ASTA Chair Optimistic for 2017 at #ASTACSS

Cindy Zimmerman Leave a Comment

AgReliant Genetics president and CEO Mark Herrmann took over as chairman of the American Seed Trade Association this past summer at the annual meeting and we had the chance to sit down and talk about priorities for the organization in 2017 during the ASTA CSS & Seed Expo this week.

“Unnecessary regulation in the seed business can either completely stall development in seed or make it extremely costly,” said Herrmann. “So we do need a well-understood, consistent, reliable regulatory process.” And there are hopes that the incoming Trump administration will have a more science-based approach to regulation.

Herrmann also commented on consolidation in the seed industry with so many of the major players involved in mergers and acquisitions this year. “You could get concerned because it sounds like bigger may be a problem,” he said. “But if (consolidation) can bring products to market that it otherwise couldn’t, if it can increase efficiency for sustainability, it’s a positive thing.”

Listen to our interview with Mark here: Interview with Mark Herrmann, ASTA Chairman

ASTA CSS 2016 Photo Album

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Coverage of ASTA CSS and Seed Expo brought to you by the American Seed Trade Association and Coverage of ASTA CSS and Seed Expo brought to you by BASF Ag Products
ASTA, Audio, Seed

Beck’s & Benson Hill Partner for Corn Genetics

Kelly Marshall Leave a Comment

Benson Hill CEO Matt Crisp (left) in a round table meeting at ASTA CSS

Beck’s Hybrids is one of the largest retail seed companies in North America, and now thanks to a partnership with agriculture technology company Benson Hill Biosystems, they’ll be able to accelerate their corn breeding program in the future.  Using Benson Hill’s CropOS cognitive platform, Beck’s will gain yet another tool to enhance the ability to offer farmers improved traits.  The new system will bring improvement to emergence, stand ability, plant health, maturity and yield.

Benson Hill’s platform combines biological knowledge and genomic data with high-throughput computing—an intersection of disciplines known as cloud biology—to predict biological outcomes and provide critical decision support in advancing breeding programs. CropOS levels the playing field for organizations that desire to use whole-genome information and machine learning to accelerate genetic gains. Researchers can speed up generations of experimentation and pinpoint desired traits for improved plant performance. CropOS’s machine learning intelligently evolves with every experiment or data set, allowing companies to develop higher performing genetics and create more choice in the marketplace.

“To meet global challenges in agriculture and provide farmers with additional choices, we need more innovation in crop genomics. In the face of additional consolidation, we need to empower a broader agriculture community of innovators,” said Matthew Crisp, CEO and co-founder of Benson Hill. “Beck’s mission to provide farmers with the choices they need to succeed aligns with Benson Hill’s drive to build an innovative and sustainable future for farmers, communities and our planet.”

We talked with Crisp at the ASTA CSS this week to learn more about Benson Hill, CropOS, and the significance of this new partnership. Listen to our conversation here: Interview with Matt Crisp, Benson Hill Biosystems

ASTA CSS 2016 Photo Album

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Coverage of ASTA CSS and Seed Expo brought to you by the American Seed Trade Association and Coverage of ASTA CSS and Seed Expo brought to you by BASF Ag Products
Agribusiness, ASTA, Audio, Biotech, genomics

BASF Proud to Support FFA at #ASTACSS

Cindy Zimmerman Leave a Comment

BASF Ag Products has been a proud sponsor of the American Seed Trade Association (ASTA) for many years now, particularly the annual CSS and Seed Expo.

This year at BASF used its presence at the event to raise money for the FFA, a cause which corn and bean communications specialist Colby Mower is very passionate about. “We’re committed to the future of the industry,” said Mower. “We’re big supporters, both as a company and me personally, so we felt like it was a good chance to give back.” The FFA “Wheel of Fortune” ended up raising over $5800, which will be donated to the FFA chapters chosen by the ASTA CSS participants who spun the wheel.

Mower says they are also proud to support the media at ASTA CSS by sponsoring a comfortable space for us to work, something they do at many industry events. “We have also felt that the ag media provide a great service to the industry,” he said. “So we’ve always been a big supporter to make sure our media partners have the best accommodations to do their jobs.”

Listen to my interview with Colby here: Interview with Colby Mower, BASF

ASTA CSS 2016 Photo Album

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Coverage of ASTA CSS and Seed Expo brought to you by the American Seed Trade Association and Coverage of ASTA CSS and Seed Expo brought to you by BASF Ag Products

New Products for the New Year at John Deere

Kelly Marshall Leave a Comment

John Deere is announcing several new solutions for 2017.

For producers looking for additional in-cab display, the Gen 4 Extended Monitor has the ability to monitor multiple machines, implements and precision ag functions and allows for easy movement of pages and display functions from one monitor to another.  It’s easy to install, easily customizable and offers more information during key times.  The monitor also eliminates the possibility of conflicting data from two different systems and requires minimal setup. No additional software and lower costs make the Gen 4 Extended Monitor an attractive option for growers.

