soybeans

Farmers Get Ag-gressive On Soil Health

Dec 7, 2017

A group of companies and nonprofits will provide almost $20 million to conservation groups to improve soil health in Indiana and across the country – a move aimed at putting more money in farmers’ pockets and protecting natural resources.

Money from the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research, General Mills, Monsanto, and others will go to three conservation groups to better understand soil health. Larry Clemens, the director of The Nature Conservancy’s North America Agriculture Program, says Indiana is already a national leader in soil health.

Joshua Duffy / https://www.flickr.com/photos/joshduffyphoto/7283981926

Last week’s heavy rainfall has added more delays to Indiana’s corn harvest.

As of this week, 70-percent of the state’s corn has been harvested – that’s compared to 85-percent at this time last year. That’s even though, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, wet conditions have forced farmers to focus on corn instead of completing soybean harvests.

Indiana’s corn harvest is still 10 percent behind schedule as of this week, with soybeans about on track as a year of difficult farming conditions stretches into November.

The unpredictability of this year’s weather may be an unwelcome new normal for Hoosier agriculture, according to Purdue University agronomist Bob Nielsen.

In 2017, Indiana has seen a wet spring and long planting season, an over-warm start to fall and now, rains that are lengthening the multi-billion-dollar grain harvest. Nielsen says data shows extremes like those are becoming increasingly standard.

Hoosier Farmers Toil As Corn Harvest Drags On

Oct 24, 2017

Indiana grain farmers are hustling to keep up with harvest as fall progresses.

The soybean crop is on pace with the five-year average as of this week, according to the USDA. But corn is less than half harvested, which is well below average for this time of year.

That’s put large operations like White Oak Farms in Putnam County under the gun to get their corn out of the field before it spoils.

Indiana is partway into a record-setting cash crop harvest – but months of uneven weather conditions have put some farmers behind.

The state’s soybean crop is 42 percent harvested as of this week, about the same as average. But the corn crop lags at just 24 percent.

Purdue University agronomist Bob Nielsen says wet weather earlier this year forced some farmers to plant late or replant their crops, and cool August temperatures lengthened the growing season.

The herbicide dicamba has damaged large swaths of Midwest crops in the past year. But Monsanto, one maker of the weed-killer, says it’s a small-scale problem for a powerful tool.

The agritech giant’s CTO Robb Fraley addressed the issue during a recent talk at Purdue University’s Dawn or Doom tech conference.

Fraley basically invented genetically modified crops – mainly, ones that kill pests or tolerate certain chemicals.

Farmers in Indiana and across the nation are using more of a powerful, but controversial, weed killer this year — dicamba.

Dicamba has been used since at least the 1960s, mostly on corn. Last year, though, the Environmental Protection Agency approved a new type of dicamba to use on cotton and soybean plants genetically engineered to resist the weed killer.

Don Lamb, who operates an 8,800 acre farm in Lebanon, says the new dicamba has created a problem.

Indiana is set to have unexpectedly big corn and soybean harvests this fall. That means continued tight profit margins for farmers and more low food prices for consumers.

Purdue University agronomists made their annual announcement of the state’s crop production forecast at the State Fair Thursday.

They say yields should better than expected, after weeks of wet, patchy weather. But economist Chris Hurt says that extra supply for the same demand will mean bad prices for Hoosier farmers.

Indiana’s top agriculture official has been tapped to oversee global farm trade for the Trump administration.

Indiana Department of Agriculture director Ted McKinney now faces a Senate confirmation to become the USDA’s first-ever trade undersecretary.

He says he’s grateful for the support he’s received since getting the news.

“I am so honored to be nominated by the president, and I look forward to serving if confirmed,” McKinney says.

State Investigating Controversial Herbicide Dicamba

Jul 20, 2017

Indiana farmers are filing complaints about a controversial herbicide, dicamba, that’s allegedly drifting from neighboring fields and damaging their crops.

Monsanto, DuPont, and BASF all released dicamba tolerant soybeans for this planting season. The herbicide is reportedly causing problems, says Dave Scott, the pesticide administrator for the Office of the Indiana State Chemist.

“You can suffer potential crop damage and potential yield loss,” says Scott, “because your beans are being impacted by what your neighbor applied to their beans.”

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