Top Headlines

Featured Posts (Posts shown below the “Top Posts” on the home page)

USDA releases planting intentions for 2011

With commodity prices significantly higher than last spring, U.S. farmers plan to plant 3.99 million (4.5%) more corn acres, 3.89 million (8.2%) more wheat acres, and 1.59 million (15%) cotton acres than last year according to the Prospective Plantings report released today by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS). In all, farmers reported intentions of planting 323.8 million acres across the 21 major crops surveyed for this report, a 7.09 million (2.2%) increase from 2010 but still 1.21 million acres below the 2008 total.

“Despite increased plantings for most major field crops as reported in today’s Prospective Plantings report, the March 1 Grain Stocks report indicates continued strong demand and usage for these commodities. This suggests the current tight supply situation will continue into 2011 and 2012,” said Joseph Glauber, USDA Chief Economist.

The largest increase in corn-planted acreage in 2011 is expected in South Dakota where growers intend to plant an additional 850,000 acres compared to last year when wet field conditions during planting prevented many from getting all of their intended acreage seeded.… Continue reading

Read More »

Seven wonders – A ranking of the top seven factors that determine corn yields

By Fred E. Below, Department of Crop Sciences, University of Illinois

To help farmers better understand the value of their crop management decisions, I developed the “Seven Wonders of the Corn Yield World.” This is a tool to teach farmers (and students) the relative importance of management factors that can impact corn productivity.

The Seven Wonders ranks the top seven factors that can positively impact corn yields. It assigns an average bushel-per-acre value to each wonder. It’s based on a compilation of research conducted by the Crop Physiology Laboratory at the University of Illinois over the last 10 years.

Because the bushel-values are averages of ranges, farmers could experience different values. The research for this ranking was conducted mostly in Illinois, so the relative ranking or value of a particular wonder could change slightly with geography.

Defining a wonder
Some practices are clearly important, but I don’t consider them as yield wonders because they are either one-time improvements (tile drainage), they protect rather than increase yield (weed or pest control) or they involve decisions that don’t need to be made every year (soil pH and nutrient levels).… Continue reading

Read More »

New beginnings for the new Farm Bill

By Fred Yoder, Plain City corn grower who recently testified before the full Senate Ag Committee

As I reflect over the years as to what agriculture has meant to my state as well as my own family operation, I am reminded of that old commercial that used the phrase, “you’ve come a long way, baby.” Today’s agriculture is not my father’s agriculture. We have come through the years of excess production, using programs to curtail carryovers by limiting acres planted, to Freedom to Farm in 1996, which gave us full utilization of the potential our lands offered. However, we did not develop the demand for all of that volume, and soon had to rely once again on our government to help us dispose of that excess production through deficiency payments and market clearing measures.

Today, we have new technologies, and new markets, especially for corn. While traditionally we have always used corn for livestock feed, today we use roughly a third of our production to produce biofuels, without reducing the total bushels of corn and corn equivalent for the feed and export markets.… Continue reading

Read More »

Research helps producers use more distillers grains, reduce feed costs

Almost a third of the 146 million bushels of Ohio-grown corn used by the state’s growing ethanol industry ends up in a byproduct called distillers grains, which can be used as a cheaper feed alternative for cattle, sheep and swine.

In the past animal nutritional requirements and high fat, nitrogen and sulfur content of distiller’s grains (DGS) have limited the use of the byproduct to 25% of cattle diets. The restriction has led to a reduction in potential savings for producers as well as fewer employment opportunities and profits for ethanol plants. But, Ohio State University researchers are working to change that.

“Both the biofuels and livestock industries are jeopardized unless discoveries are made to allow increased use of DGS in animal rations as a viable and cost-effective substitute for corn grain,” said Steve Loerch, an animal scientist with Ohio State University’s Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center (OARDC) in Wooster.… Continue reading

Read More »

Farm Safety Day camps

Spring has officially arrived and as planting season approaches, Ohio State Farm Safety Day camps will help rural youth learn the value of on-farm safety.

“Children tend to be curious by nature and often are unsuspecting of lurking danger,” said Kathy Henwood, agricultural safety and health program coordinator for the College of Food, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. “These are two characteristics that can cause harm to young people on farms, whether they live there or are visitors, and in Ohio, incidents are more likely to occur to children during the spring and summer months.”

The day camps offer lessons about farm dangers with a focus on rural safety. Beginning April 12, seven Ohio locations will host the workshops:

* April 12-13: Putnam County, Ruth Gerding Farm. Contact Joan Kline, 419-523-5608.

