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Pioneer Agronomist Provides Tips On Cover Crops

In recent years, interest in adding cover crops has increased and potential benefits have become more widely recognized. From nitrogen (N) and nutrient management to soil health and carbon credits, there are numerous reasons why growers may consider adding cover crops to their farms. But cover crops are not for every field, or even every grower.

“What’s your goal with cover crops?” asked Kevin Fry, Pioneer Field Agronomist. “While forages and erosion control are the top methods in most places, growers need to define their goals before planting a single seed.”

The most commonly used cover crops fall into one of three broad groups: grasses, legumes and brassica.

Grasses, including winter cereals such as rye, wheat, barley and triticale, are the most widely used cover crops in corn and soybean cropping systems. In general, these grasses are best suited for scavenging soil nutrients, preventing soil erosion and suppressing weeds.

Legumes are valued as cover crops primarily for their ability to fix N. Common legumes used as winter cover crops in corn and soybean cropping systems include hairy vetch, field pea, lentil, crimson clover, red clover and berseem clover.

Brassica cover crops, such as radish or winter canola, have grown in popularity recently due to their ability to provide many of the same benefits as grasses but with residues that break down more rapidly in the spring. Certain brassicas are also becoming well known for their ability to produce a large taproot that is effective at minimizing soil compaction.

It is important to note that cover crop suitability varies by region. Minimum annual temperature is a good predictor of how well adapted a cover crop is to a location. This article from Pioneer provides an overview of the geographic adaptability of cover crops.

Growers also need to consider how and when to terminate their cover crops. Winterkilling, tilling, mowing and herbicides are the four main methods. Winterkilling is highly effective but only applicable to certain cover crops. Similarly, while tilling legumes can help increase N availability, it is less desirable for grasses that produce greater quantities of low-N biomass. Due to simplicity and efficacy, many growers prefer to terminate cover crops using herbicides.

Research studies on the effects of cover crop on grain yields vary depending on environment, cover crop species and management. Getting the greatest benefit out of cover crops requires a management level on par with corn and soybeans. Growers should start by testing a cover crop on a single field and expand.

Source: Agrimarketing.com – Pioneer news release

BASF Launches Poncho Votivo Precise Seed Treatment

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C., — Nematodes are the leading cause of soybean yield loss in the United States, costing growers an estimated $1.5 billion in yield annually.[1] These microscopic organisms are present in most areas where soybeans are grown, and because they feed on the roots of the plant, the damage caused by nematodes is often invisible without any aboveground symptoms. With the release of Poncho Votivo Precise seed treatment, BASF Agricultural Solutions provides soybean growers with another way to defend their fields from multiple generations of nematodes, increasing early-season crop vigor and maximizing yield potential.

Poncho Votivo Precise seed treatment creates a living biological barrier that grows with the root, preventing damage from a wide range of nematode species and encouraging plant growth. Enhanced root growth and biomass at key development stages is critical to increasing yield potential, and Poncho Votivo Precise seed treatment supports a strong start to the season.

“Protection from nematodes is paramount to maximizing soybean growth and yield potential,” said Troy Bauer, BASF Senior Field Technical Representative, Seed Treatments. “Poncho Votivo Precise seed treatment is unique in that it combines a biological and insecticide. The biological grows with the root system to protect the soybean from nematodes while the insecticide delivers immediate protection from key insect pests.”

Poncho Votivo Precise seed treatment also supports early-season plant vigor by providing strong performance against a broad spectrum of damaging insects and pests – both above and below the ground. The insecticidal active ingredient delivers immediate efficacy from key early-season insects including aphids, seed corn maggots, bean leaf beetle, white grubs and grape colaspis.

BASF Agricultural Solutions continues to provide industry-leading protection from nematodes for growers doing the Biggest Job on Earth. The impact of Sudden Death Syndrome (SDS) in soybeans can be exacerbated by nematode pressures, making it critical to manage SDS and nematodes with Poncho Votivo Precise or ILEVO seed treatments depending on your field pressure. To learn more, visit: agriculture.basf.us

Read and follow label directions. Poncho, Votivo and ILEVO are registered trademarks of BASF. © 2023, BASF Corporation. All Rights Reserved.

