last update 8/15/01
uses for precision agriculture
2. Genetically Modified Crops:
Guidelines for Producers
3. Aid package by US will buy farmers time
4. Emergency farm aid & pmt. limit impacts on Iowa
5. Same tillage method can cause problems
6. Redemption of old-crop CCC Loans
7. Russian honeybees come to US
8. Soybeans used for Forage
Practical uses for precision
agriculture to be studied at two-state
conference in Olathe, Kan., Jan 13-14
Extension & Ag Information
University of Missouri
COLUMBIA, Mo. -- A two-state conference to help convert precision
agriculture data into a practical on-farm management tool will be held
Jan. 13-14 in Olathe, Kan. The meeting will start by looking at the
economics of precision agriculture, says Don Pfost, agricultural
engineer at the University of Missouri-Columbia.
The meeting is jointly sponsored by the Missouri Precision Agriculture
Center (MPAC) at MU and the Kansas State University Research and
Precision agriculture gathers extensive data on farming practices
through monitors on planting, application, and harvesting equipment. The
advance in precision data collection was made possible by Global
Positioning Systems provided by satellites circling the earth.
The conference is for both those with a beginning interest in precision
agriculture or those with extensive experience, said Kent Shannon,
associate director of MU MPAC.. Farmers, crop consultants, input
suppliers, equipment, dealers and lenders are being invited.
There will be breakout sessions for people with different interests,
Pfost said. The conference will provide a forum for sharing information
Topics on the program include: Yield monitor basics, data analysis with
multi-year yield data, business opportunities and using yield monitors
for on-farm research.
Farmers, crop advisors, and researchers with experience in precision
agriculture will talk.
The meeting will be at the Holiday Inn, Olathe. Pre-registration fee,
before Jan. 7, is $100, with late registration adding $25. The fee
includes two lunches, refreshments, and a notebook.
Program schedule can be viewed on the Kansas State website at
To register call Pfost or Kent Shannon at MU (573) 882-2731 or Randy
Taylor at KSU (785) 532-5813.
Source: Don Pfost (573) 882-2731
Genetically Modified Crops:
Guidelines for Producers
by Neil E. Harl *
With the consumer resistance to products containing genetically modified
ingredients in Europe and Asia rising in recent weeks, and processors
responding to that resistance, the focus is on how producers can protect
themselves. Its especially critical for those producing non-GMO
Here are some points to consider
Several processors have signaled that products must be kept separate
and there will likely be differential pricing for GMOs and non-GMOs.
That means exporters have to keep the products separate if they are to
sell into that market.
In turn, elevators and other first purchasers are expected to request
the same of producers.
As a practical matter, actual testing for GMO germ plasm for the 1999
crop is expected to be spotty with heavy reliance on producer
representation as to which loads are GMO and which are non-GMO.
But its not as simple as stating that a load of corn, soybeans or other
crops is GMO or non-GMO. Some of the seed companies concede that their seed purporting to
be non-GMO contained low levels of GMO germ plasm.
Besides, contamination from pollen drift may have added to the level of
GMO germ plasm in non-GMO crop. And there may have been mechanical contamination in
augers, wagons, storage bins or even in the combine itself.
All of this adds up to a high stakes legal problem for everyone
involved. Eventually, with reliable testing at every point at which the
crop is commingledat the elevator, the processors bins or at export
vesselsit will be possible to monitor more closely what is GMO and what contains
only low levels of GMO germ plasm. But the system is not there yet and wont be
capable of that type and extent of testing this crop
Producers should be careful If producers are asked by the first purchaser to promise
that the crop is non-GMO, they should be very careful what they sign or even what oral
comments are made.
Heres what they can realistically do
State that no seed represented by the seed company as GMO seed was
State that seed represented by the seed company as non-GMO seed was
State that care was taken in avoiding contamination in bins, augers,
and in the combine.
Heres what producers should be careful not to do
State that the crop in question has no GMO germ plasm.
State that no contamination has occurred from mechanical handling and
storage of the crop.
State that no contamination has occurred from pollen drift.
Theres another worrythe Uniform Commercial Code imposes implied
warranties or promises in some situations. An implied warranty of
fitness is imposed on the producer as seller if the seller has reason to
know any particular purpose for which the goods are required if the
buyer is relying on the sellers skill and judgment in providing the
goods. This could very well be invoked against a producer if the
conditions are met. You can disclaim or nullify an implied warranty of
fitness but it takes a conspicuous, written provision in a contract.
An implied warranty of merchantability is imposed on merchants. Nearly
half of the states treat farmers as merchants. One feature of this
warranty is that the goods must be fit for the ordinary purposes for
which they are to be used. Implied warranties of merchantability can be
disclaimed or nullified by the producer as seller if done orally or in
writing in language that mentions merchantability.
