Wednesday, September 14, 2022

Wednesday September 14 Ag News


A University of Nebraska–Lincoln researcher is leading a team working to unlock the full potential of two oilseeds that may help meet the escalating demand for renewable fuels, industrial chemicals and other bioproducts. The team will produce genetically enhanced oilseeds, establish the “rules” of oilseeds’ metabolic circuitry and develop synthetic biology tools for crop improvement that could help scientists across the country.

With a five-year, $12.8 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy, Nebraska biochemist Edgar Cahoon will lead an interdisciplinary team representing eight institutions in exploring how camelina and pennycress, which contain the fatty acids necessary for producing biofuels and biomaterials, could help replace petroleum-based products and mitigate the effects of climate change. The project will pave the way for wider use of oilseeds in environmentally friendly and sustainable applications.

“Looking to the future, we think that cars will be electrified, but there will still be demand for liquid fuels for jets, tractor-trailers and heavy equipment. We’re looking for renewable sources for these types of liquid fuels,” said Cahoon, George W. Holmes Professor of biochemistry. “And those feedstocks can also be used for chemical applications, like making bioplastics and lubricants with better properties.”

The grant reflects Nebraska’s research strengths in plant sciences and biofuels while highlighting the ability of university research to help local producers and boost the state’s economy.

“This project holds enormous potential to expand the development, production and use of biofuels and advanced biomaterials,” said Mike Boehm, NU vice president and Harlan Vice Chancellor for the Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources. “Just as importantly, development of new oilseed crops represents an opportunity for Nebraska farmers to diversify their operations and expand into new markets. This is exactly the kind of meaningful work we strive for as a land-grant university.”

The award also underscores Cahoon’s leadership in the plant sciences field.

“Ed has long been a national leader in this area, and this grant underscores not just his research expertise, but his ability to unite an interdisciplinary team toward a common goal,” said Bob Wilhelm, vice chancellor for research and economic development. “The team’s work will help tackle some of the world’s most critical challenges, like climate resilience and energy security.”

The project focuses on pennycress and camelina, members of the mustard, or Brassicaceae, family, because these plants do not compete with food crops — an important consideration when the global population is expected to reach nearly 10 billion by 2050. The oilseeds are also resilient, with the ability to grow as winter cover crops or on marginal or underused land.

Pennycress and camelina oilseeds aren’t ideal precursors for bioproducts yet. Their oil content is suboptimal — roughly 30% of their seed weight is oil, falling short of the 40%-plus target — and they contain a less-than-ideal mixture of fatty acids. Cahoon’s team aims to change both characteristics.

“We’re trying to make not just more oil per seed, but oil of a more defined chemical structure to make biomaterials with more uniform and consistent properties,” said Cahoon, director of the university’s Center for Plant Science Innovation.

The project’s research component focuses on a cell part called the plastid, which in oilseeds functions as a “biofactory” that controls the amount and types of fatty acids produced. Cahoon’s team will explore the inner workings of the plastid, with a focus on how multiple enzymes work in concert to dictate fatty acid production — an approach that has been overlooked to date. That approach will rely on advanced chemical analysis and bioinformatics tools developed by team members.

The researchers are also taking a closer look at an oilseed plant called Cuphea, which Cahoon characterizes as “extreme” because it produces exceptionally high levels of a single type of fatty acid, which has a medium-length carbon chain. Both attributes are desirable: Fatty acid homogeneity is useful because specialty materials like nylon require a uniform starting material. Medium-chain fatty acids are ideal for jet fuels and renewable diesel because producers can sidestep the energy-intensive process of breaking up unusable long-chain fatty acids.

“We want to learn from the extremes like Cuphea, then take that knowledge and overlay it on the typical oilseeds, like pennycress and camelina,” Cahoon said.

To conduct the research, the team will use modeling tools developed by collaborator Jerome Fox of the University of Colorado Boulder. The team will take those tools, originally developed to investigate fatty acid synthesis in E. coli, and apply them to plants.

Cahoon’s team will also design synthetic biology tools that enable the rapid, predictable genetic modification of plants. The researchers will specifically tap into emerging CRISPR gene-editing technology to develop sophisticated methods for delivering genes into specific regions of the plant genome and for precisely controlling gene expression.

By applying CRISPR technology in plants, Cahoon’s team is taking a major step forward. While similar methods are frequently used in the genetic engineering of single-celled microbial species, it’s more challenging to make the leap to biologically complex plants.