John Deere is also introducing the new Rate Controller 2000 to integrate with many implements– John Deere and others.  The high-resolution product control can be used with pull-type sprayers, liquid and dry fertilizer systems, anhydrous applicators and some planters.  Like the monitor it can be utilized with numerous equipment platforms and costs less than multiple controllers.  It aids in field documentation, map-based prescription applications, and overlap control with the John Deere Section Control on up to five different products.

Other new products making their debut are the new tillage tools,  the John Deere 2230 Level-lift and 2230 Floating Hitch Field Cultivator.  Both models showcase “below the ground up” designs for faster, smarter tillage that offers effective handling, even in tough conditions and at speeds of up to 10 mph.  The redesigned frame comes with stubble-resistant radial tires, requires no maintenance points, and provides true six-inch split-the-middle shank spacing with TruPosition Standards.

For level or gently rolling ground, the John Deere 2230 Level-lift Field Cultivator comes with three-section or five-section configurations in 15 different sizes ranging from 23.5 feet to 60.5 feet in width. For level or hilly terrain, customers can select the 2230 Floating Hitch Field Cultivator, available in 14 different widths from 25.5 feet to 69.5 feet, that can cover up to 217 more acres in a 10-hour day than previous models.

Both the Level-lift and Floating Hitch Field Cultivators feature the ProFinish™ Leveling System with six rear harrow options that enable producers to achieve their desired level of field finish. Hydraulically adjustable flat-bar or round-bar rolling baskets are also available, allowing the operator to easily raise, lower or float the baskets as field conditions change.

Agribusiness, Equipment, John Deere

Trump EPA Pick Pleases AFBF

Cindy Zimmerman Leave a Comment

President-elect Trump has selected Scott Pruitt to head the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) President, Zippy Duvall, responded positively to the announcement that the Oklahoma Attorney General who challenged the California caged hen law, investigated the Human Society of the United States, and sued the EPA on more than one occasion, will now be in a position to help America’s farmers and ranchers.

“President-elect Trump’s selection of Scott Pruitt to lead the Environmental Protection Agency is welcome news to America’s farmers and ranchers—in fact, to all who are threatened by EPA’s regulatory overreach—and should help provide a new degree of fairness for U.S. agriculture,” Duvall writes. “We know that in his position as attorney general in Oklahoma, Pruitt has stood up for common-sense, effective regulation that protects the environment and the rights of the regulated community. We have been grateful for his effective legal work in response to EPA’s overreaching Waters of the U.S. Rule.

“We anticipate that as EPA administrator, Pruitt will listen to our concerns and those of others who work with the nation’s natural resources on a daily basis. Agriculture is a profession based on a solid ethic of conservation. It helps guide everything we do, and we expect that Pruitt will understand that in regulatory matters dealing with agriculture and the environment.”

AFBF, EPA, Government

#AgChat 2016 Cultivate & Connect

Chuck Zimmerman Leave a Comment

Hello from frigid Kansas City, MO. I am not going to the Chiefs game tonight. No way! But I will be rooting for them.

No, I’m here for a quick stop to visit all my AgChat Foundation peeps and just completed a session on Farm Podcasting during the 2016 Cultivate & Connect Conference. I really wish the @FarmPodcaster could have been here. But she’s still covering #ASTACSS in Chicago.

My presentation focused on a broad overview since there are many elements of podcasting that could take a session by themselves. For example, audio or video editing. My slide show is filled with hyperlinks to more information and you can download it here (.pptx). Please follow the hashtag here to get lots of information and viewpoints on AgVocating.

The session room was full but only two people raised their hands when I asked if they produce a podcast. Many more raised their hands to show they have a blog.

Three key takeaways to my presentation are:

  • Your podcast is about you and your passion.
  • Regular episodes build expectation
  • Promote with all the social media tools you have

Of course I can elaborate a lot on these points and there is the whole production (hardware/software), syndication, promotion part but hopefully you’ll get interested in “narrowcasting” and make it a valuable mechanism to expand and grow your audience.

AgChat, Podcasting

Should EPA Increase Biofuels Use? Yes, It’s the Law

Jamie Johansen Leave a Comment

zp-nh1Our latest ZimmPoll asked the question, “Should EPA increase biofuels use?”

Energy diversity takes the win this week. EPA set final levels for biofuels use in 2017 under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) that are in line with the 2007 Energy Independence and Security Act, calling for the maximum 15 million gallons of conventional ethanol for the first time and increasing volumes for biomass-based biodiesel.

Here are the poll results:

  • Yes – it’s the law – 60%
  • No – repeal RFS – 23%
  • Don’t know – 11%
  • Other – 6%

Our new ZimmPoll is live and asks the question, What’s on your Christmas list?