About BASF’s Agricultural Solutions division

Farming is fundamental to provide enough healthy and affordable food for a rapidly growing population while reducing environmental impacts. Working with partners and agricultural experts and by integrating sustainability criteria into all business decisions, we help farmers to create a positive impact on sustainable agriculture. That’s why we invest in a strong R&D pipeline, connecting innovative thinking with practical action in the field. Our portfolio comprises seeds and specifically selected plant traits, chemical and biological crop protection, solutions for soil management, plant health, pest control and digital farming. With expert teams in the lab, field, office and in production, we strive to find the right balance for success – for farmers, agriculture and future generations. In 2022, our division generated sales of €10.3 billion. For more information, please visit www.agriculture.basf.com or any of our social media channels.

About BASF

BASF Corporation, headquartered in Florham Park, New Jersey, is the North American affiliate of BASF SE, Ludwigshafen, Germany. BASF has approximately 16,000 employees in North America and had sales of $25.7 billion in 2022. For more information about BASF’s North American operations, visit www.basf.com/us.

At BASF, we create chemistry for a sustainable future. We combine economic success with environmental protection and social responsibility. More than 111,000 employees in the BASF Group contribute to the success of our customers in nearly all sectors and almost every country in the world. Our portfolio comprises six segments: Chemicals, Materials, Industrial Solutions, Surface Technologies, Nutrition & Care and Agricultural Solutions. BASF generated sales of €87.3 billion in 2022. BASF shares are traded on the stock exchange in Frankfurt (BAS) and as American Depositary Receipts (BASFY) in the United States. Further information at www.basf.com.

Source: Agrimarketing.com – BASF News release

Introducing Stine’s Seed Prescriptive Pathogen Report

At Stine®, we prioritize our grower customers’ needs, so we always look for new ways to help maximize yields and ROI. This is why we focus on delivering the highest-yielding genetics coupled with outstanding agronomic support.

New for 2024, we are pleased to offer Stine’s Prescriptive Pathogen Report, powered by Pattern Ag. Available at a special discounted price to Stine’s Corn Loyalty level customers, the Prescriptive Pathogen Report is designed to help growers accurately predict their future risk for corn rootworm, one of the most damaging soil-born, yield-robbing pests.

How does it work?
The methodology behind the Prescriptive Pathogen Report includes a highly sensitive and specific test that can accurately predict your field pressure and economic risk for next season.

By utilizing precise DNA analysis from soil samples, we can measure the presence and abundance of target organisms. Data collected from the soil samples is then translated into actionable agronomic insights that growers can employ for best results. This testing method is so accurate that it can detect a single egg in just a one-pound soil sample.

The results delivered by the Prescriptive Pathogen Report allow participants to build a comprehensive crop plan to help them select the optimal genetics, traits and seed treatments for their unique situation, maximize yield potential and eliminate hidden risks.

“Through advanced DNA analysis, the Prescriptive Pathogen Report can help predict a field’s risk for corn rootworm with a high degree of accuracy,” says David Thompson, Stine’s national marketing and sales director. “This is an innovative and yield-saving benefit that we’re pleased to offer our Corn Loyalty level customers this year. With the nominal cost upfront for the program, it truly pays for itself — and then some — in the long run.”

The Prescriptive Pathogen Report is being made available to Stine Corn Loyalty customers for a cost of $1.50 per corn acre planted to Stine brand corn. This is a fraction of the total cost of this service, with the balance covered by Stine.

Getting started with this solution is easy; the process includes four simple steps.

  1. Growers connect with their local Stine representative to complete their 2024 account paperwork and select the “Corn Loyalty” offer.
  2. Once account paperwork has been processed, a program representative will reach out to confirm interest and eligibility and to start the setup process.
  3. Next, the grower will connect with the sampling service to let them know when fields are harvested and ready to sample.
  4. Once samples are taken and analyzed, growers should anticipate a two-week turnaround for delivery of their Prescriptive Pathogen Report.

Growers interested in taking advantage of this unique and innovative solution can connect with their Stine rep today to get started.

“The sooner growers sign up, the sooner they can put this information to work in developing a winning plan for 2024,” says Thompson.

Source: Stine Seed

USDA Reports 59% Of Corn, 76% Of Soybeans Have Been Harvested

The 2023 U.S. corn and soybean harvests remain ahead of average following another week with generally friendly weather for activity. Most forecasts do have the potential for delays this week, including the chance of the first major snow storm of the year in parts of the northern U.S. Plains and Midwest.