The team will use those tools, in tandem with its research findings, to produce genetically enhanced seed oils. Using high-throughput camera-based phenotyping, the researchers will test the engineered crops under diverse environmental conditions and use that data to improve the new lines. Specialized biocontainment technology will ensure the plants’ genetic modifications do not escape into other crops or wild species.

Cahoon expects the team’s work to have impacts beyond pennycress and camelina. Findings related to the plastid’s metabolic circuitry, as well as the synthetic biology tools, will be valuable to scientists pursuing next-generation engineering of other plant oil feedstocks.

“The project really pushes the boundaries because we’re gaining fundamental knowledge while also developing advanced synthetic biology tools, and then bringing those two pieces together,” he said.

In addition to Nebraska and CU Boulder, the team includes investigators from Washington State University, Kansas State University, Montana State University, University of Minnesota, University of Missouri and the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center.

The grant was awarded under the DOE program Biosystems Design to Enable Safe Production of Next-generation Biofuels, Bioproducts and Biomaterials.

USDA Announces Details for the Upcoming Census of Agriculture

Nebraska’s farmers and ranchers will soon have the opportunity to be represented in the nation’s only comprehensive and impartial agriculture data for every state, county and territory. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will mail the 2022 Census of Agriculture to millions of agriculture producers across the 50 states and Puerto Rico this fall. USDA will mail 61,000 questionnaires to Nebraska ag producers.

The 2022 Census of Agriculture will be mailed in phases, starting with an invitation to respond online in November followed by paper questionnaires in December. Farm operations of all sizes, urban and rural, which produced and sold, or normally would have sold, $1,000 or more of agricultural product in 2022 are included in the ag census.

Collected in service to American agriculture since 1840 and now conducted every five years by USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS), the Census of Agriculture tells the story and shows the value of U.S. agriculture. It highlights land use and ownership, producer characteristics, production practices, income and expenditures, among other topics. Between ag census years, NASS considers revisions to the questionnaire to document changes and emerging trends in the industry. Changes to the 2022 questionnaire include new questions about the use of precision agriculture, hemp production, hair sheep, and updates to internet access questions.

“Ag census data inform decisions that impact our communities and businesses,” said Nicholas Streff, director of the NASS Northern Plains Field Office. “Data cover categories important to our industry, and make it possible to compare national, state, and county level statistics. By responding, Nebraska ag producers make sure the best data is available for better decisions.”

To learn more about the Census of Agriculture, visit or call (800) 727-9540. On the website, producers and other data users can access frequently asked questions, past ag census data, partner tools to help spread the word about the upcoming ag census, special study information, and more. For highlights of these and the latest information on the upcoming Census of Agriculture, follow USDA NASS on twitter @usda_nass.

How Might the Inflation Reduction Act Impact Farmers?

The I-29 Moo University 2022 Dairy Webinar Series continues Thursday, Oct. 13, from noon to 1 p.m. with a focus on how the Inflation Reduction Act impacts farmers.

“The Inflation Reduction Act is a sprawling 'reconciliation' bill, coming in at 730 pages,” said Fred Hall, dairy specialist with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, in northwest Iowa. “Within that text are a number of provisions that will directly impact the agribusiness industry including revised energy tax credits, change to the relief program for at-risk farmers, among others.”

The featured speaker is Mike Zahrt, leader of Foster Swift Law Group agribusiness sub-practice group. He has reviewed the Inflation Reduction Act and has identified areas that producers need to be aware of.

Zahrt is a business and estate planning lawyer in the Grand Rapids office of Foster Swift Law Office in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Zahrt works on a variety of agricultural and cooperative law matters. This includes assisting with cooperative formation and governance, compliance with the Capper-Volstead Act, contract drafting and review, entity selection and governance for farm operations and detailed analysis of state and federal tax issues.

Dairy producers and allied industry reps are invited to join the webinar. There is no fee, but participants must register at least one hour before the webinar at:

For more information, contact: in Iowa, Fred M. Hall, 712-737-4230; in Minnesota, Jim Salfer, 320-203-6093; or in South Dakota, Heidi Carroll, 605-688-6623.

CHS Intends to Return $1 Billion in Cash to Owners

CHS Inc., the nation's leading agribusiness cooperative, intends to return a total of $1 billion in cash patronage and equity redemptions to its owners in calendar year 2023, delivering on its objectives to share profits with owners and contribute to building strength in rural America.