I find it hard to believe it is already time for Christmas. I guess times flies when you’re having fun! Have you made your list for Santa? My nearly three-year-old has and it’s a doozy. I fit into the category of #AgNerd and check daily to see if Apple’s Airpods have been released yet. Sadly, the day hasn’t come. Are you looking for some new warm gear to do chores in, some ag tech to help make life on the farm easier or are you one of those who just asks for cash or gifts cards? Let us know!


Everyday Advocate at #ASTACSS

Kelly Marshall Leave a Comment

Jessie, Kelsy, Brian and Kiera Alt

Earlier this week we got to see ASTA’s latest video project with plant breeder and mother, Jessie Alt.  Today I got to sit down with her to talk about her role connecting consumers with plant science.

As a research scientist for DuPont Pioneer, Jessie’s day job is to develop new soybean varieties for farmers, but off the clock she’s a wife and mother of two little girls.  ASTA’s goal was to create a video that shows consumers the face of a plant breeder– making the whole thing a little less scary and a lot more real.

The video is authentic, Alt told me.  It’s her kitchen table, her office at work, and her dead tomato plants.  The girls sitting on the counter and helping in the garden are authentic as well, as any mother can see.  You can also see the passion she has for her work, and for her efforts in sharing that work with the public.

Besides the video Alt is also involved in her community.  As time allows she takes a few minutes to share with her daughter’s preschool class and often speaks to local high school students.

“If anyone wants to be an agvocate- or advocate- for what they do everyday it does not have to be big,” Alt assures.  “It really can be just 10 or 15 minutes here and there, having a conversation.”

Listen to my full interview to hear more about the newest face of plant breeding: Interview with Jessie Alt, DuPont Pioneer

ASTA CSS 2016 Photo Album

Coverage of ASTA CSS and Seed Expo brought to you by
Coverage of ASTA CSS and Seed Expo brought to you by the American Seed Trade Association and Coverage of ASTA CSS and Seed Expo brought to you by BASF Ag Products
Agribusiness, ASTA, Audio, Dupont, Pioneer

#Seed is Focus of New @BASFAgProducts R&D Center

Cindy Zimmerman Leave a Comment

BASF’s new Research and Development facility in Limburgerhof, Germany that just opened this year has brought a new center of expertise into the growing world of biological crop protection and seed solutions. Nathan Froese with BASF ‎R&D Seed Solutions for the Americas was at the ASTA CSS & Seed Expo this week to highlight some of the work being done at the facility.

“We do application of products to the seed and testing to see what value they provide for growers,” said Froese. “We also do work on coatings that provide color and improved flow.”

Froese says the R&D done at the Germany facility feeds into other BASF research centers around the world, including U.S. facilities in North Carolina and Iowa. “All of these sites work together very closely and the new site really acts as an R&D hub for seed solutions,” he said, noting that this is speeding up the research process for the company. “The state of the art equipment really helps us move new compounds through quicker.”

Learn more about BASF biologicals and seed solutions R&D in this interview: Interview with Nathan Froese, BASF

ASTA CSS 2016 Photo Album

Coverage of ASTA CSS and Seed Expo brought to you by
Coverage of ASTA CSS and Seed Expo brought to you by the American Seed Trade Association and Coverage of ASTA CSS and Seed Expo brought to you by BASF Ag Products
ASTA, Audio, BASF, Research, Seed

Creating Disney Magic At #ARA2016

Lizzy Schultz Leave a Comment

The Agricultural Retailers Association (ARA) Conference had a magical closing statement to end this year’s sessions with Lee Cockerell, retired Executive Vice President of Walt Disney World giving a closing address titled “You Can create Disney Magic Too.”

Cockerell’s address focused on the factors he believes are the key to running a successful business: “It’s not magic that makes Disney World work, it’s the way we work,” he said. He stressed the importance of hiring and promoting the right people, as well as having systems in place to help pick them out, implementing and enforcing quality training programs, and creating a positive and inclusive work culture for employees. “Those three things translate to the bottom line, and they translate to more ingenuity and creativity,” said Cockerell in an interview following his address.

He also emphasized that organization, competency, and strong leadership skills are absolute necessities for executives looking to run successful businesses. “When you do the hard things, life gets easier,” he said. “Do something hard every week and your life will continue to get easier, but if you only do the easy things, life will get harder, and it will come back and bite you.”

Cockerell also has published a number of books on professional development. His latest book, Career Magic, relays an account of the numerous obstacles young professionals are bound to face in their careers and offers advice on how to keep them from taking control. “I’ve been passed over, I’ve been fired, I’ve been disappointed, and you’ve just got to go out and get back at it,” he said. “I worry about young people giving up too quick because they don’t get it quick enough, but you need to be patient with your career.”

Learn more in Chuck’s full interview with Lee here: Interview with Lee Cockerell, Walt Disney World

2016 ARA Conference & Expo Photo Album

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Ag Group, ARA, Audio