Friday, June 24, 2022

Thursday June 23 Ag News

Study eyes reducing sleep deprivation dangers in ag work

As any agricultural worker will readily admit, occasional sleep deprivation is all part of the job.

But for farmers and ranchers who routinely work around livestock and machinery, bad things can happen when sleepiness leads to lack of concentration, slower reaction times or distractibility.

Susan Harris, Nebraska Extension educator, Institute of Agricultural and Natural Resources, and Amanda Prokasky, assistant professor of education and child development at the University of Nebraska Medical Center’s Munroe-Meyer Institute, recently completed a pilot project to determine the need for and value of educational interventions to improve sleep among agricultural workers to avoid accidents and injury.

The project was funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, through a subaward from the Central States Center for Agricultural Safety and Health in UNMC’s College of Public Health.

Harris and Prokasky found that during peak seasons — planting, harvesting and calving — farmers and ranchers spent about 25 fewer minutes in bed and 28 fewer minutes actually sleeping each night.

“Half an hour less sleep in one night is no big deal,” Prokasky said. “But when you start subtracting 30 minutes of sleep every night for four to six weeks during a busy season, that sleep deficit can become pretty significant.”

From January 2021 to February 2022, researchers collected sleep data from 40 agricultural workers in Nebraska and four other Midwestern states to investigate the quantity and quality of sleep among farmers and ranchers during peak and non-peak seasons. Participants each wore an Actigraph Spectrum Plus — a wrist device that monitors and records continuous data on daily motion and activity levels — for one week during harvest or planting season, then again during a slower, more routine week.

The gathered data enabled the researchers to compare the amount of nighttime sleep, bedtimes and wake times, and the number and length of night wakings between busy and slower weeks. Participants also completed post-project surveys.

Harris said minor changes in work and sleep habits during peak busy seasons could help offset the risk of potential accidents or injury. For example, taking brief breaks or naps during planting and harvesting season, or dairy farmers slightly changing their milking schedule, could make a difference.

Harris and Prokasky shared their findings in March at the Agricultural Safety and Health Council of America conference. They also networked with other researchers who expressed interest in collaborating on similar studies in other states and at other universities.

“We learned a lot of interesting things and learned what to do differently moving forward,” Prokasky said. “Now it’s about finding additional collaborators to take this to the next step.”

Webinar: Breaking Through Resistance in Family Business Discussions

With: Dr. Alexander Chan, Mental and Behavioral Health Specialist, University of Maryland
Presented by the Center for Agricultural Profitability at the University of Nebraska

Learn how to effectively respond to emotions in family business discussions in order to save time, reduce stress, and increase cooperation around business matters. This webinar will be especially useful for talking with loved ones when there is a stalemate or resistance in important conversations.

Details and registration information can be found here:

Total Red Meat Production Up 4 Percent from Last May

Commercial red meat production for the United States totaled 4.48 billion pounds in May, up 4 percent from the 4.30 billion pounds produced in May 2021.

Beef production, at 2.29 billion pounds, was 3 percent above the previous year. Cattle slaughter totaled 2.81 million head, up 4 percent from May 2021. The average live weight was down 9 pounds from the previous year, at 1,351 pounds.

Veal production totaled 4.4 million pounds, 22 percent above May a year ago. Calf slaughter totaled 27,400 head, up 8 percent from May 2021. The average live weight was up 30 pounds from last year, at 279 pounds.

Pork production totaled 2.18 billion pounds, up 5 percent from the previous year. Hog slaughter totaled 10.0 million head, up 4 percent from May 2021. The average live weight was up 3 pounds from the previous year, at 291 pounds.

Lamb and mutton production, at 10.8 million pounds, was down 3 percent from May 2021. Sheep slaughter totaled 164,300 head, 10 percent below last year. The average live weight was 130 pounds, up 9 pounds from May a year ago.

By State                (million lbs   -   % May '21)

Iowa ...............:               688.1            108       
Kansas ............:               491.5            103       
Nebraska ........:               634.4            102       

January to May 2022 commercial red meat production was 23.0 billion pounds, down 1 percent from 2021. Accumulated beef production was up 2 percent from last year, veal was up 3 percent, pork was down 4 percent from last year, and lamb and mutton production was down 9 percent.

USDA Cold Storage May 2022 Highlights

Total red meat supplies in freezers on May 31, 2022 were down slightly from the previous month but up 20 percent from last year. Total pounds of beef in freezers were down 2 percent from the previous month but up 25 percent from last year. Frozen pork supplies were up 2 percent from the previous month and up 17 percent from last year. Stocks of pork bellies were down 3 percent from last month but up 55 percent from last year.