The USDA says that as of Sunday, 59% of the U.S. corn crop is harvested, compared to 54% on average, with 76% of U.S. soybeans harvested, compared to the five-year average of 67%.

77% of winter wheat is planted and 53% has emerged, close to the respective normal rates.

41% of cotton is harvested and 90% of bolls have opening, both near average, with 29% of the crop rated good to excellent, down 1% on the week.

91% of rice is harvested, compared to 93% typically in late October.

67% of sorghum is harvested and 96% of the crop has reached maturity, faster than the usual rates.

31% of U.S. pastures and rangelands are called good to excellent, 2% less than last week.

The USDA’s weekly national crop progress and condition reports run through the end of November.

New Company Renovo Seed Launches 80 Forage, Cover Crop And Other Varieties

BROOKINGS, SD – Renovo Seed debuts today with an elite lineup of more than 80 proven, prebuilt seed mixes that simplify forage, cover crop and conservation seed choices. Access to a robust caliber of seed mixes and an established supply chain have paved the way for Renovo Seed to launch its commercial seed brand, a first for the forage, cover crop, and conservation space. You can find Renovo Seed at a growing network of seed dealerships and ag cooperatives nationwide, as well as online.

“We’re problem solvers. Our priority is making these seed mixes easy to use for every farmer, rancher or landowner. You don’t have to be an agronomy expert or conservation fanatic to understand our products,” says Justin Fruechte, ag product expert for Renovo Seed. “We take the guesswork out of your seed choices.”

Customers can purchase seed on Renovo Seed’s website and have it shipped right to their door. The site also serves as a powerful resource, featuring seed selector tools to simplify the decision-making process, as well as agronomic details, video tutorials, firsthand farmer and rancher experiences, and how-to guides that enhance understanding and confidence in the products.

“Our North American footprint and streamlined distribution means we can get seed into your hands fast,” says Shannon Kubik, brand president of Renovo Seed. “Because our products are often used for double cropping or to complement other crops, turnaround time is critical. Timely delivery is another way we’re able to simplify and improve the seed-buying experience for our customers.”

Renovo Seed may be new, but its team is made up of experts who have been land-use linchpins for decades, linking practical land use solutions with long-term farm profitability. Backed by Millborn, a vertically integrated seed supply chain powerhouse with over 35 years in the seed industry, Renovo Seed has the distribution channels and experience to back up its products.

“Our people are rooted in the land,” says Kubik. “They farm. They have livestock. They’re invested in their farms’ longevity. Their experiences have helped us build products that offer real value and solutions guided by three principles: renew, revive, repeat.”

“We believe that not only can the land be renewed, but also the entire seed buying and crop planning experience. We create easy-to-use, effective seed mixes that make it simple for farmers, ranchers, and landowners to renew their crop plan and revive their land,” Kubik adds.

Whether you’re looking for high quality alfalfa or grass for feed for your livestock, diverse cover crop solutions, hay and pasture mixes, conservation seed, or are an outdoor enthusiast looking for premier food plot options, Renovo Seed has proven seed mixes to simplify decisions and help you exceed goals.

To take the guesswork out of your forage, cover crop and conservation seed choices, visit renovoseed.com or call 888-498-7333 to locate a dealer near you.

About Renovo Seed

Renovo Seed enters the seed industry as a visionary in positive land use solutions. Backed by Millborn’s powerful supply chain, Renovo Seed works to improve the resiliency of the land for generations to come with a robust seed lineup and unmatched team of experts who design practical, tailored solutions for farmers, ranchers, and landowners. For more information, visit RenovoSeed.com.

About Millborn

With high-quality seed products, a unique, vertically integrated supply chain, and a team of experts who understand the industry, Millborn is the single source for agriculture, conservation, reclamation, and commercial seed needs. For more information, visit MillbornSeeds.com.

Source: Agrimarketing.com

Rice helping study how soil health improvement can boost crops

Project’s goal to improve soil sustainability through incentives in farm lending and crop insurance

America’s farmers rely on a host of practices such as cover cropping and crop rotation to maintain soil health, grow more productive crops and feed the U.S. and countries around the world. However, current research is too sparse to precisely demonstrate how these practices can actually affect the yields and bottom lines for farmers.

