Google Glass Intern

IMG_0633 This past week at the NAMA convention, I was lucky enough to try the infamous Google Glass. Needless to say, I fell in love with it. I am sure for the first ten minutes I looked like an idiot trying to figure it out, but I got the hang of it. While I was wearing them, all I could think about was how this could help all of agriculture. An farmer has a problem in the field? Ask Glass to call your agronomist, or Google what a certain weed is.

Now Glass is “on sale” for more people to test out and see how it works. For $1,500 you can walk around and give feedback on how you enjoy them and where they need to improve. One of the main goals that Google has is to make them available to the public between the $500-700 range. Needless to say, once I am not a broke college student anymore, I will be purchasing a pair. And for the record, this is the only “selfie” I took during the NAMA conference!

2014 Agri-Marketing Conference Photo Album

Coverage of the Agri-Marketing Conference is sponsored by
Brownfield Ag News and Rhea + Kaiser
Coverage of the Agri-Marketing Conference is sponsored by Rhea + KaiserCoverage of the Agri-Marketing Conference is sponsored by Brownfield Ag News

AEM Shows Importance of Ag Equipment Industry

charlie o'brienThe important contribution of U.S. agriculture equipment manufacturing to the health of the nation’s economy is demonstrated in an economic paper recently released by the Association of Equipment Manufacturers. Modern advances in agriculture equipment technology and mechanization continue to play a major role in making today’s U.S. farming the most productive the world has ever seen.

The current world population of 7.2 billion is expected to reach 9.6 billion by 2050, according to the United Nations, and the AEM paper also touches on the industry’s research agenda for product innovations to “continue to push agriculture productivity through the next century.” AEM commissioned the white paper to acquaint policy makers, business, industry and the general public with the enormous and far-reaching scope of the manufacturing, distribution and use of agricultural machinery and equipment. It is part of AEM’s overall goal to advance a better understanding of the vast benefits and quality of life improvements provided by advanced mechanization.

I spoke with AEM senior vice president Charlie O’Brien about the analysis. “Agriculture’s achievements have resulted from scientific advances in many areas, including inputs and other efficiencies, yet the productivity explosion continues to be driven by enormous strides in the farm machinery and equipment technology now used to farm millions of acres,” he told me. “We want people to understand how important this industry as a whole is for the U.S. economy.”

You can listen to my interview with Charlie here: Interview with Charlie O'Brien, AEM

New Holland Disk Drills

New Holland is expanding – their disk drill size that is. New Holland disk drills are now available in 50- and 60- foot widths. This allows farmers to become more productive and get the seed in the ground.

At the Commodity Classic, Chuck talked with New Holland’s Jason Hardy about the different disk drills and how they benefit the farmer. Learn more in the video below.


2014 Commodity Classic Photos

The Intern is Here!

Group PicWe made it to the 2014 Commodity Classic! I am Kristin Liska, the intern for this semester, and the one wearing purple on the right hand side. We all arrived safely in San Antonio, TX and are awaiting the rest of the team to join us. It has been an exciting week so far with attending pre-sessions with the Commodity Classic. This is my first year at the Commodity Classic, and my first time in media! So far I have learned a lot about what is all incorporated with interviewing, taking photos and getting to know other agriculture journalists and broadcasting. We are all looking forward to the rest of the week and what it all has in store.


2014 Commodity Classic Photos

USA Pears Sponsors Olymic Athlete Torin Koos

Koos_T_Skiier120x187Culinary experts often claim that “what grows together, goes together,” and Olympic cross-country skier Torin Koos proves that this adage rings true. Koos grew up in the heart of Pacific Northwest pear country, home to 84% of the U.S. fresh pear crop. Koos’s approach to healthy diet and fitness inspires all who want to live a healthier lifestyle. In support of that message, USA Pears has been an official sponsor of 33-year-old Koos for several years and is proud to continue its support as he competes in his fourth consecutive Winter Olympic Games in 2014.

To keep his fans and fellow pear aficionados updated on the latest from Sochi, Koos will be posting regular photo updates from USA Pears’ Instagram account. The popular smart phone application is available for Windows, iPhone, and Android and allows users to share photos and video with followers. As he’s preparing for the games and settling into Sochi, Koos has given USA Pears fans a glimpse from his journey via Instagram, recently reassuring followers that there are plenty of sweet and juicy USA Pears in the Olympic Village dining hall. The 2014 Winter Olympic Games are being held February 7-23 in Sochi, Russia.

