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Thursday, June 22, 2017

Wood Chip Bioreactor Controls Tile Line Nitrate Load

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Wood Chip Bioreactor Controls Tile Line Nitrate Load
Laura Christianson, Crop Sciences - University of Illinois

The Dudley Smith farm in Illinois is tiled and wired. Todd Gleason has more on how the University of Illinois is doing nitrogen loss research near Pana.

Farmers gathered this week for a peek…
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Farmers gathered this week for a peek at the nitrogen loss control methods installed in Christian County. It’s a farm that rolls just a bit, but is pretty typical for the area other than the pastures on a portion of it. They came to hear from Laura Christianson. She’s a University of Illinois Crop Scientist.

Christianson :27 …nitrate is taken out of the drainage water.

Quote Summary - At the Dudley Smith farm we have a wood chip bioreactor installed. A wood chip bioreactor is a little mini water treatment plant to clean nitrate out of tile drainage. The thing that makes the Dudley Smith bioreactor different is that is has baffles inside it. So, rather than the water just running straight through the wood chips, like most bioreactors, this bioreactor has baffles in it to make the water move in more of an S shape to improve how much nitrate is taken out of the drainage water.

Early indications are the baffle is working as hoped. Wood chip bioreactors, even without the baffles, can remove between 20 and 40 percent of the annual nitrate load from a tile line. It’s technology farmers are interested in seeing and hopefully, says Christianson, deploying.

Christianson :19 …field before it goes down stream.

Quote Summary - I think farmers are interested in wood chip bioreactors because it is something they can do that doesn’t impact their production practices. It is an edge of field practice, so you can keep on in the field however you are comfortable, but this catches that nitrate at the edge of the field before it goes down stream.

A bioreactor is pretty simple to build. Use a backhoe to make a trench near the end of the tile, put a plastic liner in the trench, fill it with wood chips, be sure to have control structures on the inlet and outlet, and cover it with dirt. The chips will need to be replaced about every 10 years.

What Makes a Top Third Farm

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What Makes a Top Third Farm
Gary Schnitkey, Agricultural Economist - University of Illinois

There are just two items that make the difference between a top third farm and an average farm. Todd Gleason has more…

This University of Illinois study was…
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This University of Illinois study was on a small set in Mclean County. This was done to limit the influences of weather and a few other factors. Gary Schnitkey says he wanted to know why some farms made more than others. Turns out, the answer is pretty simple.

Schnitkey :22 …machinery depreciation and interest cost.

Quote Summary - What we found were distinct cost differences between the two groups. This was a $45 per acre difference between the average group and the high return group. The $45 came primarily in two items; machinery depreciation and interest cost.

The more profitable farms tended to have lower machinery and non-land interest cost. The two are related says the University of Illinois agricultural economist.

Schnitkey :28 …are the cost groups that stood out.

Quote Summary - If you buy more machinery, you have more depreciation and likely more interest costs. Other differences included storage costs, with high profit farms storing less at elevators and their cost of hired labor was lower, too. Over all, these farms usually had lower costs, but these are the cost groups that stood out.

A couple of notes. The most profitable farms expanded acreage at a faster pace than those in the average group. They also had higher average yields for soybeans and did a better job of marketing soybean.

Feeding Wheat CoProducts to Pigs

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Feeding Wheat CoProducts to Pigs
Hans Stein, Animal Scientist - University of Illinois

Research from the University of Illinois is helping to determine the quality of protein in wheat middlings and red dog. Both are co-products of the wheat milling process. Each can be fed to pigs and other livestock.

There is information about the digestibility of crude protein in some wheat co-products produced in Canada and China, says University of Illinois Animal Scientist Hans Stein, but only very limited information about the nutritional value of wheat middlings and red dog produced in the United States.

Stein and U of I researcher Gloria Casas fed wheat middlings from 8 different states and red dog from Iowa to growing pigs. Despite the variety in the wheat middlings sources the concentration of crude protein were generally consistent. However, they did find some variation in the digestibility of the amino acids.

