USDA Report highlights Increased Energy Efficiency for Corn-based Ethanol

Harry Baumes, Acting Director of USDA’s Office of Energy Policy and New Uses, says a report that surveyed corn growers in 2005 and ethanol plants in 2008 indicates the net energy gain from converting corn to ethanol is improving in efficiency. Titled “2008 Energy Balance for the Corn-Ethanol Industry,” the report surveyed ethanol producers about ethanol yield (undenatured) per bushel of corn and energy used in ethanol plants.

This report measured all conventional fossil fuel energy, 53,785 BTU used in the production of 1 gallon of corn ethanol. For every British Thermal Unit (BTU) (unit of heat equal to the amount of heat required to raise one pound of water one degree Fahrenheit at one atmosphere) of energy required to make ethanol, 2.3 BTUs of energy are produced (energy output/energy input). The ratio is somewhat higher for some firms that are partially substituting biomass energy in processing energy (thermal and electrical energy required in the plant to convert corn to one gallon of ethanol).

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Harvest running ahead

The recent National Agricultural Statistics Service report confirms what farmers already know – the 2010 harvest is well ahead of schedule.

National corn harvest jumped 7% this week to 18% harvested, which is 8% ahead of the 5-year average. Soybeans are 8% harvested which is just 2% ahead of the average pace.

Ohio farmers have 11% harvested of both corn and soybeans, which is 10% ahead for the corn and 8% ahead for the soybeans.

Just over 70% of Ohio’s corn crop is mature, 40% ahead of the average, and soybeans are 42% mature, which is 25% ahead of normal. Winter wheat planting in Ohio is at 2% while average is 1%.

At Farm Science Review, the first corn yields are running from 170 bushels to 190 bushels. For other yields from around the state visit:

Be sure to take a break from the fields to visit the Farm Science Review.… Continue reading

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Five Farm Families to be Recognized at FSR

LONDON, Ohio — Five Ohio farm families will be recognized for their conservation work at the Farm Science Review Sept. 23 at the Lawrence G. Vance Soil and Water Conservation Park.

The Ohio Conservation Farm Family Award is sponsored by Ohio Farmer, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Soil and Water Resources, Hancor Inc. and the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation. The winning families are recognized for steps they have taken to install a variety of conservation practices ranging from special rotations and reduced tillage practices, to stream buffers, spring developments, grass waterways and heavy-use pads for livestock.

“Together these families practice stewardship and care for the land on 10,000 acres in the Buckeye state,” said Tim White, editor of Ohio Farmer. “The extra steps they have taken set an example for other farmers as well as other businesses around Ohio. What they have accomplished is not the result of some trendy impulse.… Continue reading

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Maintenance of farm equipment minimizes field fires

Farmers can greatly reduce the risk of starting field fires with proper, regular maintenance of combines and other equipment they use to harvest their crops, a Purdue Extension farm safety expert says.

Combines are especially vulnerable to fires because of the many hours they operate at a time and the dry crop fodder that can collect on them, said Gail Deboy.

“During hot, dry weather, very dry fodder provides an excellent source to fuel a flame whenever a fire is ignited,” he said.

This year’s early planting resulted in early maturing of crops and unusually dry foliage during harvest. The exceptionally dry weather has led to numerous field fires in recent days, and many counties have imposed restrictions on burning.

Combine fires can easily spread to crops or remaining corn stover, rapidly igniting acres of farmland. Field fires can spread to nearby farm equipment, trees and buildings, including homes. Smoke from fires can create health problems for nearby residents and reduce visibility on roads.Continue reading

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Good yields, what about all that residue?

By Ryan McAllister, CCA, Team Sales Agronomist for Beck’s Hybrids

Thankfully, with an early harvest underway, we should have the time this fall to complete tillage operations that we were unable to do last year. In some cases, a deep tillage pass may be necessary to break up some compaction layers. In other cases, simply a leveling pass will be required.

Possibly just as important as leveling and ripping this year will be attempting to answer the million-dollar question, “What am I going to do with all of this residue?” Genetics have changed. We all know that. Some yield reports coming in for April planted corn are simply mind-boggling considering the saturated conditions early followed by the hot and dry conditions late. With improved genetics, in terms of yield and plant health, come challenges in terms of managing all of the residue.

Some of those challenges include uneven moisture and temperature throughout a field.… Continue reading

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Land Improvement Contractors return to FSR

The organization, an affiliate of the Land Improvement Contractors of America, will showcase the latest in cutting edge field drainage technology, combining improved production practices with conservation water management.

The group, which strives to protect land and water resources, will be designing and installing drainage structures on 50 acres of the Molly Caren Agricultural Center during Farm Science Review, Sept. 21-23. Show participants will have the opportunity to see the installation process of the drainage structures, how they work and the opportunities that exist to improve water quality while potentially making crop production more profitable.

The installation of the drainage structures will take place from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily just north of I-70 in the field demonstration area.