Photo of Midwestern farm.
Photo credit: Frederi Viens

Agricultural lenders and crop insurers do not currently offer incentives for farmers who incorporate these practices to improve soil health because they have no research-based economic rationale for doing so, according to Frederi Viens , a professor in the Department of Statistics at Rice University. Meanwhile, he said there is ample evidence that the federal crop insurance program indirectly provides strong incentives to continue practices that are damaging to soil health.

Viens said this misalignment of incentives is a missed opportunity for all parties involved, and it’s one of the reasons he has taken the role of lead statistician on a multi-year, multi-institution research project supported by grants from the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative at the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute for Food and Agriculture and from the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research in partnership with the public advocacy nonprofit organization Land Core.

The project’s goal is to provide evidence that more sustainable practices reduce production risk while not significantly reducing overall yields — or better yet, improving them. Viens argues that with such evidence, a shift to more sustainable farming practices could be viewed as realistic by all parties.

“For the first time we are conducting a research project to demonstrate at scale how engaging in these farming ‘best practices’ can benefit farmers, insurance providers and the federal government, which provides ample farm subsidies,” Viens said, adding that the way the U.S. farming system is set up now is not sustainable for the long term.

“The problem is that if we continue with business as usual, soil health is going to continue to deteriorate, and climate change will make things even worse,” he said. “And we may get to a point where there is nothing left in the ground to grow anything. This is obviously super concerning.”

Using sophisticated statistical techniques, Viens and his fellow researchers will determine the risk-mitigation benefits and related cost savings associated with practices that improve soil health. By highlighting the economic upside of these practices, Viens said the federal crop insurance program will be able to offer better prices and pay out less in claims. Meanwhile, farm lenders can lower loan rates and/or offer improved terms to farmers adopting good soil-health practices. Viens says he expects that farmland valuation will start to systematically reflect the net positives of these practices.

Photo of hay field in Midwest
Photo credit: Frederi Viens

“It’s a total win-win, or in this case, a win-win-win,” Viens said. “Farmers will save money on their premiums and produce more abundant crops. Lenders will reduce their risk and hence increase their profit margins. The federal government won’t be spending as much taxpayer money on subsidies and crop insurance claims, all because soils will be healthier and cropping will become more diverse; thus, low yields will occur less frequently, stabilizing each farm operation’s finances, lowering the risk exposure for their lenders and for the federal government.

“And finally — and most importantly — incentivization and implementation of these farming practices will improve long-term sustainability of the U.S. farming system by making it more resilient to extreme weather events,” Viens continued. “This is even more important when one knows that these threats will increase in frequency and in severity because of climate change.”

Viens is part of two closely allied groups of researchers working on the project. One group led by Harry Schomberg, a research ecologist and agronomist at the USDA’s Sustainable Agricultural Systems Laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, is currently using data from about 20 experimental farms in the Midwest, California, Canada, Maryland, Mexico and Tennessee, which covers a vast diversity of different types of crops, cropping systems and agro-ecological zones. Preliminary results show strong evidence of a simultaneous increase in climate resilience and yield under increased rotational complexity.

The project’s other group of researchers is working with remote-sensed data from a million farmers’ fields across nine states in the Midwest. Preliminary results have focused on corn production in Illinois, where results with rotational complexity are showing similar promise. Viens said he and team members also expect these strong results to extend to other states like Iowa and Indiana, while an analysis more fine-tuned to specific locations and their growing conditions will help to analyze corn and soybean yields in more complex settings such as the upper Midwest.

The agronomy lead on these projects is Timothy Bowles, an associate professor of agroecology and sustainable agricultural systems and director of University of California, Berkeley’s Agroecology Lab. The economic analysis at the level of full farm operations is being performed with the collaboration of Ph.D. students at Rice, Michigan State University, and led by Lawson Connor, an assistant professor in the Department of Agricultural Economics and Agribusiness at the University of Arkansas who specializes in crop production economics.

Viens and his team of Ph.D. students will support all teams involved with their statistical expertise in modeling and analysis in addition to Viens’ research background in quantitative finance and insurance mathematics and his hands-on knowledge of farming practices.

More information on the grants is online at https://landcore.org/news-post/2023/6/22/land-core-awarded-ffar-grant-to-expand-soil-health-risk-model and https://food.berkeley.edu/from-the-field/quantifying-the-risk-reduction-value-of-soil-health/.

China Approves “Dozens” of Genetically Modified Corn, Soybean Varieties- Potentially Advancing Production

Bloomberg writer Hallie Gu reported yesterday that, “China has approved dozens of genetically modified corn and soybean seed varieties for planting, in a breakthrough move that could eventually boost production and reduce dependence on foreign supplies.