The total amount of cash to be returned to owners is a decision made by the CHS Board of Directors at the close of each fiscal year. The CHS Board has elected to return $500 million in cash patronage based on business done with CHS in fiscal year 2022, which ended on Aug. 31, 2022. Additionally, the CHS Board has elected to return $500 million in cash to its owners through equity redemptions.

This benefit of CHS ownership will be shared by hundreds of member cooperatives and thousands of farmer-owners. The total of $1 billion distributed in cash would be the largest annual distribution to owners in CHS history and would bring the total amount returned to owners over the last 10 years to more than $3.1 billion.

"The opportunity for owners to receive cash patronage and equity is a fundamental difference between the cooperative model and other businesses," said Dan Schurr, chair of the CHS Board of Directors. "This critical difference means CHS owners share in the financial success of the company and can leverage that success to fuel strength and growth for their own businesses, their families and the communities we share."

Final financial results for fiscal year 2022 are expected to be announced in November 2022. Additional patronage-related details will be available at that time, including the amount of fiscal year 2022 patronage equity certificates that will be distributed.

CHS Inc. ( is a leading global agribusiness owned by farmers, ranchers and cooperatives across the United States. Diversified in energy, agronomy, grains and foods, CHS is committed to creating connections to empower agriculture, helping its farmer-owners, customers and other stakeholders grow their businesses through its domestic and global operations. CHS supplies energy, crop nutrients, seed, crop protection products, grain marketing services, production and agricultural services, animal nutrition products, foods and food ingredients, and risk management services. The company operates petroleum refineries and pipelines and manufactures, markets and distributes Cenex® brand refined fuels, lubricants, propane and renewable energy products.

Weekly Ethanol Production for 9/9/2022

According to EIA data analyzed by the Renewable Fuels Association for the week ending September 9, ethanol production slowed by 2.6% to a 20-week low of 963,000 b/d, equivalent to 40.45 million gallons daily. Production was 2.8% more than the same week last year but 2.7% below the five-year average for the week. The four-week average ethanol production volume decreased 0.5% to 977,000 b/d, equivalent to an annualized rate of 14.98 billion gallons (bg).

Ethanol stocks narrowed by 1.3% to 22.8 million barrels, the lowest volume since June. However, stocks were 14.2% higher than a year ago and 6.8% above the five-year average. Inventories thinned across all regions except the Midwest (PADD 2) and West Coast (PADD 5).

The volume of gasoline supplied to the U.S. market, a measure of implied demand, dipped 2.7% to 8.49 million b/d (130.21 bg annualized). Demand was 4.5% less than a year ago and 6.2% below the five-year average.

Refiner/blender net inputs of ethanol declined 1.2% to an 8-week low of 894,000 b/d, equivalent to 13.71 bg annualized. Net inputs were 0.4% less than a year ago and 0.1% below the five-year average.

There were no imports of ethanol for the second consecutive week. (Weekly export data for ethanol is not reported simultaneously; the latest export data is as of July 2022.)

AFBF Urges Congress to Intervene to Prevent Rail Strike

American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall commented today on the possibility of a railway union strike:

“An extended rail strike would have cascading effects on farmers and ranchers, and the best solution for agriculture and the U.S. economy is to avoid a strike entirely. There is no real substitute for moving agricultural goods, as trucks can only move a small percentage of grain and other products typically transported by rail, and river transport is only an option for certain geographic areas. A rail strike now would reverse the supply chain improvements achieved in the past year and make it more difficult for U.S. farmers and ranchers to address rising global food insecurity.”   

“We hope workers and management come to an agreement immediately and keep trains moving. If not, AFBF urges Congress to prepare to intervene, if necessary, to prevent a rail stoppage of any duration.”

Most Fertilizer Prices Drift Lower, But UAN28 Ticks Up

Retail fertilizer prices tracked by DTN for the first week of September 2022 show most fertilizer prices continue to fall. However, the five-week streak of declines in all eight major fertilizers snapped, as one fertilizer price inched higher.

No fertilizers were noticeably lower or higher. DTN designates a significant move as anything 5% or more.

Seven of the eight major fertilizers were just slightly lower. DAP had an average price of $952 per ton, MAP $1,009/ton, potash $878/ton, urea $800/ton, 10-34-0 $866/ton, anhydrous $1,357/ton and UAN32 $658/ton.