So what does this all mean?
Check immediately with likely purchasers. What are they requiring? Some
may not yet know. Once the answer to that question is known, check
carefully the language in any statement youre asked to sign. Use
caution in responding orally. Remember, even non-GMO crop likely isnt
completely free of GMO germ plasm. But the GMO level may be at an
acceptably low level. A key problemno one has set tolerances. Without
tolerances, no one knows for sure where the line will be drawn.
* Charles F. Curtiss Distinguished Professor in Agriculture and
Professor of Economics, Iowa State University,
Ames, Iowa; Member of the Iowa Bar.
Corn and Soybean Economics
Current Situation CORN
Corn prices for the old crop rose by two cents to 189 in December 99
futures contracts. New crop or 2000 beans reflected in the December 00
futures contracts dropped by four cents to 231. South Korea purchased
some corn recently. Exports are still disappointing this year. Farmers
are still holding grain stocks. The stocks will likely be sold into any
rallies occurring this winter and spring. South America still needs
moisture. Delay marketing the 2000 crop. Weather will be a factor in the
US and South America. One private analyst believes that corn acres will
be down by 850,000 in 2000.
The good news is South America is still dry in most areas. The
is that the analyst that dropped corn acres for 2000 anticipates a rise
in US soybean acres in 2000 of 2.4 million acres over 1999 acres. This
has the potential of adding to an already bloated carryover stock. The
best news is loan is still 527 to 537 in Mississippi. No 2000 crop sales
Frequently Asked Questions
What are three types of commodity marketings? 1. Forward pricing -
pricing prior to crop harvest. Examples: forward contracts, hedging, and
options. 2. Cash Sales - deliver and sell to elevator at harvest. 3.
Delayed Pricing - store the harvest on-farm or in commercial elevators
anticipating higher prices after harvest. Anticipated price must exceed
storage cost per bushel per month times the months of storage.
What is a hedge? A sale in the futures market which must be offset at
harvest by a purchase. The price is fixed at the time of the sale. The
sale must be erased by a purchase to clear the market.
What is an option? An option is a right but not an obligation
to purchase a futures contract. A put option gives the right to sell via the futures
For a producer, a put option can be exercised if the cash price falls
below the contract price, can expire if the cash price exceeds the
underlying futures contract price or sold before expiration.
What are the kinds of options? A put and a call. A put is used to sell a
crop and establishes a floor price. A call option is used to purchase
and establishes a price ceiling. Calls are typically used by feeders to
lock in feed prices.
What is a strike price and a premium? The strike price is the price of
the commodity on the underlying futures contract. The premium is the
cost of the option per bushel.
What quantities make up a futures contract? Five thousand
bushels for a
corn contract and the same for a soybean contract.
Same Tillage Method Year After
Year Can Cause Soil Problems
byJames W. Bauder
MSU Extension Soil
and Water Quality Specialist
BOZEMAN - Using the same tillage method year after year creates
soil problems that can seriously reduce crop yields, says a Montana
State University soil scientist. Continuous use of no-till systems over
many years can result in even greater adverse effects upon the soil than
rigid tillage systems, says James Bauder, Extension soil scientist.
"With conventional tillage, you get a reduction in organic matter in
the soil. No-till increases the organic matter, but there's more
potential for disease, pest and soil fertility problems," says Bauder.
These problems can be even more severe when the same crop variety or
rotation is used year after year, he says.
The key is to consider and integrate diversity and flexibility into the
system, he says. "With continuous use of any system, you run the
potential for problems down the road. If you're using no-till, you
should break the pattern with occasional tillage," says Bauder.
Bauder cited a study in which single practices--moldboard plowing,
chisel plowing, disking and no-till planting--were continued for 10
consecutive years on clay-loam soils.
The least severe soil problems resulted from chisel plowing in the fall
to a depth of eight to 10 inches, combined with cultivation in the
spring to smooth the soil surface. Chisel plowing resulted in the least
problem with soil firmness, the best porosity and the driest soil in the
top eight to 10 inches. Although the rough surface left by chisel
plowing traps snow and moisture from rainfall, it also tends to dry out
faster in the spring.
The other tillage systems -- spring disking and moldboard plowing to a
depth of seven to 10 inches in the fall, plus cultivation in the spring
-- both caused more problems then chisel plowing, but less than
continuous no-tillage. With no-till, there's an increased potential for
Harvesting provides a substantial load on the soil, which is not always
dissipated by freezing and thawing, wetting and drying. Occasional
tillage will help reduce those shallow compaction zones near the soil
surface, says Bauder. "No-till is not very forgiving," says Bauder. In
years with good moisture, there's higher potential for disease problems.
Producers need to plan ahead and be very management oriented. Producers
who use no-till should use disease resistant crop varieties and pay
attention to the soil's nutrient needs, he says. "With other types of
tillage methods, you can work the soil and plant when the time is right.