As a professional athlete, Koos says that sound nutrition is integral to his success and pears are a key part of his diet. Having been raised among the orchards in Leavenworth, Washington, he holds a special affinity for pears, which inspires his important pre-race meal, “a tall glass of orange juice and a big bowl of oatmeal, topped with slices of Green Anjou pears three hours before race time. Works like a charm.”

Ag Groups React to Farm Bill Conference Report

House and Senate agriculture leaders on Monday released their conference report on a new five-year farm bill that pleases some agricultural interests who just want to get it done, but distressed others.

2014-farm-billAccording to a news release from the House Agriculture Committee, the compromise bill “contains major reforms, including eliminating the direct payments program, streamlining and consolidating numerous programs to improve their effectiveness and reduce duplication, and cutting down on program misuse” but provided few details.

Most reaction to the report so far has been negative, but the American Soybean Association supports it. “This has been a trying process to be sure, but we think that through it all, the conferees and their leadership have produced a framework that will serve the best interests of soybean farmers,” said Ray Gaesser, ASA President and farmer from Corning, Iowa.

National Farmers Union president Roger Johnson says they are pleased with their initial review of the compromise but notes that the board will consider it in more detail “comparing it to the priorities that we have put forward to all members of Congress.”

Coming out strongly against the bill are the livestock and poultry industries. The American Meat Institute, National Cattleman’s Beef Association, National Chicken Council, and National Pork Producers Council already sent a letter to Congressional leadership expressing concerns about GIPSA and COOL provisions in the bill. NCBA and NPPC are holding a media call Tuesday morning at 10 am Eastern to talk about their concerns.

Even one of the conference committee members is disappointed with the outcome. Senator Pat Roberts (R-KS) says he will oppose the final report “because it is not market-oriented or forward looking and is too costly for the taxpayer.”

As to the contentious dairy program, the National Milk Producers Federation is not completely satisfied with the final plan, but is willing to accept it. “Despite its limitations, we believe the revised program will help address the volatility in farmers’ milk prices, as well as feed costs, and provide appropriate signals to help address supply and demand,” said NMPF president and CEO Jim Mulhern.

More reaction is expected as agricultural groups plow through the details. Leadership is hoping to bring the compromise to the floor of both houses for a vote this week.

Not-so-beardless Duck Dynasty Brother at AFBF

afbf-robertsonHe’s been called the “beardless brother” of the Robertson clan, but he had a full face of fur at the Farm Bureau meeting this week, albeit not quite the ZZ Top look the other “Duck Dynasty” males sport.

As the newest member of the “Duck Dynasty” cast, Alan Robertson told thousands of farmers and ranchers that his reason for joining the family’s television series after three seasons on A&E was to show America what a “real home” looked like and to have a larger platform to spread his message about “the kingdom of God.” The former pastor said his family’s motto is “Faith, Family, Ducks.”

Robertson believes the reason Duck Dynasty is so popular is that viewers want shows that demonstrate the Christian family values that Americans need and are missing today.

“Something ordinary to us and probably to you [farmers] like working hard all day and coming home to have dinner around a table at night has become extraordinary to people in the 21st century,” said Robertson. “That’s what the kingdom of God is – having a place called home.”

Listen to an excerpt from Alan’s comments here: Duck Dynasty brother at AFBF

2014 AFBF Convention Photos

Where did you see the Golden Mic in 2013?

gold-micStarting with the Beltwide Cotton Conferences in January and ending with the American Seed Trade Association CSS and Seed Expo, the ZimmComm golden microphone was seen at 73 different events in 19 states and 4 countries in 2013.

We covered meetings about general ag, crop protection, equipment, machinery and precision ag; cattle, dairy, hogs, livestock, poultry and meat; cotton, corn, grain marketing, peanuts, seeds, sorghum, and wheat; equipment, machinery and precision agriculture; ethanol, biodiesel and advanced biofuels; ag advocacy, agri-marketing, ag media, farm broadcasting – and more.

