It’s still important to scout fields

Even at this point in the growing season, field scouting is important. Alex Johnson, Team Sales Agronomist for Beck’s Hybrids says for both the soybean crop and the corn crop there are some things going on that need watching.

Audio: Alex Johnson, Agronomist, Beck’s Hybrids (2:55 mp3)

Discussing the benefits of gypsum

GYPSOIL founder Ron Chamberlain (on the left) visits with Brownfield's Ken Anderson

GYPSOIL founder Ron Chamberlain (on the left) visits with Brownfield’s Ken Anderson

The focus of the recent Midwest Soil Improvement Symposium in Manhattan, Kansas was on research and practical insights into using gypsum in crop production. One of the speakers was the founder of GYPSOIL, Ron Chamberlain, who now serves as director of gypsum programs for the company.

As an agronomist and through his extensive experience working with crops and soils, Chamberlain developed the belief that soil structure was a major contributor to crop success or failure and identified the benefits that gypsum could bring in establishing proper soil structure.  Chamberlain starting working with gypsum in Indiana in 2002 and founded GYPSOIL in 2006 to help bring those benefits to farmers across the Midwest.

Brownfield visited with Chamberlain about the benefits of using gypsum.

AUDIO: Ron Chamberlain (5:50 MP3)

Kansas officials developing 50-year water plan

Tracy Streeter

Tracy Streeter

The state of Kansas is developing a 50-year plan for managing water in the state.

According to Tracy Streeter, director of the Kansas Water Office, the wide variation in rainfall from west to east in the state makes that task a bit more challenging.  “We’re trying to conserve water on one end of the state and reduce runoff in another,” Streeter says.

At the recent Midwest Soil Improvement Symposium in Manhattan, Kansas, we discussed Kansas’ water situation with Streeter.

AUDIO: Tracy Streeter (7:46 MP3)

Technology should be led by innovation

Don’t let technology allow less use of brain power, advises Dr. David Kohl, professor emeritus in agriculture economics at Virginia Tech University in Blacksburg, Va.  He’s pushing to keep the human element in technology.  Speaking at Wyffels Corn Strategies, Dr. Kohl also talks about what might steer the education of young people preparing for careers in agriculture.

AUDIO: Dr. David Kohl (3 min. MP3)

The Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games

Four years ago the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games were held in Lexington, Kentucky. The games are coming up August 23 through September 7, this year  in Normandy, where Elizabeth Bagby, Corporate Marketing Manager at Alltech says things are taking shape.

Audio: Elizabeth Bagby, Alltech, Corp. Marketing Mgr. (3:00 mp3)

A tarnished animal rights movement

The animal rights movement isn’t having a good year, mainly because the 800-lb. gorillas of the movement aren’t having a good year.  Despite lots of noise and heavy spending, there have been no congressional or state victories of any note, and generally speaking, very little media attention.

A glance at the HSUS website shows press statements boasting cat and horse rescues and urging the residents of Hawaii, as two hurricanes bore down on the islands, “to prepare.”  New Jersey banneds ivory and rhino horn, federally illegal for decades, and HSUS portrays the move as monumental.  PETA continues the tired old “girl-in-a-lettuce-leaf-bikini” publicity stunts, trumpeting endorsements by minor Hollywood types, but to the public and the media, such stunts are becoming so much white noise.

In March, Oklahoma attorney general Scott Pruitt opened an investigation into HSUS fundraising in the state connected to the Moore, Oklahoma, tornado relief effort last year and issued a “consumer alert” relative to national animal charities.  Pruitt is talking to other states about conducting similar investigations, according to  Oklahoma is one of several states suing California over its egg production law – heavily supported by HSUS – and the state House approved a “right-to-farm” constitutional amendment.

May was a real bugger for HSUS, when it and an army of B List animal rights groups were whacked with a nearly $16-million court judgment won by Feld Entertainment, owner of Ringling Bros. Barnum & Bailey Circus.  HSUS, et al, sued Feld for abusing its elephants and lost for a whole lot of kind of skeezy reasons; Feld countersued and won.  This comes on the heels of an earlier multimillion judgment in the same case against the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA).

For his part, HSUS’s Wayne Pacelle said no donor dollars will go to Feld, as insurance will cover “a substantial portion, if not all” of the settlement.  The truth of that statement is again in the hands of courts as HSUS sues various insurance companies for refusing to cover the judgment.  Pacelle confirmed the legal actions in an interview with the Washington Examiner, published July 7, which said:  “Wayne Pacelle, the Humane Society’s president and CEO, shrugged off the insurance companies’ refusal to cover the settlement, saying in an interview, ‘denial of coverage is a standard posture within the industry.’  Pacelle, who was previously the organization’s chief lobbyist and spokesman, said they have a ‘commitment’ from one carrier ‘to cover the bulk of what our responsibility is.’”

The original Feld judgment led to even greater public image and perhaps pocketbook injury as Charity Navigator (, a well-respected national non-profit charity rating group, nixed HSUS’s rating and issued a “donor advisory.”  Charity Navigator explains the advisory: “Charities can receive a Donor Advisory for a variety of reasons such an investigation by the Attorney General, a lawsuit against the charity and an atypical item…reported on the Form 990.  Donor Advisories replace a charity’s rating and typically remain in place for a minimum of a year.  In order for a charity’s rating to be restored, it must provide public domain documentation or similarly reliable and accessible information that demonstrates that the issues identified in the Donor Advisory have been resolved.”  We’ll see.