* May 6: Morrow County Fairgrounds. Contact Becky Barker, 419-947-1070.

* May 10: Auglaize County, Four Seasons Recreation Complex & Park.… Continue reading

Read More »

Online Tool to Select Cover Crops in Ohio

Have you ever thought of having a cover crop on your field, but didn’t have the tools to figure out which crop would work best for your needs?

Michigan State University (MSU) Extension and the Midwest Cover Crops Council (MCCC) teamed up to release an online tool that assists farmers in deciding what cover crops will benefit their row crop rotation.

“The MCCC hopes the cover crop selector tool will encourage the use of cover crops by providing the information and decision-making help necessary for farmers to successfully use cover crops in their cropping systems,” says Dean Baas, of the MSU Extension/W. K. Kellogg Biological Station Land and Water Unit.

The MCCC Cover Crop Decision Tool is an initiative by the MCCC to consolidate cover crop information by state or province to help farmers make cover crop selections at the county level. A team of cover crop experts including university researchers, Extension educators, Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) personnel, state departments of agriculture department personnel, crop advisors, seed suppliers and farmers develop information for each state or province.… Continue reading

Read More »

Fewer meals and lean protein can curb obesity

Eating fewer, regular-sized meals with higher amounts of lean protein can make one feel more full than eating smaller, more frequent meals, according to new research from Purdue University.

“We found that when eating high amounts of protein, men who were trying to lose weight felt fuller throughout the day; they also experienced a reduction in late-night desire to eat and had fewer thoughts of food,” said Heather J. Leidy, an assistant professor of nutrition and exercise physiology at the University of Missouri who was a postdoctoral researcher at Purdue for this study.

“We also found that despite the common trend of eating smaller, more frequent meals, eating frequency had relatively no beneficial impact on appetite control. The larger meals led to reductions in appetite, and people felt full. We want to emphasize though that these three larger meals were restricted in calories and reflected appropriate portion sizes to be effective in weight loss.”… Continue reading

Read More »

Obama’s energy security plan includes ethanol

President Barrack Obama spoke at Georgetown University outlining a four-part “Plan for American’s Energy Security.” With gas prices approaching $4 per gallon, the plan incorporates many elements, including biofuels such as ethanol, and offers concrete measures to curb the rapidly rising energy prices affecting every American.

“We are pleased to see that the president has chosen to incorporate ethanol, a proven renewable fuel source, in his energy plan,” said National Corn Growers Association President Bart Schott. “With rising fuel prices hitting farmers, as well as consumers, U.S. corn growers are proud to be part of the solution.”

Noting that sharp increases in gasoline prices have been felt by everyone from farmers to suburban families, the president stressed the importance of creating a more secure tomorrow by taking tangible measures to improve our energy independence today. He proposes a three-part strategy that would reduce dependence upon foreign oil by developing domestic supplies of oil and gas, leveraging these supplies with cleaner, alternative fuels like ethanol, and increasing energy efficiency.… Continue reading

Read More »

Obama's energy security plan includes ethanol

President Barrack Obama spoke at Georgetown University outlining a four-part “Plan for American’s Energy Security.” With gas prices approaching $4 per gallon, the plan incorporates many elements, including biofuels such as ethanol, and offers concrete measures to curb the rapidly rising energy prices affecting every American.

“We are pleased to see that the president has chosen to incorporate ethanol, a proven renewable fuel source, in his energy plan,” said National Corn Growers Association President Bart Schott. “With rising fuel prices hitting farmers, as well as consumers, U.S. corn growers are proud to be part of the solution.”

Noting that sharp increases in gasoline prices have been felt by everyone from farmers to suburban families, the president stressed the importance of creating a more secure tomorrow by taking tangible measures to improve our energy independence today. He proposes a three-part strategy that would reduce dependence upon foreign oil by developing domestic supplies of oil and gas, leveraging these supplies with cleaner, alternative fuels like ethanol, and increasing energy efficiency.… Continue reading

Read More »

NCBA: 101 members of Congress call for EPA to back off dust

The Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Lisa Jackson received a letter from 101 members of the U.S. House of Representatives expressing concerns about EPA’s potential revision to the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for Coarse Particulate Matter, more commonly known as dust. Led by Congresswoman Kristi Noem (R-S.D.) and Congressman Stephen Fincher (R-Tenn.), the policymakers collectively emphasized the devastating impact farmers, ranchers and all of rural America would feel if the EPA moves forward with regulating dust at unprecedented levels.