Total frozen poultry supplies on May 31, 2022 were up 2 percent from the previous month and up 1 percent from a year ago. Total stocks of chicken were down 2 percent from the previous month but up 3 percent from last year. Total pounds of turkey in freezers were up 13 percent from last month but down 4 percent from May 31, 2021.

Total natural cheese stocks in refrigerated warehouses on May 31, 2022 were up 2 percent from the previous month and up 4 percent from May 31, 2021. Butter stocks were up 8 percent from last month but down 22 percent from a
year ago.

Total frozen fruit stocks on May 31, 2022 were up 2 percent from last month and up 12 percent from a year ago. Total frozen vegetable stocks were down 7 percent from last month but up slightly from a year ago.

May Egg Production Down 3 Percent

United States egg production totaled 8.98 billion during May 2022, down 3 percent from last year. Production included 7.65 billion table eggs, and 1.33 billion hatching eggs, of which 1.23 billion were broiler-type and 94.3 million were egg-type. The average number of layers during May 2022 totaled 366 million, down 5 percent from last year. May egg production per 100 layers was 2,453 eggs, up 2 percent from May 2021.
Total layers in the United States on June 1, 2022 totaled 365 million, down 5 percent from last year. The 365 million layers consisted of 298 million layers producing table or market type eggs, 63.9 million layers producing broiler-type hatching eggs, and 3.48 million layers producing egg-type hatching eggs. Rate of lay per day on June 1, 2022, averaged 78.8 eggs per 100 layers, up 2 percent from June 1, 2021.


All layers in Nebraska during May 2022 totaled 5.22 million, down from 7.91 million the previous year, according to the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service. Nebraska egg production during May totaled 129 million eggs, down from 198 million in 2021. May egg production per 100 layers was 2,472 eggs, compared to 2,503 eggs in 2021.

IOWA:  Iowa egg production during May 2022 was 913 million eggs, up 4 percent from last month but down 28 percent from last year, according to the latest Chickens and Eggs report from the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service. The average number of all layers on hand during May 2022 was 35.1 million, up 1 percent from last month but down 28 percent from the same month last year. Eggs per 100 layers for May were 2,602, up 3 percent from last month and up slightly from last May.

New Pork Industry Sustainability Tool and Fact Sheet Available

Sustainability is more than a buzzword for pork producers. It offers a focus to set new goals and standards in their operations and, consequently, the swine industry as a whole. Improving sustainability of pork production involves fully understanding how the environment and production practices interact, and the use of a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) helps provide that information.

A new fact sheet from the Iowa Pork Industry Center and Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, "Sustainability in the Swine Industry: Understanding the Life Cycle Assessment," looks at three LCAs that have been created for the US swine industry. Lead author and graduate research assistant Erika Johnson said the LCAs focus on carbon emissions, land occupation and water usage.

“An LCA is a holistic approach to analyzing the cumulative environmental impacts of different phases of swine production, and doing so in a manner that’s easily understood by producers and consumers,” she said. “The overall footprint estimated for a 4-oz. serving of pork is 2.48 lb. of carbon dioxide, 9.75 sq. ft. of land per year, 8.2 gal. of water.”

Lance Baumgard, animal science professor, and Jason Ross, animal science professor and Iowa Pork Industry Center director, are the other authors of this fact sheet available from the Iowa State University Extension and Outreach Store as a free download.

Johnson also developed a spreadsheet tool for producers to evaluate and estimate impacts of different levels of efficiency on environmental emissions.

“The Wean-to-Finish Pork Sustainability Calculator allows producers to understand how specific improvements in finishing can influence the environmental footprint of that barn,” she said. “They can change production parameters such as mortality and feed efficiency and see the effect of those changes.”

You can download the calculator at no charge from the IPIC website

This Excel-based calculator provides changes in percentages and weight of carbon dioxide based on baseline and target values entered by the user. It offers insight into the level of greenhouse gas production at the individual barn level to enable continuous improvement and can be used at any time to gauge potential change implications.

Mensing Joins Ag Engineering Team with ISU Extension and Outreach

Almost every aspect of agriculture involves engineering. Whether it’s buildings to hold livestock, farm equipment, storage facilities for manure or grain, or something else – engineering is almost inseparable.

Helping Iowans with their engineering needs is Tony Mensing, the newest field agricultural engineer with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. Mensing began the position June 1 and will serve Iowans in southwest Iowa.

His background includes agricultural engineering for the Natural Resources Conservation Service, as well as the Vermeer Corp. and Musco. He earned his bachelor’s degree in agricultural engineering from Iowa State in 2007 and most recently worked as an ag lender.

“I enjoy the process of taking a problem people have and working through it to find a solution,” said Mensing. “Sometimes you find something that hasn’t been considered before and sometimes you find that there’s not a good solution, and you need to do something different.”

Mensing continues to farm with his family, which includes his wife, Jennifer, as well as his brothers. He grew up on the family farm and came to appreciate extension during his time in 4-H.