UAN28 was the only fertilizer with a higher price, and it was just slightly more expensive. The nitrogen fertilizer had an average price of $579/ton.

On a price per pound of nitrogen basis, the average urea price was at $0.87/lb.N, anhydrous $0.83/lb.N, UAN28 $1.03/lb.N and UAN32 $1.03/lb.N.

Despite lower prices in recent months, prices for all fertilizers continue to be considerably higher than one year earlier. MAP is 33% more expensive, DAP is 36% higher, 10-34-0 is 37% more expensive, urea is 43% higher, potash is 53% more expensive, both UAN28 and UAN32 are 56% higher and anhydrous is 81% more expensive compared to last year.

Biden-Harris Administration Announces Historic Investment in Partnerships for 70 Climate-Smart Commodities and Rural Projects

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced today that the Biden-Harris Administration through the U.S. Department of Agriculture is investing up to $2.8 billion in 70 selected projects under the first pool of the Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities funding opportunity, with projects from the second funding pool to be announced later this year. Ultimately, USDA’s anticipated investment will triple to more than $3 billion in pilots that will create market opportunities for American commodities produced using climate-smart production practices. These initial projects will expand markets for climate-smart commodities, leverage the greenhouse gas benefits of climate-smart commodity production and provide direct, meaningful benefits to production agriculture, including for small and underserved producers. Applicants submitted more than 450 project proposals in this first funding pool, and the strength of the projects identified led USDA to increase its investment in this opportunity from the initial $1 billion Vilsack announced earlier this year.

“There is strong and growing interest in the private sector and among consumers for food that is grown in a climate-friendly way,” said Vilsack. “Through today’s announcement of initial selections for the Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities, USDA is delivering on our promise to build and expand these market opportunities for American agriculture and be global leaders in climate-smart agricultural production. This effort will increase the competitive advantage of U.S. agriculture both domestically and internationally, build wealth that stays in rural communities and support a diverse range of producers and operation types.”

Earlier this year, Vilsack announced that USDA had allocated $1 billion for the program, divided into two funding pools. Because of the unprecedented demand and interest in the program, and potential for meaningful opportunities to benefit producers through the proposals, the Biden-Harris administration increased the total funding allocation to more than $3 billion, with projects from the second funding pool to be announced later this year. Vilsack made the announcement from the campus of Penn State University, which is the lead partner on one of the selected pilot projects to implement climate-smart practices, quantify and track the greenhouse gas benefits and develop markets for the resulting climate-smart commodities.

Funding for Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities will be delivered through USDA’s Commodity Credit Corporation in two pools. Projects announced today are from the first funding pool, which included proposals seeking funds ranging from $5 million to $100 million. USDA received over 450 proposals from more than 350 entities for this funding pool, including nonprofit organizations; for-profits and government entities; farmer cooperatives; conservation, energy and environmental groups; state, tribal and local governments; universities (including minority serving institutions); small businesses; and large corporations. Applications covered every state in the nation as well as tribal lands, D.C. and Puerto Rico. The tentative selections announced today reflect this broad set of applicants and geographic scope, and the proposals include plans to match on average over 50% of the federal investment with nonfederal funds.

USDA will work with the applicants for the 70 identified projects to finalize the scope and funding levels in the coming months. A complete list of projects identified for this first round of funding is available at These include:
    Climate-Smart Agriculture Innovative Finance Initiative: This project, which will cover more than 30 states, will use innovative finance mechanisms to accelerate climate-smart practice uptake by farmers, leveraging private sector demand to strengthen markets for climate-smart commodities. A broad array of partners will provide technical assistance and additional financial incentives to a diverse array of producers across a broad range of commodities, tying climate-smart practice to commodity purchases and creating a scalable model for private sector investment. Lead partner: Field to Market
    Scaling Methane Emissions Reductions and Soil Carbon Sequestration: Through this project, Dairy Farmers of America (DFA) climate-smart pilots will directly connect the on-farm greenhouse gas reductions with the low-carbon dairy market opportunity. DFA will use its cooperative business model to ensure that the collective financial benefits are captured at the farm, creating a compelling opportunity to establish a powerful self-sustaining circular economy model benefiting U.S. agriculture, including underserved producers. Lead partner: Dairy Farmers of America, Inc.
    The Soil Inventory Project Partnership for Impact and Demand: This project will build climate-smart markets, streamline field data collection and combine sample results with modeling to make impact quantifications accurate and locally specific but also scalable. Targeted farms produce value-added and direct-to-consumer specialty crops as well as the 19 most common row crops in the United States. Lead partner: The Meridian Institute
    The Grass is Greener on the Other Side: Developing Climate-Smart Beef and Bison Commodities: This project will create market opportunities for beef and bison producers who utilize climate-smart agriculture grazing and land management practices. The project will guide and educate producers on climate-smart practices most suited for their operations, manage large-scale climate-smart data that will be used by producers to improve decision-making, and directly impact market demand for climate-smart beef/bison commodity markets. Lead university: South Dakota State University
    Traceable Reforestation for America’s Carbon and Timber: This project builds climate-smart markets for timber and forest products and addresses the need to expand and recover the nation’s forest estate to balance the demand for wood products with the increasing need for forests to serve as carbon reservoirs. The project will deploy funding, planning, and implementation of reforestation and afforestation activities in lands deforested by wildfire in the Western U.S. and degraded agricultural lands in the Southern U.S. Every acre planted and the volume of forest products generated will have a quantified and verified climate benefit in metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalents (CO2e). Lead partner: Oregon Climate Trust