Later if needed, you can fertilize. But with no-till, there's only a
limited opportunity to provide nutrients, and that's during planting,"
he says. "No-till does limit your flexibility," he adds, but it has
plenty of advantages too. Though no-till requires special equipment,
less tillage means lower fuel costs. There's also a reduced potential
for erosion and an increase in the efficiency of moisture storage.
Redemption of Old-Crop CCC Loans
Redemptions of 1998-crop corn and soybeans were
heavy in August, with the quantities remaining under loan on September 1
now equal to less than half of August 1 totals. At this writing, 486
million bushels of last year's corn are reported to still be outstanding
under loan, along with 58 million bushels of soybeans. Fifty six percent
of the corn total is located in Iowa, Minnesota, and Nebraska, along
with 50% of the soybeans.
Breeder Readies Russian Honey Bees for American Hives
August 5, 1999
Varroa mites--eight-legged parasites--are among the worst enemies of
honey bees worldwide. In the U.S., the mites have attacked bees in almost every state.
Though only about one- sixteenth-inch in size, they can destroy a hive of tens of
thousands of bees in as little as 6 months. The mites have also eliminated most of North
America's wild honey bees.
Under a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement signed this week by ARS and
Bernards Apiaries, Inc., Breaux Bridge, La., bee breeder Steven J. Bernard is
authorized to raise hundreds of Russian honey bee queens this fall and winter. The bees
will be available for sale to U.S. beekeepers early next year. The beekeepers will use the
queens to produce more queens for populating hives with mite-resistant offspring. These
offspring will be fathered by male bees, known as drones, from the American hives.
Compared to domestic honey bees, the Russian bees are more than twice as resistant to
attack by varroa mites, according to tests by geneticist Thomas E. Rinderer and
colleagues at ARS Honey
Bee Breeding, Genetics and Physiology Research Unit in Baton Rouge, La.
The domestic honey bee and the Russian honey bee are the same species, Apis mellifera.
But the Russian bees have had to develop resistance to survive in their homeland, the
mite- infested Primorsky region of far eastern Russia. Rinderer studied the bees there,
then imported them under a federal permit.
Besides producing honey, honey bees pollinate dozens of crops, from apples to zucchini,
worth $8 to $10 billion. An article in the August issue of the agency's monthly magazine,
Agricultural Research, tells more. View
it on the World Wide Web at
Scientific contact: Thomas
E. Rinderer, ARS Honey Bee Breeding, Genetics and Physiology Research Unit, Baton
Rouge, La., phone (225) 767-9280, fax (225) 766-9212
Soybeans Can Be Cut for Forage
BROOKINGS, S.D.--A hot, dry summer has some livestock producers asking
whether drought-stressed soybeans unlikely to make a profitable cash
crop can be taken for forage, either hay or silage, for their livestock.
"Yes, they can," says Vance Owens, Extension forage specialist at South
Dakota State University. "We have some data where soybeans have been
made into either hay or silage. Quality can be very good, somewhere
close to alfalfa," said Owens. A precautionary word comes from Mathew
Diersen, Extension risk and business management specialist at SDSU.
First check with your county Farm Service Agency office to learn how to
secure the loan deficiency payment and identify any negative impacts on
production history. Diersen also would check with your crop and revenue
insurance carriers to document yield loss or revenue loss before
destroying the evidence. Owens said questions about soybean forage are
being asked because in some cases plants are drying up, pods are not
filling, some have not even flowered. In another case, a field was too
weedy to take for grain. Protein levels in soybean forage are not
uncommon at 16 percent or higher, so quality can be pretty good. One of
the most difficult things to manage is that stems can be quite coarse
near the base," Owens said. For hay, the priority becomes to dry the hay
to where it will cure. Stems can be hard to dry, so conditioning or
crimping will be important, both for hay and silage. For silage the
soybean forage will have to wilt down to 65 percent moisture before
chopping, Owens said. "Soybean forage has been used quite a bit with
cattle and they seem to like it. With hay, they may pick and choose, and
not eat the very coarse stems." If looking at harvesting for forage,
research shows the best time to harvest is when the bottom leaves are
turning yellow and seeds are developing, Owens said. If it appears seeds
will not develop, then the yellow bottom leaves become the criteria. Rob
Pritchard, a ruminant nutrition researcher at SDSU, said if seeds are
developing, he'd be inclined to harvest them later as seed rather than
forage and include it like grain in livestock diets. "Soybeans can work
as pretty good source of energy and protein in the diets of cattle and
sheep. We've answered a lot of questions this summer about replacing
part of the corn in the diet with soybeans." Pritchard points out that
putting up soybean hay can be tough, because the leaves and stems are so
different, physically, it's hard to get stems dry without getting the
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