He said extension already has many great resources available to help Iowans with their engineering needs, and many times farmers simply need help finding the resources.

“I first met Tony as an ag engineering student. He impressed me then,” said Jay Harmon, associate dean in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and director for agriculture and natural resources with ISU Extension and Outreach. “Since that time, he’s worked in positions that honed his professional skills as well as his people skills. He will be part of a strong team that makes a profound impact in serving southwest Iowa and the entire state.”

Mensing is based in Adair County. He can be reached at 641-743-8412 or


Hinson Livestock Gene Editing Amendment Passes House Appropriations with Strong, Bipartisan Support

The American Soybean Association applauded the passage of an amendment offered by Rep. Ashley Hinson (R-IA) to the Fiscal Year 2023 House Agriculture, Rural Development, and FDA Appropriations bill regarding livestock gene editing. The amendment passed the full House Appropriations Committee on voice vote with broad, bipartisan support, including with favorable remarks from Subcommittee Chairman Sanford Bishop (D-GA), Ranking Member Andy Harris (R-MD), and Congresswoman Cheri Bustos (D-IL). The ASA-supported amendment directs that as the U.S. Department of Agriculture moves forward to implement its own livestock gene editing and biotechnology regulations, it must consult with the Food and Drug Administration to ensure the regulatory approaches are coordinated. Agriculture stakeholder groups have long called for USDA to have a seat at the table in the regulation of these innovations, including the Department advancing its own regulations to provide a more appropriate, science-based path to market. ASA is hopeful this amendment will help support that concept.

Numerous agricultural groups, including ASA, have been critical of FDA’s regulatory approach for animal gene editing, which treats an animal’s DNA as an “animal drug” under the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act. Animal drugs have a long and cumbersome regulatory pathway, which prices many developers and innovations out of the market. For those innovations that can traverse the decade-or-longer regulatory process, post-market requirements and restrictions have made these innovations difficult for producers to adopt. Despite numerous calls for reform, including from a broad, bipartisan group of members of Congress, FDA has been reluctant to institute reforms.

Recently, ASA and other livestock and crop groups sent a letter to USDA renewing calls for the department to advance its own animal gene editing regulations, which USDA first proposed in an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in December 2020. ASA supported USDA’s proposal, highlighting how disease-resistant flocks and herds could help to provide certainty and reduce risks to the animal feed market, of which soybean growers are an important component.

Most Fertilizer Prices Continue to Move Lower

Retail fertilizer prices continued to move just slightly lower the second full week of June 2022, according to retailers surveyed by DTN. This is the third week in a row that most prices were less expensive.

Seven of the eight major fertilizers prices were lower compared to last month, but none were down a considerable amount. DTN designates a significant move as anything 5% or more. DAP had an average price of $1,046 per ton, MAP $1,074/ton, potash $879/ton, urea $961/ton, 10-34-0 $905/ton, anhydrous $1,516/ton and UAN28 $630/ton.

One fertilizer was slightly more expensive compared to last month but nothing significant. UAN32 had an average price of $730/ton.

On a price per pound of nitrogen basis, the average urea price was at $1.04/lb.N, anhydrous $0.92/lb.N, UAN28 $1.13/lb.N and UAN32 $1.14/lb.N.

Most fertilizers continue to be considerably higher in price than one year ago. 10-34-0 is 46% more expensive, MAP is 49% higher, DAP is 58% more expensive, UAN28 is 73% higher, UAN32 is 76% more expensive, urea is 81% is higher, potash is 94% higher and anhydrous is 111% more expensive compared to last year.

Farmers Can’t Farm with One Hand Tied Behind Their Backs, NCGA Says After Ruling on Fertilizers

The U.S. Department of Commerce issued a final determination this week, saying that urea ammonium nitrate fertilizer exported to the U.S. was subsidized and sold at less than normal value in the U.S. market during its period of investigation.

While an important step in the process, the ruling will not on its own lead to the placement of duties on nitrogen fertilizers shipped into the country. The final stage in the process is expected later this summer when the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) makes a final ruling on the matter.

“Placing tariffs on nitrogen fertilizers will land yet another blow to farmers, who are already dealing with a host of issues,” said Brooke S. Appleton, vice president of public policy at the National Corn Growers Association. “Farming is hard enough in the current environment. Farmers can’t do what they do with one hand tied behind their backs. And actions like these, pushed by fertilizer companies, will tie the hands of farmers.”  

NCGA spoke during the recent hearing held by ITC, telling commissioners that tariffs on nitrogen fertilizers will place an undue burden on farmers by creating additional fertilizer shortages and unwarranted price hikes.