Spanning up to five years, these 70 projects will:
    Provide technical and financial assistance to producers to implement climate-smart production practices on a voluntary basis on working lands;
    Pilot innovative and cost-effective methods for quantification, monitoring, reporting and verification of greenhouse gas benefits; and
    Develop markets and promote the resulting climate-smart commodities.

The projects announced today will deliver significant impacts for producers and communities nationwide. USDA anticipates that these projects will result in:
    Hundreds of expanded markets and revenue streams for producers and commodities across agriculture ranging from traditional corn to specialty crops.
    More than 50,000 farms reached, encompassing more than 20-25 million acres of working land engaged in climate-smart production practices such as cover crops, no-till and nutrient management.
    More than 50 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent sequestered over the lives of the projects. This is equivalent to removing more than 10 million gasoline-powered passenger vehicles from the road for one year.
    More than 50 universities, including multiple minority-serving institutions, engaged and helping advance projects, especially with outreach and monitoring, measurement, reporting and verification.
    Proposals for the 70 selected projects include plans to match on average over 50% of the federal investment with nonfederal funds.

Projects were selected based on a range of criteria, with emphasis placed on greenhouse gas and/or carbon sequestration benefits and equity. The Notice of Funding Opportunity included a complete set of project proposal requirements and evaluation criteria.

USDA is currently evaluating project proposals from the second Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities funding pool, which includes funding requests from $250,000 to $4,999,999. Projects from this second funding pool will emphasize the enrollment of small and/or underserved producers, and/or monitoring, reporting and verification activities developed at minority-serving institutions. USDA expects to announce these selections later this Fall.

Thompson Reacts to USDA's Unilateral Climate Investment

Today, Rep. Glenn "GT" Thompson (PA-15), Republican Leader of the House Committee on Agriculture, issued the statement below following an announcement from Secretary Tom Vilsack that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has awarded billions to "Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities" projects via the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC):

"The Biden Administration is unilaterally spending billions of dollars without Congressional input. While I am sure there are worthy projects, USDA is abusing the authorities of the Commodity Credit Corporation to stand up a 'pilot program' while ignoring the significant issues facing farmers and ranchers. It’s as though Secretary Vilsack is intent on having Congress once again limit his ability to use the CCC."

NCGA Applauds USDA for Climate-Smart Funding for Farmers for Soil Health

The National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) today applauded a decision by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to allocate up to $95 million in funding to help farmers accelerate cover crop adoption.

The funding will support Farmers for Soil Health, which works to advance conservation practices to improve soil health across the U.S. The collaborative is comprised of commodity groups, including the National Corn Growers Association, American Soybean Association, the National Pork Board, and the United Soybean Board. The group also includes the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, National Association of Conservation Districts, the Sustainability Consortium, the Soil Health Institute, the Center for Regenerative Agriculture and DTN.

“We are appreciative of the USDA for recognizing the important role farmers play in combatting climate change,” said NCGA Vice President of Production and Sustainability Nathan Fields. “These funds will help us identify and support practices that work for corn growers, expand the use of cover crops and build on our efforts to lower greenhouse gas emissions.”
The funding will help NCGA reach 30 million acres of cover crop by 2030, Fields noted, by funding cost share and technical assistance.

USDA has credited the Food and Agriculture Climate Alliance, of which NCGA is a member, with providing recommendations that served as a guidepost when developing Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities.