The red dog contained slightly less crude protein than wheat middlings.

Stein says the results of this study provide guidance to producers who hope to incorporate wheat co-products into diets fed to pigs. The paper appears in the June 2017 issue of the Journal of Animal Science. The National Pork Board provided funding for the study.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Check Dicamba Soybeans After Spraying

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Check Dicamba Soybeans After Spraying
Aaron Hager, Extension Weed Scientist - University of Illinois

Farmers are turning to an old technology this year to control weeds in their fields. Todd Gleason has more on what they can expect from a new, old-product.

Dicamba has been around for about half-a-century…
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Dicamba has been around for about half-a-century. It is a corn herbicide, but soybeans have been modified to tolerate it. This was done because so many weeds have modified themselves to resist being killed by glyphosate, commonly known as Round-Up. The primary problem, says University of Illinois Extension Weed Scientist Aaron Hager, is waterhemp.

Hager :11 ….but it is not excellent. It is not as consistent.

Quote Summary - Dicamba, in the 50 years that we’ve used it, has never been excellent on any of the pigweed species. It can be good. It can be very good, but it is not excellent. It is not as consistent.

This inconsistency makes the timing of dicamba applications extremely important. Without a doubt, says Hager, most post applied herbicides are going to do a better job of controlling a full suite of weeds in a field when the weeds are less than three to four inches in size.

Hager :23 …they will necessarily be completely controlled.

Quote Summary - Certainly, with something like dicamba and waterhemp, our recommendation to farmers is to treat very, very small weeds, but to go back in about 10 to 14 days and to scout those treated fields. Look to see what the efficacy has been. Sometimes we can twist up these pigweed plants, but that doesn’t mean they will necessarily be completely controlled.

It is possible for the weeds to recover, flower, and produce seed. And that, says Aaron Hager, is something to avoid.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Hog Prices Continue to be Higher

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Hog Prices Continue to be Higher
Chris Hurt, Extension Agricultural Economist - Purdue University

Despite more hogs coming to market this year, the price of pork remains higher. Todd Gleason has more on some of the reasons why.

For agricultural commodities, larger supplies generally…
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Quote Summary - For agricultural commodities, larger supplies generally result in lower prices. This year’s hog market is going against that adage with both larger supplies and higher prices. Purdue University Extension Agricultural Economist Christ Hurt says this is because demand is really good.

Hurt :25 …twenty-two percent of our domestic production.

Quote Summary - The most important reason for higher prices involves favorable international trade for U.S. pork. Pork exports have been up 17 percent and pork imports have been down 10 percent. For trade data available so far this year, pork exports have accounted for 22 percent of our domestic production.

This is the strongest export showing since 2012, the year of record exports. Shipments to Japan, that nation imports more pork from the United States than any other, are up eight percent. Mexico, the second largest customer, has purchased 33 percent more pork than last year. South Korea is in big too, up some 32 percent form last year. South Korea ranks number four. All this extra demand, says Hurt, is plowing through the increased supply of pigs in the United States and it shows on U.S. grocery store shelves.

Hurt :36 …has been down about 1.7 percent for the year.

With about two percent more production in the U.S. so far this year, the amount of pork available to U.S. consumers is actually down about one percent because of favorable trade. When population growth is considered, the available pork per person in the U.S. has been down about 1.7 percent for the year.

This fits the theme of larger production and higher prices, with the strong export demand being the primary driver so far this year. And it is a theme Chris Hurt expects to continue into the summer and fall.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Crop Progress Reports & End of Season Yields

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Crop Progress Reports & End of Season Yields
Scott Irwin, Agricultural Economist - University of Illinois
read blog post

Last week USDA released its first national corn condition rating of the season. The crop, as you’ll hear, wasn’t in great shape. While it doesn’t mean much at this time of year, Todd Gleason reports there is a relationship between the first crop condition rating and the end of the season yield.