We hit 100,000 photos in our Flickr account included in a total now of 468 sets dating back to May of 2005. We did just shy of 5,000 total posts on all of our own websites plus others like Corn Commentary, Biodiesel Conference, Beef Board Meeting, and Southern Peanut Growers.

We’d like to take this opportunity to thank our wonderful clients, fabulous freelancers and various industry supporters for making 2013 a great year. It’s been nice to take a holiday break from the Agriblogging Highway, but we’ll be back at it again soon. See you down the road in 2014!

Prince William to Study Agriculture

prince-cowsHear ye, hear ye! New daddy and heir to the British throne will be studying agriculture in 2014.

A royal press release has announced that Prince William, otherwise known as the Duke of Cambridge, “is to undertake a 10-week bespoke programme in agricultural management, organised by the Cambridge Programme for Sustainability Leadership at the University of Cambridge.”

The course has been designed to help provide The Duke with an understanding of contemporary issues affecting agricultural business and rural communities in the United Kingdom.

He looks somewhat the part of a farmer in this photo inspecting cattle at his father’s Duchy Home Farm. Right?

Sons of Agriculture T-Shirts

Sons of Agriculture T-ShirtI know that there are “Sons of Anarchy” fans in the AgWired community. I’m probably going to have to find time to watch it and find out what it’s all about.

So for you SOA fans here’s a parody shirt you might like on eBay – Sons of Agriculture. From the Seller who lives on a NE Kansas family farm raising beef cattle:

These shirts are a parody to the Sons of Anarchy and have only been sold locally in our small rural community until now – the design has a copyright. The graphic on the back measures 10″x 13″ with a smaller version on the front left shoulder measuring 4″x 5″. The graphic is printed on Gildan brand tee’s. We do not accept returns (there may be exceptions) and no refunds. We do combine shipping – let me know you bought more than one in an email, please. Thank you so much for your interest in our design!

Like ‘em on Facebook.

Weed Control for Soybean Growers

fmcFMC Agricultural Solutions announces a new Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) crop registration of its Anthem SE herbicide now for use on soybeans. Anthem herbicide offers both corn and soybean growers control of broadleaf weeds and grasses with flexible application timing up to 45 days preplant, preemergence and early postemergence.

Introduced for corn in fall of 2012, Anthem herbicide provides powerful control of broadleaf weeds and grasses. Now available for soybeans, Anthem offers growers a soybean application window up to 45 days preplant through V3 with 4-8 weeks of residual activity. Applied in-season, growers can easily combine the concentrated liquid formulation of Anthem with tank mixes of companion herbicides with effective rates as low as 4 to 11 ounces per acre.

With preemergence and postemergence application flexibility, Anthem provides growers with a residual herbicide that also has postemergence activity on several broadleaf weeds including pigweed species, like waterhemp and Palmer amaranth, before or after soybean emergence. Anthem also is an excellent tool as part of an OverlapSM system when used postemergence in conjunction with Authority® herbicides preemergence as part of a sequential program for outstanding, season-long residual on key grasses and broadleaf weeds that challenge growers’ ability to maximize yield potential.

National Corn Yield Contest Winners for 2013

NCGA color logoAdvanced production techniques, informed growing practices and improved seed varieties helped corn growers achieve high yields in the National Corn Growers Association 2013 National Corn Yield Contest. Entrants continued to far surpass the national average corn yield, setting a contest record with a new all-time high yield of 454 bushels per acre. Additionally, a record five national entries surpassed the 400-plus bushel per acre mark.

The National Corn Yield Contest is in its 49th year and remains NCGA’s most popular program for members, setting a new participation record this year with 8,827 entries. This surpasses the previous record of 8,431 entries, set in 2011, and far outstrips the 8,263 entries received in 2012.

The 18 winners in six production categories had verified yields averaging more than 354.6 bushels per acre, compared to the projected national average of 160.4 bushels per acre in 2013. While there is no overall contest winner, yields from first, second and third place farmers overall production categories topped out at 454.9837.

New Holland Perfect Combine Initiative

New Holland Combine FB AppFor New Holland the Perfect Combine is an initiative celebrating the production of the 50,000th TC New Holland. It happened in the Plock Poland plant in October.

To celebrate the milestone the company is taking a look back through the history of the combine model with the use of a Facebook App.