PETA this week had one of its “undercover” videos blown out of the water, but nonetheless was able to vilify the dairy industry through accusation rather than fact.  The radical animal rights group claimed it had video of a small 30-cow North Carolina dairy showing “emaciated and lame cows trudging through a pool of their own liquefied manure…with excess waste so high that the cows must wade through it up to their knees.”

The state Department of Agriculture rightly conducted an inspection, and short of loose ceiling tiles and some rust in the milking parlor, found no public health hazards and no milk storage problems.  “That area was not similar to what was depicted in some parts of the video,” a department official said.  This was followed by an investigation by county animal control officials who told the Charlotte Observer the PETA complaints of cruelty are unfounded.  Harris Teeter grocery stores, now owned by Kroger, was alleged by PETA to have received milk from the farm.  It got all flustered and issued all kinds of denials before the state officials’ investigations were completed.

Perhaps we’re witnessing classic cases of what goes around comes around, or a manifestation of the old biblical admonition that “pride goeth before a fall.”  PETA doesn’t care – it’s certainly proved that enough times – but in the case of HSUS, it’s clearly a case of the emperor has no clothes, and more people are beginning to notice.

FC Coop’s annual Field Trial Showcase is August 21st

fc coop AgronomyStrong logoFarmers Cooperative (FC) Company, Iowa’s largest farmer-owned cooperative, will hold its annual Field Trial Showcase event August 21st at its field trial site in Farnhamville.

Todd Claussen, FC’s director of agronomy, says the 175-acre Farnhamville site is critically important in demonstrating and evaluating production inputs.

“It’s broken down into 17 individual demonstration blocks that help us demonstrate and evaluate and basically ‘ground-proof’ the products and the inputs that we make recommendations for to grow crops on your farm,” Claussen says.

“These are hands-on, real-time, farm-applicable crop production inputs that we feel are important.   They’re not snake oil, they’re not pie in the sky—they’re things that should be and could be utilized on a regular basis.”

This year’s keynote speaker will be Dr. Tom Hoegemeyer of Hoegemeyer Hybrids.  He will discuss how corn has evolved over the last 100 years.

The even is open to the public.  Registration begins at 8:30 a.m.  For more information, go to the FC Coop web site.

AUDIO: Todd Claussen (2:10 MP3)

The shades and flavors of honey

Fuzzy and Sally Pipkins at the Missouri State Beekeepers Booth at 2014 Missouri State Fair

Fuzzy and Sally Pipkins at the Missouri State Beekeepers Booth at 2014 Missouri State Fair

Have you ever wondered why honey comes in so many different shades?  Fuzzy Pipkins with the Missouri Beekeepers Association says whether honey is light or darker depends on what nectar the bees have been gathering.  And, he says, that’s what gives honey its different flavors.  There are more than 300 types of honey in the United States.

HEALTHY LIVING PROGRAM – Honey shades and flavors explained (1:30 mp3)

Falling crop prices mean ‘belt-tightening’ in rural communities

Some caution signs are evident in the latest survey of agricultural credit conditions in the Federal Reserve’s seven-state Tenth District—the Kansas City district.

Nathan Kauffman, the Fed’s Omaha branch executive, says the good news is that most ag bankers reported solid credit conditions in the second quarter.

corn field-emerson iowa 8-13“The important thing to note for now is that it looks like credit quality is still strong,” Kauffman says. “Repayment rates, though they’ve softened a little bit, are still relatively strong—although that does present some concerns going forward.”

The big concern is crop prices that have fallen below the cost of production. Kauffman says crop insurance payments will help support crop producers this year.  He’s more concerned about 2015.

“For 2014 the crop insurance price for corn, for example, was set at $4.62—which was quite a bit higher than where cash prices are right now,” he says. “Going into early next year, February will be another important month, just thinking about where the crop insurance might be set going into next year.”

AUDIO: Nathan Kauffman (5:10 MP3)

Banker Todd Adams, CEO of Ogallala, Nebraska-based Adams Bank & Trust, says farmers are starting to tighten their belts.

“We’re already seeing that they’re holding on to their billfolds a little tighter,” says Adams, “and I think some of the first places it will show up, with them upgrading their equipment over the last several years, is they’ll back off on their equipment purchases—maybe back off on some of their vehicle purchases—and tighten their belt a little bit on some of the other spending they do that’s discretionary.”

Unfortunately, Adams says, that’s also going to dampen Main Street business activity in rural communities.

AUDIO: Todd Adams (5:59 MP3)

The Fed’s Tenth District includes Nebraska, Kansas, Wyoming, Montana, Colorado, Oklahoma and western Missouri.

Analyst offers risk management advice on soybeans

Market analyst Don Roose, president of West Des Moines-based U.S. Commodities, believes there’s another $1.00 to $1.25 downside potential in the soybean market going into the fall.  Brownfield’s John Perkins asked Roose what risk management advice he is giving to soybean producers.

AUDIO: Don Roose (3:00 MP3)