The project is expected to launch in 2023.

NMPF Statement on USDA Support for Dairy in Climate-Smart Commodities Projects

President and CEO Jim Mulhern

“America’s dairy community applauds USDA’s support for the robust efforts dairy farmers are leading to develop and implement climate-smart solutions that will benefit the entire food chain, from producer to consumer. As an agricultural leader in sustainability, dairy farmers appreciate this funding that will help us meet our ambitious industry-wide goals for net-zero emissions and optimized water use.

“NMPF is especially proud of the leadership its member cooperatives are showing in these critical areas, with several initiatives receiving significant USDA support. California Dairies Inc., Dairy Farmers of America, Land O’Lakes, and the Maryland & Virginia Milk Producers Cooperative Association – who are leading or partnering on specific projects that may receive up to $245 million in funding -- each should be commended for their efforts, along with other dairy groups who are seeking to build a better future through climate-smart agriculture projects.”

Sorghum Producers to Lead $65 Million USDA Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities Funded Project

Quantifying the climate impact of incorporating sorghum and other tools into rotations while serving as a trajectory for the sorghum industry’s continuous environmental improvement throughout this decade and the next is the focus of a five-year, up to $65 million project by National Sorghum Producers.

Funding for the project was provided by a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture through its new Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities. USDA announced award recipients Sept. 14 for pilot projects totaling $2.8 billion to create market opportunities for commodities produced using climate-smart practices.

“This is a watershed day for the sorghum industry,” NSP CEO Tim Lust said. “Sorghum is and always will be The Resource Conserving Crop™. This award affirms that fact in historic fashion, and we appreciate USDA for the opportunity to realize sorghum’s potential as a climate-smart commodity. For the first time, participating farmers will be fully recognized and fully compensated for the good work they do to improve the impact of agriculture on the environment. We couldn’t be more excited to come alongside them in this important effort.”

Rather than focusing on soil carbon sequestration alone, the NSP project will create a pathway for the impact of all practices to be quantified, tracked and verified with the intent to monetize these practices in ecosystems services markets of all kinds with an initial focus on low carbon fuel markets.

Payments will be made to producers to introduce sorghum along with a suite of additional practices, and a strong measurement and quantification program will accompany these payments in order to highlight the climate impacts of associated practices.

The program will center specifically on enabling farmers to take advantage of added value under the California Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS) as this market requires the most rigid quantification, monitoring, reporting and verification systems and already consumes up to one-third of the U.S. sorghum crop annually.

“The most important aspect of any program to incentivize climate-smart agricultural practices is robust demand from ecosystem services markets,” NSP sustainability strategy consultant John Duff said. “The LCFS is the most reliable and longest-standing such market, and building our program around its rigorous data requirements will enable a five-year beta test of our industry’s readiness for meeting the needs of ecosystem services markets for the coming decades.”

The target geography of the project includes portions of six states and covers an average of 67 percent of the sorghum industry, or 4.4 million acres annually. The area includes more than 20,000 sorghum farmers and a region vitally important to U.S. agriculture.

Irrigated agriculture in this area, which is highly threatened, is particularly important. Sorghum has a key role to play in prolonging irrigated agriculture in the region. Furthermore, the U.S. High Plains is the world’s leading region for nitrogen use efficiency and mitigation of nitrate leaching, volatilization and runoff. Sorghum is a primary tool in these mitigation efforts, and incorporating the crop into rotations in this region can improve the carbon footprint of U.S. agriculture overall.

“NSP’s project is building on significant work to enhance climate-smart agricultural production in sorghum-based crop rotation systems at-scale,” NSP Sustainability Director Adam York said. “The U.S. sorghum industry has piloted numerous initiatives in recent years with key conservation non-governmental organizations, such as Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever, to partner with our farmers and identify targeted solutions for working lands conservation. Through NSP’s Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities project, our efforts will reach new levels of collaboration to deliver on-farm resiliency and profitability throughout this sensitive and important region.”

Timely consultation and technical delivery to farms is vital to the success of this project. As farmers choose to implement novel approaches to benefit their landscapes, such as improved biodiversity practices, local conservationists and biologists in our partnership network steeped in wildlife habitat conservation will be integral to helping farmers deliver more sorghum products with positive biodiversity impacts.