The weekly Crop Progress report is mostly…
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The weekly Crop Progress report is mostly the work of Extension and FSA employees, at the least the data collection part. They report local crop conditions to state USDA offices, mostly on Monday morning, who in-turn tally those numbers and pass them along to Washington, D.C. for compilation and release on Monday afternoon. Work at the University of Illinois shows a strong relationship between the end-of-season crop condition ratings and crop yield, however, agricultural economist Scott Irwin says that doesn’t hold so well for the rest of the season.

Irwin :20 …until about mid-August in soybeans.

Quote Summary - But, of course, what you really want to know is how soon do they become really predictive of final yields. Our analysis says they become pretty useful about mid-July for corn and not until about mid-August in soybeans.

The first corn rating of the season, released just after Memorial Day, wasn’t good. the crop had been cold and wet. It showed up, or in this case didn’t show up, in the good and excellent categories USDA NASS uses. Those are the two grades the U of I economist say correlate. The math works like this; the first corn condition rating was 65% good or excellent, minus 8 points for the average drop to the end of the season rating, which brings you to 57%.

Irwin :26 …is something to keep your eye on.

Quote Summary - And then you plug that into the relationship we presented in the article and you end up with 164.3, basically on that set of calculations. It is an intriguing and pretty low number. Clearly that is not where the market is at and it is just one model, one exercise. Certainly, it is something to keep your eye on.

If you do, in about mid-July you can use the math in the farmdocDaily article to forward calculate the national average yield for corn; mid-August for soybean.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Master Gardeners Bloom through Training

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Master Gardeners Bloom through Training
Kelly Allsup, Extension Horticulture Educator - University of Illinois
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Masters Gardeners spend time in the community giving back in wondrous ways. Todd Gleason talks with University of Illinois Extension’s Kelly Allsup about the volunteer program, its great success, and heartfelt giving.

Dealing with Wind Damaged Trees

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Dealing with Wind Damaged Trees
Chris Enroth, Extension Horticulture Specialist - University of Illinois
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High winds can take a toll on trees. Assessing the damage and setting about clean up is an important task for the future health of the tree and the landscape surrounding it. Todd Gleason talks with University of Illinois Extension Horticulture Specialist Chris Enroth about what to do.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Another Rough Income Year for Grain Farmers

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Another Rough Income Year for Grain Farmers
Gary Schnitkey, Agricultural Economist - University of Illinois

It looks like 2017 will be another rough year for grain farmers in the United States. Todd Gleason has more on the projected incomes.

Even in Illinois, where the trend line yield for corn is 200…
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Even in Illinois, where the trend line yield for corn is 200 bushels to the acre and 61 for soybeans, the average income on a 1500 acre grain for this year is just $25,000. That’s not good says University of Illinois Agricultural Economist Gary Schnitkey.

Schnitkey :24 …if these projections hold.

Quote Summary - That $25,000 isn’t enough to cover all the family living withdrawals and capital purchase expenses needed for a family farm of this size. Seventy to eighty-thousand dollars is needed to be sustainable in the long run. So, we are looking, again, at some financial deterioration if these projections hold.

It is a projection that wasn’t quite so low earlier in the year. Then, like today, Schnitkey was using an average cash sales price of $3.70 a bushel in the Illinois crop budget for corn.

Schnitkey :29 …pretty representative soybean price in central Illinois.

What has caused our forecast to come down is the decline in soybean prices in recent weeks. Earlier in the year we were using $9.70 for price. It has now come down and we are using $9.00 in our projections. Even this is above fall delivery prices right now which is about $8.85. It is a pretty representative soybean price in central Illinois.

A decline in soybean prices to $9.00 likely will trigger 2017 ARC-CO payments, given county soybean yields are at trend levels. As a result, ILLINOIS’s 2017 projections build in a $15 per acre government payment. It arrive until the fall of 2018, but an estimated $20 payment from last year’s crop should arrive this fall.

In 2017, revenue is projected to be $755 per acre for corn, down by $77 per acre from last year. Gross revenue for soybeans is projected at $564 per acre, $140 per acre lower than in 2016.