimating long-term management costs and potential loss in federal and state revenue. Finally, it would not allow monuments to include private property without the informed written consent of the affected private property owner.

NCBA President Bob McCan added that the negative impacts of monument designations on ranchers has unintended consequences, not just for local economies but for the environment as well.

“Grazing encourages healthy plant growth, cuts down on fuel loads that lead to catastrophic wildfires, and supplies water sources to wildlife. Keeping ranchers in business is good policy for conservation of both private and public land,” the Texas cattleman said. “By preventing unilateral de facto wilderness designations by the executive branch, the EPIC Act will promote greater stability for the livestock industry. It is common sense and only fair to hold the President to the same standards that all other agencies and entities must live by when they make decisions on behalf of the federal government.”

PLC and NCBA encourage the Senate to take up the bill without delay.

2012 Drought Affects Louis Dreyfus

Agricultural trading giant Louis Dreyfus Commodities BV Wednesday reported a sharp dip in profits last year thanks to the aftereffects of a severe drought in the U.S. in 2012.

The company, which together with Archer Daniels Midland, Bunge and Cargill dominates the global trade in agricultural commodities, said net income fell to $640 million last year, compared with $877 million including discontinued operations in 2012.

A poor harvest of grains in the U.S. two years ago created a difficult environment in the first half of 2013 as tight supply limited trading opportunities, Louis Dreyfus said. By contrast, oversupply and unusual weather conditions in Brazil pressured the company's so-called Tropicals segment, which trades coffee, cotton, sugar and juice.

Louis Dreyfus's results reflect a testing year for the big agricultural traders. In February, Archer Daniels Midland also reported a dip in profits in the fourth quarter after earnings from its grain-trading unit dropped by about a third. Bunge swung to a profit in the fourth quarter, but sales in its agribusiness, sugar and bioenergy segments declined.

Executive chairman of Louis Dreyfus, Serge Schoen, described 2013 as "more difficult" than 2012 when the company recorded record profits. Overall, Schoen said the results were "very good," citing an 11% increase in revenue and a 10% increase in shipped volumes.

Louis Dreyfus estimates it accounts for around 10% of global trade flows in agricultural products, and has plans to double in size over the next four years. Its sales have already quadrupled since 2006.

No comments:

Post a Comment