“Our ultimate goal with the drainage is to be able to get a return on our investment. We can measure this through increased yield,” said Matt Sullivan, Farm Science Review assistant manager.… Continue reading

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Learn how to view wildlife, increase diversity at FSR

Wildlife viewing around the homestead is becoming a popular hobby, and visitors to Ohio State University’s Farm Science Review can learn how to attract and monitor various species on their property.

Marne Titchenell, an Ohio State University Extension wildlife program specialist, will present two sessions at the Gwynne Conservation Area to offer attendees tips and resources for monitoring wildlife and increasing species diversity in and around their wooded areas.

“How to Monitor Wildlife on Your Property” will be held Sept. 21 from noon until 1 p.m. and Sept. 23 from 10:30 a.m. until 11:30 a.m. “Don’t Forget the Simple Things…Nest Boxes for Wildlife” will be held Sept. 23 from noon until 12:30 p.m.

“Are you curious about the wildlife that is in your woods or visiting your property? A great tool to use is a trail camera,” Titchenell said. “You can capture wildlife on camera and get a good idea of what is out there.… Continue reading

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FSR at a glance

2010 FSR features at a glance

• This is the 48th Farm Science Review, the 28th at the Molly Caren Agricultural Center.

• Hundreds of demonstration plots and several million dollars worth of machinery.

• Twenty-first-year inductions into the Farm Science Review Hall of Fame.

• Ohio Farmer Conservation Awards; Thursday at 11:30 a.m.

• OSU Central, featuring demonstrations and displays from Ohio State University colleges and departments.

• A lot of farm safety, home safety and health information.

• Global Positioning Systems (GPS) hands-on demonstrations in the demonstration fields.

• Expanded programs on conservation practices in the Gwynne Conservation Area.

• An arts and crafts exhibit tent.

• Permanent washroom facilities with diaper changing stations.

Field demonstrations

Harvesting, strip-tilling, global positioning and tillage demonstrations will take place every day. Check the schedule at for demonstration times.

Commercial exhibits

The commercial exhibit area hosts about 600 exhibitors from all across North America in the Central Exhibit Area.… Continue reading

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Biodiesel tax incentive still stalled

The American Soybean Association (ASA) expressed extreme disappointment and frustration with the United States Senate for its inability to extend the Biodiesel Tax Incentive that expired on December 31, 2009.

The Senate voted 41-58 against a motion to suspend the rules and accept an amendment offered by Senator Charles Grassley (R-IA) to enact a retroactive extension of the biodiesel tax credit. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) announced that the U.S. Senate would consider a motion to suspend the rules on the amendment to the Small Business Bill filed by Senator Grassley to retroactively extend the biodiesel tax incentive through 2010.

“Biodiesel has provided a significant market opportunity for U.S. soybean farmers, as well as jobs and economic development for rural communities,” said ASA President Rob Joslin, a soybean producer from Sidney, Ohio. “ASA appreciates the efforts of Senator Grassley to include the long overdue extension of the biodiesel tax credit in this Bill.”… Continue reading

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Ohio farm custom rates

By Barry Ward, Leader, Production Business Management, Ohio State University Extension, Department of Agricultural, Environmental and Development Economics

A large number of Ohio farmers hire machinery operations and other farm related work to be completed by others. This is often due to lack of proper equipment or lack of time or expertise for a particular operation. Many farm business owners do not own equipment for every possible job that they may encounter in the course of operating a farm and may, instead of purchasing the equipment needed, seek out someone with the proper tools necessary to complete the job. This farm work completed by others is often referred to as “custom farm work” or more simply “custom work.” A “custom rate” is the amount agreed upon by both parties to be paid from the custom work customer to the custom work provider.

The custom rates reported in this article are based on a statewide survey of 242 farmers, custom operators, farm managers and landowners conducted in 2010.… Continue reading

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Atrazine found safe, again

In a scientific meeting convened by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) scientists for Syngenta presented data that more closely replicate real-world exposure, supporting the safety of the trusted herbicide atrazine.
One of the studies measured the potential effects of atrazine on animals using two delivery methods: 1) after distributed doses or 2) after a large, single dose. Because the rats received atrazine in distributed doses over time, data from this study are more applicable to how humans may be exposed to minute quantities of atrazine in reality. Doses delivered in a distributed manner showed no effects up to and including the highest dose given (500 parts per million in the diet).

“This highest dose was tens of thousands of times higher than the current EPA water standards for atrazine. People would never be exposed to this level in the environment,” said Tim Pastoor, Ph.D., principal scientist with Syngenta. “Yet even at this extreme dose, atrazine had no effect.”
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Wineries developing a new generation of wine drinkers

By Matt Reese

Ohio has a long history of grape and wine production, particularly along the Ohio River and Lake Erie. As it turns out, Ohio is a great place for growing grapes.