“The country is the world’s top importer of soybeans and corn.

Large-scale marketing of GM crops would support the government’s drive for food self-sufficiency and security, a top priority for President Xi Jinping.

“A national committee set up by the agriculture ministry has approved 37 GM corn seed and 14 soybean seed varieties, after a preliminary review, the ministry said on Tuesday.”

World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates at a Glance. USDA- Economic Research Service (October 13, 2023).

The Bloomberg article explained that, “The acreage designated for planting the GM crops is still very small, however, reaching just 4 million mu (267,000 hectares) this year, state media reported.

“Corn area alone in China is about 44 million hectares, with output of over 288 million tons likely in the 2023-24 year, according to the agriculture ministry. While productivity lags far behind the US, where GM varieties are widely grown, such seeds can increase yields in China by as much as 12%, the ministry said.”

World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates at a Glance. USDA- Economic Research Service (October 13, 2023).

In other news developments regarding China, Reuters writer Tom Polansek reported yesterday that, “Arkansas ordered Syngenta to sell 160 acres (65 hectares) of farmland in the U.S. state within two years on Tuesday because the company is Chinese-owned, drawing a sharp rebuke from the global seeds producer.

“U.S. farm groups and lawmakers are increasingly scrutinizing foreign land ownership due to concerns about national security.”

Bloomberg writer Gerson Freitas Jr. reported yesterday that, “The move is another demonstration of how rising US-China tensions has reverberated across state and local politics in Middle America, sowing angst about Chinese investment. In a similar development, a $700 million corn mill project in Grand Forks, North Dakota, was scrapped earlier this year after facing growing opposition from local politicians over its Chinese owner.

“The Arkansas order is a ‘shortsighted action that fails to account for the effects of such an action, intended or not, on the U.S. agricultural market,’ Saswato Das, a Syngenta spokesman, said in an e-mailed statement. The farmland targeted by the decision has been owned by Syngenta, which is headquartered in Switzerland, since 1988 and is primarily used for research and product development for the US market, according to Das. ‘No one from China has ever directed any Syngenta executive to buy, lease, or otherwise engage in land acquisition in the United States.’”

Meanwhile, Dow Jones writer Kirk Maltais reported yesterday that, “Wheat for December delivery fell 1% to $5.71 1/4 a bushel, on the Chicago Board of Trade on Tuesday, with China apparently looking to Australia for grain purchases.”

A recent USDA transportation report pointed out that, “China was the fifth-largest importer of U.S wheat in MY 2022-23, accounting for 7 percent of total U.S. wheat shipments for that year.”

In a related note, the USDA’s Economic Research Service (ERS) indicated in its monthly Wheat Outlook report on Monday that, “U.S. Soft Red Winter (SRW) exports are forecast up 10 million bushels this month to 145 million bushels, the largest since 2013/14.

Sowell, A. (2023). Wheat outlook: October 2023 (Report No. WHS-23J). U.S. Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service.

SRW [which accounts for about 15 percent of U.S. wheat production and is grown mainly along the Mississippi River and in eastern States. Flour used for cakes, cookies, and crackers] production this year is up 34 percent from the previous year based on record yield and a 21-percent expansion in area harvested. This class of wheat has benefited from multiple years of favorable weather and bumper yields, with production the largest in 9 years. This is in contrast to U.S. Hard Red Winter (HRW) [which accounts for about 40 percent of U.S. wheat production and is grown mainly in Great Plains. Principally used to make bread flour] supplies, which are historically tight following back-to-back droughts. If the current forecasts are realized, SRW exports will be equal to HRW exports for the first time since official records began (by-class historical records extend to 1973/74).

“SRW is priced competitively for export into many markets, supporting a brisk pace of sales and shipments. Notably, USDA, Foreign Agricultural Service reported on October 3 that China had purchased 220,000 metric tons of SRW or more than 8 million bushels.

China was also a major buyer of SRW in 2013/14, when total exports of that class reached 283 million bushels.

And on October 13th, USDA reported, “181,000 metric tons of soft red winter wheat for delivery to China during the 2023/2024 marketing year.”

More broadly with respect to China, Financial Times writers Edward White, Sun Yu, Cheng Leng and Hudson Lockett reported today that, “China’s gross domestic product grew 4.9 per cent year on year in the third quarter, beating market expectations as Beijing steps up support for the world’s second-biggest economy.

