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Practical uses for precision agriculture to be studied at two-state
conference in Olathe, Kan., Jan 13-14


Duane Dailey
News Coordinator
Extension & Ag Information
University of Missouri
(573) 882-9181
DaileyF@missouri.edu


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 Extension.
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 and ideas.
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 http://www.oznet.ksu.edu/pr_prcag/mokan200.htm.
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. It’s especially critical for those producing non-GMO varieties.
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 it’s 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 commingled—at the elevator, the processor’s bins or at export vessels—it 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 won’t be capable of that type and extent of testing this crop
season.

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.
Here’s what they can realistically do—
• State that no seed represented by the seed company as GMO seed was planted.
• State that seed represented by the seed company as non-GMO seed was planted.
• State that care was taken in avoiding contamination in bins, augers, and in the combine.
Here’s 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.

There’s another worry—the 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 seller’s 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 you’re asked to sign. Use caution in responding orally. Remember, even non-GMO crop likely isn’t completely free of GMO germ plasm. But the GMO level may be at an acceptably low level. A key problem—no 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.

Soybeans Futures

The good news is South America is still dry in most areas. The bad news
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 recommended.


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 contract.
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.

MSU Extension.


 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 soil compaction.


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.

Robert Wisner

Breeder Readies Russian Honey Bees for American Hives

By Marcia Wood
August 5, 1999

Hardy Russian honey bees that resist attack by devastating varroa mites will begin showing up in American beehives within a year, thanks to scientists in Louisiana with the Agricultural Research Service, USDA’s chief research wing. The Russian bees' genetic resistance will provide beekeepers with a tool--in addition to chemical pesticides--to control the mites.

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 Bernard’s 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 leaves over-dry.
--jrl--

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