The trouble in terms of wine is the grapes that readily grow in Ohio are sweet varieties that do not produce the fine dry wines revered around the world.

That is changing, however, as Ohio’s wineries have made great strides in recent years in vinifera grape production. The grapes are growing, the wines are improving, but changing Ohio’s reputation as a sweet wine state may take a while.

“Ohio still has a stigma for only having sweet wines,” said Bob Guilliams, owner of Raven’s Glenn Winery in Coshocton County. “People are reasonably open to the product once they try it and Ohio’s wine quality is improving every year, but the bar is set pretty high with Europe and California.… Continue reading

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Self-guided exhibit at FSR to teach on-farm electrical safety

Electricity from power lines near grain bins can arc to a conductor and farm equipment can be that target, putting the farmer, family, friends or farm hands at risk for electrocution.

Ohio State University Extension’s Agricultural Safety and Health Program will have an exhibit at this year’s Farm Science Review explaining the dangers of overhead power lines and what those working on the farm should look for to stay safe.

“There is a misconception that as long as that equipment can clear the power lines then everything is OK,” said Dee Jepsen, OSU Extension state safety specialist. “But if you have, say a 2-foot clearance, that isn’t enough. Electricity can arc to the auger, wagon, combine, whatever equipment you may be operating at the time.”

Between 1990 and 2009, there have been eight fatalities related to electrocutions in Ohio, three of which where grain bin related, according to the OSU Extension Agricultural Safety and Health Program Web site.… Continue reading

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Energy effeciency a focus of Ohio Rural Electric Cooperative at FSR

The Ohio Rural Electric Cooperatives (OREC), long-time sponsors of the Farm Science Review, are bringing the Touchstone Energy hot air balloon back to the Review this year. The 18-story balloon will make morning and evening flights (weather permitting) over the grounds each day of the event.

This year’s exhibits located in the OREC Education Center include a strong focus on being energy efficient and include:

• A hands-on energy efficiency wall display featuring the right way and the wrong way to insulate, caulk and seal. Additional displays will feature renewable energy, heat pump water heaters, the Touchstone Energy Home program and energy efficient windows.

• The latest in lighting featuring outdoor and commercial lighting, along with natural home lighting technologies by First Day Natural Lighting.

• Both air source and geothermal heat pumps displayed by Habegger Corporation and Utility Marketing. A federal tax credit of up to 30% of the cost of an installed geothermal heat pump is available until 2016.… Continue reading

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Learn about rain gardens at FSR

Gardens do more than beautify an area, instill a love for plants, and provide food and shelter for wildlife. They also can be a source of environmental conservation.

Visitors to Ohio State University’s Farm Science Review have the opportunity to tour a newly installed rain garden on the grounds of the Lawrence G. Vance Soil and Water Conservation Park along Friday Avenue in the exhibitor area.

The 480 square-foot rain garden was installed by members of the Ohio Federation of Soil and Water Conservation Districts to educate visitors on how properly constructed rain gardens using Ohio native plants can combat flooding and drainage issues, alleviate erosion, provide wildlife habitats, and provide a value-added benefit to property.

“Having a presence at Farm Science Review really gives us the opportunity to promote the value of conservation to farmers, students, homeowners, business owners and others visiting the show,” said Mindy Bankey, CEO of the Ohio Federation of Soil and Water Conservation Districts.… Continue reading

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CRP land signed up

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that USDA will accept 4.3 million acres offered by landowners under the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) general sign-up. The selections preserve and enhance environmentally sensitive lands, including wetlands, while providing payments to property owners.

“Interest in this open enrollment period was high, and I’m pleased that producers and landowners across the nation continue to realize the environmental benefits of enrolling land in the CRP,” said Secretary Vilsack.

For this 39th general sign-up more than 50,000 offers were received on more than 4.8 million acres, nationwide. Enrollment of the 4.3 million acres will keep the program enrollment close to the 32 million acre statutory cap, which will maintain and enhance the significant environmental benefits the program has already achieved. CRP’s 39th signup will bring the total enrollment in the program to 31.2 million acres, leaving sufficient room under the 32 million acre cap to continue enrollment in the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program, continuous signup and other CRP initiatives through FY 2011.… Continue reading

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Time to Wrap Up the Last Cutting of Alfalfa

By Mark Sulc, Ohio State University Extension

It is time to take the last cutting of alfalfa and red clover in Ohio. Cutting this week will allow plenty of time for the stand to regrow and store energy and proteins in the taproots, which are important for winter survival and early growth next spring.

It may be tempting to wait to cut the alfalfa because of low yield due to the recent dry weather, in hopes that rains will come and more growth will occur. But delaying the last cutting of alfalfa to late September into mid-October can carry serious risk to the health of the stand. Cutting later will interrupt the process of storage of energy and proteins in alfalfa taproots. When cut during the fall rest period, the plants will regrow and utilize precious taproot energy and protein reserves without sufficient time to replenish them before a killing frost.… Continue reading

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