“The economy expanded 1.3 per cent on a quarterly basis, China’s National Bureau of Statistics said, regaining some momentum after growth of just 0.5 per cent in the April-June period.”

Source: Keith Good, Farm Policy News 

USDA Highlights Progress in Partnering with Farmers to Increase Innovative Domestic Fertilizer Production, Expand Double Cropping through Investing in America Agenda

Kankakee, Ill., Oct. 16, 2023 – U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack today highlighted progress made in partnering with farmers and American businesses to increase innovative domestic fertilizer production and in making it easier for U.S. farmers to grow food through the practice of double cropping. USDA also announced $52.6 million in awards under the Fertilizer Production Expansion Program, which will fund 17 new projects to boost domestic fertilizer manufacturing, support innovative fertilizer technologies, and help lower costs for farmers.

As part of President Biden’s Investing in America agenda, Secretary Vilsack announced these during a visit to Pernault Farms in Kankakee, Ill., where the double cropping practice is being utilized. Support for double cropping and domestic fertilizer production expansion are part of a broader set of commitments made in September 2022 by President Biden and Secretary Vilsack, at a nearby Kankakee Farm, to help producers boost production and address global food security. The Fertilizer Production Expansion Program (FPEP) is funded by USDA’s Commodity Credit Corporation and is part of a government-wide effort to spur domestic competition and combat an increase in fertilizer costs caused by the war in Ukraine.

“With President Biden’s leadership, USDA is creating a resilient, sustainable and competitive agricultural economy, which allows farmers to continue doing what they do best by growing food for the rest of the world,” said Agriculture Secretary Vilsack. “Through a farmer-focused commitment, we will continue to build on our efforts to lower costs, bring made-in-America jobs to rural communities, and strengthen the agricultural supply chain and market opportunities to the benefit of producers.”

Fertilizer Production Expansion Program

In 2022, USDA made $500 million available under the Fertilizer Production Expansion Program, to increase innovative domestic fertilizer production, creating jobs in rural communities and providing more options to U.S. farmers. Due to strong demand for funding, in June of 2023, USDA increased the funding available for FPEP to up to $900 million.

The Department received requests for $3 billion in applications from more than 350 businesses for the first two rounds of the program. Including today’s announcement, since the program was announced roughly 18 months ago USDA has awarded 33 projects for a total of over $121 million invested. USDA expects to announce additional project selections in the coming months and is inviting public comments on four projects through November 15, 2023.

Example of projects funded as part of today’s announcement include:

  • In Crookston, Minnesota, Northstar Lime LLC is being offered a $4.4 million grant to expand their operation to include the manufacturing and processing of fertilizer and nutrient alternatives. The goal is to quickly provide an organic, alternative fertilizer product that will meet 50% (of the total nitrogen needs for local row crop farmers in years 2023 and 2024.
  • In Boardman, Oregon, True Organic Products Inc. is being offered a $5 million grant to expand its organic fertilizer production plant to manufacture an incremental 15,000 tons of pelleted organic fertilizer from local waste byproducts to better serve farmers.
  • In Casco, Wisconsin, Dairy Dreams is being offered a $2.5 million grant to construct a nutrient concentration system and a pelleting system on a dairy farm to convert manure to domestically manufactured fertilizer, improving access to organic liquids and pellets. The technology will also convert one-third of manure inputs into clean, dischargeable water and is expected to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions resulting from the hauling and disposal of manure.

To learn more, you may view a full list of awards announced today.

Double Cropping

In 2022, USDA announced the expansion of insurance coverage for double cropping for 2023 to support food production and lower costs for American families. Double cropping allows farmers to plant a second crop on the same land in the same year, helping to boost production without relying on farmers to substitute crops or cultivate new land. As part of this commitment, USDA expanded double crop insurance opportunities in nearly 1,500 counties where double cropping is viable. With the expansion in 2023:

  • USDA’s Risk Management Agency (RMA) processed 4,166 new requests for coverage in the states where insurance for double cropping was expanded or made easier. This includes 1,611 new requests for coverage for second crop grain sorghum in Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma and Texas, and 2,555 requests for coverage for second crop soybeans in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, Texas, and Wisconsin.
  • In states where double cropping coverage was expanded or made easier, nearly one million additional acres were insured, representing a more than 43% increase in insurance coverage for second crop acres compared to the 2014-2022 average.
  • In states where double cropping coverage was expanded or made easier, there was a significant increase in winter wheat plantings. For example, Illinois saw a nearly 40% increase, Ohio saw a more than 30% increase, and Michigan saw a 21.5% increase.