“This bipartisan effort to protect farmers, ranchers and all of rural America from a burdensome, unnecessary and scientifically unfounded regulation is reassuring. We firmly stand behind and strongly support this effort to relieve farm and ranch families from the massive heap of regulations coming out of the EPA,” said Colin Woodall, vice president of government affairs for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association. “We hope Administrator Jackson and all of the officials at EPA are listening to the continuous calls from elected leaders to use science and commonsense when proposing or even considering regulations.… Continue reading

Read More »

Suit filed against Monsanto challenging patents on GMO seed

On behalf of 60 family farmers, seed businesses, and organic agricultural organizations, including the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association (OEFFA), the Public Patent Foundation (PUBPAT) filed suit against Monsanto to challenge patents on genetically modified seed.

The organic plaintiffs were forced to sue preemptively to protect themselves from being accused of patent infringement should they ever become contaminated by Monsanto’s genetically modified seed, something Monsanto has done to others in the past. The case, Organic Seed Growers & Trade Association, et al. v. Monsanto, was filed in federal district court in Manhattan and assigned to Judge Naomi Buchwald.

Plaintiffs in the suit represent a broad array of family farmers, small businesses, and organizations from within the organic agriculture community who are increasingly threatened by genetically modified seed contamination despite using their best efforts to avoid it. The plaintiff organizations have over 270,000 members, including thousands of certified organic family farmers.… Continue reading

Read More »

What can ag learn from Food, Inc.?

By Matt Reese

The 2008 movie Food, Inc. has been critically acclaimed and reached millions of viewers at the theater and through movie rentals with its the half-truths and misinformation about food production. The movie, along with related films and books, has led the charge to undermine centuries of consumer trust and goodwill with regard to the origins of their food.

From the Web site for the film: “In Food, Inc., filmmaker Robert Kenner lifts the veil on our nation’s food industry, exposing the highly mechanized underbelly that has been hidden from the American consumer with the consent of our government’s regulatory agencies, USDA and FDA. Our nation’s food supply is now controlled by a handful of corporations that often put profit ahead of consumer health, the livelihood of the American farmer, the safety of workers and our own environment.”

Regardless of what viewers think of the film, it has successfully created concerns among some consumers with regard to their food.… Continue reading

Read More »

Hog prices nearing their peak

The highest hog prices on record will soon be arriving, said a Purdue University Extension economist.

“These may be the highest hog prices for the next several years as well, especially if corn and soybean shortages can be reduced somewhat this summer with favorable growing conditions. On the other hand, if 2011 turns out to be a short crop production year, then the previous statement will be invalid as surging feed prices will force added liquidation of the hog herd this fall. But you already knew how much was riding on upcoming crops,” said Chris Hurt.

USDA’s March Hogs and Pigs report implied that pork supplies will be somewhat higher this year. However, demand factors are more important to hog prices now than supply. Those demand factors include the continued strong growth in export demand, the continued economic recovery in the U.S., and inflation in commodities, he said.

The report indicated that the market herd was up nearly 1%, primarily as a result of a somewhat larger-than-expected winter pig crop, he said.… Continue reading

Read More »

AFBF intervenes in pesticide lawsuit

The American Farm Bureau Federation, along with other agriculture groups, has filed a motion to intervene in federal court in a lawsuit aimed at imposing needless restrictions or bans on pesticide use.

AFBF filed in Center for Biological Diversity v. Environmental Protection Agency, a suit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. The Center for Biological Diversity’s (CBD) lawsuit alleges that EPA violated the Endangered Species Act by allowing the use of nearly 400 pesticides without conducting consultations with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and National Marine Fisheries Service (Services) regarding potential impacts on 214 listed species.

“This case aims to use the Endangered Species Act to impose restrictions, if not outright bans, on hundreds of pesticides,” said AFBF President Bob Stallman. “To protect the interests of growers nationwide who rely on the availability of safe, affordable and effective pesticides, we have sought to intervene in the lawsuit in order to participate fully in how the case is resolved.”… Continue reading

Read More »

Corn growers respond to attacks from Nestle chairman

Remarks made by the chairman of Nestle about the use of corn for biofuels production were not only wrong but dangerous, the president of the National Corn Growers Association said.  At a time of economic struggle for millions of Americans, any proposal that will kill jobs, damage the environment and raise energy prices needs to be opposed vehemently.

“It is scandalous, ludicrous and highly irresponsible for the chairman of a global conglomerate that tripled its profits last year to talk about higher corn prices forcing millions into starvation,” said NCGA President Bart Schott.  “Perhaps if Nestle is so concerned about food prices, its board will consider putting more of their $35.7 billion in 2010 profits back into poor communities. Just their profits alone represent more than half the entire farm value of the 2010 U.S. corn crop.”