When users access this app, they will be involved in a quiz, having to answer some questions about the product’s history as well as the world’s history. Questions will trigger the ability of users, who can prove their knowledge about every single detail of TC Combine’s history… definitely a challenge for real New Holland fans! :)

The initiative is shareable thanks to the creation of special digital postcards, different according to the question answered. Each user who answers all the questions will gain a special info graphic, delivered by the app, to share with friends.

Celebrate this important goal for with New Holland in a funny and easy-going way.

Is Small Farms or Diversity the Answer?

usfra-boston-13-swansonUSFRA’s Boston Food Dialogues panelists came from the east and the west, represented the big and the small, work in agribusinesses and in small farming communities.

Michael Swanson, Agricultural Economist for Wells Fargo Bank NA, Minneapolis, Minnesota and Bruce Rominger, Rominger Brothers Farm, Winters, California were two panelists Chuck had the chance to speak with after the recent Boston Food Dialogues.

At Wells Fargo, Michael analyzes the impact of energy on agriculture, forecasting for key agricultural commodities, such as wheat, soybeans, corn and cotton, as well as livestock sectors such as cattle, dairy and hogs. Michael stated that he feels there is a strong demand for smaller farms and coming from the Midwest he said, “maybe we don’t appreciate it enough.”

“We go where the best technology takes us. We want the best solutions for the dollar. The consumers chooses and shouldn’t criticizes them one way or the other.”

usfra-boston-13-romingerBruce is a 5th generation farmer working along side his brother in a progressive, diversified family farm and ranch. They specialize in crops using organic and conventional techniques, including winegrapes, processing tomatoes, rice, wheat, corn, safflower, sunflower, onions, alfalfa and oat hay. Bruce agrees that small farms are a good thing, but feels the conversation led to a desire for diversity. He continued, “Small farms aren’t going to be viable in Nebraska. And where I am and the crops I grow and with the technology I use they aren’t very viable in our area either.”

“My brother and I own our farm and statistically we are a big farm, but we are a family farm. We are incorporated, does that make us a corporate farm? Technically yes, but we are 100% owned and managed by our family. To us this growth has been an evolution in every process over generations. This is something we have to do to stay successful it the markets we are in.”

You can listen to Chuck’s complete interview with Michael and Bruce here: Interview with Bruce Rominger and Michael Swanson

Boston Food Dialogues Photo Album

AGree’s Video on Food and Agriculture Systems

AGree seeks to identify the most critical issues facing the global food and agriculture system and through a collaborative process that challenges leaders from diverse communities, build consensus around solutions. This short animated video describes AGree’s origins, principles and plans for a food and agriculture system that meets future demand for food while conserving and enhancing water, soil, and habitat; improving nutrition and public health; and strengthening farms and communities to improve livelihoods.

The AGree story — Animated Video from AGree on Vimeo.

Soybean Association to Congress: Get to Work!

us-capitolA shutdown of the U.S. government has also meant a shutdown of some vital services provided by the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture. Not the least of the USDA programs coming to a halt are the ones dealing with soybeans and conservation issues, and that is mostly due to the fact that when the government shut down on Oct. 1, the extension of the farm bill did as well.

The fact that the 2008 Farm Bill extension expired and the new farm bill still is to even make it to committee, resulting in the stopping of important conservation measures, worries farmers like American Soybean Association President Danny Murphy, a soybean, corn and wheat farmer from Canton, Miss.

ASA LOGO ® 120ppi x 63ppi.jpg“There’ll be no more CRP (Conservation Reserve Program) sign-up, no Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) money, no conservation payment or activities of any kind,” he cites as just some of the concerns of farmers. Plus, there will be the expiration of market development funds, something he says are particularly important to soybean farmers.

“Soybeans are the nation’s most valuable agricultural export. Our overseas market development arms, the U.S. Soybean Export Council (USSEC) and the World Initiative for Soy in Human Health (WISHH), work with foreign buyers and carry out trade servicing and demand building activities,” Murphy says.

He concludes saying that the shortsightedness of Congress in failing to pass a new farm bill is more than just a political embarrassment; it will cost the industry global market share almost immediately.

“It’s time for our elected officials to remember who they represent and get to work passing a farm bill that works for American farmers.”