USDA touches the lives of all Americans each day in so many positive ways. Under the leadership of the Biden-Harris Administration, USDA is transforming America’s food system with a greater focus on more resilient local and regional food production, promoting competition and fairer markets for all producers, ensuring access to safe, healthy and nutritious food in all communities, building new markets and streams of income for farmers and producers using climate-smart food and forestry practices, making historic investments in infrastructure and clean energy capabilities in rural America, and committing to equity across the Department by removing systemic barriers and building a workforce more representative of America. To learn more, visit www.usda.gov.


USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer, and lender.

Source: USDA Press Release

Bayer Introduces Direct-Seeded Rice System with Potential to Reduce GHG and Water use 40%

Manila, Philippines – On UN World Food Day, Bayer announced the introduction of its direct-seeded rice (DSR) system at the 6th International Rice Congress in Manila. Moving from transplanted puddled rice cultivation to direct-seeded rice can help farmers to reduce water use by up to 40 percent, greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) by up to 45 percent and reduce farmers’ dependence on scarce and costly manual labor by up to 50 percent.

The introduction of the DSR system is fully in line with Bayer’s recently announced approach to regenerative agriculture which will enable farmers to produce more while restoring more.

Driven by these advantages, DSR has the potential to be transformational with 75 percent of total rice fields in India expected to switch to this cultivation method by 2040, in comparison to roughly 11 percent today. By 2030, Bayer plans to bring the DSR system to one million hectares in India, supporting over two million early-adopter smallholder rice farmers through its DirectAcres program.

Already underway, DirectAcres has seen considerable success with 99 percent of indian farmers achieving successful plant establishment and 75 percent a higher return on investment compared to rice grown using the conventional transplanted method. Bayer plans therefore to introduce DirectAcres in other rice growing countries in Asia Pacific, starting with the Philippines in 2024.

“We are building entire systems based on regenerative agriculture practices that create value for farmers and nature alike and that help address the issue of global food security,” said Frank Terhorst, Head of Strategy & Sustainability at Bayer’s Crop Science division.

“Direct-seeded rice is an excellent example of a system that holds huge potential to create a positive impact going forward.”

A system combining seeds, crop protection and digital solutions

Traditionally, rice farmers first grow seedlings in nurseries before transplanting them in ploughed, levelled and flooded paddy fields. Over the subsequent months the water level must remain constant to ensure that the plants establish and grow. Shortly before the harvest the farmer drains the field. Some 80 percent of the world’s rice crop is today produced using this method.

Now, using advanced R&D capabilities, Bayer is designing climate-resilient rice hybrids with higher yields that can be sown directly in the soil and bred specifically for the different farm environments. By removing the standing water, machinery can perform much of the otherwise time consuming and arduous, manual farming practices.

The reduced dependence on excess water – used partly to prevent weeds – means access to crop protection solutions will be key to the transformation. To address this, Bayer is developing new crop protection solutions including a new rice herbicide to ensure a successful and durable weed management program for the direct-seeded rice system.

Additionally, smallholder farmers are supported by Bayer’s digital platform FarmRise which gives farmers access to advisory services, necessary machinery, other inputs and services and with a longer-term aspiration to provide rice farmers with data-driven insights to empower them to make better agronomic decisions. FarmRise also connects smallholders to the company’s Carbon Program enabling them to earn additional revenues as they reduce emissions.

Huge potential to reduce environmental impact

The world’s third-largest crop, rice, sustains more than half the global population. With global population expected to grow to 10 billion by 2050, it is estimated that rice production will need to increase by 25 percent in this same timeframe to meet demand and keep prices stable. At the same time rice is an important contributor to climate change.

It is estimated that rice production contributes to 1.5 percent of total global GHG emissions, 12 percent of methane emissions and consumes up to 43 percent of the world’s total irrigation water. Grown by 150 million smallholder farmers worldwide, 4,000 to 5,000 liters of water are needed to produce one kilogram of grain using transplanted puddled rice cultivation methods.