“The Habitat Organization is excited and proud to partner in the effort to expand climate-smart sustainability practices while benefiting farm profitability and conservation,” noted Brent Rudolph, Director of Sustainability Partnerships for Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever. “Working side-by-side with sorghum producers is a wonderful fit for this important USDA program.”

The project will also include a robust diversity and community outreach program that will focus on in-reach and outreach to underserved communities in the project target area with a primary focus of creating opportunities for underserved farmers to participate in climate-smart sorghum production and realize the benefits of ecosystems services markets.

“Kansas Black Farmers Association (KBFA) is working with NSP to create climate-smart agriculture best practices that will help the BIPOC farmers in our membership increase sustainable productivity, strengthen farmers' resilience, reduce agriculture's greenhouse gas emissions and increase carbon sequestration,” KBFA Executive Director and President JohnElla Holmes, Ph.D., said. “In Kansas, sorghum is an important crop for our farmers and researching ways to increase this crop’s production will be life changing. In addition, it strengthens our farmer's ability to sustain, increase and maintain their farms and delivers environmental benefits. We are excited to work with NSP on this grant.”

In addition to National Sorghum Producers, project partners and supporters include Kansas Black Farmers Association, Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever, Donald Danforth Plant Science Center, Salk Institute for Biological Studies, Sustainable Environmental Consultants, United Sorghum Checkoff Program, Arable, Galvanize Climate Solutions, Kansas State University, Texas Tech University, Conestoga Energy Partners, Kansas Ethanol, Pratt Energy, Western Plains Energy, White Energy, American Coalition for Ethanol, Peoria Tribe Of Indians of Oklahoma, Women Managing the Farm, Kansas Agri-Women, Nu Life Market, Pinion, Kansas Department of Agriculture, New Mexico Department of Agriculture, Kansas Water Office, Archer-Daniels-Midland Company, Kashi, RIPE, Trust in Food™, Colorado State University, Prairie View A&M University, Texas A&M University, Oklahoma State University, Argonne National Lab, National Cotton Council, Field to Market, Danone, Colorado Sorghum Association, Kansas Grain Sorghum Association, New Mexico Sorghum Association, Oklahoma Sorghum Association, Texas Grain Sorghum Association, Bayer Crop Science, CoBank, High Plains Farm Credit, ServiTech and No Chaff Group.

The project is subject to completion of a contract with USDA. Learn more at

FFAR Grant Promotes Sorghum Health Benefits

Sorghum is a staple cereal grain crop that provides numerous health benefits for humans, pets and livestock. Specific compounds– polyphenols and tannins – found in certain sorghum varieties and hybrids that offer health benefits for humans; however, these compounds can also produce negative effects for animal when used in pet feed. The Foundation for Food & Agriculture Research (FFAR) is providing a $846,991 Seeding Solutions grant to Clemson University to study sorghum plant properties that enhance these beneficial compounds in commercial sorghum, while preserving the crop’s dual use as animal feed. Matching funds were provided by Clemson University and Carolina Seed Systems, Inc. for a total $1,721,129 investment.

Dr. Jeffrey Rosichan, FFAR Crops of the Future Collaborative director noted this research is especially important as sorghum is a climate resilient crop that could boost crop diversity to strengthen the global food supply, and increased sorghum consumption would open economic opportunities for U.S. growers. “Sorghum is a productive crop that has the genetic capabilities to be a nutritional powerhouse,” Rosichan said. “It is resilient to climate change and can be grown with fewer inputs, saving farmers money. By investigating the sources of sorghum’s health benefits, this research will unlock the crop’s full potential.”

Clemson University researchers, led by plant breeder Dr. Richard Boyles, are assessing specific substances present in the grain that have beneficial health properties for people and do not cause negative outcomes for animals. Once identified, the researchers will use non-GMO breeding methods to develop new sorghum hybrids that have these value-added properties. The final step will be to measure impacts of the enhanced grain sorghum hybrids on poultry growth, as well as their capability to reduce harmful diseases within the poultry gut.

“Spanning across plant breeding and genetics to animal sciences, this interdisciplinary project will use sound science and product development to create a more sustainable and prosperous U.S. grain and protein market,” Boyles said. “Once we fully understand what and how plant-based metabolites are conferring health benefits, we can optimize their concentrations and availability through molecular breeding. This objective will run in unison with ongoing efforts to increase sorghum grain yield and stress resilience.”

Boyles also said this research will help establish sorghum as an important tool in meeting the demand for nutritious, affordable, as well as sustainable food and feed.

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