Scientists are developing artificial photosynthesis to help make food production more energy-efficient here on Earth, and one day possibly on Mars

Photosynthesis has evolved in plants for millions of years to turn water, carbon dioxide, and the energy from sunlight into plant biomass and the foods we eat. This process, however, is very inefficient, with only about 1% of the energy found in sunlight ending up in the plant. Scientists at UC Riverside and the University of Delaware have found a way to bypass the need for biological photosynthesis altogether and create food independent of sunlight by using artificial photosynthesis.

The research, published in Nature Food, uses a two-step electrocatalytic process to convert carbon dioxide, electricity, and water into acetate, the form of the main component of vinegar. Food-producing organisms then consume acetate in the dark to grow. Combined with solar panels to generate the electricity to power the electrocatalysis, this hybrid organic-inorganic system could increase the conversion efficiency of sunlight into food, up to 18 times more efficient for some foods.

“With our approach we sought to identify a new way of producing food that could break through the limits normally imposed by biological photosynthesis,” said corresponding author Robert Jinkerson, a UC Riverside assistant professor of chemical and environmental engineering.

In order to integrate all the components of the system together, the output of the electrolyzer was optimized to support the growth of food-producing organisms. Electrolyzers are devices that use electricity to convert raw materials like carbon dioxide into useful molecules and products. The amount of acetate produced was increased while the amount of salt used was decreased, resulting in the highest levels of acetate ever produced in an electrolyzer to date.

Experiments showed that a wide range of food-producing organisms can be grown in the dark directly on the acetate-rich electrolyzer output, including green algae, yeast, and fungal mycelium that produce mushrooms. Producing algae with this technology is approximately fourfold more energy efficient than growing it photosynthetically. Yeast production is about 18-fold more energy efficient than how it is typically cultivated using sugar extracted from corn.

“We were able to grow food-producing organisms without any contributions from biological photosynthesis. Typically, these organisms are cultivated on sugars derived from plants or inputs derived from petroleum—which is a product of biological photosynthesis that took place millions of years ago. This technology is a more efficient method of turning solar energy into food, as compared to food production that relies on biological photosynthesis,” said Elizabeth Hann, a doctoral candidate in the Jinkerson Lab and co-lead author of the study.

The potential for employing this technology to grow crop plants was also investigated. Cowpea, tomato, tobacco, rice, canola, and green pea were all able to utilize carbon from acetate when cultivated in the dark.

By liberating agriculture from complete dependence on the sun, artificial photosynthesis opens the door to countless possibilities for growing food under the increasingly difficult conditions imposed by anthropogenic climate change. Drought, floods, and reduced land availability would be less of a threat to global food security if crops for humans and animals grew in less resource-intensive, controlled environments. Crops could also be grown in cities and other areas currently unsuitable for agriculture, and even provide food for future space explorers.

“Using artificial photosynthesis approaches to produce food could be a paradigm shift for how we feed people. By increasing the efficiency of food production, less land is needed, lessening the impact agriculture has on the environment. And for agriculture in non-traditional environments, like outer space, the increased energy efficiency could help feed more crew members with less inputs,” said Jinkerson. This approach to food production was submitted to NASA’s Deep Space Food Challenge where it was a Phase I winner.

Read the whole story:

Syngenta announces Eric Boeck as new Head of North America Seeds business

Syngenta today announced the appointment of Eric Boeck as Regional Director, North America Seeds, responsible for leading the field crops strategy for the region.

Boeck most recently served as the Head of Marketing for Syngenta Seeds in North America. Joining the company in 2018, he brought more than 20 years of agribusiness experience to Syngenta from past roles in sales, marketing and digital agriculture at DuPont Pioneer/Corteva Agriscience. Boeck has been a key part of the Syngenta Seeds business that has completed a significant turnaround and return to profitability. Seed advisors and agriculture retailers played a key supporting role in driving the turnaround in the U.S., and Boeck's team was instrumental in working closely with these groups over the past four years.

The move is part of a series of recently announced leadership transition plans, which include Jeff Rowe, President of Syngenta Seeds, assuming leadership of Syngenta Crop Protection, and Justin Wolfe, the current Regional Director for North America Seeds, becoming the global leader for the Seeds business. These transitions will be effective July 1, 2022.

"It's not possible to execute the type of turnaround we saw in our Seeds business without focused, committed leadership across the board, and the continuity shown by these leadership moves is further evidence of that," said Wolfe. "Eric has been an integral part of ensuring we bring a farmer-centric approach to everything we do, and I'm excited for his continued leadership in a market of critical importance."

In addition to decades of building high-performing teams with a singular focus on farmer success, Boeck has deep expertise in the agriculture opportunities and challenges throughout the U.S. Corn Belt, having held roles in Iowa, Wisconsin, Indiana and Illinois. He earned a bachelor's degree in animal science and dairy science from Iowa State University and is an executive leadership graduate of Drake University.

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