DSR has the potential to change this by reducing the water use and the GHG emissions created by methane emitting bacteria that thrive in the standing water. The reduction of on-farm manual labor – through mechanization – addresses the issue of continous labor shortage in the Indian countryside due to rapid urbanization. This has been recently confirmed in the Farmer Voice study supported by Bayer: 22 percent of Indian smallholder farmers see labor costs as one of the biggest challenges to their operations.

“The need to come together to shape more economically viable and sustainable rice cultivation systems has never been so pressing,” explained Mike Graham, Head of Breeding at Bayer’s Crop Science Division. “Our direct-seeded rice system will help smallholder rice farmers adapt to, and mitigate, climate change while running profitable businesses, improving their own and community’s social well-being.”

Ecosystem of experts to transform rice cultivation at scale

The transformation of rice production is an ambition that is vast in size, complex and will require a concerted and collaborative effort by the entire industry, food chain and beyond in order to advance adoption and bring to scale. To this end, Bayer is working alongside the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) and has participated in the Direct Seeded Rice Consortium (DSRC) for many years.

Just last year at COP27, Bayer announced together with IRRI and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) a partnership to improve the quality of life of smallholder rice farmers through the introduction, on-farm testing and scaling of improved, climate-smart rice varieties and agronomic practices.

“Partnerships across the agriculture value chain will play a crucial role in bringing regenerative agriculture solutions to scale,” added Frank Terhorst. “Only by creating an ecosystem of experts across the private and public sector will we be able to advance adoption and make the best innovation, tools and services widely accessible.”

At the 2023 UN Water Conference, Bayer committed to improving water use by 25 percent per kilogram of rice produced by its smallholder farmer customers enrolled in the DirectAcres program by 2030. Bringing direct-seeded rice to one million hectares by 2030 also contributes to the company’s sustainability goals of reducing customers’ on-field GHGs per kilogram of crop produced by 30 percent and empowering 100 million smallholder farmers to sustainably increase their productivity, improve the quality of their produce and enhance their livelihoods.

About Bayer

Bayer is a global enterprise with core competencies in the life science fields of health care and nutrition. Its products and services are designed to help people and the planet thrive by supporting efforts to master the major challenges presented by a growing and aging global population. Bayer is committed to driving sustainable development and generating a positive impact with its businesses. At the same time, the Group aims to increase its earning power and create value through innovation and growth. The Bayer brand stands for trust, reliability and quality throughout the world. In fiscal 2022, the Group employed around 101,000 people and had sales of 50.7 billion euros. R&D expenses before special items amounted to 6.2 billion euros. For more information, go to www.bayer.com.

Source: Bayer news release : Agrimarketing.com

Cornelius Seed Acquires Four Star Seed Company Ensuring Continuation of Family-Owned Independent Seed Company

Bellevue, IA – Cornelius Seed is honored to announce Four Star Seed Company of Logan, IA has become a part of Cornelius Seed. This acquisition will combine the retail businesses of two independent family-owned seed companies with a long history of outstanding performance and service.

Four Star Seed Company, based in Western Iowa was founded in 1984. The company built a foundation of elite genetics and technology, field performance and dedication to their customers throughout almost 40 years in business.

“We believe Four Star Seed and Cornelius Seed have similar cultures and a passion for doing what’s best for our customers,” said Dennis Kenealy, President of Four Star Seed Company. “We are pleased to have Cornelius Seed take the business we have built, and usher into the future. Our customers should feel confident that they will receive the same exceptional service from a team who truly understand the family-owned, independent seed business.”

Dennis Kenealy will be joining Cornelius Seed as the company’s Western Regional Sales Manager and Western Operations Manager, bringing extensive experience in the seed industry. In addition, Four Star Seed’s experienced sales team will be joining Cornelius Seed, continuing the strong relationships they have built with customers.
“Four Star Seed has a solid reputation in Iowa and Nebraska, and we are pleased to expand the Cornelius Seed network,” said Will Cornelius, Vice President of Cornelius Seed. “We look forward to getting to know and building a solid relationship with the Four Star Seed customers and welcome the knowledge their team brings to the company.”
Cornelius Seed is an independent, regional seed company selling seed primarily in Iowa, Illinois and Wisconsin as well as Minnesota and South Dakota. Cornelius Seed boasts eight decades of ownership under the Cornelius family with a wealth of experience selecting, producing and selling the right seed for the right acre.

Source: Cornelius Seed Press Release

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