Soybeans Get Boost from Biodiesel

USBlogoThe longtime and still primary feedstock for biodiesel has received a bump up in its demand and value. Figures from the United Soybean Board show that in order to meet this year’s federal requirement of 1.28 billion gallons of the green fuel this year, it will take 9 billion pounds of vegetable oils and animal fats, with a majority, at least 4.8 billion pounds, coming from soybean oil. That equals out to 430 million bushels of American soybeans.

“There’s value for soybean farmers from the growing market use of soybean oil for biodiesel,” says Gregg Fujan, a USB director and soybean farmer from Weston, Neb. “It expands the market for our soybeans, which also increases the price we receive.”

According to research commissioned by soybean farmers in Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota through their state soy checkoff boards, biodiesel contributed to a $15 billion increase in soybean-oil revenues between 2006 and 2012. Over that time period, this raised the price of soybeans by 74 cents per bushel.

Biodiesel already qualifies as the Nation’s first EPA-approved Advanced Biofuel. Guess that makes soybeans the first advanced feedstock.

Reinventing the Shovel

2 - stephen with shovelA problem exists today – individuals finish a day of work with sore backs, wrists, and arms from twisting and tweaking in unnatural positions. This results in lost labor, time, and capital. Luckily, a 24-year old entrepreneur combined his business degree with an epiphany, and as a result, Stephen Walden has reinvented the shovel. He says, “Our shovels provide an ergonomic benefit by returning the body to a more natural position, ultimately allowing the user to get more done in less time.”

These shovels improve posture to reduce back strain and relieve wrist pain by taking the wrist out of a pronated position. With worker’s compensation claims surpassing $200 billion in 2012, Walden decided that the workplace needs innovation. Thus, he began with a tool that has not changed for thousands of years.

The genius behind the tool is the double-handle design, which allows the body to work in a more natural position – improving posture, decreasing wrist pronation, and increasing range of motion. Additionally, the center handle rotates 360 degrees, allowing complete customization of the hand’s position. Walden is currently developing a U-shaped foothold as well, which is touted as “an ingenious change to the old design”.

Learn more about the new ergonomic shovel and Bosse Tools is currently live on Kickstarter.com where you can place an order for one of their tools. If you have questions for the inventor, drop him a line at Stephen Walden, CEO, stephen@bossetools.com.

ZimmComm Hits 100,000 Photos During IFAJ 2013

“I got a Nikon camera, I love to take a photograph, so Mama don’t take my Kodachrome away.” Paul Simon

ifaj13-cattle-crossingSometime last week during the IFAJ 2013 Congress, ZimmComm reached a milestone of 100,000 photos in our eight-year-old Flickr account.

We picked this photo as our 100,000th – since we are not exactly sure but it’s one of our favorites. It was from the livestock tour where the gauchos led a cattle drive across a river. Video to follow soon – it was pretty awesome!

Actually, we now have 100,334 photos in 447 sets, dating back to May 2005. Back in the day, that would have been a whole lotta Kodachrome! Our photos have been viewed nearly 5.5 million times and average about 30,000 views per day. Some day we would like to catalog all of these photos and make them easier to find – if anyone thinks they would like to take on that job, contact us and let’s talk.

2013 IFAJ Congress Photo Album

Coverage of the 2013 IFAJ Congress is sponsored by Novus International and Dupont Pioneer

Deadliest Catch Sails into the Farm Progress Show

Image 4 If you’re like me you’ve watched almost every season of Deadliest Catch and are very familiar with the Hansen’s and their boat the Northwestern.  

While at the 2013 Farm Progress Show I had a chance to catch up with deckboss, Edgar Hansen, and learn a little bit about the boat, harvesting of the crab and why they choose to use Chevron Delo products.  Edgar says the boat is going through an engine overhaul right now to get ready for the 2013 King Crab season which launches in just a few months.

“We use it in our boats, stem to stern, my hydraulics, my coolants in my engines, all the lube oil, my grease, everything on that boat is a Chevron product.”

Here you can listen to my interview with Edgar. Edgar Hansen

2013 Farm Progress Show Photo Album

Coverage of the 2013 Farm Progress show is sponsored by Growmark, Ag Leader and John Deere