Schott was reacting to comments by Nestle Chairman Peter Brabeck-Letmathe at a March 22 meeting of the Council on Foreign Relations.… Continue reading

Read More »

Two Produce Safety Education Programs next week

Ohio State University will offer its Produce Safety Education Program twice next week: on April 4 in Clayton near Dayton and on April 7 in Piketon south of Chillicothe. It’s a workshop for growers on reducing the risk of foodborne illnesses from fresh fruits and vegetables. The program will be the same at both locations.

Among the topics: Water issues, soil amendments, traceability, consumer perceptions, Good Handling Practices and Good Agricultural Practices.

Registration costs $40 and is paid at the door, but a spot can be reserved in advance (guaranteeing both space and the program materials) by calling Ohio State’s Ashley Kulhanek, 330-202-3555, ext. 2918. Attendance at each location is limited to 50.

The April 4 program goes from 6-9 p.m. at Northmont High School, 4916 National Rd., Clayton.

On April 7, attend from 1-4 p.m. in room 160 of the Endeavor Center at the OSU South Centers, 1862 Shyville Rd.,… Continue reading

Read More »

"Food, Faith and a Sustainable Future" talk at OSU

Jewish environmental educator Rabbi Fred Scherlinder Dobb of Bethesda, Md., and Rabbi Benjamin Berger of Ohio State University Hillel will present “Food, Faith and a Sustainable Future: Eco-Judaism from the Ground Up,” a free community forum, from 7-9 p.m. this Wednesday (3/30) in the Barbara Tootle Room of Ohio State’s Ohio Union, 1739 N. High St., Columbus.

Ohio State philosophy professor Tamar Rudavsky will moderate.

There will be free organic tapas and local food samples at 6:30 p.m. plus free tomato and lettuce plants for participating.

The program is the first in the three-part “Abrahamic Faiths and the Environment” series sponsored by Ohio State’s School of Environment and Natural Resources (SENR), the Ohio Council of Churches, and Ohio Interfaith Power and Light.

For more information, contact Ohio State’s Greg Hitzhusen at 614-292-7739 or hitzhusen.3@osu.edu or go to http://go.osu.edu/CWn.

SENR is part of Ohio State’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences.… Continue reading

Read More »

“Food, Faith and a Sustainable Future” talk at OSU

Jewish environmental educator Rabbi Fred Scherlinder Dobb of Bethesda, Md., and Rabbi Benjamin Berger of Ohio State University Hillel will present “Food, Faith and a Sustainable Future: Eco-Judaism from the Ground Up,” a free community forum, from 7-9 p.m. this Wednesday (3/30) in the Barbara Tootle Room of Ohio State’s Ohio Union, 1739 N. High St., Columbus.

Ohio State philosophy professor Tamar Rudavsky will moderate.

There will be free organic tapas and local food samples at 6:30 p.m. plus free tomato and lettuce plants for participating.

The program is the first in the three-part “Abrahamic Faiths and the Environment” series sponsored by Ohio State’s School of Environment and Natural Resources (SENR), the Ohio Council of Churches, and Ohio Interfaith Power and Light.

For more information, contact Ohio State’s Greg Hitzhusen at 614-292-7739 or hitzhusen.3@osu.edu or go to http://go.osu.edu/CWn.

SENR is part of Ohio State’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences.… Continue reading

Read More »

Forages and nutrient management

By Bob Hendershot, State Grassland Conservationist, USDA-NRCS-Ohio

Forages can help in managing nutrients from manure applications.

Harvested forages can be used effectively to remove excess nutrients from crop fields and reduce water pollution potential. Harvested forages are very marketable, and should be considered as a way to transfer nutrients off of farms with excess nutrient levels. Forages also are excellent in improving soil conditions, reducing soil erosion and runoff that contributes to water quality concerns.

Forages can be used to draw down soil test phosphorus levels in fields with excessive soil test levels. Typically,

forages will remove 13 to 15 pounds of P2O5 per ton of harvested forage. Plants harvested earlier in their growth stage will have a higher concentration of phosphorus, but a lower yield per acre. Different forages remove different

amounts of phosphorus. Oklahoma research shows orchardgrass removing 50% more P2O5 than the same yield of

alfalfa, ryegrass or tall fescue; twice as much as red clover and three times more than sorghum-sudangrass or pearl millet.… Continue reading

Read More »